Local judges receive symbolic Bibles
Tennessee Circuit Court Judge Justin Angel holds newly presented “Harlan Bible” with Retired Judge Darrell White of the American Judicial Alliance holding Justice John Marshall Harlan’s Bible from 1906. (photo: Rhea Review)March 16, 2015
Dayton, Tenn. — Surrounded by the same walls which held “The World’s Most Famous Court Trial” nearly 90 years before, those in attendance witnessed a momentous occasion as three local judges each accepted a Bible from the American Judicial Alliance.
Retired Judge Darrell White at Rhea County Historic Courthouse. (photo: Rhea Review)
Retired Judge Darrell White, who on behalf of the AJA, presented the “Harlan Bibles” to Rhea County General Sessions Judge Shannon Garrison, Circuit Court Judge Justin Angel, and Chattanooga City Court Judge Russell Beene, says being at Rhea County’s Historic Courthouse was a dream come true.
“This is an honor of a lifetime,” White says. “I have literally looked forward to this as long as I have been interested in origin science and as long as I have been interested in law. To be here where William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow litigated that case. It’s just an answer to a prayer for me.”
The significance of the setting wasn’t lost others either. Rhea County Historical Committee chair Tom Davis said, “The Scopes’ Trial in large measure dealt with the very issue of where the Bible fits in real life.”
“I am grateful the AJA is here to present a Bible to our judges and hope it will be a guiding light for them,” said Davis.
An inspirational sense of humility appeared to overtake each judge as they received their Bible. Circuit Court Judge Justin Angel, who hears cases in Rhea and five other counties, stated he would like to see one in every courtroom in the 12th Judicial District.
“It’s a book I derive much guidance and wisdom,” Angel said. “I feel blessed to receive such a special Bible, knowing the history of the Harlan Bible.”
Thus far, White, a semi-retired judge from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has presented nearly 200 “Harlan Bibles” to judges across the country with hopes to have one in every courtroom in the nation.
About the “Harlan Bible”
The “Harlan Bible” is an Oxford Sunday School Teachers Edition King James Version Bible with blank pages for notes. In 1906, Justice John Marshall Harlan, I (1833-1911) gave his own Bible to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). It has become known as the “Harlan Bible” and is maintained by the Court’s Curator. Since its presentation, the Harlan Bible’s flyleaf pages have been signed by every justice in succession shortly after taking the oath of office.
According to the AJA website, Justice David Souter said that signing the Harlan Bible “was the most humbling thing that I have ever done in my entire life.” Justice Samuel Alito also wrote what a “thrilling and awe-inspiring moment” it was when he signed his name alongside “all the Justices for the past 100 years.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said “taking the oath with my hand on Justice Harlan’s bible” was among the “most symbolically meaningful” activities of her investiture.
“That’s the comment most often expressed as Americans learn that the Supreme Court of the United States has preserved a distinctively Biblical heritage by allowing incoming justices an opportunity to sign the flyleaf pages of an old Bible,” notes Retired Judges Darrell White, president of American Judicial Alliance. Our organization is now dedicating Bibles to every court in the United States of America.
The Bibles are being dedicated in replication of a heritage perpetuated in the United States Supreme Court for over one hundred years. One of America’s most interesting justices, John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911) began the veritable tradition by donating his personal Bible to the Court. Since that time, every Supreme Court Justice has signed the Harlan Bible’s flyleaf pages.
American Judicial Alliance (AJA) and its related organization, Retired Judges of America (RJA) are led by Retired Judge Darrell White and Jason Stern. Both men share a vision for “awakening the conscience of One Nation Under God” and for featuring the unmistakable link between the Bible and America’s Constitution and laws. Interestingly, the phrase, “awakening the conscience” appears in the Federal Code of Evidence and corresponding codes of virtually every state.
Support and coverage of AJA’s mission has come from Supreme Court justices, active and retired judges, newspapers, magazines, and concerned citizens.
Recent Gallup polling data shows that America’s confidence in our Supreme Court is on the decline. AJA, in keeping with the “Lawyer’s Oath,” seeks to “maintain the respect due to Courts of Justice and judicial officers.” In bringing its message across America, AJA gives special attention to the America’s “Rule of Law.”
