National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1886-1906: We encounter prosperity and its perils in an industrial age

April 6, 1904
The issue of polygamy tests the limits of freedom of religion

Joseph Fielding Smith

“Can a man excuse his practices…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.”
—Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite
Reynolds v. United States

Polygamy continues to haunt Utah and the Mormon Church. Today, Congress continued hearings, quizzing church president Joseph Fielding Smith about whether his church still performs polygamous marriages.

Twenty-five years ago, the Supreme Court ruled against a Mormon husband who called polygamy his religious duty. Their decision: the First Amendment says you can believe what you want, but you cannot break the law.

Mormons have struggled with this ruling for years. But, says Smith, his church did stop performing plural marriages, back in 1890.

Read about it in the New York times

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