Judge Recuses Himself in Mosque ‘Loitering’ Case

A county judge has recused himself from a case involving a Kansas pastor that he convicted for handing out Bibles outside of a local mosque.

For unknown reasons, Judge Phil Journey recently removed himself from any continued involvement with the case of City of Wichita v. Mark Holick. Holick was charged with two counts of “loitering” and one count of “disrupting a business” in September 2011 after he conducted an outreach at the mosque, where he gave away Bibles in English and Arabic.

“Though the police testified that I did not trespass or block any cars, I was nonetheless guilty because I did not move quick enough when police told me to,  although I was standing on a public sidewalk — that I committed the crime of ‘shy distance,'” Holick, the pastor of Spirit One Christian Center, explained.

Journey sentenced Holick to the maximum penalty after hearing the case, and the pastor remains on a year-long probation. Holick states that he is not allowed to come within 1,000 feet of the mosque at any time and has been ordered to pay $300 in fines.

“I want you to think about this,” Journey told Holick during the trial. “What if the shoe had been on the other foot and someone from the Islamic Center had come to your place and tried to convert your members and had blocked your driveway?”

“Wichita is confused,” Holick told the court. “I am not your enemy; Islam is. The Lord said there will be no other gods before me.”

Pastor Mark Holick’s arrest in 2011.

He states that he has two theories as to why the judge might have recused himself from the case. First, Judge Journey is running for re-election in November, and an email that Holick released explaining his dismay at his convictions could have swayed voters in the opposite direction. Secondly, he states that Journey recently appeared on a radio broadcast minutes after Holick was interviewed. The show host questioned Journey about his treatment of Holick over the public airwaves, which could have caused further issue.

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“Journey spewed the government’s version of events that day. He said things that were completely false to justify himself.  He said that I blocked cars and that he ‘thought about giving me a jail ministry,'” Holick explained.

Two weeks later, Holick’s attorney contacted him to advise that Journey had recused himself from the case.

Holick, a candidate for state representative of the 101st district of Kansas, states that he and his attorney had been considering filing another motion with the court. He says that everyone involved with the case, from the arresting officer to the prosecutor and the judge, claimed to be Christians.

Judge Journey was not available for comment at press time.

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