As the organization moves out across the Nation, judges are receiving the Bibles with enthusiasm: “We are so grateful to receive this Bible into our Court. American Judicial Alliance’s Harlan Bible reminds us of John Marshall Harlan’s principled stand for a colorblind constitution (in Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896). This courageous justice, whose faith was not left at home when he sat on the bench, sets a worthy example for all of us to follow,” says Judge Barbara H. Caldwell, on behalf of the Magistrate Court of Douglas County, Georgia.
America’s Supreme Court Justices have acknowledged the importance of the Harlan Bible Tradition. Justice Samuel Alito recently wrote what a “thrilling and awe-inspiring moment” it was when he signed his name alongside “all the Justices for the past 100 years.” Former Justice David Souter has said that signing the Harlan Bible was the “most humbling thing he ever did.” And Justice Sonia Sotomayor acknowledged that taking her Judicial Oath on the Harlan Bible was among the “most symbolically meaningful” activities of her investiture.
“American Judicial Alliance intends to place a Bible in every court in America and to ask active and retired judges all across America to join the ‘Harlan tradition’ of signing the Bible and utilizing them in their courts,” says the group’s founder, Retired Judge Darrell White. “Every judge who is awakened to the Bible’s vital role in America’s heritage and its indispensable emphasis on the rule of law is another judge awakened to our future,” White concluded.
American Judicial Alliance is based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and has dedicated over 150 Bibles to courts in Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas, including the Supreme Courts of Louisiana and Texas, as well as several federal courts.
“I plan to place our Bible prominently in the Chief Judge’s chamber in New Orleans as a reminder to all who visit that we, no less than the [U.S.] Supreme Court, remember our judgments are ultimately subject to a Divine standard.”
– Edith H. Jones, Chief Judge,
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
So wrote Chief Judge Edith H. Jones in a very kind letter to us at American Judicial Alliance after we placed a “Harlan” Bible in her hands for safekeeping.
This year, Jason Stern and I have traveled to several states dedicating Bibles to courts, sharing the message of the Gospel and the Constitution with churches and civic groups, but I must say that we were pleased to be allowed the privilege of dedicating a Bible to the highest federal court possible under the Supreme Court.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is composed of twenty one judges who rule on cases appealed from district courts located in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
While talking to Judge Jones, I made mention of America’s first Chief Justice John Jay’s name, which is chiseled on the lintel corner of the 5th Circuit’s building, and referenced Jay’s quote:
“The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.”
I couldn’t help but to also mention John Jay’s solid faith in the Bible as demonstrated by his last words. He was asked if he had anything he wanted his children to know, to which he replied,
“They have the Book.”
Aside from dedicating the Bible to the 5th Circuit, we also distributed laminated copies of the “Prayer for the Judge’s Bench,” which on the obverse side includes prayers by President George Washington and Chief Justice John Jay. Jay, who was a president of the American Bible Society, wrote:
“Most merciful Father! … Above all, I thank thee for thy mercy to our fallen race, as declared in thy holy gospel by thy beloved Son, “who gave himself a ransom for all.” …
Give me grace also to love my neighbor as myself, and wisely and diligently to do the duties incumbent upon me according to thy holy will, and because it is thy holy will, and not from worldly considerations …
Let thy Holy Spirit lead and keep me in the way in which I should walk, and enable me to commit myself entirely to thy kind and gracious providence and protection as to all my spiritual and temporal concerns….
These heartfelt words are from the pen of a fellow who had been President of the Continental Congress, an author of the Federalist Papers, Chief Justice of the United States, and Governor of New York.
It is our plan to continue to bring this message of hope, history and grace to courts all over America and give them courage to stand up for God like the Founding Fathers did!
“We have the Book!”
We have been hit by the same budgetary slump that faces all of America right now, but we know that a brighter day for our children and grandchildren can be around the corner if we do not give up hope.
“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” – Galatians6:9
Thank you for allowing us to be your ambassadors.
P.S. Thank you in advance for your prayers and donation. We think of you often and pray that God will bless your finances, family and home. Your gift is most needed at this time.
“Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the PROFLIGATE are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.” – Justice Joseph Story, U.S. Supreme Ct. 1811-1845
1. utterly and shamelessly immoral or dissipated; thoroughly dissolute.
2. recklessly prodigal or extravagant.
Synonyms: abandoned, dissipated, dissolute, fast, gay, licentious, rakish
•Origin: 1525–35; < L prōflīgātus broken down in character, degraded, orig. ptp. of prōflīgāre to shatter, debase, equiv. to prō- pro- + -flīgāre, deriv. of flīgere to strike; see inflict, -ate
It has been said that “Flattery is ok – if you just don’t inhale.” Consider all the State of the Union addresses delivered by presidents of either political party, extolling the virtues of our national character.
