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Should we, as Latter-day Saints, swear on the Bible when part of a jury?






Thank you for your question.

First, I need to correct your question.  While some jurisdictions may vary, jury duty usually doesn’t require you to swear on a Bible or any book.  They do it in a group without any book — just your hand.  But if you’re taking an oath of public office or if you’re going to give testimony in a trial, that is where “swearing on the Bible” happens.

Concerning these situations, I think I can take your question one of two ways.

  • You wonder if we should swear at all because of the injunction in Matt 5. (swear not at all, but say yea, yea or nay, nay).
  • You wonder if we should use the Book of Mormon or Doctrine & Covenants instead.

If you’re wondering about the use of the Book of Mormon or Doctrine & Covenants instead of the Bible.  I’d say that is up to you.  The Saints of the Pioneer era didn’t seem to have a problem using it. This included prophets and apostles.  If they didn’t have a problem with it it isn’t an issue.

Today, people are allowed to swear on whatever book they want —that would include the Book of Mormon or Doctrine & Covenants if you wish.  Muslims often swear on the Koran.  Jews swear on the Torah.  Atheists swear on Voyage of the Beagle, or Origin of Species (among other works).  Or anyone can simply choose the option to “affirm” rather than swear, and you don’t need any book at all to do so.

If you’re wondering about the injunction in Matt 5, I don’t think they are talking about the same thing here.  The purpose of the swearing-in during a trial and many other legal proceedings is to make the conversation legally binding.  You see, in common conversation, it is not illegal to lie.  It is not illegal to joke around or be sarcastic.  If it were, I think most of us would be locked up.

But in a legal proceeding, the court needs to make sure that whatever is said, people know that they can’t just make the excuse “Oh, I was just being sarcastic, or I was just joking.”  Nope. In a legal proceeding, you must speak only the truth under penalty of law.

This has nothing to do with the same injunction found in Matt 5.







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