From Duck Dynasty to Kim Davis to Fixer Upper

Matt Walsh does his impersonation of Perpetua:

Chip and Joanna Gaines became a target because they are, by all accounts, devout Christians. That’s the only reason. If they were not Christian, or if they had a reputation for being the unserious, heretical, “progressive” sort of Christians, they wouldn’t be under fire. That’s why, as many people have already observed, Muslims and members of other faiths that also reject gay marriage don’t receive the same scrutiny. Progressives don’t hate Muslims. They hate Christians. They hate Christians for being Christian, and for no other reason.

It’s not just about gay marriage or abortion or any other specific issue. They hate Christianity because it is Christianity. They hate it simply for being true, just as Christ was crucified simply for being God. Those who hate truth and hate God will lash out at the closest things to Him. When they had the chance to get their hands on Him in the flesh, they beat Him, whipped Him, and nailed Him to a cross. But now that they are deprived of the opportunity to crucify Christ directly, they must settle for the second best target: you. This is the price that Truth must pay when it enters into a fallen world. And those of us who profess and believe the Truth will pay our own price, even if it is not nearly so brutal.

We should only be worried if we aren’t being made to pay the price. If we get along just fine every day, at our jobs, with our friends, out in the world, and nobody ever insults us, or tries to hurt us, or plots to undermine us and destroy our reputations, then we ought to take that as a hint that we aren’t living our faith openly enough.

So whenever I upset my wife it’s because I’ve achieved holiocity? What a great excuse. And martyrdom sure trumps victimhood.

The Afterglow of Mencken Day

Inspired by Tim Challies, here are some vintage Mencken aphorisms:

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

“We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

“A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.”

“Misogynist: A man who hates women as much as women hate one another.”

“Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends.”

“Christian — One who is willing to serve three Gods, but draws the line at one wife.”

And one more, not an aphorism but perhaps still an insight into the Puritan (experimental Calvinist) mind:

The inner springs of Puritanism, once the Freudians uncover them, will be found, I venture, to lie in the Puritan kitchen. The blue-nose is simply a fellow who eats badly, and who suffers from it violently. No man with a sound meal under his belt ever cares a hoot for the peccadilloes of his neighbor around the corner. Moral endeavor and enlightened victualing are as incompatible as baseball and counterpoint.

The explanation of such grisly phenomena as Jonathan Edwards is to be found in the infernal cooking of New England, which is still the worst in the world, despite the importation of Greek bootblacks disguised as chefs. The early Puritans, even when they feasted, feasted upon unappetizing and indigestible food; it is no wonder that they cut short their meals in order to leave more time for sermons. (“Meditations on a Day in June,” June 5, 1918)

I wonder what Mencken would do with Kim Davis who doesn’t appear to have missed a good meal.

Move Over Kim Davis, Say Hello to Charee Stanley

Today’s news brings this item:

A Muslim flight attendant said the Atlanta-based airline ExpressJet suspended her for refusing to serve alcohol, a practice that is against her religious beliefs.

Charee Stanley filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last week, saying she wants to do her job without serving alcohol, as she was doing before her suspension, her lawyer said.

Lena Masri, an attorney with the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said no one “should have to choose between their career and religion.” Employers, she told CNN, must “provide a safe environment where employees can feel they can practice their religion freely.”

Stanley, 40, began working for ExpressJet nearly three years ago. She later converted to Islam and only learned earlier this year that her faith prohibits her both from serving alcohol and consuming it. She approached a supervisor on June 1, Masri said, and was told to work out an arrangement with other flight attendants.

“We know that this arrangement has worked beautifully and without incident and that it hasn’t caused any undue burden on the airline,” Masri said.

But she said a co-worker filed a complaint on August 2, saying Stanley was not fulfilling her duties. The complaint, which Masri characterized as “Islamophobic,” also said Stanley had a book with “foreign writings” and wore a head scarf.

On August 25, the airline told Stanley it was revoking its religious accommodation and placing her on administrative leave.

So I wonder if Rick Phillips’ reasons for supporting Kim Davis would apply to Charee Stanley.

Kim Davis is not violating but rather upholding Romans 13:1, which says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.”

