A county clerk from Kentucky, Kim Davis, has made recent headlines because of her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples (as well as heterosexual couples) on the grounds of religious conviction.
The story began back in July, a month after the Supreme Court ruling, when Davis filed a motion to Stay which allowed her to cease in issuing licenses until the decision on her appeal was made. But, on Aug 26th her appeal was denied and she was ordered to uphold her duties. Davis refused – knowing that the consequences of going against the order could land her behind bars.
— Kerry Marasco (@KerryMarasco) September 3, 2015
This has made Davis a hero among many religious conservatives. However, this shouldn’t be an example of the criminalization of Christians.
First, Mrs. Davis works for a government agency and agreed to uphold the law, whatever it may be. She signed and made a commitment to do that to the best of her abilities. Whether the law that she swore to uphold is something she agrees with makes no difference because she is working for and serving the government, not a private employer.
In other words, the government didn’t put her in jail because she’s a Christian and doesn’t believe in gay marriage. She was put in jail because she was in contempt of court and went against a sworn testament she signed. She disobeyed an explicit order by a judge to continue with her duties. Mrs. Davis could have been a Muslim, and she still would have been in contempt.
This will not and cannot change the government’s mind on the same-sex marriage law and she isn’t helping other Christians by putting herself in this position. If the reason for her not wanting to issue gay marriage licences is based upon a righteous conviction, then it would be a righteous act if she were to resign. That would send a much stronger message.
— Mary Murray (@MaryMurrayNBC) July 11, 2015
This situation makes the Oregon case come to mind for some. But, what makes this different from the Oregon baker case is that the government persecuted the store owners for refusing to participate in a gay wedding by making the couple’s cake. It is a private business and the owners did not sign away their 1st Amendment rights just because they opened a business to serve the community.
— Mike Opelka (@stuntbrain) August 22, 2015
The only exception and what would allow Mrs. Davis to have a legitimate argument is if the state of Kentucky issued an executive order that prohibited state government agencies from taking punitive action against clergy or religious organizations that oppose gay marriage, such as was the case in Kansas.
Kansas issues religious freedom order; implements same-sex benefits http://t.co/neq8Ciu4aL
— Keith Flaherty (@f5m_club) July 14, 2015
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 covered a vast area of where discrimination can be made. However, privately owned businesses were still allowed their rights to deny service to anyone (i.e., No Shirt. No Shoes. No service). But, in the Oregon case it was the government who denied the private business owner their rights. The store owners were subsequently penalized $ 135,000 in damages and they were slapped with a gag order. This would be a true example of where the criminalization of Christianity would apply.
The Klein’s situation represents the religious persecution that Christians can point to as the embodiment of their fears. Mrs. Davis’ situation represents the ineffective actions of someone who has made the wrong choice of how to protect religious rights in America. She is, in essence, hurting her own cause.
As we can see, it’s a debacle…