Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. – 2 Timothy 3:12.
For a week the nation was captivated with the small town of Morehead, Kentucky and Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ refusal to authorize marriage licenses for gay couples because of her Christian faith. Davis’ case is just the latest and most startling example of the increasingly hostile treatment of Bible believing Christians by the governments and legal systems across the United States and the world. Standing up for tents of the Christian faith has not just become unpopular it can land a person in jail. And the church needs to prepare for the coming persecution against the faith.
Jailed For Her Faith
Davis was elected as County Clerk in December, 2014, replacing her mother who held the position for 27 years. As County Clerk, all marriage licenses that are issued from her office, regardless of whether or not Davis personally issued them, bear her name. The “controversy” centers around Davis request that licenses issued to same-sex couples not bear her name. At no time did Davis ever request that Kentucky or her county not recognize gay marriage. Her request was that her name (and embossed signature) not be listed on the license itself. And this was because of her Christian faith.
In 2011 Davis attended a church service to honor the last request from her mother-in-law who was on her death bed. “Following the death of my godly mother-in-law over four years ago, I went to church to fulfill her dying wish. There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.” (source). It was hearing and believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ that forever changed her life. Having been wed four times and given birth to children out of wedlock, David realized the sinful life she was living and how loving God was to offer her free forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ:
“My God in Heaven knows every crack, every crevice, every deep place in my heart. And he knows the thoughts that are in my mind before I even think them. And he has given me such a beautiful and wonderful grace through all of this. I had created such a pit of sin for myself with my very own hands.” (source).
Her faith led her to embrace the Biblical position on marriage, which is between a man and woman for life. Additionally, the Bible declares that homosexuality is a sin. For years this was not an issue in Kentucky, which had banned same-sex marriage. However, the landscape was set to change when the Supreme Court was set to rule in the Obergfell v. Hodges case – which made marriage a fundamental right for same-sex couples. Knowing the Supreme Court was going to likely extend same-sex marriage all over the United States, Davis and 57 other county clerks wrote a letter to the Kentucky state legislature urging them to “get a bill on the floor to help protect clerks” who had a conscientious objection to same-sex marriage. Their letters also requested that the names of clerks who viewed homosexuality as a sin be removed from same-sex licenses. A copy is below:
Once the ruling came down from the Supreme Court, Davis, along with Clerks Kay Schwartz of Whitley County and Casey Davis of Casey County, all declined to issue marriage licenses because of their faith. Their stance resulted in the lawsuit being filed against Kim Davis by the ACLU on behalf of two homosexual couples and two heterosexual couples because Davis was not issuing licenses to any couples, regardless of sexual orientation.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear stepped into the conflict by issuing a letter to all clerks ordering them to issue licenses to same-sex couples regardless of their Christian beliefs:
Dear Kentucky County Clerks:
Today, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision regarding the constitutionality of states’ bans on same-sex marriage. The Court struck down those laws, finding that they were invalid under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
As elected officials, each of us has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Kentucky. The Obergefell decision makes plain that the Constitution requires that Kentucky — and all states — must license and recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. Neither your oath nor the Supreme Court dictates what you must believe. But as elected officials, they do prescribe how we must act.
Effective today, Kentucky will recognize as valid all same sex marriages performed in other states and in Kentucky. In accordance with my instruction, all executive branch agencies are already working to make any operational changes that will be necessary to implement the Supreme Court decision. Now that same-sex couples are entitled to the issuance of a marriage license, the Department of Libraries and Archives will be sending a gender-neutral form to you today, along with instructions for its use. (source).
The Governor’s tone was very different from the one he took in March 2014 when a similar issue arose. At that time, Kentucky had a law on the books which banned same sex marriage. The law was challenged in court and overturned by a lower court decision. Jack Conway, the Kentucky Attorney General was then responsible for filing the appeal to keep the gay marriage ban on the law books. Instead of “doing his job” and filing the appeal, the Attorney General defied Governor Beshear’s order on account of his support for gay marriage. The Attorney General simply felt that for his own personal morals, he would not fulfill his responsibilities. Rather than punish Conway for his clear defiance, the Governor accommodated him by having an outside attorney file the appeal. All because of Conway’s personal views on gay marriage.
