September 04, 2015

Martyrology

There’s been a great deal of outraged and sometimes gleeful gloating on the (relatively) progressive side of the news, and, especially, on my Facebook feed, about Kim Davis being jailed for her disinclination to do her job (i.e. issue marriage licenses to properly-qualified couples) because of her belief that her God or the Christian bible dictate otherwise. For example, this Daily Kos article appears several times in my timeline today; it’s pretty typical.

The trouble is, while the forwarded tweet is succinct and accurate — Davis isn’t being jailed for practicing her religion, she’s being jailed for using the government to force others to practice her religion — it’s preaching to the converted, and no one not already convinced of that will either be listening or likely to convert to that way of thinking. It's just, well, gloating.

The issue is fairly clear — if she can’t do her job for religious reasons, she should resign. But her jailing is turning her into a martyr for the so-called “religious freedom” mob — it plays right into the more lurid fantasies of the right wing religionists about Obama jailing people for their beliefs, or outlawing the practice of religion, and it’s had its intended effect: she’s now a willing martyr to “religious freedom”, and an iconic rallying point for the angry and disaffected, being actively compared to MLK Jr.

Gloating about it or going on about her duty to the constitution won’t make any difference at all to those who believe that God either helped write the constitution or that the constitution derives from God’s authority, or that Biblical authority always supersedes secular authority; in fact, it’ll mostly help persuade them even more that they’re right (never mind, as so many point out, that a) the bible doesn’t say anything much about gay marriage, but b) says a lot about divorce, something Davis has actively experienced several times…).

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