As my friend Elliot said this morning,
BREAKING: Texas AG supports the right of Baptist firefighters to refuse to put out a fire at a Catholic Church on the grounds of religious liberty.
Like it or not that is the logical conclusion of the statement released by AG Paxton’s office yesterday.
County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
According to the Texas Association of Counties, the County Clerk (I have added my commentary in bold):
[S]erves as clerk of the court for all misdemeanor county, criminal and civil courts including commissioners’ court and probate court; maintaining the official records of the courts they serve. The county clerk records the acts and proceedings of each of these courts, entering all judgments, recording all executions issued and the returns issued on the executions as applicable,(Unless they have a fundamental religious disagreement with those judgements) and administers trust accounts for minors and registry accounts (Unless they have a fundamental religious disagreement with the way trust account funds are spent); additionally, the clerk must keep an index of the parties to all suits filed in the court, and make reference to any judgment made in each case. As clerk of the county courts, the county clerk collects and is responsible for money paid in court costs, fines and fees and for the payment of juror fees. (Unless they have a fundamental religious disagreement with those fines and fees)
The clerk is the custodian of all county records including birth, death, cattle brands, hospital liens, deeds, deeds of trust, liens, Certificates of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD 214), and a variety of other important records both public and non-public. The county clerk also issues and maintains marriage licenses and records assumed name certificates. (Unless they have a fundamental religious disagreement with who is listed as parents, who is discharged from the military, whether someone should be allowed to change their name and of course who gets a marriage certificate!)
As with all elected county officials, both the county clerk and the district clerk have ultimate authority over the operations of the office, including the authority to hire and fire personnel (People who agree with their particular fundamental religious beliefs and to exclude atheists, Catholics, Muslims and anyone else they deem to hold the wrong religious views) and direct their daily activities. Both the county clerk and district clerk also have authority to determine how to use all other resources allocated to the office during the budget process. (They can, of course, use their fundamentally held religious beliefs to decide what budget items should and should not be funded.)
They in effect want the United States to be a theocracy. They would like to effectively take away the religious freedom our founders fought for from people whose beliefs differ from theirs. The problem with people of faith making laws based on what they believe to be sinful or permissible is three fold: First you must decide whose religious tenets you are going to make law (i.e. Will we allow drinking? What about dancing? Will all women have to wear skirts and long hair?); Second, you must go against God’s design by denying people the liberty and freedom of will to choose how best to follow God. God gives humans free will, forcing people by law not to “sin” as you define it does not change hearts. Paul actually discusses this in Colossians.
Lastly, when you enact laws based on preferences or even deeply held religious beliefs rather than on “liberty and justice for all” (even when the majority of the people happen to agree with you) you run the risk of someday having laws enacted based on someone else’s religious beliefs. (They are fine with someone else’s beliefs being trampled but don’t realize their own could be next.) Jesus expects more of us than that. He says, “Love your neighbor as yourself” with no qualifier. That includes your Muslim neighbor, your gay neighbor, your Democrat neighbor, your Jewish neighbor and your Palestinian neighbor. You MUST love them as yourself in order to follow Jesus.
People in Jesus’ time looked for him to be a political or military savior. He was neither. When asked point blank he said give to Caesar that which is his and God that which is his. Jesus was not concerned that his name be on the money or that the Jewish people were being required to pay taxes to Caesar (who the Roman’s regarded as divine). Once again, HE DIDN’T CARE. I think we often spend our time as American Christians fighting battles Jesus would be unconcerned about such as prayer in school, gay marriage and having his name on the money when we should be loving our neighbors, caring for the “least of these” and reconciling people to the lover of their souls. Everything already belongs to God (“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” Psalm 24:1). Giving tribute to Caesar or taxes to the US government that they in turn spend on things you may or may not agree with cannot change that.
God will not be erased from existence because we don’t have specific time set aside for praying in the school day, his purpose will not be thwarted nor his cause advanced depending on whether his name is on our currency. His love cannot be stopped because of who we elect as President of the United States or even whether or not the government recognizes same sex marriages. God is not American nor is he partisan. God belongs to all nations and peoples and is at work everywhere in every culture. He is much MUCH bigger than our politics or even our religious beliefs (none of us has everything right, just ask a Pharisee).
Jesus, It seems, is much more concerned with whether his name is written on our heart than on our money.
One thought on “Ken Paxton’s George Wallace Moment”
(God) ‘is at work everywhere in every culture.’ There is another will at work too, one bent on subverting God’s work. Where a professed Christian finds evidence of that will, when it is clear people are being accomodated in sinful practises, he or she sometimes has to take a conscientious stand and inform them in an appropriate manner. This should obviously be done in a kind manner, too. It is up to people then, to refuse or accept what is said. Do they side with Caesar, or God? 🙂 Thanks!