In the last week we have been witness to the most aggressive attack on Democracy in the United States since before the last World War. With the slick production values of a well-funded political campaign, a little known County Clerk named Kim Davis has been selected and promoted as the Exalted Bearer of the Standard for religious fundamentalists. Come to think of it, with attendees including former Governor Mike Huckabee (a Presidential candidate in 2016) and Senator Ted Cruz (also a Presidential candidate), it looks like it really IS a political campaign ad. But it’s an ad with a very dangerous and unsettling undercurrent.
Religious Freedom in America
There is a lot of barely restrained animosity floating around the camps of the Religious Fundamentalist movements. Regardless of the group’s name, sponsors or national exposure, their main motivating factor seems to be a communal feeling of persecution. They bond together, holding rallies, prayer meetings and fund-raisers, all because they feel threatened. In other words, they are groups founded on fear … and hatred.
The problem is that their fear is not based on reality. It is based on a media-fed and hucksterism founded misconception. That is as Christians, they are being forced to accept laws and behaviors that are at odds with their religious beliefs. This fear is exquisitely displayed in the story of Kim Davis and her refusal to obey the law.
Kim Davis Refuses
When she ran for the position of County Clerk, Mrs. Davis accepted the fact that the job would require her to execute the functions of the office as prescribed by law. When she was elected and took the oath of office, she reaffirmed her willingness to perform fully all of the duties required. But when faced with a duty she found personally repugnant, she refused to do her job.
Apparently she does not take her sworn oath as important. Apparently she does not mind disobeying the law. Apparently she is happy being the puppet of political manipulators. Kim Davis simply refuses to do … something she doesn’t want to do. Really? Is she a three year old?
Duties of Public Office
Simply said, the duties of a Public Office are “to serve the needs of the Public.” As County Clerk, she is responsible for executing the duties for the entire County. That is what the Office does. That is the responsibility of the Office. Public Office. The whole County. Everyone in the County. Have I said it enough yet?
Now for the ringing moment of clarity in this whole mess. What Mrs. Davis is doing is demonstrating the same unreasoning, irrational and (in this country) illegal behavior as does any other religion-based Terrorist group.
Think about it for a moment, what is ISIS really doing? They are declaring that their religion, Fundamental Islam, is the only valid religion. Thus their beliefs and laws are the only valid beliefs and laws. Anyone that disagrees is killed, tormented or driven out.
While it is true that Kim Davis and her erstwhile supporters have not personally risen to the point of murder, they are rising to the level of driving out those they consider unwelcome. Refusal to grant something as basic as a marriage license is tantamount to shouting “get outta my town” in someone’s face. It’s a snub of enormous import.
Democracy vs. Fundamentalism
Here is a basic truth about Democracy that few people understand. Democracy only exists in a Community based on Diversity and Tolerance. When you step back and look at all of our truly honorable Founding Documents, you see that they are laced through and through with protections against any one group taking control over the others. Every bit of the machine we call America is based on checks and balances that keep every part just as powerful as any other part. There is no room for one interest or community to seize control.
Yet Mrs. Davis and the scavengers that are hanging their own public image on her ill-considered protest are demonstrating Fundamentalism in its most destructive form. They are demanding the right to control the population based on Religious laws, not on Public laws. They are insisting that “their way of life is the only proper way of life”. They are depending on the protections of Democracy, while demanding that the protections afforded others be removed.
That is the key operative word in our Democracy. Equality. For everyone. It is not something doled out when a specific few deem it allowable. It is something given at all times, to every one, in every place and time possible. The actions of Kim Davis, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz fly directly in the face of that Equality.
Mrs. Davis can be forgiven. She has probably fallen under the sway of those willing to manipulate her for their own purposes. But Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Cruz? Adults, Politicians. Supposed protectors of the Freedoms guaranteed under our Constitution? They cannot be forgiven for insisting that the Constitution applies only when they say it does. They need to be voted out of office, silenced and put in the back pages of history … as fast as we possibly can.