Kim Davis Is No Martyr

 

Kim-Davis-mugshotTed Cruz made his feelings clear about defiant county clerk Kim Davis: “Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith.” Mike Huckabee said, “having Kim Davis in federal custody removes all doubt of the criminalization of Christianity in our country.”

Mat Staver, who is representing Davis in court, compared her to several Christian martyrs. “Kim joins a long list of people who were imprisoned for their conscience,” Staver said. “People who today we admire, like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jan Hus, John Bunyan, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and more — each had their own cause, but they all share the same resolve not to violate their conscience.”

Balderdash.

Kim Davis is not being persecuted for her faith, she is facing the consequences of violating the law. Davis was elected to execute the clerk duties of Rowan County, Kentucky, and she refused to do that. I agree that tossing her in the clink seems like overkill, especially when federal officials can violate Americans’ rights with near impunity, but she suffered this fate due to her illicit actions, not her spiritual beliefs.

The Davis story reminds me of an ancient Christian sect Ricochet member Midget Faded Rattlesnake brought to my attention. Seeing how much reverence was given to martyrs, a bizarre little group called the Circumcellions decided to get in on the action.

On occasion, members of this group assaulted Roman legionaries or armed travelers with simple wooden clubs to provoke them into attacking and martyring them. Others interrupted courts of law and verbally provoked the judge so that he would order their immediate execution (a normal punishment at the time for contempt of court)…

Because Jesus had told Peter to put down his sword in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:11), the Circumcellions piously avoided bladed weapons and instead opted for the use of blunt clubs, which they called “Israelites.” Using their “Israelites”, the Circumcellions would attack random travelers on the road, while shouting “Laudate Deum!” (“Praise God!” in Latin.) The object of these random beatings was the death of the intrepid martyr, who sought to provoke the victim to attack and kill him.

Circumcellions weren’t executed for boldly living their faith in an intolerant society. They were executed for being violent, lawless jerks. Their “martyrdom” pointed not to the glory of God, but to their own moral vanity. Even if we assumed the Westboro loonies were Christians, they are loathed for their hatred, not their holiness.

Davis and many other Americans of all faiths disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, but it is now the law of the land. Many conservative believers disapprove of no-fault divorce, free speech rights for pornographers, and many other irreligious laws, but that is the result of living in a secular, pluralistic America. You may choose not to engage in those behaviors, but you can’t stop others from exercising their rights.

If Davis wants to live her faith with a clear conscience, she should render unto Caesar by tendering her resignation. Refusing that, she at least should allow her staffers to issue marriage licenses in accordance with the law. If, after that common-sense decision, secularists continue to attack her, she will have legitimately earned a small measure of martyrdom.

What Davis, Cruz, and Huckabee don’t realize (or more likely, won’t admit) is that being a Christian puts you in tension with a secular world. My faith has impacted my professional life repeatedly, but that hardly means martyrdom.

Fresh out of college, the best paying graphic design jobs I could find were among the glitzy new casinos opening in Vegas. They offered not only large paychecks, but high budgets so I could create the most luxurious, Trumpian full-color ads, brochures and mailers. But I didn’t apply. I don’t oppose gambling but did I want to spend 50 hours a week enticing spendthrifts to blow their paychecks at a craps table? It felt wrong.

Another well paying job was for a rapidly growing adult superstore chain (I believe they’re national, but won’t check their website in case the Mrs. scrolls through our web browser history. [“Really honey, I was researching a story on Christian martyrdom; I promise!”]) As with gambling, I’m fine with people flying their freak flag in whichever position they choose, but it’s not my scene.

As I grew in my career and faith, I grew even more selective. A bank offered a fantastic art director position, but their primary marketing technique was “You deserve a new boat/nicer car/larger house!” Their largest money maker required false flattery and poor stewardship; I rejected the job. (A year later, the easy-credit economic collapse hit. Glad I followed my conscience.)

