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13 - Mormonism and Conscience

from Part II - Conscience According to Major Figures and Traditions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 June 2021

Jeffrey B. Hammond
Affiliation:
Faulkner University
Helen M. Alvare
Affiliation:
George Mason University, Virginia
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Summary

Rosalynde Welch and Nathan Oman describe how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has deployed conscience. Distinguished from many Protestant accounts of conscience, the church’s account does not focus on conscience as choosing by the self. Instead, it relies on externally provided, yet personally received revelation – whether available to all (“light of Christ”) or more exclusive (“gift of the Holy Ghost”). Though the church values personal revelation, interpretations and decisions by the church hierarchy prevails over conscientiously held beliefs of church members. Dissent is not unheard of in the church. For most of the nineteenth century, the church did not obey the anti-polygamy laws passed by Congress. Some resistance used language of conscience, while others identified outside forces – revelation, oracles, religious persecution, or the Constitution (which the church thought superior to mere laws) – as reasons to resist the federal government. Recently, in the case of Bishop v. Amos, the church based its liberty claim on its interest in running its own affairs. Regardless, the church generally has prized fealty to law over idiosyncratic conscientious resistance.

Type
Chapter
Information
Christianity and the Laws of Conscience
An Introduction
, pp. 245 - 264
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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References

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The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Section 134. Salt Lake City, ut: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1989.Google Scholar
Dunford, C. Kent.Light of Christ.” In The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Ludlow, Daniel H., 835. New York, ny: Macmillan, 1992.Google Scholar
Gedicks, Frederick Mark. “The ‘Embarrassing’ Section 134.” BYU Law Review 2003, no. 3 (2003): 959–72.Google Scholar
Givens, Terryl L.The Book of Mormon and Dialogic Revelation.” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 10, no. 2 (2001): 1627.Google Scholar
Oman, Nathan B.International Legal Experience and the Mormon Theology of the State, 1945–2012.” Iowa Law Review 100, no. 2 (2015): 715–50.Google Scholar
Pulsipher, J. David. “‘Prepared to Abide the Penalty’: Latter-day Saints and Civil Disobedience.” Journal of Mormon History 39, no. 3 (2013): 131–62.Google Scholar
Smith, Rodney K.James Madison, John Witherspoon, and Oliver Cowdery: The First Amendment and the 134th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants.” BYU Law Review 2003, no. 3 (2003): 291340.Google Scholar
Welch, Rosalynde Frandsen. “Latter-day Saint Conscience.” Element: The Journal of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology 2, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 4957.Google Scholar

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