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Judge's Bible Ban Backfires

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Complaint filed against judge who banned religious references from court

Back in March, District Court Judge James M. Honeycutt said he would remove all religious references from his courtroom, from swearing on the Bible to oaths that end "so help me God," and the traditional invocation, "God save the state and this honorable court."

"I believe that the burden should not be on those individuals to speak up and request an oath that does not mention God or use the Christian Bible," said the judge, a lifelong Southern Baptist and former deacon.

He retreated from those plans for a while, but now they're back.

And back with force. Local sheriffs are the ones to give the invocation, and they say they'll keep giving it. One sheriff was told that if he did so, he'd be found in contempt of court, and, one supposes, forced to arrest himself.

Today, the sheriff and two county clerks of court will file a complaint against Honeycutt, asking the Judicial Standards Commission to investigate and either censure or remove the judge "until such time as he comes into compliance with the Constitution, laws and public policy of the State of North Carolina."

"For now, Davidson County clerks are not swearing in witnesses … leaving the task to Honeycutt," reports the Winston-Salem Journal. "County bailiffs are adhering to the judge's policy because they are in his courtroom, but if they object, another bailiff will open court, said Capt. Steve Hedrick, who oversees the county bailiffs."

But the Journal suggests that today could be the end of this story: "Last year, 275 complaints were filed [with the Judicial Standards Commission], and 258 were dismissed without inquiry."

Focus on the Family reruns Sometimes pack journalism makes absolutely no sense. ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
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Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's managing editor for news and online journalism. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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