Kim Davis isn’t Rosa Parks or Daniel in the lion’s den. She’s a theocrat.

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.”

Open Bible, via Shutterstock

Open Bible, via Shutterstock

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.


Max Mills is a 26 year old Texan with a degree in Computer Science. Although he writes about a variety of things, his main focuses are education and political accountability. You can follow him on Twitter at @MaxFMills

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  • If these wannabe theocrats were truly Christians, they would obey the law. If not, they are going against the Bible and God Himself:

    Romans 13:1-7 states, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

    These “born-again” Christians who claim to speak for God while convincing themselves that they are guaranteed Heaven and can freely condemn others without falling from grace — have already fallen from grace.

    It’s not their right to choose. It’s not their right to command God.

    38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
    39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Romans 8:38 -39

    15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
    Romans 9:15King James Version (KJV)

  • Butch1

    Yes; well done!

  • Butch1

    Absolutely, so. All one has to do is check Ted Cruz’ religion (Dominion branch) which truly believes in changing this country into a Theocracy and they believe in a literal interpretation of the bible. One knows that Cruz came into the Senate writing rabid-anti-gay legislation from the get-go and has not stopped since he’s been a senator. These Dominionists also believe that all of the legislation for gays should be rescinded and homosexuality be made illegal once again. Then we all can be rounded up and a “Final Solution” applied to us just as the bible says. Ted doesn’t speak much about this, but I think he should be hounded about it by the media. It’s time to start exposing these haters for who they really are before they can cause much more damage.

    One cannot imagine what would happen with him at the helm as Commander in Chief. I know I wouldn’t dismiss something like this; he made Senator and as much as he is hated in his party, I remember everyone dismissing George W. Bush when he ran for office and look what happened.

  • Max Mills

    I am not the state, and I disagree that the word “evil” only has meaning in theological contexts.

  • Thanks, FLL. I’m not surprised at those results, because most of the ones who aren’t Christian Dominionists know that if Davis gets her way for the reasons she claims — “Simple accommodation of one person’s religious beliefs — there is no end to the mischief possible via self-declared ‘deeply-held’ beliefs if they are allowed always to override laws and even standard job duties.

    Imagine a restaurant health inspector who red-tags every meat-serving establishment because he’s a strict vegan with deeply-held religious beliefs against the harming of any animals for any reason. Or a traditionalist Catholic business owner who refuses to recognize any marriage not performed in the Catholic Church, and so denies married employee benefits to all of the non-Catholics unless they convert. Or a Scientologist pharmacist who refuses to fill any prescriptions coming from a psychologist or psychiatrist. Or the DMV clerk who will not issue drivers licenses to women. Or the Social Security data entry clerk who refuses to process paperwork for any child born out of wedlock.

    But yeah… most people have imagination enough to realize they don’t want some self-righteous government worker using their own religious beliefs to decide whether you’re allowed the civil rights to which you’re supposed to be entitled.

  • FLL

    Well argued, Becca. The demand that Kim Davis and her lawyers were making was astonishing; they wanted to change Kentucky state law all by themselves in order to remove her name from Rowan County marriage certificates. Laughably, her Christianist lawyer kept repeating how he was mystified that this “simple accommodation” couldn’t be made. It sounds like this lawyer got his law degree by saving catalog coupons.

    The audacity of Davis’ demands as well as the way she conducted herself throughout this mess as a self-centered petty tyrant is the key to why American public opinion turned against her right from the start. Like other Christianists, Davis never really believed that the earth revolves around the sun. Christian theocrats like this apparently feel that they are the center of the solar system and the sun revolves around them, and they act accordingly by disregarding anyone’s beliefs except their own. The unsurprising result is shown in a poll taken during August 6-7 by the right-leaning polling company, Rassmussen Reports. Only 26% in that poll “think an elected official should be able to a ignore a federal court ruling that he or she disagrees with for religious reasons,” whereas 66% “think the official should carry out the law as the federal court has interpreted it.” Follow this link to the Rasmussen article that is aptly titled “Voters Show Little Sympathy for Jailed Clerk in Gay Marriage Spat.”

  • Indigo

    Evil? Careful how you use those theological terms when advocating a secular state.

