Thursday, April 15, 2004

Basis for Morality...

In A Jury of One's Godless Peers, from the March issue of First Things, Robert T. Miller writes on how the juror selection may be reflecting a secular attitude with regards to morality or, at least, the ability to judge. He begins,
Reading First Things may disqualify you from sitting on a jury, at least if a lawyer decides that such reading shows that you are too involved in the practice of your religion. Just ask the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the federal appellate court with jurisdiction for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
Miller briefly describes the juror selection process as well as what is known as a Baston hearing in which "a proceeding in which, after a lawyer has peremptorily challenged a juror, the other side to the litigation, if it suspects that the strike was based on race or sex, may contest the challenge and force the opposing counsel to explain a basis for the challenge unrelated to race and sex." He then states:
Which brings us to a lawyer striking jurors on the basis of their religious practices. In a recent federal case in New Jersey, United States v. De Jesus, the defense counsel demanded a Batson hearing after the prosecutor used peremptory challenges to strike two black jurors. The prosecutor then explained that he struck the jurors, not on the basis of their race, but because of their “heightened religious involvement.” One of the jurors had said that he participated in civic activities at his church, read the Christian Book Dispatcher, taught Sunday school, and sang in the church choir; the other juror had stated that he was an officer and trustee of his church and that he read the Bible and related literature. The prosecutor concluded that these jurors would have difficulty sitting in judgment on another human being and so would be reluctant to convict. ...the judge accepted the prosecutor’s explanation, and the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed, holding that, while challenges based on mere affiliation with a particular religious denomination may violate the Constitution, challenges based on a juror’s “heightened religious involvement” do not. Quoting the trial judge, the Court of Appeals said that it is rational for a prosecutor to challenge a juror who reveals “a rather consuming propensity to experience the world through a prism of religious beliefs.” You may thus be struck from a jury not for being a Christian, a Jew, or a Muslim, but only for being a rather devout Christian, Jew, or Muslim.
This type of secular thinking is ironic when one considers that Christians are often accused of forcing their beliefs on others. Yet when the rubber hits the road, the secularist reveals the very hypocrisy that he accuses the Christian of - that of forcing his view of religion onto the Christian. We shouldn't be surprised at the conclusions of the trial judge mentioned above, for he is coming to the logical conclusions of viewing the world through a prism of naturalisitc beliefs, as compared to - and as contrasted with - those who have a "propensity to experience the world through a prism of religious beliefs." This is a clear example of the effects of a worldview that sees naturalism as providing a complete explanation for physical reality. That they allow for subjective religious beliefs about whatever becomes a meaningless concession; a worthless addendum, important only to those superstitous enough to ignore reality.

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