Religious liberty and the rule of law in America

In June of this year, the Supreme Court of America established a nation-wide constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

You’d think that that would make the issue pretty much done and dusted. But no. In Rowan County, Kentucky, County clerk Kim Davis decided that her religious beliefs excused her from the ruling of the Supreme Court. She refuses to marry gay couples.

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According to Ms Davis, it’s question of religious liberty. It’s not. It’s a question of the rule of law.

In a democratic and secular society, the rule of law takes precedence over the individual’s religious liberty particularly if that religious liberty is being exercised while the individual is drawing the publicly-funded salary.

If Ms Davis wants to exercise her religious freedom, she should resign. There must be plenty of jobs in which she will not be required to officiate at the marriages of gay people.

But her stand goes to the heart of a number of questions, the first of which is what an individual is to do when the state passes laws that they find repugnant. The second is what to do in this situation: resign from the state-funded organisation that enforces those laws and the second is to take whatever steps necessary to change the laws.

Ms Davis’s lawyers have argued that she should not be forced to choose between her religious beliefs and her livelihood.

What an outrageous suggestion.

Imagine the chaos if every public servant had the discretion to decide not to enforce regulations and laws that they objected to.

Yet, in America the case of Rowan County clerk Kim Davis made it all the way to Supreme Court. Not as a test case, but simply because she wouldn’t do as she was told and paraded that as a matter of religious freedom.

This case and the ongoing tragedy of the failure of Americans to control gun ownership is indicative of the malaise that affects America where individual freedom and constitutional rights are used to hinder the processes of the stable, equitable and safe community.

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