Religious Studies- Crime and Punishment

A summary of the 4th section of the Edexcel Religious Studies Christianity and Islam textbook

  • Created by: R_Hall
  • Created on: 02-05-12 09:15


Section 4 - Crime and Punishment

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The need for law and justice

  • Laws are the rules made by Parliament that govern human relationships and society as a whole
  • Justice is about enforcing the laws in a way that is fair and equal to everyone, making sure that good acts are rewarded and bad acts punished
  • Laws in the UK are made by parliament and enforced through the police and the courts, to enable people to live in freedom, safety and order
  • A sin is an act against God and a crime is an act against the law, but not all crimes are sins
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Theories of punishment

  • There are several theories about the purpose or aims of punishment-
  • Deterrence- The idea that punishments prevent or discourage someone from doing something again, or deter other people. However, it doesn't work
  • Retribution- The idea that punishments should make criminals pay for what they have done wrong and gives the victim a sense of justice. However, it doesn't always work, and cannot be achieved in serious crimes (eg. murder)
  • Reform- The idea that punishments should try to change criminals  so that they will not commit crimes again. However, it goes against the idea of punishment
  • Protection- The purpose of the punishment is to protect society from dangerous criminals.  However, it only works when criminals are locked away
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Muslim attitudes and justice

  • Muslims believe in the importance of justice  as the Qur'an teaches that Muslims should act with justice and fairness and that God is just
  • Muslims believe in following the law of God (the Shari'ah law) which requires fairness and justice for all
  • Many Muslims campaign for peace and justice throughout the world, through organisation like Muslim Aid and Islamic Relief
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Christians and justice

  • Christians believe that they should behave justly because the Bible says that God is just and wants people to behave justly, and Jesus taught that everyone should be treated fairly and justly
  • Christians try to bring justice to the world by following Jesus' teachings
  • Christians agencies like Christian Aid and CAFOD (Catholic Fund for Overseas Development) work for justice today
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Non-religious arguments about capital punishment

  • Capital punishment is the death penalty for a crime or offence
  • The death penalty was abolished in the UK in 1973, however in some countries (including China and in some American states), capital punishment is still practised
  • Arguments for capital punishment- acts as a warning or a deterrent, the value of live is made clear, society can rid itself of dangerous criminals and is compensation to the family of the victim
  • Arguments against capital punishment- it doesn't work (countries who use it do not have lower murder rates),  innocent people can be wrongly executed, terrorist can be killed and become martyrs and execution is an easy punishment as the criminals does not have to live with the guilt of their crime
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Christian attitudes to capital punishment

  • Some Christians are strongly opposed to capital punishment as it goes against the sanctity of life, Jesus taught that revenge is wrong ("But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also"- Matthew 5:38) and it not compatible with the Christian message of love and forgiveness
  • Others support it  as the Old Testament says "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed" (Genesis 9:6) , St Paul taught people to obey the rules of their country, and it has been used by Christians throughout the ages
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Muslim attitudes to capital punishment

  • The Qur'an teaches that capital punishment can be used for murder, adultery and when someone abandons his religion and community ("Take not life-which God has made sacred- except for just cause" Surah 17:33). It can also only be given after a fair trial
  • Muslims are generally in favour as the Qur'an, Muhammad and the Shari'ah law said it can be used
  • However, a growing number are against the death penalty as it is being misused in many circumstances
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Drugs and alcohol laws

  • A drug is any chemical that you take into your body to change your mood or how you are feeling
  • Powerful drugs are controlled by UK Law as they can damage a person's health and can cause considerable social problems
  • Legal drugs are sold under controlled conditions to protect the people consuming them
  • There are many laws controlling the sale, possession and use of drugs and alcohol
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Social and health problems caused by drugs and alc

  • Drugs and alcohol can cause problems like violence, debt, crime, homelessness, unemployment, overdose, illness and relationship breakdown
  • Alcohol causes 22,00 deaths per year, due to health problems like heart disease, stroke, liver disease and cancer
  • Although smoking has decreased because of a public ban, it is increasing among children and teenagers. Smokers die 23 years earlier than non-smokers because of cancer and lung disease
  • Drug users face the risks of overdose and brain damage, and are also likely steal (to fund addiction) and be unemployed


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Christian attitudes to drugs and alcohol

  • The Bible teaches that God created our bodies, so we shouldn't abuse them. All Christians believe that taking illegal drugs is wrong because of the damaging effects, and because they can damage a person's relationship with God
  • Many Christians drink alcohol in moderation because Jesus drank wine and gave it to his disciples at the Last Supper. However, they only drink in moderation because "drunk on wine leads to bad behaviour" (Ephesians 5:18)
  • Some do not drink at all because it can impair person's judgment and there are alternatives to drinking wine (as in Biblical times, wine was the safest drink)
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Muslim attitudes to drugs and alcohol

  • Islam strongly forbids the use of intoxicants because-
  • Their bodies were created by Allah and shouldn't be abused
  • The Qur'an says that they are "haram" (forbidden)
  • The effects of drugs or alchol mean that Muslims could not pray, and would not be able to have a relationship with Allah
  • The effects would also mean that Muslims would commit other sins
  • The Qur'an says "O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling.. are an abombination of Satan's handiwork: Shun such abombination, that you may prosper" (5:93)
  • Muslims are divided as to whether they should sell alcohol as part of their job
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