Watching people at the demonstration at the Rowan County Court this morning has most certainly activated a bunch of my brain neurons! In fact, so many thoughts are zooming through my head right now that it’s hard to know exactly what to say. However, I’m going to start by stating that I believe in equal rights. Marriage is a civil union, protected by law, and granting many benefits such as tax breaks, next-of-kin privileges, health care benefits etc… No-one should be excluded from civil marriage based on their religion, color, race, or sexual orientation.
So why is this clerk defying the Supreme Court, and breaking the oath she swore when she became the elected clerk of the county? Speaking from my own experience, I think I can venture a guess, and I’ll start with an observation. Looking at those supporting Kim this morning, a group that appeared to be members of her Apostolic church and led by a man I assume is her pastor, one could not find a single African American or other person of color in the entire gathering. The majority of the people were over about 50, with a few exceptions (there were some children present who I assume were either playing truant or are being “home-schooled”). They were dressed like country folk, and held placards that included miss-spellings and very odd references (For example, one sign proclaimed that the Supreme Court ruling was wrong because of the 10th amendment). The leader (pastor) seemed to be a very dynamic man who certainly organized the group in a confident manner. The people clearly respected him.
I imagine the pastor has been teaching this group about the “evils” of homosexuality, and if he’s anything like the people on American Family Radio, he’ll have told them that there is no worse sin. If he doesn’t SAY that, he probably treats it that way. He’ll use a few passages in the bible to shore up his statements, and everyone will simply listen and soak it up. The majority will NOT go home after church and check that what he says is the whole truth. Quite probably, the majority have never read the bible in its entirety. So, as long as a few verses are thrown in here and there, they’ll accept anything he says (unless he veers off the path they’ve been walking along all their lives). Unquestioning acceptance. Questions will be considered rebellion and a lack of faith and trust (been there, done that!). Platitudes and oft-repeated phrases will assume the same value as truth.
Fundamental and/or evangelical Christianity is like a box. Once you’re in, there are many ways to keep you there, and most of them can be condensed into one word: fear. If you die unsaved, you’ll go to hell; if you examine other religions, you will most likely open yourself up to demons; if you question, your faith is not sure; if you even attempt to read or listen to divergent opinions, you might stray and lose your salvation (or, if you’re a Calvinist, entertaining opposing ideas might simply show you that you were never saved in the first place). It’s scary to contemplate non-Christian viewpoints, and the viewpoints you’re supposed to embrace are very specific (depending on which church you belong to, of course).
Kim Davis will not change her mind because she will have swallowed the Kool-aid. She will be frightened to question, and she’ll keep her eyes “fixed firmly on Jesus”. She will believe she is right, and her church will agree with her. Heck, the fundamentalist right would probably make her a saint… if saints weren’t so… Catholic! As a result of this kind of thinking, arguing with her (or her ilk) is an activity doomed from the start. She will not think outside her box; her everlasting life depends on not doing so. And that’s a real shame. Truth should stand up to scrutiny, but if you avoid the scrutiny altogether, how do you know if you have “the Truth”? You don’t. You can’t.
So, Kim Davis, sincere as she might be, is unable to examine her actions in any light other than the one she has chosen to bathe in. The idea of substituting her own actions with what another might do, for example, imagining a Muslim refusing to issue marriage licenses to divorcees, or a Christian from a different sect/group/church refusing to, say, collect property taxes from any of his/her church members, would require logical thinking. She cannot do that.
Her lawyers are not immune to this kind of thinking either. Some of their arguments are, frankly speaking, ludicrous. The idea that public servants should not lose their first amendment rights when they take up a post is just silly. Of course they lose some of their rights. A teacher loses some first amendment rights when he/she enters a school. Imagine in Kim Davis had another daughter (not the one who stole the dog) who was in public school. Then imagine that daughter having a math teacher who started telling his/her charges all about his/her sex life. Kim would be up at that school in a heartbeat. And rightly so. Teachers do NOT have the right to say whatever they please in a classroom. And county clerks do NOT have the right to withhold services from certain people because they think God is telling them to do so.
Apparently, the courts agree with me, but it will be interesting to see what happens in court on Thursday (Sept 3) at 11am. If Bunning fines her, Liberty Counsel will no doubt pay her fines. If he jails her, she’ll become a “martyr” and the funds will flow into Liberty Counsel’s coffers in a huge rush. He’s going to have to be very wise and thoughtful about this. And I’ll be waiting on tenterhooks to see what he’s going to say.