Is Governor Bevin Creating a Theocracy? Dr. Joseph Brennan, M. Div.
One presidential candidate promotes fear of Muslims. In former years it was the Irish, the Chinese, Japanese, and the Mexicans. There is the myth about being governed by Shania Law, but never Catholic Canon Law, Judaic Law, or even Native American Tribal Law. But perhaps we might consider concern for Christian Fundamentalist Law becoming more prevalent in Kentucky.
Is Governor Bevin possibly creating a Kentuckian Theocracy - one which reflects his own belief system? Now the Governor is free to believe whatever he wants, as long as he respects the beliefs of others. Our founding fathers wanted a nation free from an established national religion, even while they recognized there existed states where one church dominated the local society: socially, religiously, and politically. All religious beliefs were to be respected. Some early Presidents were even Unitarians, who did not have any fixed code of beliefs.
The same cannot be said of Governor Bevin. He appears to have set beliefs on specific issues: abortion, individualism, biblical literacy, Calvinistic work ethic, Divine intervention in the world's creation and its climatic control, heterosexual marriage, Noah's Ark, the Creation Museum, and questionable views on science and the scientific method. Our freedom of religion protects Governor Bevin personal beliefs. As a committed believer he most likely believes that everyone should accept his "personally held" convictions, become informed, change their lives, and be converted.
His election, by eighty-three party primary votes and a minority of less than fifteen percent of the electorate, is interpreted as a being a special selection by the Divinity, a holy mission to lead Kentuckians to salvation. His role now becomes almost messianic. He selects his chosen disciples to rule with him as board appointees over the citizenry. Many such disciples worship with him, adhere to anti-intellectualism - no history, non French, no evolution, no climate change, no worker rights, no LGBT rights, no reproductive rights. The Governor may truly believe he must follow the dictates of his conscience, but the result is that in doing so, he becomes a dictator imposing his convictions on the consciences of everyone else. This might be the role of an evangelist, it is not the role of the elected Governor of Kentucky.
In the closing day of the elections the Governor sought, and received, the support of more fundamentalist believers. His message was that he shared, and would protect, their values regarding marriage, sexual morality, the impact of divine intervention, and in developing Corporate-chartered schools that might support their positions. Again, he is completely free to do this, but he is not free to make all Kentuckians conform to his beliefs. Kentucky is not, and must not become a Theocracy.