Religion, Crime and Punishment – KEY IDEAS

Key concepts:

  • Law and order – rules of our society and how they are enforced
  • Evil – An act considered morally wrong or wicked. From a religious point of view, evil acts take a person further away from God
  • Forgiveness – Letting go of anger or hatred towards someone for a wrong they have committed against us. It is a central teaching in all religions
  • Justice – A belief in what is fair and right. In relation to crime, justice must be served by the criminal justice system
  • Suffering – A feeling of pain, harm or distress caused by others
  • Morality – A person’s sense of right and wrong in terms of behaviour or actions. Religion may play a significant role in terms of shaping a person’s morality
  • Conscience – The voice inside us, which tells us right from wrong. Many believe that conscience is the voice of God.
  • Sin – An act, which goes against God and takes a person further away from God
  • Repentance/Remorse – To be genuinely sorry for what you have done

Exam Tip – Learn the definitions of the words above. They are often asked as 1-mark questions.


Religion and Rules

All religions have their own set of rules. These rules give a framework for believers to live their lives. Christians would follow rules such as the Ten Commandments eg “Do not steal”. Muslims will follow the words of the Qur’an such as ‘Take not life that God has made sacred, except by way of justice’ or the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad such as ‘Pardon each other’s faults and God will grant you grace’. In some countries such as Saudi Arabia the law of the land is Islamic. This is called Shariah Law.

Most religions teach followers to keep the laws on the land as laws are in place to ensure society runs smoothly. St Paul tells Christians ‘To obey the law of the land’. Religions would also say that at times it might be acceptable to break a law, which is unjust, or unfair eg Martin Luther King was prepared to break the unfair laws, which allowed racism in the United States. Conscientious Objectors broke the law when they refused to fight or kill in the name of war.


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