What we need is a president to call Americans to repentance. For what, you ask? Let me count the ways.
America must recover its spiraling degeneration from Watergate to Profligate.
Ellis Sandoz, professor of Law at the LSU Hebert Law Center, once delivered a lecture at the National Meeting of the Philadelphia Society entitled, “What Is an American?” In it, he concluded:
The heart of the matter, and its most delicate aspect, is to connect Americanism with the biblical faith of Americans as the chief source of its strength and enduring resilience– and of its frequent arousal of anti-American sentiments from ideologues of every stripe, those self-anointed “elites” at home and abroad who readily enlighten and denigrate us at every waking moment on every conceivable subject. Burke identified the basis of the American consensus in the dissenting branch of Protestantism. Publius identified Providence’s gift of “one united people” “speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government”(Federalist No. 2).
Tocqueville (who never lies) stressed one must never forget that religion gave birth to America, and that American Christianity has kept a strong hold over the minds of the people, not merely as a philosophy examined and accepted, but as “an established and irresistible fact which no one seeks to attack or defend.” Not to be thought merely old-hat ideas, Samuel Huntington just last year challenged Americans to “recommit themselves to the Anglo-Protestant culture, traditions, and values that… have been the source of their liberty, unity, power, prosperity, and moral leadership as a force for good in the world.”
He forecast that, unlike the 20th which was defined by contending ideologies, the 21st will be a century marked by the “revenge of God” (prematurely certified dead, in fact murdered, by 19th century luminaries), i.e. by the resurgence of religions, with culture and ethnicity replacing ideology as the central terms of reference. Anglo-America was a Bible-based culture for 300 years, Trevelyan observed, finding this stupendous religious movement unlike anything in the annals since St. Augustine.
What are the consequences for Americanism? A great many of which I mention only two here: first, a theory of human being as created imago Dei, each person imperfect and sinful, yet graced with the defining unique capacity of communion with his Creator as this is experientially apperceived in the New Birth: an inward experience and assurance of election, a process of salvation that runs from conversion and justification, toward sanctification in imitation of Christ–a spiritual movement of maturation that runs from “ruin to recovery” of the divine image powerfully argued, for instance, in the soteriology of Isaac Watts and John Wesley during the 18th century revival we call the Great Awakening.
Second, there is a pervasive understanding of the course of human events as Providentially guided, even as it is effected by human agents, i.e., by individuals exercising dominion through reason and volition over the creation as citizens no less than as pilgrims living in collaborative faith-grace partnership with God. In both respects the In-between reality of time and history is consciously reaffirmed, vitally experienced as tensionally structured by the competing pulls of worldly immanent and transcendent divine reality.”
May we all repent of our profligation and return to better sense.
Guest Post by Pastor Tim Grant
The Fathers House International Ministries, Inc.
Integrity Leadership Group LLC
It is now well past May 21st and we are still here! Yet another “declaration of the end” has come and gone. Regardless of doctrine, denomination or affiliation, the church has become increasingly focused on “the end.” When will it all come to an end? Are you sure it will end? How will it end? These are but a few of the questions that have been asked and answered again and again over time. My question is, “How many of us are ready to declare a ‘beginning?’”
Nearly 235 years ago, on July 4th, 1776 our forefathers ended something; then declared a new beginning! This declaration was made on behalf of themselves, their families, their countrymen and the many generations that would follow in their footsteps. Today many celebrate the memory of this day as “Independence Day.” Yet I wonder how many of the 310 million people in our country actually understand the real significance of our Day of Independence?
I was discussing our country and its spiritual condition one day with a mentor and he spoke these words to me: “There has to be a revelation (a revealing of something) that will cause a revolution (a revolving or a turning FROM something TO something) that brings a reformation (a re-formation, a reforming of something). This thought also makes me think of the word “renovation.” I am no contractor or builder, but I do understand that part of the process of renovating a structure is the “tearing out” of all that is “bad” and replacing it with that which is “good.”
