It was a moment that will live on forever in the hearts of Christians who believe in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Rowan County clerk Kim Davis, released from jail after six days of imprisonment. It was the picture of victory, even if the White House is unlikely to paint itself in the colors of the Christian flag in commemoration of this historic day.
Outside the jail, supporters cheered and sang refrains from Amazing Grace.
“Thank you all so much. I love you all so very much,” Davis said, taking the stage. “I just want to give God the glory. His people have rallied, and you are a strong people. We serve a living God who knows exactly where each and every one of us is at. Just keep on pressing. Don’t let down, because he is here. He’s worthy.”
According to Judge David Bunning, Davis was released because the court was satisfied that Rowan County’s gay couples were now getting their licenses from Davis’s subordinates. He warned, however, that he would lock Davis up again if she attempted to interfere with their work. “If Defendant Davis should interfere in any way with their issuance, that will be considered a violation of this Order and appropriate sanctions will be considered,” the judge wrote.
This outcome has pleased the ACLU lawyers representing complaints against Davis, but it leaves any reasonable observer wondering what really lies behind the reversal. Did Bunning cave to political pressure in the form of Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Sen. Ted Cruz? Did he sense that his decision to jail Davis had created a firestorm he couldn’t control? If ever a book is written about this saga, it will be very interesting to know how Bunning came to this decision. Because, frankly, this has all the appearance of a court simply making up the laws as they go along.
Which, considering the root cause of all this turmoil, shouldn’t be too hard to believe.
Nearly every political writer in the country has had something to say about the Davis case, and it’s been interesting to see the division among conservatives. Some take the Huckabee approach, insisting that religious freedom should be respected above the law. Others sympathize with Davis’s plight while arguing that she should live up to her oath of office. One question that really resonated, though, was posed by William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal before Davis had been released.
“Is the priority ensuring that Rowan County’s gay couples can get the marriage licenses they are entitled to, without hassle?” asked McGurn. “Or is it breaking a Kentucky woman asking for an accommodation?”
Plenty of pundits have argued that Davis and her supporters want something similar to what ISIS wants for the Middle East: a country where God’s law reigns over the laws of man. And while they aren’t wrong about a tiny minority of her supporters, those views are hardly predominate on the right. This isn’t about wanting an American theocracy. This is about securing the least of all available compromises for those who find themselves caught between their beliefs and the law. That’s not much to ask for. But somehow Bunning – before the pressure got to him – thought it was more important to throw a Christian in jail than to give in an inch.
Writing in The Week, W. James Antle III said, “For many, sexual identity is now the highest and most personal form of conscience, not faith.”
And apparently, as absurd as that sounds, he’s absolutely right. What else can explain a country where Caitlyn Jenner is a hero and Kim Davis is a despised villain? What else can explain the thousands of people who screamed out against the “bigoted” religious freedom laws in Indiana? What else can explain a Houston mayor who thought she could demand transcripts from area pastors, just to make sure they weren’t speaking out against her LGBT agenda? What else can explain the Supreme Court’s bizarre claim that gay marriage is provided for in the Constitution?
No, we don’t want a theocracy. But when it comes down to it, is authoritarian liberalism any different?