A Glimpse Inside The Suprisingly Widespread Religious Arbitration Movement

A young man died of a drug overdose after his mysterious release from a Christian treatment center. Rather than going through the judicial system, the contract he signed requires his family to find justice through Christian arbitration. Turns out the contractually mandated use of religious mediation is more widespread than anyone would have thought.

From The New York Times:

When word got out that some of the early Christians had strayed, the Apostle Paul was concerned. Among their grave offenses: incest, prostitution and suing one another in court.

Christians should not take their problems before “unbelievers,” Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians. Disputes should be resolved inside the church.

Centuries later, Paul’s writings inspired a group of lawyers in Los Angeles to develop the practice of Christian conciliation. The group’s work ultimately gave rise to Peacemaker Ministries, a nonprofit that devised a legal process that draws on the Bible.

The peacemaker method is used by private schools, Christian lawyers and others. Clauses requiring Americans to use Christian arbitration instead of civil court now appear in thousands of agreements like the one Mr. Ellison signed with Teen Challenge.

“Our secular court system is darn good,” said Bryce Thomas, a Christian conciliator in Hickory, N.C. “But it doesn’t get into deep moral issues like sin and reconciliation.”

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