Swearing In vs. Affirmation

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Moscow
Many courts require witnesses to swear that they will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth with one hand over a Bible and a direct oath to God. Some courts do not. In some cases, a Koran will replace the Bible if the witness is Muslim. Similar cases go for other religious denominations.

If a witness chooses to affirm his oath rather than submit an oath to ideas that he doesn't believe in, is there any risk in his case he wishes to present? Are there any legal or personal reasons as to why he would choose to do so?

Finally, a sensitive question but an important one. If any religious texts or beliefs are made to be addressed before giving a testimony (as in swearing to), does that conflict with the First Amendment's separation of church and state? Does that place government on the side on favoring religion and expecting American citizens to participate in it?

Wild Shadow
i wouldnt swear on the bible b/c i am not religious but if i were the bible itself tells you not to swear and makes oaths/promises and whatnot b/c no one can keep their word indefinitely .... yeah ppl can turn and twist that put i still wouldnt do it..

it would probably make me look bad in the eyes of the ppl but it is my personal beliefs...

Moscow
Would you feel comfortable giving your testimony to the jury after you told the judge you would not swear upon the Bible?

Wild Shadow
Originally posted by Moscow
Would you feel comfortable giving your testimony to the jury after you told the judge you would not swear upon the Bible?

i have never felt comfortable in a court room period even when i testified about a crazy Bi%@@ shooting my friends back window out on his brand new sport mustang..

the court give you an option of telling the truth to the best of your recollection or swear on the bible.

but yeah depending how you word it when talking to the judge and the jury overhearing it could effect how they take your testimony

Moscow
Originally posted by Wild Shadow
i have never felt comfortable in a court room period even when i testified about a crazy Bi%@@ shooting my friends back window out on his brand new sport mustang..

the court give you an option of telling the truth to the best of your recollection or swear on the bible.

but yeah depending how you word it when talking to the judge and the jury overhearing it could effect how they take your testimony

Yeah.. especially if you get some real Bible belt diehards. Sorry about your friend

Wild Shadow
me too we drove off got to a pay phone near a quicky mart called the cops and he was tearing up on his brand new sports car.. my stomach was knotted at his loss...

in court the lady's lawyer who represented her twisted and turned our argument about what she looked like what was she wearing what color was her hair...

i was like it was over a yr ago, that is how long it took for it to reach the court..

i was like she was wearing grey pajamas and it was dark she might have had dark blond hair or light brunette.. the B#[email protected]$ in court had dyed her hair purple by the way..

the lawyer was like well if you were a witness of the crime where did the bullet hit and why did you flee the scene of the crime? what lettering was on her pajamas if any?

i was like well 1st of i was in the backseat and the window shattered so i would asuume it hit the back window... i had no choice about leaving the scene since i wasnt the driver and common sense would have a person flee and hide or get cover when they are being shot at by a crazy person...


the lawyer was well where is the bullet? i was i dont know, why didnt the bullet shatter the front window? i was, i dont know... i wasnt the detective or the insurance guy who investigated the trajectory.

well what do you know?

that bi^&$^ shot me and my friends over a yr ago for having music playing while waiting for our friend who we came to pick up...

lawyer: how can you be a 100% sure my client was the shooter if it was darker and over a yr ago she is a school teacher married etc etc..

i was like well why is she in court and why did the cops arrest her and the husband call the police when she came running into the house?

they found a gun in the home which was recently fired and the husband testimony makes a solid claim she was outside with a wpn..

anyways the crazy B#@$# was found guilty of nothing more then firing a weapon within city limits and was to take anger management courses ...

i mean attempted murder and or attempt cause bodily harm, destruction of property were all dismissed, i was pissed...
anyways my friend and his lawyers were like my testimony screwed them up, i was like how the F#!#@ did i screw it up?!! they said i should always say i am 100% confident it is her

Moscow
Your testimony did not screw the case up. What your friend needs to know is that jurors are supposed to be unbiased in making their verdicts, but we all know that the human mind is a dangerous and manipulative tool. Apparently, they figured they knew something that you didn't.

That woman does sound a bit unstable, though. I wonder if anger management classes will actually help her.

