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Religious Law – Approaches to Crime and Punishment

Updated on August 24, 2012

Many Christians believe that they should obey the law of the land and what they believe that God has said. A lot of Christians seem to treat the Bible more as guidelines than the law, but usually the two do not differ too much. For example, the Bible teaches us not to steal or to hurt others and in Ireland, as well as most countries, the law forbids stealing or hurting others. Although sometimes the two Laws clash, such as in punishment, for instance, The Bible also says in the Ten Commandments “You shall not murder”, but some laws of the Lands have punishments, such as the Death penalty which some would count as murder. Although, even some Christians believe that some people deserve this punishment but it must be taken into account whether the person is related to a victim of the crime and that they might not be thinking straight. It also would be cheaper for economies to have the death penalty as then they would not have to pay for food and other needs of prisoners. The Bible also tells us to forgive our enemies, even up to seventy times seven times, but if people, who commit a crime against us, are sent to jail, are we forgiving them? The Bible says as well that God will punish our enemies.

“For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord.”

Romans 12:19

Although, some people believe that we are protecting ourselves by sending people to jail, as they might be dangerous to have out in our towns and cities.

A lot of Christians believe that it is not the best punishment for some people to go to prison, such as drug abusers, who might get depressed or angry that they are in prison which might cause them to keep at or increase there drug abuse. It would be better to help them by sending them to a rehabilitation centre or find some way of helping them with their problem.

“Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way as you judge others.”

Matthew 7:1

The main Buddhist religious law would be the Eight Fold Path, although it is more to guide them to do the right thing. The Eight Fold Path is Right Understanding, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. This is what helps them to live good lives and to be compassionate and that will bring them good karma which will eventually bring them to Nirvana.

Buddhists believe that people who commit crimes are creating their own punishments by bringing bad karma to themselves. Although they will also face state punishments, it is believed that this will help put them back on track. Buddhists generally believe that punishment should exist to help reform offenders.

In Islamic countries the Islam law, the Shari’ah, is both the religious law and the law of the land. It come from the Islamic holy book, the Quar’an. Many people believe it to be extreme but others believe it to work well because people are afraid of the punishments. The reason people believe it to be extreme is that instead of going to prison or doing community service, you would get a physical punishment, such as being flogged or having you hands cut of or maybe death.

But it is not really that extreme, for example, there are three parts to the crime. The first two are meant to scare people from doing them in the first place, and the third to reform the person and hoped to teach them a lesson. Jinayat crimes are crimes that consist of wounding or killing, hadd crimes which are those that have the fixed penalties that are stated in the Qur’an, and Ta’azir offences, which is meant to shame the person who has committed the crime.


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    • jose7polanco profile image

      Jose Misael Polanco 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Well, being a Law student and a Christian myself, i can tell the bible is the paper written conscience that every single one of us carry inside. The most basic Dont' and Dos' that we believe are reasonable. The Law on the other hand, is an authority from God (Romans 13) that only intends to regulate, punish, and control other actions that will, otherwise, go out of control (traffic, financial issues, transportation, punishment). the bible says that the law of the land is used mostly to seize and punish mankind.