Voting & Polling in Harrisonburg

Putting up a Gary Johnson sign last night.
Putting up a Gary Johnson sign last night.

At about 1 PM, I visited my polling place, Keister Elementary, to cast my ballot in the 2016 election.  The drive leading up to the school was blanketed with signs for the various candidates.  Outside of the building, there were people handing out both Republican and Democratic sample ballots.  The fact that the Republicans openly encouraged voters to cast their ballots for Independent City Council candidate George Hirschmann seemed to further prove that he is not, in fact, an independent, but rather a Republican who is trying to obscure his party status.  In addition, a woman stood outside conducting an exit poll, which I thought was quite exciting!  More on this issue in a moment.

I expected that there would be quite a long line inside, but was surprised that I only had to wait for a minute or two.  Apparently, traffic had been particularly heavy earlier and many people had already voted, but I just happened to be there during a lull.

Voting was actually fairly difficult this year.  I knew my vote for president, of course, but hadn’t decided upon the names for my write-ins for various offices where I either didn’t know or care much for the candidates listed.

Anyway, when I got back outside, the pollster asked for whom I cast my ballot for president and whether I had voted in the 2012 presidential election.  I told her that I voted for the same candidate in 2016 that I did in 2012.  I then asked if she could tell me the results of her poll thus far.  Although I expect that Hillary Clinton will win Harrisonburg, given that Keister is one of the most Republican precincts in the city I assumed that Donald Trump would be winning the exit poll or that it would be very close.  However, that was not the case.  Of the multitude of respondents, about 60% said they voted for Clinton, 30% were for Trump, and Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Evan McMullin, and write-ins split the remaining approximate 10%.  Yes, in this exit poll Clinton had about twice the votes that Trump had.  The pollster theorized that perhaps Trump voters were far less likely to admit that they cast their ballots for Trump, but I thought this unlikely.  What it told me is that if these numbers hold, Hillary Clinton will win Harrisonburg by a far larger margin than I anticipated and will likely perform even better in Virginia than what people say.  If she wins Virginia by a sizable factor, then it might end up being a very quick election night reminiscent of 1996 when Bill Clinton bested Bob Dole.

Yes, Keister is only one of many polling places in Harrisonburg, but the exit poll doesn’t seem to bode well for Mr. Trump and the Republicans.  It will be fun to discover if this poll is accurate or not!

The Worst Election

Image from ifunny.co
Image from ifunny.co

Tomorrow, millions of Americans will go to the polls and cast their votes for electors for president.   Although I started following politics in 1994, volunteered on my first campaign in 1995, and cast my first vote for president in 2000, this election has been, without a doubt, the worst election I’ve ever seen.

There are several reasons that 2016 has been particularly terrible.  First is the candidates themselves.  Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are some of the most reviled people in American politics.  Whether it’s due to perceptions of corruption and dishonesty, or claims of racism and sexism, the average American has a negative perception of both.  Most Republicans who once condemned Trump and Democrats who declared Clinton unacceptable during their respective party primaries, in a display of blatant hypocrisy, have since come out in favor of their candidates.  It is amazing to me that some people can give all sorts of reasons why a candidate is abysmal and should not be elected, but then completely ignore these glaring flaws simply due to their attachment to party labels.

Now, we do have third party choices too; in Virginia, we have five candidates on the ballot.  Besides Trump and Clinton, we also have Johnson (Libertarian), Stein (Green), and McMullin (Independent).  However, none of these candidates have been particularly outstanding, nor have they run particularly competent campaigns, nor have they made much of an effort to make either a long or short-term effect on politics in this state.  But, even if this weren’t the case, the media and the political system itself has done a pretty good job marginalizing third party candidates, framing the election as a choice between the lesser of two evils, and, there is little doubt in my mind that both the Republican and Democratic choices are indeed evil and thus unsupportable.

