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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.
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