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The free exercise of religion Print E-mail
By De Witt Clinton   
Monday, 24 March 2014

If a religious sect would rise up and violate the decencies of life, by practicing their religious rites, in a state of nakedness, by following incest, and a community of wives; if the Hindoo should attempt to introduce the burning of widows on the funeral piles of their deceased husbands, or the Mahometan his plurality of wives, or the pagan his bacchanalian orgies or human sacrifices; . . . then the licentious acts and dangerous practices contemplated by the [New York] constitution would exist, and the hand of the magistrate would be rightfully raised to chastise the guilty agents. But until men under pretense of religion act counter to the fundamental principles of morality, and endanger the well being of the state, they are to be protected in the free exercise of their religion. – from People v. Philips (1813)

 
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