Dear Pro-life Christians Against the HHS Mandate,
The Supreme Court has already decided that there cannot be a religious exception to a law that applies to all persons equally. They’ve already decided that while the Congress can’t legislate that you agree with abortion in your mind — they certainly have the power to legislate that you agree with abortion with your actions.
You might not remember it — but it was back in the 19th century when the LDS were deprived of their 1st Amendment right to freely practice their religion by the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act. You probably don’t recall because you were too busy celebrating with the rest of the country that those pagan, polygamous Mormons “got theirs” for daring to insist that God wanted them to love more than one spouse at a time.
The church of jesus christ of latter day saints challenged it on the grounds that passing an anti-polygamy law is unconstitutional because consenting adults entering plural marriages was a matter of the religious practice and duty of a Mormon’s faith.
While the Supreme Court said it recognized that under the 1st Amendment, Congress could not pass a law prohibiting the free exercise of religion — it argued that a law prohibiting polygamy doesn’t fall under that prohibition. And they said that although the constitution didn’t expressly define “religion”, they quoted a letter from Thomas Jefferson in support of drawing a hard distinction between religion as a matter of belief/the mind and one’s actions that might flow from religious belief.
It was their opinion that while a matter of belief lies solely between a man and his God — the legislative powers of the state can reach actions [just not opinions] — despite the fact that beliefs inform action, and all action is predicated upon a corresponding belief.
The court argued that if polygamy was allowed, someone might eventually argue that human sacrifice was a necessary part of their religion [plural marriages vs. murder — talk about “apples to apples”]:
So here, as a law of the organization of society under the exclusive dominion of the United States, it is provided that plural marriages shall not be allowed. Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief?
To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and, in effect, to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances.
A criminal intent is generally an element of crime, but every man is presumed to intend the necessary and legitimate consequences of what he knowingly does. Here, the accused knew he had been once married, and that his first wife was living. He also knew that his second marriage was forbidden by law. When, therefore, he married the second time, he is presumed to have intended to break the law. And the breaking of the law is the crime. Every act necessary to constitute the crime was knowingly done, and the crime was therefore knowingly committed. Ignorance of a fact may sometimes be taken as evidence of a want of criminal intent, but not ignorance of the law. The only defense of the accused in this case is his belief that the law ought not to have been enacted. It matters not that his belief was a part of his professed religion; it was still belief, and belief only.
What all this means is — that as soon as the Supreme Court decided that those who believe in practicing polygamy could no more be exempt from an anti-polygamy law than those who may wish to practice human sacrifice as part of their religious belief would be bound by laws against murder:
- religion as a matter of belief and religion as a matter of practice was legally dichotomized
- the state was given jurisdiction over your religion as a matter of action
- you lost your case against a mandate that employers provide contraceptive and abortive birth control as a part of the Affordable Health Care Act.
When all the other Christians sat back and applauded as the State passed laws prohibiting the free exercise of the Mormon religion — simply because of their hatred of men and women having plural spouses — the fate over this comparatively light matter of employers covering birth control in their health care plans was settled.
A Mormon tired of hearing your whining
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