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Monday, January 30, 2006

So Help Me God

Someone proposed an interesting idea to me recently when he suggested that I would be offended if Koran’s started showing up in courtrooms across the U.S. My first thought surprised even me. It was: “Since Muslims recognize no moral authority other than Allah, maybe having them swear on a Koran might help guarantee more honest testimony from them.”

Let me explain.

The phrase “So help me God” with the witnesses hand on the Bible has been removed from the oath witnesses take before giving testimony in a court of law. It was done because some bigot was offended by it and claimed that it constituted government sponsorship of a religion, and there were enough morons on the Supreme Court to side with him. This phrase had been put into the oath because it made people make an oath unto a greater moral authority than man, and for many this actually does guarantee honest testimony, others . . . not so much. Either way, it served a specific purpose.

Now back to Muslims. Islam declares that any vow given to an infidel (every non-Muslim in the world) is completely non-binding. Muslims also recognize Allah as the only God. So if swearing to “tell the truth, the whole truth so help me” is non-binding when given to an infidel court, and swearing to “tell the truth, the whole truth so help me God” with his hand on the Bible is swearing to a moral authority the Muslim does not recognize; of what value is the oath? Now if a Muslim, even a terrorist swears to “tell the truth, the whole truth so help me Allah” with his hand on the Koran you can be assured he will not lightly break an oath made to his god.

This theory applies to other religions that recognize a higher moral authority. Buddhists could swear to Buddha. Hindus could swear to Shiva or Ganesh. Scientologists could swear to L. Ron Hubbard or whatever he claimed God to be. The only religion I can see this backfiring with is Satanists since Satan is the Father of Lies they would be free to lie as they please with such an oath.

So rather than forcing the phrase “So help me God” out of the courtroom it might be more appropriate to allow whatever religious oath fits the individual being sworn in. By having everybody swear by the moral authority they hold most high perhaps we can be assured of more honest testimony from everybody. Who knows; it just might work.

21 Comments:

  • For those who don't believe their god allows them to lie, it might work. But because lying to infidels in OK with islam, I still don't think it would work.

    I've added you to my blogroll.

    By Blogger ScottG, at 6:31 AM  

  • And for those of us anabaptists and others that don't believe in making any oaths whatsoever, can we just let our "yes be yes and our no be no?"

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 7:26 AM  

  • Is this post a spoof?
    Or have you discovered irony?

    :-)

    By Blogger DanProject76, at 2:49 PM  

  • The oath has always seemed laughable to me. It seems ridiculous that someone swearing on a book of fairy tales that they believe in things without evidence would make their testimony more reliable. Basically, they are standing in front of the court saying, “I’m gullible, I’m easily swayed by opinion and I jump to unwarranted conclusions so trust me that what I’m about to tell you is true.”

    If you need to put this into perspective, then think of the oath as “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me Santa Claus.”

    I think we would be better off to drop the ‘so help me [my imaginary friend]’ from the oath and simply remind people of the penalty for perjury.

    By Anonymous cjb, at 3:53 PM  

  • I think that is a good idea. In America it's "Freedom of religion", not "Freedom from religion."

    Letting everyone - including Christians practice religion is what America is all about.

    By Blogger Rebekah, at 4:44 PM  

  • Obviously the bible means nothing to cbj because he/she is an atheist, so it would do no good to request this person to swear on anything. Just like most atheists, he/she believes we who do believe are foolish. So be it! It means something to me when I swear an oath on a bible, as it does to most Christians. I do not consider the bible to be a book of "Fairy Tales" and I have just as much right to my belief in a higher power whom I refer to as "God" as atheists have to believe in nothing other than themselves.

    I agree with you Daniel, for those who do believe in a higher power - and that is the majority - it would be an excellent idea! :)

    By Blogger Gayle, at 6:14 AM  

  • I also agree with scottg who said that lying to infidels is OK with Islam. So it would mean nothing to them when swearing on the Koran in a courtroom run by us "infidels." So what is the answer? I don't know, but it is something to chew on.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 6:17 AM  

  • CJB,

    Are you saying that you worship Santa Clause? You sure do bring him up a lot.

    On a more serious note, what you apperantly don't understand is how seriously most people take their religions. Most of us wouldn't dream of breaking a solemn vow made to our chosen God, at least, not intentionally. Perhaps if you understood more about faith you would be able to understand such things.

