That’s Not How Religious Freedom Works

Following the Kim Davis saga is frankly tiring. If you are unaware of this moronic waste of the media’s time, Kim Davis is the county clerk in Kentucky that stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether to avoid issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

Citing her religious beliefs as her reasoning, she stopped issuing licenses once the Supreme Court deemed same-sex marriage legal, disobeyed the direct court order to start back issuing licenses, forbade others in her office from doing so, unsuccessfully pursued loophole after loophole, and was eventually jailed for contempt of court.

It’s amazing how resilient the ignorant can be.

I’m going to look past the fact that she’s personally been married 4 times. I’m going to ignore that (at the time of this writing) she is appealing the contempt-of-court charge of which she is clearly guilty. I’m not even going to go in on Kentucky, which is one of the most pro-bigotry states in the union.

This is about freedom of religion, something that Davis and many others (including Mike Huckabee) have clearly misinterpreted.

Freedom Of Religion

We as American citizens are granted the freedom of religion. This means that we are free to worship whatever God we choose to. This does NOT mean that we can use our power to deny someone else of certain privileges because it doesn’t align with our beliefs, especially if you are an elected official.

The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That means you, and anyone else, can freely believe in whatever belief system you choose. Yet, we are also beneficiaries of the separation of church and state: this means that the nation’s laws are to benefit everyone, not just a specific group. This is why you can actually pray in schools, but the school cannot make you pray.

The law of the United States was created for everyone, not just Christians, Jews, Whites, or the Rich.

As an elected official, it is your duty to carry out the responsibilities of your job. In Davis’ case, that includes issuing marriage licenses. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples. If you don’t agree with that, you can either (a) allow another clerk to issue the license, or (b) resign.

Kentucky can’t fire her because she was elected, and impeachment would just delay the process, so the courts chose to throw her in jail. I can’t say I’m mad at them.

God loves everyone, not just “Christians”.

I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. If I don’t believe in something, I don’t partake in it (or I do and feel guilty, but that’s another topic). When it’s all said and done, it is not my duty to demonize someone for not conforming to laws I believe in but they never subscribed to.

Unfortunately, there are millions of people in this country and abroad that call themselves Christians but choose to cherry-pick verses from Levitican law, ignoring the ones that they themselves are guilty of.  These are the same people who say they follow Jesus but ignore His two most important commandments: love God, and love others.

Shaun King posted a Facebook status this week that said it best:

Without fail, the people who harass me daily (I don’t mean genuine critiques) with the ugliest racist words and threats, all claim to be Christian. The people who openly hate Latino immigrants and even state that they’d like to shoot and kill them almost always claim to be Christians. The people who make life difficult, daily, and mock my LGBT friends, are almost always “Christians”. Those who are calling the Black Lives Matter movement a “terrorist organization” or a hate group…so called Christians.

For me, I’m at a point where I just don’t want to be anything that those people claim to be and here’s the greater point that I want to make…

We can’t both be Christians.

“You can’t hate your neighbor who you see, but claim to love the God you cannot see.” 1 John 4:20

Everything that claims to be Christianity, isn’t.

I must say, however, this power goes both ways. Just like there are radical religious morons that harass and demonize the LGBTQ community in the name of their beliefs, there are individuals of the LGBTQ community that are dedicated to harassing and demonizing non-LGBTQs.

I witnessed it when a straight, cisgender friend of mine was sexually harassed by a group of trans women while walking to a concert near the Boystown neighborhood of Chicago. We joked about it then, mostly because he’s not a puny guy, but I do remember him being visibly shaken from the encounter, just as a gay person (or straight woman) would be after being harassed by a group of guys.

I’ve also seen it in the actions of a former roommate of mine who is gay. They were diligent in constantly playing the victim card while simultaneously vilifying anyone who didn’t believe in homosexuality, regardless of their thoughts on the legalization of gay marriage in America (which, contrary to popular belief, are mutually exclusive decisions).

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Moral of the Story

We can all believe in different things and still treat each other with basic respect. Just because I disagree with someone doesn’t make them a bad person, and just because someone subscribes to a different belief system than me doesn’t make them worthy of punishment. To think that way is more Hitler than Christ.

D.L. Hughley said it best on The View after people attacked him on social media about his opinion of Caitlyn Jenner: “No one has the right to kind of bully you into seeing the world the way that they do.”

To be in an elected government position means to uphold the law of that territory, regardless of your personal beliefs. If you are unable to do so, you should not be in that position. The freedom you have been given does not grant you the right to diminish the rights of someone else.

All that being said, Kim Davis is not a martyr for Christian persecution. She is a bigot that wants to collect a check without doing her job.