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Jail not a sign of being right
- James Clark
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To get thrown in jail for your religious beliefs is a powerful statement. It shows you're serious about your convictions and you're not afraid to stand behind what you believe.
But does it make you right?
National attention has been focused on Rowan County, Ky., where clerk Kim Davis spent five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. She's been heralded by those who share her beliefs and criticized by those who say she's not doing her job.
I say we're trudging down rocky terrain if we allow a clerk to sidestep her government duties because of religion. Davis has received a standing ovation because her views are in line with the Christian right, but what if she refused to do her job based on a different religion?
What if she was a Hindu cafeteria manager who refused to serve meat to elementary children because it was her religious belief that is a sin? Would we be so quick to rally around Davis and declare her a martyr for standing up for her religious beliefs? Of course not.
It's also curious as to why Davis singled out gay couples. Divorce is considered a major no-no in some religious circles. What if Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to anyone who has been married before? If that was the case, would she still be the Great American Hero? Probably not.
The point is it's not healthy when we applaud a government official for showing discrimination. What if a gay couple wanted to reserve a city park for their wedding ceremony, but the city manager denied their request because his religious beliefs said otherwise? What if a gay couple was on a vacation and wanted to visit the Washington Monument, but they were denied access because the guy selling tickets is opposed to gay marriage?
The tricky thing about religion is it's doubtful you share my beliefs and I probably don't share yours. If I prevent you from doing something based on my beliefs, which you may not share in the first place, that violates your rights. It doesn't make me a hero. It makes me narrow-minded.
I always thought two purposes of religion are to be welcoming and forgiving. At least those are my thoughts. I don't see how Davis is furthering herself spiritually by denying marriage licenses to a certain group.
What if there was a homeless, gay couple badly in need of a meal? I don't think the appropriate reaction is to watch them starve because they're gay.
Government officials don't have the luxury of picking and choosing who they want to serve. Kim Davis and her like-minded supporters think she's doing this country a great service because she's standing up for her beliefs.
I, too, admire someone who is willing to make such a stand. But just because she's willing to go to jail for her beliefs doesn't make her right.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.