    Be aware also that most religious people consider YOU to be the gullible one, the one who has been fooled by falsehood to the point of Atheism. And yet, the courts allow you, as an Atheist, to stop at "So help me." and don't require you top place your hand on the Bible. Why are you so opposed to extending a similar courtesy to all faiths?

    Dan T,

    There is a solution to your problem as well. The bailiff who says the recital, and you simply respond with a "yes" or a "no". Simple.

    DP76,

    This post is actually quite serious. I don't believe in any God other than the Christian God, but for those who don't believe; haow does swearing to Him keep them honest?

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 6:22 AM  

  • I have nothing against people believing in whatever they like and I wouldn't mock them unlike CJB , unless they deserved it. I just don't see how it would add anything to a legal situation to have someone swearing on a book of any kind. How are the jury to know this means anything to the person swearing and there are real laws about this thing anyway.

    By Blogger DanProject76, at 2:30 PM  

  • Daniel: The phrase “So help me God” with the witnesses hand on the Bible has been removed from the oath witnesses take before giving testimony in a court of law.

    Really? Please give us an example of a State or court where it is not permitted to use an oath containing the phrase “so help me God”. In some States there is an option (not a mandatory requirement) to take an affirmation instead of the oath, but in others this option doesn’t exist and the oath is still mandatory, regardless of your religious beliefs or non-beliefs.

    Daniel: So rather than forcing the phrase “So help me God” out of the courtroom it might be more appropriate to allow whatever religious oath fits the individual being sworn in.

    Again, show us where it has been forced out of the courtroom—where it is not permitted to say it.

    Daniel: Most of us wouldn't dream of breaking a solemn vow made to our chosen God, at least, not intentionally.

    And yet, perjury still occurs and the vast majority of the prison population is Christian.

    Daniel: Be aware also that most religious people consider YOU to be the gullible one,

    Gullible means ‘easily persuaded to believe’. Wouldn’t you say that this applies more to believers than non-believers?

    Daniel: Why are you so opposed to extending a similar courtesy to all faiths?

    I’m not opposed to it. You can say your silly oath if you wish. You have a right to believe anything you like, but that doesn’t make it true. And I agree that religious people who take the oath may be more likely to say what they think is the truth. My point was that just because they think or believe that it is true doesn’t make it so. We should take into consideration, when listening to their testimony, that here is a person who believes that supernatural beings exist and miracles actually happen. Anyone that gullible could easily be mistaken in what they thought happened. In a court of law, it should be what is true that matters, not what people think is true.

    By Anonymous cjb, at 3:04 PM  

  • CJB,

    "And yet, perjury still occurs and the vast majority of the prison population is Christian."

    It's amazing how many people find Jesus, and pretend to find Jesus, in prison.

    "Gullible means ‘easily persuaded to believe’. Wouldn’t you say that this applies more to believers than non-believers?"

    I would say that they have been persuaded into believing that there is no God. Before you start, I know what you are going to say. "There is a difference between belief and non-belief, affirming a positive and simply stating a negative, blah, blah, blah. Let me make one thing very clear, and this is based in reality and not some philosophical fantasy. Blieve in God, and believe there is no god are the same in tha t they both constitute a belief. The closest thing no pure non-belief regarding this issue is Agnosticism, where they neither believe nor disbelive in th eexistence of a God, but are undecided. Atheists have made a concrete decision, and that is believing there is no God. Or, if you prefer, persuaded to believe there is no God.

    By all means though, pretend Atheism believes nothing if you wish. But for that to be true you must abandon both the notion that there is a God, AND the notion that there is no God.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 4:08 PM  

  • Daniel,

    I notice that you’ve studiously ignored my first two points requesting that you provide evidence to support your claims—nothing new there…

    Are you implying that Christians will not lie under oath or end up in prison? They only become Christian after arriving in prison? Oh, I know, no true Christian would lie or go to prison. Is that it?

    Daniel: I would say that they have been persuaded into believing that there is no God.

    Tell me, did you need persuading that there are no invisible pink unicorns? If not, why not? If so, then your problems run far deeper than I thought.

    By Anonymous cjb, at 6:03 PM  

  • i think the consequence of legal percussions should be more than enough to keep people honest. You can't honestly believe people don't lie in court, it's just that catholics are apparantly forgiven without reprocussion.

    By Anonymous MalignantVanilla, at 10:37 PM  

  • CJB,

    How long did you believe in Santa Clause, and what did it take to convince you otherwise?