I could have gone the Kim Davis route and taken one of those jobs anyway. When my boss yelled at me for only designing Bellagio flyers hyping nearby churches, or sex shop ads insisting on abstinence outside of marriage, I could have claimed persecution. But these companies would have tossed me out on my halo — not to violate my religious liberty, but because I wasn’t doing my job.

A devout Muslim won’t work as a pulled pork chef. An observant Jew won’t take a job where she’s forced to work on the Sabbath. If Kim Davis wants to exercise her faith in the public sphere, she should take a job that doesn’t violate her conscience.

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  1. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Still waiting for John to show me the law she is violating.

    We’re conservatives buddy, not liberals. We deal in facts. If you are going to assert something, please provide a cite or admit the statement is in error.

    • #31
  2. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jan Hus, John Bunyan, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and more — each had their own cause, but they all share the same resolve not to violate their conscience.”

    Balderdash.

    Kim Davis is not being persecuted for her faith, she is facing the consequences of violating the law.

    King, Hus, Bunyan, and Bonhoeffer were all punished for breaking the law too. Bonhoeffer was part of a murder plot against the leader of his country. All of these people, like Davis, intentionally broke the law and knew that there could be consequences. But they did it anyway because they believed in higher law given by One even greater than Anthony Kennedy.

    Just because the government has the right to lock her up doesn’t mean she is not a prisoner of conscience.

    • #32
  3. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:Kim Davis is not being persecuted for her faith, she is facing the consequences of violating the law.

    What law?  You mean a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in an era of uberliberal-political correctness on the most apex and elite political correctness topic.  In an era where half of Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices eventually become quasi-liberals?  Conservatives are just lucky that the decision wasn’t 7-2 or 9-0.

    “…render unto Caesar.”  The Supreme Court is now Caesar?!  Justice Kennedy is Caesar?  A San Francisco Harvard lawyer is Caesar for conservatism?

    The 15th Amendment was an actual law of the land, and it was ignored for 100 years.  It took a decade or two to integrate the schools.

    What happens when a liberal governor suddenly decides not to carry out any death penalties?  Is the government going to throw the governor in jail?

    The Supreme Court should have stayed out of this just as they probably should have stayed out of the Bush v. Gore case.  States work these out eventually, assuming that the fraud is minimal.  The Supreme Court doesn’t so much need a Ten Commandments monument as much as it needs a monument to the Tenth Amendment.

    By the way, with gay rights located at the top of the pyramid of political correctness, if someone wants to stop the Iran Deal, they better bring up Iran’s view about the topic.  (Be brave.  Throw a Muslim in jail next time.)

    • #33
  4. John Paul Inactive
    John Paul
    @JohnPaul

    Tommy De Seno, nice post.

    • #34
  5. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    Bob W:Also, as far as I know, she didn’t violate any law. Cite the law she violated.A court case is not a law.The extent to which it can be treated as such and enforced as such is not clear.Courts can refuse to enforce laws if they find they are unconstitutional,but that doesn’t require other branches of govt to do any thing.The court is acting within its own sovereign jurisdiction.Obergefell goes beyond this.It amounts to the court actually telling states or other branches what they must do.To agree that they have this power is to deny the concept of separation of powers.Can Congress tell the Supreme Court how it must rule on a particular case?

    She was found in civil contempt for not fulfilling the duties of her office; duties which she swore to upheld. The judge placed her in jail to hopefully (in his view) allow her staff to issue licenses.

    • #35
  6. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    BThompson:Kentucky allows accommodations for vegetarians who work in the wildlife and game licensing department if they are uncomfortable with issuing licenses to kill animals. Seems someone in the chain of bureaucratic command here could have simply delegated this role to the deputies as ended up happening without all this drama.

    The judge wanted her to allow her staff to issue the licenses. She refused.

    What’s more, when Davis was elected to the post SSM wasn’t part of the job. It got added after the fact, so while we’re all very proud of your ethical record in your career path, you knew going in what the jobs you refused to do were all about. Davis had this new duty foisted upon her by the courts.

