Evidence of the beliefs or opinions of a witness on matters of religion is not admissible for the purpose of showing that by reason of the witness’s nature his or her credibility is impaired or enhanced.
This section is derived from Commonwealth v. Dahl, 430 Mass. 813, 822–823, 724 N.E.2d 300, 307–308 (2000) (citing with approval Proposed Mass. R. Evid. 610), and G. L. c. 233, § 19 (“evidence of [a person’s] disbelief in the existence of God may not be received to affect his credibility as a witness”). Though not admissible as to credibility, evidence that relates to a person’s religious beliefs is not per se inadmissible. See Commonwealth v. Kartell, 58 Mass. App. Ct. 428, 436–437, 790 N.E.2d 739, 746–747 (2003) (evidence of defendant’s religious beliefs admissible for relevant purpose of showing defendant was jealous of victim); Commonwealth v. Murphy, 48 Mass. App. Ct. 143, 145, 718 N.E.2d 395, 398 (1999) (to establish that a child witness is competent to testify, “a question whether the child believes in God and a question whether the child recognizes the witness’s oath as a promise to God are within tolerable limits to test whether the witness’s oath meant anything to the child witness”).