Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tricky business, this righteous outrage. You have to be so careful not to sound like a hypocrite while you’re deriding hypocrisy. Messes with your sleep.

In the past few days, America’s news media — from the largest organizations to the smallest blogs — have made a star of a 49-year-old woman in Appalachia named Kim Davis.

Davis is the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk who is refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. She is declaring a religious exemption for herself in her little patch of our amber waves of grain. And she’s an elected official, so no firing her.

I’m angry as all get-out over what Davis is doing, but I can’t blame her for relishing the national attention. She’s an American woman who, at her age, is supposed to be invisible. But there she is, popping up in everybody’s newsfeed on her way to becoming a lonely footnote in history.

After the U.S. Supreme Court essentially told her to knock it off, Davis released an online statement through her new best friends, the far-right Liberty Counsel. An excerpt:

I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me. Following the death of my godly mother-in-law over four years ago, I went to church to fulfill her dying wish. There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I am not perfect. No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God.

I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage.

A brief interruption here to note what Jesus said about homosexuality.

Absolutely nothing.

Back to Davis:

To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. For me it is a decision of obedience. I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s Word.

As that excerpt illustrates, Davis is unreachable regarding her version of Christianity. Ridiculing her faith, her appearance, and her multiple marriages, as so many have, only further convinces her of her rightness. She thinks God wants her to be a martyr. To her and those using her, our ridicule — our persecution — is proof that she is right.

We’ve been here before in this country, and as we have before, we will soon uproot this obstacle on the road to justice.

NPR’s Robert Siegel asked Columbia University law professor Katherine Franke whether Davis’ refusal to marry same-sex couples mirrors white officials’ refusal to accept racial equality in the 1950s and ’60s.

“It’s exactly the same situation,” Franke said. “I think that certain people in certain places are changing their view on homosexuality … but not everyone is there yet. And some people base their opposition to equality for same-sex couples — or for lesbians and gay men — in religion, but they can’t use those values as a justification for not performing public functions.

“So what we’re seeing now really in a way mirrors quite clearly what we saw in the 1950s, where many communities were more than happy to close all of their pools and playgrounds and public schools rather than having black children and white children play together. And we saw that resistance pass in a short period of time.”

We don’t need to mock Davis for justice to prevail. If we are to live our message, that all marriages are equal, then I’d rather treat her with the respect she has denied others. She can believe whatever she wants. Same-sex marriage is the law of the land, including in Rowan County.

Davis is a flawed human, and in that, she has a lot in common with the rest of us. As various news organizations have reported, Davis has been married four times, twice to the same man, and pregnant with twins by a man who was not her husband at the time. Eventually, she turned to God, hoping to find a way out of her mess of a life.

We can point to her circuitous route to redemption and her current state of religious certainty and declare her a fool and a hypocrite. Or we can see her as a woman who has joined that long list of humans looking for a chance to be something other than their biggest mistakes. I’m not going to get into the reasons my name is on the list. How about you?

I am not excusing Kim Davis’ bigotry. I just don’t want to let it harden my own heart.

I do, however, want to know why it is that the meanest of my fellow Christians claim they get their marching orders from God while the decent ones just keep acting like Jesus, loving everyone as best they can.

I’m going to be thinking about that all evening. I expect it will be a long night.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and an essayist for Parade magazine. She is the author of two books, including …and His Lovely Wife, which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz ([email protected]) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

  • Buford2k11

    Connie, what you just wrote IS what Jesus was all about…thanks for reminding me to not “harden my heart” against those who trespass against us…False teachings by quite a few of the False Prophets have led us to this point…It is the “Christian Leadership” who have chosen this path, and now, as they travel this spiritually dangerous path, we are seeing the “Light of the Truth” being focused on these fake christians…Purity, and Perfection belongs to Jesus alone…the rest us, well, we have to make our own decisions, such as this woman has done…

    • Bosda

      The law firm hired by the so-called Liberty Council will make millions off Ms Davis.
      They might not be giving her the very best advice.

    • A_Real_Einstein

      Davis is selling out. After the book deal, tour and go fund me account she will never have to work again. Bigotry is very lucrative in the USA today

      • Dominic Vierra

        I’ve heard that there is a new law in her state that will prevent her from profiting off of this little stunt. I do hope that it is true

  • FireBaron

    She is an elected official, sworn to uphold all laws. The current law says she MUST issue marriage licenses to all couples who meet the legal requirements. She refuses to uphold that law, regardless of the reasons why. Therefore she is in contempt of the law. She must either resign or be removed from office in accordance with the law.

    • Daniel Jones

      If the county cannot see its way clear to impeaching her, they need to appoint an assistant to perform those duties of which she is apparently incapable.
      The marriages are the first order of business.

      • stcroixcarp

        County Clerks do a lot more than issue marriage licenses. She has created so much hoopla in her office, one has to wonder if any of her duties are being performed.

