Over the past week, Kim Davis again surfaced in the news. A federal judge ordered the governor of Kentucky to decide whether marriage licenses altered by Davis are valid, given that Davis changed them by dropping her name from the forms. Davis, as you know, first galvanized the nation because she refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, as the law dictates that she must. Citing her Christian beliefs, she refused to do so and was jailed and ultimately released. Such conviction. Such bravery. Such bullshit.
Assuming that the Bible supports the actions Davis took, I’d still question her and the entire faith tradition she stands under. I cannot and will not extend one iota of legitimacy to this faith until the whole of it is pursued with the same vigor and conviction as this issue of gay marriage has been. For example, Isaiah 5:8 says,
“What sorrow for you who buy up house after house and field after field, until everyone is evicted and you live alone in the land.”
It’s an explicit statement against inequality, greed and exploitation of the poor. I’m waiting for some federal regulator to prohibit a bank merger, a municipal bureaucrat to halt a land acquisition which would enrich developers at the expense of the or for a banker to refuse to make a loan, on the basis of Isaiah’s admonishment. I’ll wait.
Of course, we don’t see this from Evangelicals by and large. All day long, Isaiah’s cry for justice is ignored. In today’s world, the largest owner of single-family rental homes is the Blackstone Group. Following the foreclosure crisis (during which I cannot recall Christians physically standing in front of homes to block egregious foreclosures because of their religious convictions), this firm took advantage of the millions who’d lost their homes, buying those homes and converting them to rental housing. In so doing, they jack up rental prices, then go down to Wall Street to gamble with those rent checks. Further, they do all this with very strict collections and evictions policies. Even so, no cries of religious compulsion to put a stop to this from all the self-proclaimed Christians in seats of authority. No judge, congressman or regulator stepping up in the name of God to halt these gross violations of biblical principle. Not one.
Since 2004, Goldman Sachs has had at least sixteen settlements, totaling $4.4 billion dollars (here’s the most recent). It’s clear that breaking the law is simply Goldman’s business model. In fact, the company set aside $1.45 billion for “mortgage-related litigation and regulatory matters” in the second quarter of 2015 alone. Having skirted the rules for some time, Goldman found itself in some trouble leading up to the financial crisis and was granted a miraculous conversion to a different corporate structure that would enable them to receive bailout funding from taxpayers in 2008. Even so, they remain rogue and now seek to acquire GE Capital, an online bank with some $16 billion in deposits. Banking law stipulates that when financial institutions merge, there must be some public benefit derived or else, the merger should not be granted by regulators. This current application makes it clear that the bank plans to offer no new products or services that would benefit communities in any way. The bank is simply amassing more capital. If Isaiah is to be taken seriously, this bank, with its particular record of destruction, shouldn’t be. Surely, some banking regulator, with their Christian faith, should take a solid stand and say no, right?
Having grown up in the black church, I certainly understand that “Christianity” covers a wide range of beliefs, traditions and practices. Indeed, the same Jesus Kim Davis and other Evangelicals pray to is the one Jeremiah Wright and a host of clergy fighting for LGBT rights do. That said, the strength on display within Christendom at the voting booth and in the press tends to be the version of Christianity Kim Davis practices. I can’t respect it, not now. Until those same believers show the same urgency and resolve, even if it means prison, to stand up for that which Isaiah heralded I’m unmoved. Until I see someone in a position of authority refuse to perform their job duties because they are committed to stopping an unholy inequality and oppression of the poor, you will not have my respect.