Article Image
Religious Arbitration Can Backfire

Friday, November, 13, 2015

Arbitration has taken some hits lately, especially regarding mandatory clauses that relate to consumer manners. That’s not the only arena in which the practice has come under scrutiny though. In consumer cases, it seems arbitrators that already have a relationship with a business are used in the proceedings, giving the company an unfair advantage. And since appeals are not allowed in the cases of binding arbitration, “the little guy” is prevented from having justice.


Now, in addition to commercial arbitration, religious arbitration is coming under fire. The concern is that religion is being used to resolve secular problems, like in cases of wrongful death and financial fraud. There are cases in which religious arbitration is used to honor a belief system, but others are using religious arbitration to control the outcome. Some groups have insisted on religious arbitration until they lose and then turn to secular courts to overturn the arbitration judgment. People have even been forced to go before religious tribunals to settle manners, when they no longer believe in the religion.


When matters are settled through religious arbitration, it is possible some issues will never come to light. Many point out this is not justice – it is just an effort to protect bad things happening within religious groups. They also acknowledge the practice of arbitration is not the problem. The problem occurs when arbitration is abused and when problems are “resolved” under the guise of arbitration, but in reality, everyone already knows what the ruling will be – and it will always be in favor of the organization.