437 Children Taken from Cohab Parents

April 17, 2008 | 136 comments
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By now you’ll have heard about the Mormon splinter sect in Texas that was accused of a forced, under-age marriage and how, in consequence, the state of Texas raided and took away all 416 437 kids.

Guy Murray has been doing yeoman’s work in tracking down information about the sect and the raid.
Link

Interesting commentary:
In Medias Res here and here .
St. Blog’s Parish here.
If you’ve posted elsewhere, feel free to link here in the comments. Give us a sample for flavor!

My own opinion, for what little its worth–Texas would probably have been overreaching if the state had grabbed all the teenage girls but that kind of overreach would have been understandable. But grabbing all the kids is just tyranny and oppression. I’m probably a little sensitive because of our own history of being persecuted for the faith; because of shame over our own initial handling of the children at Mountain Meadows; and because in our own day public intellectuals have called religious upbringing child abuse.

Errata: 419 416.

Update: I changed 416 to 437. See comment #111.

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136 Responses to 437 Children Taken from Cohab Parents

  1. Guy Murray on April 17, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Adam Greenwood,

    Thanks for the post and the links you provided to the various sources you have referenced. Lots and lots of discussion about this for certain. It seems Texas’ strongest position is to convince the judge to handle all 400 plus cases as one big whole. Any thoughts you have about whether these children and families are entitled to separate case by case consideration–or whether Texas should just be able to lump them all in one?

  2. Marc Bohn on April 17, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Part of my revulsion over this raid and the sympathy I feel toward the parents is that I can almost picture this sort of thing being what we as a Church would have faced had we not abandoned polygamy. While the allegations of abuse certainly trouble me, I’m hesitant to believe everything as reported by the media. Once again, these sorts of allegations were once liberally thrown at us.

    While I’m not any big fan of polygamy, I find it a little unsettling that we as a society scorn these people, most of whom seem incredibly devout, while giving mainstream television shows to purveyors of smut who choose to live in pseudo-polygamous relationships with harems of young voluptuous twenty-year olds. You don’t think the government would ever raid the Playboy mansion if this ends up happening do you?

  3. Ray on April 17, 2008 at 9:13 am

    If you want some well-written and considered posts by a teenager, Paradox has a couple that are excellent.

    http://templeboundparadox.blogspot.com/

  4. Bored in Vernal on April 17, 2008 at 9:25 am

    One of the posts I wrote on this included a link to the song “Yearning For Zion,” written by Warren Jeffs, and the source of the compound’s name. I thought it was interesting that on the NOM board, two of the commenters wrote that when they listened to this song they “felt the Spirit.” It just points up to me how interesting it is that people we don’t necessarily include within our religious circle can feel they are doing their best to follow God and establish Zion.

  5. Min Jae Lee on April 17, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Marc Bohn,

    Thank you for putting my feelings into words. Obviously none of us supports abuse of underage children but I have yet to see any evidence. Everything I know of it so far is heresay and acusation.

    So much of this sounds like the lies that were told about the LDS church so many years ago (not to mention the lies that are still told) and we have numerous examples of law enforcement getting overly excited. It seems so easy when we have been told terrible things about the people we are going after – but how many times have we latter faound out that much of what was told was false witness by people with an axe to grind.

    This whole episode should be terrifying to the American public. Today it may be some odd little group that few people care about but it may be your own “odd little group” tomorrow. While I am not completely educated on the details of the Ameican system of laws and government this seems to violate many of the things that I have learned. I hope that Americans of all different beliefs will protest this abuse of power and that saner heads will soon prevail. Much more than anything that has happened in the Global War On Terror this event lessens my respect for America.

    Let the evidence be seen and heard and then let the judgement come.

    Min Jae Lee

  6. Martin Willey on April 17, 2008 at 11:15 am

    We can all agree that child abuse is reprehensible, and that coerced underage marriage falls within the category of child abuse. (The FLDS could avoid much of their trouble by eliminating these practices, but that is another matter). But the situation in Texas is very sobering. So far it appears that we have no identified perpetrator or victim. Moreover, the legal age for marriage with parental consent was raised by the state of Texas from 14 to 16 AFTER the FLDS arrived. All this and the sensationalistic media reports clearly suggest that something beyond the “best interest of the child” is motivating this raid. Plus, I find the anemic response by civil libertarians is very discouraging.

  7. Mormon Paleo on April 17, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Connor Boyack wrote an interesting article:

    http://www.connorboyack.com/blog/fascism-for-the-flds

    I wrote an article as well, though I dare not qualify it as anything other than self-written:

    http://mormonpaleo.wordpress.com/2008/04/15/disturbed-by-the-flds-raid/

    And for a non-Mormon Christian libertarian perspective:

    http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/2008/04/your-children-are-ours.html

    Martin Willey,

    Not sure about the civil libertarian response, but the paleolibertarian and Mormon libertarian communities are quite upset, as the articles indicate.

    [Editor--note that the freedominourtime link is highly critical of Mormonism and our leadership. Its also pretty interesting, but FYI.]

  8. Bob on April 17, 2008 at 11:42 am

    I think the Church should not be silence on this. I do not feel the Church in anyway need to take blame or feel a need to involve itself. But the Church has members who might wish to offer some aid, legal or otherwise, who might not step forward with some feeling where the Church stands. If nothing more, the Church does have members with some understanding or even ‘expertise’ in this area. Again, my personal view.

  9. Roland on April 17, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Hi Bob – The church has not been silent on this. In Saturday session of General Conference, Elder Wirthlin gave a fiery condemnation of abuse.

    Since the raid, while most wives have resturned to the YFZ Ranch, at least 8 adult women elected to move into a battered women shelter in Texas.

  10. Adam Greenwood on April 17, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Here’s Ardis P.’s sidebar link:

    http://www.sltrib.com/ci_8957324

  11. se7en on April 17, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    This was straight up wrong and un-called for. Again, the Authorities prove to be the extremists, not our beloved polygamists.

  12. Ardis Parshall on April 17, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Roland, those women who initially went to the shelter returned to the ranch within hours. They said CPS workers had told them that if they cooperated with the state and went to the shelter, they would get their children back sooner. When they got to the shelter and learned that they were prohibited from making telephone calls, and then met with an attorney who told them that “cooperation” in this way would have no bearing on getting their children back, they returned to the ranch. All of them.

