The Salem Witchcraft Trials.

One of the ways in which the Salem Witch Trials influenced the interactions between religion and the US legal system is by strengthening the US legal and court system. According to Wilson (1994), “Because of the changes that followed the Salem Witch Trials, prosecution came to involve the subtraction of religious institutions from participating in legal processes, so that religious institutions do not act as the jury. Instead, the need to adduce evidence before the court of law as the basis upon which a court case is to be sustained and the verdict is to be issued was made inevitable.” Again the need to have a competent jury to preside over cases became more perceptible. Initially, judges who presided over the Salem Witch Trials were untrained.

Particularly, the idea above can be said to be true, given that during the Salem Witch Trials, a number of teenage girls leveled accusations of witchcraft against 200 people, without producing any evidence to validate their claims. Instead, the teenage girls only made unverifiable claims that they were attacked by ghosts or evil spirits. It is against this backdrop that the right to defend oneself, the right to free trial and the right to not have to present any form of incriminating testimony became necessary and can thus be traced back to the Salem Witch Trials. According to Smith (2012), “This is because, when the Massachusetts Colonial Governor, Sir William Phips saw the alarming hanging of 19 suspects and the crushing of 1 suspect to death and consequently disbanded the court presiding over the Salem Witch Trials, the need for a fairer judicial system became inevitable.”

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Another way in which the trials became the spring board for an independent system (devoid of purely religious claims) is through the myriad of relentless protests that ensued.

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