Debate Magazine

Kim Davis: Conservatives Usually Support Theocracy - Part 4

Posted on the 23 September 2015 by Doggone
When citizens of this country approach their government, they do so only as Americans, not as a members of one faith or another. And that means that even in a partly legislative body, they should not confront government-sponsored worship that divides them along religious lines." - Associate Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, in a dissenting opinion
The Kim Davis controversy is like other right-wing efforts to support theocracy and to undo the decisions of the SCOTUS which are mandated by our Constitution as the ultimate arbiters of what is and is not constitutional.  We saw it in the Hobby Lobby decision, we have seen it in other attempts at challenging marriage equality.  When conservatives dislike a ruling, they attempt a do-over and use the litigation as a delay to social justice.
The dissenting decision quoted above came from a court case where the conservative Christian majority on the Supreme Court upheld specifically Christian prayer in city council meetings, asserting that they could open council meetings in the name of Jesus. Previously the town council had a long tradition of opening with a simple moment of respectful silence, prior to 1999.  Further, before making it to the SCOTUS, lower courts found the prayer to be preferential treatment violating the establishment clause. From CNN:
"The faith of the prayer giver does not matter at all," said John Auberger, Greece's board supervisor, who began the practice shortly after taking office. "We accept anyone who wants to come in and volunteer to give the prayer to open up our town meetings." A federal appeals court in New York found the board's policy to be a violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which forbids any government "endorsement" of religion. Those judges said it had the effect of "affiliating the town with Christianity."
What should be concerning to ALL citizens however is the larger push against secularism that seeks to install a radical religious control of government.  Kentucky is not the only location with such a conflict.  It is a truism that all politics are local - and in equally if not more conservative Arizona, a local city council just did this, more of the same kind of action as Kim Davis effectively interfering with same sex couples getting married, under the name of individual freedom of religious expression, from If You Only News:

Arizona City Council Passes Resolution To Discriminate Against Non-Christians During City Prayer

...On Monday, a resolution that would allow all religious groups the ability to open city council meetings with prayer was put before the city council of Coolidge, Arizona.
This wasn’t good enough for Councilman Rob Hudelson, though. The Baptist pastor, either oblivious to the SCOTUS ruling or deliberately ignoring it, asked for a change to the resolution, restricting the right to pray before city council meetings to Christians only.
The modified resolution, discriminating against other religions, passed by a 4-2 vote.
So the solution is not to have any prayers at all, regardless of religion. But that never set in with the city council, even though they’re being warned that this will lead to lawsuits if approved.
City Attorney Denis Fitzgibbons said of the resolution, “As long as they all have a fair opportunity to come and give an invocation, then it’s going to be legal.” But that’s not the case here, and when Fitzgibbons warned of the inevitable lawsuit, Hudelson bunkered down, telling Fitzgibbons the city paid him “to avoid us getting into these problems.”
Hudelson insisted that it was our “heritage” and that we shouldn’t “be ashamed:”
That’s our heritage, we should not be ashamed of it, nor should we be pushed into a corner because Supreme Court decisions. The first prayer in Congress ended by saying thy son, our savior, based on the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior Amen.
The Arizona ALCU has already stepped into the fight, sending the city a letter warning that it was in violation of the First Amendment if it approved the rule.
The legal director, Victoria Lopez, told AZCentral, “There isn’t a legal question. It’s problematic on First Amendment grounds, certainly, and it seems like a really bad policy position to take” and “They are creating a policy that will advocate for a particular religion” which sends the message that other religions aren’t welcome in government affairs.
We are not Christian or non-Christian; we are all Americans.  We should not be giving preferential treatment in or by government to any sect or faith to act against the civil rights of others, or to be otherwise discriminated against in government.
Ask yourself, if you held a different faith than the city council member here, Hudelson, do YOU feel you could expect fair treatment?  Consider if for example, you had previously disagreed with Hudelson about the location of a fundamentalist church parking lot.......or some other petty local issue.  Would you expect an unbiased vote from this man? I would not.  If you are a known Muslim or Jewish, or Hindu or Buddhist, or atheist? How about if you are openly gay? Then I think it would be even worse for you in that Arizona town in front of that city council.  You could not expect fair treatment, free from religious prejudice and creeping theocracy.  THIS is the real issue, one that is being fought on many fronts at many levels of government, fair and equal treatment.
And THAT is the essential battle being waged over Kim Davis, that has been cynically used by the radical religious right to try to take over the state of Kentucky.  They DO want such preferential treatment, they DO want the authority to strip you of YOUR religious AND civil rights if you DARE to disagree with them -- and they are usually wrong, so you should be expecting to disagree with them.  But to disagree effectively, you have to learn to think independently and to look at the issues pragmatically, rather than taking them as defined at face value.

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