  13. Sean on April 17, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    I am amazed that more people are not upset with the constitutional violations done by the state of Texas. These mothers and their children, who are the victims, are being seperated and have their possessions (cell phones, for example) taken without any due process or charges filed. While it is true that the court is getting involved today, we’ve had this mess going on for two weeks now. If there is sexual abuse then by all means go after the fathers and “husbands” who are doing it. But don’t separate these children from their mothers by the use of armed guards. This is another example of our benevolent government making great efforts to destroy families. I repeat, to stop the abuse go after the fathers, not the mothers.

  14. fifthgen on April 17, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    For an interesting twist on the civil liberties angle, and a discussion of one possible motivation for Texas’ actions, see

    http://sanfordbarrett.blogspot.com/2008/04/stopping-gay-marriage-one-polygamist-at_17.html

  15. Bob on April 17, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    #13: I was just thinking, the Government did a “better job’ in 19th Century Utah when it arrested the men. (IMO)

  16. Tim J. on April 17, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    The hearings have been halted.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24178574/

  17. Martin Willey on April 17, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Roland: The whole problem, from my perspective, in the Texas matter is the broad assumption with no apparent evidence (some call this discrimination) that FLDS = child or spouse abuser. All abuse is wrong. But who is the abused here? Let’s help that person. Who is the abuser? Let’s prosecute them. But neither victim nor abuser has been identified in this case. Instead, 400+ children have been taken away from their parents on the flimsiest of allegations. My guess is the vast majority of these children were in no danger, but their parents were simply tarred with the “abuser” brush because of their religious beliefs and unusual lifestyle.

  18. Russell Arben Fox on April 17, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Plus, I find the anemic response by civil libertarians is very discouraging.

    This is, unfortunately, unsurprising; the majority of the civil libertarian crowd (the ACLU, etc.) have usually been slow to address abuses against communities and groups, particularly those united by faith, as opposed to lonely individual dissenters and victims. (They barely made a peep about the mistakes and overreaching that led to the massacre of the Branch Davidians, back in 1993.) One could make a philosophical point here, about the limits of “rights talk” in general, but probably the better explanation is an organizational one: the FLDS today (and the Branch Davidians 15 years ago, and the Mormons 150 years before that) were weird, unconventional, and sexually suspect, and it’s never going to be easy to organize a defense of such a group.

  19. Connor on April 17, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    For anybody opposed to Texas’ actions in this case, I invite you to sign a petition I started two days ago, which has 550+ signatures currently. We’re aiming for 1,000, and when we have enough, it’ll be sent on to Texas authorities.

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/free-the-innocent-flds

    Small dice, yes, but hey.. it’s something.

  20. Russell Arben Fox on April 17, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    For anyone interested in the other side of the argument, which I am uncomfortable with but can’t dismiss entirely, here’s a thread in which most of the posts assume that the existence of a 14-year-old with a child is pretty much prima facie evidence of child rape, and thus, at the very least, clear reason to remove every child 10-years-old and older from their parents for their own protection.

  21. Jacob F on April 17, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    I find it ironic that the hearing is being held at the Tom Green courthouse.

    Martin Willey – the legal marriage age may have been 14, but if the husband-to-be is already married then any marriage with a 14-year-old would still be illegal.

  22. Adam Greenwood on April 17, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    the existence of a 14-year-old with a child is pretty much prima facie evidence of child rape, and thus, at the very least, clear reason to remove every child 10-years-old and older from their parents for their own protection.

    Maybe a reason to remove every young teenage girl, but Texas has gone far beyond that.

  23. Russell Arben Fox on April 17, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Agreed, Adam. As one commenter on that thread points out: “Removing 2, 4, 6, 10-year-olds from their homes and parents, breaking up sibling groups into a terrible foster system in an environment deeply bigoted against their faith, depriving mothers who have yet to be accused of any wrongdoing from any contact with their very young children—-this goes beyond the pale.” I agree with that. But I also recognize that, once you allow for the possibility of–the justification for–intervention, then you’re going to be on a slipperly slope, making a lot of possibly arbitrary calls. Maybe that’s the way it should be; maybe that’s why they call it “politics.” I don’t like what the FLDS have been doing, and I don’t like what Texas law enforcement and child service agencies have been doing; with all of that disliking going around, maybe that’s a good reason, in this case, to be happy with relatively basic liberal procedures, and to be grateful that, unlike fifteen years ago, no one has gotten shot (yet).

  24. Raymond Takashi Swenson on April 17, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    This is starting to look more and more like the child abuse prosecution in Wenatchee, Washington, in which children were manipulated by the sheriff and prosecutors and counselors to tell all sorts of fanciful stories that did not even make sense, which put in prison people who do not appear to have in fact been guilty of anything illegal. PBS Frontline did an expose of it a few years ago.

    Frankly, I question the authority of the government to deny access by the mothers, who have not been charged with any violations of the law. There have been cases that have held that you cannot wade into a crowd at a demonstration and prosecute everyone you grab without specific evidence against each person. At this point, it is not even clear that the anonymous phone call was not a fake that was done by someone to give the authorities an excuse to get a search warrant, so they could go in and try to find real evidence of a crime.

    If they cannot find clear evidence of physical abuse (injuries, malnutrition, sexual abuse) of a particular child, they have no legal justification for interfering with the rights of each child’s mother to be with her or him.

    If they have evidence of statutory rape, they should make some arrests. And they have had plenty of time to get that by now.

    Frankly, the Texas child protective services woman who was talking on TV about how they think the children will be more “cooperative” without their mothers around made me think of a communist country (like Cuba) where the state believes they own the kids and the parents have no authority. Appeals court judges in California have held that the state has primary custody of children for schooling, and that parents cannot legally home school unless they are certified by the state to teach–even though there is a statute that specifically allows it.

    There are plenty of people who are more than ready to abuse the power they have so they can indoctrinate other people’s children with their own ideas. Richard Dawkins considers it child abuse to teach children to not be atheists, and I am sure that there are people out there who believe that teaching children to think gay marriage is wrong is child abuse. Indeed, a new California law has made it illegal for a public school teacher to imply anything of that nature to her class. So while we have the Supreme Court holding that what adults do in the privacy of their home sexually is so sacrosanct that the state has no right to interfere, the people seeking that outcome are arguing the state now has the authority to invade the home to interfere with parents teaching their children morality based on religion.

