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Taking oath on Bible as a court witness, but do not believe in God

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posted on Jan, 8 2013 @ 08:42 PM
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reply to post by grainofsand
 
As others have stated you need only affirm that you will tell the truth. There have been cases of people who for religious reasons are not allowed to swear- especially on the bible. In such cases they are only required to hold up their right hand and affirm that they will tell the truth to the best of their ability.




posted on Jan, 8 2013 @ 08:52 PM
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Just whatever you do, don't swear upon the Flying Spaghetti monster. It gets you in trouble. I personally don't like it though, even as a juror I really don't want to have to do it.

When I last had to do it we were given the option to swear using the 'God' statement or a statement that didn't mention God. I know jurors aren't supposed to take it into account, but obviously any little thing such as clothing and demeanor matter. I was honest about my beliefs as a juror because I think it's the right thing to do, especially as an example to others.


Originally posted by D.Wolf
I don't think they let trolls to become magistrate, but you know your surroundings better than me.

Some judges do appear to be trolls.


Originally posted by TheChosenKing
I rebuke you in the name of Jesus I have cured the atheist spirit before ,you need to go to your local pastor... [sic]

I don't think this is the right time to try to convert someone, but you are a good example of the issue the OP faces.

OP shouldn't have to compromise, but if it was the choice between saying 'I believe in God' and having a bad outcome for a loved one ... I imagine a lot of people would make the 'practical' decision.



posted on Jan, 8 2013 @ 11:31 PM
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I think it simply depends on how you look at things.

The bible is simply a rest place for your hand.

God is whatever you conceive him / her / it to be. No where in these oaths does it mention what God or who's God we are talking about.

P



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 12:11 AM
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For the love of pete...

Does no one know how to use google?

Entering "atheist swear in court" results in: How do courts swear in atheists? on "The Straight Dope".


When a witness refuses to swear to God, the court accepts an "affirmation" instead. In a jury trial, the smart lawyer will arrange for this ahead of time in the judge's chambers, so the witness won't look unduly obstreperous or morally deficient in open court. The judge may then instruct the jury that the funny oath they are about to hear should be considered legally valid.


You don't need to swear on a Bible, stop sweating it.



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 02:12 AM
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Polygraph testing is currently being used to determine whether sex offenders are ready to be released from prison and will continue to be used as a pilot in certain areas of England and Wales for two more years. Whether this will alter the opinion on court use remains to be seen. Lie detector results can be admissible in some tribunal and civil cases, but their introduction into criminal courts would require legislation.

solicitors.contactlaw.co.uk...

As far as I know, polygraphs are normally used to pressure a person and give the 'interrogator' an idea of what avenues to probe etc ... From what I've seen they at least require a skilled operator.

reply to post by adjensen
 

Hiya Adjensen.

I'm not sure that would be the best approach if you're saying it would be best to ask to be sworn in in private? (I think it's pretty obvious the OP knows about affirming) Most judges I've seen would not be particularly pleased with the idea of having to step out of their way to do anything really. I mean ask your lawyer but ...

I'm from a different country but with a similar system. I've been sworn in as juror and witness. I've seen courts do oaths and affirmations in slightly different ways, I've yet to see a judge pleased when someone gets creative. The courtrooms I've been in, the judges get very particular from choosing the number of jurors to telling the person in the third row to take their shades off their head and learn some respect.

One particular case I was involved in was against a sex offender. One juror was very upset and didn't want to continue. The juror asked to be excused, and the judge insisted repeatedly on knowing why publicly. It was incredibly inconsiderate, and prior to proceedings the jury was told if they had reasons for not wanting to take part such as personal experiences it could be handled in private. The same judge got aggravated over another person asking for a different holy book to swear over (you're meant to give 24hrs notice here). As a witness I'm loathed to do anything that attracts me undue attention or gets me flustered; judges are quite rude persons in my experience.

Honestly, I think it's better to not make it a big deal and keep the court staff on side, since they're the ones that can fluster you the most if they get cranky.



