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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

When In Doubt, Don't Turn To The Bible - Judges

This is rather strange. In Colorado, according to law, when deliberating the death penalty, jurors are instructed to consult their own moral guidelines, instead of simply the law. Fair enough. In one trial, jurors doing so also consulted the Bible, which I would consider understandable, given that many people in this country base their morals explicitely on Christianity (believe it or not!). However, because this consultation of the Bible was made public in the verdict, which was to use the death penalty, there were appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that the verdict should be overturned because the jurors used an outside influence, thus ruining their sequesterness.

I wasn't sure what to think of this. As a good secular humanist, I want to keep separation of church and state, of course. But on the other hand, the law specifically instructs jurors to consult non-state concepts. Most important, though, is the role of the Bible. I am quite fine with members of the population consulting the Bible in order to gain insight. However, the Supreme Court judges ruled that the Bible was an outside influnce, like a news article would be. The implication is that the Bible is viewed as a rulebook, which would need to be followed, as a literal source of truth. I am not okay with the Bible being viewed as the literal truth, and I think that a court making a ruling with that viewpoint is much more dangerous than allowing jurors to consult a book when pondering someone's life.

Also important: Colorado is crazy. See: Sand Creek Massacre, Columbine, University of Colorado controversies.
- Rowan Kaiser, 5:16 AM
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