Journal Discusses Abuse of Judicial Power

July 14, 1997

WACO, Texas - "Public religious conduct by judges undermines the most basic tenets of liberal democracy," says Dr. Derek Davis, director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies and associate professor of political science at Baylor University. Davis, who serves as editor of the Journal of Church and State, reaches this conclusion when he examines "Religion and the Abuse of Judicial Power" in the most recent issue of the publication.

The editorial focuses on two landmark law cases, one in Alabama and one in Texas, involving judges who admit to promoting religion by displaying religious art in the courtroom and opening court sessions with Christian prayers. Davis asserts that these judges, who are acting on behalf of the state, entangle the state with religion by this judicial conduct.

The Alabama case is under review by the Alabama Supreme Court, and the Texas case has reached the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Davis, who serves as an attorney challenging the judge in the Texas case, says either case could possibly reach the U. S. Supreme Court.

Other articles in the spring issue of the Journal of Church and State include "The Modern Religious Objection to Mandatory Flag Salute in America: A History and Evaluation" by Jerry Bergman; "The Burden of Moral Guilt: Its Theological and Political Implications" by Charles Villa-Vicencio; and "The Brazilian Catholic Church and Church-State Relations: Nation Building" by Edward L. Cleary.

Additional articles in the issue are "When Worlds Collide: Politics, Religion, and Media at the 1970 East Tennessee Billy Graham Crusade" by Randall E. King; "A Catholic for President?: John F. Kennedy and the 'Secular' Theology of the Houston Speech, 1960" by Mark S. Massa; and "Prisoner of History: The Eastern Orthodox Church in Poland in the Twentieth Century" by Edward D. Wynot Jr.

The journal contains more than 25 book reviews and a calendar of events of interest to church-state scholars and others. The Journal of Church and State is published four times a year by The J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor. For more information, call Davis at (254) 755-1510

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