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. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    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.

    “Several politicians” feels a little vague, bordering on being a weasel phrase.

    How many? Is it a statistically-significant number of politicians?

    Which ones? Are they prominent politicians who I would pay attention to, or wingnuts who I’ve never given a second thought to?

    Quotes please. Did they actually use the words “she is a martyr for Christ”? Did they actually use the words “she is a martyr”? Or did they merely compare her to specific martyrs?

    I’ve mentioned in the past that by willingly accepting the punishment of the state while also refusing to admit error she’s following the example of some prominent martyrs, namely the Apostle Paul and Jesus Christ. That doesn’t mean I’m saying she is a martyr herself.

    • #61
  2. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    “I was just following orders.”  — Lt. William Calley

    Of course, he could have quit his job and let somebody else follow orders, instead.

    • #62
  3. Indaba Member
    Indaba
    @

    Thank goodness for common sense column. We are in a global world now. I would not want serve men with a wife standing behind him in her religious garments. If I work for the government, I could ask to move away from client facing roles.
    In my job, I have had to work with clients from Pakistan. Surprise. They have become some of my favourite clients. I sure had a lot of negative stereotypes and thought I knew what sexists they would be. Not at all.

    • #63
  4. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    Davis’ problem would be a lot easier if she were beautiful.  But still the law requires that she be accommodated, not sent to jail.  Is it a Hillary plot to change headlines?   Or was it Huckabee’s to get attention.   Or just another example of judicial tyranny?  Stupidity and mob rule?

    • #64
  5. katievs Inactive
    katievs
    @katievs

    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.

    Where? The quotes you cite refer to conscience, not Christ.

    MLK, Jr. was thrown in jail for defying a court order, not for refusing to deny his faith in Jesus.

    The right to serve in public office without being forced to violate your conscience is among the most fundamental guarantees of the Constitution.

    I heard a wonderful talk on the subject last night by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik.

    The American system isn’t secular, it’s pluralist.

    • #65
  6. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    First they came for the florists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a florist.

    Then they came for the bakers, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a baker.

    Then they came for the county clerks, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a county clerk.

    … etc.

    There’s been a lot of muttering on the Christian interwebs that this is the wrong person, at the wrong time, with the wrong issue, in the wrong way.

    Which raises the questions:  When is the right time? Who is the right person? What is the right issue? What is the right way?

    This was discussed very well by David Murray in a piece We Don’t Get To Choose Our Martyrs

    • #66
  7. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    A-Squared:I’m shocked that a news story this big hasn’t created much discussion on Ricochet. Hopefully, this is the thread that will get a discussion going.

    There have been posts on the Member Feed. Perhaps it just took a Main Feed Contributor to get it past the filter.

    • #67
  8. Big Green Inactive
    Big Green
    @BigGreen

    Bob W:There’snothing 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.

    If the judiciary is indeed a co-equal branch of government, then it most certainly is their job, among other things.  This whole notion that judicial review is not a part of the court’s duties is mostly nonsense.  It is very clear from reading the federalist papers that both Madison and Hamilton had this in their design.

    I share many of the same concerns around the court’s drift in the modern era to one of making law vs interpreting the law and I don’t think it is a positive development.  That said, simply because I don’t like some of their decisions, it doesn’t mean I am going to pretend that certain things are not within its purview.

    • #68
  9. Underwood Inactive
    Underwood
    @Underwood

    Big Green:

    […]

    Seems to me that it defeats the entire purpose of a written constitution.

    So does having a court that just makes stuff up.

    • #69
  10. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    Big Green:

    Bob W:There’snothing 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.

    If the judiciary is indeed a co-equal branch of government, then it most certainly is their job, among other things. This whole notion that judicial review is not a part of the court’s duties is mostly nonsense. It is very clear from reading the federalist papers that both Madison and Hamilton had this in their design.

    Judicial Review means that courts can overturn laws.  That’s not controversial, at least not to me.  Overturning a law doesn’t in itself require another branch of govt to do something.  The court is just saying to the other branches, “Do what you want, but if you try to prosecute someone under a law we have found unconstitutional, you have to come through us, and when you do, we’re not going to give you a conviction”.  This is entirely within courts’ legitimate powers.   What is not within their powers is to order other branches of government to actually take certain actions, which is what the Obergefell decision does.

    • #70
  11. HeartofAmerica Inactive
    HeartofAmerica
    @HeartofAmerica

    Jon, I was like you at first. If she can’t or won’t do the job then she should resign or the fine people of her county could recall her in an election.

