Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/170

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United States), and are passed subject to the approval of Congress. The judges of the Territorial Supreme Court are also appointed by the President, so that the control of the Federal authorities is complete over all departments in the Territory, and it is natural that the Mormon community should aspire to a more independent position. It is questionable, however, whether independence would not prove a disadvantage to the Mormons, as tending to bring them into direct collision with popular feeling, which has always been more or less hostile to them throughout the Union, while the Federal authorities have acted a friendly part. During seventeen sessions of the Utah Legislative Assembly, the power of disapproval has only once been exercised by Congress, and then (as might have been expected) in relation to the law of marriage. The Washington Government has afforded protection to the Mormons against local officers and judges, President Grant, in particular, having recently braved considerable unpopularity by removing the Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court of Utah for "arbitrary and illegal conduct" in his dealings with the Latter-day Saints. Again, a few years ago the United States officials in Utah set at naught the Territorial law under which jurors were selected and summoned, rejecting those who professed their belief in Mormon doctrines. Where the value at issue exceeds $1,000, an appeal lies to the Supreme Court of the United States, and a case tried by a packed jury, and given against the municipal officers of Salt Lake City, was accordingly appealed. The unanimous decision of the Supreme Court at Washington was, that the jury had not been legally impaneled, and the judgment of the Utah court was reversed. Great rejoicing was caused at Salt Lake City by this decision in the Engelbrecht case, as proving that the inhabitants of Territories had rights in common with their countrymen, and that there was justice in the United States even for the professors of a very unpopular religion.

It may appear strange that in the freest of lands, and in the latter half of the nineteenth century, a legal doubt should have existed as to whether civil disabilities were attached to any form of religious opinion; but it must be remembered that the evidence of an atheist was very recently rejected in English courts of justice, and the Legislature of North Carolina expelled last year a member, because he conscientiously declared his disbelief in the existence of God. The fact is that, even in Protestant countries, complete religious toleration is limited to certain recognized persuasions, so that feeble and unpopular sects have still to unite in claiming for themselves the same liberty of conscience which has been conceded to all numerous and powerful dissenting bodies. Science now demands from theology absolute and unconditional freedom, and the clay can hardly be far distant when theological heterodoxy will cease to involve any civil penalties in a free country. At present the Mormon refugees of the