Hard to say that of Stanley since she is not pretending to follow the apostle Paul.

Kim Davis is fulfilling her God-given duty as the lesser magistrate.

Again, some disconnect here since flight attendants work in the private sector, not like county clerks. But since Stanley is an American and in a democracy all citizens are magistrates, Phillips’ reason applies.

Kim Davis is being persecuted for her Christian faith by hypocritical and tyrannical powers.

Chances are that Stanley is the object of more discrimination than Davis, numbers being what they are and Christians forming the demographic majority in the United States (where Islam is still an acquired taste). But Stanley’s case could remind Christians that they don’t need to be paranoid. Everyone experiences some kind of discrimination. The authorities don’t single out Christians.

Kim Davis is demonstrating the power of the grace of God in salvation.

Stanley clearly fails on this one unless you want to find some kind of common plan of salvation among the Abrahamic faiths. On the other hand, can Rick Phillips be so sure about what Davis means? That doesn’t mean that we know what her non-Christian or discomforting meaning is. But why, with all the baggage surrounding her, would you be so confidant?

Consider how Rod Dreher saw Davis’ release from jail:

She comes out of jail with that cheesy 1980s song “Eye of the Tiger” playing, and mounts the stage, holding hands with Huck, and giving God the glory. Now, religious liberty — our most precious freedom — is associated in the mind of the public with ersatz culture-war pageantry orchestrated by a cynical Republican presidential candidate.

I thought Ted Cruz’s turning up at the Middle Eastern bishops meeting and bashing them was the most cynical move I had ever seen by a Christian Right politician, but Huckabee may have bested that. The Family Research Council and other Christian, Inc. lobbyists are already writing the fundraising appeals, you can bet. And you can also bet that they’re bending the ear of clueless House Republicans to get them to propose provocative religious liberty legislation that stands no chance of passing, but every chance of discrediting the cause in the public’s eye. (In fact, I was told last night by someone deeply involved in this issue at the Congressional level that this is exactly what is happening.)

So I’m angry about this. Huckabee and Cruz, but especially Huckabee, are doing wonders to inject juice into their own presidential campaigns, but the political cost to the long-term good of orthodox Christians will be severe. But hey, we’ve Made A Statement, and demonstrating our emotions (and, while we’re at it, raising some money for GOP candidates and Christian advocacy groups) is the most important thing.

For conservative Christians who don’t understand why we should care about the political effect of the Kim Davis debacle, and the optics of yesterday’s release rally, I want you to consider how it would appear to you if Hillary Clinton staged a rally against police brutality around the release from jail of a West Baltimore thug who had been roughed up by the cops as they were arresting him for shooting up a neighborhood. The gangster takes the stage to the sound of gangsta rap, wearing pants hanging off his butt, with cornrowed hair and covered in tattoos.

It could well be that Hillary’s principles were in order, and an important principle was at stake. But think of how the imagery of celebrating this guy like that would make you feel. How sympathetic would you be to the worthy cause of fighting police brutality after that display? If fighting police brutality means having to stand with a victim like that, would most people be more inclined to join the cause?

Look, I’m not comparing Kim Davis to a gangbanger. What I’m telling you is how this situation, especially yesterday’s celebration, looks to a whole lot of people outside our bubble. And it matters. It matters to all of us. Our side has no leadership, only opportunists leading the mob.

If only Christians could lower the stakes. Turn this into a simple case of religious freedom, then you don’t need to baptize Kim Davis as the most devout follower of Jesus Christ. You simply point out the problems of the recent Supreme Court decision for all people who might object to same sex marriage. And if it’s only about religious freedom, maybe you also defend Charee Stanley and gain some street cred with non-Christians.

But when the forces of Christianity, the Constitution, and the GOP line up in one seamless whole of goodness and truth, more than Houston has a problem.

Why Does Tom Brady Prevail but not Kim Davis?

I have a few questions about the situation in Kentucky.

If Tom Brady would have received a 4-game suspension for his cheating, why can’t Kim Davis merely be suspended or fired? Joe Carter is the only one that has tried to answer this one (as far as I can see):

Because Davis is an elected official, she can only be removed from office by impeachment. That would require the Kentucky House of Representatives to charge her with an impeachable offense and the Senate would then try her. Impeachment is unlikely since relatively few citizens in Kentucky support same-sex marriage.

