Ethics Charges Filed Against Praying Alabama Judge

In Andalusia, Alabama, Covington County Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan has struggled to find ways to interject his faith into court proceedings. He had the Ten Commandments embroidered on his robe and,
as discussed earlier
he asked the parties and staff in his courtroom to join in a prayer circle during a hearing earlier this year. Now, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed ethics charges against him over the incident.

It is curious to see this issue litigated in the ethics process, as opposed to a formal appeal. However, it is judicial misconduct to engage in such prostelitizing from the bench.

McKathan’s bizarre behavior affected about 100 people who saw the judge fall to his knees and pray aloud in February. He allegedly told the 100 people in the courtroom that he was not afraid to call on the name of Jesus Christ and ordered all to join hands and pray.

Many of these judges who appeal to sectarian passions remain popular in their districts. Ethics charges may be the best way to educate citizens of how unprofessional and unethical it is for a judge to engage in such conduct. McKathan is clearly beyond reform himself. He appears wholly unwilling to conduct himself within the well-defined lines of judicial conduct. He would seem better suited to more spiritual and judicial pursuits.

For the full story, click here and here.

22 thoughts on “Ethics Charges Filed Against Praying Alabama Judge”

  1. As Jill mentioned earier, this judge’s actions are a violation of the separation of Church and State. Notwhithstanding what Dundar trys to claim, the judge’s religious beliefs or non-beliefs do not belong in the courtroom. This judge is making it his business to make his God the State’s God. The law doesn’t need religion in order to be properly enforced.

  2. Dundar:

    What kind of moron are you?

    The ACLU is a joke? Excuse me, how about “What kind of Judge holds prayer meetings in his court?”

    Did, for some unknown reason, he skip Constitutional Law class the day they discussed the Separation of Church and State?

    You know what, idiot – this is EXACTLY WHY the ACLU is NOT a joke. Why we need the ACLU, and other civic minded groups just like it.

    Do you think that say, Catholic, or Jewish, or Muslim, or agnostic petitioners think that they are going to get a fair hearing a court where the judge holds prayer meetings?

    People like you, Dumbass, are the reason America is held in such low esteem in the rest of the world. Other countries have their share of stupid people too – but at least there they have the common decency to a) recognize how stupid they are and b) keep quiet.

  3. “He appears wholly unwilling to conduct himself within the well-defined lines of judicial conduct.”

    Nice pun.

  4. “We just sort of nod at Jewish people and then throw them in with the Christians.”

    Gyges,
    Thank you. Judaism and Christianity have very different philosophical and theological conceptions. for instance:
    Satan is at the most a metaphor for evil with Jews, not a some super-being that tempts people into sin. Jews by the way don’t believe in the concept of “Original Sin.” Whether Jews believe in an afterlife (i.e. heaven and hell)is a matter of dispute. Jews believe that humans should live a moral/good life in this world and work to perfect it. We believe the world can be perfected and is not intrinsically evil. The use of Judeo-Christian as a descriptive actually assumes more of a similarity than it should.

    As a Jew and as I guess a Deist, I don’t write this to express feelings of superiority, or to denigrate Christian belief. This is merely to point out that the two religions may indeed share The Torah, but their view of its message is quite different.

  5. Dundar,

    I will point out that I do agree with you that if a Judge did the same thing as Judge McKathan, but praying to Satan instead of God he would be condemned. That’s Jill’s point. If the Government says it’s legal for one religion to do something, but not the other religions to do it, that seems an awful lot like making “a law respecting the establishment of a religion” to me.

  6. Even that 86% figure is highly misleading since it’s the default answer in this country. It’s often nothing more than being told they were Christian as children, not subsequent actions as an adult.

    I agree with others that there’s an incredible assumption that you’re Christian, or at least Christian or Jewish. The questions are often meaningless to others, but when they say so they’re marked as “uncertain” at best.

    But as others have said, that’s entirely irrelevant to the question at hand. This country has an explicit prohibition on an explicit mingling of official duties and religion. He might not like it, but he can’t ignore what he’s sworn to uphold.

