Skip to comments.SHOULD THE QU'RAN BE IN THE COURTROOM?
Posted on 08/24/2005 4:15:35 PM PDT by Libloather
SHOULD THE QU'RAN BE IN THE COURTROOM?
WEEK OF AUGUST 4-10, 2005
by CASH MICHAELS
The Wilmington Journal
Originally posted 8/6/2005
The basic purpose of using sworn testimony is to assure that the information being provided is truthful and as correct as is possible.--Special Agent Dick Searle, Iowa Division Of Criminal Investigation
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Those who have testified in a court of law anywhere in North Carolina or across the country recognize these words to be the oath administered to witnesses prior to their sworn testimony.
As has been procedure for decades, the right hand is raised, and the left hand is placed on the Holy Bible.
The courts have long favored the Christian book of faith as the ultimate symbol of truth. For a Christian, to swear on it means that to tell anything other than the truth in testimony is a blasphemy and a sin before God that will be taken into account on Judgment Day.
But what if a witness or juror isnt a Christian? What if he is a Jew or a Muslim? Both groups have their own books of faith, their own symbols of religious truth.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees them the freedom to practice their religious faith free of government intrusion or influence. Inherently that means they cannot be forced to either worship or practice any other than their own, and their chosen faith must be respected as such.
If a Jew or a Muslim is forced to swear to tell the truth on a Christian Bible, are they, in fact, telling the truth if a religious foundation of another faith is used?
And are North Carolina courts favoring one religious faith over another when they designate only the Christian Bible to be used?
These are now the legal questions and issues that have to be hashed out in a Wake County Superior Courtroom as North Carolinas criminal justice system has to wrestle, some say, with its own hypocrisy.
The final answer will have a profound impact on communities of faith, especially in the African-American community, where a significant number of Muslims reside.
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) challenging North Carolina state courts practice of refusing to allow people of non-Christian faiths ton take religious oaths using any text other than the Christian Bible, according to the organizations press release.
The lawsuit arose from an incident in Greensboro, when a Muslim woman set to testify in Guilford County court, requested to be sworn-in on the Holy Quran instead of the Bible.
She was refused.
The local Muslim community Al Ummil Ummat Islamic Center even offered to donate several copies of the Holy Quran to the Guilford Courts, but they too were rebuffed.
Guilford County Senior Resident Superior Court Judge W. Douglas Albright and Guilford Chief District Court Judge Joseph E. Turner determined that only the Holy Bible could be used in their courtrooms.
Ton use anything else, they added, would be unlawful.
But the state Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) disagreed, noting that NC General Statute 11-2 does not specifically say the Christian Bible should be used to swear-in witnesses.
It uses the term Holy Scriptures.
Judges and other persons who may be empowered to administer oaths, shall (except in the cases in this Chapter excepted) require the party to be sworn to lay his hand upon the Holy Scriptures, in token of his engagement to speak the truth and in further token that, if he should swerve from the truth, he may be justly deprived of all blessings of the holy book and made liable to that vengeance which he has imprecated on his own head.
According to Judge Albright, however, Holy Scriptures means only one thing.
The Christian Bible.
Everybody understands what the Holy Scriptures are, he told the Greensboro News & Record. If they dont, were in a mess.
Thats when the AOC backed off, deciding instead that either the courts or the General Assembly were better suited politically to make the final call.
The ACLU-NC seeks a court order clarifying that North Carolinas existing statute governing religious oaths is broad enough to allow use of multiple religious texts in addition to the Christian Bible, the July 26 press statement continued. In the alternative, if the Court does not agree that the phrase Holy Scriptures in North Carolina state statute must be read to permit texts such as the Quran, the Old Testament and the Bhagavach-Giyta in addition to the Christian Bible, then the ACLU-NC asks the Court to strike down the practice of allowing the use of any religious text in the administration of religious oaths.
ACLU-NC filed the lawsuit not on behalf of the Muslim woman in Greensboro, or the Muslim community in North Carolina, but its own 8,000 membership across the state that it says is inclusive of Jews and Muslims.
Critics of the ACLU-NC lawsuit charge the liberal group is just trying to change years of legal tradition, and that their real goal is to get the Bible out of the courtroom.
No so, says Jennifer Rudlinger, Executive Director of ACLU-NC. There is no problem with the Bible being used by the North Carolina courts, just as long as other books of religious faith can also be used.
