Obama's Book of Martyrs

Two hundred years of religious liberty down the drain.

In the late Colonial era, it had been illegal in the State of Virginia to preach without the approval of the Church of England for more than a hundred years.  So when Jeremiah Moore, a devoutly religious man and CofE official, became convinced that Baptist doctrine was the correct belief, he knew just what he was giving up - not only his sizable salary, but potentially his freedom.

It didn't take long: in 1773, he was arrested and imprisoned in Alexandria three times.  The powers that be thought that was just where he belonged: Justice Charles Broadwater railed on Moore saying, "You shall lie in jail until you rot!"

Fortunately, Moore chose wisely in his selection of counsel: none other than Patrick Henry.  Mr. Henry had already earned a national reputation as a fearsome defender of religious freedom, nearly inciting riots in courtrooms where independent preachers were being convicted.

Patrick Henry's powerful oratory and appeals to the generally Christian prevailing culture succeeded in having Pastor Moore acquitted; he lived to a ripe old age pastoring several churches across Virginia.  From that day to this, nobody has been imprisoned in America for their religious beliefs.

Until today.  The year 2015 marks the end of America's belief in First Amendment religious liberty, which is not only supposed to prohibit the government from establishing a state religion, but also anything to inhibit the free exercise thereof.

Kim Davis, a duly elected county clerk in the state of Kentucky, is in prison today specifically because she refuses to perform an act contrary to her conscience: she will not sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

She is not preventing same-sex couples from obtaining marriage from other county clerks more accommodating.  She is not advocating any kind of violence against homosexuals, or preventing them from behaving however they prefer.  She simply and exclusively does not wish to affix her own name to something she considers to be an abomination before God.

For that, she is rotting in jail in contempt of court - a jail sentence which has no fixed time and no set end, being purely at the pleasure of the judge.

If we still lived in the America of our founders, there would be rioting in protest like Henry instigated.  Instead, many people are suggesting that if she can't "do her job," she should simply resign.

That isn't what America is all about, though.  As Davis' lawyer explained:

The tragedy is that there are simple ways to accommodate her convictions. Just remove her name from the marriage licenses. That’s all she has asked from the beginning.

Again: Ms. Davis has no right to prevent homosexual unions, nor is she trying to claim such a right.  There are 120 county clerks in the state of Kentucky, 117 of whom have no problem with issuing same-sex marriage licenses.  Why must Ms. Davis be forced to violate her conscience?

It's not even a question of being fired: in Kentucky, county clerks are elected officials who cannot be fired until their term ends, only impeached.  The voters of Rowan County placed their trust in her; no legal authority in the land gives judges the right to summarily remove elected officials from office.  Yet Judge Bunning is trying to do just that, by locking her up until she knuckles under.

Nor is this tyranny restricted to government officials.  We've seen bakers, photographers, and all manner of other vendors legally forced to express messages endorsing homosexual unions they consider to be anathema.  Should Christians be unable to be bakers, photographers, or restaurateurs?  How about doctors, nurses, or pharmacists, who might be called upon to assist in the Constitutional right and mortal sin of abortion?

From the point of view of pure logic, none of this makes any sense.  Your humble correspondent cannot get married in a Catholic church since I'm not a Catholic; that's no skin off my back as there are plenty of other places to go.  For well over a century, employers have been required to make "reasonable accommodation" to sincerely held religious beliefs; most famously, devout Jews routinely swap work hours with Gentiles so as to always be home on the Sabbath.

Where's the harm in that?  What purpose does it serve to turn Ms. Davis into a martyr when ten minutes' drive down the road into the next county would get homosexual couples what they want?

There is only one possible explanation.  As Mike Huckabee accurately noted:

This is the criminalization of Christianity.

It's actually far worse than that; it is the driving of Christian beliefs from the public square entirely.  Our Supreme Court justices knew this full well when they magicked up a phony right to gay marriage out of the invisible penumbras of the Constitution, and the homosexual lobby has never been particularly shy about their end goal.

At least Ms. Davis is in no peril of her life - for now.  History shows that religious oppression never ends with prison, though, because prisoners from John Bunyan to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have an irritating habit of using their imprisonment to create a far higher and louder platform for their views than they otherwise would have had.

Had anyone heard of Ms. Davis last month?  Now we all have, and hundreds of times more people are listening to her views than her local church pastor could ever dream of.  So long as she sticks firm to her beliefs, the militant opposition will have only three choices.

The first, currently in force, is to keep her locked up until she submits.  If she won't submit, though, the longer she's behind bars, the more disturbed middle America will become.  That's what brought the civil rights movement of the 1960s to success: most decent Americans became sickened at the thought of religious people imprisoned for nothing more than protesting for their natural rights as Americans.  Of course, that's not at all what the homosexuals and liberals want.

The second is to let her out and allow her her exemption.  That may take away her megaphone somewhat, but it will also establish a precedent which millions of other Christians, similarly devout but less bold than Ms. Davis, will immediately seize.  There will be a sizable, visible body of refuseniks all across the fruited plain, directly and safely defying the dictates of political correctness.  Can't have that!

