Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis Compared to Conscientious Objector

As previously discussed, Dr. Albert Mohler noted the issues facing now-jailed Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis will eventually be faced even by members of the military.

Over at Breibart, editor (and Liberty Institute attorney) Ken Klukowski also used a military comparison to Davis’ protests:

Ever since the founding of the republic, the U.S. military has allowed those who religiously object to the use of deadly force to be assigned to noncombatant roles in the military so that they never have to pick up a weapon…

Here, however, the parallel would be if a conscientious objector were nonetheless assigned as an officer in command of an infantry unit, and then that officer ordered all the troops under his command to set aside their weapons and refuse to fight, just like their commander. The officer would be using the authority that he holds only by virtue of his office — and thus power that does not belong to him personally, but rather belongs only to the office he currently holds — to assert a personal right based on his personal religious beliefs.

That analogy would be interesting if it were more relevant. According to her court filings, Davis has not ordered her deputy clerks not to issue licenses because they are her subordinates and she has certain beliefs, as in Klukowski’s example. Rather, she has objected to them using forms which contain her signature.

In that vein, she isn’t objecting to Rowan County issuing such licenses; she objects to being personally involved as the approving official for those licenses.

That seems consistent with what her attorneys and filings had indicated were possible accommodations, including removing her signature from the forms or deputizing a subordinate clerk who could act in her recusal. (In other jurisdictions, similar processes are already in place — separating the “person/personal” from the official.)

With rare exceptions, a government official should not use their official position or authority to actively impede that which is permissible under the law, nor should they make others in their offices take on personal “policy” as official.

To use another military analogy: A military chaplain cannot ban homosexual ceremonies for his entire staff simply because he has theological objections to them.

Equally, a government official should not be required, by the government, to affirm ideologies contrary to their religious beliefs.  That could be interpreted as violating the US Constitution’s First Amendment or No Religious Test clause.

To use another military analogy: A military chaplain cannot be required to conduct homosexual ceremonies contrary to his theological beliefs. This “reassurance” has been repeated continuously by activists decrying implications to the contrary as ‘scare tactics.’

And yet, if the government will jail a county clerk for not doing something that violates her theological beliefs, what does the future really hold for military chaplains — or US troops of faith?