A newly elected Houston judge who says he was merely trying to “think outside the box” when he suggested that convicts in his court read a Christian book to avoid community service has decided to stop the practice after critics blasted the idea.

Judge John Clinton, a former police officer who was elected in January to preside over Harris County Criminal Court No. 4, offered nine people the chance to avoid community service last week by instead reading “The Heart of the Problem,” a Bible study book by Henry Brandt and Kerry L. Skinner that “proselytizes Christianity and advocates turning to God to solve problems,” according to a March 29 letter from officials at the Texas branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

But Clinton said he has since stopped offering the option as an alternative way to get defendants convicted of misdemeanors ranging from domestic assault to drug possession on the right track.

“I have stopped the book, and [am] looking for something similar that I can offer to everyone,” Clinton said in an email to FoxNews.com.

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