Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who defied the Supreme Court and refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was found to be in contempt of court and sentenced to jail a few days ago. Cue her supporters, the droves of Christians who are now rushing to her defence, loudly screaming “foul” on the grounds of religious freedom being trampled. It’s a predictable response, and there’s one point her supporters are all missing … Kim Davis broke the law.
This case has nothing to do with religious freedom. Everybody has the right to freely practice their religion, but they do not have the right to impose their beliefs on others. When you work as a public servant, your right to religious freedom is limited to you – you may not infringe on the rights of the people your job requires you to serve. This is how rights and freedoms work in general. My right to swing my arm ends at my neighbour’s nose. When a law ensuring the rights of an oppressed group is passed, you follow it, and if you refuse to follow it you suffer legal consequences. It’s not complicated. The same thing happened when Jim Crow laws were abolished. People complained about losing religious freedom then as well, but I think we can all agree that re-enacting those laws would be a very bad thing.
The U.S. Supreme Court took mandatory prayer out of schools in the early 1960’s. That was one of many legal actions made to remove the imposition of Christian values onto people who do not subscribe to, or practice, Christianity. These laws are in place because they are good for us as a society. We may all freely practice the religion of our choosing, including none at all, but the government can’t take sides. When state laws are based upon religious belief, equality is, by definition, impossible. We follow the laws that bring equality closer, and if we are jailed for our refusal to do so, we may NOT then truthfully say that our religious freedom is being trampled. This is what has happened in the Kim Davis case.
Please don’t try to make Kim Davis going to jail into a reason to complain about religious freedom falling by the wayside. She is NOT a martyr. She refused to issue marriage licenses to a specific group of people, despite her job requiring her to. She broke the law, and she is suffering the legal consequences of doing so. Her anti-gay stance IS disgusting, it IS deplorable, and yes I DO think she is presenting herself in a very negative way … but none of that has anything to do with her going to jail. Before you start to complain about Christians being jailed for their beliefs, understand that doing so is to complain about something that isn’t happening; at least not in this part of the world. There is but one fact here: Kim Davis broke the law.