Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Please: Kim Davis Is Not Rosa Parks

Attempting to block integration at the University of Alabama, Governor of Alabama George Wallace stands at the door of the Foster Auditorium while being confronted by United States Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

Yesterday I was driving south on the Maine Turnpike, listening to Margery Eagen and Jim Braude on Boston Public Radio, WGBH. I came into range of the program when they were inviting listeners to tell them, “What one issue would cause you to support or oppose a presidential candidate, and why?”

And the calls came in. One guy said that he wasn’t a one issue person but he was very concerned that there were people who knew nothing about guns, yet would support a candidate on the basis of his or her support for gun control. He thought that most people in favor of gun control had not owned a gun or fired a gun, and how could they possibly understand the issue.

And then.

A very well-spoken and seemingly intelligent man called in from Cambridge to say that he was supporting Mike Huckabee because of Huckabee’s support for Kim Davis, the Kentucky County Clerk who went to jail (she was released yesterday afternoon) for refusing to issue a marriage license to same sex couples. Davis, he said, was like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. He said that people did not understand civil disobedience. If they did, then even if they did not agree with her views on gay marriage, they would support her actions.

Oddly, my head did not explode. 

Kim Davis has been called the Rosa Parks of Religious Freedom.

No. And, no. 

Arguments by analogy can be helpful. Often we can understand something new by the comparison with something we already understand well. But analogies are inherently imperfect and inexact. That being said, Kim Davis is not to Religious Freedom as Rosa Parks was to Civil Rights.

A better analogy for Kim Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples would be George Wallace’s refusal to permit the integration of public all white schools and colleges in Alabama. Wallace was, as Davis is, a government official who refused to uphold the law.

Beyond that, it is hard to think of anyone who has done more harm to the Christian witness in recent months than Kim Davis. (I said, it’s hard, not impossible. And, yes, it’s a long list. There are other contenders.)

P.S.: On this date in 1963, Governor George Wallace was served with a federal injunction directing him to stop state police from barring black students from enrolling at white schools.


  1. This is a wonderful article, Bill. I can't think of a better analogy.

    -Gretchen Mann

  2. This is a wonderful article, Bill. I can't think of a better analogy.

    -Gretchen Mann