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Wed Sep 9, 2015, 11:24 AM

The vengeful god of Kim Davis: The powerful forces we ignore when we fixate on one Kentucky clerk

The vengeful god of Kim Davis: The powerful forces we ignore when we fixate on one Kentucky clerk

The temptation to lock onto the story of Kim Davis risks ignoring the manipulative figures behind the scenes


Brittney Cooper
SALON

http://www.salon.com/2015/09/09/the_vengeful_god_of_kim_davis_the_powerful_forces_we_ignore_when_we_fixate_on_one_kentucky_clerk/

I used to be a conservative evangelical Christian. As a teenager, I was obsessed with remaining a virgin until marriage, appalled at the choices of a couple of my friends who needed to terminate teen pregnancies, and obsessed with my “sins” and everyone else’s. So I understand the thinking that informs the asinine and misguided show of (un)righteous indignation that is Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The God of (white) evangelical Christianity is obsessed with the policing of sex –in particular, who has it, how they have it, in what context, and with whom. Though some “good” evangelicals try to reframe these clearly hypocritical rankings of “sin” by insisting that God hates all sin, the truth is that most evangelicals believe that God is primarily appalled by non-normative sexual appetites. More specifically, God hates gay sex, though God may love gay people. God loves heterosexual marriage though, and because of this, God will continue to forgive you for numerous divorces and remarriages, as long as you ultimately end up in a good Christian, straight marriage. Or you stay celibate. Those are your only options.

For many people, this level of moral regulation sounds downright bizarre, not to mention damn near impossible to achieve. And if you are anything like me, such unholy and retrograde thinking causes you to have a complicated relationship to the church, or to reject it altogether.

Such belief systems are driven by fear – fear of God’s wrath, fear of the end of days, fear of divine retribution.

But here’s the thing. There are our moral quibbles with Kim Davis’ belief system and then there are our legal quibbles with it. I have both. Fear (and misguided thinking) can cause one to believe that upholding a person’s basic civil rights amounts to a condoning of their choices. But these moral panics only happen around issues of sexual regulation. We are society that believes that even mass murderers deserve defense attorneys. We do not equate the providing of legal representation with the condoning of crime. It is about the basic protection of rights. The idea that those who issue marriage licenses must agree with the romantic choices of those getting married is patently absurd. There are clear distinctions to be made about marriage as a civil institution, which is open to all, and marriage as a religious institution, which is regulated by individual churches and religious traditions.

Continued:
http://www.salon.com/2015/09/09/the_vengeful_god_of_kim_davis_the_powerful_forces_we_ignore_when_we_fixate_on_one_kentucky_clerk/

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Response to newthinking (Original post)

Wed Sep 9, 2015, 11:39 AM

1. "The idea that those who issue marriage licenses must agree with the romantic choices..."

"The idea that those who issue marriage licenses must agree with the romantic choices of those getting married is patently absurd."

This is one of the primary issues that has confounded me about this whole circus. As someone on DU pointed out the other day, when the County Clerk's office issues a marriage license it isn't also issuing a statement about any moral, religious, or philosophical issues that might be in play. It is only stipulating that the application for marriage license has met the legal requirements of the state.

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Response to newthinking (Original post)

Wed Sep 9, 2015, 11:55 AM

2. First of all I think it's absurd beyond belief for anyone to claim they know what God wants.

 

Line them up and they won't even agree with each other. Therefore, using the argument that God wants this or that is wacko IMO.

And it's not practical. If we allow people to discriminate based on their idea of what God wants we will have chaos. One clerk will do one thing on one day and a different clerk will do something different on the next day.

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Response to newthinking (Original post)

Wed Sep 9, 2015, 12:47 PM

3. her god told the supreme court to approve marriage equality. why is she defying her god's will? nt

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Response to newthinking (Original post)

Wed Sep 9, 2015, 12:57 PM

4. I just can't fathom how anyone who proclaims to believe in God

has such a huge amount of hate in their hearts. From the tiny religious knowledge I got from Sunday School classes all those years ago, my take on God was that he wanted us all to live in peace and love and cherish one another. Hatred and fear isn't something I ever expected anyone to claim as a right gotten from the Bible - but then radicals of any religion seem to be the most dangerous, hate-filled humans on the planet. We in the west loathe them, for good reason, in other countries - it's so bizarre they're held up on moral pedestals in our own. Absolutely baffling.

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Response to newthinking (Original post)

Wed Sep 9, 2015, 01:05 PM

5. Funny how God wants what they want

and hates who they hate.

