Mormonism, Philosophical Liberalism, and the Constitution | BYU Studies

Mormonism, Philosophical Liberalism, and the Constitution

Mormonism, Philosophical Liberalism, and the Constitution
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Mormonism, Philosophical Liberalism, and the Constitution

Author Richard C. Mangrum,

Why should a Mormon celebrate the bicentennial of a secular constitution? Wouldn't any such reverence contradict the injunction against idolatry? Doesn't the first commandment's demand that we give our complete fidelity to God rule out our allegiance to any other nomos? What about our constitutional history as a persecuted religious minority? The Constitution provided no solace when vigilantes expelled the Saints from Missouri and Nauvoo in the 1830s and 1840s. Similarly, constitutional pleas went unheeded when the nineteenth-century Mormons in the Great Basin were disfranchised, denied naturalization, refused statehood, prevented from serving on the bench or on juries, and refused governmental appointments to high political offices despite their majoritarian status. Polygamy, a practice Mormons in the nineteenth century associated with exaltation but others found abhorrent, received no constitutional protection. The Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protected beliefs, not practices. More recently, the Constitution has been interpreted as protecting the practice of abortion despite belief by many of its immorality. Why then Mormon hoopla over what could be characterized as political degeneracy?