Would you swear an oath?
Sarah Donaldson, a Quaker who grew up in Maidenhead Meeting and is now a barrister, took part in a Radio 4 discussion on ‘Swearing an oath’, along with Jasvir Singh, a family law barrister and chairman of City Sikhs, and legal commentator Joshua Rosenberg. A really interesting programme, well worth listening to on http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09h2tkd
The focus of the discussion was that lying in a court of law carries serious penalties, so do we need to swear oaths on holy books? Sarah explained that Quakers take the option of affirming that they are telling the truth, rather than swearing an oath, because we emphasise the importance of truth at all times, and think that swearing an oath implies a double standard of truth. Other contributors were sympathetic to affirming, although felt it was still important to give witnesses the option of swearing on a holy book. There was interesting discussion on whether a witness who chose to affirm might be viewed differently than one who swore an oath, and also on the colour-coding of holy books!