Also, back to the issue at hand, if you did not swear to God that your testimony would be truthful some juror might have made a bad swipe at you and your friend's expense. It's a damn shame, but as they say "we have a just system"

Wink, wink and a nudge, nudge

Wild Shadow
i didnt have to swear on the bible i wasnt given the option they asked me if i would tell the truth to the best of my recollection and i said yes..

i was actually nervous thinking they would ask me to swear on the bible and it might make my argument less credible but i voiced my concerns prior to the case starting outside the court room with my friends lawyer that might be why they didnt do the bible thing... the lawyer might have asked for a different option prior to me entering and having the case started..

i try really hard to adhere to my beliefs.. so i dont swear on thinks i dont belief in or at least know contradicts the belief system... my personal ethics and morality has caused me some problems a few times but i know what is right and wrong for me and what i wont compromise.

Moscow
Got ya. You're probably right. You know, I find some problems with that method too (swearing in on a religious text). I haven't had the chance in life (like I'd be excited for it anyway) of serving as a witness. Yet, I think if I did, I'd tell the judge I wouldn't swear on a book and to some being that I wasn't entirely sure was there looking out for me or having anything to do with me.

Do you think that whole swearing in process (regardless of which religious denomination it uses) conflicts with the separation of religious activities and government-run activities?

Wild Shadow
yes, i think the swearing on a religious book inside a court house violates the separation of church and state. i wont cry about it but i think ppl who have a problem with it shouldnt be dismissed either.. if it is wrong it is wrong.. the thing is if you allow such things to be acceptable others will use it as an example to get away with something else and it would get bigger and bigger.

iirc there was an incident a few yrs ago where a court house or city building had paid for an art commission statue in front of the courthouse it had the ten commandments on it... i believe it had to be removed but it took a while b/c of bible thumbers and religious fanatics arguing and fighting for it and protesting...

my problem is again here is the line here is the rule... murder is murder you dont say well it was a child molester or a bum his life had less value..

same with the constitution we dont decide what stips we will adhere to and which ones we wont out of convenience..

i personally would like to have if they continue the practice of swearing on text/books the choice to make an oath on the Origin of the species book...

Me: i affirm to state the logical conclusion based on empirical data gathered from my eye witness observation of the date and individuals in question, using logic and sound reasoning... so help me Albert Einstein's and Charles Darwin's scientific method of theory and observation...

Moscow
With the art commissions project, did that have any connection with the Alabama courthouse and the Ten Commandments fiasco?

Strict constructionist views of the US Constitution is something that not many politicians really adhere to (and, funny, in the whole history of the US hardly ever in that respect)

On the subject of textbooks, you gotta hand it to Texas who really wants to be the first Christian Republic it seems. The Texas School Board recently approved a radical restructuring of their curriculum. I can only imagine how much history will be rewritten once they're done with it.

BTW, the scientific method is a great achievement of mankind.

Lord Lucien
Originally posted by Wild Shadow
me too we drove off got to a pay phone near a quicky mart called the cops and he was tearing up on his brand new sports car.. my stomach was knotted at his loss...

in court the lady's lawyer who represented her twisted and turned our argument about what she looked like what was she wearing what color was her hair...

i was like it was over a yr ago, that is how long it took for it to reach the court..

i was like she was wearing grey pajamas and it was dark she might have had dark blond hair or light brunette.. the B#[email protected]$ in court had dyed her hair purple by the way..

the lawyer was like well if you were a witness of the crime where did the bullet hit and why did you flee the scene of the crime? what lettering was on her pajamas if any?

i was like well 1st of i was in the backseat and the window shattered so i would asuume it hit the back window... i had no choice about leaving the scene since i wasnt the driver and common sense would have a person flee and hide or get cover when they are being shot at by a crazy person...


the lawyer was well where is the bullet? i was i dont know, why didnt the bullet shatter the front window? i was, i dont know... i wasnt the detective or the insurance guy who investigated the trajectory.

well what do you know?

that bi^&$^ shot me and my friends over a yr ago for having music playing while waiting for our friend who we came to pick up...

lawyer: how can you be a 100% sure my client was the shooter if it was darker and over a yr ago she is a school teacher married etc etc..

i was like well why is she in court and why did the cops arrest her and the husband call the police when she came running into the house?

they found a gun in the home which was recently fired and the husband testimony makes a solid claim she was outside with a wpn..

anyways the crazy B#@$# was found guilty of nothing more then firing a weapon within city limits and was to take anger management courses ...

i mean attempted murder and or attempt cause bodily harm, destruction of property were all dismissed, i was pissed...
anyways my friend and his lawyers were like my testimony screwed them up, i was like how the F#!#@ did i screw it up?!! they said i should always say i am 100% confident it is her ...


