Kim Davis: Why a billboard was waiting for her
As Kim Davis returns to work, a billboard addressed to her in her hometown is the latest sign that America takes its culture wars to the streets.
Kim Davis is back at work after serving time in a Kentucky jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses because of her religious beliefs. But her cause will now be fought out on billboards.
A billboard near the Rowan County clerk's office where she works reads, "Dear Kim Davis, the fact that you can't sell your daughter for three goats and a cow means we've already redefined marriage."
The sign is in reference to the Bible verse Exodus 21:7, which states, "If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do." The scripture does not mention farm animals of any variety, but it refers to the fact that a male Jew sold into service to pay a debt was released after seven years, but a master could marry his female slave, meaning she stayed for life.
The billboard is the work of Planting Peace, a nonprofit organization that describes its aim as "spreading peace in a hurting world." The organization's president told NBC News the billboard cost $500 and will remain on the Rowan County road for one month. Planting Peace released a statement to explain the Biblical reference. The movement against LGBT marriage, the statement reads, uses a "rigid interpretation" of scripture to pick and choose what they wish to condemn while ignoring scriptures with social practices no group in 21st-century America condones.
It should surprise no one that the latest phase of the culture wars to win the hearts and minds of America has taken to billboards in an effort to reach even more members of the public.
Last Christmas, a particularly ambitious billboard campaign hit the streets alongside the sleigh bells. American Atheists placed a billboard in Bible Belt cities known for high religious affiliation, The Christian Science Monitor reported. The sign featured a child in a Santa hat with the words, "Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church. I'm too old for fairy tales."
Grace Church in Alma, Ark., chose to respond in kind – with a billboard, reported KFSM-TV News. "Questions, Doubts and Curiosity … All Welcome At Grace Church."
The billboard tactic is not limited to Christian issues. The Islamic Circle of North America placed billboards promoting Islam as a place to find kindness and answers to life's questions, the Monitor reported in June. The group had run campaigns to counter Islamophobia during three previous years, but the billboards followed a year that included the Charlie Hebdo shootings in France and conflicts about Islam in Texas and Arizona.
In this battle, too, countermeasures came swiftly. The American Freedom Defense Initiative, founded by Pamela Gellar, placed billboards around St. Louis with a drawing of Muhammad. The Initiative's stated reason for the billboards was to defend free speech.
Los Angeles has already witnessed billboards that draw attention to LGBT issues. The Los Angeles Times reported controversy over signs urging black men to get tested for HIV in 2013, and a sign near the airport that showed the word "Homophobia" crossed out.