I am a Christian. I believe in the Bible. As I have written before, my Christian faith is more than reconcilable with same-sex marriage and LGBT equality more generally. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the legitimacy of same-sex marriage is as fundamental to my religious beliefs as its illegitimacy is to Kim Davis’s.
Until the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling made marriage equality the law of the land, my religious beliefs weren’t recognized by our government. Members of my church were unable to legally take part in one of our most sacred religious rituals because social conservatives were reading their Bibles differently than we were.
This is why we ask the government to remain neutral on religious matters: If it doesn’t, someone will inevitably lose. You may not agree with my religious views, and I may not agree with yours, but neither of us should be able to use our government to prevent us from exercising them. We can have our theological debates in private, but those debates shouldn’t have any bearing on public policy.
The only way to protect religious freedom for everyone is to preference no one.
But time and time again, religious conservatives invoking their sincerely-held religious beliefs to reject Obergefell willfully disregard this premise. Because they aren’t interested in religious freedom; they’re interested in Christian privilege. And in their conflation of the two, they’ve likened the recession of this privilege to actual affronts to freedom in the most head-scratchingly ridiculous ways possible.
For instance, following Kim Davis being held in contempt of court for refusing to follow the law and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, members of the Religious Right declared that “the Christian Holocaust has begun” and that “Kim Davis is Rosa Parks.”
Davis has also been compared to the Biblical figure, Daniel. In the referenced story, Daniel refused to bow to the King and was thrown to the lions. Comparisons like this fundamentally misunderstand Davis’ role, and why she has been jailed. Kim Davis is not the brave individual fighting for religious liberty, she is the theocratic government official abusing her power to make everyone in her region kowtow to her personal religious beliefs. The Religious Right has confused a fight for oppressive theocracy with a fight for religious liberty — their liberty to sit at the top of our cultural hierarchy.
Theocracy is not merely evil and not merely in contradiction to the Constitution but in contradiction with Christianity itself. Jesus decidedly did not raise an army and attempt to overtake Rome or even Israel. When people attempted to corner him into saying anti-government things he would say things like “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” and refocus the conversation on his spiritual message. Christ made it clear that HIS Kingdom was not of this world, and the rest of the New Testament is sprinkled with verses like this one:
For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church[a] whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
There is nothing Biblical about being the oppressive theocracy that so many members of the Religious Right want to be, and history says that when religion and state become entwined it corrupts both. Ironically, the majority of people fighting for Davis and Cruz are Protestants, a religious sect which split from the Catholic Church for this very reason.
The talking points coming from the right on this matter are not only deceitful but potentially harmful. What happens when people actually begin to believe that, in spite of being the overwhelming majority of people who are apparently still free to whine publicly on social media, they are on the verge of being victims of a Holocaust? What will people do when they think they have to protect their children from violent subjugation? The inciteful fear-mongering is dishonest, disturbing, and fundamentally un-Christian. Will Kim Davis, Ted Cruz, the American Family Association and Joshua Feuerstein take responsibility when violence comes out of the hate they are spreading?
Marriage is important to people outside of the Religious Right. There are even people like myself for whom marriage is an important religious and sacred ceremony that is open to homosexuals. In this country, the government holds the keys to a legal marriage. In order to be treated as someone’s spouse for things like deathbed visits, first of kin decisions, inheritance and other secular rights, it is necessary to have your marriage recognized by the government. Until recently, the government keys to marriage were gripped tightly by oppressive theocrats, and now there are people like Kim Davis who would rather go to jail than extend religious liberty to anyone but themselves.
This is evil, and it flies in the face of everything the First Amendment was written to protect.