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Missed opportunity of the court-room oath

by
12 October 2011

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From Mr Nicholas Wildish

Sir, — The Revd Nicholas Turner’s article (Comment, 7 October) about the swearing of oaths reminds me of a conversation at the court at which I am a magistrate.

Some non-Christian magistrates were talking about a case at which a churchwarden had given evidence involving his church. All witnesses are asked to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, under their holy book or by way of affirmation. The church­warden in this case chose to make an affirmation and not to “swear by Almighty God”.

The magistrates were puzzled that this openly Christian witness was, for some reason unknown to them, not swearing by Almighty God. I explained that I supposed that he was sensitive about a verse in the Bible which, he felt, forbade him to do so. It struck me, however, as a lost opportunity for this Christian to make his faith plain to all those hearing him, and to assert the truth of his evidence by a commitment to his God.

NIGEL WILDISH
Fair City, 25B Ravensdale Avenue
London N12 9HP

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