However, what I would say is the absolute worst aspect of this election has been the nastiness exhibited by average Americans.  Yes, we all have differing political opinions, but rather than expressing these views with civility and respecting opposing viewpoints, many have resorted to personal attacks and name-calling.  As one metric, in every election cycle, I have lost several Facebook friends.  However, in the last several months of this election, I have either been defriended or have defriended by at last a dozen folks.  The majority have been Republicans and/or Trump supporters, though to be fair, I know far more Republicans than Democrats.  While some have quietly defriended me because of my steadfast belief that Donald Trump is unfit for office or due to my inclination to cast my vote for Gary Johnson, others have been unbelievably nasty.  Yes, some say things like I am throwing my vote away, but others have told me that Donald Trump is owed my vote and if I vote for any other candidate I must be: an idiot, moron, stupid, a fool, ignorant, a traitor, or even suffering from a mental disorder.  Besides the name calling, they say that this election is simply too important and thus I must surrender my political free will by helping elect an evil person in order to prevent someone who is even worse from winning.  Although I’d like to think that my friends could show at least a modest amount of  respect, this election has brought out the worst in some people.  There are both good and bad people supporting Clinton & Trump as well as sound and poor reasons to cast a vote for them and the same can be said of the various third party candidates.

Last week, I met my pastor at a local cafe, mainly to discuss politics and, at the end of our talk, she asked if I would give the opening prayer at church the Sunday before the election.  I agreed to do so and, after thinking about these recent experiences, offered something similar to what is below.

Dear God,

First, let me thank you for those who came out to hear your word this morning at Court Square Theater. Yes, some days it is difficult to come, maybe because the message is tough, or we’d rather watch football in London, or maybe it’s just that our beds are simply too darn comfy.

With the advent of next election in just a few short days, we have struggled mightily as a people. We have been divided into camps and told that we must hate those who hold opinions different than our own. Whether we consider ourselves to be Democrats or Republicans, or Libertarians or Greens, independents or something else, are we not all made in your image? Is it your plan for us to make our friends and family enemies due to mere political disagreements? So many pundits and politicians have been goading us into fear, urging us to make choices based on which person or persons we detest the least. Where once there was reasoned political dialogue, as we get closer and closer to Tuesday, civility has all but disappeared and has been replaced with naming calling and insults. The temptation to lash out in the same way others treat us is strong, but we ask that you would imbue us with the strength not to fall into this trap. Remind us that we are your people and you call us to be better than this world.

We pray for our pastor, our theologian in resident, our worship team, and each and every person here today, and those who are unable to join us. May you watch over us, guide us in your wisdom, and correct us when we stray. Please direct our nation and our leaders, no matter which candidate emerges the winner in Tuesday’s election and may we be mindful and courteous to everyone even when some people attempt to divide us over our skin colour, sex, national origin, and yes, even political affiliation.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, we ask these things.

Amen

As I told the JMU student that I am tutoring, Election Day to me is like Christmas is to most people.  However, this year I am relatively certain that I don’t want most of the gifts the American people will be unwrapping tomorrow but unfortunately we can’t return them.  My great hope is that no matter how things turn out, Tuesday will be the end of the awful 2016 elections, citizens will accept the results, we can put this particularly nasty season behind us, our overblown fears will subside, and we can work for greater civility and support candidates that actually share our values, as opposed to relying on party labels and this whole lesser of two evils nonsense.

No Faith & No Freedom

faith-freedom-logoEarlier this month, the nonprofit group Faith & Freedom Coalition released their voter guides for the 2016 election.  On their website, they offer free “nonpartisan”  information.  Simply click on the link for your state, and presumably, you receive information tailor-made for your ballot.  Interested to see what they had to say, I decided to check it out.  For Virginia, they listed Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as well as their stances of a variety of issues.  However, here in Virginia, five candidates qualified to make the ballot for president.  In case you didn’t know, the other candidates are Gary Johnson (Libertarian), Evan McMullin (Independent), and Jill Stein (Green).  Would the Faith & Freedom Coalition really leave out over half the candidates?

I decided to try another state.  After all, only three candidates appear on every state’s presidential ballots, but some states feature candidates that others do not.  The results were the same.  They only included information for Clinton and Trump.  I tried another and another and another.  Each time, the voter guide for the next state was the same as the one which preceded it.  Why would the Faith & Freedom Coalition exclude a majority of the candidates?  Wouldn’t doing so intentionally cause them to be guilty of a sin of omission?  Check it out for yourself.

14642453_10154023403516705_7858503810550547758_nGiving them the benefit of the doubt, that they didn’t actually do their research about who was actually on the ballot in each state, I left a message for them on their Facebook page alerting them of their error.  When I went today to check if they responded, I discovered that they had deleted my comment and banned me from posting any further messages.  This response is particularly amusing and hypocritical, especially given that before posting their voter guide they put up the image you see to your right.

