Atheists and the legal system

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

This article at The Jury Expert serves as a nice review of literature. Here’s their summary:

Atheists are unique and individual (just like all of us) and we have to attend to the attitudes, beliefs and life experiences that all of us (even atheists) bring to the table as jurors. Conversely, jurors need to be reminded, if they know they are judging an atheist, that they are human, American, and as deserving of thoughtful consideration as we all are. Do you want atheists on your particular jury? It depends. As we mentioned earlier, you probably don’t want a militant atheist–like most militants they are likely too unpredictable and a potentially polarizing force in the deliberation room. (We have seen occasions where juries–and even focus groups–have begun their deliberations with a group prayer. Many atheists (and others) would be very uncomfortable about this, of course, and resistance might have a strong impact on the deliberative process. Of course, if you want a contentious deliberation or a hung jury you may choose to inject a militant atheist, but we aren’t getting into that for this article.)

Most important, maintain an awareness of the intense bias atheism arouses in most Americans, and remember that all bias stems from beliefs, and the trigger is not always a characteristic visible to the eye.

Yes. We are human :-)


  1. Haha, I’m glad some have finally reached the realisation that we’re human.

    I was particularly surprised by this: “…where juries–and even focus groups–have begun their deliberations with a group prayer.” I think this highlights the different approaches to religion in America and the UK. Over here, my religious friends would laugh at the prospect at praying before deliberations (or at the very least, they’d be quite surprised if someone suggested such an option).

  2. “the intense bias atheism arouses in most Americans”: but on the other hand, an atheist friend of mine dismisses Americans as “the people who believe in the Munchkins”.

  3. Bayes:

    Even we atheists ought to appreciate the mindset of believers (with due allowance for hypocrisy) engaging in prayer (presumably for divine guidance) before deliberating as a jury.

  4. I was just highlighting the difference between the overt displays of belief in America when compared with the generally more reserved nature of us British. That’s why my religious friends would probably find such a scenario amusing. I’ll run it by them next time we’re down the pub :-)

  5. “Yes. We are human”
    Speak for yourself, man-thing. We otters of the Allied Atheist Alliance take offense!

Leave a Reply