A US judge who gave her Bible to a woman convicted of murder has been accused of undermining the criminal justice system by an aggressive secularist group.
Last week, Judge Tammy Kemp sentenced Amber Guyger to ten years in prison for killing her neighbour Botham Jean.
After an emotional trial, in which Brandt Jean said he forgave his brother’s killer, Guyger asked the judge if God could forgive her, to which Kemp replied “Yes”. She also hugged Guyger and gave the convicted killer her own Bible.
“She is partial to Christian reform and Christian notions of forgiveness”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a complaint against Judge Kemp with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct the day after the sentencing.
The secularist group claimed Kemp’s actions were inappropriate and unconstitutional.
It said in the complaint that the judge “signalled to everyone watching…that she is partial to Christian reform and Christian notions of forgiveness”.
‘Love and compassion’
Judge Kemp says she had no role to represent the state during a victim impact statement, and that all formal proceedings had concluded.
She said: “As a Christian, I believe I am commanded to offer her love and compassion, just as Brandt Jean did.”
She added: “I don’t understand the anger. And I guess I could say if you profess religious beliefs and you are going to follow them, I would hope that they not be situational”.
The First Liberty Institute, an organisation which defends religious freedom, issued a statement in response to FFRF’s complaint.
It said: “FFRF is protesting Judge Kemp rather than joining the rest of the nation celebrating the compassion and mercy Judge Kemp demonstrated.
“We should all be thankful the law allows Judge Kemp’s actions and we stand with her and will gladly lead the charge in defending her noble and legal actions.”