Edexcel GCSE Religious Studies
Unit 8.4 - Religion:
Crime & Punishment
Key Words
 Sin: An act against the will of God.
 Crime: An act against the law.
 Law: Rules made by Parliament and enforceable by the police and the courts.
 Justice: Due allocation of reward and punishment, the maintenance of what is right.
 Judgement: The act of evaluating people and their actions.
 Capital Punishment: The State sponsored death penalty.
 Reform: The idea that punishments should try to change criminals so that they will not
commit crimes again.
 Deterrence: The idea that punishments will be of such a nature that they will put
people off (deter) committing crimes.
 Retribution: The idea that punishments should make criminals pay for what they have
done wrong.
 Rehabilitation: Readapt to normal life and thinking in society.
 Responsibility: Being responsible for your own actions.
 Addiction: A recurring compulsion to engage in an activity regardless of its effects.
Q 1. What is the difference between sin and crime?
A 1. Sin is an act against God, crime is an act against the law.
The Bible states that not
one of us is free from ‘sin’.
“Everyone sins and falls
short of God’s standards.”
Rom 3 : 23
And the reason is..?
“People sin when they give in
to the temptations of their
own evil desires.”
James 1 : 14
Q 2: Which one(s) of the following would you say was a sin and why?
 A rich man is asked for food by a beggar but refuses.
 A married woman sleeps with another man - adultery.
 A boy swears and shouts at his parents all the time.
 A business man pays immigrant workers less because he knows they
need the work.
A 2: All of them, because they go against the will of God.
Does this not make sin and crime
a matter of perspective?
Breaking God’s laws
is a sin, breaking
society’s laws is a
crime. Often wrong
actions are both a
sin and a crime, but
many sins, like
adultery, are not
crimes, and unjust
laws are not sins.
Society needs laws so that:
 People know what sort of
behaviour is expected.
 People are protected from
violence and crime.
 People can enjoy the
rewards of their efforts
without them being taken
from them.
Laws tell people
how to behave, and
justice makes sure
the good are
rewarded and the
evil are punished.
Society needs laws
for it to work
properly, and the
laws need to be just
Crimes are not  In 1956 Rosa Parks was arrested in
necessarily sins. the USA for refusing to give up her seat
on a bus for white man. This was a crime.
 Germans who gave jobs to Jews during
the Nazi period broke German laws. This
was a crime.
St Paul said “Everyone must submit themselves to the governing authorities,
for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Romans 13 : 1
Crimes that are not sins
People should obey the laws usually come about as a result
of the land. However,
of unjust laws. Unjust laws
St Thomas Aquinas argued;
are not proper laws.
If laws are unjust
people will feel it is
right to break them.
If some laws are unjust
people may think all
laws are unjust.
If laws don’t give justice,
people may take the law
into their own hands.
Law, Justice & Punishment
Humans live in communities, and
any community requires rules
outlining acceptable behaviour.
Laws, society’s rules made by
Parliament, guide people
as to how they should behave in
a civilised society.
‘Justice’ is often represented
by the image of a blindfolded woman holding a set
of scales in her left hand and a sword in her right
This represents that true justice does
not discriminate, is fair, and will
punish where appropriate.
For law and justice to work their must also be
punishment for those who break the law. Punishments
are given to make sure the law is obeyed and that justice is
done, and seen to be done. Punishment
is the consequence of breaking the law.
The form of the punishment given should always be in proportion
to the crime committed and be suitable to the desired aim.
The type of
punishment a person
is given (e.g. fine or
prison) is called the
‘form’ of punishment.
The purposes for which a
punishment is given (e.g. protect
society or deter others doing the
same) are known as the ‘aims’ of
Complete each section of this paragraph in your own words.
Laws are important because without laws...
...However, laws need to be fair laws otherwise people will...
…punishment is necessary because…
…It is important that punishment has an aim because…
You should now have fully answered the GCSE question; ‘Explain why society needs law
and justice.’, to at least a ‘B’ grade or above.
Aims of Punishment
 Deterrence: ‘The idea that
punishments will be of such a
nature that they will put people off
(deter) committing crimes.’
 Reform: ‘The idea that punishments
should try to change criminals so that
they will not commit crimes again.’
The idea of deterrence is
prevention. The punishment a
person is given is severe enough to
act as a deterrent and
discourages a person from
committing the same offence and
the offender from re-offending.
