No. It’s Not the Same.

I’ve not commented publicly on the Kim Davis issue thus far. Primarily because it’s clear to me Davis is now, at best, simply courting publicity and being used by the Christian Right to further the “Meme” of so-called widespread “American Christian persecution.”

She seems to enjoy this spotlight, as a poster-child for this false flag.

As I’ve written previously, American Christians are in no way being persecuted for their beliefs. Kim Davis is not being persecuted for her beliefs. American Christianity is not under attack because of same sex marriage.

I’ve written about this, in the blog “Dear American Christians, Part II.”

But today, I break my silence on the Davis situation. Because of this Meme, from a website called “The Christian Nation.” This picture, making the rounds on the internet today:

TonyaKimMeme
Maybe I’m being drawn “offsides.” Maybe I should still keep my mouth shut. But two things pull me in….

Firstly, this Meme is mistaken in so many factual ways that somebody needs to correct it. Secondly, I know Judge Tonya Parker. (In fact, I saw her just yesterday…)

She serves, along with my wife, as one of the fine and upstanding State District Judges in Dallas County. It frustrates me to no end to see Judge Parker’s situation twisted in this way, and falsely compared to Kim Davis.

So, let’s break down the lies, line-by-line:

“Judge Tonya Parker refused to performed heterosexual weddings for three years.”
This is true. After her election, and as a personal decision, Judge Parker chose not to perform weddings until all adults were afforded the right to legal marriage. (By the way, I am aware of straight couples who also said they would not be married until all persons could be married…)

“Never Reprimanded”
Because: There was never anything to reprimand her for!!  She cannot, in any way, be reprimanded for this.

Judges are not required to preside over weddings. Performing weddings is not a part of their official judicial duties. Judges can choose to do weddings. Judges can choose to not do weddings. For example, I’m aware of a District Judge who only does weddings for couples he knows personally.

So, not only was Judge Parker not reprimanded over this, she could not in any conceivable legal-universe, be reprimanded for this.

By the way, clergy are also never required to perform weddings. I am free to say “yes,” or “no” to any wedding I wish to perform. That’s why so-called “pastor protection” laws that claim that they provide legal protection for pastors, so that they don’t have to do same sex weddings, are irrelevant. They are legally meaningless exercises in political posturing.

The case of Kim Davis is clearly different. Issuing marriage licenses to qualified couples is a part of the job of a county clerk. It’s not an optional job duty. It’s a specific part of the job.

The law does allow for “religious accommodation.” Meaning that Davis could be excused from issuing licenses, so long as somebody else in her office did.

But! Davis also prevented her staff from doing their job too. She refused to allow anyone in her office to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. So, she not only used the false-claim of “religious freedom” against gay and lesbian couples, she also used it against her own staff too!!

Back to Judge Parker’s situation, by way of comparison…

In the three years that Judge Parker refused to do weddings, dozens of judges were performing hundreds and hundreds of “heterosexual weddings” in Dallas County. Not one single couple, in those three years, went “weddingless” in Dallas County. Anybody who needed a judge to marry them was able to find a judge to marry them.

So, even if the same standard did apply to Judge Parker as to Davis (and we’ve already determined it does not) Parker would have still been following the law, because anybody who needed that service was still able to find it.

“Kim Davis: Obeys Kentucky law and the US Constitution, Gets Thrown in Jail.”
The last part is true. Yes, she got thrown in jail.

But she got thrown in jail because the first part is not true. Kim Davis was/is not obeying the US Constitution. And, as a public official, she has a sworn duty to do so. Every public official swears an oath to uphold the US Constitution. Kim Davis is refusing to follow the law on same sex marriage. That’s against the US Constitution.

And, no, it no longer matters what Kentucky law says on this. The US Constitution trumps Kentucky law.

So, again…in conclusion…

Judge Parker:
Not required to do weddings as part of her job.
Didn’t do weddings, as a personal statement.
Everybody who needed a wedding in Dallas County, got one.

Kim Davis:
Required to issues licenses as a part of her job.
Refused to issue them, or allow staff to issue them.
Did not follow the US Constitution.

Clear on the difference?

One final thing, that brings us full circle back to where I started on this. And that is to note that the Meme comes from “Christian Nation.”

Groups like this have everything to gain from this story staying in the media. They are doing everything they can to foment a false-flag among Christians that Christians are being persecuted for their beliefs.

But, as I’ve written elsewhere, Christians are not being persecuted now, and are not on the verge of being persecuted in the future.

In the end, it’s Rachel Held Evans, who most brilliantly summed up this situation in a Tweet over the weekend:

rachelheldevans

Yes!! That’s it. That’s all it is.

Don’t be fooled by the false equivalences of this Meme, or by anything else you hear out there.

(And if you liked this, check out today’s blog, “The Other 2,099 Christian County Clerks“)

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

2 thoughts on “No. It’s Not the Same.

  1. Such a cogent, well-argued, mindfully delivered perspective on all this hoopla.

    Unfortunately, media sources and stakeholders with something to gain from this situation have been dangerously persuasive to their ilk.

    Wondering how to address barriers and create contexts to have this kind of authentic dialogue.

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