  • Dominick Vila

    Kim Davis is free to believe whatever she wants, she is free to practice her religion, but she is not free to impose her personal beliefs or values on everyone else. If she wants to denounce the Supreme Court decision she is free to articulate her views in her Church, in a park near the place where she works, and in just about every public place, but when we accept a job, and the job requires certain things our options are to either do what we are being told or quit. She, and none of us, have a right to insubordination.

  • Looner

    All this makes me glad I am an atheist.

  • Paragryne

    Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. Game over.

    • Shadow Diver

      Actually, she make $80k a year, is still getting paid and is on the tea party grifter train at GoFundMe.

  • indiokie

    And God told ME that she was wrong!

  • Robert Cruder

    Her bible says that one must “Render to Caesar” even if one does not believe that Caesar is divine. If the bible separates one’s personal actions from one’s civil actions then the additional separation of one’s official actions is not only allowed but required.

    Her failure to follow the bible suggests something more troubling. Her “conscience” is not based on scripture but on listening to others and internalizing their judgments. No religion requires that adherents think through and justify their positions.

    Most members merely copy mandates and prohibitions that might not apply to their situation and treat those as divine will. This is “convenient” for religions because most if not all rational people would not be able to justify belief at all and might accept only social participation.

    It is inconvenient to Kim Davis who has been told that she must sacrifice everything for a preacher’s personal position. Although misused, she is still free to choose and must suffer the consequences.

  • I will share excellent internet freelancing opportunity… three to five hours of work /day… Payment each week… Performance depending bonuses…Payscale of $6k to $9k a month… Only few hrs of# spare time, desktop or laptop, elementary understanding of internet and dependable web-connection needed…Have a visit to my disqus_profile for more info

  • charleo1

    Okay, say my religion tells me it’s a sin to take off all my clothes, and dance in public.
    So naturally, I apply for a dancer’s position down at the local strip club. And immediately demand to be paid, while insisting I’m incapable of preforming what I was hired to do. Because, like I said, clothes stay on, no dancing, my religious freedom. So they let me go. Furious, persecuted, and tyrannized to all get out for my faith, I file a huge lawsuit against the club, it’s liquor license, the city, and those smutty liberals on Dancing With The Stars, for good measure. Then it’s on to Fox New’s Bill O’Reilly to discuss the Left’s ever growing war on Christianity, the loss of family values, and the price this great and exceptional Nation is paying for all the above. Look for my book! Courts to Christians: Strip or Starve! The Coming Gay Inquisition.

    • Shadow Diver

      Could we still sit together and have a drink?

      • charleo1

        Ha! Very funny!

  • Jay Hale

    Agree as tempting as it may be – ridiculing Davis is not the answer. The facts alone destroy her argument. The *fact* that she is a delusional zealot hypocrite that is refusing to *do her elected job* – one she already failed at when she started injecting her religious convictions into a secular duty – is what needs to be continually pointed out. The only facts that matter.

  • Whatmeworry

    All we hear from the left is work place religious accommodations until its a Christian

    • charleo1

      Okay, I’ll bite. Name a similar workplace accommodation you know of, that was, #1. Made especially for a religion other than Christians. That,#2. Included refusing to do the job. #3. Not being fired, and getting paid anyway. And #4.That Christians are forced to do, even though they too object on religious grounds.

      • Whatmeworry

        Hmm lets see
        > moooslim doesn’t have to serve alcohol on a plane
        > Jew doesn’t’t have to cook pork
        > moooslims can take 5 breaks a day in a slaughter house to pray
        >Need some more??

        • JPHALL

          You are a total joke. How about some real ones involving refusing to do the job they are paid to do. Very few Muslims work with alcohol. Some Jews eat pork. As to prayer, Christians can take breaks for prayer. I did for years.

    • JPHALL

      She refused one. She insists that since her name will be on the license, no one from her office can give out any for gays or straights.

    • Jan123456

      How would you feel if the person whose responsibility it is to give out Concealed Carry permits is a Quaker and as a pacifist, refuses to do that or have it done in his/her office?

      • Whatmeworry

        hmmm how would you feel if the president refused to enforce our immigration laws? How would you feel if the president spent taxpayer $$$ without a budget or congressional approval??

        • Jan123456

          Answer my question and I will answer yours.

          Would you say a Quaker has the religious right not to issue gun permits if that is a part of his/her job?

          • Whatmeworry

            I believe in religious freedom and would understand their conviction and go else where

          • Jan123456

            We don’t have a president who refuses to enforce immigration law…actually more people have been deported than under the previous POTUS. So, that’s a hypothetical I won’t need to worry about.

            If Congress refuses to pass a budget, I guess he would be doing what is necessary for the good of the country.

          • Whatmeworry

            So you don’t have an answer. Barak and Kim should be treated the same

  • Joan

    The writer is correct and I stand humbled; I actually cheered a little when I heard the news she had been jailed for contempt of court. Those advising this unsophisticated woman have done her a grave disservice. I will reserve further judgement unless and until she goes on Fox to proclaim herself a religious martyr and a constitutional scholar to rival our Supreme Court Justices. I wish Ms. Davis only as much ill will as she has wished on the gay and lesbian couples she has prevented from marrying.