Religious persecution is not a government mandate

Kim Davis, a Kentucky clerk, has been getting a lot of media attention lately. More than that, she has incited strong opinions on both sides. Those who know about the case are either elated that someone is taking a stand or disgusted that she would dare do so.

Davis was a clerk in the Kentucky county of Rowan. Part of her job was to give out marriage licenses to those who come to get them and as of June – that includes same-sex couples. To Davis, this was an obvious plight against her religion. Being a devout Christian she believes that being gay is a sin and believes that if she were to give marriage licenses to those sinners she would be going against God himself.

Now I could talk about how the Bible condemns divorce and she is on her fourth husband. I could talk about how in Leviticus 20:10, it states that adultery is punishable by death – and she has had at least one known extramarital affair. But the beauty of it is that it is not even necessary – her points alone even without the clear hypocrisy is enough to shut her down.

Persecution used to be a very strong word. It would be used to describe the events of the Holocaust or the struggles of African Americans in the 1960s. But now the word is being softened – used for any situation in which you feel targeted because of something you believe in. White Christians feel “persecuted” because somewhere in the United States two men are exchanging vows. They feel oppressed because their government jobs force them to obey the law.

Davis is attempting to make herself a martyr. After breaking her silence and going onstage in front of a crowd of her followers who rallied for her release religiously (no pun intended), she played “Eye of the Tiger” – no, seriously – and sobbed for two minutes before declaring her love for God. Among the audience members were many people holding sticks with large crosses on them, people cheering and yelling in support of her words, which included, “I just want to give God his glory. His people have rallied, and you are a strong people.”

But here’s what it comes down to – you are not being persecuted because you are being forced to obey a law that has nothing to do with you. A person’s relationship with God is their own,and in a country where religious freedom is held, you are allowed to have whatever relationship you would like with the higher power of your choice. Where this stops though, is when it comes to government legislation and laws you must not break – or you get put in jail.

Some consider Davis’ actions to be reminiscent of Rosa Parks’ during the civil rights movement in the mid-1900s. But let this be known loud and clear – Davis and Parks’ actions are very, very different. While Parks was a citizen disobeying the law for a cause, Davis is a public official whose job is to carry out the law. In fact, it’s in her exact job description that she must obey the mandate of the government and in this case that means giving same-sex couples their earned marriage licenses.

In fact, even the Westboro Baptist Church – infamous for their unorthodox extreme beliefs and ways to express those beliefs – is not pleased with Davis. Davis’ previous marriages sent up a red flag to the group and they actually blame nationwide marriage equality on her indiscretion with previous husbands. Regardless of how odd and without basis these claims are – the point remains. If even Westboro Baptist Church is not behind someone, its likely that no one should be. However this has not stopped people, as it was estimated that over 7,000 people have shown up to rally with her at her release from jail, all armed with crosses and poster board plastered with Bible verses

The Bible says gays are sinners and the beautiful thing about freedom of religion, and just general life is that in no way do you have to be gay just because others are! You can live your life with the values you would like, even though they do seem to conflict with perhaps the most important book ever written in accordance to your beliefs. But that is the beauty of America! You can be straight, those fellas can be gay and no one has to break any laws. Wish them luck on their wedding, and head to church on Sunday without shame. God preaches love and breaching someone elses’ pursuit of happiness is the opposite of that. Especially when it breaks a law of the government you work for.

So Kim, my advice to you: take it easy, spread some love and enjoy your persecution-free life in the country that gives you all the religious freedom you would like. It could be much, much worse.