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Austin Cline

Alabama Judge Explains: Jews and Christians Have Special Rights

By February 18, 2005

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Remember the Alabama judge who had the Ten Commandments embroidered on his robe? As many surely expected, his viewpoints are rather extreme - even to the point of apparently thinking that Jews and Christians should have special rights that other religions don't.

Brent Rasmussen points to an interview appearing in The New American Magazine:

TNA: You were quoted in the national media as believing that the Ten Commandments represent the truth ďand you canít divorce the law from the truth.... The Ten Commandments can help a judge know the difference between right and wrong.Ē Have you had any difficult cases in your career where your reliance on the truth of the Ten Commandments or on the truth found in the Bible has helped clarify your thinking and made your decision easier?

Judge McKathan: Absolutely! It can arise in many different ways but one of the areas where this comes up most frequently is in making child custody decisions. Without some guiding principles, how do you decide what is in the best interest of the child? I often use this example ó and I havenít seen anybody publish it yet ó if you had a child custody case in which the parents appeared otherwise equally able to parent the child but one was a Christian or a Jewish person and the other was a Satanist, who do you give the child to? The answer to that question is a religious answer. You seldom have that extreme, but you have variations of that issue that arise in child custody cases. That is just an extreme example but the principle comes up in all kinds of situations of the law.

So, McKathan is going to use his own personal religious beliefs to decide what is in the best interests of the child ó specifically, to decide that being raised in a Jewish or Christian religious environment is better than to be raised in other religious environments. People who aren't Christians or Jews can't appear before McKathan and assume that they will be treated fairly.

McKathan may not personally approve of the religion of some people who appear before him, but if his disapproval influences his decisions, then he is unfit to be a judge.

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