Religious attitudes to crime and punishment (Christian attitudes to crime…
Religious attitudes to crime and punishment
Christian attitudes to crime
Misuse of free will and a turning away from God
Committed for reform due to beliefs in forgiveness
Important to understand why people commit crimes in the first place and how they can help them reform
For example, many prison chaplains spend time with prisoners, helping them to reform
In the gospels Jesus implied that Christians should be obedient to the state- so committing a crime is disobedient
The authorities that exist were created by God- rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted
There are examples of Christians resorting to crime for political/ religious reasons eg Jesus himself was executed for causing trouble
Most crimes are forbidden in the Bible- therefore a sin and causes offence to God
Christian attitudes to punishment
Some christians follow 'an eye for an eye' so believe retribution is the best punishment- may agree with long sentences or death penalty to separate criminals from society
Often true in the Bible belt in the USA
Many Christians believe in reform and reformation because of the Bible's teachings of forgiveness such as "turn the other cheek"
Punishment is seen by many Christians as the natural consequence of crime: in the Bible, God punishes sinners
Christian attitudes to the death penalty
Many Christians support it- "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life"- it is the ultimate retribution.
Some Christians many see it as a duty to protect society from the most dangerous criminals by removing them altogether.
Many Christians are against- goes against 5th commandment "do not kill"
Against- they believe only God has the authoirty to give and take life away
Buddhist attitudes to crime
Many crimes go against the noble eightfold path and might contradict right action, right speech and right livelihood and is considered unskilful
Crime causes harm to others and goes against the first precept
Crime may attract bad karma, leading to unfavourable rebirth
Many crimes are the result of greed or craving (tanha)- leads to suffering and eventually an unfavourable rebirth
Buddhist attitudes to punishment
Main attitude- reform and rehabilitation: as they believe in loving kindness (metta) to all living things and compassion (karuna) and part of this is helping offenders to see the error of their ways
Protection is seen as an important aim of punishment for Buddhists- many prisoners will need to be kept in prison to protect society from suffering
Many Buddhists are active in the prison reform movement, believing that prisons should be humane places which work to rehabilitate prisoners, not squalid places of retribution
in the UK, 'Angulimala' the Buddhist prison chaplaincy has been working for over 25 years to help offenders to reform through the teachings of Buddhism and the practice of mindfulness
Buddhist attitudes to the death penalty
Majority of Buddhists are against- directly contradicts the 1st precept
Some Buddhist countries do use the death penalty and for some Buddhists it is an important way of protecting society from the most dangerous criminals
Execution does not extend either karuna or metta to the offender
For many Buddhists death penalty is wrong as it shows no chance of reform
Stories of Milarepa and Angulimala to show the possibilities of reform: both were violent criminals who became great gurus after learning the Dhamma.