Unfortunately, as I’ve written in a previously piece entitled “The Fall of the Religious Right“, I am coming to the opinion that the Faith & Freedom Coalition may very well be one of these sham faith groups, claiming to be nonbiased and nonpartisan, but serving as a shill for the Republican Party to herd unwary Christians into supporting the GOP and their candidates even when these candidates, like Donald Trump, have held contrary opinions on almost every major issue, including abortion, and subscribe to a personal morality far removed from traditional Christianity.  After the tape of Donald Trump’s bragging of supposedly committing sexual assault emerged, Ralph Reed, the founder and chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, became one of Trump’s most ardent defenders.

Given this effort by the Faith & Freedom Coalition to misled people into believing they only have two choices, I would strongly recommend that my friends and local church congregations not distribute these deceptive “voter guides”.  How is a group who engages in this sort of activity any different from the corrupt Commission on Presidential Debates?  Perhaps, if the Faith & Freedom Coalition were a little more honest about their efforts, they should call themselves the No Faith & No Freedom Coalition for it seems that with this voter guide they have no faith in the American people to make the right decision if properly and honestly presented with all of their options and that they have no desire to expand political freedom beyond the two choices that a growing number of American Christians find equally unacceptable.

Greetings from Tennessee

A view of Cherokee Lake
A view of Cherokee Lake

Hello readers and greetings from eastern Tennessee.  For the last several days, I have been here and will remain for a while longer, visting family, cat sitting, and the like.

Of course there have been political developments since last I’ve written.  After all, with a presidential election bearing down upon us, there is always something new to talk about.

As I’m sure you know, tonight is the first debate between Hillary Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R).  Unfortunately, the debate excludes the voices of Gary Johnson (L) and Jill Stein (G), two candidates who are on enough ballots to win the presidency. but are not allowed on stage nevertheless.  Although the debate is likely to be entertaining, with Trump and Clinton attacking each other relentlessly, I assume it will be fairly substance free.   Therefore, I not planning on watching, instead visiting the local gaming store or watching Monday Night Football.

I wish that I could say something positive about any of the presidential candidates or campaigns, but I can’t really.  The Gary Johnson campaign (my choice) has been a disappointment thus far, with the odd Johnson sticking out his tongue interview, Bill Weld showing he is more of a liberal Republican than a Libertarian, and the general lack of organization and professionalism overall.  As for Clinton and Trump, well, the borrow a quote from Henry Kissinger regarding the Iran-Iraq War, “it’s too bad they can’t both lose.”

In about 48 hours, I will be in Knoxville taking the GREs.  I last took them about 8 years ago.  I hope I will do as well as I did then.  It would be nice to do something more meaningful in politics.

On Thursday, the Knoxville Libertarian Party will be holding a meeting.  Their featured speaker is Glenn Jacobs.  For the WWE fans out there, you might know him by the name Kane.

Well, the cause of liberty can and will continue, but for the moment I think I’ll take a bit of time for myself here in eastern Tennessee.  Nevertheless, I suspect you’ll catch me on tomorrow’s podcast of Freedom Gulch.

Best wishes and I look forward to writing you again soon!

Freedom Gulch #12

fg12Last night, Will Hammer, Michael Pickens, Joshua Huffman, Carl Loser, and Andy Bakker gathered together for Freedom Gulch’s twelfth podcast.  Topics for the evening included: Gary Johnson and his Aleppo misadventure, Hillary Clinton’s health, the upcoming presidential debates, recent newspaper endorsements, and more.

If you missed the broadcast live, you can find it below.  Enjoy!

A Campaign of Fear and Hatred

As the 2016 presidential election kicks into high gear, the attacks against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton seem to be intensifying.  Everyday we heard things that suggest Donald Trump is a racist and a bigot and is totally unqualified to serve in office.  Others say that Hillary Clinton is a liar and a crook and that she’d be in jail if not for her political connections.  Although some people might decry this overly negative campaigning, unfortunately it is the way politics has been trending for quite some time.

