In the great (southern) state of Kentucky, a clerk is refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. On legal grounds? No, not at all. On religious belief.
Davis says that to approve marriage licenses for same-sex applicants would violate her deeply held religious belief that matrimony is between one man and one woman.
Unpack the word belief with me for a moment. You are only reading this blog post because you believe that you are relatively safe from physical harm. If you believed that a wildfire was a mile from your house and making fast tracks to get to you, your behavior would change (one would imagine with lots of collecting your belongings and driving fast). Beliefs are not in a vacuum: they greatly guide and influence our behavior.
Let's say that I decided to not go to work because I believed a rabid dog was in my office. My boss would most likely cautiously check the situation out for herself, perhaps armed with a stick. She would not simply take my belief without evidence.
To better parallel most religious belief, I could tell her that a book penned by god (or those used as his surrogates) has told me that a rabid dog is under my desk. Her evaluation of the facts are irrelevant because I believe in the book I have read. Further, I have been instructed to distrust (or worse) those who doubt my faith. Indeed, to be mocked by those who do not believe in my office's rabid dog is a badge of just how faithful I am.
These examples may seem silly, but only because they are outside the cannon of typical American-Christian values. Switch out the canine in my workplace for a value set drawn from religion, and now the tables have turned a bit.
If I call my boss and say I cannot work on Sundays because god says so in a book that I consider part of my religion, she would not feel at all comfortable disproving my silliness. Under the cloak of religion, all manner of nonsense and unverified truths become something that we don't dismiss out of hand.
Unfortunately, religion does not find itself capable of staying out of the practical sphere, and it is because of the affect of belief on our behaviors.
You would (hopefully) not have an operation performed on you by a surgeon who studied astrological charts first to determine the best incision technique to use. And while that may be their religious belief, this belief should not be tolerated as it has a tangibly negative net impact on society.
If you have the stomach for it, you can read about how providing medical care for children was not required by parents if it is a religious belief until very recently. If you say you don't like doctors because their coats are too white, that's not going to cut it. But if you say that god told you that prayer works better than medicine, well then you're all set.
I hope we can advance to a point where extremely large claims, like the dog in my office or god disliking the marriage of two men, requires evidence. The impact of unfounded belief in the supernatural simply has too high a cost to our society for it to continue getting a pass when making unsubstantiated claims.