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Religion (Christianity) and its Negative Effects when it comes to the law in the 21st century

Religion (Christianity) and its Negative Effects when it comes to the law in the 21st Century. 

Religion (Christianity) and its Negative Effects when it comes to the law in the 21st Century. 

By Osazuwa OKAH Abraham

In a word marked by remarkable advancement in science, technology, and social progress, the coexistence of religion and law remain a contentious issue. While freedom of religion is a fundamental right, it can, at times collide with the principle that govern legal system. In the 21st century a time when our global society strives for inclusivity and justice question arise about the role of religious beliefs in shaping laws and their impact on individual rights. While religion has been a cornerstone of human culture for millennia, its influence on modern law present a myriad of challenges and controversies. This article dives into the intricate relationship between religion and legal frame work of the 21st century, shedding light on the negative effect that can arise when deeply held beliefs clash with the principle of justice, equality, and societal progress. As we navigate this intricate terrain, it becomes increasingly crucial to explore how religion, while a source of profound inspiration and guidance for many, can also become a source of tension and discord within the legal arena, and the implication this hold for our increasingly diverse and interconnected world. Before we go further into the discussion we most firstly know what religion is.


What is religion?

Religion is a complicated or rather complex and multifaceted concept that encompasses a wide range of beliefs, practices and tradition. At its core religion typically involves a system of beliefs in a higher power or powers (Hindu religion), as well moral and ethical principles that guide the behaviour of its adherents. It often involves a multitude of things such as ‘the holy one ‘’, rituals, ceremonies, festival etc. in simple terms religion cam be seen as a way of life a particular group of people that is their beliefs, practices, organisation, names, origin etc. religion can vary greatly in their specifics beliefs and practice and can be monotheistic (belief in one god) polytheistic (belief in multiple gods) or non-theistic (lack of belief in god). In other words religion is complex and dynamic as it comes in different shapes and sizes.

Historical perspective 

Historically law and religion can be traced back to centuries as this is called religious law a term used to refer to those part of many religious tradition that prescribe and regulate norms of conduct, as encoded, for example, in such source as the ten commandment (exodus 20), the shari’ah and the hindu law of manu which include many aspect of conduct that is now within the purview of secular law. These are laws without religion, but not without god. It could be argued that the tenants of some of these religion such as the ten commandments (mosaic law) which apply to Christians which include thou  shall not kill, thou shall not commit adultery, thou shall not lie etc. we can be applied to every individual irrespective of their religious or rather lack of religious background . For example it is a general knowledge that is thought to us at a very young age that we should not lie, for example when I was a child my parent use to tell me not to lie because lying could get me in trouble or get others in trouble also it is of common sense that we know that we should not kill. Although religion has helped enforce these commandments over these century I think we as a society has advance pass the stage were we need religious leaders or religion to tell us what is right from wrong as we are no longer in medieval times were arguable we lacked more intelligence than we have now case on point the internet which grants us access to nearly endless knowledge we as a society has advanced in technology and knowledge it would not be far-fetched to say that the people of the twenty first century are too advanced or religion. Also some of the Ten Commandments like thou shall not kill has historically not been obeyed for example during the crusades (11th -13th centuries) , inquisition (12th-19th centuries) the various inquisition, established by the catholic church to combat heresy, saw the persecution and execution of individual deemed heretics. This raised questions about the use of the commandments in the context of religious orthodoxy, religious wars like the holy war,

   Colonial conquest and expansions/slavery (15th -19th centuries): the expansion of the European powers into Africa, Asia and the America often involve violent encounters with the indigenous population some of these action were justified or even encouraged by the church despite the commandments, the catholic church played a significant part in the expansion, justification of colonialism in most part of the word including in Nigeria. This was particularly evidence in the paper bill issued by the church, such as the treaty of tordesilias (1494) which divided ‘’newly discovered land between Spain and Portugal. Also the doctrine of discovery which was a legal frame work that clearly had religious influence in the 16th and 17th century essentially granted European exploration, exploitation and colonization of Africa.

Also slavery itself had religious backing as it was justified by the church and even encouraged by it. During the era of slavery several research show that people of colour were not considered human thus deemed to not have a soul thereby justifying the cruel and inhuman treatment of people of colour.

The separation of the church and the state 

1) Examining the concept of separation of church and state 

2) Examining in modern democracies

3) How this principle has evolved over time and its implication for religious influence on law.

What is separation of the church and the state?

The can be defined as a principle that emphasize the independence and autonomy of religious institutions from government influence or intervention, and vice versa. In simple terms the separation of the church and state is a way to keep the church and the sate a separate and independent entity that is, distinct from each other. This is to ensure that government does not establish or favour any particular choice of religion. 