Many people see punishment as an
opportunity to reform offenders. Helping
the individual realise the error of their
ways, change, and become law abiding
citizens who will not commit crimes again.
Reform can include training and education
so offenders will not need to re-offend.
 Retribution: ‘The idea that
punishments should make criminals
pay for what they have done wrong.’
 Protection: ‘The idea that society
should be protected from the criminal
and the offences that a criminal
Many people believe that a person
should pay for what they have done.
This gives society and the victims of
crime a feeling of justice.
Punishments should also match the
severity of the crime.
Many people are frightened by crime.
One of the ideas of punishment is to
protect society from the acts of
criminals, particularly violent or
persistent offenders, by imprisoning
them so they cannot harm society.
Judgement & Justice in the UK
In the UK, laws are enforced
by the police and the
Minor crimes, e.g. shoplifting,
are dealt with by magistrates’ courts,
while more serious crimes, e.g. murder, are dealt
with in crown courts.
In a magistrates’ court a judge
An individual can appeal a judgement to
or panel of judges will decide
the High Court, the Court of Appeal
guilt or innocence and pass
and then the House of Lords. Appeals
judgement on what a person has
can even be taken beyond that to the
done. In a crown court a jury will
European Court of Justice or
decide guilt or innocence and a
European Court of Human Rights.
judge will decide on the
UK law has a system called
‘Doli Incapax’ which means ‘incapable of wrong doing’. One application of this is that
a child under 10 years old is considered too young to understand what they are doing is
a crime, and so cannot be convicted of a criminal offence (unless it can be proven
that they fully realised what they were doing was wrong).
Christian Attitudes to Justice
The concept of justice is extremely important to Christianity.
God is a ‘God of Justice’:
‘There is no God but me, a just
God and a Saviour.’ Isaiah 45:21
People should be treated
fairly and not cheated: ‘So in
everything, do to others what
you would have them do to you.’
Matthew 7:12
People should be treated
equally: ‘There is neither Jew nor
Greek, slave nor free, male or
female, for you are all one in
Christ.’ Galatians 3:28
Criminal justice is important.
However, so is social justice, so
the weak and vulnerable are not
oppressed and the strong and
powerful don’t take advantage.
The rich should share with the
poor: ‘The man who has two coats
should share with him who has
none, and the man who has food
should do the same.’ Luke 3:11
For Xians, social justice is a
responsibility. ‘Anyone, then, who
knows the good he ought to do
but does not do it, sins.’
James 4:17
Christian Attitudes to Punishment
The Bible teaches that judgement and punishment ultimately belongs to God.
Many Xians believe the primary aim of punishment should be reform and not retribution.
The Bible says: ‘Do not judge or
you too will be judged. For in the
same way as you judge others, you
will be judged.’ Matthew 7: 1-2
Jesus encouraged people to
settle difference out of court. ‘If
your brother sins against you, go
and tell him his fault, between you
and him alone.’ Matthew 18:15-17
Jesus taught the disciples to
pray: ‘Forgive us our sins, as we
forgive those who sin against us.’
Luke 11:4
St Paul encouraged people to
settle difference out of court.
‘When one of you has a grievance
against another, does he dare go
to law before resolving it?’
1 Corinthians 6:1-7
Jesus’ example was one of
forgiveness and reform: ‘Then
neither do I condemn you, now go
and sin no more.’ John 7:53-8:11
(Adulterous Woman)
Christ died to forgive people
not condemn them. ‘Father, forgive
them.’ Luke 23:34
Christian Church on Crime & Justice
‘Christians recognise that
the government has a
duty to protect society
from crime. Those found
guilty of breaches of law
may be punished.
However, the aim of
punishment is not
primarily retribution, still
less revenge, but the
reform and rehabilitation
of the offender.’
Methodist Church
‘Even the most depraved person is capable
of reform. It is society’s role to offer that
possibility of reform through systems of
confinement and imprisonment which the
state organises.’
United Reform Church
‘Experience in prison can badly damage
people and rarely stops crime. Quakers
would like to see a more positive
approach taken towards everyone
involved with crime and punishment.’
Quaker Church
Islam, Sin & Crime
Muslims believe there should be no
difference between state law and
religious law. The Islamic religious law is
. In Islam committing
a crime is a sin against God. Shari’ah
Law governs the lives of Muslims around
the world and is the most widely used
religious legal system there is. It is
traditionally upheld by the Imams
and the Ummah.
