"Bible Haters" are furious that jury
used Bible to determine their verdict.



From Rabbi Dovid Bendory (in response to these articles.)

"US authorities urged to overturn death sentence after jury consulted Bible"
reports the UK Guardian. It’s secular liberalism gone awry.

The case: a Texas man is convicted of a murder so brutal that I don’t want to repeat the accusations.

The verdict: guilty, punishable by death.

The problem: the jury quoted the Bible.

Yes, you heard it right. So far, not one, but *two* appeals courts have rejected the murderer’s pleas to overturn the jury’s death sentence. The grounds for his appeal? The death sentence "was improperly influenced by references to the Bible." Thankfully, the Supreme Court was wise enough not to dignify the argument by accepting the case.

Lest you think that our poor murderer is on his own, fear not! Amnesty International is involved. Their grounds? "The use of biblical references to decide life or death in a capital trial is deeply, deeply troubling.’" They are calling on "the authorities" in Texas to commute the sentence.

Apparently you can base your moral judgement on anything you want -- so long as it isn’t religion. Presumably, Amnesty wants the jury to reach a conclusion about capital punishment using some more abstract moral system. What in the world would that be!?

Let’s be clear -- there is no such thing as an "abstract" morality that is free from the "influence" of a religious or other belief system. Like it or not, the Hebrew Scriptures are one of the pillars of Western Civilization. Thus the Bible is at the very least on par with Socrates, Plato, DeCartes, Hobbes, and any other thinker that these anti-religionists want to uphold as the source of "true" morality. Why should an appeal to Secular Humanism be permitted in commuting a death sentence but an appeal to the Bible should be forbidden?

Amnesty, face reality -- our entire court system is based on the Bible. The idea that "justice is blind", that "all are equal before the law", that the accused has a right to confront his accuser(s) and witness(es), that "the punishment must fit the crime", that "fathers shall not be punished for the crimes of their children nor children for the crimes of their fathers" -- these ALL come straight out of Hebrew Scriptures (and subsequent developments in Jewish Law). From a Bible point of view, these ideas are no more or less moral than a decision about a death penalty. Perhaps Amnesty would like to close down our Court system? Since anything found in the Bible must be inherently bad, we could go back to a non-Biblical legal system -- one in which the king arbitrarily executes judgement -- and people -- at whim.

By all means, argue as to whether or not a death penalty should be an appropriate punishment, and argue over whether or not this particular criminal deserves a death penalty, but to throw out the punishment because the jurors discussed it in a Biblical framework!? This is First Amendment stupidity gone awry. Nowhere does the First Amendment in any way imply that neither the government nor citizens will be restricted from guidance by religious principles. Our Founding Fathers were wise enough to know that religion has its place, and they were also wise enough to know that religious and temporal rule must be separated from each other. Allowing this execution to proceed does not in any way support or restrict the establishment of religion.

I can’t help but wonder … Would Amnesty step in and protest if the jurors discussed the Bible as literature to make their decision? What if they discussed Shakespeare? What if they had discussed the Koran, though none of them were in fact Muslim? What if they had discussed the Code of Hamurabi?

Or -- the big question -- what if the jurors had used the Bible to decide to acquit this murderer? Would Amnesty protest that too? I have no doubt what the answer is to that question.


Rabbi Dovid Bendory is the author of "The Ten Commandments of Self Defense" project.

Visit the Rabbi’s Archive page.

You may reach him at his email address.


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