Religion, Crime and Punishment – MURDER, THEFT AND HATE CRIME

Murder, Theft and Hate Crime


  • Murder – The deliberate taking of life
  • Theft – Taking property, which belongs to someone else
  • Hate Crime – A crime motivated by hatred or prejudice towards a certain group eg blacks or homosexuals



Murder of James Bulger

One of the most shocking examples of murder was the case of two-year-old James Bulger. James was separated from his mother in a shopping centre, taken by two boys, John Venables and Robert Thompson and brutally murdered by the two ten year old boys.



In April 2015, The Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company, an underground safe deposit company was burgled. Approximately £200 million of property was stolen. It has been described as the ‘largest burglary in English legal history’. Four experienced but elderly thieves planned it. Four other men assisted them.  Sentences ranged from 21 months to 7 years.


Hate Crime

The term hate crime refers to crimes comitted against and individual, group or property which is motivated by prejudice towards them. Hate crimes are categorised as follows:

  • Disability
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Religion or belief
  • Sexual orientation
  • Transgender identity
Anthony Walker

Anthony Walker was a black teenager who was attacked and killed in a racially motivated attack. Anthony and his white girlfriend were waiting at the bus stop when a group of young men started verbally abusing the couple. They walked away but were followed and Anthony was attacked with an ice axe. He died from blood loss. The murder was described as a ‘racist attack of a type poisonous to any civilized society’. Michael Barton and Paul Taylor were given life sentences in 2006.

Sophie Lancaster

Sophie Lancaster, a former pupil at Haslingden High School was also a victim of Hate Crime. She was attacked and murdered for being ‘Different’. The Sophie Lancaster Foundation campaigns to highlight the dangers of prejudice and intolerance.


Christian Teachings on Murder, Theft and Hate Crime

  • Goes against the commandment ‘Thou shall not kill’
  • Goes against the core teaching of Sanctity of Life – ‘God gives life only God has the right to take it away’


  • Goes against the commandment ‘Thou shall not steal’
  • Goes against the core teachings of Jesus such as ‘Love thy neighbour’ and ‘Do unto others as you would have done to you’. Taking property, which belongs to others, is not loving and you would not want to be the victim of theft so therefore do not steal.


Hate Crime
  • All mankind have been ‘Created equal in the eyes of God’ therefore to mark a group out because they are ‘different’ is unacceptable.
  • Jesus taught ‘Love thy neighbour’. Hate crime in any form is not loving.


Muslim Teachings on Murder, Theft and Hate Crime

  • ‘Take not life that God has made sacred’. (Qur’an) This is the same idea as in Christianity, the Sanctity of Life.
  • All criminals will be judged by Allah according to their actions, “Every man’s actions will be hung around his neck.” (Qur’an) In many countries the death penalty is still given for murder.


  • Harsh punishments are also given for theft, “As to the thief, male or female, cut off their hands: a punishment by way of an example” (Qur’an ). Muslims would also say that the circumstances leading up to the theft must be considered. Amputation is the last resort for persistent thieves.
Hate Crime
  • Islam would emphasise the equality of all people. Many Muslims are victims of hate crime in the form of Islamophobia. This has often been linked to the perceived link between Islam and terrorism. Tell MAMA a support group, which monitors anti Muslim hate crime has highlighted a range of crimes experienced by Muslims such as violence, verbal abuse and online hate campaigns. Many Muslims are against hate crime as they understand what it is like to be a victim.

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