Texas Judge Requires Convicted Defendant to Write Bible Verse 25 Times Per Day
FFRF files complaint against Texas judge who issued religiously biased probation conditions.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint last week against a Texas judge who delivered a sentence that preaches his Christian beliefs.
On July 2, Smith County Court-at-Law Judge Randall Rogers issued a unique and controversial ruling to one his cases. 21-year-old Josten Bundy was arrested for assaulting the ex-boyfriend of his girlfriend Elizabeth Jaynes. Bundy pleaded guilty to the offense and was given by the judge two options, either a 15 day jail term or two years of probation with these accompanying conditions.
Aside from ordering Bundy to write out a Bible verse 25 times daily (“If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it.” — Proverbs 26:27), the judge also ordered Bundy to marry his girlfriend as a probation condition. The judge required the two to get married within 30 days. Bundy initially considered accepting the jail term but eventually ended with probation when the judge refused his request of personally notifying his employer.
The 19-year-old girlfriend was surprised, saying that “We figured he’d get probation but were surprised about the other conditions, especially the marriage.” According to Jaynes, the judge asked Bundy if defending his girlfriend from insults by her ex is worth it. He also inquired whether the couple is already living together. Bundy responded yes, prompting the judge to decide that marriage would become one of the conditions of probation. Out of embarrassment, the couple agreed to the judge’s proposition.
This can't be true. A judge ordered a man to marry his gf. Tho, I think I'm more offended by the bible verse bit. http://t.co/AlE8dGuysM
— Kelsey Zahourek (@kelseyzahourek) August 7, 2015
The girlfriend’s father Kenneth Jaynes was dismayed and angry with Judge Rogers’ decision. He insists that personal decisions like marriage should be left for the concerned individuals to decide. “Judge Rogers stepped into my family and tried to tell them what to do without any regard for me or anything. This isn’t his decision.”
The father told her daughter that it’s okay if the two don’t marry and abide by the judge’s ruling. But because they were young, afraid, and was not aware of their legal options, the couple eventually got married on July 20.
Upon learning about the case the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint against Judge Randall Rogers with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct. The foundation is known for advocating on the separation of religion and state matters.
Staff Attorney Sam Grover submitted FFRF’s complaint to the judicial ethics commission on Aug. 13.
“Judges cannot require people to get married or force them to write bible verses,” Grover said. “Judge Rogers’ conduct was illegal and he should face serious consequences for it. His actions demonstrate a religious bias with significant implications for any nonreligious or non-Christian litigants appearing before him.”
The judge has not issued a comment on the complaint yet.