Friday 4 September 2015

Opinion: Kim Davis is in jail because she is a clerk, not a cleric

She is a devout Christian, no doubt
Kim Davis, the clerk of Rowan County in Kentucky is in jail for contempt of court and I think that is right and just.
The reason why Kim Davis is in jail was because she refused to grant marriage licences to gay couples after she had been instructed by the courts at various levels up to the supreme court to do her duty.
Now, Kim Davis would have us believe that she is a devout Christian and I have no reason to question her beliefs, her convictions, her persuasions or her conscience.
She is also a public servant
However, Kim Davis as a public servant is someone who has a duty to perform for which she is paid and for which she should be accountable if she fails to perform her lawful duty. A public office in civil society must never be where to wage religious wars of conscience and conviction.
I say this because any community setting might have the same religion, but rarely have similar convictions or devotions, the imposition of which can so easily infringe on the rights of those who are not similarly adherent.
When I last checked, the United States of America is a democracy and whilst many might deign to wear their religion on their sleeves, it is not a theocracy, it is not governed by religious books or dogma, but by a constitution and amendments to the same along with a body of living jurisprudence that interprets questions of law, rights, freedoms, liberties, causes, policy and much else.
She is clerk, not a cleric
I also note that Kim Davis ran for office to be a clerk and not a cleric, so for the multidimensional community that she serves, she is duty-bound to treat everyone to whom she provides the service of granting a marriage certificate equally, with respect, with dignity and without prejudice.
Yet, I respect the fact that Kim Davis due to her religion, her convictions, her beliefs and her conscience might well disagree with the law that grants the right for same-sex couples to receive marriage certificates, those elements of her devout Christianity do not automatically confer on her the right to disobey the law, most especially a direct court order commanding her to do her job.
She has every right to do her job reluctantly, grudgingly, even abusively if she is so disposed, but the law must be upheld.
We should not mistake Kim Davis’ tribulation with one that represents the persecution of Christians, rather this is a case of stubborn presumptuousness engendering stupidity and ignorance.
Why we have civil law
There is a reason for civil law, it makes everyone equal before the law and allows for everyone to be judged on the merits, the facts and the arguments properly made to defend a position based on extant law and constitutional interpretation along with appellate processes that can be exhausted to the highest court after which the decision of that court is final and it must not be impugned.
If we have a situation where everyone is allowed by reason of their devotion and conviction to act according to their conscience regardless of the dictates of the law we risk a society falling into anarchy. We cannot have public officials acting on the whim without regulation or conduct, where depending on how they feel, what they perceive, which prejudice appeals to them most or what judgement they have in their heads they serve without any public accountability, but to God alone.
This brings me to a blog I wrote on the matter the separation of church (religion) and state, I implore you to read the blog.
The state must think for itself
The aptly named Lord Justice Laws made a number of pertinent statements in his judgement, which I highlighted in that blog, one that I find most critical I have copied to this blog.
“The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law, but the state, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself.”
Invariably, the learned judge is saying the people need the option to decide who makes their laws and this option is exercised through their judges and their governments, it is only then that the people can truly say they are free because the state to which they belong does not have to answer to anybody else but the selfsame people from whom are selected those who are the judges, the representatives and the government. That is human government in a nutshell.
Kim Davis by her histrionics was trying to take this option away from the people and give it to her preconceived higher power of God, she can do that in her own house as an act of individual conscience, but as public servant, the people decide through their representatives and this is the judge.
There was a scenario in the bible where the rulers questioned Jesus Christ about the paying of taxes and in the ensuing conversation his answer was good enough to send his challengers on their way.
Don’t confuse the renders
“Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.” Matt 22:21 (KJV)
Jesus as the initiator of Christianity knew clearly the difference between civic duty and religious devotion. In his answer, one must note that he first addressed the matter of civic duty where the understanding of the rules is clear to everyone before talking of God where that might well be a matter of individual conscience.
I make bold to say that what Jesus intended in his answer was without equivocation that regardless of personal conviction or individual conscience, the laws of the land must be respected. The disarray and disorder comes when certain ignorant religious adherents or extremists confuse the instruction by rendering what is Caesar’s to God and what is God’s to Caesar, sometimes not even knowing what is Caesar’s from what is God’s and that is why Kim Davis is in jail.
Obey or resign
As a clerk, she should have been rendering what is Caesar’s to Caesar, respecting the law and doing her job, she decided to render what is God’s to Caesar and well, Caesar does not trade in God’s currency and technically, that is fraud and frauds go to jail.
Kim Davis in my view belongs in jail until she is ready to obey the law as a clerk who grants marriage certificates to all who are legally entitled to one, including same-sex couples, regardless of her conscience or conviction or she should resign and go home to worship her God without interference from the law or the people.

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