Yet in Davis’ case, and the other 56 clerks in Kentucky, no such accommodation was made. After Davis lost her case against the ACLU, the Christian official still refused to issue licenses that bore her name to same sex couples. The then ACLU intensified its prosecution of her, requesting the judge to impose heavy fines on the county clerk. Instead of doing that, U.S. District Judge David Bunning, brought Davis into court and ordered her to obey his command to issue same sex marriage licenses or face imprisonment.
“My conscience will not allow it,” she said. “God’s moral law convicts me and conflicts with my duties.” Davis based her refusal to obey the judge on 1 Timothy 5:22: “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.” Davis viewed her name on a marriage license for a gay couple as partaking in their sin and thus objected in faithfulness to God.
Bunning responded by holding Davis in contempt of court and sentencing her to jail indefinitely without bail. Not only did Bunning go beyond the ACLU’s request by putting Davis in jail he told her that he removed the option of bail because he felt that supporters of Davis would help pay it (something that should not be a factor for a judge as a defendant’s bail is often funded with assistance of parents, friends, “supporters”, etc.).
A Judge Devoted to “Homosexual Re-education”
This type of overzealous persecution by Judge Bunning is no surprise given his history on the bench. In 2003, the same ACLU group filed a suit against the Boyd County Board of Education to force it to recognize a Gay-Straight Alliance students Club. Bunning not only ruled in favor of the Gay Straight Alliance, he ordered the school to make every student watch videos that promote homosexuality and declare that anyone who opposes homosexuality to be morally wrong.
This led to the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy group, to file a suit against Boyd County to allow students to opt out of the “re-education” video which “effectively forces the students to speak in agreement with the school district’s view that homosexuality is a safe and healthy lifestyle that cannot be changed.” (source).
In 2006, Bunning again ruled in favor of the ACLU, ordering that all students must watch the videos and specifically ruling that Christians could not opt out because of their faith. The decision was ultimately overturned by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Religious Freedom Restoration?
Another aspect of the case not being mentioned is that Kentucky has a law specifically drafted for this type of situation to protect the religious beliefs of its citizens. HB 279, a religious freedom restoration act, states:
“Government shall not substantially burden a person’s freedom of religion. The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be substantially burdened unless the government proves by clear and convincing evidence that it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest. A “burden” shall include indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.” (source).
Therefore, by state law, the government has to provide “clear and convincing evidence that there is a compelling government interest” in forcing Davis to have her name on the marriage licenses. Why could the license bear the name of a clerk who has no objection? Furthermore, this was not a unique situation. In other states, clerks and those in charge of issuing marriage licenses were facing a similar dilemma – specifically, how to accommodate those workers who opposed gay marriage on religious grounds. In North Carolina, the state legislature passed a law which allows magistrates to opt out of the marriage license process if they object to a same sex marriage based on a sincerely held religious belief. Since the passage of the law, over 30 magistrates have opted out of the marriage process altogether. Given Kentucky’s own law on the books to protect religious freedom, there is no reason a similar exception could not be made.
Following her jailing, a media storm erupted as Davis and Rowan County have become the center of the gay marriage debate. However this case is about religious freedom. At no time, did Davis ever say that gay marriage was illegal or that she was defying the Supreme Court. She was merely trying to have an exception made so that she would not have her name on the licenses of couples who were in a relationship that ran counter to her religious beliefs.
Since then thousands of stories were published about Davis with information out of context – not giving any mention to the fact that Davis and 56 other clerks lobbied to their state officials to avoid this kind of situation months ago. In deceptive fashion, many media outlets are labeling Davis a “hypocrite” for her multiple marriages and children out-of-wedlock, all the while ignoring the detail that those situations were a product of her life before becoming a born again Christian. Facing indefinite jail time, Davis was resolute and clear about her faith.
“I would have to either make a decision to stand or I would have to buckle down and leave,” she said, pondering her choices. “And if I left, resigned or chose to retire, I would have no voice for God’s word.”
