This question came to me after watching a forensics show recently. This lady in Atlanta had been killed and the DA had a pretty strong case against her husband. One of the husband's good friends (whom he owed money to) was also killed. The husband said the friend had came into his house (thinking it empty) to rob him for the debt and surprised the wife, so he killed her, then husband came in and killed friend in self defense. Both men were bookies, by the way.
One of the things introduced in the trial by the prosecution was the idea that the couple was having big problems, including their difference of religion. She was a Christian with "very strong feelings" about her spirituality. He was atheist. Again, the prosecution already had a good case without this tidbit.
What stood out to me was the jury deliberation time. They came back with a guilty in 45 minutes. That's awful damn fast. Do you think the jury just thought "sure he's guilty because atheists have no morals"? Seemed like it was at least a contributing factor.
So, if one of us was on trial for murder or some other violent crime, do you think it would sway a jury to "guilty" due to our lack of religion?
It always amuses me that when an attorney sees a client in jail when the accused miscreant is first brought in, they have nothing about them to suggest religious beliefs, though they may admit or deny the charges. Then the jailhouse chaplains start to work on them. By the time they are brought before the judge, they wear big crosses and probably think, deep down, If that Christian judge sees this cross around my neck he will spare my own. It doesn't work because the judges have confronted the scumiest people on earth and heard every story in the book, and some of those people wore crosses, too. I've had them give a client more time under such circumstances, though of course I cannot read minds and tell anyone what the judge thought of the cross. Doesn't it all boil down to one thing and one thing only: if a religion allows forgiveness for any "sin," no matter how heinous, what is to stop miscreants from committing increasingly horrifying crimes: the clerics always say one may only be forgiven if one confesses with sincere repentance and a promise of rectitude, but, hey, situations arise because of the weather.
If an uneducated jury leans in favor of a believer rather than an atheist in any sort of legal proceeding, one of two things have to happen. Either:
Granted that Choice One above is probably not practical in a trial, though a creative attorney might be able to interject facts about his client's atheism which could turn the case in his favor. There is the further complication, of course, of the belief or lack of belief on the part of the representing lawyer as well, which the accused would have to deal with well before proceedings were underway.
The second choice I think may be more functional. Jury selection is supposed to be about rooting out biases which may hamper an objective decision. I can see no reason why asking jurors about their attitudes toward those who have no religious belief should be off the table and dismissing candidates for that reason ... though in some cases and locations, finding people with no bias against atheists might be more than a bit difficult!
And on top of everything else, such actions might help to get the idea across that atheists are HUMANS, just like everybody else.
Just one more reason to not be shy about being an atheist and what that means. If the attorney has to be very clever to educate a jury during trial, then the job begins now, and here, wherever here is. Atheist parents have been dealing with this issue in child custody cases.
Therefore, to jack up the pace a bit, what do you see as the next best strategy?
I think the overall best strategy is to be OUT as atheists, full stop. If we quit hiding and refuse to be intimidated, the believers will ultimately have to start dealing with us and at some level or other, acknowledge that we ARE human beings, that we aren't what Psalm 14 says we are and Adapt To Us. Granted this is more feasible in some areas of the US than others, but we have to start somewhere.
Darwin knows, we've adapted to THEM long enough. Time for the shoe to go on the other foot.
...l could well be damned if I were ever unfortunate enough to be tried for anything.
LOL. The fear of a next life keeps some believers from doing wrong.
The believers just think we are deluded and "funny" (as in demented).
@Tom, of course the private sector will prophet from an enterprise that funnels the taxpaying dollars of even non-believers since this is a sanctioned "faith-based initiative" (thanks for George W. Bush for the euphemism). What it is is non-prophet profiting by a fear in death, the selling of myth to give gullibles "meaning in our lives" so that they don't catch on to the fact they are hamsters going round and round inside a cage.
The software sometimes works and sometimes not. Right now, I am typing on a reply box complete with a toolbar for font, etc., and when you see that, you know your comment will appear directly below the previous one, so it will be obvious who you're commenting to, but if you do not get a box with the tool bar, you must put an "at" (@) before the name, and then the message. As in, @Deidre32: bla bla bla.
Yes, I believe Atheists are judged unfairly, in all aspects, thus resulting in discrimination and ruining of life.
The 'justice' system is biased - most law enforcers, attorneys, judges, court officials, have brain-imprinted 'beliefs' that influence their decisions - I bet 90% of those imprinted beliefs are 'christian' or of another extreme religion system. Those people have most likely advanced easily (in their career) by stating they're 'religious'. Proclaiming one is 'religious' evokes a mainstream, instantaneous psychological 'buy-in' that religious people MUST be honest, fair, ethical in their chosen 'justice' career. Why does mainstream society buy-in to false notions that religious people are 'good' and non-theists are 'bad'?...media (Media is POWERFUL!), churches, familys passing down beliefs, peer pressure, celebrity reinforcements etc.
SO,... if 'justice'-career people have been religion-imprinted and/or are actively participating in religions that constantly 'reinforce Atheists are tainted, 'lost', confused, non-social, unethical, not-to-be-trusted, evil etc... those 'justice'-career folks let their bias influence how Atheists are treated, convicted etc. If an Atheist is being indicated as a criminal and is being tried in the 'justice' system... and there's no Smoking Gun, there's no hard evidence against that person... they 'justice' person (judge, lawyer etc) most likely will inflict their religious bias and pass unfair judgement against an Atheist.
@Tom, once against, Napolean said religion was a necessary evil that at the least keeps the masses from executing their oppressors.