GRAYSON — Several hundred people rallied Saturday in support of jailed Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis at an event that had the fervor of a tent revival.
Speakers decried the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and federal Judge David Bunning's decision to jail Davis for refusing to honor it.
People in the crowd encouraged them with exhortations of "Come on!" as they would a preacher in church.
"David Bunning is being used by the devil!" said Flip Benham, a pastor from Charlotte.
Randy Smith, an ordained pastor from Morehead, prayed that God would remove the five Supreme Court justices who voted to legalize same-sex marriage and trouble Bunning's sleep until he repents.
Davis had refused to issue marriage licenses since the June Supreme Court decision, saying same-sex marriage conflicts with her traditional Christian view of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Dozens of other clerks have said they don't support same-sex marriage, but she is one of only three refusing to issue licenses.
Davis said her convictions prevent her from issuing licenses under her name to gay couples.
Bunning ordered her to follow the Supreme Court decision and issue licenses, then jailed her Thursday for contempt of his order when she refused.
However, deputy clerks began issuing marriage licenses Friday to same-sex couples at the Rowan County clerk's office.
Davis' case has become a high-profile flash point in America's culture wars, garnering national news coverage.
Many people saw the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage as moving America closer to recognizing the basic rights of all people.
However, many conservative Christians believe it is another example of the country slipping far away from what they see as its traditional religious moorings, similar in that sense to legal abortion, the end of school-sanctioned prayer and other developments.
"I'm seeing an erosion of Christian values in America," said John Cullison, who came from Warsaw, Ohio, for the rally.
To those people, Davis is a heroic example of trying to hold the line against creeping moral rot, and for the belief that if there is a conflict between the law of God and the law of man, Christians must follow God's law.
"Divine law trumps human law!" Matthew Trewhella, a pastor from Milwaukee, said at the rally, held in oppressive heat in a field across the street from the Grayson County Detention Center.
Grayson police estimated there were about 300 people at the rally around the time it started.
Some compared Davis to Daniel, the devout Old Testament figure that God protected after he was thrown into the lion's den for keeping his faith.
Smith, the Morehead pastor, led the crowd in a chant of "Thank you, Kim!"
Smith said Davis can't shed her Christian conviction when she goes to her public office.
"She cannot lay it down at the door and pick it up when she leaves," Smith said.
It was clear many in the crowd believe homosexuality is a sin. One man in a parking lot near the jail had a sign that read "No to sodomite perversion."
Not all people of faith believe this, however, and some churches welcome same-sex couples, showing the divide over the issue.
People at the rally said they're concerned Davis' jailing presages tougher times for conservative Christians and their views.
"I personally view this as the beginning of persecution of Christianity across America," said Josiah Martin, a Maryland evangelist who came to the rally.
R.W. Boggs, the jailer in Carter County, said Davis might have been able to hear the noise from the rally, but probably could not have distinguished the words through the walls of the jail.
Davis' attorney, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, said Davis is being held in a cell alone and is in good spirits. She had gotten death threats outside, so, ironically, she's safer locked up with criminals, Staver said.
Staver argued that Bunning acted outside his authority by jailing Davis. Staver was working Saturday on a motion to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the decision jailing her.
Davis is prepared to stay in jail and won't change her mind to win release, Staver said. He said the potential contempt sentence is up to six months.
And Staver said Davis is a humble woman who would not want people to label her a hero.
"She's just a follower of Jesus" doing what she believes is right, he said.
Advocates for same-sex couples have said they didn't want Davis jailed, but rather that she be required to follow the law that makes it legal for same-sex couples to marry.
But some at the rally said God had a purpose in allowing Davis to be jailed — spurring Christians to work harder to turn the direction of the country.
"It is time that Christian people stop hiding behind the walls of the church house," Smith said during a fiery speech.
Smith and other speakers faulted Gov. Steve Beshear for not making changes that would allow same-sex couples to get marriage licenses without clerks having to violate their consciences.
He said voters should penalize Beshear's son, Andy, a Democrat running for attorney general.
"No action by Steve equals no votes for Andy," Smith said.
Advocates for same-sex marriage have regularly rallied at the Rowan County courthouse in recent weeks.
Grayson police Sgt. Travis Steele said he was not aware of any counter-demonstrators during Saturday's religious rally, however.
Davis' husband, Joe, thanked the crowd for coming to support Davis. The message she gave him to tell the crowd: "Tell them to hold their head up, because I am."