Religious Law

Religious Law

Religious law is derived from sacred texts, traditions, and beliefs of a given religion in relationship to various aspects of human life. Today, there are dozens of religions in the world, each with distinct rules that govern how people should live with each other. Examples include the Christian canon law, the Hindu law, Islamic Sharia Law, Jewish halakha law, among others. The cannon and sharia are the two most prominent religious laws in the world. They differ from other forms of religious laws in that; the canon law is a collation of Anglican and Orthodox law while sharia develops most of its laws from precedent cases. In Christianity, the ten commandments comprise a set of rules that govern the behaviour and actions of Christians. These commandments address various issues, such as not killing, lying, lusting, and other issues in human life.

For a long time, religion and law have always been interconnected. Many legal systems all over the world are in one way or the other connected to religion. In an entirely religious legal system, a case is presided by a jury who is also a religious leader. Their decisions are, therefore, reliant on the religious rules. In a secular system, the judge presiding over a case has zero influence from religion.

Currently, there are only very few countries with legal systems that solely depend on religious laws. In fact, some countries strive for the two systems not to intersect at all. In the United States, the term “separation of church and state” is often used to describe the relationship between religion and law.  The United state is considered one of the strictest governments that separate religion and law. This, to some extent, is true. However, the separation is stringent only when addressing the institutional separation and not a complete separation.

Some countries, particularly countries dominated by the Islamic religion such as Iraq and Iran, largely depend on religious teachings and beliefs. However, other countries like India and Pakistan fall in between operating with a dual system. This means that various aspects, such as family and marriage, are governed by religion, while the state is left to deal with secular issues. The fact that America’s national motto “In God we Trust” invokes the name of God shows clearly there is no complete separation between state and church. The US also observes the National Day of Prayer, emphasizing that separation of church and state cannot be in all aspects but rather only when addressing the vital parts of the system.