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Meditation 214
A Legal Question

by Teofilo Contreras

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I know that people from around the world read this site. This is not a specific legal question, but it is about something that has always bothered me concerning religions in general.

I don't know exactly to what extent, but I think that psychics, astrologers, Tarot readers, etc. have legal limitations to what they can promise (in some countries at least). Is there or should there be a limit to what religions can promise? Sometimes the claims of some preachers seem very specific. From salvation to healing, to the threat of damnation, they seem free to promise anything.

I don't want to say that people should be protected from everything and forget to be responsible for their decisions. I'm just thinking about fairness. If psychics, astrologers, car salesmen, insurance promoters and, in general, everyone that offers some kind of product or service is bound not to lie on what they promise and offer; wouldn't it be fair to ask religions for the same?

Science is in a similar situation with religion. Scientists offer their theories. In many cases there is no way of knowing with absolute certainty if a theory or hypothesis is correct, sometimes it takes decades to find out that it was wrong or right, sometimes it's a subject that will never be fully proven or verified. I don't know if scientists are legally bound in some way, but at least they seem to be much more serious in following a code of ethics. Their reputation seems to be at stake and that is enough to limit them, no need for millionaire sues, usually. Phrases like "to the best of our knowledge" or "as far as our studies seem to indicate" or "our investigations lead us to this conclusion, unless we are wrong" are quite common in scientific papers, yet they are notoriously absent from all religious writings and speeches.

Am I exaggerating or would this be something sensible to ask from the religions of the world?