Religion, Law and Morals in Society | Letters


I agree with my friend Kevin Browne and join him in his letter to the editor ( Nation of Barbadosn, November 30, 2021) concerning law / morals in society.

Just recently (October 25) Professor Stephen Vasciannie invited me and two lawyers as guest speakers in his class and part of our presentation related to religion and law in society.

Below is my presentation, in part: –

For our purposes, I treat religion at a minimum as an orientation / perspective that recognizes a “higher power”, or God, to whom humans are responsible in regards to behavior. Reject even this minimal approach and humans in community become the final arbiters of morality and justice. I will shortly mention the complaint of law professor Arthur Leff in this regard.

Some quotes on the right to meditate:

1. “The positive laws of any society enshrine or at least reflect somewhat the ethical-moral perspective or the highest aspirations of society. The statutes are ipso facto moral censors. {So we don’t just legislate on morality, we also try to enforce it). This is from my old Jamaican Theological Seminary classmate 1978 batch Albert Morris in personal correspondence.

2. “… Since any law necessarily reflects some system of moral values, there is every reason to ensure that it reflects the correct value system. (Prof John Warwick Montgomery in his book Human rights and human dignity.)

3. “I find that the wisest men have been of the opinion that the law is not a product of human thought, nor a law of peoples, but something eternal which governs the whole universe by its wisdom in command and prohibition. Thus, they have been used to saying that the law is the primordial and ultimate spirit of God. (Roman Stoic lawyer Cicero (106-43 BC), From Legibus, Bk 2, chap 4)

4. “The problem of establishing sound ethical standards in the legal profession and the larger problem of which this is only one aspect – that of finding ethical standards for the assessment of substantive law in general – is becoming immeasurable. more acute when we see total societies operating with legal and ethical values ​​directly opposed to our own. (Prof JW Montgomery)

5. “I want to believe – and you too – in a complete, transcendent and immanent set of propositions on good and evil, findable rules which guide us with authority and without ambiguity on the way of living with righteousness. I also want to believe – and so do you – in no such thing, but rather that we are completely free, not only to choose for ourselves what we should do, but to decide for ourselves, individually and as a species, what we should be. What we want, God helps us, is both to be perfectly governed and perfectly free, that is to say at the same time to discover good and good and to create it. (“Indescribable ethics, law against nature”, Duke Law Journal 6 (December 1979.)


Retired Jamaican Baptist Union


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