READER'S EDITORIAL: WHY PUBLIC EMPLOYEES SHOULD FOLLOW THE LAW, NOT THEIR PRIVATE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

 

By June Wise

September 3, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) -- A Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, has stirred controversy for defying a federal court order to issue marriage licenses after the Supreme Court declared marriage a constitutional right for same-sex couples. She claims giving gay couples licenses to wed would violate her religious beliefs, yet she has refused to resign. Today, a  judge  ordered her jailed for contempt of court.

If government  workers  could refuse to  serve the public  anytime  a law conflicts with their private religious views, that would be a dangerous and trouble-prone path.  Divorce, birth control, war, and blood transfusions are all prohibited in some religions.  Some faiths ban immodest dress, adultery, consumption of caffeine or alcohol, musical instruments, celebrating birthdays, serving certain foods, and seeking psychiatric care.  

Should public employees in jobs with responsibilities for such matters be able to refuse to follow laws governing all of these issues and more?

Here are a few points to ponder:

The Catholic Church does not allow divorce.  Should Catholic judges be allowed to refuse to grant divorce decrees because they believe ending a marriage is sinful?

Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in blood transfusions.  Should a Jehovah’s Witness working  as a doctor, nurse or medic at a government-run hospital or in the military be free to refuse  blood transfusions to bleeding patients whose lives are at risk?

Muslims and Jews don’t eat pork or shellfish. Hindus thinks cows are sacred and don’t eat beef.  Should we let school cafeteria workers refuse to serve these foods to school kids, if they belong to these faiths?  Or refuse to sign purchase orders for such foods?

Catholics don’t believe in birth control.  Should a Catholic doctor at a county health clinic be able to deny birth control to women who want family planning?

The Church of Christ teaches that music other than the human voice is a sin.  Can a teacher in a public school demand that a school marching band stop practicing within earshot?

Mormons’ faith prohibits consumption of caffeine.  Can a Mormon office worker opt out of making coffee or  refuse to place an order for beer for a company picnic?

Quakers believe in pacificsm.  Can a Quaker police officer or soldier refuse to fire a gun? Or a Quaker clerk refuse to issue gun licenses?

Wiccans worship a goddess.  Can they refuse to issue or accept currency that reads “In God We Trust?” Should a Wiccan teacher substitute “in Goddess we trust” when leading a pledge of allegiance at school?

“Christian Identity” is a religion that promote racism. Should a member of this faith who works for the government be free to deny marriage licenses or other services to African-Americans or inter-racial couples?

Scientologists view psychiatry as barbaric.  Should they be able to deny a patient a referral for psychiatric care, if they work for a publicly funded program such as the department of corrections, juvenile justice, or a state hospital?

Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in celebrating birthdays, except for Christ’s birthday.  Can they refuse to allow  celebrations of children’s birthday in schools or observations of holidays such as President’s Day or Martin Luther King Day, since these honor birthdays, too?

Fundamentalist Muslims believe women should wear chadors or burkahs to be modest. Should they be able to insist that all women in their workplace conform to their religious standards of decency so as to avoid offending them?  Some sects also believe adultery and even rape should be punishable by stoning.  If we allow public officials such as judges to follow their consciences instead of the U.S. constitution, federal state and local laws, what’s next—Sharia law?

America is based on religious freedom – but not the right to impose one’s religious beliefs on others.

If public employees can’t separate their private beliefs from their public duties, they should resign and seek another job—not insist that personal views, even prejudices, be imposed on the public they are supposed to serve.

You don't have to agree with every law on the books.  No doubt many public employees disagree with one or more statute on the books, just as many private employees disagree with some workplace standards. But you do have to follow the laws of the land -- or find a new job.  Please stop wasting taxpayer resources by tying up our overcrowded court and jail systems, unless you're prepared to reimburse taxpayers for those costs, too.

The views of this editorial reflect the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

Comments

@Hano

Hano wrote: "Why didn't an article appear when the Mayor and Board of Supervisors refused to follow Federal Immigration law asking for their resignation? Why isn't Obama being asked to resign for failing to obey Federal Immigration law nor the provisions of Obamacare? Why isn't there howling in this publication for action against Hillary for refusing to follow the law concerning government emails? I could go on and on with the current liberal refusals but I think I make my point. Liberals only want elected officials to follow the law when it is a law they like. Otherwise they are quick to come up with all kinds of excuses not to comply."

As usual, Hano failed to understand the point. Kim Davis made it absolutely clear that her decision was based on her religion. June Wise, in her OpEd, makes it clear what the ramifications would be if elected officials were to ignore their oath to the Constitution and follow their personal religious beliefs. Kim David is an elected official, thus she took an oath to the Constitution. Perhaps Hano has never heard of the 1st Amendment? Not one of the examples given by Hano refers to religious beliefs. The Chief Executive has certain powers to implement policy. However, he is subject to the law and the Courts are the final arbiters. Throughout history our Presidents have implemented policies that have been challenged, sometimes winning and sometimes losing. Maybe Hano would like to live in a theocracy; but I think most Americans prefer our system. Ms. Davis and her Church are absolutely free to not perform marriage ceremonies for gays, they are free to not attend such ceremonies performed in other churches or by a Justice of the Peace, and they are free to not interact with gays at social events; but as a duly elected public official, Mr. Davis is not free to disobey the Constitution!

