Thursday, September 3, 2015

Consider the case of the Sabbath observer


I have had orthodox Jews in my employ — some as department heads. The City of New York employs a fair number of orthodox Jews. Again, some as department heads and higher. I mention this because these employees require additional time off. In addition to 12 additional days that they are not permitted to work, the Sabbath begins 18 minutes before sundown on Friday.

Things such as driving and cooking are not permitted on the Sabbath. Therefore, the observer must return home from work with sufficient time to shower, change clothes, light the Sabbath candles and arrive (by foot) at the synagogue before the Sabbath begins. This becomes especially problematic during the winter with its early sunsets.

While the orthodox Jew considers working on religious holidays or the Sabbath to be a grave sin, never in his or her wildest imagination would anyone expect the policy to carry over to those who are not observant. With help from them before they leave, their work continues without interruption.

Somehow some Christians don't see it that way. Kim Davis, for example, has seen fit to apply her personal religious beliefs to her entire office — even in the face of court orders to the contrary. Her claim that this is because her name is on each marriage license as the county clerk does not stand up to serious scrutiny. This is just her way of trying to undo Obergefell v. Hodges.

Somehow some Christians misunderstand what a religious accommodation is. Allowing Ms. Davis to opt out of processing same-sex marriage licenses is an accommodation. Requiring her entire county office to opt out of providing same-sex marriage licenses is an imposition of her brand of conservative Christianity on others who work in her office as well as on the general public.

As an elected official Kim Davis should know that the obligations of her office take precedence over her religious beliefs. That's the deal. Take it or leave it. Unable to take it or leave it she sits in a jail cell as a self-manufactured martyr. Kim Davis is no martyr. She's not even a victim.

Kim Davis is a vain, arrogant woman unable to appreciate the simple fact that, in America, religion is a personal thing. In this country we celebrate religious diversity. Davis has not only disrespected the gay couples she refused to serve; she disrespected the rest of us who do not share her religious convictions. She has effectively told Jews that they should be Christians and the vast majority of Christians that they are not sufficiently devout. Who is she to judge the rest of us?

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