October 2015 Church & State | AU Bulletin

A Texas judge is under fire for ordering a man to write a Bible verse and marry his girlfriend to avoid going to jail.

Smith County Judge Randall Lee Rogers ordered Josten Bundy to write a passage from the Book of Proverbs 25 times a day for two weeks as penalty for an assault charge. The verse, Proverbs 26:27, reads “If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it.” 

Rogers also ordered Bundy to marry his girlfriend, Elizabeth Jaynes, within 30 days or face jail for punching her ex-boyfriend.

Jaynes’ father slammed the ruling in comments to the Tyler Morning Telegraph. “How can he [Rogers] do something like this? This cannot be legal,” he said. “He is nothing more than a bully on the bench, and I have always told my daughter to respect and obey the law, but I’ve also told her to stand up to bullies. This caused me to blow a gasket.”

In a letter, Americans United’s legal team warned the judge that his sentence violated Bundy’s rights.

“We respectfully request that you refrain from imposing conditions requiring religious acting (including Bible reading or the writing of Bible verses) or conditions relating to fundamental privacy interests such as marriage, and that you rescind any such requirements from existing orders,” Ian Smith, Americans United’s staff attorney, wrote.

Rogers would not comment publicly about the sentence, but he could face professional sanctions from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.