- September 16, 2015
For many people, faith and spirituality are central to our existence and are places where we find comfort, respite and healing. While this is no less true for LGBT people, religion for some can be a different matter. Religion can conjure images of a punitive God, rigid adherence to a set of unattainable laws or memories of condemnation and shame.
As we have seen over the past few weeks, people can decide that their theological beliefs override the law, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court of the United States.
When Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, she took a stand against the law and failed to perform the duties of her job. When asked under whose authority she felt she could ignore the laws of the land she responded, “God’s authority.”
Soon after, conservative evangelicals rushed to her side. Some raised money for her legal defense and for her family, and politicians seized the opportunity to convene at a press conference around a narrative of Christian persecution to score points with conservative Christian voters.
While Kim Davis made headlines for her beliefs, it is vital to remember that Kim Davis does not represent all people of faith, or even all evangelical Christians. It is also important to remember that employers of the government, who are paid with taxpayer dollars, are expected to serve impartiality and not discriminate when serving all members of the public.
Kim Davis might be back at work, but more questions about her and other like minded clerks remain: Where are these same people of faith who support Ms. Davis when it comes to addressing the suffering of the poor and marginalized, many of whom are LGBT? Where is the zeal for economic justice? Where is the clamor for justice from these same Christians when young black and brown lives are lost to police brutality? Where are these voices of faith when families endure homelessness, joblessness, domestic violence and incarceration, or when our youth face bullying in schools across our nation? Where is the public outcry and decisive action then? And what have they done in their communities after transgender women of color are murdered with impunity?
When it comes to the suffering of our fellow human beings, where are my fellow Christians? Too often, I look for them, only to find them absent. There is a cacophony of silence that blankets our nation in the face of these issues of injustice.
I have hope that my fellow people of faith can and will do better. Clergy and faith leaders across the nation are increasingly standing up to give voice to the need for full equality for LGBT people, as well as speaking out on several other social issues. People like Rev. Dr. William Barber, a pastor and founder of the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina, Bishop Yvette Flunder, Founder of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries who has worked on HIV & AIDS for nearly three decades, and youthful voices like Matthew Vines, founder of the Reformation Project, and Justin Lee of the Gay Christian Network, who boldly engage evangelical Christians and challenge them to examine their beliefs about LGBT people and our families, give me hope for a brighter, inclusive future in our faith communities.
The common value among all these clergy and millions of others is that they chose not to be silent on issues of injustice. As a person of faith and an American, I defend Kim Davis’ right to believe as she so chooses, but I vehemently disagree with her selective and discriminatory way of meting out justice and with her portrayal as a Christian hero. Rather, I hear the call of the prophet Micah to, “Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”