Kim Davis was released from prison today on the understanding that she would not interfere in the issuance by her deputy clerks of marriage licenses to homosexual couples in Rowan County, KY. The judge's thought in releasing her may have been to take an issue away from two candidates for the Republican presidential nomination who had come to Kentucky to publicize their solidarity with the homophobic county clerk. Former governor Huckabee of Arkansas took her side early, but was joined quickly by Sen. Cruz of Texas has jumped in with both feet. Did they merely oppose her imprisonment as a matter of judicial excess -- Cruz called her imprisonment "judicial lawlessness turned into judicial tyranny" -- or did they support her assumed moral right to obstruct gay marriage? Increasingly it sounds like the latter. These two have broken from the rest of the Republican field to pursue the Christianist vote. For those just joining us, "Christianist" is my term -- I didn't coin it but the term is relatively new -- for those who believe that American law must not contradict the Bible, much as Islamists believe the law in Muslim countries must not contradict, but rather should echo the Qur'an. "Christianist" is a fair label for Cruz and Huckabee. Christianism explains Cruz's crack about "lawless" judges, while Huckabee clarifies the sentiment by saying that "Supreme Court lawyers [sic?] did not and cannot make law" and that the Court is "certainly not the Supreme Being." Their interpretations of the Davis case are more telling in their seeming hysteria. Cruz says that jailing Cruz implies a belief that "Christians should not serve in public office," while Huckabee sees Davis's imprisonment as a step toward "the criminalization of Christianity in our country."
Whether you're a Christianist or simply a Christian depends on whether you agree with the candidates. They imply that no Christian could do otherwise than what Davis did. They imply that all Christians have a duty to obstruct gay marriage -- yet it's self-evident that many Christians disagree, whether because they respect the rule of law in this country or because they can no longer see any good reason for God to object to homosexuality or gay marriage. The gay marriage controversy is a potentially formative issue for a genuinely Christianist political movement in the U.S. because it appears or is alleged to force a decision on Christians. The premise of conscientious objection to facilitating gay marriage depends on an idea that opposition defines a good Christian -- that gay marriage is, as Davis put it, "a Heaven and Hell issue" upon which a Christian's salvation implicitly depends. This assertion of duty is a call to jihad -- nonviolent so far -- that Cruz and Huckabee hope will carry one of them to power. It might be comforting to dismiss their irresponsible ravings as mere opportunism, but you'd have to be deaf and blind to deny that anger over America's endorsement of same-sex marriage is real and intense and ready to be exploited. Christianity certainly isn't in danger in the U.S., but Christianism does need to be nipped in the bud, and just as it's up to Muslims to defeat Islamism, it'll be up to Christians here to defeat Christianism. It's up to them to reject Christianist claims that "true" Christianity opposes gay marriage, if not homosexuality itself. Given all the churches across the country that now gladly conduct same-sex weddings, there should be ready answers for every homophobic command the Christianists want to give. If the Christianists want to challenge the Christianity of those who disagree with them, as the Islamists challenge the Islam of their opponents, this unbeliever will gladly cheer on the other side with the words of J. W. Wimpy: "Let's you and him fight!"