Archive for the ‘Kentucky’ category

What’s The Point?

September 7, 2015

Kim Davis, the Kentucky County Clerk, has scratched her place into America’s folk lore. Claiming the tenants of her religion, Ms Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.  She claims to be acting under God’s law. She ran for election knowing that same sex marriage was a national possibility.  Today she claims God’s law is above US law.  Hmmm.

The Federal District Court judge who found Ms Davis in contempt and remanded her to jail when she refused, had no other alternative. Davis has said her religious beliefs are firm and accordingly she will not issue licenses to same sex couples. The judge said he would revisit his detention order this week faces an awkward situation.

If he were now to allow Ms Davis to be released, she could resume he job and order all those working in the Clerk’s office to refuse same sex couples marriage licenses. If the judge asks Ms Davis her intent and she confirms that she will not issue licenses and will not allow her subordinates to issue them too, the judge will have again no other option but to return Ms Davis to jail.

Hate in and of itself is not a crime. Nor is the act of feeling superior and “better” than someone else. Problems arise when people act upon these negative and destructive attitudes.

Law involves civil matters and when the Supreme Court found that same sex marriage was a Constitutional right for same sex couples, Davis was free to continue to hold her supremacist views but she was not free to follow them on her job.

All the politicians’ ranting and raving about the need for a religious objection exemption is worrisome. It confirms how fundamentally low quality the thinking of so many prominent political figures really are. It also runs the risk that some States may try to put such laws on the books only to be later struck down.

At the root of the Kim Davis issue is whether someone claiming membership in a “Christian” religion can hold the general views of Christianity while at the same time cherry picking the theology and picking certain specific dogmas and presenting them as the full message of their Christian views. Same sex marriage in no way hurts Ms Davis or denies her the room to celebrate her religion. In her private life, Ms Davis is free to hold her anti gay views. In her public life, she is required to treat all citizens the same.

The unstated problem here is that Davis’ view of God’s Law is unique to her specific born again church.  How can she prove that her interpretation of God’s Law is different from Methodist or Catholic or Jewish or Hindu or Muslim takes on a supreme spirit?  More to the point, how can we be a land of laws when there are so many different religions which could claim a different God interpretation on all sorts of social issues?

The judge will do everyone a favor when he revisits his decision on jail, if Ms Davis continues to refuse to fulfill her country clerk duties, he sends her back indefinitely or until her term expires.  A clear line needs to be drawn.

Religious Smoke Screens

September 2, 2015

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.