When does religious freedom become religious authoritarianism? That’s one question arising from the Kentucky county clerk who refused to grant gay couples a marriage license.
Forget for a moment her refusal to do so. Forget that Justice Antonin Scalia has indirectly weighed in on this, against her view.
According to the Washington Post, Scalia has this to say about a judge and the death penalty:
“(I)n my view the choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation, rather than simply ignoring duly enacted, constitutional laws and sabotaging death penalty cases. He has, after all, taken an oath to apply the laws and has been given no power to supplant them with rules of his own. Of course if he feels strongly enough he can go beyond mere resignation and lead a political campaign to abolish the death penalty” and if that fails, lead a revolution. But rewrite the laws he cannot do.”
So the clerk, who swore an oath to apply the laws, has decided to rewrite the laws in accord with her own conscience.
And in doing so, has found herself in jail for contempt.
Of course, this has become a political football, with most of the Republican presidential candidates coming to her defense, going so far as to say that court rulings don’t necessarily have to be followed, that this is just the most recent attack on Christianity.
But there’s something else here, something that you may not have noticed when this storm struck: She isn’t simply following her own religious dictates; she’s imposing them on others.
And no, I don’t mean the gay couples coming for licenses.
No, Ms. Davis has ordered her employees to follow her religious beliefs.
And that’s not religious freedom; it’s a mini version of a theocracy, where religious authoritarianism rules.
Prior to her arrest, she ordered her clerks to defy the law.
After her arrest, she rejected a compromise that would’ve released her from jail in exchange for letting her clerks issue licenses. Even though five of the six agreed to do so (and in fact began to issue them the next day — only her son, also a clerk, refused).
It’s one thing for her to follow the dictates of her religion, mistaken though she might be.
But to tell others to conform to her religion? Christians who support her really want to go there?
I thought we were a country of religious freedom, but Ms. Davis ordering her subordinates to conform to her religion is more than chilling.
This is an attack on Christianity? Please. No, this is more like one Christian imposing her religion on others, restricting their freedom.
And Christians should reject that, remembering why so many first came to our country: To escape a religion imposed on them.
• Mike McClellan is a Valley resident and former English teacher.