Salt Lick, Arkansas (URP)
Tyson County DMV clerk Jason Durgess is garnering praise from around the country for his principled defense of his religious rights. Durgess, a member of the Apostolic Regeneration Brethren Church, announced Thursday that, in keeping with his religious beliefs, he could no longer in good conscience issue driver’s licenses to female residents.
“The scriptures are clear,” Durgess said today while sitting at his closed clerk’s station. “‘Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.’ I didn’t make that up. Jesus said it, and Reverend Gary says I can’t do anything that undermines the authority of the man, who is ‘the saviour of the body.'”
When applicants complained that Durgess was approving licenses only for men, he had a change of heart. “I knew I needed to be just and fair, and it wasn’t right to single out women.” Accordingly, Durgess decided to refuse to issue licenses to anyone, male or female.
“I just feel like my right to freedom of religion needs to be respected, and I shouldn’t be forced to do things that the Bible says are wrong.”
Supervisors at the DMV tried to accommodate Durgess by assigning him to the vehicle registration department, but he quickly found his conscience wouldn’t allow him to register vehicles that might be driven by women. “This is a life-or-death matter for me. I cannot condone or approve of behavior that goes against the central teachings of the gospel.”
When supervisors told Durgess he had to resume issuing licenses or be fired, he called on the Libertas Counsel, an organization that supports religious freedom for all.
“When Jason called us, I was shocked,” said Cleophas Stemmelbow, lead counsel at Libertas. “It’s appalling that in the 21st century we are threatening people’s livelihoods if they don’t violate their most cherished religious beliefs. This isn’t Nazi Germany or Massachusetts. This is America, and this sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen here!”
Fearing a lawsuit, supervisors agreed to allow Durgess to continue his employment without any responsibilities. “Yeah, he just sits there playing games on his iPhone all day, but what are we supposed to do?”
As lines grew longer, patron tempers grew shorter. “I don’t know what this guy’s problem is,” said an exasperated Tiffany Meadows, who was trying to calm a fussy infant while waiting in line. “I’ve been here almost 2 hours, and that guy’s just sitting there on his butt, doing nothing.”
“Look,” Durgess said, looking up from Angry Birds, “if you are that desperate, go to another clerk or another county, and they’ll fix you up just fine.”
Local pastor Robert McDowell approached Durgess’s clerk station while his wife, Barbara McDowell, recorded the conversation on her phone. “Son, you have a legal responsibility to issue me a driver’s license,” said an obviously irritated McDowell. “I and every other taxpayer in this county are paying your salary. You can’t just sit there. Do you really want us to beg you? This is just humiliating!”
Durgess dismissed the complaints. “These are just whiners who are looking for attention. They claim they’re humiliated, but it’s all fake. If they were really humiliated, they wouldn’t have recorded anything and published it. Get real. They’re just some angry losers who want to sin.”
As more people filed past Durgess’s station, he smiled wistfully and said he felt proud to stand up for the values that have made this country great. “I’ve had a few phone calls from Republican presidential candidates, and there’s even talk of a Lifetime movie. Life is good when you trust in the Lord.”