For example, when I started out in the mid 90s, I was taught by folks on both sides of the aisle that Republicans shouldn’t associate with Democrats and vice versa.  Adherents to the other political party were stupid, not to be trusted, and often just plain evil.  One should never treat one’s opponent with civility if it can be helped, because they certainly wouldn’t offer you that same level of respect.  Unfortunately, this problem has gotten even worse.

img_2133-1
Robert Sarvis (L) and Ken Cuccinelli (R) in 2013

Toward these same lines, we’ve had a preview of this year’s horribly negative campaigning before, right here in Virginia in the 2013 race for governor.  The Ken Cuccinelli campaign branded Terry McAuliffe as a corrupt businessman who was totally unqualified to serve in any office, let alone governor, while the McAuliffe folks painted Cuccinelli as a right-wing zealot who wished to turn back the clock on the rights of many individuals.  Both sides went heavily negative and although there were positive selling points for both men, these topics were generally forgotten as both campaigns tried to portray the other as an absolutely horrible outcome.  During the campaign, I spoke with some Cuccinelli staffers who actually declared that their primary goal was to expose McAuliffe in the worst possible light so that by Labor Day most Virginians would consider him completely unelectable.  From what I witnessed, I suspect the McAuliffe folks decided to employ a similar strategy of demonization against Cuccinelli.  They both framed the campaign as the choice of the lesser of two evils and voters were urged to vote against either McAuliffe or Cuccinelli rather than feeling positive about either.  As a result, many of my Republican friends then and now still refer to our governor as Terry McAwful.  However, in that ugly morass was a third candidate, Robert Sarvis.  Although the powers that be conspired to keep him off the debate stage, he still managed to capture 6.5% of the vote from Libertarians and those who were sick of the race to the bottom campaigns of both the Republicans and Democrats.

And here we are again in 2016.  We have a Republican and a Democratic candidate who both suffer from exceedingly high negatives.  Unfortunately, many polls indicate that the average American views Trump and Clinton in an unfavorable light.  Odds are, if the Republicans or Democrats nominated a candidate that was at least halfway likable, he or she would be enjoying a huge lead over his or her primary opponent.  The problem is that negative campaigning does work…at least to a point, provided that there are no other candidates in the race.  In November many Republicans and conservatives will hold their noses and vote for a deplorable man like Donald Trump if they are convinced that they have no other choices and that he is the only way they can stop their greater foe, Hillary.  Likewise, many progressives and Greens despise Hillary Clinton for being corrupt and loath the revelation that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the Democratic National Committee rigged the primaries against Bernie Sanders.  However, if the don’t support Clinton how else can they stop a thug like Trump?

Well, fortunately voters do have other options as there are two (or possibly three) other candidates who could garner enough electoral votes to win the election.  They are: Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party, and potentially Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party (although working toward it, he has not reached the ballot access threshold yet).

I remain fully convinced that if the United States were like every other democratic nation, which offers voters a variety of choices and not simply only two (or often one) candidates, this era of increasingly negative campaigning would be drastically curtailed.  After all, if two candidates or their campaigns decide to make it their primary mission to prove that the other is wholly unsuitable for office, then voters could choose a third option and reject the campaign of fear and hatred that both of his or her opponents offer.  If a third party candidate could win a major election from time to time, campaigns would soon come to the realization that they would actually have to sell their own candidates and promote their own supposed principles, rather than presenting themselves as the better of two horrible options.  Maybe then we could get candidates that we actually like, ones that can be trusted to uphold some kind of values, and perhaps party platforms would be more than lofty ideals that are often ignored or even repudiated by their own candidates.  Now, wouldn’t that be something!?

An Evening With The Charles Town Libertarians

IMG_0349On Monday, June 6th, a group of Libertarians planned to gather in Charles Town, West Virginia, for a social meeting.  Although I’ve read about a lot of Libertarian meetings in various parts of the state, they were always very far from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, places such as Charleston (about 240 miles) or Parkersburg (about 220 miles).  Therefore, when I heard that they were meeting in the panhandle, only about 90 miles away, I thought this gathering might be the best and only opportunity to meet some like-minded folks from our neighbors to the north and west.  However, the name West Virginia can be somewhat misleading as Jefferson County, the easternmost county in West Virginia is actually east of the Shenandoah Valley.

About a dozen people attended.  With the exception of the three candidates, the group lived in various places in Jefferson County, with one or two hailing from the neighboring Berkley County.  At the same time, the Charles Town City Council held a meeting to discuss a new anti-discrimination policy and one or two folks at the Libertarian gathering stepped out to listen to the proceedings.  As mentioned, the three candidates were: David Moran, the Libertarian candidate for Governor of West Virginia, John Buckley, the Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State, and Brenton Ricketts, who is running for state auditor.  Unlike Virginia, which only elects three statewide office holders in the year after the presidential election, West Virginians vote on six in presidential years, and the Libertarian Party has a candidate for each position.