    At this point, I am expecting that the attorneys for the FLDS people will soon start filing for writs of habeas corpus in Federal court to get the children out of Texas state custody.

    Let me suggest one thing that LDS members can do. At some point, if the state of Texas does not release the children to their mothers, they will have to place them in foster care. LDS families in Texas can volunteer to be foster parents. If they are willing to keep siblings together, they will probably get higher priority. I would hate to see the kids abused for their religion by some of the people whose churches have schooled them to hate anything associated with the word “Mormon”.

  25. Raymond Takashi Swenson on April 17, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    One other point: the state of Texas is going to argue that living in polygamous household is per se child abuse. It triggered a memory that Henry Eyring, the chemist, lived in El Paso for a while with his family after they had to leave Mexico because of the revolution. His father had married two sisters. He worked to help care for his family and both his father’s wives all his life, even as he was going through college and graduate school. He seems to have turned out pretty well. HIs sister Camilla Kimball, too. And it didn’t seem to hurt the Romney clan, to which Eyring was related.

    I would submit that being torn from your home and your mother by the state, when there is no clear and present danger to you, is much more traumatizing than simply having an extended family of step-siblings.

  26. Roland on April 17, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    I’m sure getting lots of questions from non-LDS coworkers about this case. It is attracting a lot of attention in the general public.

  27. Josh Smith on April 17, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    I’ve known people that have grown up in polygamy. It would be nice to hear them chime in here.

    For my part, I’m not too concerned about grave constitutional violations and rampant mistreatment in the Texas foster care system. I’m much more concerned with how young girls and boys are treated in an insular, isolated compound. Particularly when their parents openly practice a form of marriage that has included teenage girls for almost 200 years. The Constitution isn’t hanging by a thread on this one.

  28. Bob on April 17, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    #24: Raymond, thank you for adding a charitable way Mormons can engage this problem, (Foster case), if needed.
    Being a military man, you know it’s a poor army that has no plan for recovering the wounded. At some point, the war must take a break, and look to those in need.

  29. bbell on April 17, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    “the existence of a 14-year-old with a child is pretty much prima facie evidence of child rape”

    Agreed. I am proposing that CPS remove all lower income girls from the Dallas public school system because their home life and school environment is condusive to teen pregnancy as evidenced by the sheer number of underage girls who are pregnant in the Dallas public school system.

    You could say the same thing about underage girls in the TX foster care system.

    I personally think the TX CPS over-reached and this whole sad episode will end badly and go down in history like the Short Creek raids

  30. Josh Smith on April 17, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    bbell,

    In Dallas, teenage pregnancy is understood as a problem. In “the compound,” teenage pregnancy is how the girls are to obtain heaven.

  31. jrl on April 17, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    # 27:

    I wholeheartedly agree. The Constitution isn’t hanging by a thread yet, so we should just let it slide. . . Yeah, let’s not get too uptight about the invasion of the State into the very heart of society – the family – because, well, we don’t like these people. They live in a compound. And they wear funny clothes. Heck, they even talk different. So the State has confiscated 400 kids from their mothers based on an anonymous accusation against someone that might be a father of the kids. So what? They are weird! Let’s wait until the Constitution is really hanging by a thread – you know, when it affects us – and then we can get exercised. Until then, we can jut be glad that we aren’t weird like them. Everyone likes us. They all agree with us. We will never be a target of misunderstanding or prejudice or persecution. All is well in Zion . . .

  32. bbell on April 17, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Josh,

    I would agree that school admins in Dallas think its a problem but in my Exp the communities the girls live in accept underage pregnancy which is quite often the result of child rape to be a normal part of living and the men are rarely prosecuted.

    The most the State should be doing is investigating individual situations. AKA a pregnant 15 year old’s case should be investigated and the father prosecuted. Not hauling everybody under 18 into custody on flimsy evidence.

  33. Josh Smith on April 17, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    jrl,

    Father Yod was weird. He married 13 adult women, ran a weird restaurant, and created a weird religion. His followers were “warriors.” The other night, I asked my wife why I couldn’t be a “warrior.” (Against my better judgment, I’m signing this with my real name.) She laughed. Seriously, I’m probably more open than most to nonconformist lifestyles. In my mind, the TX AG clearing the compound is not a nonconformist-lifestyle issue. It is a child protection issue.

    These things seem true to me:
    1) Polygamy as practiced by Jeffs and followers promises young teenage girls the greatest glories if they marry much older men.
    2) These girls grow up in an insulated, isolated community.
    3) These marriages have occured in Colorado City and the Texas compound.
    4) Marriage includes sexual intercourse.

    Now if these things are true, I don’t think the Constitution protects such behavior. To the extent that you argue that it could be handled better, we agree. But we probably disagree about what practices the Constitution should protect.

  34. Russell Arben Fox on April 17, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    One of the deep problems here is that what most of us Mormons see, for historical reasons, as perhaps a disturbing and distasteful but not necessarily awful religious/marriage/sexual practice, other people see as a predatory crime. Of course you’ve got to remove all the kids, these people say; you can’t trust the mothers, who obviously have been brainwashed or beaten-down (both suppositions I personally find quite reasonable, by the way) by the patriarchs who control their lives–you’ve got to break up the families, the same way you’d send the state in a break up a family next door where a child is being beaten and raped. Even if the charge proves to be false, you’ve got to do the utmost to protect the vulnerable, the inexperienced, the young, until you’re absolutely sure, and offer them a chance to escape in the meantime. The collateral damage to the only faith and only family these people have ever known doesn’t register for many of these critics, who simply see the word “CULT” flashing bright red.

    For better or worse, we LDS know about cults, because–using strictly the popular use of the term here–we started out as one. I’m actually quite proud of the greater LDS community for taking this so serious, and for doing their part to bring attention to a situation that we know from past experience could easily have turned out (and might still turn out) much, much worse.

  35. Connor on April 17, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Somebody just emailed me this video – http://youtube.com/watch?v=ISFPJL66p4c – which shows what some of these kids may face if put into the Texas foster care system. Certainly such over-medication (which we can only assume would occur with FLDS kids who would behave quite odd, according to our society’s standards) is a form of abuse itself.