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 07:14 AM
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I've always thought it to be ironic that in the sermon on the mount Jesus himself said;

34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Matthew 5: 34-37 NIV

and then later in James (referring back to the sermon):

12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.
James 5:12 NIV

Kind of strange that so much "official business" type stuff requires the swearing of an oath.



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 07:21 AM
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reply to post by grainofsand
 


In Australia we take a similar oath both as witnesses and when sworn in as a solicitor / officer of the court. We too can elect to take a secular oath.

I know a lot of lawyers who are atheists but take the oath on the bible. The legal fraternity and the priesthood have a history of being in bed together, so i guess its just custom / tradition - 'if everyone is doing something you should as well lest you be an outsider' king of attitude. As the legal fraternity in aust is quiet small, and jobs are sometimes scarce its best not to rock the boat.



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 07:48 AM
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reply to post by grainofsand
 


don't worry about it since our judicial system cares nothing about truth nor justice, you'll fit right in. you may as well be watching it on TV for what it's worth.



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 08:09 AM
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Presuming you are wanting to tell the truth and no lies - choose BOTH (unless you truly are deeply religious ... because swearing on the bible is AGAINST the bible - swear on nothing in heaven or on earth. )

By choosing BOTH - you show your word is as high as your faith (or lack thereof).

edit on 9/1/2013 by Trexter Ziam because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 08:14 AM
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Never been to a court... but do they still do the oath on bible nowadays?

I thought it was just on movies lol

I would refuse to do it and say that this is no difference than harry potter book to me.

isn't the whole process actually forcing a religion on you?



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 09:37 AM
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Originally posted by spyder550

Originally posted by grainofsand

Originally posted by spyder550
I am in Georgia - I have never seen a bible used, and I think I would have noticed it. My daughter is clerk of courts I will ask. You can always call the clerks office and find out what they do then you can decide. An affirmation that you are going to tell the truth is all that is required.

I'm in the UK.
You are correct, an affirmation is all that is required, my concern is with the religious belief question being raised for anyone prior to giving evidence. An individual promising to tell the truth is making a personal affirmation to the court, religious belief information should not be required for such a statement.


I would think an attorney would rather not bring religion into it. Unlike the UK being an atheist in the US is a big problem. Just look at our political process.

I understand there is a greater perceived issue with atheists in the US but it can present potential challenges in the UK, as in the details of my situation.



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 09:40 AM
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Originally posted by Wonders
I'm surprised that no one has brought this up yet.
If you're really dead set against the bible in court, don't be AFRAID to "force" this verse "down their throats".

But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, -Matthew 5:34

It would be an interesting challenge to the establishment but as I said in the OP, I am reluctant to do anything which may influence a magistrates opinion when they will ultimately make a decision about my word against the defendant - the risk is not worth it considering the gravity of the court case.



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 09:44 AM
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Originally posted by littled16
reply to post by grainofsand
 
As others have stated you need only affirm that you will tell the truth. There have been cases of people who for religious reasons are not allowed to swear- especially on the bible. In such cases they are only required to hold up their right hand and affirm that they will tell the truth to the best of their ability.


Yes, I agree, my concern is that I am forced to declare a religious belief (or lack thereof) prior to giving evidence through my choice of oath or affirm.
Religious belief is irrelevant to truth yet in the mind of a zealous magistrate my choice could influence their opinion on my testimony.



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 09:48 AM
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Originally posted by Pinke


Originally posted by D.Wolf
I don't think they let trolls to become magistrate, but you know your surroundings better than me.

Some judges do appear to be trolls.

Exactly my concern in this case.



OP shouldn't have to compromise, but if it was the choice between saying 'I believe in God' and having a bad outcome for a loved one ... I imagine a lot of people would make the 'practical' decision.

Sometimes practical issues outweigh positions of conscience - the seriousness of the criminal charges I am witness to draws me towards selling out and hiding my lack of belief in gods.



