Belief

Christian Fundamentalists' Plot Against the Constitution: What Kim Davis’ Newly Unearthed Emails Reveal

Kim Davis may be a footnote to history. But new revelations offer a frightening glimpse into fundamentalists' minds.

Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis.
Photo Credit: screengrab via Democracy Now!

Thanks to Kentucky’s open records law, the Associated Press has obtained the emails county clerk Kim Davis sent just before she went to jail late this summer. And yes, they are every bit as unhinged as you imagined they’d be. In case you forgot, Davis is the God-loving homophobe who courageously denied marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Kentucky two months ago.

The emails are interesting if only because they show just how crazy (and dangerous) fanatics like Davis are, particularly if they happen to work as public servants. Here’s Davis in her own words:

The battle has just begun…It has truly been a firestorm here and the days are pretty much a blur, but I am confident that God is in control of all of this!! I desire your prayers, I will need strength that only God can supply and I need a backbone like a saw log!!…They are going to try and make a whipping post out of me!! I know it, but God is still alive and on the throne!!! He IS in control and knows exactly where I am!!…September 1 will be the day to prepare for, if the Lord doesn’t return before then. I have weighted the cost, and will stay the course.

As Mark Joseph Stern observed, “These are not the words of a rational public servant attempting to do her taxpayer-funded job to the best of her abilities…These are the words of a religious fanatic who views herself as the protagonist in an epic, possibly biblical battle between good and evil – a millennialist zealot who hopes the rapture, rather than mere earthly courts, will intervene to save her."

It’s easy to dismiss all of this as the fevered ramblings of an obscure county clerk – and clearly that’s what they are. Davis, after all, doesn’t really matter. She’s a thrice-married legacy hire in Kentucky who won a few minutes of fame but accomplished nothing in the long run. bWhat’s scary, however, is that Davis isn’t alone.

Since the 1970s, when conservative Protestants became politically active, Christians have sought to blur the boundary between secular law and religious doctrine. The idea, as evangelical scholar Lynn Buzzard wrote, was to “reject the division of human affairs into the secular and the sacred and insist, instead, that there is no arena of human activity, including law and politics, which is outside of God’s lordship."

There’s also the Christian dominionist movement, the primary goal of which is to implant religious zealots in public office in order to Christianize the laws, the courts and all public institutions. Dominionists are operative today across the country and in the South particularly, and their theo-political philosophy animates political figures like Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal.

I’ve no idea if Davis self-identifies as a Christian dominionist, but her belief that religious laws trump secular laws in the public space is consistent with dominionist thinking. Davis may be a footnote to a news cycle, but there are plenty of people with more influence who share her worldview, and they’re a legitimate threat insofar as they actively seek to undermine the Constitution.

Davis is likely more deranged than your average dominionist, and her persecution mania was surely amplified by all the attention she received, but she’s a product of an ascendant and genuinely theocratic movement. I doubt Ben Carson thinks Jesus will return next Tuesday, as Davis evidently does, but, like Huckabee and Jindal and Cruz, he’s fighting the same battle as Davis.

Carson has said, in effect, that America is a Christian nation and that we should have something like a religious test for office. What Carson and other Republicans defend under the guise of “religious liberty” is often just an attempt to elevate God’s law over secular law. This is what Davis tried to do in Kentucky, and it’s what Hobby Lobby more or less did in 2014.

So sure, Davis is an afterthought, but the religious fanaticism she represents isn’t. There will be more Kim Davises. The difference is that they won’t all be so obviously insane, and that’s what makes them so dangerous.

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