We live in a consumer based society. People demand choice. I pick a shirt because I like one colour over the other. I drive a smaller car, because I prefer to use fewer fossil fuels. I choose to cheer for the Saskatchewan Roughriders because well there is no other choice (sorry Argos and Bluebomber fans). Commercials, newspaper ads, and magazine ads all give us the idea that we are in total control and the choice is up to us.
But with many things, we don't have a choice. Take obeying the law. We, as members of society, are supposed to obey the law. And we can't pick and choose what laws which laws to obey. Driving in a car, when the light turns red I am supposed to stop or else I will get a ticket and traffic demerit points or get into an accident. Laws tell me that I cannot steal or kill- I cannot steal without realizing that I might face imprisonment. Laws serve a purpose. They help to make society run smoothly. They protect the rights of others. Oh sure a few laws are unjust, and we have to work to amend these laws. But most laws help to make this world a safer place. And I can not say that I will only obey those laws that I believe in.
That's what makes the story of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk, so compelling. Ms. Davis, a committed born again Christian, has refused to issue any marriage licenses in the light of the Supreme Court's decision on marriage equality. Saying that she cannot issue licenses to same sex couples because of her beliefs, Ms. Davis became the centre of much controversy. She was eventually jailed for her beliefs. Or the story of the muslim ExpressJet flight attendant, who refused to serve alcohol to passengers because it violated her beliefs. A vocal minority offered support to Ms. Davis. A tiny few supported the flight attendant.
Although there are exceptions, doctors care for all patients (whether they are green, purple, or plaid). Teachers teach all students not just those they feel are worthy. A bus driver drives all people, not just the lucky few who fit a certain stereotype. The fact is, as a county official, Ms. Davis was called to follow the dictates of the US courts. She was not called to agree with gay marriage. As county clerk, her opinion, her religious beliefs, should not play any role in her issuing of licenses.
Fundamentalist Christians and opportunistic politicians have said that this is a violation of Ms. Davis' rights. Surely she has a right to practise her faith and live by her beliefs. And that means she should not have to affix her signature on gay marriage licenses. But their arguments seem a bit hollow when they get angry with the muslim flight attendant who is also trying to live out her faith and practise their beliefs. She is a foreigner, a heathen, an outsider. How dare she challenge us with her beliefs. So it seems to me that those standing with Kim Davis are not about religious freedom. It is the promotion of just one set beliefs not religious freedom.
We live in a multicultural, cosmopolitan world. For such a non-homogenous world to work though, we must obey the laws of society, not just the ones we like. We can't pick and choose. And if we really are pushing for religious freedom, we have to understand that means all faiths, and not just some. Living together means pushing beyond our own personal beliefs, our own pre-conceived notions, and growing into a new world. Blessings.