When Justice Kennedy penned the Supreme Court’s decision in June, he anticipated there would be conflict between the civil and the religious definitions of marriage. Therefore, he decreed judicial decisions must be based on “neutral” grounds. The problem is the court’s decision was not neutral.
Kim Davis is not alone.
After she declined to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, 32 magistrates in North Carolina recused themselves from performing same-sex unions. In Alabama, about half a dozen county probate judges, who oversee the issuance of marriage licenses, are not providing them to any couples. In Oregon, Judge Vance Day has stopped performing all weddings.
All across the nation, county clerks and justices of the peace have quietly resigned from their positions.
Is it going to become impossible for a Christian to hold public office in America?
When Justice Anthony Kennedy penned the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision in June, striking down the marriage laws of more than half the states, he anticipated there would be conflict between the civil and the religious definitions of marriage.
How did he propose to resolve the conflict? By decreeing that “religious or philosophical premises” are not legitimate in law and public policy. Judicial decisions, he opined, must be based on “neutral” grounds.
But is the Obergefell ruling itself neutral? Not at all. It inserts the majority’s own religious and moral premises into the law. The real issue is not neutrality but the use of the courts to impose a liberal worldview on the entire nation.
Half a Brain
As a matter of history, much of American politics has been driven by a Christian moral vision. The Puritans and Pilgrims were largely motivated by the ideal of religious liberty. In the American Revolution, clergy were so influential in the fight for independence that they were nicknamed the Black Regiment (for their black robes). The Declaration of Independence rooted human freedom in “unalienable rights” that are “endowed by their Creator.”
The abolition movement was primarily driven by Christians making explicitly biblical arguments in the public square. The civil rights movement was led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., whose arguments for racial equality were phrased in a biblical idiom. Today movements against abortion, against sex trafficking, and many other humane initiatives are motivated by Christian moral convictions.
The respected historian Bruce Kuklick, though not himself a Christian, argues that Christians are too apt to “hide their religion under a bushel.” As a sheer historical fact, he writes, “The United States has in its essence always been a Christian nation, and this should be apparent to anyone with half a brain.” He is not saying that each citizen was personally committed but that the public ethos and ethic were shaped by a biblical moral vision.
When Judges Make Law