In case you haven’t been following it, a clerk for Rowan county in Kentucky has made quit a few headlines recently regarding her faith and subsequent “religious persecution”. After the Supreme Court ruling which legalized same sex marriage, the clerk, Kim Davis, continued to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples as it opposed her personal religious beliefs about homosexuality. After several weeks in courts appealing her freedom of religious expression, a court ruled against Ms. Davis and ordered her to issue licenses as per her job duties. However, as of today she still refuses to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples and is now is asking that she be forcibly removed from her job as a publicity stunt showing her protest and persecution. My question is simply “How exactly is she being persecuted”?
I’m looking at this from a couple of different angles. As an employee and more specifically an Human Resources professional, I am absolutely amazed that she’s still employed. If I blatantly refused to do my job and lied to others about my employers services as she has done, it wouldn’t take long before I was fired. I would guess there are millions of people doing jobs that they don’t agree with; people from vegetarians flipping burgers at McDonald’s to Mormons who work a Sunday shift at the plant. However, in cases where individuals feel they are doing something against their personal/religious beliefs they have the alternative options. My grandfather was a conscientious objector during World War II, and while still conscripted to the war he was allowed to follow his beliefs and work as a mechanic rather than fire a weapon. Ms. Davis is neither compelled nor enslaved by her employer. She can quit at any time. And likewise, I’m sure the employer will have no problem replacing her.
The other piece of this that befuddles me is the persecution complex she has developed to the point where she will leave her position only in an apparently staged, physical removal by county sheriffs and while I assume she screams all the homophobic, religious persecution rhetoric she wants for the cameras. Let’s get this straight, staging your own persecution is not persecution. Ms. Davis refusing to do a job she can walk away from in order to draw spotlight on herself is akin to letting your dog answer the phone then complaining you never get your messages. The problem isn’t the system or the dog, it’s your own ignorance.
The phrase “religious freedom” and “religious persecution” have taken on a whole new buzz as of late. With a growing secular worldview within the United States there seems to be this struggle of proper religious expression and individual personal rights. Somehow the right to enforce your personal beliefs on others has created a persecution complex for many Christians. But let’s not confuse what’s happening with Ms. Davis for persecution. There are real Christians dying in the Middle East for nothing more than how they worship. Even Pope Francis has said we have more martyrs today than the early church.
What I see here is a lonely woman taking advantage of a situation for her own 15 minutes of fame. The saddest thing about it is that whenever she is eventually removed from her position, no one will care. She will have wasted her time and energy for no reason. No one will remember her plight or even her name in a few months. She will not have won anyone over to her cause or her gospel.