Burden of Proof

In a court of law, at least in the United States, there is declared an obligation to prove affirmatively a disputed claim relating to an issue that is being contended in court. Because it is always the plaintiff (claimant) that brings the action, it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to persuade the court of the merits (truth) of his case. The plaintiff must therefore establish his case beyond a reasonable doubt.

In a civil case, however, the claimant is allowed what is called “a fair preponderance of the evidence” to establish the truth of his claim. In other words, reasonable doubt can be muddied and manipulated by legal theatrics.

How do these rules of “justice” stand up when questions regarding religion are presented? Unfortunately, history shows repeatedly that in cases debating issues of “belief” the scales of rational justice too often suffer considerable abuse.

In a theocracy, for example, where some religous faction holds iron-fist control of the state, “justice” is balanced against a defendant’s acceptance of the in-power’s religion. In such a religion-dominated governing setup, if one is charged with even a misdemeanor and does not subscribe to the prescribed manmade dogma, the defendant has virtually no chance of receiving genuine justice. When a faith system—any faith system—exerts muscle over the balance of national inquiry, neither spiritual nor human welfare is being served: only those in the seat of power benefit.

So it was considerably alarming in the United States when, in the opening days of the 21st century, the citizens of the U.S. found religious fundamentalists actively seeking to destroy the whole foundation of democratic principles in hopes of imposing their narrow concepts of a “Bible-based” nation. Through their clamor and forgery of the nation’s true history they thus placed themselves in the role of plaintiffs in the court of popular evaluation. Unfortunately for them, the claim of “revealed” wisdom and guidance made by these would-be controllers is not a premise that can be advanced beyond reasonable doubt. Presenting the Bible as their authority is not persuasive either, even in a civil court, for there are countless translations and interpretationsof that book. Moreover, the original authors of those stories were convinced that Earth was the center of all Creation.

But there still remain reasons to worry about the religious fanatics seeking to chip away at the principles set forth in the U.S. Constitution and in the Bill of Rights. The heavy-handed manner of the Supreme Court in the 2000 election belied the noble principles of “goverment of the people, by the people, and for the people,” and by Supreme Court rule a man was set in the Oval Office who brazenly claimed to be chosen by God! Inspired by biblical tales no doubt, he and his cohorts quickly mired the nation neck-deep in an illegal war; those who were taken prisoner were held without charge and without access to legal counsel; torture was approved and indulged in; citizens’ rights to privacy were betrayed—and numerous other biblical niceties were extended. Meanwhile the rich quickly got richer as they sank even deeper into spiritual poverty.

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