Muslims believe that God will judge
all people justly on the Last Day.
They also believe that it is their
duty as vice-regents
(stewards) of creation to
ensure that people are
treated fairly and the
world is governed
in a just way.
The Qur’an describes God as just.
Justice is the basis for the ‘pillar of zakah’.
The Shari ’ah is based on justice and equality for all.
God wants people to treat each other fairly and establish justice.
There are many Hadith (sayings/teachings) of Muhammad about justice.
Islamic Attitudes to Punishment
Islamic punishments, as laid out in the Qur’an, can often seem very harsh.
E.g. cutting off the hand of a thief or 100 lashes with a whip for someone
caught in adultery. However, Muslim attitudes to punishment are based on
. Imprisonment is used in Muslim countries to protect
society from anti-social criminals.
The Qur’an lays down the
punishment for certain crimes. ‘As
for a thief, male or female, cut off
their hand: a punishment by way of
example, from God, for their crime.’
(Surah 5:41)
Strict punishments are only given as
a last resort. Islamic courts will look
into family circumstances. A person
would not have a hand amputated if
they stole to feed a starving baby.
The Qur’an and Justice
The Qur’an teaches that judgement and punishment ultimately belongs to God.
However, God demands all people show justice and mercy to all other people.
Justice is for all. Everyone should
put justice first, even before
their family. ‘Stand up firmly for
justice, as a witness to God, even
as against yourselves or your
parents or your kin, and whether
it be against rich or poor.’ Surah
Allah is merciful to those who seek
His forgiveness. ‘If anyone does evil
or wrongs his own soul, but
afterwards seeks God’s
forgiveness, he will find Him most
forgiving and merciful.’ Surah 4:110
Justice is an central part of
God’s character. ‘My Lord hath
commanded justice.’ Surah 7:29
Muslims should act against
injustice. However, for a victim to
forgive a person’s injustice, is far
better. ‘Act against those who
oppress people and transgress
(sin) against justice. They will
have an agonizing punishment though, if a person is patient and
forgives, this is one of the
greatest things.’
Surah 42:42-43
The Qur’an and Social Justice
Social justice is
very important in
Islam. Muslim Aid and Islamic
Relief are two aid agencies
working to relieve poverty
and secure justice for the
poor and oppressed around
the world.
Shari ‘ah law bans the charging or
paying of interest on loans as this
makes the less wealthy pay the
wealthy and is unjust. As a result
many Muslims feel they cannot take
out traditional mortgages in Britain.
Some UK banks now offer Muslim
mortgages similar to rental
One of the ‘Five Pillars of Islam’,
is zakah, a compulsory payment to
the poor. It is an annual payment made
up of around 2½%
of any excess
wealth a person has
(i.e. cash, savings
and value of any
jewellery etc.). It
is not seen as
charity, which is
optional, or tax,
which is for the
state. It is based
on social welfare and the distribution
of wealth.
Capital Punishment
Capital Punishment: ‘The death penalty
for a crime or offence.’
The process of judicial killing is
called execution or the death
penalty. A crime which is punishable
by death is called a capital offence.
In the UK the death penalty was
formerly abolished with the ‘Murder
(Abolition of the Death Penalty) Act
1965’. In 1999 Britain signed the
European Convention on Human Rights
which stated the death penalty could
not be reintroduced.
The death penalty is still legal in
many countries including the USA
(37 the 50 States), Iran, Libya,
Rwanda and North Korea plus
65 other countries worldwide.
Modern methods of capital
punishment include lethal
injection, electric chair,
firing squad, gas chamber
and beheading (only beheading
is not carried out in the USA).
Secular Arguments on Capital Punishment
 The death penalty acts as a
 Society can be free of its most
dangerous people.
 The value of human life is made
clear by executing those who kill.
 Execution is the ultimate
retribution and compensation for
killing others.
 Execution helps brings
satisfaction and closure to victims
 Execution is cheaper than
keeping a prisoner in prison for life.
 Capital crimes do not seem to
drop in countries with the death
 There have been many occasions of
innocent people wrongfully executed.
 People facing the death penalty
will be more likely to kill to avoid
 Terrorists who are executed could
end up as martyrs encouraging others.
 Human life is important and should
not be taken in any circumstances.
 Execution can be seen as an
easier sentence than imprisonment.