  36. Josh Smith on April 17, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    One more brief comment and then I’ll be quiet:

    The Tenn. congressman Davy Crocket wrote the Texas constitutional provision dealing with protection from unreasonable searches and seizures: “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.” Maybe it doesn’t have all the trappings of the Fourth Amendment, but it gets the job done in the Lone Star State.

  37. Adam Greenwood on April 17, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Fox, for what its worth, in todays context I view whatthe initial accusation that sparked all this as a predatory crime. Forcing a very, very young lady to get married against her will and to be used against her will is sick and criminal.

    But I also see wrongly taking children away from their parents as a predatory crime. And that is clearly happening here. There is no justification for taking the male children or the very young children away from their homes and their mothers. Its oppression and child abuse.

  38. Matt Evans on April 17, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Has anyone seen press reports of which legal groups are representing the FLDS mothers? If so, please mention them in the comments. I and several other attorneys I’ve talked to want to volunteer our assistance, if it would be helpful. (Whether in Texas pro hac vice or writing briefs locally.) Any information appreciated. UPDATE: I’ve found the group leading the representation of mothers: Northwest Texas Legal Aid Society. I’ve made contact with them. Thanks for the help.

  39. Just me on April 17, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    CNN:

    When Texas authorities seized 416 children from the FLDS Yearning for Zion compound in Eldorado this month, there were similar signs of indoctrination, said Helen Pfluger, whose Baptist church in nearby San Angelo volunteered to help feed and clothe the children and their mothers.

    “They were very quiet and didn’t want to look us in the eye,” she said. “We never knew for sure which child belonged to which mother. It was very communal.”

    They refused to play board games. Clothes had to be cotton and plain, no patterns and no red, “the color of the devil,” Pfluger said. The children shunned processed food, white bread and sodas, and essentially subsisted on yogurt, fruit and lots of almonds, she said.

    “Another San Angelo church had brought some coloring pages and crayons,” she said. “They didn’t know what to do with them, and their mothers didn’t either.”

    Learning to color will be one of many challenges the children will face if they’re permanently removed from YFZ ranch.

    Joni Holm said it takes five to 10 years for a sect child to learn how to live a life society would deem “normal.” Larson said it could take longer. Jessop said she might never be normal.

  40. Adam Greenwood on April 17, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    The children shunned processed food, white bread and sodas

    Yikes, these kids are more evil than I thought. Maybe instead of getting them lost in the foster care system, we should just shoot them.

  41. California Condor on April 17, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Adam Greenwood,

    I have noticed that the FLDS people look thin. Maybe it’s because they don’t have access to a lot of high-calorie food.

  42. Jacob F on April 17, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    If the FLDS promised to do away with underage marriages, would this whole thing go away?

    Also, if this does end badly, I wonder if the Baptists will regret loaning their buses to police for the roundup:

    http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=27776

  43. Bob on April 17, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Surely, Mormon ‘scholars’ must have some suggestions here? There must be some usable ‘corporate memory’ of compromises offered by either side in the 19th Century, that would be of aid today?
    There was a FLDS on Larry king, (from Canada), who said he warned this group for years to stop having under age marriages and children by under age girls. He still demanded his rights for Polygamy in his religion, yet condemned these things he saw as wrong, and that would at some point bring the in the Law.

  44. WillF on April 17, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    I am sympathetic to making sure these children are taken care of, but I disagree with the idea that they could be more comfortable for them being fostered in an LDS home (if it comes to foster care).

  45. WillF on April 17, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Imagine if the tables were turned — would you want your children fostered by an FLDS family, or with someone who may have more drastically different beliefs, but beliefs that they could better distinguish from their own?

  46. Russell Arben Fox on April 17, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    If anyone is interested, this topic (with some quotes from my comments elsewhere) is being discussed at length over at Rod Dreher’s blog here. Most of the commenters are decidedly in favor of the raid.

  47. Chad Too on April 17, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Regarding thinness: Carolyn Jessop says in her book that Warren Jeffs had a rigid rule forbidding members from becoming obese. The shunning of white bread and soda may have something to do with that.

  48. California Condor on April 17, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Chad Too,

    Thanks for the insight. The FLDS people do look strikingly thin.

  49. fifthgen on April 17, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Dreher says: “But shouldn’t we at least ask ourselves on what ground we stand to criminalize the practice [of polygamy], when many of us are perfectly willing to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. If there is no fixed definition of marriage, and if marriage is merely a contract establishing a legal relationship between consenting people, why is it wrong for the members of this community to establish their own rules governing marriage?”

    This really makes me think about whether a fixed definition of marriage is a good or bad thing. If it is a good thing, what should the definition be? And what is wrong with singling out polygamists for prosecution. Then, we could go after them on that basis, rather than child abuse, underage marriage, welfare fraud and the rest. If it is a bad thing, wouldn’t it be a bad thing across the board? If not, why not? Wouldn’t all definitions of marriage merely be the result of the majority dictating to the minority their religious/moral beliefs?

  50. Just me on April 17, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    If Prophet Warren believes obesity a marker of inacceptable lack of self-restraint, perhaps thinness was one marker that led him to choose among the population at Hillsdale and Colorado City and elsewhere for those called to initially build up the Yearning For Zion Ranch?

  51. kevinf on April 17, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    I’m probably sticking my nose into the buzz saw, but I will make two observations. First, the State of Texas has handled this badly. They were looking for one 16 year old girl, were expecting no more than 400 people in the entire compound, and now are struggling to deal with the consequences of going into the compound on spectral evidence, and no real plan on how to handle more than 400 children found there.

    On the other hand, Warren Jeffs and his compatriots have perverted our shared religious heritage into something bizarre, macabre, and horrible, where women are subjugated as primarily property for the few powerful males at the top. There are many accounts besides Jessop’s about the multiple forms of abuse going on in the FLDS church. While we need to be cautious about some of the current media feeding frenzy on this, I for one do not think our shared heritage supports any more sympathy for these people than we would for any other suspected victims of abuse. They are at their roots, apostates, far removed from the gospel we find so fulfilling for ourselves.

    In my mind, the State of Texas gets a failing grade; the FLDS also. Let’s preserve their rights as citizens, but who in their right mind here really thinks it’s okay to keep these women and children in cultural and spiritual isolation, and assign them as essentially breeding partners to middle aged men, and reassign them at a whim?