“I’ve weighed the cost and I’m prepared to go to jail, I sure am,” Mrs. Davis said in an exclusive interview. “This has never been a gay or lesbian issue for me. This is about upholding the word of God. This is a heaven or hell issue for me and for every other Christian that believes,” she said. “This is a fight worth fighting.” (source).
Davis and her husband have received death threats in emails and phone calls. So much so that they have no changed their phone numbers. “She’s getting death threats. People are saying that her home should be burned that she should be raped in front of her husband,” Mat Staver, Davis’ attorney said. “She has no ill will toward anybody.” (source).
Many media outlets and journalists assailed Davis for her many marriages and children out-of-wedlock – completely omitting that this was a product of her life before becoming a Christian. Below is a clip of Dan Savage, a LGBT activist who Beginning and End has previously covered for attacking the Christian faith and young Christian students, criticizing Davis for her sinful lifestyle and using the Bible to try to justify his condemnation.
At no point does the host correct Savage on the fact that Davis’ marriages and children out-of-wedlock were before her conversion and that she readily acknowledges it as sin. On ABC morning talk show “The View”, host called Davis a “b—-” and a “monster”, mocking her appearance as well.
And in one of the most blatant anti-Christian reactions to the Davis story, Shepard Smith of Fox News the “conservative” network, was enraged to hear Davis’ attorney share her testimony of salvation during the rally.
Smith completely mischaracterized Staver’s words. At no point has Davis or her attorneys said this was about outlawing gay marriage. And contrary to Smith’s misinformation, Judge Bunning upon releasing Davis did not make any accommodation to her. He did not rule that her name could be removed from licenses to same-sex couples. And nowhere was Staver in that brief testimony lobbying for Christian government or for “ending Sharia law”. Yet Smith goes out of his way to angrily vilify Davis and Bible-believing Christians in general. In the clips above there is no effort to understand the Christian faith, be tolerant or have any meaningful discourse. It is just an instant reaction to cast the Christian faith as wrong.
These reactions fulfill the Bible’s predictions about society turning from God and towards their own lust and pride. But Christians should take comfort in the words of The Lord Jesus Christ who said: “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.“ (Luke 6:22-23).
To her critics and members of the LGBT community, Davis’ message was clear:
“All I can say to them is if they have a sordid past like what I had, they too can receive the cleansing and renewing, and they can start a fresh life and they can be different. They don’t have to remain in their sin. There’s hope for tomorrow.” (source).
Freedom – For Now
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 8, 2015
On Tuesday, September 8th, Davis was freed from jail after Judge Bunning freed Kim Davis with the condition that she no longer interfere or prevent any deputy clerk from issuing licenses to same-sex couples. So in the event that Davis continues her stand, she can be jailed once again. Nevertheless, it was indeed a blessing that not only was Davis freed, the many hundreds who traveled from all over the country to support her, got to witness her release from jail at the rally in her honor.
The Coming Persecution Of Christianity
For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. – 1 Peter 3:12-15.
Davis’s story, while shocking is not the first case of Christians suffering severe punishment for standing up for their beliefs. Beginning and End previously reported on the case of Baronelle Stutzman, who was sued by the Washington State attorney general and the ACLU for refusing to deliver flowers to a same sex wedding because it would violate her Christian faith. Not only did the attorney general make the unprecedented move of suing a person even when the victims in this instance did not want to file suit – the judge in this case also ruled that Stutzman’s personal assets could be seized in addition to her business assets.
Aaron and Melissa Klein were ordered to pay a fine of $135,00 by the Oregon Labor Commission, after refusing to prepare a wedding cake for a same sex couple (at the time same sex marriage was not legal in Oregon). In addition to the fine, the head of the Labor Commission also issued a “cease and desist order” demanding that the Kleins no longer even speak about the case or their reasons for not serving same sex couples.
“This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights,” the Kleins, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which has since closed, wrote on their Facebook page. “According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech.”