The government cannot favor one set of religious values over another and must allow all individuals of faith to be sworn in on the holy text that is accordance with their faith, she said in a statement. By allowing only the Christian Bible to be used in the administration of religious oaths in the courtroom, the State is discriminating against people of non-Christian faiths.
Probably the ACLU-NCs strongest argument is the First Amendments Establishment Clause in the U.S. Constitution which states, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.
But what about those who are not practicing members of a particular faith? How do North Carolina courts swear them in to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
NCGS 11-3 allows for a witness or juror who does not wish to place his hand on the Holy Scriptures to just raise his right hand for the nonreligious oath.
NCGS 11-4 defines that secular oath as replacing the word swear with affirm, and deletes so help me God.
And in many jurisdictions, those of the Jewish faith were sworn in on the Old Testament, since by faith, they did not believe in an afterlife.
The Tar Heel controversy has received worldwide attention.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the use of only the Christian Bible in North Carolina courtrooms is evidence of an inappropriate state endorsement of religion.
Eliminating the opportunity to swear an oath on ones own holy text may also have the effect of diminishing the credibility of that persons testimony, Arsalan Iftikhar, legal director for CAIR, told Cybercast News Service. com.
The group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State says maybe religious texts should be banned from the courthouse altogether.
The easier solution would be to dump religious oaths from court proceedings, the nonprofit group said on its website. Traditions do die, some with great difficulty and consternation. Citizens before their public courts should be required to tell the truth under penalty of law; they should not be required, pressured or even asked to take a religious oath before engaging in business before those courts.
How about if the witness is a Satanist and thinks lying is just his master's way of getting cheap jollies?
Hell, what if the witness is an atheist? Is he supposed to swear to tell the truth while putting his hand on a copy of "Atlas Shrugged"??
Or worse, what if the witness is a Democrat and believes that nobody really knows what the definition of "is" is?
It boggles the mind why we should cater to fringe groups. Sheesh...
Doesn't the Qu'ran advocate lying to your enemies?
If I'm ever called to testify, I will request swearing my oath on a box of Godiva chocolate while saying: "I lie I will never eat another piece of chocolate again, so help me God."
Is that the relevant question? It's not a contest to see whose "holy book" gets used. The point is to maximize the probability that the witness tells the truth. Would a muslim feel greater motivation to tell the truth by swearing on a Bible or on a Koran? That's the only issue that matters.
I believe so yes...
but if they swear on a Qu'ran, they are bound by that oath I believe...
Honestly it is a moot point. either include them or don't, but let's not totally change both 230 years of tradition nor our fundamental rights for any one group or people.
They are free to be whatever religion they wish. I think that if they want to swear on a Qu'ran in a courtroom, there should be one there....
I don't know why there is such an issue over it.
As a matter of fact, it does. According to the Q'uran, you can lie, cheat, steal, kill, rape and leave the toilet seat up, provided you only do it to the infidel. (And you are forbidden to turn in your Muslim brethren...even if you know they are rapists, murderers and/or terrorists.)
they have something called Taqqiya. It means Lawful Lie
No... it should be restricted to the pig pen.
Do we want to allow them to swear by a document (Koran) that tells Muslims that it is okay to LIE to a non-Muslim? For that matter, why should anyone believe ANYTHING that comes out of a Muslim's mouth except when they say that they are ging to kill you?
You heard it here first (unless of course another freeper beat me to it).
I look forward to the holes in my thesis BTW..
Actually, thats not the constitutional issue. The constitutional issue is whether or not the state is establishing A religion by requiring only the Bible to be used in sweraing in witnesses. I think the answer to that question is a resounding yes and thus it's unconstitutional.
Read my post #12.
I'm not so sure what 'book' one swears on is important. What is important is what book is important to the jurors.
Oath on the Quran? "The jury finds the defendent mohammed abdul guilty as charged your honor!"
Funny how the world works.
It doesn't matter what God you swear to.
If you're a liar, then you're a liar!
True. And if they object to the Bible, they still have the option of affirming and raising their right hand.
There are things you can do to increase the probability that a witness will tell the truth, but you can't guarantee it. Swearing on a Bible (or other holy book) may be effective in some cases, but obviously not in others. Jurors and judges should always maintain a reasonable degree of skepticism about the truthfulness of any witness.
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