Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Biblical law in Scotland?

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Could judges in Scotland soon be basing their rulings on the Bible? You could be forgiven for thinking so if you'd read this article in Sunday's Herald, headlined "Law chief urges Scots courts: consult the Bible in judgements". It reports that Lord Mackay, a former Lord Chancellor, is fronting a campaign by the Scottish Bible Society, of which is Honorary President, to send a Bible to every court in Scotland, along with a pamphlet entitled "The Bible in Scots Law: A Guide for Legal Practitioners", which states:
“The Bible is a unique resource as the foundational source book for Scotland’s legal system. The SBS is pleased to have the opportunity to donate a Bible to courts so that it is readily available for reference in any case which may arise in future.”
So presumably coveting your neighbour's brand new gas barbecue and matching patio table and chairs is set to be restored to its rightful position as one of Scotland's gravest crimes? And what of all the joys contained within the Book of Leviticus, my personal favourite being Chapter 19, Verse 19, which basically amounts to a sanction against putting things that are pretty much the same, but a bit different, in the same place:
"Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee."
No more linen and woollen jumpers for Scots then? Well, not exactly, because, as with so many of these things, this is essentially a bit of a non-story. Mackay may be a former Lord Chancellor, but his current official position, Lord Clerk Register, is merely honorific, and has been since the early 19th century. As president of the Scottish Bible Society, he's perfectly entitled to send a copy of the Bible to every court in Scotland. We have a free (i.e. uncensored) postal service, after all. If I wanted, I could go out and buy a few hundred copies of David Icke's latest and send them to every court in England. It doesn't mean anyone's going to pay any attention. Unless Scottish judges suddenly start invoking Bible passages in their rulings, my guess is that we don't have anything to worry about.

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