    But then I  read a little further and as Tommy stated, she asked for an accommodation on religious principles. She was refused. They said that you can’t change the process but didn’t they, TPTB, change the process by allowing gay marriage? Sure they did.

    Let’s remove Christianity here and substitute Islam. If the clerk has been a Muslim and forced to now place their name on the document, do you think for one minute that an accommodation wouldn’t have been granted to the clerk? In a heartbeat.

    While I wouldn’t characterize Kim as a martyr, I do think what she is asking to do is important. Her signature is saying that she endorses the marriage. All she is asking is that her signature be removed and allow someone else in the office to replace it with theirs.

    • #71
  12. Herbert Woodbery Member
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    “Judicial Review means that courts can overturn laws. That’s not controversial, at least not to me. Overturning a law doesn’t in itself require another branch of govt to do something. The court is just saying to the other branches, “Do what you want, but if you try to prosecute someone under a law we have found unconstitutional, you have to come through us, and when you do, we’re not going to give you a conviction”. This is entirely within courts’ legitimate powers. What is not within their powers is to order other branches of government to actually take certain actions, which is what the Obergefell decision does.”

    So in the Obergfell decision the anti gay marriage laws are struck down. How does this play out? Every gay Person in a state that refuses him a license has to go to court? The court rules that state can’t refuse him the license. Then what happens? It’s a Mexican standoff…

    How about 2nd amendment rights? If a state decides it’s not going to allow guns to be brought in the state. How is the situation resolved. Even if person being denied gun goes to court and gets a ruling that he is entitled to possess a gun. The state ignores the ruling, then what…..

    • #72
  13. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Bob W: Judicial Review means that courts can overturn laws. That’s not controversial, at least not to me. Overturning a law doesn’t in itself require another branch of govt to do something. The court is just saying to the other branches, “Do what you want, but if you try to prosecute someone under a law we have found unconstitutional, you have to come through us, and when you do, we’re not going to give you a conviction”. This is entirely within courts’ legitimate powers. What is not within their powers is to order other branches of government to actually take certain actions, which is what the Obergefell decision does.

    That is an important distinction.

    • #73
  14. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    Herbert Woodbery:“Judicial Review means that courts can overturn laws.That’s not controversial, at least not to me.Overturning a law doesn’t in itself require another branch of govt to do something.The court is just saying to the other branches, “Do what you want, but if you try to prosecute someone under a law we have found unconstitutional, you have to come through us, and when you do, we’re not going to give you a conviction”.This is entirely within courts’ legitimate powers. What is not within their powers is to order other branches of government to actually take certain actions, which is what the Obergefell decision does.”

    So in the Obergfell decision the anti gay marriage laws are struck down. How does this play out? Every gay Person in a state that refuses him a license has to go to court?The court rules that state can’t refuse him the license.Then what happens?It’s a Mexican standoff…

    You’re right.  It’s a standoff.  The other branches of govt may comply volunatarily.  What are the consequences if they don’t? The only consequences should be political ones.  It’s all about checks and balances, and the people’s votes are part of that process.  Giving one branch of govt, and only one, the right to order the other two around is completely contrary to separation of powers. A court incarcerating an officer of the executive branch is totally outside of its powers.

    • #74
  15. Big Green Inactive
    Big Green
    @BigGreen

    Bob W:

    Big Green:

    If the judiciary is indeed a co-equal branch of government, then it most certainly is their job, among other things. This whole notion that judicial review is not a part of the court’s duties is mostly nonsense. It is very clear from reading the federalist papers that both Madison and Hamilton had this in their design.

    Judicial Review means that courts can overturn laws. That’s not controversial, at least not to me. Overturning a law doesn’t in itself require another branch of govt to do something. The court is just saying to the other branches, “Do what you want, but if you try to prosecute someone under a law we have found unconstitutional, you have to come through us, and when you do, we’re not going to give you a conviction”. This is entirely within courts’ legitimate powers. What is not within their powers is to order other branches of government to actually take certain actions, which is what the Obergefell decision does.

    I would encourage you to read the Federalist papers.  I also think you are making a distinction without much of a difference.

    What action are they making other branches do?  What they are saying is that the other branches (and states) can’t prevent two people of the same sex from getting married.

    • #75
  16. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    Im really hoping Jon will come back to the conversation he started and at least provide support for his claim that politicians have been calling Kim Davis a martyr. Several members have asked to see it.

    It would be nice for him to also address why Davis should simply give up her legal right to a religious accommodation and instead just resign outright.

