Religious Freedom

It’s interesting to me to hear people say that the Pilgrims (that is, the puritans who came to America on the Mayflower, as well as those who followed in other ships I assume) came to this country for religious freedom. As far as I can tell, that was absolutely not the case. The Pilgrims came to this country to establish their own religion, and proved to be as intolerant toward non-pilgrims as had been the British established church toward them. Bear in mind they had already left Britain and had set up their own “colony” in Holland some years earlier. They were not being persecuted in Holland, so I’m a little dubious about the claim that they were fleeing from persecution. At any rate, as soon as they landed on American soil, they set up their own rule of law and had no difficulty in forcing the non-pilgrims living among them to follow those laws.

Fast forward to Rowan County, Kentucky today. We have a clerk who feels her religious freedom is being violated. Why? Because she, as a county clerk, is required to issue marriage licenses to those who qualify. And guess who qualifies now? Right, gay people. SCOTUS has declared that gay people do, after all, have equal rights and that they can, therefore, marry. Clerk Kim Davis disagrees, and in spite of the Supreme Court ruling, and in spite of the oath of office that she took, is refusing to issue ANY marriage licenses to ANY couples in Rowan County.

I think Davis is conflating the religious sacrament of marriage with the legal definition of marriage. Further, I think the issue is clouded by the fact that the state of legal marriage offers legal rights and responsibilities. To try and explain, think of the rite of baptism. This is something most churches practice, and you certainly don’t have to get a license from a county clerk to receive the right. Neither do you enjoy tax benefits, next-of-kin privileges etc… as a result. Why? Because baptism is a sacrament, and it is simply religious. The same can be said of confirmation, bar mitzvahs, and many other religious rites. Not so with marriage. Marriage is a human condition, if you will. Humans have a desire to become close to someone, maybe to have and rear children, but certainly to support one another. I don’t know if marriage exists in every single culture, but I would guess it probably occurs in the vast majority. And it confers upon the partakers certain legal rights. THAT is why SCOTUS opined that gay couples should be able to marry.

Now SCOTUS has not demanded that churches solemnize gay marriage, just as they have not demanded that they conduct weddings for anyone who is legally entitled to become married. There is no forcing here. However, Davis, not “believing in” gay marriage, wishes to force that belief on her constituents (who pay her not-too-shabby salary), thus depriving them of their legal rights. No-one is asking her to conduct the weddings. No-one is asking her to think any differently from the way she does now (probably just as well; I’m not sure it would work). ALL that is being asked of her is to give marriage licenses to those who qualify. Heck, once a couple gets the license, they still have to get a celebrant to conduct the wedding, otherwise the license expires.

So, Mrs. Davis, instead of fasting and praying, how about reading that bible of yours and examining what it says about religion and society, fairness, and doing the job which you have been given to do.

And, Mr Bunning (the judge), please just remove the stay and place the woman in contempt of court. By not doing so, you are de facto approving of what she’s doing.

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