  • Important things to remember in all this:

    1. It is Kentucky state law that specifies what must appear on a marriage license and marriage certificate.. Davis has repeatedly demanded to be allowed to alter both of these to remove her name as county clerk, which is in defiance of Kentucky law. Despite Davis’ demands for accommodation, the governor does not have the power to unilaterally order such a change absent either legislation or a court order. (Allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry IS one such court order that overrides any ‘bride/groom’ application form issue.) Davis also apparently expects everyone to wait until the Kentucky state legislature (which will not reconvene until next January) passes the accommodations she demands and they’re signed into law before a single marriage in Rowan County will be registered, which again is abridging the rights of dozens of others just so one woman’s irrational homophobia can be appeased.

    2. Davis is demanding everyone accommodate her religious beliefs, but refuses to accommodate anybody else’s. This includes the deputy clerks who have said they have no problem following the law or Judge Bunning’s SCOTUS-upheld court orders. Even a few who said they didn’t much care for same-sex marriage have said they recognize duty and following the law as overriding their own personal preferences.

    3. When asked for justification for breaking U.S. federal and Kentucky state laws, Davis has said she’s following God’s law instead. I cannot imagine anything more unAmerican than declaring we’re not a nation of laws, but of men and women who decide for themselves what laws they feel like following or defying. In this, she has foresworn her oath of office as a Kentucky county clerk and should be impeached. Put simply, people may put their hand on the Bible to swear to uphold the Constitution and all applicable laws; they don’t put their hand on the Constitution to swear to uphold the Bible. (Or, as in Davis’ case, self-selected portions of it that suit her own preferences, while tossing the rest onto the midden heap to rot. Seriously, if Davis now repents of her earlier adultery and divorces, how come she doesn’t quiz prospective marriage applicants if they’ve sinned as she did, and refuse to allow them to marry if they answer in the affirmative? Especially if they did not repent?)

    4. When given a lawful court order, one which has been upheld through multiple appeals, you don’t get to just continue defying it without consequences. Believe it or not, Davis has enjoyed several temporary stays of the orders to issue and register marriage licenses while her filings and appeals were considered by the courts. But when the highest court in America, the United States Supreme Court, flatly denies your appeals and the stays are lifted, you have no choice but to obey or to get out of the way so someone else can.

    5. Some have compared Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses with the acts of Major Gavin Newsom and those of the New Mexico county clerks (going back to Victoria Dunlap in 2004) who unilaterally decided the law allowed them to issue same-sex marriage licenses. There is a HUGE difference between the two, because in both Newsom’s and Dunlap’s cases, as soon as the courts ordered them to stop, they stopped. There were no contempt of court proceedings because those involved obeyed the courts and their lawful orders. In 2013, however, when NM Doña Ana county clerk Lynn Ellins began issuing licenses, the case was taken to court — where Ellins said he would obey whatever outcome was decided — but instead he won, due in large part to changes in attitudes and a plain reading of the New Mexico state constitution and applicable laws. Yes, it was a different legal interpretation than nine years previously, but it was still decided not by religion but by the courts. Again, the key difference is Newsom, Dunlap, and Ellins (and others) thought they were obeying the plain language of the applicable laws, not following the dictates of their own personal religious beliefs in defiance of the law. Over and over, Kim Davis has made it clear her personal religious beliefs are supposed to trump any and all civil laws (as well as the Constitutionally-protected non-beliefs or beliefs of others).

    6. And finally, let us indeed be clear: Davis and her supporters aren’t fighting at all for religious liberty. They are fighting ONLY for the right to impose their beliefs on others. If your religion has no problem with LGBT people, you don’t get the religious liberty to practice that belief. If you think the law should take precedence over one woman’s homophobic bigotry couched in fundamentalist Christianity, too bad. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg these theocrats would impose on their nightmare vision of New Gilead.

  • Glen Thompson

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, my young man. Someone finally got it right.

  • Hue-Man

    When they rail against “secularism,” it shows their lack of understanding of history and not just 1500s Europe. Today’s fashionable religion may well be tomorrow’s heresy. If a theocratic government changes its religious face as often, your life and livelihood may be threatened because your chosen faith is no longer in fashion. Religious wars – based on what’s happened in former Yugoslavia and in Iraq – are rarely civilized affairs and even more brutal when the fighters have a common religion.

    BTW, I assume you meant rescission not recession.

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