“Religious Freedom Issue Moves Church to File Brief in Court Case,” Ensign, May 1984, 109
The Church has filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the United States Supreme Court in a case involving the Unification Church.
The brief is one of many filed by religious organizations and other groups. The briefs raise serious questions as to whether U.S. constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion were faithfully observed in the case.
The LDS Church’s brief asks the Supreme Court to review the religious issues raised in the dispute. The brief takes no position on the teachings of the Unification Church, or on the guilt or innocence of those involved in a tax evasion case.
It does argue that the determination of what constitutes a religious activity should be made by a church, not by the state, and that a church’s position may not be ignored during litigation, in the absence of a carefully defined state interest.
Briefs filed by a number of organizations in connection with the case have expressed concern about the constitutional effect of allowing a court decision—in this case, a jury verdict—to determine whether activities of a church or one of its leaders may be regarded as religious.
The LDS Church’s legal counsel said the practice of religion could be hindered if courts can assume “an unguided power to define what is secular and religious, contrary to the good faith belief of the church in question.”