Monday, September 14, 2015

Week of 09/14/2015

Christian Privilege Is Not Religious Freedom
Imagine waking up early one morning to your home’s smoke alarm going off.  Your house is on fire!
You bolt out of bed, grab your cellphone, get your family and pets out, and then call 9-1-1.
But instead of getting an operator, you get this:
“You have reached Righteous County’s 9-1-1 system.  All the county’s emergency services are closed today in observance of God’s law and the Ten Commandments.  If this is an emergency, please wait for the tone and then leave your name, street address, and phone number, and the nearest neighboring county’s emergency services will handle your call when possible.  Otherwise, please contact our offices during normal business hours Monday through Saturday.  Thank you and have a blessed Sunday!”
You’d understandably be upset, wouldn’t you?  Here’s your home burning to the ground, and you can’t get the local fire department – which you pay taxes for – to respond to your emergency because it happens to be Sunday!
Imagine if your loved one was in an accident and was bleeding to death, or if he or she was a victim to a criminal.  Would you care then if your taxpayer-funded public officials were adhering to what he or she deemed to be “God’s Law”?
Too extreme for you?  Okay, try this:
You want to open a clothing store.  Local leaders give you great tax benefits to do it.  Realtors have the perfect building for your store.  Lenders are willing to lend you the money.  But the person in the business licensing office refuses to give you a business license.  Why?  Because your clothing store will include clothes made from two different cloths, and the government official handling businesses licenses can’t issue a license for something that goes against his or her religious beliefs.
Or we can talk about wanting to open a BBQ restaurant, but the local zoning board decrees that you can’t because your menu will involve pork, considered an “unclean animal” in the Bible.
Sounds asinine, doesn’t it?  Perfectly legal businesses being stopped because of one person’s or one group’s personal religious beliefs.
Oh, sure, you can always open up shop in another town, in another community; one that would welcome you more readily than this hypothetical community.  But why should you have to because of the tyranny of this one person or of this one group?  That’s not American!
If you have been keeping up with recent news events, then you know where we’re going with this.
This is the world according to Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and her supporters, not just in the community, but in several scattered corners of the United States.  A world where their personal beliefs override the very rule of law that these people would otherwise demand that we all adhere to.
Davis and her mouthpieces, which by no coincidence come from the late Reverend Jerry Falwell’s legal group, would have you believe that she is the “victim” in this matter.  That she is the “persecuted” one.  That supposedly her faith is being “threatened”.
This is typical sociopathic behavior.  Project your faults onto others.  Claim to be the victim so your own victims can’t do the same.  Claim to be the wounded party to justify your own actions.  This is the game that is played, and it has nothing to do with truth.
This is the truth: Kim Davis is an elected official for Rowan County, Kentucky.  When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages were legal and protected across the country under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, she took it upon herself to first stop issuing all marriage licenses from her office, and then refused to specifically issue any marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 
Now it would be one thing for her to say “this is against my religious beliefs” and then let someone else in her office do the task.  But she also prevented anyone else in her office from doing it.  In other words, she hijacked the authority of the whole county for her own personal reasons.
You know, this kind of activity would otherwise be called insurrection.  Fourteen years ago we sent soldiers overseas to fight this kind of stuff after religious extremists hijacked planes, took down two skyscrapers, took out part of the Pentagon, tried to destroy the White House, and drove us all down the path to fascism.
Oh, but those were Muslims, weren’t they?  And we’re talking about Christians now, aren’t we?  Those supposedly “don’t count”.
And that’s the point.
Now I’m not going to go over the fact that Ms. Davis violated her biblical teachings with her own convoluted marital history, which is on par with some soap opera characters.  First, because hypocrisy has become a political requirement for conservative thinking.  Second, because all of that supposedly got “wiped clean” when she was “born again” into her current theology.  And, third, because it’s really irrelevant to the issue.
We are not here to talk about Kim Davis, the Christian, even though that is precisely what her attorneys and her supporters and several GOP presidential wannabes demand that we focus on.  They want us to focus on her as a Christian, because they want this to be about her Christian beliefs so they can continue to fraudulently claim “persecution”. 
