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.

Published in Law, Religion & Philosophy
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  1. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    BThompson:Jon, you plainly stated for all to see that politicians were calling Davis a martyr. Do you stand by that claim, or are you modifying that claim?

    I said that politicians are calling her a martyr for Christ. I had assumed the fact that (A) I didn’t put that in quotation marks, and (B) that I led the article with two quotations from presidential candidates saying she was jailed for her Christianity, made my meaning clear to all. Apparently that was not the case.

    There is a very high bar for martyrdom. I think your error was exercising journalistic license with a term grounded in very deeply held beliefs.

    Sitting in the county jail with 3 hots and a cot doesn’t even approach the bar.

    Additionally, the politicians in question didn’t hint at the term.

    Given the current trajectory of what is left of our nation I expect that in my lifetime some of the folks on Ricochet will be martyrs and I don’t mean a week in county jail with press coverage and 3 meals per day.

    • #121
  2. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Big Ern:

    Nick Stuart:

    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.

    No, it’s hasn’t been green-lit to the main feed because the editors are more in agreement with Jon than with the counter-arguments.

    This is the third Main Feed article I’ve seen. The first was a member feed post that was promoted. Granted it took the same argument Jon did here, but it was also probably the best-written post on the topic at the time and thus the best discussion-starter. The other was from Tom Meyer. Not very in-depth but much more sympathetic, and I might add that I’ve had enough virtual discussions on RFRA to know he takes religious liberty seriously, if from a very libertarian perspective.

    • #122
  3. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    BThompson:

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:I said that politicians are calling her a martyr for Christ. I had assumed the fact that (A) I didn’t put that in quotation marks, and (B) that I led the article with two quotations from presidential candidates saying she was jailed for her Christianity, made my meaning clear to all.

    It comes down to misusing the word “martyr,” Jon. That is a loaded term which isn’t applicable to Davis and which no one has actually used.

    I would rather shave with a weed eater than agree with BThompson, but in this case that is right.

    Martyr isn’t a word tossed around at a cocktail party or deployed casually on the web.

    Peter was crucified upside down (get your head around that) because he refused to renounce Christ. That is a martyr.

    Yazidi women being raped and slain in Iraq because they will not covert to Islam are martyrs.

    A lady exercising her faith and conscience in her elected position and receiving the support of two (2) prominent politicians isn’t even remotely close to martyrdom. Both Huckabee and Cruz are men of faith and were sensible enough to not tread on the word martyr.

    • #123
  4. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Just because it bears repeating:

    A-Squared

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    … the gay couples could have chosen to avoid the controversy by simply going to the other clerks’ offices. I agree there’s a difference in kind between doing that for a private business and a government office, but it might still have been the decent and better thing to do rather than sue.

    The same could be said of the people that wanted a cake or a pizza.

    The point of suing Christians for being Christians is not to get a cake or a marriage license, but to use the strong-arm of the government to attack Christians and beat them into servile submission to the left’s agenda.  The sooner we stop pretending otherwise, the better.

    We can go ’round for days on the legal/constitutional issues involved here (and we have, it seems), but ask yourself, “if a county clerk of the Muslim persuasion sought a religious accommodation rather than issuing wedding licenses to same-sex couples, would he have ended up in the county jail for even an hour?”

    The secular progressive Left is at war with Judeo-Christian America. As long as we refuse to name the enemy of Western Civilization as we know it, we’ll continue to lose ground.

    Oh, and we also need to ask, “Who among us isn’t in contempt of court(s)?!” Time to turn in your wingnut credentials.

    • #124
  5. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    “I’m out of order, you’re out of order, this whole trial’s out of order!”

    • #125
  6. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.

    “Again, she is not suffering for her faith; she is suffering for her lawlessness”

    Jon before being lawless she was denied a statutorily required religious accommodation. The first lawlessness was committed toward her.

    Does that not give you pause in supporting her being sentenced for contempt?

    Doesn’t she have an equal protection argument herself?

    • #126
  7. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    Jon is aggressively disinterested in her statutorily protected rights of conscience, Tommy. He has absolutely ignored this point despite being engaged on it over and over. He either believes the point is so devoid of merit it doesn’t deserve any consideration at all, or that by ignoring the statute and what it says no one will notice his position has been completely discredited.

    • #127
  8. Lucy Pevensie Inactive
    Lucy Pevensie
    @LucyPevensie

    Tommy De Seno:Jon Gabriel, Ed.

    “Again, she is not suffering for her faith; she is suffering for her lawlessness”

    Jon before being lawless she was denied a statutorily required religious accommodation.The first lawlessness was committed toward her.

    Does that not give you pause in supporting her being sentenced for contempt?

    Doesn’t she have an equal protection argument herself?

    Tommy, I sent you a PM, but maybe you don’t get or read your PMs. I was hoping you could put together the legal information you’ve included in these comments into a post. It would be invaluable to have a whole article to link to, instead of just the comment section, and it looks to me as though you’ve already done most of the work of writing it.

    • #128
  9. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Sorry Lucy I don’t look at that inbox and I should.  I wish they had some sort of notification when you get a message (hopefully Rico 3.0 will when that day comes).

    Eugene Volokh did a great piece that explains the issue better than I can.

    Check it out here:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/09/04/when-does-your-religion-legally-excuse-you-from-doing-part-of-your-job/

    • #129
  10. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    BThompson:Jon is aggressively disinterested in her statutorily protected rights of conscience, Tommy. He has absolutely ignored this point despite being engaged on it over and over. He either believes the point is so devoid of merit it doesn’t deserve any consideration at all, or that by ignoring the statute and what it says no one will notice his position has been completely discredited.

    Which is a shame – although I would use the adverb resolutely instead of  absolutely to show how willful he is in ignoring it over 7 pages of comments.

    Jon ought to at least address it – it would further the conversation…

    • #130
  11. Lucy Pevensie Inactive
    Lucy Pevensie
    @LucyPevensie

    Tommy De Seno:Sorry Lucy I don’t look at that inbox and I should. I wish they had some sort of notification when you get a message (hopefully Rico 3.0 will when that day comes).

    Eugene Volokh did a great piece that explains the issue better than I can.

    Check it out here:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/09/04/when-does-your-religion-legally-excuse-you-from-doing-part-of-your-job/

    Thanks for the link. It’s helpful to me, but I fear that it would be tl:dr for most Facebook posts.  I think you could probably distill your comments here into a much tighter and quicker read than the Volokh piece, and it would be very much appreciated.

    Who knows? It might actually lead Jon Gabriel to respond.

    • #131
  12. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Lucy Pevensie: Who knows? It might actually lead Jon Gabriel to respond.

    Whew, it’s tough being an editor at Ricochet — especially when you’re wrong. ;-)

    • #132
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