What Beutler advocates here is making of Davis a “fearful example,” often used to compel conformity in doctrine. He’s after people’s hearts, hoping to change those who would dissent. But he doesn’t go far enough.

True, no GoFundMe campaign can restore days of life lost in a jail cell. But Davis has already indicated that jail is nothing to her compared to serving God. She’s just sitting there with the approval of her conscience!

And besides, many think that putting Davis in jail risks exciting sympathy for her and a viral donation campaign that will ultimately reward her for her intransigence. The conclusion is obvious.

Any normal punishment rewards her with the comfort of solidarity from right-wing Christians, or her own sense of moral self-approval. Therefore the only way to avoid granting her such “martyrdom” is to actually martyr her. That’s the really perverse thing about Christians who make a spectacle like this. The only way the state can really punish them is to inform them that their suffering is meaningless and proving that God doesn’t exist by sending them to the darkness of oblivion in torment. Justice Kennedy has issued his theological bull; let Kentucky officials in defiance of it be put on a pyre.