    For my part, I believd longer than most of peers did. I got presents from him every year at Christmas, and that was proof enough for me. I needed something equaly concrete to convince me otherwise . . . like my parents admitting it was them all along when I was 8. My friends simply saying he didn't exist because they no longer believed was not proof enough for me.

    Do answer this. I'm genuinely curious.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 10:50 PM  

  • Daniel,

    I’ll tell you my Santa Claus story because I think it is quite pertinent to this and many other discussions we have. I remember the episode quite vividly because the lessons I learned had an important effect on my approach to life from that point.

    I accepted Santa Claus until I was three or four years old because, as an infant, I didn’t know any better. A young child has to trust that his or her parents are telling the truth. At about three or four, I started to think for myself and ask questions. My parents tried to convince me that Santa Claus was real, but even then, I was wary of this tale because it seemed so out of kilter with what little I had observed of the world up to that point. I kept asking questions and noticed that their story kept changing and was becoming more and more illogical. I lay awake one Christmas Eve and caught them leaving the presents. I flat out asked them if they had been making it all up and, to their credit, they admitted that they had.

    I was stunned.

    Right then I realised that you shouldn’t believe all the stories you are told, even though many people may be claiming they are the truth. From that point on, it changed the way I viewed the world. I knew I couldn’t just trust what people told me; I had to look for evidence myself.

    On my first day of kindergarten, other children asked me what I had received for Christmas and I told them what my parents had given me. By then, I thought everyone knew Santa Claus was a fairy tale and was quite surprised to see others burst into tears when I brought it to their attention. I was even more surprised when the teacher then hit me hard enough to make me cry as well. I was shocked and angry that I was being punished for telling the truth. I learned that people will not thank you for telling them the truth and shattering their illusions and you may even be punished for your efforts.

    A couple of years later, I asked my parents why some people believe in God when, it seemed to me, he was just Santa Claus for people who had never grown up. Their answer was, “Some people need to believe those things.” I didn’t fully appreciate that answer until much later in life when I discovered how fearful and insecure so many people are.

    You believed in Santa Claus until your parents admitted that it was a lie. The problem is, they never admitted to you—and you never figured out—that God is a lie as well.

    Now, how about that evidence to support your claims…

    By Anonymous cjb, at 1:56 AM  

  • CJB,

    I'm gonna lay this out as plain as possible. The evidence of God is everywhere and in everything, and only the spiritually blind cannot see any of it.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 8:26 AM  

  • Daniel, while I think cjb is just trying to wind you up about your beliefs and you are falling for it, I don't see how you can say "The evidence of God is everywhere and in everything, and only the spiritually blind cannot see any of it." God and religion are a belief, of which there IS no proof. The proof, if you like, is in the way people interpret the wrold we live in and relate to other people of a similar faith.

    Don't get me started on Bush's ludicrous 'intelligent design' stuff. Honestly! It gives Christians a bad name, mate.

    By Blogger DanProject76, at 8:48 AM  

  • Bush's? It's not just him. Besides, he's just a politician. It's the scientists; biologists, and physicists in particular that beleive ID to be true that fascinate me and get my attention when they speak. Of course, they haven't been able to persuade me away from Creation though.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 10:52 AM  

  • Daniel,

    The evidence you think you have for God is not objective evidence. It’s evidence you’ve inferred in order to maintain your beliefs for your own emotional comfort. And who are the “spiritually blind”? Are they the practical people who need logical proof and material evidence before believing something? What is your definition of ‘spiritual’?

    By the way, the evidence I was asking for in my previous post was not evidence of God. It was evidence to support your claims that the oath has been removed from courtrooms. See my other posts above and do try to provide some evidence to back up these claims or we will be forced to conclude that they are yet another example of something you believe without evidence.

    By Anonymous cjb, at 11:30 AM  

  • Phew! At least you're not braqinwashed enough to believe that stuff: "Of course, they haven't been able to persuade me away from Creation though."

    A generation of kids are oging to get a screwy education if that stuff becomes law. It's like a Christian Taliban!

    And yes I am well aware it's not just Bush but he's the voice of the extremists and I know his name.

    By Blogger DanProject76, at 1:01 PM  

  • Daniel, when can we expect the post on evolution? You need to obviously explain why no one seems to be able to convince you that ID, let alone evolution, isn't more probable and supported by evidence than creationism. I am just getting anxious, and now is as good a time as any to ask.

    By Anonymous paul, at 8:42 PM  

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