9/8/15

Church and State . . .

The facial glow of  a devout, compassionate Christian just trying to live.
So there is this woman in Kentucky giving - if the masses are to be believed - a bad name to Kentuckians (I looked that up), and Christians (she self-identified), and civil servants (that is her occupation), and women (I'll get to that), and hypocrites (I'll get to that, too), and super-long-haired people everywhere (look at that mane, folks) named Kim Davis that has made a "wee" bit of news these last few weeks.

It seems that Ms. Davis has found herself professionally stuck between the a rock/the law (she is a county clerk) and a hard place/her religion. This was not something Ms. Davis anticipated.

When she won election to get her job - the Supreme Court had not, yet, been so on-the-nose as to rule that all in this country have a right to marry (gay or straight, or four times for some heterosexuals) that they Justice Anthony Kennedy (in the greatest poetry of our time) said "no longer may this liberty be denied." She was still blissfully on the side of history when her career as a public servant started.

Then things changed and she did the only thing she felt she could do - she stopped issuing any and all marriage licenses as a way to protect her religious beliefs. And it took three full months for this decision to catch up with her.

I don't have a lot of trouble with Ms. Davis, in the way most Americans seem to. I'm all for religious freedom. I appreciate that G-d is not a one-size-fits-all proposition and that he/she/it/they doesn't/don't fit everyone to begin with. I'm all for finding or changing religions - Ms. Davis did it. I did it. I'm all for ending a marriage that doesn't work. Ms. Davis did it (three times). I did it (once). I'm fine with her being a Christian (most of my favorite people in this world love them some Jesus) and I'm not even opposed to evangelical Christians (when they aren't on my front porch and/or trying to save my eternal soul). I don't even mind the glaring hypocrisies in how Ms. Davis is trying to juggle her personal and professional lives.

I really only have ONE problem with Kim Davis . . . it is that she thinks her personal convictions and religious beliefs are relevant to her job and the laws of the land and - in this fairly unique instance - how her personal beliefs trump the decision of the Supreme Court and the direct order from a judge to resume issuing not only some but all marriage licenses. This is the one thing I struggle with when it comes to this woman.

Let's be clear - Kim Davis is being used as a pawn and puppet and is being taken advantage of in many ways and on all sides. The Christian Right is using her: A handful of notable evangelicals and ultra-conservatives are claiming her to be a hero and many are using her jailing for contempt of the court as bait for a "Christian Persecution" angle. They (clumping them all in to one group) are also providing her questionable, at best, legal counsel and are letting her believe that she has the law on her side. Kim Davis does not represent or speak for all Christians. She doesn't even represent the very small percentage of Christians to share her same views on how to practice Christianity.

People say that Kim Davis is bad for women in power. Absurd. I don't know anyone that has said "This is why women can't have nice things or top drawers full of rubber stamps and ink pads." Her relationship history or her children or even her gender are irrelevant. If you don't agree with that - YOU are bad for women in the workplace.

At the same time, the gay rights community (and the vast majority of us who just see gay people as, well, people) are jumping on her as the poster child for the problem. The average American with no skin in the game just wants to point out her own personal failures in marriage, love, etc. and mock her for her marriage record and recent finding/accepting of G-d.

But here's why I believe all that to be wrong. Kim Davis is not important her. Her personal beliefs or morals or when and if she contradicts herself or those morals and beliefs. She is bad for hypocrites, "they" say. How? Because she just recently found Jesus and wants to live in his image (as she sees him)? That's not hypocrisy. That actually helps her case - she has seen the evils of x, y, and z. She's WRONG to apply that to this but she could make the argument. Sorry, hypocrites. You don't get off the hook for Kim Davis.

ALL of this stuff is irrelevant, people. What brand of religion she practices and the length of her hair or her frumpy-grumpy persona are not important. She will, like so many people before her have proven, nothing more than a footnote on this chapter of American evolution when it is all said and done.

And that is where I get grumpy with Ms. Davis. She confuses herself as a warrior for her personal choices as though those decisions are relevant. She forgets that she chose to be a Christian and she chose to run for public office and she chose to ask the people to trust her to honor and uphold the law and the order and letter of it. She forgot that making the latter choice meant the prior choice is irrelevant because Kim Davis is not a warrior - she is a servant of the people and a servant of Christ (a she sees it) but only one is relevant for her to do her job and do it well.

Kim Davis is bad for one group of people - civil servants. She undermines every cop, fireperson, judge, clerk, family counselor, DMV gatekeeper, and dog catcher who's ever left their personal baggage at the door and just done their job. She is - for me - as bad as white cops who shoot unarmed people because their black skin made them scary. She is the judge who doesn't recuse himself when he has a personal, even indirect dog in the hunt, and she's the water meter reader who fudges the numbers in favor of her friends. The whole point of being a civil SERVANT is that you are there to serve society and the people who either elected or empowered you. They, collectively, pay your salary. They, collectively, put their trust in you. Your opinions don't matter. Your personal agenda is moot.

Church and state people . . . church. and. state.