Section 1 – Religion: Rights and responsibilities
These are the important words that you are expected to know for this section:
Bible the holy book of Christians with 66 books split into Old and New Testament
Church the community of Christians (with a small c it means a Christian place of worship)
Conscience an inner feeling of the rightness or wrongness of an action
Situation Ethics the idea that Christians should base moral decisions on what is the most loving thing to do in a situation
Electoral system the way in which voting is organised
First-past-the-post the voting system where whoever gets the most votes in a constituency wins the seat
Proportional representation the voting system where seats are distributed according to the proportion of votes
National government the government headed by the Prime Minister and Parliament which governs the whole country
Local government the local council which looks after local issues such as education and refuse disposal
Decalogue the Ten Commandments
Golden Rule the teaching of Jesus that you should treat others as you would like them to treat you
How Christians make moral decisions
Christians base their moral decisions on three things; the Bible, the Church and conscience. In addition some use another method to decide what to do in difficult situations; situation ethics.
1. The authority of the Bible
Christians believe that the Bible has authority. This means that it is so important that it must be believed and obeyed. They think it has authority because it has been inspired by God.
The Bible gives Christians lots of guidance on moral decisions and how to behave. Two of the most important passages are the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament) and the Sermon on the Mount (a famous sermon given by Jesus).
All Christians would use the Bible to help them make moral decisions. For example the Ten Commandments state that it is wrong to steal, lie or have an affair.
Christians have different views about the authority of the Bible:
• Some believe that the Bible is the absolute word of God. They think that God gave the human authors the actual words to write down. Therefore it has total authority and can never be changed.
• Some believe that the Bible is the absolute word of God but that it needs to be interpreted by the Church.
• Some think that the writers of the Bible were inspired by God but they also used their own human words and ideas when they wrote it.
Because of this some of the ideas need to be revised before they can be used today (e.g. on slaves and attitudes to women).
“God is the author of Sacred Scripture because he has inspired its human authors.”
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church
2. The authority of the Church
Many Christians think…