On October 31st, the Antonin Scalia Law School Young Americans for Liberty hosted Stephanie Slade, the managing editor of Reason Magazine, for a discussion on religious liberty. Ms. Slade has much experience in talking about the topic, having given a similar speech at the Students for Liberty Virginia Regional Conference at the University of Virginia last year. She also wrote an article on the subject earlier this year.
Ms. Slade’s talk dealt with the idea that when religious freedom constitutes a mere freedom to believe in what you want, but not to act on those beliefs, it has little meaning. The idea that religious freedom only applies to what goes on in your head, and not your actions, has been enshrined in American law, and she argued in her talk that this is the root cause of many of the controversies. To this end, Ms. Slade discussed the 1878 Supreme Court case Reynolds v. United States, in which the Supreme Court held that banning Mormon polygamy in the Utah territory was legal under the First Amendment because “[w]hile [laws] cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices” as it rode a wave of anti-Mormon bigotry.
Ms. Slade concluded her talk by answering questions from the audience on subjects like the Masterpiece Cakeshop case and the roots of her views on religious liberty, which stem from the idea that government’s essential function is to protect life, liberty, and property.
We want to thank Ms. Slade for taking the time to talk to us. It was an excellent event, and we hope she enjoyed talking to us as much as we enjoyed listening to her.Published in