Sept. 09–A group of Baptist pastors held a Bible study session Tuesday at the New Mexico state Capitol to declare support for Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentuckywhose refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses led to jail time.
The Rev. Franklin Raddish of Capitol Hill Independent Baptist Ministries in South Carolina said it is time for church leaders to stand against growing government encroachment into their territory.
He told a small assembly — 16 people in all, half of them clergy — that Davis showed “more backbone than some preachers.” Raddish also criticized America’s highest court.
“We believe what the U.S. Supreme Court did was against God’s will,” Raddish said, referring to the ruling in June that essentially declares same-sex marriages legal in all states. The New Mexico Supreme Court had decided much earlier — in December 2013 — that same-sex marriage is legal in this state.
No opponents or critics showed up at the event, though a couple of passers-by complained to administrators at the Capitol about the noise level as the preaching became increasingly loud.
Raddish said individual pastors can now refuse to conduct wedding ceremonies for marriages they don’t agree with, but he fears more laws could be put in place to eliminate that right.
“This is not only a legal issue but a spiritual issue,” he said. “We won’t back away from the word of God.”
Several of the preachers who joined him at the Capitol, including the Rev. Jim Velazquez of Temple Baptist Church of Santa Fe, gave fiery sermons citing the need to reclaim America’s moral ground through the word of God.
Velazquez said the greatest threat to America today does not come from Muslim countries intent on terrorism but from “the men and women wearing black robes in the Supreme Court.”
Several local faith leaders who did not attend the event said they disagreed with Raddish’s support of Davis, who coincidentally was released from jail Tuesday.
The Rev. Talitha Arnold of the United Church of Santa Fe said, “If someone is a government employee and the law is that you have to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples, then you need to do your job. … This does not force any religious leader to do a wedding that they do not believe they should be doing.”
The Rev. Franklin Pretto-Ferro of San Isidro Catholic Church in Santa Fe echoed those thoughts, saying Davis’ situation “has nothing to do with the church or the sacraments. It is purely a civil matter. If it is the law of the land, then it is the law of the land, and that doesn’t interfere with our particular religious practices.”
Arnold said such rallies and protests distract Christian churches from focusing on more important matters involving social, racial, economic and spiritual issues. “How do you help people get through the next few days of their lives when things are hard and they lost their job or they are having problems at home? There’s a heck of a lot more out there that I have to be concerned with as a Christian,” she said.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning released Davis, the clerk of Rowan County, Ky., after she served five days in jail. But he told Davis she must follow the law in issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Davis’ resistance made her an overnight celebrity and a martyr among some Christian groups. A rally supporting her in Rowan County drew presidential Republican candidate Mike Huckabee. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another Republican presidential candidate, flew to Kentucky to meet Davis.
Contact Robert Nott at 986-3021 or email@example.com.
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