According to ThinkProgress, the winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary in Nebraska believes that the United States “cannot force citizens to violate their religious beliefs under any circumstance.”
Republican “rising star” Ben Sasse is predicted to win the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Mike Johanns in November by a wide margin, as Nebraska is a solid red state. On his official campaign website, Sasse claims that he “believes that our right to the free exercise of religion is co-equal to our right to life. This is not a negotiable issue. Government cannot force citizens to violate their religious beliefs under any circumstances. He will fight for the right of all Americans to act in accordance with their conscience.”
As ThinkProgress’s Ian Millhiser and Josh Israel note, Sasse’s statement could allude to the upcoming Supreme Court decision as to whether Hobby Lobby can violate federal law if that law is not in accordance with the beliefs of its principle owners — a decision which the adamantly pro-life and virulently anti-Affordable Care Act candidate Sasse agrees. “Uncle Sam is in the abortion business for the first time in 41 years,” he wrote on Facebook. “It’s important to remind our neighbors of the urgency of standing up for the most vulnerable.”
Sasse’s belief that the government cannot compel a citizen to behave in a manner contrary to his or her religious beliefs “under any circumstances” goes even further. As Millhiser and Israel write, “[u]nder Sasse’s formulation of religious liberty, a person who killed his own sister because he believed he was under a religious obligation to do so would be immune from prosecution for murder.”
The effects of Sasse’s interpretation of the law would not be limited to birth control and honor-killings. “Under Sasse’s preferred rule,” Millhiser and Israel write, “a person who believes that they violate their religious beliefs if they are late to church could ignore the speed limit, traffic lights, and stop signs if obeying traffic laws would cause them to miss just one minute of their church’s Sunday service.”
Sasse also believes that the right to exercise lethal force to protect family and property “pre-dates Government”: “The Second Amendment affirms the rights of Americans to protect their families and property. This right pre-dates Government and is inviolable.”
[Image of Ben Sasse at Buffalo Bill Ranch via Facebook]
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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