One of the main reasons I created this blog was to show a correlation between people’s religious beliefs, how they play out in the political arenas and it’s effects on the laws of the land.
According to the Central Intelligence Agencies statistics [*] the world consists of a mix of religions:
[Christians 33.32% (Roman Catholics 16.99%, Protestants 5.78%, Orthodox 3.53%, Anglicans 1.25%), Muslims 21.01%, Hindus 13.26%, Buddhists 5.84%, Sikhs 0.35%, Jews 0.23%, Baha’is 0.12%, other religions 11.78%, non-religious 11.77%, atheists 2.32% (2007 est.)].
Each religion has it’s own beliefs, some examples : Christian beliefs are centered around the teachings of Jesus, Muslim beliefs are centered around Sharia (Islamic) law, and most non-religious and atheist beliefs are centered around science.How does this effect the laws of these countries? By, once again, using the CIA statistics available through the World Fact Book, you can look up any country on earth to obtain general statistics about it.
First, let’s look at some countries religious practices :
– America –
- Religious Practices: Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4% (2007 est.)
- Legal System: Uses a federal court system based on English common law. Each state has its own unique legal system of which all but one (Louisiana, which is still influenced by the Napoleonic Code) is based on English common law. Allows judicial review of legislative acts.
– The United Kingdom –
- Religious Practices: Christian (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist) 71.6%, Muslim 2.7%, Hindu 1%, other 1.6%, unspecified or none 23.1% (2001 census)
- Legal System: Based on common law tradition with early Roman and modern continental influences. Allows nonbinding judicial review of Acts of Parliament under the Human Rights Act of 1998.
– China –
- Religious practices: Daoist , Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2% (note: officially atheist (2002)
- Legal System: Based on civil law system and derived from Soviet and continental civil code legal principles. The legislature retains power to interpret statutes and their constitution is ambiguous on judicial review of legislation.
– Russia –
- Religious Practices: Russian Orthodox 15-20%, Muslim 10-15%, other Christian 2% (2006 est.) (note: estimates are of practicing worshipers; Russia has large populations of non-practicing believers and non-believers, a legacy of over seven decades of Soviet rule)
- Legal System: Based on civil law system and judicial review of legislative acts.
– Iran –
- Religious Practices: Muslim 98% (Shia 89%, Sunni 9%), other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha’i) 2%
- Legal System: Based on Sharia law system
– Saudi Arabia –
- Religious Practices: Muslim 100%
- Legal System: Based on Sharia law, although, several secular codes have been introduced. Commercial disputes are handled by special committees.
A few conclusions that can be drawn are not very stunning in themselves. America and the UK are mostly Christian oriented nations and their legal systems are set up using “common law”. Russia and China are fairly “religious free” and their legal system is based on “civil law”. Iran and Saudi Arabia are Muslim in faith, and their legal system is based on Sharia law.
What is important to understand are the definitions of these types of legal systems.
- A “common law” legal system is one that derives its force and authority from the universal consent and practices of it’s people.
- A “civil law” legal system is one that derives it’s force and authority from history and tradition. Due to the nature of civil law, both church and state MUST become one.
- “Sharia law” a legal system devised by the prophet Mohammed who also wrote the Quran.
These statistics clearly show a pattern.
- In Iran and Saudi Arabia, one person (prophet or not) created an entire legal system that these two countries follow. These laws do not change with the passage of time nor do they necessarily reflect the will of the people they govern.
- In Russia the church and state are one so that the church cannot speak out against the state. In China, the government has delcared the country “atheist” since 2002. All laws in both of these countries are based on traditions dating back to the early Roman/Chinese Empires. With the passage of time, new laws are added, but very few (if any) are ever removed. This legal system does not necessarily reflect the will of the people it governs.
- In the United Kingdom and America, the church does not rule the state, nor does the state rule the church. These legal systems base themselves on case law in federal courts and the will of the governed through an election process. Any law under this type of legal system can be changed, modified, or removed at the will of the governed. This type of legal system reflects the ‘majority’ of the people that are governed by it.
By studying Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and MANY other countries, both the people of the United Kingdom and America have seen the dangers of allowing both church and state to become one entity to rule over the governed. That separation of church and state is vital to the governed’s freedoms.
What is not so evident to people in America and the United Kingdom is that these two predominantly Christian nations, while enduring to separate church from state to promote individual freedoms, base their own legal systems on “common law”. Over 70% of both of these nations practice Christianity in some form, yet choose representatives to allow freedom (in many forms) to it’s fellow citizens. Another thing that is not so evident until you look at these statistics closely is that since common law can be changed by the will if it’s people without civil war breaking out, both of these countries run a risk of losing their legal system to civil law, or worse yet, Sharia law. Without Christians allowing individual freedoms of all sorts by supporting common law during elections, the individual rights of every citizen in America and the United Kingdom would be threatened by civil or Sharia law.
So, the next time a Christian annoys you with the sign of the cross, a public prayer, gets pushy with their beliefs, damns you to hell, refuses to believe evolutionary “facts”, or simply acts ‘holier than thou’ to you. Confound the hell out of them. Shake their hand and thank them for your individual freedom to not to participate and let them know that you support their right to be a Christian.
Source : [*] – The World Fact Book.