Montgomery County, TX Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack is opening his courtroom sessions by first reading from the Bible, followed by a prayer. He thinks there is nothing wrong with this because he starts the religious part of his public service with the following remark:
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.
Naturally, this has brought him a complaint from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which requested he stop this practice.
Mac replied that he will respond to their demand at his October 23 prayer breakfast. He added that
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.
Well, you wouldn’t state that you are on strong legal grounds if you weren’t seeking controversy, now, would you? Can we please have a little bit more honesty, Justice?
Mac added that
I want to make a statement to show […] that not only is it acceptable to our community, but […] that God has a place in all aspects of our lives and public service.
First of all, we need to recall that in Texas, anyone, regardless of their fitness for that purpose, can be elected Justice of the Peace. This could explain why Mac seemingly doesn’t know what the foundation of the law he presides over has to say about this: the Constitution strictly forbids state-sponsored religious public service, the Establishment Clause states that government may not in any way promote, advance or otherwise endorse religion.
It does not bode well for his past rulings that his knowledge of law is so tenuous that he gets even the essentials wrong.
Once thing is for certain, though: his assertion that people may leave his court room and that this would not affect their case is blatantly, provably wrong. After all, he openly stated that he holds the moral high ground, that performing a religious ceremony is a morally superior thing. Anyone who expresses their dissent by leaving would in his eyes be morally corrupt. In a justice for peace ruling that usually means you have lost your case. What Mac is doing is that he sets up a religious Litmus test before beginning his ruling; his decisions can therefore be seen as religious law. Do we really need Christian Sharia courts? I think not.
I really hate to have to quote to these zealots from their magic book: During the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus flat out commands that you should not pray ostentatiously but only demurely in your own inner chamber (Matthew 6:5-7). OK – I admit: I love to do that.
Why is it always that religious dimwits like Mac know less of their own scripture than your average atheist?