As my mentor said these words, I could not help but think about our “declarers of independence!” In order to better understand the true significance of July 4th, 1776 and all it really means to us, I decided to read, again, our “Unanimous Declaration of Independence.” I was determined to put myself back into their day and that time and read it through the eyes and hearts of those who crafted and signed this divinely inspired document. As I read, I was captured by some of the phrases such as: “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” “… endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” and “…whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers…to effect their Safety and Happiness.” This time, as I read, I became tearfully passionate for our country, our future and our own generation.
My angst is more with myself as a pastor and with other shepherds of His flock. We must be more aggressive in informing and educating the people within our sphere of influence. Someone once said, “Ignorance is no excuse.” We need to admit our ignorance. After all, true ignorance, by definition, is the reason revelation even exists! The battle over ill-conceived perceptions, apathy, ignorance, perversion and hatred of the truth is being fought in our homes and in our republic on a daily basis. Only after admittance and true repentance can we begin to turn from our present state towards a place where we, as ONE people, can be re-formed!
I encourage all who read this to go and read or re-read the Declaration of Independence. Read it slowly. Read it purposefully. And read it with the understanding that how we define words will make all the difference in how we perceive their true meaning. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and reveal to you the truths that have always been the foundation of your existence as a Citizen of the United States of America. The foundation upon which this nation was built is what is being destroyed; piece by piece.
If you are a church leader, don’t just encourage God’s people to get involved, inspire them! If you are part of a church body, decide this day that you will be the inspiration that is needed in your church! Pray for revelation, then turn.
2 Chron. 7:14 – If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (KJV). Our re-formation depends on it!
In 1906, an interviewer, seizing upon Justice Brewer’s turn of phrase, asked Harlan whether it was true that he went to bed “with the Bible in one hand and the Constitution of the United States in the other?” [Interview by James B. Morrow with John Marshall Harlan, WASH. POST, Feb. 25, 1906, in JOHN MARSHALL HARLAN PAPERS, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS]
After observing that he could not remember ever going to bed precisely so encumbered and stating that he “did not profess to be a theologian,” Harlan went on to respond to the question with a brief statement about his religious beliefs:
“I fully believe in both the Bible and the Constitution…. I believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Nothing which it commands can be safely or properly disregarded; nothing that it condemns can be justified. No civilization is worth preserving which is not based on the doctrines or teachings of the Bible. No nation that habitually ignores or violates the rules prescribed by it for the conduct and government of the human race, can long last. This country is, in a large sense, a Christian country, and its adherence to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity is becoming more and more every year a marked feature in American civilization.”
[This article appeared in a number of newspapers. There are several copies of it, clipped from different newspapers, in the Harlan Papers.]
Source: Marquette Law Review, V 85, Number 2
AJA is a featured speaker at Wallbuilders ProFamily Legislators Conference this afternoon here at the Omni Hotel in Dallas, Texas. Judge White will address the audience of legislators from all over the U.S. On the topic: Words have Consequences.
Jason Stern and Judge White have had many networking opportunities with these wonderful lawmakers.
Thanks to David Barton, Kristy Stedman and the whole staff for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful event!
Prayers at graduation ceremonies are in the news again as a federal judge has ruled that the First Amendment’s “non-establishment” clause forbids even student-initiated supplications.
The federal judge’s last sentence of the article linked above [“We don’t put the Constitution to a vote,”] illustrates an important distinction between pure democracy and the rule of law under a constitutional republic. But it neglects the crucial point that, as ACLU co-founder Justice Felix Frankfurter once acknowledged,
“The ultimate touchstone of constitutionality is the Constitution and not what we [the justices] have said about it.” -Felix Frankfurter, concurring in Graves v. New York, 306 US 466, 491-2 (1939)
We may take comfort from the assurance of Thomas Jefferson, the author of the “separation of church and state” metaphor that has so clouded First Amendment jurisprudence: “Though written constitutions may be violated in moments of passion or delusion, they furnish a text to which those who are watchful may again rally.”
It was Justice Byron White who recently noted that “The Court is most vulnerable and comes nearest to illegitimacy when it deals with judge-made constitutional law [sic] having little or no recognizable roots in the language or design of the Constitution.”
Small wonder that recent polling suggests that 77% of Americans believe our courts have gone too far in restricting free exercise of religion; 76% support public displays of Ten Commandments; and 90% support keeping “one nation under God” in our Pledge.
Founder and Patriot John Adams once remarked to Governor Dickinson that “We Americans are not to be conjured out of our senses by the words ‘British Empire’ as we know that Britain is a constitutional monarchy.”
