Wednesday, September 30, 2015
The New York Times has an account, here. This bit of news seems clearly to disrupt some narratives about the Pope and his visit, as do the Pope's remarks about the human right to conscientious objection, including by public officials. I do not know what to make of the fact that he made these statements after leaving the United States and that his meeting with Davis was not publicized. I do not agree with those who have tried to interpret the Pope's collection of events, addresses, and statements as somehow downplaying the importance of (and threats to) religious freedom, and yet, had the visit with Davis and his conscientious objection statements been part of that collection, it seems like it would have made that interpretation even more implausible than, in my view, it already is.
UPDATE: A Vatican spokesperson "clarifies" regarding the meeting, here. Clearly, some very different accounts are emerging, both of what happened between Pope Francis and Ms. Davis and how.
UPDATE: Spokesperson expresses a "sense of regret" over meeting? And yet . . . the Pope said what he said about a human right to conscientious objection -- even by officials . . .. One thing is clear: those who imagine Vatican conspiracies to take over the world and steal our precious bodily fluids needn't worry. The Church just isn't that organized.
Like Rob Vischer (read his piece here), I think the Kim Davis case presents some tricky questions. It is not as clear to me as it is to some that she can, in this moment, expect to be exempted from performing duties that attach to her elected, official position. (This is not to say that it does not make sense to find ways -- as Robin Fretwell Wilson and others have described -- to accommodate, if possible, public employees' religious objections to participating in the legal recognition of same-sex marriages, if it can be done in a way that does not deny anyone legal rights.) At the same time, I think Matt Bowman is clearly right to warn that those who control the power to define what "doing your job" means (or to control access to various positions and professions through licensing, accreditation, etc.) will be trying to use that power in the coming years against, say, pro-life doctors and nurses, or judges who belong to "discriminatory" organizations, or student groups and religious colleges with "discriminatory" views, practices, or mission statements, etc. Stay tuned.