Catholic Values Column: Will this be the price of religious liberty in the US?


It’s not often that a county government official dominates the national conversation for days on end. However, Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis has done just that, bringing the religious freedom debate to the forefront of the media’s reporting, once again, both in secular and faith-based outlets.

Davis was jailed because she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and lost her bid for a stay, which would have halted further legal process in a trial. On Sept. 8, hours before a rally began on Davis’ behalf, she was released by Judge David Bunning.

Bunning reportedly told Davis to stop interfering “directly or indirectly” with marriage licenses being issued from her Kentucky office.

Many people, even people of faith, have been seeing Davis as a bigot and hatemonger. However, Davis simply chose to decline to perform a service and refer it to a colleague rather than violate her deeply held religious beliefs.

Tommy Valentine, a junior and president of Franciscan University’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter, who attended Davis’ rally Tuesday, said that he believes this case to be a defining moment in the religious liberty battle.

“Kim Davis is following Kentucky law, which states that marriage is between one man and one woman,” said Valentine. “The Supreme Court cannot make or change that law without the Kentucky legislature or the people allowing them to. This is not my opinion; this is what the Founding Fathers said.”

This situation with Kim Davis is yet another frightening example of the ferocious attack on religious liberty in the United States. People are beginning to have to make a choice between violating their faith or keeping their jobs. That should never be the ultimatum in the United States of America.

“If we say that Kim Davis should resign because she can’t do the job, we are saying that Christians need not apply to certain government positions,” said Valentine. “As the left is emboldened by this episode, the list of positions Christians need not apply to will only expand.”

The debate over Davis’ situation will continue for some time. It is in this window of opportunity that people of faith must make their voices heard. Now more than ever is the time to pray for our legislators and show them that we, people of faith, will not back down when it comes to our conscience rights being protected.

In an article about the Davis situation, the New York Times said that this is a tool by which to measure the convictions of the presidential candidates about religious freedom.

The article stated, “For Republican presidential candidates, Ms. Davis’s situation has become a litmus test of commitment to religious freedom. Those who are relying on the support of social conservatives have ardently backed her cause. Others have expressed respect for her views while saying the law must be heeded.”

This is yet another reason why it is absolutely crucial that we all become involved in the debate over religious freedom. As the election season continues to take shape, the candidates will make statements about how they believe situations like Kim Davis’ case should be handled. If we hope to continue to have religious freedom in this country, it is our duty to be engaged in this debate and support only those who will defend our constitutional freedoms.

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