In the 21st century, societies have become increasingly diverse in the terms of religious beliefs and practices. This diversity underscores the importance of separation of the church and the state. This principle act as a safeguard, ensuring that single religion holds sway over governmental affairs. By upholding this separation, individuals are empowered to exercise their faith freely irrespective of their religious affiliation. One of the pillars of separation of the church and states is its respect  of various religious affiliation in the 21st century specifically in Nigeria were we are a multicultural, multi religious group who gets to say what religion gets to stay or be upheld and which gets to go. For example in Islam were women are expected to put on hijab which is supposed to symbolised their religious affiliation but as we all know not all religion follows that and its actual against women’s fundamental to be forced to put on any particular artier although due to religious men who due to misogyny has made wearing a hijab a compulsory and not an optional rule not only to Muslim women but to all women that visit these countries this is in other to control women. This shows how easy it is it weaponize religion in other to affect vulnerable groups such as women, this is against their fundamental right (right to freedom of expression) this could also lead to other fundamental rights been lost like right to life in the case of mahsa amini who was killed for refusing to wear a hijab all these has religious backing.

Cases involving religion and its negative effect when it comes to law.

Roe v. wade 

Roe v. wade, 410 U.S 113 was a landmark case of the U.S supreme court in which the court ruled that the constitution of the United States generally protected a right to have an abortion. 

This is quite a broad case that has actually been revolted thanks to religious zealots who doesn’t understand the complexity of this case on the face value it could be argued by some people that an unborn child should not be killed. This is an illogical argument as a child or unborn child has nothing to with this case, it deals primarily with the right of women protecting their body as it is in fact that women’s body comes to pay in this case. There are certain medical conditions that requires an abortion for example when a fetus dies it could be required by medical practitioner to carry out an abortion in other to save the life of the mother also in cases of ectopic pregnancy which occurs when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, typically in a fallopian tube, it can’t develop normally and poses a serious risk to the persons health, severe fetal abnormalities, infection or sepsis etc. are also example of reason to get an abortion . This land mark case basically granted women right be protect their bodies. also there are other arguments by some people that ‘’ if you don’t what to get pregnant don’t have sex before marriage’’ this actually reinforces   religious beliefs and pocks a hole in my argument if you not bring into consideration the fact that not all sexual relation are consensual and could result in pregnancy. Also they are situations were even married people could be affect by the repeal of this law, for example a medical doctor could tell a married woman not to have more children due to her being too old to give birth to more children taking into account the dangers of childbirth, also she could have had complications in her previous pregnancies that could pose a rise on her health.   She and her husband decide to use contraceptives and those contraceptives doesn’t work which may result to life treating issue. Are you as a religious person going to tell that potentially non-religious person not have an abortion because of your religious affiliations tells you so? An abortion that may as well save a life. It is a veracity that the reproductive rights of women also include rights to have an abortion.  We can understand from this case the dangers that blind religion may have on vulnerable groups if allowed to interfere with religion. With all that have been stated I hope I have been able to convince you on the benefits of roe v wade had on the rights on women and the negative effect religion has had on it overruling.    


 To summarise, religion a deeply personal and significant aspect of many individual lives, holds a complex relationship with the legal sphere in the 21st century. Explored through the lance of the separation of the church and the state, we’ve examined how this principle, fundamental to modern democracies, aims to maintain an impartial legal system, free from undue religious influence. However, history revels instances where religious beliefs have intersected with legal decisions, exemplified by controversial case of roe v wade.

The influence of religious perspective in legal realm raise critical question about the balance between personal faith and public policy. While respecting individual religious freedom is imperative, it’s equally crucial to safeguard the rights and autonomy of these differing beliefs. Achieving this equilibrium demands ongoing dialogue and a commitment to fostering and inclusive society.

Moving forward, one potential solution lies in nurturing a robust civil education that instil a deeper understanding of both diversity of religious beliefs and the principle of secular government. By fostering an environment of informed discourse, we empower citizen to engage in constructive conversation about the intersection of religion and law paving the way for more harmonious coexistence. 

In this article I will be primarily focusing on Christianity and its effects when it comes to law in the twenty first century, this is primarily because this is the religion I am familiarised with thus making it easy to effectively write on also Christianity is one of the most popular religion with over 2 billion Christian word wide. Before I advance I must state that this article is not an attack on any religion nor is it an excuse to create room for hatred or misunderstanding of any religion I’m only trying to state an unspoken fact which is religion and law should be a separate entity and in the 21st century   religion should not be a factor when it comes to making law.




4) Wikipedia 

5) https://scholarblogs.emory>edu>



About the Author

Osazuwa OKAH Abraham is a 300l student of Edo state university uzairue


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