As newly minted media martyr, Kim Davis, enjoys what is no doubt the last of her fifteen minutes, I’ve heard many on the Religious Right repeat the following call to action:
“We (read: “Christians”) need to support a Christian’s right to practice their faith.”
As a Christian Minister myself, I am a pretty big supporter of people being able to practice their faith. It’s pretty important to my daily life and ministry, to put it mildly.
Which is why, even before I’d heard the name “Kim Davis,” I sent a love-letter to evangelical Christians, reminding them that they are in no way, being martyred for their faith. No tangible way.
But let’s assume that the original premise I just stated — “We need to support a Christian’s right to practice their faith”— is worthy of our consideration.
OK, then. So what about all the other “Christian” county clerks in the United States? What about their faith?
First off, do you even know the name of your county clerk? Probably not. Most folks don’t. But let’s assume they are much like the rest of America.
According Google, there are almost precisely 3,000 county clerks in America. According to Google, 70 percent of Americans self-identify as “Christian.” That places the number of “Christian” county clerks somewhere around 2,100.(1)
So, what about the “Christian faith” of those county clerks? Shouldn’t we be supporting their right to exercise and practice their faith too? Because, by all accounts, most of them appear to be doing their jobs. I mean, you might find a scattered one or two somewhere who are not.
But since we’ve lived with same sex marriage for a couple of months now, we can begin to the see the outlines of the new normal. And this much is clear: There is no widespread movement of county clerks across the nation, feeling persecuted in their faith and going to jail.
Do they all like it? I am sure they do not. I am sure some still see same sex marriage as an affront to their faith. Some of these Christian clerks probably are holding their noses, and grumbling every day. Maybe they even admire Kim Davis.
I’d like to think that others —even as they are personally opposed to same sex marriage— are choosing to follow Paul’s admonition to “outdo each other in showing honor.” Perhaps this group of Christian clerks understand that Jesus is best honored by loving others, not shunning them?
And finally, there are no doubt a growing number of Christian clerks who are like me and the good folks of our church. This third group of Christian clerks fully support loving same gender relationships, and do not see them as being contrary to our faith.
This third group reads the Bible and understands that God is doing a new thing in the land. Like Peter’s vision of acceptable foods in the Book of Acts, God is showing these Christian clerks —and good Christian people everywhere— that loving same gender relationships are to be celebrated and affirmed, not merely tolerated and accommodated.
The point is, what I’ve just described is no doubt a small a fraction of the diverse views among the Christian clerks in the United States of America. Whatever their personal views on same sex marriage, they respect the law. They understand the law. And they understand their job as a public official, sworn to uphold, first and foremost, the Constitution of the United States.
And God bless them for it.
So, yes. I do support a Christian county clerk’s right to practice their religion. I support the 2,099 who are, right now, wrestling with their faith or celebrating their faith; but either way, upholding the law and modeling what it means to be a faithful Christian public servant today.
(1)This is actually probably much higher, actually, since very few self-professed Atheists, Muslims, Hindus, etc, are ever elected to public office…but lets be conservative.
By the way, I am quite aware that this entire blog is another “Inside Baseball” discussion for Christians. Atheists, Agnostics, and people of others faiths are, once again, rightly noting the privileged position of Christians in our society to even have this discussion.