ANDALUSIA, Ala. – An Alabama judge who once wore the Ten Commandments embroidered on his robe has been accused of violating judicial ethics for ordering a group in his courtroom to hold hands and pray.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the Judicial Inquiry Commission against Covington County Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan of Andalusia, said Olivia Turner, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. The complaint said McKathan violated ethics rules and the U.S. Constitution by ordering the group to pray.
Four years ago, McKathan donned the Ten Commandments robe, he said, to publicly acknowledge his belief that the law is based on more than just words written in law books.
The ACLU complaint said McKathan dropped to his knees and prayed aloud during a court hearing in February. He told the 100 people in the courtroom that he was not afraid to call on the name of Jesus Christ, witnesses said, and ordered all to join hands and pray, according to the complaint filed soon after the hearing.
The hearing was for a case in which the pastor and several deacons of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in Monroeville sued the church's former secretary to gain possession of financial records.
In response to the complaint, McKathan told the Mobile Press-Register for a story Thursday: "Whatever comes of all that, I'll continue to have peace." Quoting Romans in the King James version of the Bible, the judge added: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose."
McKathan did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press Thursday.
The complaint was filed on behalf of several Monroeville residents, including some church members.