While there I learned more about how West Virginia politics and elections differ from Virginia.  Given that Virginia has a very high threshold for official party recognition of 10% of the statewide vote, we only have two political parties.  West Virginia, with a threshold of only 1% has four.  Along with the Republicans and Democrats, they also have the Libertarians and the Mountain Party (which is an affiliate of the Green Party).  Another interesting fact is that although Virginia has more than eight times as many residents, both states have the same number of members in their House of Delegates at 100, and West Virginia has only six fewer state senators than Virginia.  There are several Libertarians running for state office this year and one candidate for House of Representatives too.  In addition, West Virginia has voter registration by party, but again voters can choose from any of the four parties or register as an independent.  Apparently, the West Virginia Libertarian Party has seen a swell in registration in recent months.

During the evening, I spoke with a former Republican as well as a leader of a local Young Republican group who attended the gathering.  I told them about the loyalty oaths that the Virginia Republican Party makes their members sign and the penalties enacted upon those who broke party ranks (for example, if they voted in another party’s primary).  Both seemed to think that these kinds of restrictions and demands from the RPV were completely absurd.

In addition, as John Buckley led the West Virginia delegation at the recent national Libertarian Convention in Orlando, it was fun to hear his thoughts of the event and his opinions of the candidates who ran too.  And, by the end of the night, I picked up two new Facebook friends.

With the general dissatisfaction with Republican candidate Donald Trump and the Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton, will the Libertarian Party experience an upswell in interest and votes?  Will disaffected conservatives and Bernie supporters buck the two major political parties by supporting someone like Gary Johnson, or will they obediently fall in line, casting their vote for whomever they decide is the less evil option?

Overall, it was a good event in Charles Town on Monday night.  I hope I can attend another gathering before too long.

Thoughts of Johnson and The Libertarian Convention

Untitled 2For those who haven’t been paying attention to recent political news, over the weekend the Libertarian Party held their national convention in Orlando, Florida.  There they nominated former New Mexico Governor and 2012 Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson as their candidate for president.  For vice president, they selected Bill Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts.

Although, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the convention, I watched much of the event on C-SPAN, as it was broadcast on national television.

On Tuesday, I had two opportunities to offer my thoughts of the convention and the Libertarian candidates for president and vice-president.  In the morning, I spoke on the radio, 550 AM WSVA.  If you missed the segment, you can find it here.  Then, in the evening, I got together with Will Hammer, Corey Fauconier, and Andy Bakker at Freedom Gulch as we engaged in a bit more in-depth conversation.

Could 2016 be the break out year for the Libertarian Party?  Well, with a ticket headlined by two former governors, a Republican and Democratic candidate with very high negatives, and inclusion in the national polls, just about anything could happen.

No matter the outcome, 2016 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting election cycles in recent history.

Why Not Vote Libertarian?

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Joshua Huffman with 2012 Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson at the 2016 Virginia Libertarian Convention

VC Note:  On April 2nd, the Daily News Record (my local paper) published an opinion piece from Mr. Allen Clague III entitled “Be Careful in Voting Libertarian”.  In the article, Mr. Clague attempts to dissuade citizens from voting for Libertarian candidates by using some flimsy or just plain wrong reasons, such as the party and her candidates are secretly well funded by billionaires and their shadow groups.  After reading it, I felt it required a response.  Here is what I wrote which appeared in the April 16th edition of the paper.  The paper created the title for this piece.

 

After reading Mr. Allen Clague III’s open forum piece from April 2nd called “Be Careful in Voting Libertarian”, I thought it needed both some factual clarifications and a rebuttal.

First, I do not know of many people who would call Ted Cruz “a libertarian cloaked as a Republican.”  For example, his desire to see “if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out” presumably due to the use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, coupled with his support for religious profiling of Muslims in America and his calls for the government to force Apple to unlock their iPhone are all decidedly unlibertarian positions.  And these are just a few examples.

Furthermore, as Republican Representative Justin Amash (MI-3) wrote in his endorsement of Ted Cruz, “Ted is not a libertarian and doesn’t claim to be.”  Therefore, I believe it is an error to associate Ted Cruz as a standard-bearer or even a foot soldier in the libertarian movement.

