Spirit in the sky


The fact that a man in Texas is on death row and is to be executed in under a month is to come as no surprise. However, what should raise a few eyebrows is the influence that God’s word appears to have had in deciding this.

Khristian Oliver burgled a man, beat him with his own rifle and shot him in the face. Yet jurors have admitted that during his trial several, highlighted copies of the Bible had been passed around, and that attention to brought to passages such as "And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death."

Perhaps Oliver deserves the absolute punishment. For a man to be put to death, the jury must unanimously decide on the death penalty, free from outside influence. People’s outlooks are shaped by important figures and events in their lives, and for many people religion is a very strong influence. For such people, religion is an internal influence; something which already guides their judgments and decisions. The problem in this case is that the deliberation process in this trial reached a point where Bibles were used and quoted. However, the US constitution calls for the separation of state and religion. Just because one person believes in God doesn’t mean the law should be based around an interpretation of his wishes.

With all likelihood Oliver was a very nasty man and deserves his fate. However, as the American constitution went to great lengths to extract personal religious beliefs from law, the nature of his sentence is disappointing. Every US citizen is entitled to a free and fair trial, clearly this one has been tainted. Perhaps Oliver should not be meeting his maker just yet.