    SCOTUS makes decisions all the time. She swore an oath to uphold the constitution; like it or not, they interpret it differently that she does. And I have no “pride” in my decisions. They are common sense.

    So maybe Davis is a drama queen who could’ve handled this better but I think your criticism is both over the top and a bit too smug.

    I’m often smug, but I wasn’t here.

    • #36
  7. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    Tommy De Seno:Lost in the reporting here is that Kim Davis did not refuse to license gay marriage without first trying to make sure gays had access to them without her.

    The accommodation she requested required only the following:

    1. For someone other than herself to authorize the deputies, so she isn’t taking part;

    2. To have her name removed from the license.

    I have repeatedly read a very different version of what transpired, and of the shoddy legal representation she received from Liberty Council. Personally, I agree with Judge Napolitano:

    When she assumed office, she took an oath to administer her duties consistent with the U.S. Constitution. Her job with respect to licenses is ministerial: issuing documents to those who legally qualify for them and filing the documents when they are returned to her.

    Kentucky law requires that applicants for marriage licenses be unmarried, residents of Kentucky and at least 18 years of age. As a county clerk, Davis cannot add to these requirements another requirement – namely, that the applicants be of the opposite sex. She cannot do that because the Supreme Court has ruled that marriage is a fundamental liberty, the exercise of which is protected by the Constitution, and within that liberty is the right to choose a same-sex marriage mate, uninterfered with by the state.

    By adding her own requirement and using the force of law to enforce that requirement, she is frustrating the ruling of the Supreme Court, interfering with the fundamental liberties of marriage applicants, and violating her oath to uphold the Constitution, the final interpreter of which is the Supreme Court.

    • #37
  8. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    Hoyacon: Is it only the left (see Occupy Wall Street) that can practice civil disobedience with minimal consequences?

    Yes, it is only the left. That’s my biggest problem with how Davis has been treated. She gets tossed in the clink and Lois Lerner lounges at home drawing a paycheck.

    • #38
  9. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    danok1: Tommy’s comment should be required reading before anyone comments on this issue.

    Agree completely.

    • #39
  10. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    The Supreme Court is not the final interpreter of the Constitution, nor does the Constitution grant the Supreme Court the power of judicial review. Their ruling in this matter can and should be disregarded.

    • #40
  11. Benjamin Glaser Inactive
    Benjamin Glaser
    @BenjaminGlaser

    I’m pretty disappointed in this post from Jon Gabriel.

    Ditto to Tommy De Sano

    Here is another good read on this issue that is contra-Gabriel

    • #41
  12. Mollie Hemingway Contributor
    Mollie Hemingway
    @MollieHemingway

    To be honest, if you agree with even 1/10 of any of the powerfully worded dissents in Obergefell, seems to me Davis is really asking for something so minor as to be almost laughable. She’s not asking for martyrdom, for crying out loud, she’s asking that her conscience not be violated and there are *any number* of easy fixes that would accomplish this.

    • #42
  13. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    Mollie Hemingway: She’s not asking for martyrdom, for crying out loud, she’s asking that her conscience not be violated and there are *any number* of easy fixes that would accomplish this.

    But several politicians are calling her a martyr for Christ. That is what I’m addressing.

    • #43
  14. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    Judge Napolitano’s response is wrong on so many levels. But it all comes back to one point, even more basic than the religious freedom issue: one branch of government cannot order another branch what to do. If it does so, and if its order is complied with, it is complied with voluntarily. There is no legal way to compel it. The incarceration of Kim Davis was just as illegal as if the court had incarcerated the KY legislature. And this would have been the case whether or not her motives were religious .

    • #44
  15. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: But several politicians are calling her a martyr for Christ. That is what I’m addressing.

    But the question of her martyrdom or otherwise is really very minor in the larger picture.

    The question of what Kim Davis should do, given the dictates of her conscience (which the law cannot judge) in this particular situation, is primarily important to Kim Davis. I expect that if I were in her place I’d resign. But that’s not the larger issue.

