Moore: Judges, Clerks Should Resign Over Marriage Rulings

Russell Moore, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has made a highly controversial statement over the question of what Christian public officials should do in response to court rulings legalizing same-sex marriage. In short: They should resign.

“The citizens of Alabama are rightly concerned about the non-action–action by the United States Supreme Court in refusing to stay same-sex marriages in the state until the Court hands down its decision this June on the matter. The same Court that ruled in 2013 that marriage should be a state, not a federal matter, is now imposing a federal definition of marriage on a state. I suspect that Justice Thomas is right in saying that the Court is signaling where they want to go on marriage.

“As citizens and as Christians, our response should be one of both conviction and of respect for the rule of law (1 Peter 2:13; Romans 13). Our system of government does not allow a state to defy the law of the land.

“In a Christian ethic, there is a time for civil disobedience in cases of unjust laws. That’s why, for instance, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. went to jail. In the case of judges and state Supreme Court justices, though, civil disobedience, even when necessary, cannot happen in their roles as agents of the state. Religious freedom and conscience objections must be balanced with a state’s obligation to discharge the law. We shouldn’t have officials breaking the law, but civil servants don’t surrender their conscience simply by serving in government. While these details are being worked out, in the absence of any conscience protections, a government employee faced with a decision of violating his conscience or upholding the law, would need to resign and protest against it as a citizen if he could not discharge the duties of his office required by law in good conscience.

“Given the high bar required for civil disobedience, the way to address same-sex marriage in this circumstance is not by defying the rule of law, but by making our case before the legitimate authorities. If we lose, our responsibility is to advocate as citizens for our views, even if that project is (as in the case of the pro-life movement) a long-term project, while we work for our constitutional guarantees of freedom of conscience and religious liberty.”

I am all for this. If a judge, court clerk or other public official whose job involves issuing marriage licenses or performing marriages is so bigoted that they think they have the right to refuse to comply with the laws and offer government services on an equal basis to all citizens, they shouldn’t be in that job. They should resign.

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  • raven

    Russell Moore, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

    That is an oxymoron.

    I’m waiting for the SBC Minstry of Truth to weigh in.

  • Larry

    And not just public officials, any one whose job offends their silly religious prejudices. Like pharmacists, nurses, teachers, any one who feels they can’t perform the job they were hired for because ***reasons*** should immediately resign.

  • Bronze Dog

    I’m reminded of trolls who go on and on about how they’re leaving, and yet still post comments on a daily basis on a very regular schedule.

  • raven

    I could care less whether they resign.

    In fact, if they want to move to a xian country, we would gladly pay their way with a one way airline ticket. And have a farewell party after they leave.

    Hmmm, what are the leading xian countries these days? Looks like Uganda is about the closest one. Russia is Orthodox only and doesn’t much care for fundie Protestants.

    Isn’t going to happen. Xians love their martyrs. And the best martyrs are always…someone else!!! Russell Moore doesn’t want to be a martyr, he wants someone else to be one.

  • D. C. Sessions
    Russell Moore, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

    That is an oxymoron.

    Not at all. No more than the “AIDS department” at a public-health division is.

  • Chiroptera

    “Given the high bar required for civil disobedience….”

    Heh. It’s dawning on the leaders: “Holy shit! Trying to prevent people from doing something that has no affect on us whatsoever? This is what we are raising as the most important issue facing America?”

  • raven

    This is what we are raising as the most important issue facing America?”

    If you look at the fundies, US xianaity has degenerated.

    It”s devolved down to, “We all get together and ….hate gay people.” You can call it a religion if you want, but it isn’t much of one. I’m not even a xian any more and I find it very boring.

    Of course, they probably don’t really care about gay people. They just need someone to hate and nonwhites and women don’t work any more. Many of the fundies are nonwhites and women for one thing.

    Gays in the bible get less space than adulterers and lot less space than eating pork or genociding the Canaanites. It was never a major focus of xianity until a few years ago.

    Time to move on to other hate targets. Atheists and Moslems are…the new gays. Fundies, update your To Hate lists.

  • ArtK

    Amazing. I actually agree with Roy Moore about something. I absolutely agree that if judges, clerks and others can’t perform their jobs due to conflicts with their conscience, they certainly should quit. It seems as if someone actually is beginning to understand what civil disobedience is. Taking your toys and going home isn’t civil disobedience, it’s a toddler’s tantrum.

  • hunter

    “. . . civil servants don’t surrender their conscience simply by serving in government.”

    When did that start happening?

