Kim Davis

CNN visits eastern Kentucky women, but ignores how majority feels about abortion, etc.

CNN visits eastern Kentucky women, but ignores how majority feels about abortion, etc.

Not long ago, when I was doing research in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee for my new book on young Pentecostal serpent handlers, some of us -- by which I mean people involved in local churches and local life -- grew to despise what I call journalistic carpetbaggers.

Those are the folks from the big city who show up in Fly-Over Land to get at the real truth about those denizens of America’s hinterlands they believe no other journalist has uncovered. They wouldn’t dream of leaving their enclaves inside the Beltway or –- in this case the Outer Perimeter of Atlanta -- to actually live among the unwashed, but they do like jetting in every so often to report on the Truth That Is Out There Among The Simple People.

You can probably guess where I’m going with CNN’s latest: “Forget Abortion: What women in Appalachian Kentucky really want.”

I’ll tell you up front what that is: They want birth control and lots of it. Oh, and there's no need to talk to Kentucky women who oppose abortion. They don't exist.

The story begins here:

Pikeville, Kentucky (CNN) Perhaps it was the abstinence pledge she felt forced to sign or the promise ring she was told to slip on her finger. But from the moment Cheryl became sexually active, she felt dirty.
Then, three boys raped her, reducing her self-image to mud.
She didn't dare tell anyone or seek help. Growing up in rural eastern Kentucky, she'd been raised by drug addicts who'd lost the family home and lived in a place, she says, where there was "nothing left to do but do each other."

I’ll agree that rural eastern Kentucky (I also biked through the area -– places like Elkhorn City, Pippa Passes and Hazard -- many years ago during a trip from Washington DC to Lexington, Ky.), is often closer to being Meth Alley rather than a garden spot. That region of the country appears atop all the bad lists: joblessness, poverty, absenteeism, life expectancy and female smoking during pregnancy.

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Hey Lexington Herald-Leader: This one phrase makes me question your impartiality on Kim Davis

Hey Lexington Herald-Leader: This one phrase makes me question your impartiality on Kim Davis

You remember Kim Davis, right?

As a self-described "foul-mouthed moderate" put it on Twitter, "She's that lady who refused to issue gay couples marriage licenses in Kentucky."

More precisely, as GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly notes, "Davis didn’t try to deny license. She just wanted to avoid being the person who had to sign it." 

If somehow her name doesn't ring a bell, we have a post or two — or 3 million — in our archive.

I bring her up because, well, she's back in the headlines again.

The news peg is simple: A gay man who unsuccessfully sought a marriage license from Davis has filed to run against her for Rowan County clerk. 

This is the headline — cue the clickbait — atop the Lexington Herald-Leader's story:

Kim Davis denied him a marriage license. Now he wants to take her job

Eventually, the Herald-Leader story will turn into what approaches an unpaid political advertisement for Davis' challenger, the fourth Democrat so far to enter the race. But up top, the report is straightforward and factual (albeit less than precise on how Davis phrased her position, as tmatt noted):

MOREHEAD — David Ermold, one of the men denied a same-sex marriage license by Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in 2015, hopes to challenge her for the clerk’s seat next year, he announced Wednesday.
Davis set off an international furor when she denied a marriage license to Ermold and his partner, David Moore, despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the right for same-sex couples to marry.
Davis, who said providing the license violated her religious beliefs, continued to withhold the license, even after a federal judge ordered her to issue it, and was jailed briefly. The issue was solved when one of her deputies, Brian Mason, agreed to issue licenses, and in 2016 the Kentucky General Assembly established an alternate license.
Mason is still issuing same-sex marriage licenses, he said Wednesday.
“I am running to restore the confidence of the people in our clerk’s office and because I believe that the leaders of our community should act with integrity and fairness, and they should put the needs of their constituents first,” said Ermold, 43, who teaches English at the University of Pikeville and directs Morehead Pride, a local gay rights organization. “My commitment to Rowan County is to restore professional leadership, fairness, and responsibility to the clerk’s office. I will build upon the successes of the past, and I will seek solutions for the challenges we may still face.”

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A Kentucky judge defies gay couples. So why are readers told so little about his beliefs?

A Kentucky judge defies gay couples. So why are readers told so little about his beliefs?

By now some of you may have heard of the Kentucky judge who is quitting rather than award custody of adopted kids to gay parents.

It’s reminiscent of Kim Davis, the Kentucky court clerk who in 2015 refused to allow her name on marriage licenses for same sex couples -- but was willing to let such licenses be issued under someone else’s authority. She ended up getting a meeting with Pope Francis, thanks to a sympathetic apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Here’s what the Washington Post had on this latest story -- the latest Kentucky court drama, that is:

A Kentucky judge who stirred controversy earlier this year by refusing to hear adoption cases involving gay parents says he plans to resign in hopes of quashing an ethics inquiry by a state judicial panel.
Judge W. Mitchell Nance told the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission in a memo made public Wednesday that he would resign effective Dec. 16 rather than fight the commission’s charges that he violated ethical rules. He also sent a resignation letter to Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R), the Associated Press reported.
Nance was facing sanctions that included possible removal from the bench.

