Cleaning the lines between church and state

Kim Davis and our discrimination culture

By Morgan Levy ‘19

Contributing Writer

Would an Islamic barista be able to not sell you a cup of coffee because you are donning a cross necklace? A Christian car salesman not sell a car to me because I am Jewish? Insert any hypothetical situation involving the separation of the church and everyday life. A common theme develops, one which has been fundamental in American history since the start, which is just how important it is to keep a line between religion and state.

Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses based on her religious beliefs, is a classic example of why these lines must not be finely blurred but crystal clear to protect the rights of our citizens.

Religion is a difficult grey area to deal with in America, especially in relation to politics.  We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, a country that supposedly does not have an official religion, yet the White House hosts Easter Egg Rolls on the Lawn and Christmas Tree lightings with no celebrations of any other religions like Judaism or Islam.  Christianity might as well be the official American religion. A 2013 poll from the Huffington Post showed that 1/3 of Americans would approve of a constitutional amendment to make Christianity the official religion.

America and its politics inadvertently side with Christianity.  The stereotypical “American dream” involves a perfect family with a mom, dad, sporty son, daughter with pigtails and a dog named Rover who go to church on Sundays and millions flock to Republican candidates in particular who describe their strong values like religious crusaders, including Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz who both side with Kim Davis.

But there is a much greater problem here that Kim Davis and the societal view of the situation brings to light: the culture of discrimination and diversity issues that still plague our society.

If Kim Davis was a Muslim, people would have called her a terrorist.  If Kim Davis was black, she would be doing this because she was angry about racism.   If Kim Davis was Hispanic, people would say she was an illegal immigrant.  The disparaging stereotypes our society paints of people are infinite.

But Kim Davis doesn’t fit into any of the stereotypes I previously describe.  She is a white, church going woman from Kentucky, claiming to have strong morals from the Bible that don’t allow her to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.  Which in the eyes of many members of our society, make her actions acceptable.

If we want to change our culture of discrimination and create an equilibrium in our society, we can’t let people pick and choose on these matters and others which have major implications in others lives.  Employers should not be able to choose not to provide birth control so that women can feel safe, and clerks who work for the federal government need to obey the rules and issue marriage licenses so all couples can live happily ever after.

Until our society makes the transition from a salad to a true melting pot, the law must be improved to better protect our citizens from the church.  I am not saying I have a problem with religion—it provides a strong moral system and sense of community to millions of people, but I have a problem when it prevents weddings from happening.

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