The Kleins’ lawyer, Anna Harmon, was shocked by the provision. “Brad Avakian has been outspoken throughout this case about his intent to ‘rehabilitate’ those whose beliefs do not conform to the state’s ideas,” she told The Daily Signal. “Now he has ruled that the Kleins’ simple statement of personal resolve to be true to their faith is unlawful. This is a brazen attack on every American’s right to freely speak and imposes government orthodoxy on those who do not agree with government sanctioned ideas.” (source). Below is a video that shows the Klein’s story in their own words.
And the below are a handful of other examples of Christians being punished and silenced for their faith over the past several years:
- Chase Windebank a freshman at Pine Creek High School in Colorado was admonished by the school for his Christian expression. As a part of the school schedule, students are given a “seminar” period where they can socialize, send text messages or play video games on their personal devices among other leisure activities. Windebank used his free time to set up a prayer group with friends where they would also sing worship songs and have Biblical discussion. For three years the group met twice per week until September 2014, when Windebank was called to the Assistant Principal’s office and told that he had to cease praying during school hours due to “separation of church and state.” All the other activities students were doing during the free time was allowed to continue. Windebank is currently pursuing an injunction with assistance from lawyers at the Alliance Defending Freedom. (source).
- Real estate gurus and twin brothers Jason and David Benham saw their HGTV show on real estate flipping cancelled before it ever aired thanks to complaints over their Christian position on gay marriage. (source).
- At Florida Atlantic University a Professor told students to write the name of Jesus on a piece of paper, place it on the floor and stomp on it as part of lesson in “Intercultural Communication.” (source).
- An Orange County, California couple was fined for holding a home Bible study without obtaining a permit from their local municipality. (source).
- At Sonoma State University in Northern California, a student was ordered to remove the 2-inch cross on her necklace before attending an orientation for incoming students because it was “offensive.” (source).
- 10-year old Erin Shead was punished for writing about God as her class assignment on who she looked up the most to in the world. Not only did her teacher tell her that she could not mention God or Jesus Christ in an assignment, she was ordered to remove the essay from school grounds. (source).
Churches Under Attack
In addition to the stories above America has seen a surge in the amount of attacks on churches in the recent months. An unidentified assailant launched a Molotov cocktail – a crude explosive made by igniting a gasoline drenched rag and stuffing it into a glass bottle – through the glass doors of Crosspoint Church in Amherst, New York setting fire to the lobby. The sprinkler system in the lobby extinguished the fire and there were no casualties. (source).
- A similar incident occurred at Calvary Baptist Church in Chickasha, Oklahoma where a Molotov cocktail that failed to ignite was found next to the church building. No suspect has been arrested. Pastor Tim Day, who discovered the explosive, shared his compassion for whoever tried to burn down the church. “We love them. We care about them,” he said. “That’s what we’re called to do.”And even though fire from the concoction didn’t spread, the pastor is hoping the church’s revival will. “We forgive them. We accept them, but we need to just protect our property, and we don’t want anything serious to happen to that.” (source).
- In South Carolina, 9 Christians attending a Bible study were gunned down by alleged suspect Dylann Roof in what was an act of racial hatred. Following the shooting as many as seven predominately African American churches were burned down. In the case of Briar Creek Road Baptist Church, pictured above, officials ruled the fire an intentional act of arson.
Christians – Have You Counted The Cost?
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. – Luke 14:27-35.
Pray for Kim Davis and all those Christians in America and across the world who are suffering in this new age of persecution. The hostility against Christians and the branding of the Christian faith as a hateful, outdated belief system will only increase in the wake of the case in Kentucky. More and more believers will be in situations where they will be forced to openly voice whether they side with the world or with The Lord Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, are you ready for this day? Are you prepared to lose your status, friends, job or wealth in the name of Christ? Are you ready to be stereotyped and deemed a monster? Have you counted the cost? Pray for God’s strength as these times approach. And continue to respond to persecution with love and mercy, sharing the Gospel message that all people can be forgiven freely through faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible prophesied that as the end times drew near the world would turn against Biblical Christianity. That prophecy is now coming to life in the United States.