MS Judge Uses Religion as Punishment

Here’s a report of yet another judge who thinks his job is to use his position to push people into his religion. A state judge in Mississippi gives teenagers who are caught with alcohol the option of writing a book report on the book of Revelation to get out of other legal punishments.

Judge Albert Fountain offers youths found with alcohol an offer most don’t refuse.

In part, they must write him a 1,000-word essay in order to to keep the conviction off their records and avoid hefty costs.

“I’ve been doing this eight or 10 years, and 19 out of 20 (offenders) read the book and write about Revelation,” he said.

“I don’t force them to do it. It’s their choice.”

Fountain has been a Harrison County Justice Court judge in Biloxi for 20 years and D’Iberville Municipal Court judge for 10 years.

“I came up with this idea after thinking about ways to make a positive difference in the lives of youths,” he said.

Fountain said he spoke with an ethics expert to make sure he wasn’t overstepping his bounds.

An unnamed “ethics expert.” That’s funny. How about taking a look at the Constitution, which forbids you from using your position as a government employee to force your religion on people, especially young people over whom you hold enormous power. Doing so is inherently coercive. But forget the law, he’s on a mission from God:

“When they read Revelation, they can’t help but think about what we’re heading for in the future if we don’t do the right thing,” Fountain said.

“I’ve had them come back with tears in their eyes,” he said…

He’s encountered a few people who disagreed with the Revelation recommendation.

“If they tell me they’re an atheist or don’t believe in Jesus Christ, I say, ‘Well that’s your opinion, sir or ma’am.'”

“God has put it on my heart to do this,” he said. “They may never be exposed to it ever again. It may change their entire life.”

Yeah, and how would you feel if Allah “put it on the heart” of a Muslim judge to have them do a report on the Quran instead? A judge is doing something blatantly illegal. He should be immediately removed from the bench.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • mikey

    The constitution also forbids “cruel and unusual punishment,” and having to read Revelation surely qualifies. That’s some tedious bullshit.

  • Richard Smith

    “God has put it on my heart to do this,” he said.

    Well that’s your opinion, sir.

  • DaveL

    “I don’t force them to do it. It’s their choice.”

    If the alternative to “choosing” a thing is facing criminal sanctions, that is pretty much the definition of the government forcing somebody to do something. I would have hoped a judge would understand something as basic as that.

  • lldayo

    I think, as an atheist, this would be a fun project for me!

  • flex

    I mean, really, he should have used Ecclesiastes so they would learn where all the rock ballad lyrics come from.

  • daved

    I’d prefer Deuteronomy — some of those lists of things you’re not allowed to do would provide hours of inspiration. A bit more seriously, the kids *do* have the option of writing 1000 words just about alcohol, but the judge prefers, I gather, that they write 500 words about alcohol and 500 about Revelation. One wonders if someone who picks the former option has a lower chance of having their writing be considered acceptable.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Wait – the U.S. Constitution applies to Mississippi??2? Who knew?

  • karmacat

    This man clearly doesn’t understand teenagers or people in general. Let’s see: legal punishments vs writing an essay and lying. I’m sure they all have told the judge that they have seen the error of their ways.

  • garnetstar

    Revelations? That reads like a bad acid trip, is that what you want teenagers poring over? Seems like a gateway drug.

  • sugarfrosted

    I don’t think he means the book of Revelations I think he means the entire “revealed truth” of the bible. So I’d write about Lot and his daughters and Moses getting drunk

  • sugarfrosted

    *Noah, not Moses. Oops

  • Artor

    “If they tell me they’re an atheist or don’t believe in Jesus Christ, I say, ‘Well that’s your opinion, sir or ma’am.’”

    No, it’s not, you ignorant fucktard. If I tell you I’m an atheist, that’s a fact, not anyone’s opinion. But somehow I’m not surprised this jackass doesn’t know what basic English vocabulary means.

  • Artor

    I wonder if writing an essay on Revelations and exploring the likelihood that St. John of Patmos was whacked out of his mind on psychedelic mushrooms would count for that part of the sentence deferment.

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

    Finally, a judge with commonsense solutions to the problems of whatever the opposite of the modern day is.

  • lofgren

    Just to be clear, technically they can also write the essay about another topic. The judge just “recommends” that they write it about Revelations.

  • kagekiri

    “When they read Revelation, they can’t help but think about what we’re heading for in the future if we don’t do the right thing”

    That’s some serious bullshit.

    If you think Revelations is true, then we are heading towards those events no matter WHAT you do. Doing the right thing will not sway God from destroying the world.

    It is not a potentially avoidable threat of punishment for wrongdoing (“if you sin, I’ll kill you”); it is the “punishment” that’s been promised (“I’m going to kill you”).