The first comment in the story is from the opposition.

“Judge Nance must have seen the writing on the wall,” said LGBT advocate Chris Hartman, whose organization, the Fairness Campaign, helped bring a complaint against the judge. “I hope this sends a message to judges across the country that if their conscience conflicts with their duty, they must leave the bench.”
Kentucky law permits same-sex couples to adopt children.

As tmatt has written (but this is an angle often ignored in a lot of coverage), the main players in these dramas often try to engineer compromises by which the petitioners can get what they want, but without the Christian official’s cooperation.

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Horse diapers -- yes, horse diapers -- spur useful Wall Street Journal data dump on RFRA

Horse diapers -- yes, horse diapers -- spur useful Wall Street Journal data dump on RFRA

Headlines don't get more provocative -- or clickable, to use modern lingo -- than this one from the Wall Street Journal (behind its strong paywall): "When Horse Diapers and Freedom of Religion Collide." 

Yes, I wonder if the late Immanuel "Worlds in Collision" Velikovsky would appreciate the humor.

True to its general form of getting the story straight, the WSJ piece sets forth the conflict between the town of Auburn, Kentucky, wanting to keep its roadways clean(er) and the Old Order Swartzentruber Amish, whose theological conservatism precludes diapering horses:

Horse diapers have been thrust into the debate over religious freedom.
Two Amish men in Auburn, Ky., filed a lawsuit last month saying a city ordinance requiring horses to wear equine diapers -- bags designed to catch manure -- violated the ability of Amish residents to exercise their religion.
The ordinance, passed in 2014, broadened an existing law mandating the removal of dog waste in public places. The new law, which the city said was spurred by complaints from neighbors about horse manure, requires a “properly fitted collection device” to be placed on all horses walking on the street.

What could have been an occasion for lowbrow comedy turns out, in fact, to be a respectful and frank discussion of the merits of an ostensible public health law, as well as competing efforts to defend individual religious freedoms -- specifically the free exercise of religion.

Members of the town’s Amish community have refused to comply with the ordinance, saying equine diapers violate the community’s religious standards. That stance has landed many of them in court, or worse.

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Year-beginner for 2017: Sarah Pulliam Bailey, and moi, see more battles over religious liberty

Year-beginner for 2017: Sarah Pulliam Bailey, and moi, see more battles over religious liberty

Ever since the 1980s, I have been telling editors and journalists that conflicts about religious liberty were going cause some of the biggest news stories on the American horizon.

Anyone who has been reading GetReligion since 2004 knows that I've been saying that, over and over. Amen If you listen to this week's "Crossroads" podcast, looking ahead into 2017, you're going to hear more about that. No apologies.

The roots of this concern run back to my graduate-school work in Baylor University's church-state studies program, where -- in 1977-78 -- we could hear the early rumblings of what would become Bob Jones University vs. United States case.

Why is that important? Do you remember this crucial moment in the U.S. Supreme Court Obergefell debates about same-sex marriage?

JUSTICE ALITO: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax­ exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same­-sex marriage?
GENERAL VERRILLI: You know, I, I don't think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it's certainly going to be an issue. I, I don't deny that. I don't deny that, Justice Alito. It is, it is going to be an issue.

That's why religion-beat patriarch Richard Ostling, in his recent pair of memos looking ahead to 2017, stressed that religious-liberty cases -- linked to LGBTQ issues, again -- would remain on the front burner for major American newsrooms. Click here and then here for those two Ostling posts.

You can see the same themes again, over and over, in the recent "Acts of Faith" year-beginner piece at The Washington Post by religion writer Sarah Pulliam Bailey (yes, a former member of the GetReligion team). The headline: "Here’s what we think will be the major religion stories of 2017." Here is the overture:

The new year could be turbulent for religion in America.

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Another Kim Davis? Christian government worker attempts to skip LGBT diversity video

Another Kim Davis? Christian government worker attempts to skip LGBT diversity video

Guess which topic posted on the Washington Post’s “Morning Mix” blog got 2,000 responses within 20 hours?

Yep, it was about a government official who balked at having to watch an “LGBT diversity and inclusivity training” video at his workplace, who’s planning on losing his job over it and who has asked his fellow Christians to join him.

Anyone who’s applied for any job recently –- particularly in academia -- finds oneself having to check certain boxes. I’ve also had to include a statement pledging my troth to diversity and give examples the Muslim family I helped sponsor back in the 1990s and the Native American students I encountered or taught at the University of Alaska. However, one gets the feeling that this is not the button that they're asking you to push.

Anyway, one guy in Illinois decided he’d had enough. Here’s how the News-Gazette, the local paper, played it: 

 CHAMPAIGN -- A Social Security Administration employee who believes he shouldn't have to watch a workplace diversity video about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, because it violates his religious beliefs, fears he may lose his job because of it.
 