Which brings us to the traditional solution of the tyrant: increasingly harsh penalties, working up through torture and ending in execution.  We aren't there - yet, although respected religious leaders are predicting it.

Before we get there, though, one warning: when the Romans tried that tactic it backfired.  Famously, "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."

For many decades now, we've wondered just what it will take to restore American Christianity to health.  It may seem counterintuitive, but for two thousand years Christianity has suffered when it's enjoyed comfort and thrived when oppressed the most harshly - with the notable exception of the Islamic world.

Assuming that Mr. Obama is not a closet Muslim, we probably aren't going to end up down that route.  It's horrifying to contemplate that a round of oppression and martyrdom is what's needed to restore the historic strength of Christianity, but it looks like we're going to find out.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Law.
Reader Comments

"From that day to this, nobody has been imprisoned in America for their religious beliefs."

Perhaps you need to read up on your American religious history. Joseph Smith Jr. (the founder of Mormonism) and many of his followers were imprisoned for their religious beliefs throughout much of the 19th century. Not only were they imprisoned, but many were murdered. They were also threatened with extermination by the state of Missouri.

They continued to be imprisoned long after the Missouri affair due to their religious belief in polygamy. A belief backed by the Biblical practice of polygamy in several instances.

Just an FYI.

September 8, 2015 10:35 AM

Not exactly. Yes, the Mormon leaders were imprisoned in various places, but the charges were for fraud and sundry other related crimes which the historical record suggests they may actually have been guilty of. They weren't charged with being a Mormon directly, but for actions they took.

Ms Davis is different. She is not accused of "doing" anything - the whole issue is that she WON'T do what is demanded. This is directly analogous to Pastor Moore who refused to obtain a preaching license or do infant baptism.

America has not always been kind to all other religions, but it's been a long time since we've directly forced people to take positive actions contrary to their religion.

Would you consider it religious persecution to imprison satanists for doing human sacrifices, or voodoo priestesses for spraying the blood of sacrificed chickens around town? But we'd all agree it would be wrong to force non-Christians to get baptized or take Communion, as a positive act contrary to their beliefs. How is this any different?

September 8, 2015 10:59 AM

Matthew is correct (being LDS myself). We might also mention the Quaker men and women who were stripped and whipped for preaching against slavery. It is amazing how tolerant America thinks she is.

September 8, 2015 11:18 AM

Wouldn't expect you to be an expert in Moron history, but the expulsion from Missouri was triggered by an article publish by one of the Church leaders there that declared slavery wrong. In the expulsion Joseph Smith, his brother Hyrum and others were "arrested". The charge was 'treason' because treason had a low requirement of only one witness and did not allow bail. They were ordered by the commandant of the militia to be executed, but there was another officer who refused to carryout the order and threatened legal action if they attempted to execute the men. Their imprisonment in Liberty Jail became an embarrassment to the government, and during a transfer, the prisoners were "allowed" to escape (extra horses were brought along, the prisoners were not chained, and the guards got stone drunk). The settlement in Far West was told to abandon their farms and homesteads and get out of the state or be exterminated. The individuals were not questioned as to their personal beliefs on slavery, it was just enough that they were Mormons. This was done at the orders of the Governor of the State and by the state militia and other state officials.

September 8, 2015 11:34 AM

I think the distinction of her being a public official rather than working in the private sector, or running a private business, **does** matter to some extent.

If the state legislature chooses to impeach her, I think I will have no choice but to sadly agree with their decision.

As the Judge (who is known to be conservative, by the way) has been quoted saying "public officials must respect the law". Gay marriage is now the law of the land whether she likes that or not and she's a public official which means she has to administer the law as it pertains to her job, and gay marriage absolutely does.

If she cannot do her job - again, a PUBLIC job - for religious reasons, then she should resign. Staying in her position, with a sworn duty to carry out the law, while choosing not to means she is not fit for the position.

All that being said, this trend is growing and it worries me. I am deeply troubled by the ever-increasing persecution of religious views. Businesses are virtually torn down (in the literal sense of "virtual"), reputations are destroyed, death threats made - over things that do not rise about private personal religious preferences.

I don't think Kim Davis SHOULD be seen as part of that trend, because she wasn't acting as a private citizen or business, but I fear that most modern citizens won't be able to tell the difference. It's fair game on anyone and everyone. Religious preferences, even in private churches and private businesses, will be grounds to strip the person of wealth, status and possibly even one day their freedom.

Very troubling overall.

September 8, 2015 1:36 PM

Law is not like a light switch that you suddenly turn on. The nuances have yet to be defined. There defiantly is a struggle going on as to what the law will finally say so it is important that we get it right. First, this needs to be argued out in the Congress, and second the state needs to argue it out. To call for her impeachment is foolish. Voting to impeach her in a conservative area would be political suicide because the people there are NOT behind it. The neat thing is that in the past we have been able to work through this kind of difficulty given time. So lets cool down and let it work out. Look at what Utah has done and consider all possibilities.

