Ted Cruz and Kim Davis, true love forever: The right-wing theocracy that threatens the rule of law

Even The Donald knows the law trumps religion. It is time for someone to explain the Constitution to Ted Cruz

Published September 13, 2015 10:00AM (EDT)

  (AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Timothy D. Easley/Photo montage by Salon)
(AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Timothy D. Easley/Photo montage by Salon)

The faith-flaunting Senator Ted Cruz and evangelical diehard Kim Davis are meant for each other. It’s a pity both are already married – with Davis, in fact, having been so many, many times.

Davis is, of course, the Rowan County (Kentucky) clerk who, citing authority from a made-up heavenly satrap (aka the Lord Almighty), has defied a federal court ruling ordering her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and who now, as a result, sat several days in a Kentucky jail for contempt of court. Cruz, a practicing Southern Baptist, is campaigning for the Republican nomination, and is displaying contempt for the Constitution he swore to uphold (on a Bible, unfortunately, but some are working to abolish this practice) by supporting Davis. He is thereby fomenting disobedience to the Supreme Court, which, as we know, ruled in favor of same-sex marriages early in the summer.

Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution establishes the Supreme Court as the locus of overriding judicial power in our land. One who defies it must be made to suffer the legal consequences; should any American, for any reason, be able to ignore the Supreme Court and suffer no penalty, we would be justified in saying none of us live in a law-based republic.

That a government employee is displaying symptoms of late-stage faith-derangement syndrome and, as a direct result, behaves boorishly, cruelly and even illegally, should surprise no one. Look no further than the headlines and you will find, on any given day, the votaries of at least one Abrahamic mythology showing no decent respect to the opinions of mankind and behaving in ways that outrage their fellow humans. Wherever you find monotheism, you find pig-headed ignorance, thuggish coercion and even violence – all emergent properties deriving from belief in the supremacy and universal applicability of supernatural despotism. But that an elected official (and an attorney by profession, no less) in our republic should choose to take up the cause of a faith fiend should worry us indeed, and remind us of one thing: religion (in this case, evangelical Christianity) poses a clear and present danger to the rule of law in our society.

Just after the judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals declared that “The court cannot condone [Davis’] willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order,” and commanded her tossed (deservedly) into the slammer, Cruz issued a statement that will live on in infamy as long as the spirit of the Founding Fathers inspires Americans to fight for the (wondrously godless) republic they bequeathed to us. We need to scrutinize Cruz’s communiqué, for it summarizes a faith-infested mindset that is crippling millions of Americans in their ability to deal with the modern world and that continues to influence election results nationwide.

“Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny,” writes Cruz. “Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. This is wrong. This is not America.”

No, senator. America is not a theocracy; in America, the First Amendment inoculates affairs of state against the malady of faith. Davis works for the government – and does so by choice. She has every right to practice her religion, but no right at all to behave in ways that impose it on gays or anyone else she encounters while performing her official duties.

You imply that the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling legalizing same-sex marriage is “judicial lawlessness.” See the Constitution (article and section already cited above). Jailing criminal citizens is what courts do at times, and pursuant to the law, not to some arbitrary or perverse whim. Both the Sixth Circuit Court and the Supreme Court turned down Davis’ petition for a delay while she appealed, yet she kept right on refusing to issue marriage licenses. She belongs in jail.

Senator, you then inform us that you stand “with every American that the Obama Administration is trying to force to choose between honoring his or her faith or complying with a lawless court opinion.” The Obama administration is doing no such thing. The Supreme Court (in Obergefell v. Hodges, and in dismissing Davis’ appeal) is, par contre, just doing its job. And as you surely know, its bench consists not of craven Obama lackeys; five of the nine justices were appointed by Republican presidents – something to keep in mind.

You then, Senator, for rhetorical purposes, cite the dissents (to Obergefell v. Hodges) of Justices Roberts and Scalia, in which they declare the ruling unconstitutional and de facto unworthy of implementation. You ask, for perceived political advantage only, “Where is the call for the mayor of San Francisco to resign for creating a sanctuary city — resulting in the murder of American citizens by criminal illegal aliens welcomed by his lawlessness?”

Immigration has nothing to do with the First Amendment and the Equal Protection clause issues the Davis case turns on. Nor does welfare reform or the Affordable Care Act, which you also casually and carelessly invoke. Proposing, as you do, that, “When the mayor of San Francisco and President Obama resign, then we can talk about Kim Davis” is nothing more than a silly, shameless dodge. Kim Davis has to comply with the law, or change jobs. L’affaire Davis boils down to that – nothing more.

“Those who are persecuting Kim Davis believe,” you declare groundlessly, “that Christians should not serve in public office. That is the consequence of their position. Or, if Christians do serve in public office, they must disregard their religious faith – or be sent to jail.”

