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Thu Aug 2, 2012, 07:55 PM

Judging the role of religion in law

August 2, 2012

Religious reasoning should not affect how judges decide cases—and may even infringe on religious freedom, says University of Alberta law scholar.

There's a passage in the Old Testament's Deuteronomy that says if a case too difficult to decide comes before the courts, it should be brought to the Levite priests who will render a verdict in God's name. However, one University of Alberta researcher says that may be taking religious freedom a step too far.

Sarah Hamill, a doctoral student in the Faculty of Law, recently published an article in response to a premise that said judges who lack direction-setting precedence in cases should use religious-based reasoning. Hamill contends that—aside from being a serious breach of the separation of church and state—such decisions would be constitutionally dangerous. She says that when it comes to deciding on issues from human rights to balancing conflicting rights, cooler, secular heads should prevail.

"In order for everybody to be able to agree with a judicial decision, they have to start from a position of neutrality, which is the state," said Hamill.

In praise of a secular state

Hamill notes that the emergence of Western democratic states gave rise to a separation of church and state, one that saw religions lose their place in national identity and their influence on political power. In Canada, immigration and the adoption of a multicultural society has led to what she calls a new understanding of a secular society. She says the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of religion and conscience for all, and aims to promote tolerance and accommodation of Canadians' wide variety of religious beliefs. But she says that when it comes to equality and fairness in law, religious considerations have no place in the judicial decision-making process.

http://phys.org/news/2012-08-role-religion-law.html

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Reply Judging the role of religion in law (Original post)
rug Aug 2012 OP
Dawson Leery Aug 2012 #1
MineralMan Aug 2012 #2
rug Aug 2012 #3
MineralMan Aug 2012 #4
rug Aug 2012 #5
MineralMan Aug 2012 #6
Adsos Letter Aug 2012 #7
trotsky Aug 2012 #8

Response to rug (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 07:57 PM

1. k/r

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Response to rug (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 07:59 PM

2. There is no role whatsoever for religion in the law

in the United States of America. No role at all. Our law is secular and completely separate from religious doctrine, and it is so by design.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #2)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 08:12 PM

3. Except the law of the United States is rooted in the law in Britain,

which in turn had significant religious influence. In fact, that is precisely why the First Amendment was necessary.

It is not necessary to deny history to reach the correct conclusion.

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Response to rug (Reply #3)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 08:36 PM

4. The First Amendment is one of the most significant parts

of our Constitution. It is there for the very reason I said what I said. It removes religion from the law in the United States. Period.

Religion has no place in our laws. That is clear from that very Amendment.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #4)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 08:38 PM

5. And it is necessary, from the source of that law, to know why it's there.

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Response to rug (Reply #5)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 08:41 PM

6. Of course I know why it is there. That it is there establishes

the point I made. Yes, we are influenced by British law, but we specifically rejected that part of British law that has ties to a religion. That is the significant historical issue and makes my point precisely. I am not talking about British law. I am talking about US law. Our law is deliberately and specifically secular. Your point is wasted, because I said nothing about British law, despite my awareness of its influence. We rejected that part of British law, firmly and unequivocally.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #6)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 09:13 PM

7. Amen. n/t

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #6)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 07:20 AM

8. Great post.

Good dismissal.

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