FL Judge Told Not to Give Bibles to Defendants

Sometimes I’m just astonished at the inability of some Christians to recognize any limits whatsoever on their desire to proselytize. A state judge in Florida has been handing out Bibles to defendants in his courtroom, a clear violation of legal ethics and the law. He’s now been ordered not to do so.

Judge Hal Epperson, an Osceola County criminal court judge, is now under a magnifying glass after a new study was released.

The Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers surveys attorneys in the area on how they view local judges.

One comment stood out: It accused Epperson of having Bibles in his courtroom. The comment read as follows: “To, in open court, offer criminal defendants who, at his will, could serve years in jail any endorsement of any religion gives the appearance of the government-forced religious conversion.”

Epperson and Chief Judge Belvin Perry both declined to comment on the issue.

Epperson is no longer giving away the Bibles, per orders by Perry.

This is an inherently coercive environment where the judge has enormous power over the person they’re offering the Bible to. Would you turn it down knowing that the judge controls your life and could, say, give you a longer sentence if you refuse? I just can’t imagine how the judge thought this was in any way appropriate.

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  • Trebuchet

    Cue the outcry from Christians about how he’s being persecuted in 3..2..1..

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    There is no such thing as “christian privilege”!!!!

  • dshetty

    This is an inherently coercive environment where the judge has enormous power over the person they’re offering the Bible to.

    It is not coercive unless the judge actually threatened the person – or atleast thats what I expect the majority SC to say.

  • eric

    I just can’t imagine how the judge thought this was in any way appropriate.

    I can imagine it. I’d bet it’s typically not the boss that sees anything wrong or coercive with bosses asking employees out on a date, too. Sometimes people in power have to be told how that power changes their relationships with people under them; what is obvious to everyone else is not obvious to them.

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Well its something for the condemned to console ’em with once they get that death sentence they deserve.

    Wonder if any prisoners thought to flip it to the page that says “Judge not” and ask His Honour to follow that particular bit o’advice there?

  • sinned34

    Oh please, the judge was just trying to help save these criminals from eternal damnation. He’s HELPING people! Why do you atheists have a problem with Christians trying to help others?

  • Pierce R. Butler

    From the linked report:

    A spokesperson did say that Epperson had a box holding “a few” Gideons Bibles.

    So the judge didn’t care enough to spend his own money for his proselytization?

    Has he sentenced any defendants to having crosses burned into their arms with Tesla coils?

    Epperson has no business on the bench in a Florida courtroom – he belongs in Alabama!

  • Alverant

    Great! So all you have to do is refuse his brand of toilet paper and if you’re found guilty, claim the judge was bias against you for not being part of his religion. What a practical use for all that extra tax-payer money FL has, retrying every case this judge ever presided over.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    It sounds like he’s been doing this for a while… so it’s TRADITION! Probably the U.S. Supreme Court would have no problem with this. It’s not like he’s forcibly coercing them to accept the Bibles he is offering.

  • Crimson Clupeidae

    No thanks, I already have several at home.

    Wonder how the judge would react to that?

  • mikesamp1

    This is almost precisely what Justice Kagan warned about in her dissent in Greece v. Galloway, which Justice Alito called a “highly imaginative hypothetical.”

  • ismist

    I wonder how this judge would react to a person in a jury pool wearing a t-shirt that says”Judge not, that ye be not judged”.

  • Moggie

    Judge Epperson is going to look pretty damn stupid if one of those defendants goes out and slaughters the Midianites.

  • LightningRose

    I’d happily accept it for the same 2 reasons I always accept religious tracts from proselytizers.

    1) It costs them money.

    2) It keeps said tract/Wholly Babble out of the hands of someone who may be susceptible to such claptrap.

  • eric

    No thanks, I already have several at home.

    So, repeat offender eh?

  • busterggi

    “Take this bible, convert and maybe your sentence will be lower”

    unspoken of course.

  • leonardschneider

    “I just can’t imagine how the judge thought this was in any way appropriate.”

    Because Florida.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dal.bryn dalbryn

    How long before something like goes to the Supreme Court and they determine it’s OK to hand out Bibles as long as judges know that they could technically give away any book?

  • notyet

    I should be ashamed but I would have fallen on my knees and cried, “Praise Jesus, if only someone would have done this years ago I might not be here today” He has already shown his gullibility, why not play on it?