Publication Date

Summer 1992

Document Type



Contra Mundum, 4 (Summer 1992): 33.


Hodge recognized that there are limits to liberty. "If a religion should enjoin infanticide, or the murder of the aged or infirm, neither the people nor the government should conform their conduct to its laws.” Hodge's evaluation of the relation of Christianity to the "law of the land" anticipated the Supreme Court's interpretation of the First Amendment in two major polygamy cases, Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1878) and Davis v. Beason, 133 U.S. 333 (1890). It was with these polygamy cases in mind that Justice William O. Douglas could observe as late as 1954 that "a religious rite, which violates standards of Christian ethics and morality is not in the true sense, in the constitutional sense, included within 'religion', the 'free exercise' of which is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights."