“God’s moral law conflicts with my job duties,” Davis told the judge. “You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and in your soul.” But Bunning [the presiding judge] was unconvinced. “I myself have genuinely held religious beliefs,” the judge later said, but “I took an oath.”
—from “Kim Davis, Kentucky Clerk, Held in Contempt and Ordered to Jail”
Review the “Kim Davis, Kentucky Clerk, Held in Contempt and Ordered to Jail” article about court clerk Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Then, review Duties of Elected County Officials (Revised July 2020) (pp. 53-54), which contains the job description for a Kentucky county clerk (Note: After you click on the link above, you will need to click the PDF file next to Duties of Elected County Officials (Revised September 2018) under the Informational Bulletins section.)
Take one of the following two positions: (1) an individual must carry out the mission of the organization they represent even if their personal convictions or beliefs conflict with that mission, or (2) an individual should not be obligated to carry out the mission of the organization they represent if their personal convictions or beliefs conflict with that mission.
First, title your initial post either “an individual must carry out the mission of the organization they represent even if their personal convictions or beliefs conflict with that mission” or “an individual should not be obligated to carry out the mission of the organization they represent if their personal convictions or beliefs conflict with that mission.”
Then, using the provided example or one you have researched, make your case. Use the following questions to guide you in your response:
Why is or isn’t it critical for an individual to carry out an organization’s mission if that mission conflicts with their personal beliefs?
Is it ever acceptable to allow personal convictions or beliefs to overrule an organization’s mission? Why or why not?
Are there alternatives that could be considered to allow these seemingly conflicting ideas to coexist? Explain.
In response to your peers, consider how their argument compares to yours. Do you agree with their position? Why or why not? Did their position agree with yours, but they made a point you hadn’t considered? Did they make the opposite argument, but you found yourself agreeing with parts of their logic? Which of their points or arguments make the most sense to you, even if you still disagree with their overall position?
The case of Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis highlights this point perfectly. She refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples even though it was her job as a county clerk to do so, citing religious reasons for her refusal. Her decision went against the mission of her organization – namely, providing equal access to services for all citizens regardless of their sexual orientation – and yet she still felt justified in refusing service on these grounds.
It is important for individuals within an organization to be able to express themselves freely and without fear of retribution. In Davis’s case, if she had been allowed time off or other reasonable accommodations due to her religious convictions, perhaps this incident could have been avoided entirely. Instead, she was faced with choosing between complying with her job duties or following her own moral code. The resulting tension created by this dilemma may have led directly to the legal action taken against Davis.
While there can certainly be instances where carrying out an organization’s mission conflicts with one’s personal beliefs, individuals should not be forced into situations where they are left feeling powerless or oppressed simply because they cannot agree with certain policies set forth by an employer. It is critical that organizations respect and understand the needs and rights of their employees while also ensuring that all members are treated fairly regardless of any difference in opinion or belief system.
Ultimately, each person must make a decision about what sort of environment best suits them; some may choose to remain loyal even when faced with uncomfortable tasks while others may decide that a change in career path is necessary in order for them feel fulfilled professionally and personally. Either way, everyone deserves space within which they can express themselves fully without having their individual rights infringed upon unjustly.