A poll taken in August found that 38 percent of the state’s residents said county clerks who refuse to issue marriage licenses should be removed from office, 36 percent said clerks should be allowed to refuse, and 16 percent said the power to issue marriage licenses should be transferred to a state agency.

So because the legislature won’t act — how about the executive, we have three branches of government, right? — she goes to jail? Seems like something that would harsh Ms. Davis’ buzz.

Is the judge in this case, David L. Bunning, the son of Kentucky’s U.S. Senator, Jim Bunning, one of my boyhood heroes and who pitched a perfect game against the Mets on Father’s Day, 1964? Doh!

A lot of Christians are commenting on Ms. Davis’ situation. Since she is a new believer, why don’t these people talk directly to Ms. Davis and give her seasoned counsel about the nature of a Christian’s duty rather than using her to make a point in the culture wars?

Might the people who see this situation as a frightening infringement of religious freedom also recognize that Ms. Davis is still free (even if compelled to issue the licenses) to practice her faith? The restrictions only apply to her work, not to her worship. And Mark Silk (thanks for the correction) invokes President Kennedy it seems to me in a fitting way:

But if the time should ever come — and I do not concede any conflict to be remotely possible — when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do likewise.

Last and possibly least, why does Ms. Davis suffer while corporate America flourishes and is now going to run the University of Iowa?

Come November, the University of Iowa will have a businessman with little experience in academe at its helm — and many faculty members and others in Iowa City aren’t happy about it.

The Iowa Board of Regents on Thursday unanimously appointed former IBM senior vice president Bruce Harreld as Iowa’s next president, despite outspoken criticism of Harreld as lacking the necessary qualifications to lead a university.

Harreld was one of four publicly announced finalists for the position and the only one without experience in higher education administration. He is a consultant who formerly worked as an executive at IBM, Kraft General Foods and Boston Market Company restaurants. His higher education experience is limited to eight years as an adjunct business professor at Harvard University and Northwestern University.

No peace, no justice, and the Patriots cheat and lie. (They besmirch the good name of the true patriots.)

Does Anyone Remember Claudette Colvin?

That’s Colvin, not Calvin.

She was the fifteen-year old African-American girl who could have been Rosa Parks.

Other African-Americans had previously refused to give their seats to white passengers, says Hoose. “What was without precedent, though, is Colvin wanted to get a lawyer and she wanted to fight,” he says.

The lawyer she chose was Fred Gray, one of two African-American lawyers in Montgomery at the time. After speaking with Colvin, Gray says, he was prepared to file a civil rights lawsuit to contest segregation on buses in Montgomery. But after discussing Colvin’s incident with other local African-American community leaders, the community decided to wait, he says.

Colvin was just 15 and did not have civil rights training. Gray says the community was not quite prepared for Colvin’s situation.

“Later I had a child born out of wedlock; I became pregnant when I was 16,” Colvin says. “And I didn’t fit the image either, of, you know, someone they would want to show off.”

Nine months later, Rosa Parks did the exact same thing as Colvin. She was 42 years old, a professional and an officer in the NAACP. Hoose says Parks was the symbol that civil rights leaders were looking for.

The reason for bringing Colvin up is to calm the outrage over stories about the press’ coverage of Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk in Kentucky who was refusing to give marriage licenses to gay couples. Now it comes out that she herself in addition to being a Christian is a three-time divorcee and so not necessarily the poster woman for religious freedom among the sanctified defenders of hetero marriage. Molly Hemingway does note in her wonderfully contrarian way that Davis’ conversion to Christian came after her prior divorces. So she is a little upset with the press’ slut shaming. Others have other thoughts about the matter.

Still, why don’t religious conservatives fighting the culture wars worry about style points? Why don’t they pick victims that are more squeaky clean than others? Why not understand that hypocrisy comes with the territory of headlines? If civil rights attorneys had to pick the right person to be the emblem of their cause, why don’t Christians have to make the same calculation?

It’s not like this is a problem that only believers face.