    I appreciate that we also have suffered from bigotry and false accusations, but at their core, the FLDS leaders have gone so far out into left field here as to be unrecognizable. They still do not allow the priesthood for African Americans. They have, in Colorado City and Hilldale, diverted public funds for religious purposes (schools and police), and subverted the rule of law. These women and children are to me like the Katrina evacuees. Let’s find those responsible, and hold them accountable, at the same time that we hold the State of Texas accountable for a badly bungled investigation and its aftermath.

  52. Cicero on April 17, 2008 at 8:09 pm
  53. Raymond Takashi Swenson on April 17, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    WillF (#45, 46): I have a hard time conceiving it as possible for the hypothetical to occur, that an LDS child would be fostered in an FLDS home, since the foster family has to undergo prior state scrutiny. I have no idea what the psychology of the FLDS is, as to whether they would prefer the confrontation and disdain the children would get from many Southern Baptists, including preventing the children from reading the Book of Mormon, or an LDS home that would be more comfortable and tolerant in some ways but by the same token more attractive. Since much of the information we have about FLDS leadership is that they are lacking in empathy and more interested in maintaining boundary markers and control, perhaps they would not appreciate an LDS foster home taking these children.

    But the fact is that the foster care resources in Texas are strained to the limit, and they need new volunteer families anyway. Whatever Warren Jeffs or anyone else in the FLDS Church thinks, if the children are not returned to their families, they need to be somewhere, and the more active LDS families volunteer, the less chance that families of borderline quality will have custody, especially those especially hostile to anything “Mormon”.

    I find it interesting that the news reports are that the State of texas has confiscated cell phones from among the children. How isolated were they before if they had cell phones? And isn’t the state isolating them more?

    The idea that they have a single judge trying to hear the cases of over 400 children in a wide range of ages is silly. The judge is obsessed with her own power. Texas needs to assign ten judges to the cases, so they are expedited and received the individual hearing they deserve. How can the single judge even keep straight which child and family she is considering, and what evidence is relevant to each? Dragging this out is per se abuse.
    They can take over school houses and other public buildings and rent meeting rooms in hotels if necessary. But the cases of the children should not be prejudiced by the fact that the state took on more than it has the capacity to do properly.

    What is more, to the extent any of the state action is justified, the sloppy way this is going on will create an infinite source of appealable issues and claims against the state for unlawful detention. There will be five lawsuits for every child. The long term result will be that any state that thinks of taking on a similar polygamist group in the future will hesitate to act because of the tremendous cost this is going to entail for the state. Those costs will probably equal an entire county budget in this year alone. The state legislature will have to enact a special appropriation just to cover the costs.

    Frankly, the State has not even alleged any abuse hazard to male children, nor to children through, say, age 12. There are no specific allegations of unrestricted pedophilia, but rather of statutory rape through illegal simulated “marriages” sanctioning intimate relations between girls of 14 and men much older. The basis for the broad sweep of removal of children from their mothers has not been justified at all. The claim that the State is making that a single case of a “child bride” anywhere in the compound justifies holding all parents in the compound responsible is imposing a legal presumption of what amounts to GROUP MARRIAGE, which goes way beyond even the extremes of what the sect itself has practiced. Eventually, between state and federal courts, this case is going to be overturned, unless it is done with proper regard to the actual identity of the children and their own parents, considered individually.

    Furthermore, the termination of parental rights the state seeks is premised on the assumption that the parents had control and culpably failed to halt the abuse. Yet in the same breath, the state maintains that women in the compound had no power, which is an element in their claim that the relationships were involuntary. If the women had no power, how can they be legally culpable, and on that basis lose their natural rights as mothers?

  54. Nathan Bunker on April 17, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    My home teaching companion in my ward grew up in a polygamous family, so I have gotten a window into the attitudes of these people. They have a very different background and culture but they are still people. My home teaching companion said he had a wonderful childhood.

    When I think of what is happening to those who went to Texas I think about the revelation that Wilford Woodruff were he was told that work of the Lord would cease if we did not stop polygamy. For me, this is another blessing that we have enjoyed as members of the church. A prophet who saw the future and directed us in a different way.

  55. WillF on April 18, 2008 at 1:00 am

    Raymond (#54) – I think what we still need to understand is how the children feel — do they feel like they have been taken or freed? (I imagine it may vary from child to child) I’m betting a child would be coming to my home who desperately wants to get back to his family. Maybe I’m wrong and there are children among the 400+ that really would prefer to be away from their home, but I have a hard time imagining this.

    What happens when the child realizes that I’m not going to take them back to their parents?

  56. Russell Arben Fox on April 18, 2008 at 1:16 am

    Here’s a comment that was left on my blog by Laura McKenna, who is also following this case closely. I’m also attaching my lengthy reply to her:

    I have to admit that I’m puzzled by the commentary at Times & Seasons. If the media accounts are true, then TX had every right to take those kids away from the women. If the accounts are false, then that’s another story, but let’s just assume that they are true for the time being. If there was a widespread practice of marrying off teenage daughters, then that’s child abuse. If other women knew about these practices, but did not call authorities, then they are a party to the crime. In all child abuse cases, the kids are removed immediately and promptly. Even the kids who were not directly abused. The trial comes later. I’m a little confused about the controversy.

    Laura,

    I think the controversy you see on Times and Seasons and elsewhere boils down to a general distrust that the state will be a responsible and fair player in a matter dealing with the custody of children coming out of this particular religious situation. This is a distrust that has some constitutionalist roots, and part of it is our strong belief that families need to stick together, but which mostly goes back to our own historical memory. Since our experience is that religions which, in the name of building Zion and creating “eternal families” and whatnot, practice unconventional–even scandalous–marriage and family-building rites are not going to get treated well, we feel kind of sympathetic to those parents who want to keep as many of their children out of hands of the state as possible. Of course if the evidence of abuse or rape or underage coerced marriage is found and proven, it’s all going to be over (as it should be!), and I don’t think any except some very hard-nosed old-school Mormons would complain about that. But, failing to prove that, will Texas still return all the children to their parents? If you have reason to fear that they won’t, then you have reason to be suspicious that the state, while following proper protocols, took all the kids, even those (like, for instance, young boys) who by the evident practices of the FLDS and by their stated doctrines had no cause to fear abuse or coercion.