Penny for your thou--- nevermind.

Digi
There's no way I'd swear on anything but the Bible in a courtroom. A jury of "peers" scares the hell outa me, even if I wasn't the one on trial.

The Texas book-changing isn't such a big deal though. We're now in the Age of Information, and teachers will teach what they want to....and rarely teach only to the textbook. Such setbacks, if they can be called that, are temporary stopgaps at best. The number they will "indoctrinate" with their small changes is miniscule compared to those whose development will be oblivious to such piddly changes. It's an act of desperation that they're eliminating so much "left-leaning" (or is it right? the directions always confuse me with politics) material and information about other cultures, not an act based on a superior cultural position.

Symmetric Chaos
Originally posted by Moscow
If a witness chooses to affirm his oath rather than submit an oath to ideas that he doesn't believe in, is there any risk in his case he wishes to present?

When facing a jury it is potentially threatening to his case because they are liable to consider it suspicious and there is (in the US at least) a well documented distrust of atheists. Odds are that a judge would be less biased.

Originally posted by Moscow
Are there any legal or personal reasons as to why he would choose to do so?

Some atheists object to being required to swear a religious oath due to the feeling that it is an imposition of religous values. Demons are often afraid of touching holy texts due to physical pain. Anarchists may consider be asked to do basically anything as an initiation of violence against them. Some people just consider being asked to take an oath to be creepy.

There is no purely legal reason for objecting that I know of.

Originally posted by Moscow
If any religious texts or beliefs are made to be addressed before giving a testimony (as in swearing to), does that conflict with the First Amendment's separation of church and state?

Only if the option to swear in some other way is not given.

Originally posted by Moscow
Does that place government on the side on favoring religion and expecting American citizens to participate in it?

Probably. On the other hand most Americans do identify as religious so the court is justified in assuming that a given person will be religious.

Moscow
Originally posted by Symmetric Chaos

When facing a jury it is potentially threatening to his case because they are liable to consider it suspicious and there is (in the US at least) a well documented distrust of atheists. Odds are that a judge would be less biased.

Judges are supposed to be less biased, but at least in Florida anyway they are given a lot of leniency in their sentencing especially after the 1998 ruling change. A judge on the right or even moderate-right end of the political spectrum might be a little suspicious of the witness's actions.

Also, how well documented is this distrust of atheists? Send me some links for I am quite curious about it. I've always been fascinated with the fact that most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the framers of the Constitution were not really God-fearing Christians. A little slice of history that only a few people know about, and the rest of us blindly accept a different story.


Originally posted by Symmetric Chaos

Some atheists object to being required to swear a religious oath due to the feeling that it is an imposition of religous values. Demons are often afraid of touching holy texts due to physical pain. Anarchists may consider be asked to do basically anything as an initiation of violence against them. Some people just consider being asked to take an oath to be creepy.

There is no purely legal reason for objecting that I know of.

I like your points here, but I also found the flow of it kind of interesting. Putting atheists in the same paragraph as demons and anarchists: an interesting flair.

My personal feelings about oath swearing fall into your last sentence: I just find it a little creepy. If I were to tell the truth as a witness, I would feel that I wasn't talking before God Himself but to a bunch of dudes and lasses trying to convict a defendant on whatever. Just my take.



Originally posted by Symmetric Chaos

Probably. On the other hand most Americans do identify as religious so the court is justified in assuming that a given person will be religious.

Isn't that a little too easy? Just because a person jumps off a cliff, would you believe it to be a safe landing down below? Regardless of the witness's religion, I don't feel the courts should tag it along with their rule of law.

However, like you said, most people identify with some type of religion. It would be hard-pressed for the courts to change that aspect of its business.

