Judge Bunning Throws the Book at Kim Davis

Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky, County Clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples and heterosexual couples is in jail. In our opinion, that is what she richly deserves. The judge was absolutely right when he said that letting her walk would set a dangerous judicial precedent. It would actually set two dangerous judicial precedents:

1) It would allow any future person to violate a federal judicial ruling simply because they want to do so—because they just feel like it—a really bad thing all by itself.

2) It would set a precedent that allows a person of any religious faith to deny services to another person simply because their personal religious beliefs say that person is some kind of sinner. A city utility worker would then be free to refuse to switch on the power at the new home of a known alcoholic. A state official could refuse to issue a driver’s license to a person who had been married five times because they do not believe divorce is Biblical. Faith-based abuses of governmental power like this would suddenly become fully legal and deeply disturbing—and they would throw American society into chaos—and Judge Bunning and every other sitting federal judge knows this.

But let’s be really honest here. Kim Davis’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay people was not primarily about freedom of conscience—not really. It was primarily about politics, religion, and power. For the past 40 years, Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism have desperately sought political and governmental power over the day-to-day behavior of the American people—and with complete disregard to the already existing religious beliefs of the American people. Liberty Counsel, the Southern Baptist Convention, and other similar organizations no doubt saw the resistance of Kim Davis as a potential political opportunity to gain such power over the American people via a quick end run around the flank of the federal judicial system. If the federal judiciary had been sympathetic to the argument Kim Davis was making, it would have thrown a huge door wide open to giving Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals about 30 percent of the power over the American people that they have sought for the past 45 years.

We, most of the American people, have won this round. However, we must remain vigilant day-in and day-out to preserve our American freedoms from this vicious, power-grabbing monster called “Christian Fundamentalism and Conservative Evangelicalism.” If we fail to maintain this vigilance and allow these people to gain the political power and cultural power they seek, we will be releasing power into the hands of human beings who are just itching for an opportunity to close down your neighborhood church because they do not approve of its beliefs. These people are totalitarian, absolutist, religious dictators at heart. They are dangerous, and they must be stopped at every turn in the road if we are to hold on to our American way of life, the freedom we love, and our freedom of conscience to believe and worship according to our own religious beliefs or our lack of such religious beliefs. This is about protecting all Americans from the religious and political excesses of these misguided religious fanatics.

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