    The much bigger issue is what the State of Kentucky should do. Is there any reason at all that it cannot provide a reasonable accommodation to meet the demands of her conscience, or at the least go as far as possible to do so? Is there any reason whatsoever that the certificates can’t be issued under another authority?

    It’s all very well to say “if you can’t do the job, resign.” And granted there are some jobs not compatible with certain convictions. But this kind of thing sets a precedent that could go beyond government work. Do you not realize, in the 21st-century world of political correctness run amok, how threatening that becomes to many people of conscience?

    That teacher can’t in good conscience teach the new “diverse” state sex-ed program to her elementary students? Do we want her to lose her job, and her students to lose her? And so on and on.

    • #45
  16. Herbert Woodbery Member
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    Mike LaRoche:The Supreme Court is not the final interpreter of the Constitution, nor does the Constitution grant the Supreme Court the power of judicial review. Their ruling in this matter can and should be disregarded.

    what is the role of the Supreme Court?

    • #46
  17. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    Mollie Hemingway: She’s not asking for martyrdom, for crying out loud, she’s asking that her conscience not be violated and there are *any number* of easy fixes that would accomplish this.

    But several politicians are calling her a martyr for Christ. That is what I’m addressing.

    I tread very lightly when using the term martyr even rhetorically.  There are people laying down their lives who are actual martyrs that the term doesn’t need to be cheapened to include prisoners of conscience, those exercising civil disobedience, or political prisoners even if it involved religious persecution.

    • #47
  18. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    Mollie Hemingway:To be honest, if you agree with even 1/10 of any of the powerfully worded dissents in Obergefell, seems to me Davis is really asking for something so minor as to be almost laughable. She’s not asking for martyrdom, for crying out loud, she’s asking that her conscience not be violated and there are *any number* of easy fixes that would accomplish this.

    To be discussed in that most ever-popular and unique podcast The Hemingways?

    • #48
  19. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    @Tommy #17: fantastic. That should be copied and pasted into a few million Facebook pages… But that it needs to be is precisely why I don’t have the damned thing in the first place.

    • #49
  20. Big Ern Inactive
    Big Ern
    @BigErn

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    Mollie Hemingway: She’s not asking for martyrdom, for crying out loud, she’s asking that her conscience not be violated and there are *any number* of easy fixes that would accomplish this.

    But several politicians are calling her a martyr for Christ. That is what I’m addressing.

    I’ve called her a martyr for states rights, and I firmly believe Kentucky is missing a golden opportunity to challenge Obergefell and fight to reclaim power the Supreme Court unconstitutionally usurped from the States. I realize she’s not making a states’ rights claim, but that shouldn’t stop Kentuckians from seeing a gift horse for what it is and taking up the case.

    • #50
  21. Big Green Inactive
    Big Green
    @BigGreen

    Mike LaRoche:The Supreme Court is not the final interpreter of the Constitution, nor does the Constitution grant the Supreme Court the power of judicial review. Their ruling in this matter can and should be disregarded.

    Should SCOTUS rulings in all matters be ignored by anyone, including public officials, that disagrees with the ruling?  If so, what exactly is the purpose of the SCOTUS?  How would the SCOTUS have any authority to stop unconstitutional action by the other two branches?  Seems to me that it defeats the entire purpose of a written constitution.

    • #51
  22. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    There’s nothing in the constitution that says the court’s job is to stop unconstitutional actions by other branches. The court’s job is to be the highest court in the federal appellate jurisdiction.

    • #52
  23. Tom Riehl Inactive
    Tom Riehl
    @TrinityWaters

    Mike LaRoche:The Supreme Court is not the final interpreter of the Constitution, nor does the Constitution grant the Supreme Court the power of judicial review. Their ruling in this matter can and should be disregarded.

    That’s what I said!

    • #53
  24. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:The judge wanted her to allow her staff to issue the licenses. She refused.

