Friday, February 05, 2010

Religion should play no part in sentencing

The Independent reports on a case from the UK where a man apparently received a light sentence for a serious assault because he was religious:

In court Mr Miah pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm. At sentencing, Mrs Blair appeared to take into account Mr Miah's religious convictions as a partial reason for imposing a more lenient sentence.

“I am going to suspend this sentence for the period of two years based on the fact you are a religious person and have not been in trouble before,” she said. “You caused a mild fracture to the jaw of a member of the public standing in a queue at Lloyds Bank. You are a religious man and you know this is not acceptable behaviour.”

The UK's National Secular Society has lodged a complaint with the Judicial Complaints Office, and rightly so. Its one thing to suspend a sentence for a first offender who is unlikely to reoffend - but this goes beyond that, and apparently grants favourable treatment on the basis of religion. And that is simply not acceptable in a modern democracy. What next? They'll decide to give higher sentences to atheists because we're obviously immoral godless people?