    Revelations doesn’t teach jack shit about improving the future or making better choices; it says the future is doomed. That’s part of why imbecilic believers ignore global warming: they’re sure judgment day will nullify any future (good or bad) of the planet.

  • Anne Fenwick

    The Book of Revelations assuredly promotes drug use.

  • caseloweraz

    Artor: I wonder if writing an essay on Revelations and exploring the likelihood that St. John of Patmos was whacked out of his mind on psychedelic mushrooms would count for that part of the sentence deferment.

    If it didn’t — if Judge Fountain demands the essays conform to a certain POV (his) — that pushes his “alternative choice” even farther beyond the pale,

    As it is, I agree with Ildayo that a good many teenagers would enjoy such a “punishment.” I can see some rap lyrics coming out of it.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    Comparative morality question: Is this judge better or worse than the one who was selling kids to a for-profit “rehabilitation” company?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1399822355 markmckee

    I’d be curious to see how many of those ex offenders became atheist after reading Revelations. (Not so much what they wrote because his position of power would no doubt affect their initial response — but how did they feel a few weeks later.

    The Bible has probably induced more atheists than all the Hawkins and Hitch books put together.

  • blf

    My immediate reaction on reading this was similar to lldayo, Artor, and others: You could have a lot of fun with such an assignment, especially when the person assigning the project appears to be an arsehole (of the head firmly inserted inside self variety).

  • CJO, egregious by any standard

    Colloquially, the title in English is Revelation, not Revelations, as in the full title, the Revelation to St. John. Also known as the Apocalypse of John, as Greek apokalypsis means “uncovered, revealed”

    Yes, it’s a little thing. But, y’know, every single comment here that names the book gets it wrong.

  • http://timgueguen.blogspot.com timgueguen

    People often argue John of Patmos was high on something when he came up with Revelation. I have an alternate theory. John was writing a 1st Century equivalent of modern troll fanfic, where you write a piece of deliberately bad fanfiction to piss people off. He’d probably be rather surprised that people took his tale of hills and dragon heads seriously.

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

    CJO, egregious by any standard “Yes, it’s a little thing.”

    *Giggle*

  • howardhershey

    So the penalty for using a drug is reading the writing of someone who was clearly on drugs (either externally consumed or due to internal chemical imbalances) when he wrote it? Makes sense if he wants to show how distorted such a state of mind can be.

  • CJO, egregious by any standard

    People often argue John of Patmos was high on something when he came up with Revelation. I have an alternate theory. John was writing a 1st Century equivalent of modern troll fanfic, where you write a piece of deliberately bad fanfiction to piss people off. He’d probably be rather surprised that people took his tale of hills and dragon heads seriously.

    It’s astral prophecy. (or, for giggle-prone M.O., ass-tral, as in “pulled-out-of”)

    But, seriously, the disconnect for modern readers is that it was written in a known genre with its own conventions. We read a bunch of gibberish, where for its audience it’s a coded text. We lack a decoder ring is all.

  • teele

    “I’ve had them come back with tears in their eyes,” he said…

    Oh, yeah, I remember those tears from when I was a teenager, the result of boiling rage crashing against a shore of utter impotence, that occurred whenever an ignorant dumbass adult had complete control over me and the only alternatives were bad and badder. I’ll bet he’s glad that what goes around never really seems to come around, else he wouldn’t be sleeping at night.

  • Marie the Bookwyrm

    “They may never be exposed to it ever again. It may change their entire life.”

    Yeah, because the Bible is SUCH a big secret! Especially in Mississippi!

  • kantalope

    The Marine Corps gave me a choice like that once, we could volunteer or they could just make us do something — we all volunteered.

  • sugarfrosted

    @28 That reminds me of my favorite proselytizing line. “Have you heard about Jesus.” No I haven’t, I literally live under a rock.

  • whheydt

    Re: sugarfrosted @ #30…

    Haven’t heard about Jesus, but I *have* heard about what the Empress Theodora used to complain about. Did Jesus have similar issues?

  • peterh

    Does that judge know that the scholars who were creating the KJV spent considerable time deciding whether to toss “st. John” and his revelation? And even from the symbolic and figurative point of view which Revelation itself says is the way to view it, it’s a load of dingos’ kidneys.

  • martinc

    Essays he’s received are linked on the article, so the solution to someone up before this judge is obvious: Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, spend the $655.75 saved on alcohol. If he says “I think I’ve seen this before”, reply “Well that’s your opinion, sir or ma’am.”

  • D. C. Sessions

    “Have you heard about Jesus?”

    “No, what now?” (Possibly with, “that boy never could behave decently.”

  • busterggi

    Religion as punishment? Just look at all the claims believers make that their relgion makes them happier – wouldn’t this, if they were consistant, have the opposite effect?