12 Sep


A friend of mine, a young gay man from Kazakhstan,  was impressed by the act of Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis going to jail for her convictions.  On the face of it, I can understand the impression one would make going to jail for one’s beliefs.  I have grown up with heroes religious who were willing to go to jail based on their beliefs, including Daniel and Philip Berrigan, Cliff Frasier, Mahatma Ghandi, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to name a few.  My friend does not know the long tradition in America of political dissent involving persons religious, and the concomitant endeavor to liberate people from systems of oppression.  Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam understood the oppressive, and destructive, policies of the United States against the people of Vietnam.  Liberation theology activists from the same era sought to free people throughout the Americas from political systems of oppression, something the greater Catholic Church, whom these individuals also served, was not able to embrace.

What my friend does not see in this recent action is the media spectacle it was intended to be by both Davis and her counsel, Liberty Counsel.  Davis opposes liberatory movement, in this case the newly gained right of gay couples to marry.  As a person holding an elected position serving the public, Davis should have stepped down from her post.  That would have been an honest action.  But, instead, she held onto her position in order to refuse marriage licenses to persons from that public, persons she should have been serving.  What I see in this spectacle is calculation and strategy without the love nor compassion which has clearly characterized the bravest of heroes religious from my perspective.  And what I finally see, in the stride to a podium before a crowd following release from jail, in the raising of arms by political supporters — including presidential contender Mike Huckabee, who recently dodged an apt question about Biblical proscription against divorce and remarriage — what finally was clearly visible about Kim Davis, is that this individual bristles with pride, a pride of ego so anathema to humility and the teachings of Christianity that there could never be a heroic action on the part of this person.

One Response to “Pride”

  1. Invisible Mikey September 12, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

    We’re both guessing to a degree of course, but I don’t see Mrs. Davis as smart enough to concoct a media strategy. That’s the agenda of her lawyers, Huckabee, Cruz etc. She herself is just garden-variety stubborn and not very bright, being unable to understand there’s a hierarchy in government, and as a clerk she has no license to practice law. She doesn’t understand the separation between church and state, even though that’s basic Civics 101.

    The more important point where you and I agree is that this isn’t about her going to jail for her beliefs. Analogies between her actions and those of previous conscientious objectors are false, since those parties acted to expand rights and she acted to restrict them. She defied a specific, legal court order, which she has justified for religious reasons. No court has accepted that defense, right up to SCOTUS. The lower courts that did hear her case said, as you suggested, that being a government functionary gives her no standing to redefine law. She can submit, or quit, or if she interferes and tries to obstruct again, she goes back to jail with additional penalties likely.

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