When it comes to religious people in government jobs, the rule of thumb has always been this: You’re welcome to keep Bibles or religious symbols around your personal space, but you shouldn’t have it on display for the public where it might be seen as government endorsement of that faith.
That’s why public school teachers, for example, can have a Bible in their office desk but they can’t post Bible verses around the classroom. (If it’s a less intrusive symbol, like a cross necklace, do what you’d like.)
So when a gay couple couldn’t get their marriage license in Longview, Texas last Friday after Gregg County Clerk Connie Wade refused to issue one — ostensibly because she was waiting for direction from the Attorney General — you had to doubt her motive for two reasons.
First, she wasn’t even trying to hide her personal beliefs (which ought to be irrelevant):
“I’d rather not say my personal feelings on this,” she said. “I took an oath to abide by the state laws and the U.S. Constitution. And I’m waiting on the attorney general’s office to let me know how to proceed on this. And if I don’t like it, I can leave.”
Second, when you see what’s behind her in the above image, it’s hard to think religion doesn’t play a role in her obstinateness:
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking her to take it down:
“The religious significance of the Latin cross is unambiguous and indisputable,” FFRF Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert informed Wade, noting that federal courts “have held displays of Latin crosses on public property to be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.”
FFRF asks Wade to take down her cross collection immediately, calling it an “obvious effort to proselytize on behalf of a particular religion.”
Even though it’s her workstation, the Giant Jesus Wall is on full display for anyone who wants a marriage license. If there were that many Qur’ans or atheist symbols on display, she would’ve had to take it down a long time ago. There’s just no reason for it.
If she wants to avoid the accusation that she’s putting her religion above the law, then she should stop putting her religion above the law.