    Now, if you find the whole thing simply horrifying, then you’ll say “Of course they have cause to fear abuse and coercion–simply growing up in and internalizing FLDS norms is itself conducive to abuse! It’s the same reason we take both children away in family abuse cases, even if the stepdad was only going after the daughter.” And you’re point is a reasonable one; that’s a good basis for the law. Some of us just fear it, even if irrationally so…because other people were led to believe that we were horrifying, once. (The truth, of course, is that we certainly weren’t a perfectly nice liberal religion either, same as I’m sure the FLDS aren’t (though I’d insist we were better than them…the FLDS, at the top anyway, seem to me to be a disturbed, corrupt, wicked bunch). But we got shot at for our trouble. The FLDS, thank goodness, at least haven’t been (yet).)

  57. Matt Evans on April 18, 2008 at 1:49 am

    From KSL:

    Authorities in Colorado Springs announced the arrest of Rozita Swinton on charges of false reporting to authorities. The press release notes that Texas Rangers were in Colorado Springs as part of the FLDS investigation. There’s no further explanation from authorities.

    But a well-known anti-polygamy crusader claims that Swinton called her numerous times in the last two weeks. Flora Jessop believes Swinton was the one who called Texas authorities, pretending to be trapped in the FLDS compound.

    And Flora Jessop is a former FLDS who runs the group Help The Child Brides!

    My prediction: Texas pays the FLDS church $45 million to settle 8,000 due process violations; promises to help Texas judges and officials comprehend US Constitution.

  58. john f. on April 18, 2008 at 7:15 am

    Josh Smith:

    I do not think that anyone on this thread or on the other blog posts linked in this thread is arguing in favor of the FLDS’ actual behaviors or practices. I assume that everyone here roundly condemns underaged marriage and child abuse of any form, and even polygamy or bigamy of any kind, whether “spiritual marraiges” or otherwise.

    The concern held by the Latter-day Saints who have been commenting on this topic around the blogosphere is with the inappropriate response to specific allegations of abuse. Removing more than 400 children in response to specific allegations by one or a few individuals is not justifiable either under the Texas statutes at issue or the due process requirements of the United States Constitution.

    I believe it is also fair to say that most of those objecting to this course of action of removing all of the children is based on the very likely possibility that religious beliefs were the root cause of the suspicion against the FLDS and that the telephone call from the 16 year old was a pretext to get into the ranch and remove all the children. This is substantiated by comments of Ms. Voss in the media yesterday in which she said that the FLDS’ belief system raises the children to be victims of abuse. So this is about a state’s substantive judgment on a particular religious group’s beliefs and whether those are good for children. Instead of responding to a specific allegation of abuse by removing the victim and her siblings, or perhaps by carting the accused father away, the state decided that the beliefs held by the FLDS weren’t good for kids.

    The rub is that a majority of people, I would think, also believe that LDS beliefs, or Jehova’s Witness’ beliefs, Scientologists’ beliefs aren’t good for kids, so this is not a precedent that is attractive for members of NRMs.

    People voicing their concerns are interested, from my observation, in having the state respond to allegations of abuse the old-fashioned way: by investigating those claims and addressing them with regard to the actual victim, alleged perp, and the siblings of the victim.

  59. Just me on April 18, 2008 at 8:19 am

    What with the sect’s frequent placement marriages and reassignments of families to other fathers, etc., Texas child welfare officials simply decided the entire cooperative community is comparable under Texas law to a single family entity. (Which might means, by extention, if any FLDS member lives in the state of Texas, they could have their children taken away . . . thus I’d helpfully suggest any FLDS who might be visiting Texas with children in tow never to tarry there over two weeks at a stretch!)

  60. Ardis Parshall on April 18, 2008 at 8:50 am

    john f. outlines my position better than I have been able to do it, despite the many attempts and venues where I’ve tried to find exactly his words.

  61. Adam Greenwood on April 18, 2008 at 8:57 am

    I’m with John F. too.

  62. East Coast on April 18, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Only being vaguely familiar with legal proceedings (I don’t tend to watch courtroom dramas or shows like Law and Order which is probably where most Americans get their legal education) I would imagine that the lawyers should be trying everything possible to get the hearings halted. How can the judge possibly claim any semblance of constitutionality, legal representation, due process, etc.

    “‘I’m not in a position to advocate for anything,’ complained Susan Hays, the appointed attorney for a 2-year-old sect member.” (From an AP story.)

    How can you hold a hearing for 400+ people? Each of them has a lawyer. Each mother should have a lawyer. Each father should have a lawyer. The complications are so absurd and throw into that the murky area of child protective law. One of the mothers on my online congenital heart defect support group reported recently that her child was removed from her custody after she took him into the doctors with a bruise on his head. The kid is post surgery and is on blood thinners, for goodness sakes. She is totally traumatized and fearful that her baby won’t get adequate supervision and medical care if he’s not in her custody. I don’t know the truth of the situation, only what she’s reported, but what are the parent’s rights in a situation like this? How do you get good legal representation? Why do you have to prove that you are innocent? Doesn’t the state have to prove that you are guilty? Does the state have ways to care for medically fragile children like this little heart baby? Does the state have ways to care for socially fragile children like these FLDS kids?

  63. Adam Greenwood on April 18, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Here’s reportage on the preliminary hearings. It sounds like a complete circus.

    http://patterico.com/2008/04/17/day-1-flds-child-custody-testimony/

  64. ECS on April 18, 2008 at 10:08 am

    “So this is about a state’s substantive judgment on a particular religious group’s beliefs and whether those are good for children.”

    Not necessarily. The FLDS are not confining their activities to believing in plural marriage – they are engaging in a practice that is in direct violation of Texas law. Texas has criminalized polygamy and cohabitation under the appearance of being married. The state of Texas may be overreaching with respect to the abuse allegations, but the removal of the FLDS children from their parents may well be justified because their parents are engaging in behavior that the state of Texas has criminalized as a felony.

  65. Bob on April 18, 2008 at 10:15 am

    I share with everyone the sadness, fears, and disgust(s) in this case. But I also think there is also a part that calls for Love and Charity. I feel all Cristian church, and yes, maybe more, the LDS Church, will come to regret their silence in this heartbreak.

  66. Russell Arben Fox on April 18, 2008 at 11:05 am

    More discussion from another blog

    From someone trying to make the case for avoiding labeling these practices as inherently “abusive”:

    Also, a 14-year-old from a polygamous compound undoubtedly has a very different skill set than a conventional American 14-year-old. I don’t think the two are at all comparable, any more than you could compare me at 16 to my great-great-grandmother, who got married at that age on the frontier. Social context makes a big difference.

