Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed a formal complaint against the judge who offered convicted killer Amber Guyger a Bible and a hug during her sentencing this week.
Guyger, a former Dallas police officer, was found guilty of murder in the first degree for fatally shooting Botham Jean, an African-American man, in his own home after she claimed she mistakenly walked into his apartment thinking it was hers and mistook him for an intruder.
The scene that played out in the courtroom quickly went viral earlier this week after Jean’s brother told Guyger he didn’t even want her to be sentenced to jail time for killing his brother, but instead begged her to give her life to Christ. He then embraced his brother’s murderer in an emotional scene that left everyone in tears – including Judge Tammy Kemp.
Kemp then brought a Bible to Guyger and read from John 3:16, which states: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The two then embraced as Guyger sobbed.
But apparently, boundless grace and love wasn’t good enough for a group of militant athiests, who immediately leveled a complaint against Kemp for an “abuse of power.”
“This was an abuse of power that was outside the bounds of propriety and the law,” Andrew L. Seidel, a constitutional attorney with the Freedom from Religion Foundation, said in a statement, per FOX4. “When a judge can use their power in their courtroom to instruct a criminal defendant to read the Bible and to come to Jesus, they have exceeded their power and they are violating everyone's religious liberty.”
But according to Guyger’s attorneys, that’s not what happened at all.
“The judge said, ‘You got to forgive yourself,’ first and then they talked,” Guyger’s defense attorney, Toby Shook, said of the moment. “Amber said ‘I don’t have my Bible.’ And [Kemp] said, 'I'll be right back.'”
Shook said Kemp returned with her own personal Bible, gave it to Guyger, and guided her to John 3:16.
“Per the judge's orders, we went and the judge gave us a study Bible to take to Amber,” added defense attorney Robert Rogers. “I think it's part of the judge's power and using her power — as far as the rehabilitation — and she wants Amber to have hope.”
But while the Internet lit up with praise for both Jean’s brother and the judge for their incredible displays of compassion, the FFRF said that wasn’t a good enough excuse – even if Guyger herself was a Christian.
“Even if Amber Guyger is a devout Bible-believing Christian, the judge's actions were still inappropriate,” Seidel said. “She was abusing a public office that belongs to we the people.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is infamous for leveling suits against even the most innocuous displays of faith and religious liberty, gaining notoriety for attacking veterans memorials in the shape of a cross and for passing out literature to children depicting an humanized Bible trying to sexually assault women.