We are here to talk about Kim Davis, the elected taxpayer-funded public official who took an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.  And I am presuming that she took this oath on her bible and using the words “So help me God” at the end, simply because that’s pretty much expected from politicians of any level of belief. 
Once upon a time when someone in power was required to do something that conflicted with their own personal beliefs, that conflict was considered a personal crisis of conscience.  Personal.  Not public.  That person would be obligated to choose between their beliefs and the job that they swore an oath to carry out.  If you can’t do your job, then you are obligated to step aside.  If you are a pacifist, then you don’t carry out death row executions.  If you are a vegan, then you don’t get put in charge of inspecting slaughterhouses and chicken processing plants.  If you are afraid of water, then you don’t become a lifeguard.  If you are afraid of fire, then you don’t become a fireman.  It is that simple.  Period.
But that is not what Kim Davis, the taxpayer-funded clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky, did.  When the justices of the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriages were legal under the United States Constitution, she knew that this would conflict with her personal beliefs; but rather than to step aside, she took it upon herself to violate the Constitution, violate her oath of office, and violate her word.  And she is claiming that she entitled to do so because her “beliefs” trump the very Constitution that she took an oath to protect and defend.
Let’s get brutally honest here... what Kim Davis and her ilk, including the whole slew of GOP presidential wannabes, want has nothing to do with religious freedom.  They want a license (pun intended) to ignore the Constitution.  To ignore the rule of law.  To put their beliefs above the rule of law and above the Constitution.  Not for everyone, of course.  They don’t want the Amish to shut down drivers licenses, or allow the Muslims to outlaw women wearing shorts.  No, they just want this license for themselves.
They are arguing for Christian Privilege, not religious freedom.
And just as a reminder for those (*ahem* Mike Huckabee) who think that “God’s Law” trumps the Constitution, here is Article VI, second and third paragraphs: 
“This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding. 
“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” 
You do know what “supreme law of the land” means, right?  That means there is nothing above it.  That includes your interpretations of “God”.   There is nothing in there that gives an exception for your religious beliefs.
That also means that if you have some state law that conflicts with the Constitution, such as any kind of asinine “religious freedom” law like Kentucky passed, then that state law loses.  Period.  It’s called the “Supremacy Clause”.  Go ahead and look it up.  There’s plenty of judicial history behind it.
If Kim Davis did not want her name attached to marriage licenses, then she should have resigned.  That is what any ethical and moral person would do.  But she doesn’t want to, because she feels entitled to her position.  If she didn’t want her name on the licenses, then she should have asked to have her name removed from the stamp.  But she – or at least her mouthpieces – didn’t even ask for that until after she was jailed for contempt of court.  After she had already violated her oath of office.
What makes this matter worse is that you have big-money organized religious groups and those aforementioned GOP presidential wannabes that have been goading her to disobey the law.  They have been urging her to violate her oath of office, to violate any sense of ethics and morals when it comes to local government.  They are the reason why she spent five days behind bars, because any kind of financial penalty would have been useless with their financial largesse supporting her.  And they are the reason why the taxpayers of that county will have to sacrifice tens of thousands of dollars, if not millions, to defend her claim of Christian Privilege, despite the aforementioned largesse of those groups.  And, despite Mike Huckabee’s offer to supposedly take her place behind bars the next time – which is about as empty of an offer as his morality – none of those groups will ever be held to account for the financial and legal mess that they instigated and encouraged.
The ultimate hypocrisy is that the conservative and neo-conservative groups that are supporting Davis in this matter and encourage her and others to continue violating the Constitution are desecrating the very principles that they demand we otherwise follow.  They claim to support the rule of law, but apparently only when it suits them.  They claim to support the Constitution, but apparently only when it agrees with them.  They demand we respect authority, and then turn around and promote anarchy and chaos.  They are no different in mindset or rhetoric than the extremist groups on the other side of the world that they have been pushing us to fight for fourteen years now.
That is not what America is supposed to be about, people.  And the longer this goes on, the longer we show the world that we are the biggest bunch of self-righteous hypocrites in human history.  And then it’s only a matter of time before those hypothetical situations I talked about earlier become fact.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well done, David! I agree 100%. ~Ron