    My response:

    But of course, social context cuts both ways. Speaking as someone with polygamist ancestors, I confess that I’ve never been entirely convinced by the social arguments that some apologists in Mormon circles put forward regarding what they called “the Principle”; in the end, however one slices it, there was, at the least, a lot of discontent in those families. Still, polygamous arrangements in an enclosed, frontier, mostly agrarian community had something to say for itself–among other things, those social networks Amy mentioned allowed women to share child-rearing responsibilities while the men were out in the fields, thus affording some of them to enjoy a freedom that many even well-off 19th-century women did not, including 14-year-old ones. But here is the thing: as much as the FLDS aspire to such, they can’t recreate an entirely enclosed, frontier-style, agrarian world. As several have said already here, plural marriage, as it was practiced in the one social context we (or at least I) can speak of where it really did have some social worth for those involved, is no longer an option fully compatible with the Western world. Our world has turned modern; the lives of women and children have changed. Hence, I really cannot make any substantive defense of FLDS practices; there is no evidence that the women and children living their were gaining a “skill set” which was at all relevant to the socio-economic lives they will not be able to avoid living.

    My perplexity wholly comes down to a bedrock belief that one should support the state in taking children away from their parents only under the most dire of circumstances, and while some very dire allegations have been made, I am confused as to whether I can reconcile that direness with all the steps Texas has taken here. I realize that my historical situation enables me (or blinds me) in such that I can percieve a difference between this cult and a “standard” child abuse case, in which of course all the children need to be immediatley removed from the home of the accused. I can see a multiplicity of possible relationships here, not all of which deserve complete state condemnation. But I can also easily see others legitimately labeling my perplexity a window for the perpetuation of patriarchy and abuse. As some who is far from convinced that the way the state came down on us Mormons in the 19th-century was ultimately an entirely bad thing, I’m probably condemned to remain torn here.

  67. Josh Smith on April 18, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    john f.,

    I genuinely appreciate your comment. Sincerely. Sometimes when I type something up on these posts, what I write is misunderstood. Your post clarified the issue and refined my thinking. Thanks.

    After reading your comment, I do have more appreciation for the plight of the FLDS. TX snatching 400+ children does seem like overreach when addressing one or two specific allegations. I’m no expert on “compound busting,” but it seems TX’s interest in protecting young girls could be satisfied without all the pain of separating so many children from their mothers. TX has probably done it poorly. I have more appreciation for the pain the state’s action has caused.

    But I’m still not ready to come down against the state on this one, even when they’ve intervened so intrusively. The historical practices of the FLDS in relation to young girls, the Colorado City allegations, the specific TX allegations (though limited), the community’s isolation, … this is one where I want to see the state step in and try and do something. I believe there is a genuine child abuse issue, and that concern outweighs any constitutional concerns–for me.

    I don’t think this position should cause great concern for Adventists, JW’s, LDS, or Scientologists. I think the FLDS situation is easily distinguishable.

  68. Matt Evans on April 18, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    “the removal of the FLDS children from their parents may well be justified because their parents are engaging in behavior that the state of Texas has criminalized as a felony.”

    Puhlease. Securities fraud is a felony, too, and none of the “engaging in behavior” counts until there’s a trial anyway. To remove children from their parents the state needs to prove that the children are in danger. What the CPS argued yesterday was that they removed all of the children because the parents are giving their kids bad IDEAS. From the hearing yesterday, “The [CPS worker witness] is asked about the decision to remove [all of the children] and replies that her concern is a global pattern that underage marriage and children having children is permitted . . . they’ll grow up in an atmosphere in which sexual abuse of children is accepted.”

  69. Eco Theos on April 18, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    related video

    TEXAS BAPTISTS RESCUE ABUSED FLDS CHILDREN

  70. Just me on April 18, 2008 at 12:43 pm
  71. ECS on April 18, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    “What the CPS argued yesterday was that they removed all of the children because the parents are giving their kids bad IDEAS.”

    Right, but the “bad IDEAS” in this case are ideas facilitating criminal conduct. The FLDS children may not be in immediate physical danger, but these “ideas” teach impressionable young girls to accept a lifestyle the state of Texas has deemed criminal. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Shepp v. Shepp recognized the potential harm of teaching young girls to accept plural marriage. The court indicated that parental free speech may be limited in these cases.

    Bad IDEAS propagated in the name of religion have a nasty way of turning into bad RESULTS, like child rape or suicide bombers.

    Also, if the parents are tried and convicted under the Texas bigamy statute, then their children may well be placed in state custody if no other suitable caretaker is available.

  72. Martin Willey on April 18, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    ECS: I think your are significantly overstating the teaching of Shepp. In that case, an order prohibiting a father from teaching his daughter about polygamy was reversed by the PA Supreme Court because it found that, on the facts of that case, the father’s teachings did not “jeopardize the physical or mental health or safety of the child, or have a potential for significant social burdens.”

  73. ECS on April 18, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Martin- if you look at the quote in context, it’s very likely that the PA Supreme Court would rule differently in the FLDS case. The court found no harm in the Shepp case perhaps because the father did not isolate his daughter in a religious community, where plural marriage was openly practiced.

    One could argue that the physical and mental health of young girls is in jeopardy if they are isolated from the outside world, taught from an early age that God wants them to become a plural wife, and their sisters and mothers engage in this practice.

    From Shepp:

    “For these reasons, we conclude that a court may prohibit a parent from advocating religious beliefs, which, if acted upon, would constitute a crime. However, pursuant to _Yoder_, it may do so only where it is established that advocating the prohibited conduct would jeopardize the physical or mental health or safety of the child, or have a potential for
    significant social burdens. Because such harm was not established in this case, there was no constitutional basis for the state’s intrusion in the form of the trial court’s Order placing a prohibition on Father’s speech.”

  74. James on April 18, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    There are two things that I’m absolutely sure of. First, this is going to wind up as a political disaster for the state of Texas. Second, this won’t be over until it hits the U. S. Supreme Court.

    Why is it a political disaster? The first stone to throw at the state response is that they have never produced the girl and it now appears that the phone call may have come from a woman in Colorado who has a problem with pretending to be a teenage girl and calling police. While the good faith defense will probably cover the state for some of their actions when this matter is litigated, that’s not going to help the elected officials in the next election cycle.

