Mobile Menu

Mississippi judge’s religious proselytization reprimanded (October 24, 2022)

FFRF’s complaint to a Jackson, Miss., judge resulted in corrective action.

On July 5, 2022, a judge reportedly invited a chaplain to give a prayer before the court in regard to Mississippi’s controversial abortion “trigger” laws. The prayer asked the court to “seek [God’s] truth, not our own,” and encouraged members of the court to be “blessed and inspired” by the Christian God’s wisdom. The prayer itself is highly unusual, and appears to have violated sections 2A and 3B of the Mississippi Code of Judicial Conduct, stating that a judge should act in a way that promotes public confidence in integrity and impartiality as well as performing duties without bias, respectively.

“The prayer calls for God’s ‘truth,’ not the secular truth of a neutral arbiter,” wrote FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne in a letter to the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance. “It calls on lawyers to address the court ‘with a sense of [God’s] presence,’ implying that God will look disfavorably on those who advocate for abortion.”

In a response to FFRF from Rachel L. Wilson, executive director of the commission, the judge has reportedly been informed of the potential violations, and a corrective resolution occurred. She stated, “As a result of your complaint, the commission has communicated with the respondent judge and has resolved the complaint through informal action.”