Kentucky County Clerk, Kim Davis, has drawn public attention to a bogus religious smoke screen. Claiming her deeply held religious beliefs prevent her from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, and also not wanting to discriminate, Ms Davis has stopped issuing marriage licenses to anyone, gay or straight despite Court orders to do so. Davis claims she is acting under God’s orders. Hmmm.
The next step in this showdown comes tomorrow when a Federal District Court Judge will ask Ms Davis why she should not be held in contempt. Fines and possibly jail time could result if Ms Davis continues to ignore the Court’s order.
The question should not be whether Ms Davis is acting according to sincerely held religious beliefs. Almost assuredly she is. And, the question should not be whether any American may be forced to act against their religious beliefs. Firemen must put out fires in houses of people their religion may condemn. If the fireman refuses he is fired if he does not quit first.
The Constitution’s 1st Amendment speaks to the separation of church and State and makes clear that Ms Davis is free to hold on to her religious beliefs. The Constitution, however, does not empower Ms Davis to deny legally available services to others simply due to her religious beliefs, especially if Ms Davis is holding an office which is mandated to serve all the people in her community. Ms Davis could simply resign.
This controversy seems so lacking in substance one wonders why the Courts have taken so long. Unfortunately, a politically popular line of reasoning goes that government cannot force people to act against the tenants of their religion. Church officials should not have to violate their consciences in providing birth control methods as part of their health insurance plans, and in the case of Hobby Lobby, this notion was expanded to lay persons who hold strongly to a moral reservation. This began a slippery slope and the Courts may have a difficult time enforcing their order against Ms Davis.
It should be clear that no law should require members of the clergy to use birth control or to personally perform any service which violates their religious convictions. What should be just as clear is that members of the clergy should not be permitted to deny insurance coverage to non-religious employees nor morally driven citizens to withhold services for some and yet make those services available to others. This should not be a hard concept to grasp.
Regrettably, the Supreme Court and the political right have mishandled this issue for reasons that are not clear. Ms Davis is throwing the issue right back at them.
The humorous aspect of Ms Davis’ actions arises when one thinks through what she is claiming. She is saying that Allah has commanded her to stone prostitutes and kill homosexuals. Hmmm.
Maybe that does not seem so humorous but when Ms Davis or her supports stammer that she was speaking of “god” not allah, then the laughs can begin.