There has been a lot of controversy connected to Amber Guyger’s murder trial, (the woman who shot and killed a man she claims she believed had broken into her apartment). There is the issue of race (because Guyger was white and the victim, Botham Jean, was black). There is the issue of just punishment (should the crime be considered manslaughter or murder and was a 10 year sentence appropriate). There is the issue of gender (did Guyger get additional sympathy because she was a woman). All of these are complicated.
However, in the middle of all this there was also a faith-related complication. As WFAA-TV reported, following the trial Judge Tammy Kemp:
“…stepped off the bench to hug the Jean family members. She then said a few words in Guyger’s ear. She walked back into her quarters, came out with a Bible, and handed it to Guyger.
‘This is your job,’ she said, reading her John 3:16. ‘You just need a tiny mustard seed of faith. You start with this.’
Guyger then threw her arms around the judge, who returned the hug, igniting a firestorm.”
The Freedom from Religion Foundation, a group that advocates for separation of church and state has filed a complaint with the Texas State Commission. Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker, co-presidents of the FFRF wrote as reported in the Daily News,:
“It violates the constitutional separation between state and church for a sitting judge to promote personal religious beliefs while acting in her official capacity. 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.”
So what do you think? Judge Kemp’s actions seem to indicate that she is a person of Christian faith. Do you believe that being a judge could be one’s calling from God? If called to that job by God then it would be important to conduct oneself in a way that was above reproach, right? Do you believe Judge Kemp did so? As a Christian judge, Kemp should allow her faith, her understanding of Christian morality, and compassion to influence her work while still remaining impartial. But at what point should Kemp's role of “judge” end; at the end of the trial? when she is off the premise? When she is out of her robe and the courtroom? At what point if any should her role as Christian supersede her role as judge? And if Kemp or any of us choose to follow “Christ” instead of the responsibilities due to our job or a law abiding member of our society, should we also be willing to except the consequences of those actions? What do you think?