Calling all conservatives! There's a woman in the United States who says her religious freedom is under attack, and she needs your support.
No, I'm not talking about Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to serve marriage licenses to gay couples. I'm talking about Charee Stanley, a Muslim flight attendant who refuses to serve alcohol to gay couples -- and straight couples, and anybody else, for that matter.
By now, of course, we're all familiar with the Davis saga. Kim Davis is the clerk from Rowan County, Kentucky, who refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, despite the fact that the Supreme Court has ordered her not once, but twice to do so. In refusing to issue those licenses, Davis says she is acting "under God's authority," and that gay marriage violates a "central teaching of Scripture."
Forget about the fact that Davis herself has violated Scripture numerous times. As we now know, Davis has been married four times, divorced three times, and she gave birth to twins who were conceived in an adulterous relationship. Not sure if you know what Scripture says about adulterers and their children, but I can assure you it's not pretty. In short, Leviticus says adulterers should be put to death. The Book of Samuel says the same about their children.
Davis greeted her supporters outside the county jail last week in a victory celebration that felt like it was equal parts Rocky and "Hee Haw." Walking onstage to Survivor's hit single from 1982, "Eye of the Tiger" -- fitting, given that 1982 appears to be the same year that Davis last visited a hair stylist -- Davis was flanked by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, both of whom are running for the GOP nomination for president.
Cruz and Huckabee flew to Kentucky to support Davis, and ostensibly, to voice their support for religious freedom. Katherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Cruz, said, "The First Amendment -- freedom of religion, freedom of speech and expression -- is foundational to all other freedoms, and Sen. Cruz is committed to defending it."
It's odd that Frazier would say Cruz is "committed to defending" religious freedom, because incidentally, there's another woman in the United States who, just like Kim Davis, says her religious freedom is under attack. But Cruz is nowhere to be found. Neither is Huckabee! Not only are they not meeting with this woman, but as far as I know, neither one of them has even bothered to drop a dime and call her.
The woman I speak of is Charee Stanley, a 40 year-old flight attendant who converted to Islam two years ago. She says she came to a mutual agreement with her employer, ExpressJet, whereby other flight attendants would serve alcoholic beverages to any passengers requesting a drink on her flights. But after her fellow flight attendants complained to management, Stanley says ExpressJet reneged on their agreement, and placed her on unpaid leave.
Last Tuesday -- exactly one week before Cruz and Huckabee flew to Kentucky to support Kim Davis -- Stanley filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Her attorney told CNN that Stanley was fighting for the same religious freedoms that Kim Davis and all Americans are afforded under federal law -- the same freedoms that Cruz spokeswoman Katherine Frazier said Ted Cruz is "committed to defending."
"What this case comes down to is no one should have to choose between their career and religion," her attorney, Lena Masri, said. "It's incumbent upon employers to provide a safe environment where employees can feel they can practice their religion freely."
Yes, it is incumbent upon employers to provide a safe environment where employees can practice their religion. In fact, it's the law. Ted Cruz knows this; his own spokeswoman said he is "committed to defending" basic Constitutional freedoms like freedom of religion.
But for some strange reason, neither he nor Huckabee is supporting Charee Stanley. Just Kim Davis.
If Ted Cruz is truly committed to defending religious freedom, why is he not supporting Charee Stanley? Why did he and Mike Huckabee fly hundreds of miles to support one woman who says her religious freedom is under attack, but not another? Is it because Davis is a Christian and Stanley is a Muslim? Perhaps. Is it because Davis is white and Stanley is black? Possibly. Is it because Cruz and Huckabee don't actually care about religious freedom, and in fact, they only care about pandering for votes? Probably!
At this point, it seems fairly evident that many of the Christian right's "defenders" of religious freedom -- Cruz and Huckabee included -- are committed to defending nothing more than the dying ways of an increasingly bigoted, xenophobic political base. Kim Davis represents everything they're comfortable with: she's white; she's a Christian; she's a conservative from the heartland; and best of all, she's a
hypocrite who says she is committed to Scripture, but in fact doesn't practice what she preaches.
Charee Stanley, on the other hand, is a young, black Muslim woman who seems perfectly happy with serving gays, as long as she's not serving them wine, beer, or liquor. She's not a hypocrite, and she doesn't appear to harbor any animosity towards gays or any other customers. She simply doesn't want to serve them alcohol. This, apparently, doesn't' resonate with "values" voters in the heartland, and I can only assume that's why Cruz and Huckabee aren't supporting her.
It would be nice to see some real defenders of religious freedom on the Christian right. It would be nice to see the Christian right acknowledge, once and for all, that religious liberty applies to all Americans, not just Christian conservatives in the heartland like Kim Davis.
Sadly, however, I don't see that happening. Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee will not be meeting with Charee Stanley. In fact, Huckabee has been dodging questions about it all week. And Kim Davis will not be marrying gay couples any time soon.
Which is a shame, really, because it seems Kim Davis could really use some gays in her life. They would have fixed up that dreadful, 1982 hairstyle of hers a long time ago.