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Nebraska Senate Nominee Says Religious Beliefs Can Justify Breaking Any Law

May 14, 2014


 Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who won his party’s nomination to the United States Senate on Tuesday, believes that you can ignore any law in the United States if your religious beliefs justify it.  The problems with this kind of approach are legion, as some of the examples in this article explain.

His proposed rule — that government cannot require someone to act counter to their religious beliefs “under any circumstances” — would mean that literally any law could be ignored by someone who held a religious belief counter to that law. According to National Geographic, for example, “[h]undreds, if not thousands, of women are murdered by their families each year in the name of family ‘honor,’” and while this practice “goes across cultures and across religions,” some of the perpetrators of honor killings are motivated by their religious faith. Under Sasse’s formulation of religious liberty, a person who killed his own sister because he believed he was under a religious obligation to do so would be immune from prosecution for murder.

AU believes that laws should not over-burden religious practice unnecessarily in order to further a compelling government interest, but this can place limitations on what religious practices are allowable.  In a world where some religious practices involve trampling on the rights of members of other religions, or the non-religious, this is not just acceptable, but required.

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