Texas Judge Pushes Bible Reading, Prayer Before Hearings

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent a letter to a Texas judge about his practice of opening court sessions, at least occasionally, with Bible reading and prayer. Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack is the target after a local resident with business before his court complained about it.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is contesting blatantly unconstitutional conduct by a judge in Montgomery County, Texas.

After FFRF was alerted that Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack was opening court sessions illegally with Christian prayer, FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover sent him a letter of complaint Sept. 18.

According to a local complainant present in August in Mack’s court, the judge stated: “We are going to say a prayer. If any of you are offended by that, you can leave into the hallway and your case will not be affected.” Mack then introduced a minister who read from the bible at length before those in attendance were asked to bow their heads and pray.

Grover cited relevant court cases while noting, “Your courtroom prayer practice does not promote public confidence or create the appearance of impartiality.”…

While Mack didn’t formally respond to FFRF as requested, he instead has scheduled a “full buffet prayer breakfast” Oct. 23 at a Conroe convention center. At that time, he says in an Oct. 10 email, “I will be addressing [FFRF’s] demand.” He tells “Pastors & People of Faith” that “I need your help to take a stand.”

In fact, Mack is using the situation to sell tickets to that prayer breakfast for $20 each. You know, like Jesus would do.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    To be fair, twenty bucks for a full buffet prayer breakfast is a pretty good deal.

  • John Pieret

    Mack never responded to the letter from the FFRF , instead sending an email out to supporters where he wrote, “I have been put on notice by the staff attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison Wisconsin. I will be addressing their demand that we “immediately end the practice of court prayer” at the Oct 23rd Prayer Breakfast. I am not seeking the potential controversy, as I will have to respond to these groups as well. We are on strong moral and legal ground.” …

    Mack included an appeal to followers to purchase their $20 tickets at waynemack.org.

    From the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct:

    A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, including but not limited to bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status

    A judge shall not solicit funds for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization, but may be listed as an officer, director, delegate, or trustee of such an organization, and may be a speaker or a guest of honor at an organization’s fund raising events.

    http://www.txcourts.gov/media/514728/TXCodeOfJudicialConduct_20020822.pdf

  • abb3w

    @2, John Pieret

    From the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct:

    I don’t suppose you’re co-admitted to the Texas Bar via reciprocity?

  • John Pieret

    abb3w

    Naw. New York and California only. If you’re looking for someone to lodge a complaint, it’ll have to be someone else.

  • chilidog99

    Is that a full buffet of prayers or a full buffet of food?

  • eric

    I don’t care how many prayer events he hosts, as long as (1) his in-court behavior does not endorse/entangle, and (2) he doesn’t show partiality to the lawyers or other legal pofessionals that attend his prayer breakfasts.

    Modus:

    To be fair, twenty bucks for a full buffet prayer breakfast is a pretty good deal.

    It would be if they were serving steak, but in this case they’re just serving crow.

  • busterggi

    Can we assume that everyone at the prayer breakfast will be fed from a basket containing magic multiplying pancakes, bacon, etc? Surely god wouldn’t let his followers go hungry after taking their $20.

  • http://dailydouq.wordpress.com dailydouq

    @6 do you really think that is possible. I wouldn’t care either except I don’t think he can be impartial. He has to know that even just saying the prayer violates convention, would he be at all deterred to violate it in decisions he make. Now that would take some mighty cognitive dissonance.

  • http://dailydouq.wordpress.com dailydouq

    This is a problem, Hice said, because for Americans to view the Constitution through “the lens of secularism” is not what God intended.

    Is this serious or did my head just explode. Now figuring out the means seeing the mind of god as he was one of the founders and sat down in Philadelphia and wrote the document. It undoubtedly is not what god intended but the Constitution is not the property of any god.

  • culuriel

    Sure the cases of those waiting outside won’t be affected, as long as they know the precise moment the prayer has ended so they can be on time for actual court business. But seriously, if that judge isn’t using court time to pray so he can suss out co-religionists, what’s the point, except to use his courtroom as a church, which is also wildly unConstitutional?