Christianity on Capital Punishment
The Old Testament set capital
punishment as a penalty for some crimes.
‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall
his blood be shed.’ Genesis 9:6
Neither the Roman Catholic Church
or The Anglican Church (CofE) have
retracted their support for state instigated
capital punishment.
‘The Laws of the Realm may punish men
with death for heinous and grievous offences.’
(Article 37 of ‘The 39 Articles
of the Church of England’).
Important Christian leaders such as St
Thomas Aquinas have supported capital
punishment to preserve the peace of society.
Jesus teaches forgiveness not retribution.
‘If any of you is without sin, let him cast the
first stone.’ Matthew 8:7
St Paul teaches against retribution. ‘Do not
repay evil for evil… do not take revenge. For it is
written ‘vengeance is mine says the Lord.’
Romans 12:17-19
Most Christian denominations are against
capital punishment. ‘We do not have the right, even
in the case of dreadful crimes, to take a life as
punishment.’ The United Reform Church.
Christian believe life in the Sanctity of Life and
only God has the right to take life. Jesus came to
save (reform) people, you cannot reform an
executed man. Jesus overturned ‘an eye for
an eye’ with commands for forgiveness.
Islam on Capital Punishment
Shari ‘ah, allows for capital punishment for three offences:
Murder - the unlawful taking of another’s life.
Adultery - a married person sleeping with someone
they are not married to.
Apostasy - where a Muslim denies Islam and works
against it (this amounts to treason within Islam).
Muslim arguments for capital
punishment include.
 It is a punishment laid down in
Shari’ah Law within the Qur’an.
 The Prophet Mohammad
agreed with capital punishment.
 Mohammad sentenced people to
death for murder when he was ruler
of Madinah.
Some Muslims are against
capital punishment, they say
that Shari’ah Law in the
Qur’an only suggests capital
punishment and does not
make it compulsory.
These Muslims would point
to scriptures suggesting forgiveness and
mercy rather than death. ‘Let harm be repaid
by an equal harm, though anyone who forgives
and puts things right will have his reward from
God Himself - He does not like those who do
wrong.’ Surah 42:40
An alternative to the death penalty is that a
victims family can accept compensation
called ‘blood money’, from the murderer
rather than requiring a death sentence.
• It is illegal to give alcohol to a child
under 5 except in a medical emergency
and under supervision.
• Children under 16 can enter a pub so
long as they are supervised by an adult.
• Young people aged 16 & 17 may drink
beer, cider or wine so long as it bought
by an adult to be consumed with a
meal. They are not allowed spirits.
• It is against the law for anyone under
18 to buy alcohol in a pub, supermarket,
off-licence or other premises.
• It is illegal to buy alcohol for someone
who is under 18 to be consumed in a
pub without a
meal or in a
public place.
• It is illegal to
sell alcohol to
anyone under
• It is illegal to sell tobacco products
(cigarettes, tobacco etc) to anyone
under 18.
• It is against the law to smoke in any
indoor public places, work spaces, any
enclosed public spaces (e.g. A football
ground) and any railway/tram station
including the platform area.
• You can be prosecuted for smoking
whilst driving a vehicle as this is classed
as ‘failing to have proper control’ or
‘driving without due care and attention.’
• Any form of advertising of tobacco
products or sponsorship of events is
• Packaging must
carry large overt
health warnings
& graphic images
of smoking
related diseases.
In the UK drugs which are illegal to possess or deal without prescription are classified
into three categories (A, B and C). Each category carries different penalties for
possession and/or dealing.
Penalty for
Penalty for
Ecstasy, LSD, Heroin, Cocaine,
Methadone (Morphine),
Amphetamines prepared for
injection, Magic Mushrooms.
Up to 7 years in
prison, an unlimited
fine or both.
Up to life in prison
Cannabis, Amphetamines not
prepared for injection, Ritalin,
Up to 5 years in
prison, an unlimited
fine or both.
Up to 14 years in
Tranquilisers, some Painkillers,
Anabolic Steroids, GHB,
Up to 2 years in
prison, an unlimited
fine or both.
Up to 14 years in
Laws governing controlled substances are under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 which is
updated and amended regularly. Police can stop and search a person if they have
reason to believe they are in possession of drugs. It is illegal to unlawfully possess
controlled substances, possess it with the intent to supply it to others, supply or offer
to supply, allow you premises (including your home) to be used for taking drugs.