    Are you still participating in your conversation Jon?

    • #76
  17. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    Herbert Woodbery:“Judicial Review means that courts can overturn laws.That’s not controversial, at least not to me.Overturning a law doesn’t in itself require another branch of govt to do something.The court is just saying to the other branches, “Do what you want, but if you try to prosecute someone under a law we have found unconstitutional, you have to come through us, and when you do, we’re not going to give you a conviction”.This is entirely within courts’ legitimate powers. What is not within their powers is to order other branches of government to actually take certain actions, which is what the Obergefell decision does.”

    How about 2nd amendment rights?If a state decides it’s not going to allow guns to be brought in the state.How is the situation resolved.Even if person being denied gun goes to court and gets a ruling that he is entitled to possess a gun.The state ignores the ruling, then what…..

    If a state attempts to prosecute someone for a gun violation and  the court finds the law under which the prosecution is brought to be unconstitutional, then the court refuses to convict the defendant.  That’s entirely within the court’s powers.

    • #77
  18. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    Big Green:

    Bob W:

    Big Green:

    If the judiciary is indeed a co-equal branch of government, then it most certainly is their job, among other things. This whole notion that judicial review is not a part of the court’s duties is mostly nonsense. It is very clear from reading the federalist papers that both Madison and Hamilton had this in their design.

    Judicial Review means that courts can overturn laws. That’s not controversial, at least not to me. Overturning a law doesn’t in itself require another branch of govt to do something. The court is just saying to the other branches, “Do what you want, but if you try to prosecute someone under a law we have found unconstitutional, you have to come through us, and when you do, we’re not going to give you a conviction”. This is entirely within courts’ legitimate powers. What is not within their powers is to order other branches of government to actually take certain actions, which is what the Obergefell decision does.

    What action are they making other branches do? What they are saying is that the other branches (and states) can’t prevent two people of the same sex from getting married.

    What actions are they making them do? When they say, “Do as we say or go to jail?”…. as they did to the clerk?  And I did read the Federalist Papers.

    • #78
  19. Herbert Woodbery Member
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    “It would be nice for him to also address why Davis should simply give up her legal right to a religious accommodation and instead just resign outright.”

    And if the governor of Kentucky refuses to give her a reasonable religious accommodation? (The only recourse would be a political one right? )

    Suppose the governor says…. My religious convictions cause me to support the right of gays to marry, therefore I should be given a religious accommodation from accommodating mrs Davis’s religious convictions….

    • #79
  20. katievs Inactive
    katievs
    @katievs

    I know a Navy chaplain. Suppose he won’t marry two men or two women, because it’s against Church teaching and his conscience? Should he have to resign his commission?

    My former professor, Rocco Buttligione was forced to resign his position in the European Union because, as a believing Catholic, he thinks homosexual acts are immoral.

    Only people who adhere to the new orthodoxy on homosexuality will be eligible for public service.

    If that’s not a religious test for office, I don’t know what is.

    • #80
  21. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    Herbert Woodbery:“It would be nice for him to also address why Davis should simply give up her legal right to a religious accommodation and instead just resign outright.”

    And if the governor of Kentucky refuses to give her a reasonable religious accommodation?(The only recourse would be a political one right? )

    Suppose the governor says…. My religious convictions cause me to support the right of gays to marry, therefore I should be given a religiousaccommodation from accommodating mrs Davis’s religious convictions….

    Well, giving Davis an accommodation wouldn’t stop SSM in Kentucky. It wouldn’t even end it in Davis’s county. All the governor would had to do was grant authority to other people in the county clerks office to sign the marriage license. Davis wasn’t seeking to end SSM, she was seeking to be removed from participating in it.

    And if an obstinate governor still tried to deny an accommodation, she would take it to court because the accommodation is a legal right that the governor can’t legally withhold when there is a reasonable solution for making the accommodation.

    Any other absurd hypotheticals you want to float to avoid the point?

    • #81
  22. Herbert Woodbery Member
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    And if an obstinate governor still tried to deny an accommodation, she would take it to court because the accommodation is a legal right that the governor can’t legally withhold when there is a reasonable solution for making the accommodation……

    But taking it to court would be meaningless because a court ruling would have no way to be enforced…

    In that world, some states would have continued segregation for years, Bill Clinton would have refused to testify in Monicagate and Nixon would have never turned over the tapes.

