November 28, 2009

God Banished from the Courtroom? Not Here

With so many in the legal profession working diligently to unfasten the law from its Judeo-Christian moorings, it's encouraging to realize just how tough their job is. Reminders of our deep religious heritage remain integral parts of the everyday legal landscape. Consider this intriguing provision of current Pennsylvania law, said to be derived from our 1772 colonial statutes:

42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes § 5901. Judicial oath.

(a) General rule.--Every witness, before giving any testimony shall take an oath in the usual or common form, by laying the hand upon an open copy of the Holy Bible, or by lifting up the right hand and pronouncing or assenting to the following words: "I, A. B., do swear by Almighty God, the searcher of all hearts, that I will   *, and that as I shall answer to God at the last great day." Which oath so taken by persons who conscientiously refuse to take an oath in the common form shall be deemed and taken in law to have the same effect as an oath taken in common form.

(b) Right to affirm.--The affirmation may be administered in any judicial proceeding instead of the oath, and shall have the same effect and consequences, and any witness who desires to affirm shall be permitted to do so.

[*statute leaves a blank for insertion of appropriate action, typically "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth"]

Almighty God, the searcher of all hearts! As I shall answer to God at the last great day! Shocking language in this era of militant political correctness. While some want to make God a fugitive from justice, in reality he's still very much a legal insider.

What evidence of the strong biblical foundation of our American legal system do you encounter in your practice?

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