One last point: Hano rails at liberals, ignoring numerous conservative politicians who have ignored the law. How about Nixon's invasion of Cambodia when Congress had specifically forbidden it or Reagan's trading arms with Iran for money for the Contras? Much more serious than Hano's examples. The fact is that elected officials from all parts of the political spectrum, throughout history, have implemented policies that have been challenged, some successfully, and some not.

No wonder Hano doesn't use his real name, given his illogical rants tangential to the points made in an OpEd. Apparently, he is just looking for a forum to vent his anger and frustration in a world he is ill-equipped to understand.

Jehovah's Witnesses

A few comments: Of the JWS who are doctors, the issue of any surgery is not that great. Even rarer would be the issue of transfusions. Considering even open heart surgeries have been done blood free by competent surgeons, that possibility is rarer still. Now as to government and military hospitals, first JWS would not be working in any military hospital. As for government ones, how can anyone NOT work in a government influenced one the days? Like all of us, the main thing is a clear conscience with Jehovah, no matter what we do. Turning down any procedure is the right and responsibility of any and everyone. Every surgeon of any faith has faced a situation that he could not in good conscience go forward with. We do not take part in any of the world's holidays due to the pagan origin of all of them, including especially Christmas. Jesus COMMANDED true Christians to only observe the date of his death. Making sure to give the exact day and time recorded in the Bible. Not so with his birth. As for his resurrection, that is not even warranted on a date, but on a second or third Sunday of any old year. Further obscuring the date of his death, which is vital for our survival. His death provides forgiveness for our sins and a way of getting on the path to eternal life. Impossible without the Ransom sacrifice.

Readers editorial

I AM one of Jehovah's Witnesses (40years) & a contractor / handi man. Due my personal beliefs, I have always refused work up front and explained why to the customer/ employer so as not to affect them, not AFTER I was hired. We never demand people to adjust to our personal beliefs, in my case, If it requires falsifying paperwork, working for a company that produces cancer causing products, doing phoney work that steals from the homeowner, etc. I will not do it. But this is done BEFORE, and discussed before I am hired. I desire to answer to our God with a clear conscience so more than a pay check is involved, and I need to answer to a higher source.

Gee....

Why didn't an article appear when the Mayor and Board of Supervisors refused to follow Federal Immigration law asking for their resignation? Why isn't Obama being asked to resign for failing to obey Federal Immigration law nor the provisions of Obamacare? Why isn't there howling in this publication for action against Hillary for refusing to follow the law concerning government emails? I could go on and on with the current liberal refusals but I think I make my point. Liberals only want elected officials to follow the law when it is a law they like. Otherwise they are quick to come up with all kinds of excuses not to comply.

Jehovah's Witnesses

Great article! I believe JW's only celebrate the death of Christ as he commanded, not his birth (Luke 22:19). They do not celebrate Christmas, or Christ's birthday (Pagan origins, please see below). Also, they are the first ones to quit their employment if any tasks required in that employment conflict with Bible principals. Thank you and keep up the good work. The Encyclopedia Americana: “The reason for establishing December 25 as Christmas is somewhat obscure, but it is usually held that the day was chosen to correspond to pagan festivals that took place around the time of the winter solstice, when the days begin to lengthen, to celebrate the ‘rebirth of the sun.’ . . . The Roman Saturnalia (a festival dedicated to Saturn, the god of agriculture, and to the renewed power of the sun), also took place at this time, and some Christmas customs are thought to be rooted in this ancient pagan celebration.”—(1977), Vol. 6, p. 666. The New Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges: “The date of Christ’s birth is not known. The Gospels indicate neither the day nor the month . . . According to the hypothesis suggested by H. Usener . . . and accepted by most scholars today, the birth of Christ was assigned the date of the winter solstice (December 25 in the Julian calendar, January 6 in the Egyptian), because on this day, as the sun began its return to northern skies, the pagan devotees of Mithra celebrated the dies natalis Solis Invicti (birthday of the invincible sun). On Dec. 25, 274, Aurelian had proclaimed the sun-god principal patron of the empire and dedicated a temple to him in the Campus Martius. Christmas originated at a time when the cult of the sun was particularly strong at Rome.”—(1967), Vol. III, p. 656.

Great point!

Great point! Imagine giving a well thought out gift to a loved one or friend, nicely wrapped with a card and bow, and they say, what's this for? It's not my birthday...it's not Christmas..... And you say, it's because 'I love you' Which is the true meaning of gift giving? Out of your heart or because the commercial world and Black Friday says you have to?

I...

...do not agree with many of the "laws" on the books written the past 50 years as they were written by the Commies we/you put in office. Unfortunately I do not have the power or money to do anything about it. Thus I just BITCH about it. It's past time for the next American Revolution.

census

In the middle ages, Christians refused to take a census.

Yes, and jailed Galileo for saying the earth

revolved around the sun.  And did you know there are still "Flat Earth Society" members today who believe the earth isn't really round?  Should someone with such delusional beliefs be allowed to not teach science if they are an instructor in a public school?  The list is endless here.