September 8, 2015 8:10 PM

Sparky, I agree in principle except for this part:

"Law is not like a light switch that you suddenly turn on"

On the contrary, the law **is exactly** like a light switch, turned on or off by the hand of man, and (sadly) we've seen a whole new slate of laws get turned on over the past decade. That's the downside to democracies - you can turn the rules on and off as the citizenry changes.

Some recent on/off's of the light switch:

- Everyone is required, by law, to pay for health insurance

- Arbitrary caps on donation amounts to political campaigns (ie. cap on free speech)

- Marriage no longer represents a traditional family

- Strip searches at every airport in the nation which went from off to on in the space of a month or two

- DC suddenly re-allows private gun ownership (a good flip of the switch)

The list goes on and on. The Supreme Court doesn't seem to care anymore. Justice Roberts makes rulings based on his personal Catholic preferences, not the Constitution. The country is upside down.

I say all this not from place of panic but of sadness. I have been resigned to the fact that who is in the White House no longer matters, conservative or liberal. The current is too strong. The river is steering the ship.

September 8, 2015 8:23 PM

On the contrary,
- Everyone is required, by law, to pay for health insurance - No, people started asking for exceptions and many got them. There were years of delays to full implementation so people and lawsuits got to test it out. Not a sudden ON.

- Arbitrary caps on donation amounts to political campaigns (ie. cap on free speech). Those were made effective at the next election, not suddenly on.

- Strip searches at every airport in the nation which went from off to on in the space of a month or two. That is still slower than this case.

- DC suddenly re-allows private gun ownership (a good flip of the switch). No again. They had to pass laws to bring themselves into begrudging compliance.

The country is upside down. That I agree with. We are in the era of Tyranny.

September 8, 2015 8:40 PM

My original point was that gay marriage is now the law of the land, as interpreted by none other than the Supreme Court, and there is no 'transitional period' argument that can change or invalidate that. It does not go into effect at some future point.

The "must have enabling legislation" argument is wrong and has been adjudicated in times past. As an example, only recently have some states officially repealed segregation or anti-miscegenation laws (as recent as 2005) even though the Supreme Court ruled on those things decades ago. It doesn't matter because of the Supremacy Clause in the constitution.

Remember that this was a constitutional ruling (about equal protection at large), not a statutory ruling. Because of that, the only true way for a state to get around this ruling would be to stop issuing marriage license **entirely** to everyone. Only then, would the equal protection clause not apply.

(I should mention that I'm actually in favor of that. I think states should not issue marriage licenses whatsoever.)

You can certainly propose legislation to amend the constitution, which will create a transition period for turning it OFF over the next several years (and good luck with that!), but for the moment it is very much active and legal.

Given that, anyone who is in a current administrative position re: marriage certificates must give them out equally to both hetero and homo couples alike.

Ms. Davis should have resigned. That would have been the appropriate and respectful course of action given the inherent conflict between her beliefs and her occupational duties. Instead, she chose to continue collecting income for a job that she doesn't believe in. Since she can't be fired, the appropriate legal action would be for the General Assembly in her state to impeach her. If they don't and/or she is reelected, and the cycle continues, I suppose there would be a valid DoJ case to be brought against her for a violation of the equal protection clause.

September 9, 2015 8:15 AM

So I have a question then...(been reading here a long time, not a frequent poster)

Why is it that Sanctuary Cities Do not have to deport? (cops and city officials and state officials swore an oath, no?)
Why is it that Conscientious Objectors do not have to go to war? (servicemen certainly swear oaths, no?)
Why is it Judges can recuse themselves from a case? (its their job to be impartial and listen to testimony)

So why is it, that this woman who...when she took the job, it was one way, and now it changed mid game (With little warning)gets the business? What makes her different?

If anything Grandfather her duration of the term, and if she runs for the job again, inform her that this will be the nature of said job.

September 9, 2015 6:00 PM

ildraz, those are excellent points, but there are some simple answers.

Sanctuary Cities don't have deportation duties, they have notification duties. They are supposed to tell ICE and then the Feds deport, I believe. Each and ever local municipality doesn't have the obligation to bus illegals to the nearest border on their own. So Sanctuary Cities aren't technically breaking laws; they are operating within loops holes and gray areas.

I believe Conscientious Objection is only legal when it comes to the draft. If you're in the military already and try to use that as an out, you'll be court-martialed and/or dishonorably discharged. During the draft, they consider on a case by case basis whether the draftee can do CO and that's a part of the law to begin with.

Judges are required by law to recuse themselves if there are conflicts. To recuse **is** the law.

But you make some excellent points. It seems like a double standard and your suggestion of allowing her to continue her term as grandfathered is very compelling. Of course, you and I both know that only conservatives are forced to obey the law. ;-)

September 9, 2015 7:06 PM
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