Presumably, Davis’ “persecutors,” in your eyes, are justices on the relevant courts. Well, no justice has advocated driving Christians from public office, or urged Christians to abandon their faith. But, Senator, surely you know this. Your talk of “persecution” really is meant to arouse the ire of evangelicals already wallowing in self-pity about their protracted (pathetic, messy) defeat in the culture wars. The problem is, your words muddle issues – religion and our secular governance – about which we need clarity if our democracy is to function as the Founding Fathers intended.

Just before your closing exhortation in support of Davis, you repeat a stale, erroneous conservative trope, and then toss in lines meant to confuse your already befuddled audience even more: “We are a country founded on Judeo-Christian values, founded by those fleeing religious oppression and seeking a land where we could worship God and live according to our faith, without being imprisoned for doing so.”

The Pilgrims fled religious oppression, to be sure, but did not found the United States. The Founding Fathers, of course, did. Several of the latter were deists, not Christians, however. Nowhere in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence do the Founding Fathers mention anything about Judaism, Christianity, or “Judeo-Christian values.” The United States is not, therefore, a Judeo-Christian country. That a majority are Christian and Jewish matters not; the system of government is what we’re discussing, and it is decidedly secular.

This is no accident. Some of the Founding Fathers held Christianity in contempt. Thomas Jefferson mused that, “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man . . . There is not one redeeming feature in our superstition of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.” Whether he said this before or after taking scissors to his Bible and cutting out every reference to Jesus’ divinity and the supernatural is worth investigating. John Adams wrote that, “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Bonus quotes: Ben Franklin observed that, “Lighthouses are more useful than churches.” Abraham Lincoln, a truly old-school Republican, if not a Founding Father, let it be known that "The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession."

The wonderfully “strident” attacks on Christianity penned by Thomas Paine I’ve often quoted, so I won’t do so again now. He remains the ultimate, undying inspiration to all atheists and anti-theists. The point is, the Founding Fathers, conscious of religion’s propensity to derange its dupes and incite strife and mischief, specifically drew up the Constitution to keep it as far away from government as possible.

Not that you, Ted Cruz, necessarily care about secularism or understand why it benefits all citizens, be they believers or nonbelievers. Certainly your fellow contender for the Republican nomination, (Baptist pastor) former Governor Mike Huckabee, does not; and he has joined you in leading the charge back to the Dark Ages. Denouncing “the criminalization of Christianity in this country,” Huckabee is touting an online “Free Kim Davis” petition that tens of thousands have signed. He called her imprisonment “a reckless, appalling, out-of-control decision that undermines the Constitution of the United States and our fundamental right to religious liberty." In speaking such words, he, like you, is encouraging disobedience to the courts and potentially committing an act of sedition.

Unfortunately, you two are not alone in your efforts to undermine American democracy. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has weighed in for what (extremely little) it’s worth, opining that, "We are seeing government today discriminate against whether it's clerks, florists, musicians or others. I think that's wrong. I think you should be able to keep your job and follow your conscience." Even Senator Rand Paul added his two (measly) bits: "I think it's absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty."

Among the contenders for the Republican nomination, however, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham have come down on the side of the Constitution and the Law. As has, of all people, the Donald. They are to be commended.

The numerous Religious Freedom Restoration Acts now polluting the land will surely generate more cases like Davis’; some are sure to land before the Supreme Court (where, if the past is any guide, they will likely meet their demise). Nevertheless, to settle the issue once and for all, what is needed is an LGBT shield law.

Until then we must suffer the revolting spectacle of our fellow Americans, dumbed-down by watching Fox News and by spending far too many hours with their Bibles and their local faith-charlatans, trying to reverse the tides of progress and return us to the Middle Ages.

Mores are changing, and holdouts – you, Senator Cruz, Governor Huckabee, and Davis in particular – are just wasting time and energy, and tiring out the rest of us. Ever more Americans are casting off the shackles of religion and, free of dark, stupid superstitions, are striding cheerfully into the sunny pastures of secularism. Even if evangelicals are proving particularly stubborn and resistant to progress, their ranks will no doubt begin to thin. Religious faith will one day become a matter of shame, to be hidden and disavowed, as racist sentiments or Flat-Earth beliefs are now. Such has already happened across much of Europe.

Until that day, you, Ted Cruz, and your like will luxuriate in the limelight, preening, prattling on about the Lord, and striking pious poses before the cameras.

Others, including Davis, will scowl into cameras of a different sort: those taking mug shots.





By Jeffrey Tayler

Jeffrey Tayler is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. His seventh book, "Topless Jihadis -- Inside Femen, the World's Most Provocative Activist Group," is out now as an Atlantic ebook. Follow @JeffreyTayler1 on Twitter.

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