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Response to newthinking (Original post)

Wed Sep 9, 2015, 03:36 PM

6. everyone knows of course that the SoBapts split to back slavery--but let's get dialectical!

if slaves knew too much about the Testaments they'd start revolting, and having their own independent meetings--whether post-Yoruba or Christian--was feared as a great way to plot: I Peter 2:18/Ephesians 6:5-6/Colossians 3:22 is followed immediately by 19/9/25-4:1, after all ...

the Baptist revivalism that paralleled 1900s and 10s fundamentalism was in fact quite Black--and quite pink for that matter, and fundamentalism and creationism took off in the 20s because we'd fought a megawar by countries trying to prove who was most social-Darwinistically "fit" and this influenced Scopes, which was not quite so clean-cut as we'd like to think (not that the fundies were that remote from social Darwinism with their well-funded nostalgia for the Gilded Age and divine sanction of robber barons); the war's scope and virulent propaganda had dashed both the Victorian liberals and the conservatives and opened the door to new religious configurations--heck, soon we'd fight again against a monster strongly inspired by Anglo eugenics (which was seen as "Progressive" back then); delightfully the Fundamentalists' dispensationalism and literal inerrancy came from writers they'd either condemn as Jesuitical or commie; James Leuba assumes 1914 that religion has only a decade or two left and then we'll enter a techno-utopia

for the Catholics, the 30s' Coughlin types were strengthened by being a reaction to the extremely anti-Catholic fundies (headquartered in states that were 0.05% Catholic), fascist persecution in Mexico, and Red Terrors in extremely polarized countries like Spain (note that since the 1820s the Popes had been called reactionaries mostly *because* they opposed brutal capitalism); the 1933 Humanist Manifesto assures us that religion has only a decade or two left and then we'll enter a techno-utopia

the fundies were the first to meld the Yellow Peril into the Red, saying the Russkies were Gog and the Chinee Magog or whatever, about to unleash Commie Satan on us after infiltrating our schools with dancing and race-mixing and talk of UFOs; the early 60s also saw questions about whether God was dead of eternal prosperity and technology, but also Ardrey and Lorenz's "objective ethics" that said we had to invade Cuba because of how baboons troop

then the Jesus Freaks happened; after Saigon, the Church Committee, Rachel Carson, and OPEC the corporatists and elites had to regroup: under the Powell Memo they funded a massive backlash in all fields, from pharmacy and science to estimations of Soviet missile power: the Baptists even had a coup to get them in line; this all made creationism into a marker of group identity, a way to set oneself apart from the sad, competitive, raunchy world weighing you down (heck, the Discovery Institute was a bunch of liberal Republicans who just happened to read some Adventist heretic who couldn't tell fossils apart); in 1973 another Humanist Manifesto says that religion has only 10-20 years left and then we'll enter a techno-utopia

Reagan was the one who brought together the Religious Right, the corporatists, and the social Darwinists ("libertarians"; the Catholic Conference also moved right in the 70s and 80s over abortion (in turn taking a harder line than before Paul VI) and to keep the fundies off their backs since Washington is now home to a politically-mighty sector thinks they all serve the Antichrist (and while damning Reagan up and down, especially over his Latin American atrocities)

this brings us to today's famous doorknobs: their offensiveness, hypocrisy, cultishness, extremism, and refusal to read the Bible like a normal goddamn human being, coupled with 80% of the country's shrugging acceptance of gay marriage, have made them sharply aware their position is declining; in the late 90s and 00s the fundies (surging in the GOP after the party's 1994 rightward swing under Gingrich) also fueled the extremely-disparate New Atheists, who in turn share an alarming amount of assumptions with the fundies: warmongering and torture, proud ignoring of 98% of historians and theologians, the Conflict Thesis, the same damn sources from the same damn Victorian eccentrics, rolling gales of cretinism, and a strangely castrated view of the material world coupled to a transcendentalist rhetoric that elides too much; in 2003 they also announced that religion has only 10-20 years left and then we'll enter a techno-utopia

some are starting to say the pendulum's swinging again to liberal religiosity as theologians get bolder attacking these bigmouth pipsqueaks and insular wankers--fingers crossed! but they're always most dangerous when cornered and "persecuted" (this includes revelations of their misdeeds--it only further solidifies the walls of cultishness and isolated discourse)

the 20th century is long and confusing, and there's a lot of moving parts and things that seem contradictory looking at them from the present; each of these shifts was used by the fundies (in America's long tradition of DIY religion--is it "organized" religion if it's presbyterial or congregational and encourages you to ignore everything else that's written unless one gatekeeper approves of it?) to paint itself as besieged and beset from all sides, under threat constantly when outside the safety of home and church and besieged by drugs, children turning out to be gay, nondiscrimination policies, and "false-flag" revelations of misdeeds by televangelists and Duggars; the high rates of VD and teen pregnancy in fundie-run states makes them turn FURTHER from sex ed, because they think via mislogic

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