Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Supreme Court Affirms Christian Roots In Our Laws

Most people know that the USA does not allow polygamy, and some even know that was because of a Supreme Court Case that disallowed the Mormon practice of having multiple wives for one husband. The case that established was the 1890 case of The Mormon Church v. The United States. It said, in part:

"The organization of our community for the spread and practice of polygamy is, in a measure, a return to barbarism. It is contrary to the spirit of Christianity and of the civilization, which Christianity has produced in the Western world. The question, therefore, is whether the promotion of such a nefarious system and practice, so repugnant to our laws and to our [Christian] civilization is to be allowed to continue by the sanction of 
our government."

But isn't is unconstitutional to use a Christian belief to control interpretation of our laws? That is a fairly common belief today. But consider the 1890 case of Davis v. Beeson. Here the court confirmed that outlawing bigamy and polygamy was constitutional because they were "crimes by the laws of all civilized and Christian nations."

Today the standard justification to explain why we don't allow polygamy is that it would be somewhat harmful to our society. But the court used the specific logic that Christian principles may come into play in such complex decisions.

Follow the two embedded links above to read the two cases cited.

1 comment:

History Matters said...

I am getting comments about the sentence that says, "But isn't is unconstitutional to use a Christian belief to control interpretation of our laws?" The comments are asking why I would opine that way. Perhaps it was not clear that I am imagining a question that might be asked by many today who do not understand the First Amendment's scope. Please do not post a comment based on misunderstanding why that sentence exists in my post. Thanks.