Faith And Serving The Public
Faith is important to America and has been since the beginning of the Republic. Recently, however, faith has begun to trump the public good. A controversy in upstate New York has brought the question of whether or not a public servant or health care provider can bring his or her own religious beliefs into play when serving the position for which he or she has been elected or hired. The town clerk has refused to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples seeking to marry even though it is now state law that such marriages are legal. The clerk has set up an alternative timetable where her assistant may sign the certificates, but that begs the question of whether or not an elected official can defy the law based on personal religious convictions. The question first arose several years ago, when a licensed pharmacist in New York City refused to fill prescriptions for birth control pills because birth control was not allowed by her personal religious convictions. The store was sued and the worker was moved to a less sensitive position where she did not have to struggle with personal religious convictions. Now, comes an elected official. It is clear that elected officials must respect the law and obey it as well. By refusing to sign the licenses of gay couples, she breaks the law instead. Her faith should not trump state law. She should either begin signing the licenses or give up her elected post. She cannot continue to serve the public only when she thinks that the service is somehow politically and religiously correct.