    • #82
  23. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    Herbert Woodbery:But taking it to court would be meaningless because a court ruling would have no way to be enforced…

    It wouldn’t be meaningless, any people ordered to enforce any penalties against Davis for persisting in her refusal to sign the licenses would be justified in refusing to do so, citing the court decision. It would also establish a basis for impeachment.

    But, yes, all of the officers and representatives of our government can simply refuse to follow the law. That’s always been true. It doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t seek to exercise their plain legal rights just because there is some chance that the government will act extra-legally and tyrannically.

    • #83
  24. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    katievs: Only people who adhere to the new orthodoxy on homosexuality will be eligible for public service.

    This would also include public school teachers. Should a school teacher who refuses to present a curriculum that affirms same sex marriage be fired? Jailed? Or should all Christians be forced to knuckle under or resign?

    • #84
  25. Big Green Inactive
    Big Green
    @BigGreen

    Bob W:

    Big Green:

    Bob W:

    Judicial Review means that courts can overturn laws. That’s not controversial, at least not to me. Overturning a law doesn’t in itself require another branch of govt to do something. The court is just saying to the other branches, “Do what you want, but if you try to prosecute someone under a law we have found unconstitutional, you have to come through us, and when you do, we’re not going to give you a conviction”. This is entirely within courts’ legitimate powers. What is not within their powers is to order other branches of government to actually take certain actions, which is what the Obergefell decision does.

    What action are they making other branches do? What they are saying is that the other branches (and states) can’t prevent two people of the same sex from getting married.

    What actions are they making them do? When they say, “Do as we say or go to jail?”…. as they did to the clerk? And I did read the Federalist Papers.

    Well, what they are saying is that you can’t pass a law preventing two people of the same sex from getting married.

    • #85
  26. Big Green Inactive
    Big Green
    @BigGreen

    BThompson:

    Herbert Woodbery:But taking it to court would be meaningless because a court ruling would have no way to be enforced…

    It wouldn’t be meaningless, any people ordered to enforce any penalties against Davis for persisting in her refusal to sign the licenses would be justified in refusing to do so, citing the court decision. It would also establish a basis for impeachment.

    But, yes, all of the officers and representatives of our government can simply refuse to follow the law. That’s always been true. It doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t seek to exercise their plain legal rights just because there is some chance that the government will act extra-legally and tyrannically.

    And there are consequences for not following the law.

    • #86
  27. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    Big Green:And there are consequences for not following the law.

    Well, under the law, Kim Davis was and is entitled the religious accommodation she sought and was protected in refusing to act counter to her sincerely held religious belief. So I don’t think it’s really fair to characterize her as “not following the law.” One can question whether refusing to authorize others to fulfill her duty was actually necessary. However, seeing as it is a question of conscience, if her conscience felt giving others power to license gay weddings made her a material participant in the wedding, she was still arguably protected by the law.

    You may not like religious accommodation statutes, but they are perfectly legal and acting in accordance with them doesn’t constitute “not following the law.”

    • #87
  28. Herbert Woodbery Member
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    And there are consequences for not following the law.

    Well according to Bob that would only be true if someone higher up in your branch of government had authority(and desire) over you to impose those consequences.   So back when there were valid laws restricting marriage, there would be no consequences to public officials marrying gays unless a higher up had that authority.

    Sanctuary cities?  might be illegal but if the governor approves then, so what….  and even then… do mayors have to abide by the dictates of the governor?   What is  the governor gonna to do?  tell them to stop?  The Mayor replies back “this is our city, we will run it the way we like”.   Then what?

    • #88
  29. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    BThompson: 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 referring to Sen. Cruz and Gov. Huckabee who both claimed Davis was suffering for — and only for — her Christian faith. To wit:

    Ted 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.”

    This is neither a criminalization of faith, nor of Christianity. She was placed in jail for civil contempt.

    • #89
  30. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    Herbert Woodbery:

    Well according to Bob that would only be true if someone higher up in your branch of government had authority(and desire) over you to impose those consequences. So back when there were valid laws restricting marriage, there would be no consequences to public officials marrying gays unless a higher up had that authority.

    Sanctuary cities? might be illegal but if the governor approves then, so what…. and even then… do mayors have to abide by the dictates of the governor? What is the governor gonna to do? tell them to stop? The Mayor replies back “this is our city, we will run it the way we like”. Then what?

    The Constitution does not make the Supreme Court the final arbiter of the law.  We have turned it into that over time, and it has thrown our entire system out of balance to the point that the other two branches no longer give consideration to the constitutionality of the laws they pass leaving it entirely up to one, unelected branch.

    • #90
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