Moscow
Originally posted by Digi

There's no way I'd swear on anything but the Bible in a courtroom. A jury of "peers" scares the hell outa me, even if I wasn't the one on trial.

I hear you on the "peer" thing. How do you feel about a professional jury, like they have in some parts of Europe? A group of people undergo a thorough background, take an lengthy interview and do an extensive educational training in order to be a full-time jurist at various cases. The system claims that this body would have a fuller understanding of the law.

Originally posted by Digi

The Texas book-changing isn't such a big deal though. We're now in the Age of Information, and teachers will teach what they want to....and rarely teach only to the textbook. Such setbacks, if they can be called that, are temporary stopgaps at best. The number they will "indoctrinate" with their small changes is miniscule compared to those whose development will be oblivious to such piddly changes. It's an act of desperation that they're eliminating so much "left-leaning" (or is it right? the directions always confuse me with politics) material and information about other cultures, not an act based on a superior cultural position.

Which is probably why the United States ranks quite low on intelligence tests like math and science and critical thinking compared to specific Central Asian and Far East Asian nations.

Symmetric Chaos
Originally posted by Moscow
Also, how well documented is this distrust of atheists? Send me some links for I am quite curious about it.

According to Gallup the only religious group that Americans fear more than atheists is Scientologists
http://theframeproblem.wordpress.com/2008/04/16/atheism-no-longer-the-most-despised-group-in-america-thanks-scientology/

This is a long historical trend in the US.
http://www.religioustolerance.org/amer_intol.htm

Originally posted by Moscow
I've always been fascinated with the fact that most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the framers of the Constitution were not really God-fearing Christians. A little slice of history that only a few people know about, and the rest of us blindly accept a different story.

That's an issue that has come up on this forum a number of times.

Originally posted by Moscow
My personal feelings about oath swearing fall into your last sentence: I just find it a little creepy. If I were to tell the truth as a witness, I would feel that I wasn't talking before God Himself but to a bunch of dudes and lasses trying to convict a defendant on whatever. Just my take.

I would ask to affirm by testimony rather than swear on the Bible but I wouldn't take offense to the request simply because I don't believe in God. Oaths make me feel weird on principle, I can't really say why.

Originally posted by Moscow
Isn't that a little too easy? Just because a person jumps off a cliff, would you believe it to be a safe landing down below? Regardless of the witness's religion, I don't feel the courts should tag it along with their rule of law.

However, like you said, most people identify with some type of religion. It would be hard-pressed for the courts to change that aspect of its business.

Hence my equivocation. There's no need for swearing on the Bible in court but because there are alternatives I think it does relatively little harm. Realistically it should be removed because it forces people to reveal a piece of information that might influence the jury pool.

inimalist
Originally posted by Symmetric Chaos
Realistically it should be removed because it forces people to reveal a piece of information that might influence the jury pool.

interesting...

Moscow
Originally posted by Symmetric Chaos

According to Gallup the only religious group that Americans fear more than atheists is Scientologists
http://theframeproblem.wordpress.com/2008/04/16/atheism-no-longer-the-most-despised-group-in-america-thanks-scientology/

This is a long historical trend in the US.
http://www.religioustolerance.org/amer_intol.htm

The first website says that "it brings me no pleasure to say that the Church of Scientology is a dangerous abusive morally-indifferent criminal organization masquerading as a church." No really, The Frame Problem, speak your true feelings now. roll eyes (sarcastic)

With the second website, not just Atheists but apparently any religion that's not Christian or Jewish is basically crapped on and viewed in a negative light, at least according to the 1995 poll. I cannot believe Americans four to six decades ago equated Atheism with Communism-- but then again I have to factor in McCarthy and there's my answer.

Kinda sucks that parts of the tables are incomplete, but yeah generally atheists, scientologists, gays and non Judeo-Christian religions are going to get thrown under the bus-- or burned by Apollyon in 2012 when the Rapture happens and the seven years of tribulations start.




Originally posted by Symmetric Chaos

Realistically it should be removed because it forces people to reveal a piece of information that might influence the jury pool.

Is that the witness's faith you're referring to? Or what the jury would perceive to be the witness's beliefs?

