Jordan Sekulow on Will Believers Be Forced to Stop Praying in Jury Box?

(Pixabay.com)

This is a case involving fundamentals—fundamental tenets of what it means to be a U.S. citizen and fundamental beliefs of Christians and many other religious faiths.

Fundamental to American civics is the right of citizens to vote, and often with that right comes the responsibility of serving on a jury (a critical protection we are all afforded is having a jury of our peers). Fundamental to Christianity and many faiths is prayer—communing between man and God. But in this case, a juror was disqualified over prayer.

The American Center for Law and Justice just filed an amicus curiae brief in a federal court of appeals defending the right of American citizens to exercise their religious freedom—in this case, prayer—while serving as a juror.

In 2017, a United States district court in Florida removed and replaced a juror because of his religious beliefs. During the course of jury deliberations, the juror (Juror 13) mentioned his prayer for guidance about the case to his fellow jurors. His statements were misconstrued by a fellow juror, who reported his statements, leading the court to question him.

While the juror told the court repeatedly that he had no religious or moral beliefs that would prevent him from rendering a proper verdict, the court ultimately decided to remove and replace the juror, finding:

“beyond a reasonable doubt” that there was “no substantial possibility” that Juror 13 would be “able to base his decision only on the evidence and the law as the court gave it to him in the instructions” … Because, by definition, it’s not that the person is praying for guidance so that the person can be enlightened, it’s that the higher being—or the Holy Spirit is directing or telling the person what disposition of the charges should be made.

The court’s reasoning clearly shows a complete misunderstanding of the Christian faith and belief in prayer. But the court should not have reached such a conclusion at all. Nonetheless, the court dismissed the juror, and on appeal, a panel of judges on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s erroneous decision, in spite of a well-written dissent by Chief Judge William Pryor. The defendant in the case requested and was granted an en banc hearing of the Eleventh Circuit court. This means that the case will be heard before the Eleventh Circuit’s entire bench comprised of 12 judges.

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SOURCE: Charisma News

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