Second, I’ve never heard of a group called Citizens for Prosperity.  There was a group called Citizens for a Sound Economy, but it split in 2004 to create Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks. Although some people claim that Americans for Prosperity is a front for the Libertarian Party, in my experiences I have never seen them promote a single Libertarian candidate or official but have witnessed them helping Republican candidates and officeholders.

Now, to be fair to Mr. Clague, perhaps he didn’t write the headline associated with his piece.  After all, I have found that when I write for the Daily News Record my titles often change.   However, I agree that one should always be careful in voting, regardless of which candidate or political party you choose to support.  Unfortunately some voters don’t take the time to learn about their choices, instead blindly assuming that a party’s candidate follows a certain set of principles, which often is untrue.

Sure, there are some people who like to throw out the names of political bogeymen.  If you are on the left, the Koch brothers are evil masterminds bent on world control or if you are on the right, it is George Soros pulling the puppet strings of others.   Although it makes for an interesting story, each side assumes that these men wield an unbelievable amount of power and control over our political process.  It is easy to say that we have no say in what happens.  However, if you don’t like the way your city or county government is run then it is up to each of us to make a change.  Do you think your state or federal government representatives are corrupt?  Then mount a challenge to vote them out of office.  It’s really that simple.  If that means voting for a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or independent candidate, have at it.  Don’t toe a party line again and again simply because you’ve always voted that way.

What is Libertarianism if it isn’t a scheme to make the Koch brothers and their allies rich?  Well, unlike some other political philosophies, my understanding is that libertarianism advocates a very limited government, one that protects life, liberty, and property, while doing little else.  I do not believe that one should use the power of the government to take from our neighbors to enrich either our friends or ourselves.

Friends, don’t be scared away from voting for the best person in each election regardless of political affiliation.  Despite what some people may say, sometimes voting for Libertarians is the best option.  It certainly beats the lesser of two evils!  And, if you think that some secretive, well-funded group controls the Libertarian Party, I have some disappointing news for you.  After all, if they were, don’t you think we would have seen some extremely well funded Libertarian campaigns by now?  I’ve been involved in politics since I was a student at Harrisonburg High School in the mid to late 90s.  As soon as I get my first check from the Koch brothers the readers of the DNR will be the first to know!

A Few Thoughts on Kim Davis

Kim-Davis-1024x664
Photo from Timothy Easley and the AP

Since the story about Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to grant marriage licenses, broke, coupled with her jailing for contempt of court, some of my fellow Christians have rushed to her defense citing religious persecution.

For example, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, two Republican presidential hopefuls, flew to Kentucky to be alongside her at her release from jail.  Mike Huckabee raised her hand in triumph as the song “Eye of the Tiger” played in the background.  The former pastor and governor even went so far as to make the claim (which I believe is shocking) that God “showed up in the form of an elected Democrat named Kim Davis”.

I have to say that I would have liked to discuss this topic in depth on Andy Schmookler and my monthly radio hour last week, but unfortunately other issues took priority.  She reminds me of the Samaritian woman that Jesus met at the well and I brought my Bible into the studio in case I needed it for reference.  Although we weren’t able to tackle this topic on the air, I’d like to share the thoughts of a couple of folks.

The first is by Russell Williams, a self-identified pastor.  Since posting it on Facebook, it has been shared over 125,000 times.  Perhaps you’ve already read it:

Since I am a pastor of a southern Baptist church please allow me to weigh in on the case of Kim Davis, the lady in Kentucky who refuses to issue a marriage licenses to a same sex couple.

First: This is not a case of the government forcing anyone to violate their religious belief. She is free to quit her job. If she quits her job to honor God surely God would take care of her.

Second: This is not a case of someone trying to uphold the sanctity of marriage. If she wanted to uphold the sanctity of marriage she should not have been married four different times. If she is worried about her name being affixed to a marriage license that goes against a biblical definition of marriage, she should not have her name on the last three marriage licenses given to her.

Third: This seems to be a case of someone looking to cash in on the religious right. Churches all across the south will throw money at her to come and tell congregations how the evil American government put her in jail because of her faith in Jesus.

This is why we are losing.
This is why people have such disdain for evangelicals.
Not because we disagree but because we don’t take the bible seriously. If ever there was a case of “he who is without sin cast the first stone”, this is it. If ever there was a “take the log out of your eye” moment, this is it.