David Hall, 42, of Tolono has worked for the federal agency for 14 years, based in the Champaign office as an area systems coordinator, an information technology position. In late April, Hall said, employees nationwide received an email from the agency about a 17-minute LGBT diversity and inclusion training video that they were told to watch at their work stations. Employees were required to certify that they had seen the video.
Hall said he is a Christian -- "not anti-anyone or anything," but "for God, for Jesus" -- and believes the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin.
So, he didn't watch it.

A quick question: Was he arguing that homosexual orientation alone is "sin," or that gay sexual acts are sinful?

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Yo, journalists: Kentucky has solved its gay-marriage dilemma and Kim Davis is happy

Yo, journalists: Kentucky has solved its gay-marriage dilemma and Kim Davis is happy

You remember Kim Davis, right? 

Yes, we're still talking about the Rowan County clerk who insisted that her Apostolic Christian beliefs would not allow her to sign -- as required by Kentucky law -- marriage licenses for same-sex couples. If you are drawing a blank, click here and surf around.

At the height of early Kim Davis mania -- when her brief time behind bars was dominating headlines and even evening news shows -- I had an interesting email dialogue with a mainstream news reporter. I was arguing, here at GetReligion, that reporters were ignoring two crucial facts in this story.

Fact 1: From the beginning, Davis and her legal team were open to a compromise that would allow other local and state officials to sign marriage licenses. This would mean removing the slot on the license form requiring the signature of the county clerk.

Fact 2. From the beginning, there were Democrats, as well as Republicans, in the state legislature who backed this compromise -- which would recognize the religious liberty rights of clerks, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

The problem was my use of the positive word "compromise." I was working under what some considered the false impression that a political course of action represented "compromise" if it (a) granted each side their primary goal (same-sex marriage on one side, freedom of religious conscience on the other) and (b) was backed by a broad, centrist coalition of Democrats and Republicans.

My reporter friend's logic was simple: Elite journalists were not going to consider this a "compromise" if Davis was happy with it. Now, what's the implication of that statement?

This brings me to a recent Reuters piece that may, perhaps, wrap up the long, tortured story of Davis and her efforts in support of the free exercise of religious convictions (see the First Amendment). This development has not received much national attention, but I think it's crucial.

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What?!? Pope Francis (again) backs right to conscientious objection for believers

What?!? Pope Francis (again) backs right to conscientious objection for believers

Time for a pop quiz on some facts linked to a major religion-news event from last year.

OK, gentle readers, do you remember Kim Davis?

That's a dumb question. Of course you remember the infamous Kentucky county clerk who, citing a faith-based conflict of interest, asked that other state officials be allowed to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples, in her place.

Next question: Do you remember that whole Pope Francis visiting America thing? It was a blitz of headlines that lasted for days. Then, on the flight back home to Rome, the pope was asked a question about Christians (wink, wink) being allowed to decline to cooperate with same-sex union rites. In an "On Religion" column at that time, I noted the crucial Francis remarks:

Pope Francis said he could not address all such cases, thus avoiding a reference to Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who secretly met with the pope in Washington, D.C.
"If a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right," said Francis. "Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying 'this right has merit, this one does not.' …
"If a government official is a human person, he has that right."
Rather than discuss current events, the pope added: "It always moved me when I read, and I read it many times, … the Chancon Roland, when the people were all in line and before them was the baptismal font -- the baptismal font or the sword. And, they had to choose. They weren't permitted conscientious objection. It is a right and if we want to make peace we have to respect all rights."

Now, remember that meeting between Davis and Pope Francis?

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Win for religious right alone? Kentucky governor backs same-sex marriage compromise

Win for religious right alone? Kentucky governor backs same-sex marriage compromise

As often happens during the rush of the holidays, a few interesting stories get pushed to the side when it comes to national coverage.

So let's flash back to a few days before Christmas day, when the new Republican governor of Kentucky did something that was interesting and controversial. He issued an executive order that would immediately clear the way for same-sex couples to get married -- with no hassles -- in any county in the Bluegrass State.

You didn't hear about this?

The action was controversial, because under normal circumstances the state legislature needs to act in order to make this kind of change in state laws. That could happen in the very near future, but Gov. Matt Bevin decided not to wait. Still, as The Louisville Courier-Journal noted, this move had some bipartisan support:

... Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo praised the move, saying he was an early proponent of a similar approach. "It's a simple fix, and I applaud the governor for finding a way to balance the law and the concerns that county clerks, like mine in Floyd County, had."

Oh, wait, right. This action by the governor did make it possible for various state officials to willingly sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples. That's good for gay couples. However, it also made it possible for county clerks to retain their jobs without, by having to sign their approval of same-sex unions, violating centuries of Christian doctrine. That's good, for those seeking a liberal interpretation of the First Amendment's guarantee of the free exercise of religion.

Thus, Bevin's action was not really a win for gay couples, as well as traditional Christians, Jews, Mormons, Muslims and others. It was something else, as stated in the coverage by The Lexington Herald-Leader:

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