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God in the CourtroomReligion's Role at Trial$
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Brian Bornstein and Monica Miller

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195328677

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195328677.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
God in the Courtroom

Brian H. Bornstein

Monica K. Miller

Oxford University Press

The United States has recently seen a religious resurgence. Americans are attending church in larger numbers than ever before, and mass media and popular entertainment are saturated with religious references. Importantly, religion is prominent in legal contexts as well, whether it involves the Ten Commandments in the courthouse, priests on trial for sexual abuse, jurors excused from jury service because of their religion, or judges sentencing criminal defendants to attend church. This chapter provides a thumbnail sketch of the place of religion in American life, explains why we should care about religion's role at trial, comments briefly on empirical issues in researching religion in legal contexts, and gives an overview of the remainder of the book. It also introduces a central theme in the book, namely, the normative and descriptive approaches to the issue. The normative question asks, “To what extent and in what ways should religion matter at trial?” The descriptive question asks “In what ways does religion matter at trial?”

Keywords:   juries, jurors, judges, attorneys, legal practice, religious denominations, trials, religious resurgence, religious references

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