Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 7, 2019
Love the sinner, not the sin?
Not, of course, in the case of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which has once again injected its self-righteous self into another public moment of faith.
The Madison-based hate group has taken umbrage with Texas State District Judge Tammy Kemp, who had the unmitigated gall to give Amber Guyger a hug and a Bible last week after Guyger, a former Dallas police officer, received a 10-year prison sentence on a murder conviction. Guyger shot her neighbor, Botham Jean, in an apartment she mistook for her own.
Passing along the Good News is very bad in the eyes of the foundation, a bitterly strict constructionist of the principle of separation of church and state.
In a letter to the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct, FFRF insists that Kemp “inappropriately proselytized to the defendant.
“It violates the constitutional separation between state and church for a sitting judge to promote personal religious beliefs while acting in her official capacity,” states the complaint. “She was in a government courtroom, dressed in a judicial robe, with all of the imprimatur of the state, including armed law enforcement officers, preaching to someone who was quite literally a captive audience. Delivering bibles, bible studies and personal witness as a judge is an abuse of power.”
Foundation representatives point to courtroom video to back up their unrighteous indignation. Judge Kemp, the complaint states, left the courtroom after witness impact statements and came back with her personal Bible. She gave the Bible to Guyger, instructed her on how to read the bible and which passages to pay attention to.
Here’s what Judge Kemp, caught on camera, allegedly said.
You can have [my bible]. I have three or four more at home. This is the one I use everyday. This is your job for the next month. Right here. John: 3:16. And this is where you start, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Kemp then hugged Guyger, the foundation sneered, and said to her, “It’s not because I’m good. It’s because I believe in Christ. I’m not so good. You haven’t done as much as you think you have, and you can be forgiven. You did something bad in one moment in time. What you do now matters.”
Such expressions of faith and forgiveness by a judge in a courtroom are simply not acceptable to the fine folks at the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Will Kemp be punished for her alleged judicial transgressions? Time will tell in the land of the perpetually aggrieved.
But George Milner, a veteran Dallas criminal law attorney, told the Dallas Morning News that he doesn’t know of anything in state judicial ethics codes that would have prohibited Kemp’s interaction with Guyger.
“Not a chance,” he said. “I’m not aware of one that prohibits it,” Milner said in a piece headlined “Was it right for the judge in the Amber Guyger case to talk religion and give her a Bible?”
It should also be noted, that moments before Kemp reached out to the convicted former police officer, the victim’s brother embraced Guyger and forgave her, urging she turn to God. That astonishing moment of forgiveness has since gone viral.
But such forbearance can’t be found in the faithless Freedom From Religion Foundation.