    I concede this was a problem with her objection. However, fairness would acknowledge that by delegating authority to her deputies they wouldn’t otherwise have Davis wouldn’t really be removing herself from participating in granting of the licenses, especially when her name remained on the license.

    Where you go wrong, Jon, is not even mentioning that she has a constitutionally and statutorily protected right to have her religious objections respected. She is not required, whatever Judge Napolitano believes, to give up that right and resign as her first and best response to a new law or ruling. Rather, and plainly, it is the state’s legal obligation and duty to find an accommodation for her religious objections. Why is this lost upon you, Jon?

    SCOTUS makes decisions all the time.

    Indeed it does, thank you Captain Obvious. To pretend or imply that it is reasonable for someone to expect that the Supreme Court would legislate new law and invent imaginary rights embedded in the fourteenth amendment based on logic-free, emotional appeals to novel definitions of freedom and liberty based in new-agey notions of self-actualization that overturn millennia old traditions and legal design goes more than a bit too far. It’s not intellectually honest to talk as if this was just another court decision which no government employee had any reason to even blink at.

    1/2

    • #54
  25. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    2/2

    She swore an oath to uphold the constitution; like it or not, they interpret it differently that she does.

    Great, unfortunately for your position Obergefell didn’t pertain to nor repeal Davis’s legal right to have her religious beliefs and conscience respected by the state and granted an accommodation way, way, way before she should ever have even had to contemplate resigning.

    And I have no “pride” in my decisions. They are common sense.

    No, you aren’t proud of yourself at all, going out of your way to make apples and oranges comparisons between yourself and Davis that reflected well up on your moral judgement. You merely believe all those who took the jobs you turned your nose up at lack common sense.

    • #55
  26. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    BThompson:

    And I have no “pride” in my decisions. They are common sense.

    No, you aren’t proud of yourself at all, going out of your way to make apples and oranges comparisons between yourself and Davis that reflected well up on your moral judgement. You merely believe all those who took the jobs you turned your nose up at lack common sense.

    Easy there. We don’t know what Jon really believes, but he’s given us plenty of reasoned argument to work with.

    • #56
  27. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:But several politicians are calling her a martyr for Christ. That is what I’m addressing.

    Which politicians are you referring to, Jon? You didn’t cite any quotes which say this in your OP. Can you provide actual quotes of politicians calling Davis a martyr? It seems to me that the politicians you did cite are merely claiming that she is being persecuted for following her faith. Enduring persecution and suffering martyrdom aren’t the same thing.

    I’m not saying no prominent politicians have used the term “martyr,” I just haven’t heard that. It seems you have.

    • #57
  28. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    What have you done today to make government smaller so there will be plenty of opportunities for people to find jobs that don’t violate their consciences?

    • #58
  29. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy
    • You don’t have to be a saint to engage in non-violent civil disobedience.
    • Comparing her to violent thugs sure feels like slander to me.
    • The idea that people like Martin Luther King Jr. never “violated their own conscience” strikes me as mindless hagiography.
    • You do not have to agree with her cause to admire her willingness to accept the government’s punishment. Lots of people think Thoreau was wrong about the Spanish American War Mexican-American War but are still able to admire the way he protested it.
    • I hope if I ever find myself in a situation where I feel contempt for a court that I have the cohones to own that contempt and accept the consequences without prostrating myself.
    • #59
  30. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Mat Staver, who is representing Davis in court, compared her to several Christian martyrs. “Kim joins a long list of people who were imprisoned for their conscience,”

    Actually, no, that particular Mat Staver quote doesn’t compare her to any Christian martyrs. It compares her to to Christians who were imprisoned for civil disobedience. Being imprisoned for civil disobedience doesn’t make one a martyr.

    Maybe he compared her to Christian martyrs at some other time, but I don’t see it from any of the quotes in the OP.

    So, of course she isn’t a martyr. She’s merely been jailed, not executed. Q.E.D.

    • #60
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