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 09:53 AM
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Originally posted by adjensen
For the love of pete...

Does no one know how to use google?

Entering "atheist swear in court" results in: How do courts swear in atheists? on "The Straight Dope".


When a witness refuses to swear to God, the court accepts an "affirmation" instead. In a jury trial, the smart lawyer will arrange for this ahead of time in the judge's chambers, so the witness won't look unduly obstreperous or morally deficient in open court. The judge may then instruct the jury that the funny oath they are about to hear should be considered legally valid.


You don't need to swear on a Bible, stop sweating it.


Perhaps I did not make myself clear enough in the OP.
I am aware of the choice between a religious oath or a non-religious affirmation - this has been confirmed to me by a primary source, namely the police witness support officer.
The point of this discussion is the situation where a witness is forced to reveal their hand regarding religious belief prior to giving evidence by choosing oath/affirm. This is in open court and publically recorded.
The information could influence the opinion of a magistrate if they happened to be fanatically religious for example, as such I feel it has no place in an allegedly unbiased criminal court case.



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 09:58 AM
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Originally posted by grainofsand

Originally posted by Toromos
Having served on two criminal juries, I think you might be overthinking the impact of bible/no bible. There is so much to pay attention to in a case the oath is just a blur of memory.

No jury, a bench of 3 magistrates.
I agree any influence would likely be minimal, but that is an assertion. I do not know this.
The forced question of faith or not is questionable though while it is asked, no matter how small the risk of influence.


If they let your faith, or lack of, influence their decision, that reflects more on them than you. People lie on the stand, bible or no. If your word is not good enough for them, I don't see how a book would help them believe you.



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 10:00 AM
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Originally posted by Trexter Ziam
Presuming you are wanting to tell the truth and no lies - choose BOTH (unless you truly are deeply religious ... because swearing on the bible is AGAINST the bible - swear on nothing in heaven or on earth. )

By choosing BOTH - you show your word is as high as your faith (or lack thereof).

edit on 9/1/2013 by Trexter Ziam because: (no reason given)

If I were standing as a member of a jury I would of course be happy to simply 'Affirm' because there would be no potential influence to the opinion of the judge regarding any perceived moral standing.
As a witness I want nothing to predjudice the magistrates opinion so it would be unwise for me to 'create waves' in this situation.



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 10:04 AM
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Originally posted by luciddream
I would refuse to do it and say that this is no difference than harry potter book to me.

I cannot take the risk of damaging my standing as a witness in this case. All it would take is a zealously religious magistrate to be on the bench and the consequences could be worse than my feelings about selling myself out using the religious oath.


isn't the whole process actually forcing a religion on you?

I would say it is encouraging me to pretend in publically recorded open court that I have faith in a religion.



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 10:08 AM
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Originally posted by DAVID64

Originally posted by grainofsand

Originally posted by Toromos
Having served on two criminal juries, I think you might be overthinking the impact of bible/no bible. There is so much to pay attention to in a case the oath is just a blur of memory.

No jury, a bench of 3 magistrates.
I agree any influence would likely be minimal, but that is an assertion. I do not know this.
The forced question of faith or not is questionable though while it is asked, no matter how small the risk of influence.


If they let your faith, or lack of, influence their decision, that reflects more on them than you. People lie on the stand, bible or no. If your word is not good enough for them, I don't see how a book would help them believe you.

I absolutely agree but the magistrates are imperfect humans after all.
If just one of them is passionately religious and intolerant of non-believers (akin to a previous poster in this topic) then my choice to use a non-religious 'affirm' could be potentially damaging to the perceived credibillity of my evidence - Due to the seriousness of the charges I am reluctant to take the chance.



posted on Jan, 9 2013 @ 10:35 AM
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I think I would do whatever it took to balance the judgement in your favor, if you really Believe not swearing on the Bible might cause you a problem.

I don't see how swearing on one can hurt you, and if it helps your case, go for it.





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