Similarly, we Americans today are not to be “conjured out of our senses” by the words “separation of church and state.” Let’s continue to defend our Constitution’s text and heritage as we stand for “separation of atheism and state.”
As George Orwell once observed, “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” AJA’s point in calling attention to America’s “Organic Laws” is to espouse the obvious reality contained in our Declaration of Independence – that is, that law comes from God and the self-evident reality of objective truth. In other words, the inscription on America’s coins is the “National Motto” and not the “National Anachronism” [i.e., “out-of-date application or wrong-period attribution of an event”]
And let’s remember that it was judges’ “perversion of judgment” rather than “walking in God’s ways” that was the catalyst directly resulting in the leaders of Israel abandonment of self-government under God to ask for a king (i.e. authoritarianism) in 1 Samuel 8:3+.
Otherwise, we abandon our children to an “Orwellian” future:
“You are a slow learner, Winston,” said O’Brien gently. “How can I help it?” he blubbered. “How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.” “Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.” -George Orwell, 1984
Justice Clarence Thomas deserves commendation for suggesting that “a more fundamental rethinking of…Establishment Clause jurisprudence remains in order.” My expectation is that those prayer-wishful students in Indiana would say, “Amen to that!”
Article From the Franklin Sun:
Appealing to a Higher Court
Retired Judge Brings Bibles to the Bench
By Tom Bonnette, The Franklin Sun, May 12th, 2010, Page 7A
The Bible is a fundamental building block of our nation’s legal system and retired Baton Rouge City Judge Darrell White wants to make sure that isn’t forgotten. White, who is on a quest to place “Harlan Bibles” in every courtroom in the country, is founder of the American Judicial Alliance, a non-profit research and education organization dedicated to “awaken the conscience of one nation under God” by recapturing the vitality of America’s organic laws – the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. He was in Franklin Parish Friday at the Winnsboro Rotary Club’s monthly luncheon at Brown’s Landing to ask for prayers and support.
“We are asking people like you, who think that this is important, to help us to put one of these Bibles in every single courtroom in America,” White said. The Bible is a replica of the Bible donated by to the U.S. Supreme Court by Justice John Marshall Harlan in 1906. The original Harlan Bible is kept by the Supreme Court Curator and holds the signatures of every U.S. Supreme Court Justice since 1906 when it was donated. Judges have been invited to sign the inside leaflets of the more than 100 Bibles donated by the Retired Judges of America that White has helped place in courtrooms over the last few years.
He believes the Bibles will serve as a reminder that we are “one nation under God” and that the U.S. Constitution should be the guiding factor in our judicial system. “It’s the supreme law of the land. Unless we pay attention to it, it’s just so many words,” White said. “The question is whether or not we are going to follow the Constitution and adhere to it.”
A Harlan Bible donated to the Fifth Judicial District Court by the RJA a year ago that is signed by Judge E. Rudolph Mclntyre and Judge Terry A. Doughty was on display at the luncheon. To help White place similar Bibles in other courtrooms, the Winnsboro Rotary Club donated $150. More is needed, said Jason Stern, vice president of AJA. “Every little bit that we can gather together helps us make a difference in bringing back our nation to the nation of our founders for the next generation,” Stern said. Justice Harlan is best remembered as the lone dissenting voice in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case, in which a Louisiana statue that called for “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” was upheld as constitutional. To help the RJA and AJA donate Bibles, call (225) 615-7337.
Russell Shorto writes a balanced piece on the place of faith in the Founders’ plans for America and how the fight over whether that is true is being fought in Texas today. Here’s an excerpt:
If the fight between the “Christian nation” advocates and mainstream thinkers could be focused onto a single element, it would be the “wall of separation” phrase. Christian thinkers like to point out that it does not appear in the Constitution, nor in any other legal document — letters that presidents write to their supporters are not legal decrees. Besides which, after the phrase left Jefferson’s pen it more or less disappeared for a century and a half — until Justice Hugo Black of the Supreme Court dug it out of history’s dustbin in 1947. It then slowly worked its way into the American lexicon and American life, helping to subtly mold the way we think about religion in society. To conservative Christians, there is no separation of church and state, and there never was. The concept, they say, is a modern secular fiction. There is no legal justification, therefore, for disallowing crucifixes in government buildings or school prayer.
Read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/magazine/14texbooks-t.html?pagewanted=all