There is a relatively well-known quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt that says, “No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it.” Of course, despite the fact that nearly every American has a specific law they disagree with, they generally obey the laws as required unless they are very bigoted and very religious. There is a seriously twisted belief among many evangelical fanatics that although they live in a nation of laws spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, they contend that their god’s laws trump the law of the land and now Supreme Court decisions.
Despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the same 14th Amendment right to marry as opposite-sex couples, there are still plenty of evangelicals that refuse to follow the law. In Kentucky, the county clerk who continues to defy several court rulings ordering her to do her appointed job and issue marriage licenses to gay couples, is now apparently appealing the U.S. Supreme Court’s order on Monday that she has to obey the law to her god almighty; what she contends is the law of the land. Kim Davis, the woman who lusts to be a true Christian martyr for bigotry, once again refused to do her job and told a bevy of reporters that indeed, she has the right to refuse to follow the law of the land “under god’s authority.” Of course, if Davis actually read her Christian bible she would be aware that god’s authority (the bible) tells her to obey the government authority, but this is America and evangelicals follow a bastardized version of Christianity; one that disavows the entire New Testament. What may come as a shock to Davis is that here in America there is no higher authority than the Constitution, or the Supreme Court, no matter that she believes otherwise.
This issue is a result of, mainly, Republicans preaching that an evangelical has very unique religious freedom rights to disobey any law that they claim infringes on their 1st Amendment right to worship, pray, and attend church without government interference. In Davis’ case, performing her duty of collecting money for a license to marry does not, in any possible way, infringe on her right to pray, read the bible, sing Psalms, or attend the local mega-church. Generally, a sane person would say that if Davis does not want to obey the law and perform her duty as a county clerk, she should just find a different job. At least that is the opinion of an ultra-conservative, ultra-constitutional originalist and ultra-religious Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia.
Scalia wrote for the majority in Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith that the idea of any American believing they have “a private right to ignore generally applicable laws is unconstitutional” and if allowed would lead to “anarchy resulting from a system in which each conscience is a law unto itself.” In another High Court ruling, Scalia opined that a public employee with objections to laws on religious ground should either just do their job and shut up or find different employment. He said, “They have, after all, taken an oath to apply the laws and have been given no power to supplant them with rules of their own;” or supplant them with God rules that are not the law of the land any more than the Christian bible is the Constitution. However, there are Republicans who believe that the Constitution, common sense, and the Supreme Court are dead wrong and support Davis’ defiance and now contempt of court.
Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul came out in defense of Davis who is finally facing contempt of court charges for violating the court order that she has to do the job she is getting paid for and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Paul’s defense of Davis is consistent with his cosponsoring legislation, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) that prevents the government from acting against businesses or non-profits that blatantly discriminate against same-sex married couples. In fact, Republicans as a group have adopted, and endorsed FADA by attempting to justify all forms of discrimination against same-sex couples the RNC claims should be legally permissible despite the Constitution’s 14th Amendment; another reason Republicans want the Amendment abolished.
It is nearly certain that Kim Davis is convinced that because Republicans have become the official legislative arm of the extremist religious right, and have spent an inordinate amount of time and taxpayer money legislating according to religion, that she is on “a holy crusade mandated by god almighty.” It is, in great part, due to the recent seriously distorted interpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA); a direct result of the above Supreme Court decisions that ruled no, religious freedom is not freedom to, as Justice Scalia wrote, “have a private right to ignore generally applicable laws.” In fact, in the alleged “direct utterances of god almighty” in Romans 13, god commands that Christians “must be subject to the governing authorities, for no authority exists except by God’s permission. The existing authorities have been established by God, so that whoever resists the authorities opposes what God has established, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”
Obviously Kim Davis is going to bring judgment on herself according to biblical mythos, but her present concern should be the contempt of court charges she is due to face in the very near future. To demonstrate how perverted her interpretation of her religious freedom really is, she faces being either fined, imprisoned, or terminated from an $80,000 a year job because she is a typical evangelical bigot. Instead of resigning, she is intent on being a Christian martyr because she cannot get it through her biblical mind that the U.S. Constitution, and not the Hebrew scriptures is the law of the land; a mindset that is more prevalent than most Americans want to believe and a very dangerous portent that this country is being primed to become a theocracy
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.