We must stop looking to the government to make America a Christian utopia. Our kingdom is not of this world.
We must abandon all thoughts of fixing others and let Jesus fix us.
If we want sanctity of marriage then stop cheating, stop having affairs, stop looking at porn, stop getting divorces. That is the way for the church to stand up for the biblical definition of marriage, not by someone martyring their self-righteous self.

The second arrived in my email inbox today.  It comes from former New Mexico Governor and 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson:

Friends,

There are 3,143 counties in the United States.

In each of those counties, a public official is responsible for issuing marriage licenses to those who are legally entitled to them.

As far as I am aware, none of those officials is empowered to deny a marriage license to a couple simply because he or she doesn’t approve of the marriage.

But then there is Kim Davis, the elected Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky. Claiming religious objections, Ms. Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She even went to jail for a few days rather than carry out her statutory duty. Suddenly, Ms. Davis is a national celebrity, a martyr, a hero, a criminal or whatever — depending on one’s point of view.

We even watched as presidential candidates literally raced to Kentucky to be the first to join Ms. Davis for a photo op outside the jail when she was released.

It was quite a spectacle, and it isn’t over yet.

Religious freedom is important. It is one of the liberties Our America seeks to protect — and even strengthen. That isn’t the issue, despite what too many politicians would have us believe. Ms. Davis has every right to believe whatever it is she believes. But when she is sitting at her taxpayer-funded desk in her taxpayer-funded office in a taxpayer-funded courthouse — collecting her taxpayer-funded salary, she does not have the luxury of imposing her beliefs on those she is elected and paid to serve — especially when doing so means denying marriage rights that have been confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It isn’t complicated, and her “disobedience” frankly isn’t worth the attention it has received. All over the nation, every day, public officials carry out responsibilities with which they may not be entirely comfortable. How many gun permits are issued by officials who are anti-gun? How many liquor licenses are handed out by teetotalers? Hundreds, if not thousands, of officials and public employees deal with such “conflicts” every day – – because we live in a nation that is founded on the idea that religious or personal beliefs, while preciously protected, cannot be imposed on the legally-protected freedoms of others. The alternative is tyranny.

Even in the case of marriage equality, while Ms. Davis is having her 15 minutes of fame, state and local officials across the nation are quietly and respectfully adjusting to a new, if long overdue, reality, including taking steps to make it easier for public employees to reconcile their duties with strongly-held beliefs.  If Ms. Davis can’t handle the conflict, then she can find another job. No one’s stopping her, and no one is stopping her beliefs.

It’s that simple.

No, this single County Clerk isn’t the issue. The REAL issue is that politicians, including some who want to be President, are using her behavior to promote an anti-liberty social agenda based on the notion that it is OK for government to impose beliefs at the expense of freedom.

This entire episode has reminded me why we created the Our America Initiative in the first place: To fight back against those who use the force of government to erode liberty — through unnecessary laws, overreaching policies and out-of-control spending and taxes.

The millions of Americans who believe government should exist to protect liberty, not destroy it, deserve a voice…

I don’t believe anyone, including elected officials, should ever be forced to violate his or her conscious or religious beliefs.  Although it was certainly unfortunate, several years ago I wasn’t able to take a political job.  The reason why was that as part of my employment I would have been required to sign a document about my own faith that I did not agree with.  Thus, I was unwilling to sign.  If Ms. Davis is unable to give out marriage licenses due to her beliefs, then I do not fault her for it.  However, she ought to either delegate the task to one of her subordinates or, if that is not possible, resign her position.  In much the same way, when this issue came up earlier in Virginia on the other side of the coin, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring ought to have resigned his office rather that actively opposing the Virginia Constitution that he swore to uphold.

When you couple all of these thoughts with the fact that Ms. Davis has been married multiple times and has conceived children with a man (who wasn’t her husband at the time), one is hard-pressed to make the moral claim that she either knows or cares much about the traditional Christian definition of marriage.  Despite what Mike Huckabee might tell you, I agree with Russell Williams and Gary Johnson.  Kim Davis is neither a hero nor is she is a martyr for the faith.

In closing, as I’ve stated previously, who I decide to marry (if anyone) will ultimately be a covenant between myself, that wonderful woman, and God.  Whether I approve of your marriage, or whether you approve of mine, it isn’t the proper role of the government or people like Kim Davis to give or deny its stamp of acceptance.