Symmetric Chaos
Originally posted by Moscow
The first website says that "it brings me no pleasure to say that the Church of Scientology is a dangerous abusive morally-indifferent criminal organization masquerading as a church." No really, The Frame Problem, speak your true feelings now. roll eyes (sarcastic)

Everyone's a bit biased, however the actions of Scientology are very well documented and unlike most religions they really are a homogeneous group (given that they would sue anyone trying to use the name that didn't fall in line).

Originally posted by Moscow
With the second website, not just Atheists but apparently any religion that's not Christian or Jewish is basically crapped on and viewed in a negative light, at least according to the 1995 poll.

However atheists have consistently been at the very bottom. It was only recently that Scientologists gained a larger scare factor to the public.

Or look at it this way: people honestly believe that Muslims are conquering Europe as we speak but when polled they still measure as more trustworthy than atheists.

Originally posted by Moscow
I cannot believe Americans four to six decades ago equated Atheism with Communism-- but then again I have to factor in McCarthy and there's my answer.

A lot of people still equate atheism with communism or at least equate atheism with liberalism and liberalism with communism.

Originally posted by Moscow
Kinda sucks that parts of the tables are incomplete, but yeah generally atheists, scientologists, gays and non Judeo-Christian religions are going to get thrown under the bus-- or burned by Apollyon in 2012 when the Rapture happens and the seven years of tribulations start.

My unfailing faith in Eru will shield me.

Originally posted by Moscow
Is that the witness's faith you're referring to? Or what the jury would perceive to be the witness's beliefs?

Yes. Consider, the witness's beliefs about religion are irrelevant to any testimony they give but the jury's reaction to them is liable to be altered by knowing what they are. It's probably not going to make or break many cases but it makes more sense to just have everybody affirm their statement.

Moscow
Originally posted by Symmetric Chaos

Everyone's a bit biased, however the actions of Scientology are very well documented and unlike most religions they really are a homogeneous group (given that they would sue anyone trying to use the name that didn't fall in line).

Are they hampered by high-profile celebrity antics? (I'm looking at Travolta and Cruise on this one)


Originally posted by Symmetric Chaos

However atheists have consistently been at the very bottom. It was only recently that Scientologists gained a larger scare factor to the public.

Or look at it this way: people honestly believe that Muslims are conquering Europe as we speak but when polled they still measure as more trustworthy than atheists.

For Muslims, just a little bit more. This War on Terror sure isn't helping their cause. Just last week, an Iranian principle in New York City was fired and rescinded of her benefits by the NY education board, because of "ties" alleged by distant relatives of so-called terror groups along the Iran-Afghan border. Hey... she looks Muslim and wears a burkha--says the ill-advised onlooker.


Originally posted by Symmetric Chaos

A lot of people still equate atheism with communism or at least equate atheism with liberalism and liberalism with communism.

Mm..yeah. All the damn "ism"s start running into each other and pretty much lose their meaning. If you listen to Glenn Beck, fascism, socialism, communism, capitalism, hell even democracy will never be the same again.no


Originally posted by Symmetric Chaos

My unfailing faith in Eru will shield me.


Is that the Elvish name for god in Tolkein's work... or the K-pop singer Tae Jin Ah?

Originally posted by Symmetric Chaos

Yes. Consider, the witness's beliefs about religion are irrelevant to any testimony they give but the jury's reaction to them is liable to be altered by knowing what they are. It's probably not going to make or break many cases but it makes more sense to just have everybody affirm their statement.

Well put.

Digi
Originally posted by Moscow
I hear you on the "peer" thing. How do you feel about a professional jury, like they have in some parts of Europe? A group of people undergo a thorough background, take an lengthy interview and do an extensive educational training in order to be a full-time jurist at various cases. The system claims that this body would have a fuller understanding of the law.

I don't mind that idea. Personally I'd like to to train/hire more judges, and have multiple judges on cases on a rotating basis. Similar idea, and it would be their job to understand the law. I will say this though: if I were guilty, I'd want a jury of peers. If I were innocent, I'd want a professional jury and/or judges.

Originally posted by Moscow
Which is probably why the United States ranks quite low on intelligence tests like math and science and critical thinking compared to specific Central Asian and Far East Asian nations.

Not sure I follow. We're lower because teachers don't follow textbooks rigidly? I'd argue against that, at least as it pertains to the books in questions (Social Studies primarily), but I'm not sure if that's the point you're making.