  7. Gyges,

    Thanks for mentioning Sylvia Brown. I didn’t know of her before. Count me as one of her fans now! I love this stuff, (well to a point, where she and others like her prey on the desperate and take their money). Why are people asked to send their cancer money to these scams? Why can’t they be healed first and then send a remittance?

  8. Dundar,

    Excuse me? How can you consider don’t believe as “truth?” Do you actually understand the English language or do you just sort of smash keys and hope that what comes out makes sense?

    It would have been a much better argument if you had just admitted “I hadn’t seen that poll, but 86% is the vast majority of Americans.” But since you can’t conceivably be wrong, you have to pull out some ill thought out parsing of words. To top it off you pull out one that doesn’t even work.

    However, even if your point made sense and didn’t just read like a terrible attempt at symbolist poetry, it still doesn’t matter.

  9. Gyges, You’re right about that! There’s a Hindu temple and a Mosque in/near Toledo. I guess they aren’t religions at least not those damn Hindus with their myriad of goddesses and gods!

    dundar,

    No person has to swear an oath to god in a courtroom. In fact one christian sect called the Quakers expressly forbid doing so. They, and others are free to say, I do affirm instead.

  10. Jill,

    I love how when we talk about religion in the U.S. we assume that Christian and Atheist are it. We just sort of nod at Jewish people and then throw them in with the Christians. Also we tend to forget that there are a lot of people who call themselves Christians and are actually deists, Pantheists, or even Henotheist (there are a lot of people who view angles as tier of “less gods,” just look at all the books Sylvia Browne sells).

  11. Gyges, I didn’t write that 95% of Americans believe in God, I wrote that 95% of Americans consider God as truth & the creator.

    Although a few don’t believe in God, they do know that the God they don’t believe in, to the vast majority, represents truth and creation.

  12. Jill writes: “It’s also a violation of the law to allow any religion in the courtroom.”

    Well, that sure explains why after a witness is sworn in: “Do you swear to tell the whole truth, so help you God?” they arrest the witness for bringing religion into the courtroom……..

  13. Dundar,

    95% huh? that’s pretty amazing seeing as how a 2007 Gallop poll found that 86% of Americans believed in God. Also only 70% believed in the Devil. You can check out http://www.pollingreport.com/religion.htm to see that, it’s the 3rd or 4th poll down.

    But of course Jill is right. It doesn’t matter if your figures are right.

  14. dundar,

    So what? The rule of law protects the rights of minorities. If you want religion in the courtroom. to allow one kind and not the other violates the law. It’s also a violation of the law to allow any religion in the courtroom. Before you get so certain about how great it would be to allow christians to practice their religion on the bench think about which christians you’re going to allow. Their are christians who believe the bible speaks clearly of a male and female aspect of god/dess. There are different versions of the 10 commandments. Some christians favor the stoning of adulterers. Some christians believe in liberation theology of justice for the poor. These are all still christian people. The 95% figure isn’t accurate, but assuming anything even close to it, there’s a lot of beliefs in that figure. There are good reasons we seperate church and state as well as protect minority rights. You may assume you’re in a majority, but that may not be true and even if true now, not in the future.

  15. Personally, I think this judge should have gone to a seminary and become a priest. Maybe the theology programs would have been too long or expensive? Okay, I’m just guessing, but it’s obvious to me that he’d be more comfortable in the church pulpit than on the judge’s bench.

  16. Jill, 95% of Americans consider God as truth & the creator, Satan as the liar & destroyer.

    So of course such an action as praying to Satan in a court of law which seeks the truth would be rightly and roundly condemned by virtually every single American alive.

  17. If there is any doubt that this is a violation of the establishment clause and a gross abuse of judicial authority then imagine this senario: A judge falls to his knees calling on his god, Satan, and asks everyone in the courtroom to join hands in his prayer to Satan. He does so while having the tenants of the church of Satan embroidered on his robes. This action would be roundly condemned by the people who now applaud this judge, but what is the difference? Only the god involved.

  18. Today’s ACLU is a joke, having been taken over by activists with a political agenda that is off the wall to the left.

    As a result, most in America now have zero respect for the ACLU.

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