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Rev Julian Mann: Fair trials need a Christian revival to survive


National Treasure, Channel 4’s drama about a fictional celebrity accused of sexually abusing women, skilfully left the question of his guilt hanging right to the end. But a politically correct conclusion prevailed, albeit superbly written and acted, and the jury let off what the audience got to know was a guilty man.

A fictional drama could of course just as powerfully portray a guiltless celebrity being sent down.

But this drama highlighted, whether intentionally or not, how much the continuing privilege of  the presumption of innocence and trial by jury in our country urgently needs a revival of Christianity to survive.

Christianity teaches people to tell the truth, reflecting the divine character of Jesus Christ who, Christians believe, revealed the truth of God in his life, death and resurrection. Thus, according to Christian precepts, the National Treasure’s comedy partner was wrong not to tell the court the truth about what he heard outside his friend’s trailer on the night of the rape.

Trial by jury, as we all know, relies on truth-telling by witnesses, hence the importance of the oath to tell ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’, an oath sworn by Britons giving evidence in a court of law, until relatively recently, by Almighty God with the Christian Bible in hand.

In a society where mendacity and cronyism are becoming widespread, jury by trial is surely bound to become fragile.

Furthermore, because the truth of sexual abuse cases can be so difficult to determine, particularly historic ones, often involving one person’s word against another, is not the trial by jury system bound to struggle in this particular area?

So, surely what is needed for trial by jury to cope is for accusations of sexual abuse to become rare and not widespread as they now are? That involves the sexual re-moralisation of our society, where people by and large return to the Christian ethic, widely practised in this country before the 1960s, of keeping sex within faithful marriage.

After the permissive society unleashed a tsunami of sexual misbehaviour, it can now be reasonably argued that our country desperately needs a Christian revival to save its precious privilege of trial by jury and the presumption of innocence.

(Image: James Cridland)

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Julian Mann
Julian Mann
Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist based in Heysham, Lancashire.

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