Moscow
Originally posted by Digi

I don't mind that idea. Personally I'd like to to train/hire more judges, and have multiple judges on cases on a rotating basis. Similar idea, and it would be their job to understand the law. I will say this though: if I were guilty, I'd want a jury of peers. If I were innocent, I'd want a professional jury and/or judges.

Multiple judges on a case for trial courts that are not appellate courts would make it more interesting I would think. That's a pretty good idea... I mean they allow multiple judges (at the same time, not rotating) looking over cases appealed to them, so why not at the very beginning?


Originally posted by Digi

Not sure I follow. We're lower because teachers don't follow textbooks rigidly? I'd argue against that, at least as it pertains to the books in questions (Social Studies primarily), but I'm not sure if that's the point you're making.

I was running two ideas at the same time. You were talking about textbooks, and I was thinking about polls and data that show that Indians, Pakistanis, Chinese, Thai and Japanese students score better on math, science and even history courses than American students do. I forgot to clarify.

Symmetric Chaos
Originally posted by Digi
I don't mind that idea. Personally I'd like to to train/hire more judges, and have multiple judges on cases on a rotating basis. Similar idea, and it would be their job to understand the law. I will say this though: if I were guilty, I'd want a jury of peers. If I were innocent, I'd want a professional jury and/or judges.

Well the idea of a jury of ones peers is that their ruling will represent the will of the community. I agree about having multiple judges, I've never understood why there are cases where a single person gets to decide the outcome like that.

Wild Shadow
anyways here is a link about what the bibles says about making oaths, swear, vows and promises...

basically anyone who believes he is a good christian, judeo follower is giving god a big F U with they swear on the bible or on the lords name......
http://www.gotquestions.org/vows-God.html

http://www.gotquestions.org/cussing-swearing.html

http://dianagrayministries.net/bible/bs_vows.html

lets not forget what the bible says about bearing false witness and what not... or judge not less ye be judged.. or what god thinks about lawyers, judges and scribes.. woe onto them turds.

http://www.openbible.info/topics/lawyers
http://www.capalert.com/judgenot.htm
http://bible.cc/matthew/23-27.htm
any religious follower should excuse themselves from court if they are followers of that particluar religion less they are being hypicrits in what they choice to believe and follow...

Moscow
Originally posted by Wild Shadow
anyways here is a link about what the bibles says about making oaths, swear, vows and promises...

basically anyone who believes he is a good christian, judeo follower is giving god a big F U with they swear on the bible or on the lords name......
http://www.gotquestions.org/vows-God.html

http://www.gotquestions.org/cussing-swearing.html

http://dianagrayministries.net/bible/bs_vows.html

lets not forget what the bible says about bearing false witness and what not... or judge not less ye be judged.. or what god thinks about lawyers, judges and scribes.. woe onto them turds.

http://www.openbible.info/topics/lawyers
http://www.capalert.com/judgenot.htm
http://bible.cc/matthew/23-27.htm
any religious follower should excuse themselves from court if they are followers of that particluar religion less they are being hypicrits in what they choice to believe and follow...

Very interesting, WS.

It seems dedicated religious people may be stuck between a rock and a hard place, though. They cannot simply refuse to excuse themselves from court.

Wild Shadow
if they are told to show up for jury duty they can exercise their religious beliefs to be excused from being picked for jury.

they really shouldnt be forced to go against their beliefs... pretty sure they would be dismissed if picked for jury duty..

Moscow
What about as a witness?

Wild Shadow
Originally posted by Moscow
What about as a witness? that only applies to ppl that plan on lying or give an inaccurate account of things whether purposely or accidently. god forgives but that doesnt mean ppl should abuse and think they get a free pass, that is not how religion is suppose to work.. ppl should be trying to be good not an @$$hole and say its cool my religion forgives me..

the only religious ppl that seriously have to worry about god are the lawyers who twist and turn and mislead the witness purposely... god dont like the lawyer or the judges or scribe...he made that very clear. no

Moscow
My phone book contains 43 pages worth of lawyers of all kinds.

Reading about God's feelings towards lawyers means that all of these windbags better make plans to go to confession pretty soon.

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