Controversial Kentucky clerk and same-sex marriage opponent Kim Davis received the second annual Cost of Discipleship Award at the 2015 Values Voters Summit (see video archive here). Family Research Council president Tony Perkins bestowed the award on Davis, who was accompanied by Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver, who has represented Davis in her legal battles. In a September 14th statement at the FRC website, Perkins praised Davis and boasted that "courage is breeding courage", which has supposedly struck fear in the hearts of "militant secularists".
The award ceremony overflowed with the usual Religious Right rhetoric about alleged persecution of Christians, Supreme Court overreach, and the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. Kim Davis had been blasted as a homophobe and obstructionist by detractors, but that night, among her right-wing allies, Davis was a heroine.
At the beginning of the award ceremony, the FRC's Gil Mertz thanked Liberty Counsel staff for their activism, reminding them that Satan would target them for their "righteousness".
"God knows your name very well, even though I didn't, but be aware, Satan knows your name too. You guys are marked for your stand for righteousness. We're so thankful and proud of you."Mat Staver condemned the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision as a potential threat to religious liberty. After incorrectly telling listeners that Davis was incarcerated for her Christian faith, Staver spoke at length about her conversion to Christianity. Opponents have accused Davis of hypocrisy for opposing same-sex marriage after having been married multiple times herself, but Staver assured the audience that those marriages were before she converted.
"On June 26th, five lawyers ... imposed their will, not a legal judgment, not based on the Constitution, and not based on the court's precedent, and ... ruled against, in their own mind, millennia of human history and the created order that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. We knew, at that moment, that this would be an unprecedented clash with religious freedom. What we did not realize is that within two months of that five-four opinion, that the first person because of their Christian faith would be sent to jail and spend six days in jail. And by the way, the case is far from over. And that lady is Kim Davis.Staver used Davis' story as an example of alleged persecution of Christians in America, warning the audience that anti-gay Christians are supposedly becoming unwelcome in politics, business, and the workplace.
The impact of this case on us and on the world has been phenomenal. Some people said, well, how can someone who has not had perfect marriages in her past be defending marriage? Well one of the things that is wonderful about the Gospel is that four and a half years ago, Kim Davis' life radically changed when her godly dying mother-in-law, when she passed on Sunday morning, asked Kim, 'Kim, get your life in order. Try church. Go to church.' And so, to fulfill that mother-in-law's dying wish, on Sunday night she went to church and there she heard a pastor preach from the book of Galatians about forgiveness, about there's a God who created, who loved her and gave himself for her and gives her complete forgiveness and throws her sins into the bottom of the ocean and does not remember them again. And at that moment, Kim became a broken woman. She wept and gave her life to Jesus Christ, and from that moment on, she has not been the same person."
"Kim Davis could not attach her name and her authority to authorize, under her name and title, a marriage that conflicts with God's definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. And as a result of that, Kim Davis was targeted by those who demanded that she violate her conscience and her deeply held religious convictions. And most people would cave under the pressure, but Kim Davis did not.Hilariously, Staver claimed that 100,000 people prayed in a stadium in Lima, Peru in support of Kim Davis, a claim that was later debunked. Liberty Counsel released a statement on September 28th clarifying Staver's claim.
Kim Davis was elected to this position by the people. She believes that God ultimately brought her to this place of the county clerk. She would not resign and should not resign, because if Kim Davis resigns, what does that message say? It says if you're a Christian, if you believe in marriage as one man and one woman, you better not run for office. If you're in office, you'd better resign. If you're not an elected official but you're in the public employment, you better get out. And now, it's not just there. If you're a baker or a florist or a wedding chapel, you need to get out of the business because your faith is colliding with the culture. Kim Davis would not and will not step down ..."
Following an introduction by Tony Perkins, Kim Davis held back tears and thanked God for giving her strength. Flanked by Mat Staver and her husband, Davis reminded listeners that "we are many".
"I feel so very undeserving. I want to start by thanking my Lord and my savior, Jesus Christ, because without him, none of this would have ever been possible, for he is my strength that carries me, and it is his mercies that follow me every day, and it is his love that endures all things.The excitement surrounding Kim Davis at the Values Voters Summit boggles the mind. When did homophobia become a mark of courage? When did dereliction of job duties become the mark of a hero?
I have realized through all the trials in our lives that if we wait upon the Lord, he'll show up just in the right time, 'cause timing is always perfect. I have discovered through all of this that his grace is truly sufficient in all things. I am only one, but we are many! Thank you all so very much!