In response to my post about the role of religion in society, Anonymous made the following comment.
You don't need religion, you need to effectively enforce the laws that are in place. If criminals think there is a high chance they will be caught and be given a meaningful sentence crime will reduce.
I've responded in the comments, but obviously I'm not getting my point across. So here goes again.
First of all, Anonymous wrongly equates the rule of law with observance of law. They are NOT the same thing! Anonymous is correct to say that observance of the law diminishes with the possibility of being caught and held to account for breaking a law and it is true that that further weakens the rule of law, but, more importantly, it means more people believing that they can break the law and not be held to account.
Tougher punishment and longer sentencing will prevent existing criminals from committing crimes while they are behind bars, but will not deter others from breaking the law if they believe they can get away with it.
However, if that rule of law is backed by the belief in an all-seeing, all knowing God then that means more people will believe that if they do break the law and even if the state never catches or punishes them then they will still, ultimately, be judged for their crimes.
It is incredible how atheists overlook this essential point about Christianity. If you knew that you could steal a million pounds without effecting anyone else and not ever be caught or punished for it, what would stop you doing it? What if you knew it would effect someone else, but you would still get away with it? What if it meant the death of someone else, but that you would still never be caught and punished?
Furthermore, Christianity does not just influence observance of the law, it also influences moral behaviour. For example, if more people believe in Christ, God and the Ten Commandments then fewer people would commit adultery. That would mean fewer divorces and fewer problems that family breakdown brings.
Now I appreciate that not everyone believes in God, but when it comes to the rule of law there is a simple choice to be made. The choice between a society governed by an omnipresent God or a society governed by an omnipresent state.
Which would you prefer?