  • Sastra

    There will probably be a few people who will resign from a good job and try to frame themselves as martyrs. In the years to come Southern Baptists will start to explain why they were never really against gay marriage itself, it was all about State’s Rights. And the bozos who resigned will know that it really was about gay marriage, and they did something stupid.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne


    Not Roy Moore. Russell.

  • wreck

    Agree 100%. If you feel you can’t perform the job requirements, find another job. We should call it Palinization.

  • gopiballava

    @raven: “Of course, they probably don’t really care..”

    Somebody else suggested that one of the reasons some of them focus on homosexuality is because of a need to demonstrate the superiority of their moral code. Asserting that you need the bible to figure out murder is wrong doesn’t get much traction at this point. But they can point and say “hey, your secular moral code didn’t include those really important rules about not being gay, did it? See? Our moral code is better.”

  • StevoR

    @ ^ gopiballava : .. Or worse as the case may be.

  • Trebuchet

    @11: Yeah, that was a confusing headline. I suspect ‘ol Roy might not agree — he’d probably rather have those officials stay in place and obstruct rather than making way for reasonable people.

  • observer

    He’s right. And if they do resign, it will be another case where Atlas shrugs and everyone else says, “Yay! Another job opening.”

  • abb3w

    Yeah, the headline made me suspect it was Roy Moore, also. To which my reaction was “OK, you first, please.”

  • John Pieret

    Russell Moore … job creator!

  • Georgia Sam

    To probate judges who are considering resigning: Don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out.

  • eric

    I guess the controversy is that he supported a mainstream understanding of the role of people in government…rather than supporing the standard fundie “our playground, we do what we want” model of civil service.

  • John Pieret

    If only this idea could spread to state legislators …

    BTW, Sally Kern just had a bill approved by a committee that would deny salary, pensions and other benefits to any state employee that engaged in any activity licensing, recognizing or supporting same-sex marriage.

    Cue the Federal Marshals in 3 … 2 …

  • Dr X

    Best idea he’s ever had.

  • eric

    @21 – fortunately the related anti-AP bill just got rolled back, with the (other) GOP sponsor being forced to deny essentially everything about it. According to his new statements, the bill was just horribly worded and conservatives have always supported the AP program. Mr. Orwell, to the courtesy phone…

  • vereverum

    What?! You mean have my own personal hempen homespun self actually really noticeably physically adversely affected by standing up for my faith?!

    Russell, say it ain’t so!

  • anubisprime

    These bozos never think through their vomit drenched stream of consciousness do they?

    So Xtians quit in their droves, presumably from all service and administrative jobs…maybe even Bakers who feel forced to provide cakes for gay weddings, and then?

    The jobs will be fairly swiftly filled with those of alternative belief…or more likely none.

    Those of the Xtian persuasion end up on emergency relief….because having made themselves voluntarily unemployed they probably do not qualify for benefit checks, admittedly some excellent opportunity there for a tad of glorious martyrdom, but the bottom line would be the Xtian community gradually becomes poor and disadvantaged simply because they are Xtian…ultimately living in ghettos of their own making.

    The only cure to their malady being to renounce their Xtianship….and all that entails like crass bigotry and vile hatreds…in favor of rationalization.

    Hey hold on a moment!…that means???…nope fine carry on Russell…you are a moron but it is appreciated what your brain fart will accomplish…and to think it needed a theological angle to finally rid us of a very nasty and virulent infection.

    Well done that theocrat…in the meantime teh ghey nuptials rumble on….

    Win win…our work is done!

  • John Pieret

    Re: eric @ 23:

    Representative Dan Fisher, a Republican, said the bill, which he had authored, was incredibly ambiguous and that he had not intended to hurt the AP program.

    “We’re going to clear it up so folks will know exactly what we’re trying to accomplish and it’s not to hurt AP,” he said. “We’re very supportive of the AP program.”

    “Clear it up” = “Hide the intent better”

  • Lady Mondegreen

    I think he’s absolutely right. (About resigning as the right thing for them to do, not about gay marriage being scarybad.)

  • vereverum

    @ John Pieret #26

    “Clear it up” = “Hide the intent better”


    The list of things to be taught includes (Section 1.B.5)

    wait for it……the Ten Commandments.

    They’ve got to have the ten commandments in the schools.

    For a people which rails against idolatry,

    they sure do idolize the ten commandments both in print and in graven images.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    Judge Roy Moore wants them to have more time to keep a laser-like focus on the economy.

  • sabrekgb

    @5 D.C. Sessions

    Zing! Even if modus does comment in this thread, i’m pretty sure we still have a winner in this one. Good wit, +1 internets.