HOUSTON - A Harris County man would like a federal judge to write an addendum to the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not display religious Scripture in a courtroom.
James Craig Guetersloh filed a motion Thursday for preliminary and permanent injunctions barring state District Judge John Devine from displaying the sacred text in his courtroom.
Guetersloh said he noticed the biblical laws hanging inside the witness box during a trip to review the pleadings in a lawsuit filed against him. Devine is the presiding judge in the suit, in which a Harris County homeowners association alleges Guetersloh violated guidelines of the subdivision's architectural control committee.
It is the second such suit against Devine involving the poster, which depicts stone tablets with each commandment enumerated. Guetersloh, representing himself, said the federal courts must address the issue.
His suit says he is a taxpaying county citizen who objects to hanging religious symbols on county property and requiring state and county taxes being spent to promote any citizen's private and personal religious beliefs.
Devoutly religious jurors might view the text as an instruction to ignore facts of the case and allow the Scriptures to guide their verdict, he says. Or an atheist might resent the display and sabotage jury deliberations, he says.
Guetersloh also maintains that the display violates his right to freedom of religion and to be secure against state action that would deprive him of life, liberty or property under the First and 14th Amendments.