Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Kentucky Clerk and the "Quaker" Clerk

If you haven't been paying attention to the news lately, there's a legal battle going on involving Kim Davis an elected clerk from Kentucky.  Davis has been refusing to issue any marriage licenses because she feels that the same-sex ones violate her religious beliefs.  Davis is a recent covert to the Apostolic Christian Church, which is similar to Pentecostals and Mennonites.  She's also not allowing any of her deputies to issue licenses in her stead because in Kentucky all marriage licenses bear the name of the clerk for that county.

To make it worse, unlike in North Carolina, the governor refuses to do anything to accommodate her religious objections.  Currently the Kentucky legislature is out of session and he refuses to call for an emergency session.  Instead Davis has been told to resign and is being sued.  Recently a state representative has begged the judges to give Kentucky more time, to allow them to convene and draft laws that allow for religious conscience similar to those already enacted in North Carolina.

Davis has been vilified in the press despite the fact that she is simply waiting to see if anyone will act on her behalf.  She's been repeatedly called a hypocrite because she has been married four times: three times prior to her conversion.  It's disgusting and further shows that most people do not understand how Christianity works.

I'm equally appalled by people's lack of how government employees/officials still retain their religious integrity.  Religious accommodation laws are at every level of government.  Ask a Jew at the New York office if they are allowed to take off for Yom Kippur even though it's not a federally recognized holiday.  They will tell you yes.  Ask a school teacher if she can wear her cross, put the Bible and icons on her desk, she/he will tell you yes.  I've seen teachers at HB's school wearing crosses.  This is nothing new.  My mom had a co-worker who would refuse to use the standard greeting "Hello" because it was against her faith.  My mom worked for the federal government.  So simply asking that your name be removed from licenses and allowing deputies to issue you them in their name instead, doesn't sound unreasonable to me.  But people are loosing their minds over it.

Setting aside the merits of her of the most common arguments I've seen is this "If the clerk was Quaker* would you allow them to refuse to issue you a gun license."

It's a really poor jab at conservatives who value the second amendment.  Poor because some Quakers own guns and have historically owned guns.  Quakers don't have a problem with hunting.  They object to war not fire arms.  So theoretically there's no reason for a Quaker to refuse to issue gun licenses.  It's a deficiently thought out hypothetical.

But let's say there is a religious group who opposes guns.  Would I have a problem with them refusing to issue gun licenses?  No.  Because in short, I believe that religious accommodation is good.  You cannot put a person in a position where they must violate their conscience.  Sure Davis could quit, but then you'd set a precedent that locks out any Christian involved with governmental affairs out of government jobs.  Today it's clerks- tomorrow it could be department of health workers.  The government needs to protect its employees.

*Technically it's the Society of Friends, but even SofF don't mind being referred to as Quakers.  It used to be a derogatory term.  So my apologies if it's taken in offense.  None is meant.

Update: now the latest analogy is one of Muslim refusing to issue driver's license to women.  To my knowledge, Islam does not forbid women drivers.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I saw a lady in religious garb indicative of Islam at the DMV. Saudi Arabia does forbid women drivers, but that is cultural not religious.  So it's similar to the Quaker analogy.  Meaning it's a poorly thought out one.  

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