Posted by: aboutalbion | June 13, 2012

Temple of Albion (7)

A seventh anthropological guideline for identifying a religion concerns supernatural sanctions on breaches of the ethical code mentioned in the last post.

I would ask an anthropologist to consider that sanctions mean unwanted punishments imposed on alleged wrongdoers.  And I would point out to an anthropologist that the UK has a well-established court system for managing breaches of the formal laws of the country which might lead to the physical imprisonment of the offender.  In addition, I would ask an anthropologist to note less formal occasions when someone in a social group is ‘sent to Coventry’ and the offender is ostracized – which can feel like an emotional imprisonment.

I would argue that the notions of retribution, and of linking morality with ‘god’, are widespread in the UK.  To me, this indicates a belief that, in appropriate cases, punishment is being ‘managed’ or ‘sponsored’ by morality, or fate, or providence, or a general manager of the universe.  ‘Justice has been done’ is a common phrase when offenders are punished.  Formally, if a legal system is believed to be based on some kind of divine revelation, then punishments can be construed as derived from ‘god’ – even though human agencies may be entrusted with authority to inflict them.  It is not for nothing that one of the hubs of the UK legal system is called ‘The Royal Courts of Justice’.

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