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One secular oath for all

(13 Posts)
thatbags Tue 15-Oct-13 15:42:00

There is a proposal to abolish swearing on the Bible or other religious book in court. I'm in favour of a secular oath for all which, as the lawyer says in the article below, is not anti-religious but pro equality. She write a good argument.

thatbags Tue 15-Oct-13 15:42:17


kittylester Tue 15-Oct-13 16:25:31

What a really good idea!

When supporting witnesses we have to ask them which oath they wish to take and it's worrying the sorts of replies we get. They range from 'Will they believe me if I swear on the bible' to 'I don't care, probably the bible' and 'Well, I went to Sunday School - so it had better be the bible' thlconfused

We also had a Muslim girl who wouldn't swear on the Koran because she was 'unclean' (having a period). The defence lawyer made a huge point of her not swearing on the Koran implying that it meant she was lying. Of course, the poor girl couldn't say why and the prosecutor was baffled until we got the usher to give him a note.

Making a point of the possibility of going to prison for lying wouldn't go amiss with a few people giving evidence either. thlgrin

feetlebaum Tue 15-Oct-13 16:37:41

In addition to which - if there are religious believers on the jury, are they going to be adversely influenced by my affirming instead of swearing? And vice versa of course if atheist jurors feel that the religious oath-taker is perhaps less trustworthy as a witness...?

I have been saying for a long time, let everybody affirm - makes for a level playing-field.

annodomini Tue 15-Oct-13 17:40:42

Excellent proposal. Swearing on the Bible is no guarantee that a witness is not lying!

FlicketyB Tue 15-Oct-13 17:53:17

I am a catholic. I have taken the oath in court twice, once as a witness and once as a jury member. In both cases I affirmed. I believe that I should commit myself to telling the truth on my own honour/cognisances, call it what you will. I think that makes one think far more carefully about what one is doing than, in most cases, people doing what kittylester describes, just mumbling what to the person concerned is a mumbo jumbo mantra without meaning or religious impact. I do appreciate for some people swearing on a religious text does give weight and seriousness to their testimony, but I think they are now a minority.

As far as jurors are concerned, I took very little notice of what they said when they promised to tell the truth. All I was interested in was my judgement of the integrity and honesty of the witness they gave.

Iam64 Tue 15-Oct-13 18:12:25

In the early days of my career I'd affirm in court. As faith became more important, I decided to take the oath. I couldn't lie in court, whatever confirmation of honesty I was expected to give. The team I worked on had a number of Jewish, Muslim and Hindu staff. One oath for all seems a good idea to me.

Bach Thu 07-Nov-13 17:01:50

I fully agree that there should be one oath for all AND all people who lie whilst giving evidence should suffer the wrath of law. (although this will add even more to the prison population)

Aka Thu 07-Nov-13 17:48:22

Agreed. Those who commit perjury will still do so no matter what oath or affirmation they take.

Penstemmon Thu 07-Nov-13 18:21:30

Well said kitty the truth should be told for it own sake not because God might get you! It is an historic procedure that needs reviewing and updating for 21 century!

Agus Thu 07-Nov-13 20:56:18

In Scotland, you can inform the court you prefer to affirm as opposed to swearing on the bible.

Agus Thu 07-Nov-13 21:02:16

Should have read the link properly Agus !!!

Mishap Thu 07-Nov-13 21:14:33

Sounds like a good idea - jury members will not be tempted to draw some conclusion from a defendant's decision to swear or affirm.