Separation of church and state, worshiping according to the dictates of our conscience, and laws against immorality are all illustrated as they correctly fit together in Alma 30.
Alma 30: 7 Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.
8 For thus saith the scripture: Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.
9 Now if a man desired to serve God, it was his privilege; or rather, if he believed in God it was his privilege to serve him; but if he did not believe in him there was no law to punish him.
10 But if he murdered he was punished unto death; and if he robbed he was also punished; and if he stole he was also punished; and if he committed adultery he was also punished; yea, for all this wickedness they were punished.
11 For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on equal grounds.
There you see the principles correctly illustrated. Separation of church and state is illustrated. Letting others worship according to the dictates of their own conscience is illustrated. And yet neither of this principles means it is wrong for the state to punish someone for adultery (verse 10). The state actually has an obligation to not lose track of what is morally wrong, and to consider it a civil matter. It also has an obligation to not use religious exemptions as justification for evil practices. We as members should be it’s conscience and fight for it not to lose track of those things in its laws.
That was once acknowledged among the people generally I believe, but in the last 50 years or so it has slipped away from our thinking. Many now think that the opposite is true. So it bears repeating what we see illustrated clearly in these scriptures since we have been so heavy handedly taught the opposite for so very long.
1. When operating correctly, the principle of separation of church and state, does not mean the state should forget what is immoral, and not consider immorality a crime.
2. When operating correctly, the principle of letting others worship according to the dictates of their own conscience, does not mean the state should forget what is immoral, and not consider it a crime.
Now we live in a state that has all but lost its moral compass. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a moral obligation to fight for whatever part of that moral compass remains, and to seek to restore what parts are lost.