Tobacco: Smoking can various forms of cause cancer, it can lead to
coronary heart disease, strokes, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It
can also cause digestive problems, dependency (addiction) and
impotence. It affects both the smoker and others who inhale their smoke
and it can cause severe abnormalities and illnesses in unborn children.
Alcohol: Excessive drinking of alcohol can cause serious liver disease
(cirrhosis of the liver), stomach disorders, mental health problems such
as depression, psychosis and hallucinations, infertility or impotence,
anaemia (blood disease), heart disease, some cancers, obesity and
dependency (addiction). Alcohol is also linked with many accidents.
Drugs: Taking drugs can lead to many physical and mental health issues
including toxicity, dependency (addiction), liver disease, cardiovascular
illnesses, bacterial and viral infections such as HIV, AIDS and Hepatitis B.
It is associated with paranoia, mood swings and aggression. Taken in
wrong amounts or mixed can lead to an overdose and even death.
In 2009 government figures show the number of people
claiming benefit due to alcoholism rose by 79%. Alcohol
leads to violent assaults, rapes, drink driving and deaths.
Tobacco causes pain and suffering to both those who are
ill and their families. Illnesses directly caused by smoking
takes up 5.5% of the NHS annual budget.
Alcohol and drug misuse is responsible for 90% thefts,
burglaries and violent
The issues caused by drugs,
alcohol and smoking bring
fear to innocent people and
affects society, families and
places of work; they cause
illnesses, death and misery.
(speed whizz)
(heroin etc)
* Deaths caused directly or indirectly (e.g. accidents or secondary illnesses)
Any town or city centre on a weekend evening will give
evidence of the social problems caused by excessive
consumption of alcohol. 1/3 of all ambulance call-outs
are alcohol related and between midnight and 5am 70%
of all hospital emergencies are due to alcohol.
Most Christians are against illegal drugs as it is against the law. There are many arguments used by Christians
the use of alcohol and tobacco.
Jesus’ first miracle was
turning water into wine
at a wedding (2:1-11)
St Paul said Christians
can drink in moderation
(1Timothy 5:23)
Jesus gave his disciples
wine at the last supper
(Mark 14:23)
The Catholic church says
drinking in moderation is
(Catechism 2290)
There are many
examples in the
Bible where
alcohol has
caused people
to sin. Noah
brought shame
on his family
(Genesis 9); Lot
slept with both
his daughters
(Genesis 19)
St Paul said ‘Your body is
the temple of the Holy
Spirit.’ and as such it
should not be abused.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Churches such as the
Salvation Army,
Methodists and
Pentecostals, point to the
social issues caused.
Many churches will use non-alcoholic
wine so as not to tempt anyone who
may be a recovering alcoholic.
Islam forbids the use of alcohol and drugs because they are banned in the
Qur’an and in the Hadith of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). Tobacco is
disapproved of but not banned as it is not explicitly mentioned in sacred
The Arabic word for alcohol is
‘O ye who believe,
Shari'ah law bans
‘khamr’ and means to shroud the
intoxicants, gambling,
alcohol as it is
mind. If alcohol does that a
idol worship and
Muslim would feel it is wrong as
divination, are an
(forbidden) in the
the mind should be used to
abomination and
consider God.
Satan’s handiwork.
From these you must
Because of these things
The Hadith (sayings
alcohol and drugs
(Surah 5:93-94)
and deeds of the
(intoxicants) are haraam
Prophet) states ‘Allah
(completely forbidden).
has cursed wine and
whoever drinks it, buys
‘In alcohol is great sin,
Tobacco is considered
it, pours it, sells it,
and some profit for
makes it for
makruh (not forbidden
men; but the sin is
but extremely disliked) as
themselves or others,
greater than the
the Qur’an or Hadith do
transports it, or
profit.’ (Surah 2.19)
not directly mentioned it.
benefits from its sale.’
 The difference between sin and crime.
 The need for laws and justice in society.
 The forms and aims (theories) of punishment.
 The importance of justice in Christianity.
 Christian attitudes to punishment.
 The importance of justice in Islam.
 Islamic attitudes to punishment.
 Capital punishment and secular arguments surrounding it.
 Christian arguments surrounding Capital punishment.
 Islamic arguments surrounding Capital punishment.
 UK laws on tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
 Health and social issues caused by tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
 Christian attitudes to tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
 Islamic attitudes to tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
© Phillip Allen

similar documents