    The social workers seem suspect as well. They come off as strident and agenda driven in their public statements. One of them, also seems cowardly as she reported being frightened by the numerous unarmed men hanging around the ranch while she came in surrounded by police commandos.

    It grieves my to say this considering that several of my relatives work in the field, but social workers in government service are not to be trusted. They have a vested interest in maintaining or increasing their client list and many times the only way that they can do that is to interfere in people’s lives on dubious or false pretenses.

    This reminds me of a situation that occured in Wenatchee, WA in the late 1990′s. A police officer and state social workers manufactured evidence and removed children from familes that they didn’t like because they were poor, or minorities, or of a religion that they didn’t like.(LDS) People were sent to prison on falsified evidence. Others were perscuted by the organs of the state for trying to blow the whistle on this witch hunt. After convictions were overturned and lawsuits were adjudicated against the state, Washington state wound up paying millions of dollars in damages and reparations. But the one thing that they could not fix were the lives that they destroyed.

    Why is this going to go all the way to the USSC? There are so many legal and constitutional issues here that it almost has to. The whole idea of constitutional protections is to prevent the majority of society from using the power of the state to oppress minority groups that they don’t like. There are issues here involving the 1st and 4th amendments at the very least. That being said, under current law many of the men there belong in jail for practices that are currently illegal. Probably some of the women should be incarcerated as well since they were enablers.

    While the practice of marrying off underage girls and getting them pregnant cannot be allowed to stand, the FLDS people really should be left alone in other aspects. If they want to live really apart from the world, what is the harm? There is nothing magic about being integrated into the society as a whole. In the long run, these people will have to accomodate some legal restrictions on their faith or flee the United States.

  75. Bob on April 18, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    #75; “Why is this going to go all the way to the USSC?” I don’t know if it will. But living near the beach in S/Cal, I know the surfer’s dream of catching the prefect wave.

  76. Lyle on April 18, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Its all been more eloquently said. I simply note that stealing children from their parents, on a massive scale, is deeply, deeply wrong. It reminds me of the sad tale of aboriginal children, or even native american children, stolen from their families and raised by “white, christian” families in Australia, Canada and the U.S. Protecting individuals who are threatened is one thing. Forcibly removing children from loving homes, permanently, due to the sins of a few parents, should be a sobering wake up call. Make your own analogies, apologies and excuses or attempts to defend the State of Texas, it all fails to answer the crying children and parents who have no solace other than their God.

    As for me and mine, my prayers go out to those children, and their parents, who are hurting, afraid and being forced by the State of Texas to forego their religious faith and effectively divorce their spouse in order to regain custody of their children (of course, only after undergoing examinations for mental stability) [Reporting Pre-Conditions before any of the FLDS mothers will be allowed to regain custody of their children]

  77. Martin Willey on April 18, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    ECS: I agree with what the PA Sup. Ct. said. I am not sure that it means the PA Sup. Ct. recognized “the potential harm of teaching young girls to accept plural marriage.”

  78. WillF on April 18, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    For some good perspective, there is a presentation by Carolyn Jessop you can watch here: http://fora.tv/2007/12/05/Carolyn_Jessop_on_her_Escape_from_the_FLDS

    To me it sounds like things really took a turn for the worse in the FLDS community when Warren Jeffs came into power. It makes you wonder when abuse started (if it is proven) and if it was a result of his succession.

    It is informative to hear Jessop describe how her children reacted when she fled the sect to Salt Lake City.

  79. Matt Evans on April 18, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    ECS, American parents have a constitutional right to teach their children that suicide bombers are heroes, smoking pot is harmless, paying taxes immoral, gay sex a celebration, or that the Virgin Mary gave birth at 14.

  80. Raymond Takashi Swenson on April 18, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    If the basis for removing ALL the children from their parents is the concern that they are being taught things that will encourage them, years in the future, to participate in a crime, then why aren’t police in Detroit raiding the homes of Muslims who send their kids to Mosque schools where they are taught hatred of other religions and of America and to admire suicide bombers, and terminating parental rights? The repeated cases of terrorist attacks carried out by Britons of Pakistani descent were produced from those conditions. Or is action taken against the FLDS because they are such wimps that no one is afraid that their reaction will be a car bomb at the courthouse?

    How about terminating the parental rights of single mothers who have multiple lovers fathering multiple children, since they are “teaching” their children by example to be sexually irresponsible?

    Isn’t there a standard of doing the least harm to the family as you find it? If people specifically involved in child marriages are identified and handled, both the victims and the perpetrators, why shouldn’t we rely on the normal deterrent effect of prosecution and punishment to deter new misconduct, as we do in all other cases? It is silly to assume that the evil teaching will go forward as planned if the state has prosecuted and is standing by to prosecute any new misconduct.

    The State of Texas can certainly monitor the situation, with the same authority that it would use to terminate parental rights. It can conduct regular one-on-one interviews with the children to tell them that if they do anything of that sort that they will go to jail like Brother X and Sister Y and the children of the specific family involved will be removed. To say that it has to terminate the parental rights of people not directly involved in the illegal conduct is irrational, because it has other less burdensome means to prevent future illegal activity.

    This entire matter has been marked by the unwillingness of the State of Texas to go to the extra trouble of respecting the basic due process rights of the people whose lives it is disrupting. It is creating a legal mess that will subject all of its actions to judicial review and reversal. In particular, the possibility of being able to mount a successful prosecution of the men involved in child marriages has been jeopardized by their action on an apparently fictional tip, and their actions to coerce testimony from mothers and children. The refusal to give individual hearings to each mother is a plain denial of constitutional rights, and their argument that removal of all children, including those who have not in fact been victims of abuse, is necessary, is prima facie an abuse of power and unreasonable.

  81. lyle on April 18, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    hear hear. where is the aclu and a good class action lawsuit when you need one?

  82. Matt Evans on April 18, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Many prominent legal groups are MIA. I was happy to see that Eugene Volokh was just interviewed for this AP story released about 45 minutes ago, and makes the same argument I did in comment 80. I’ve been disappointed that none of the important legal blogs, including Volokh’s, have even mentioned the case.

  83. Bob on April 18, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Here he goes again: But I see a flock of women and children, who’s shepherds have left them. I know I don’t have the full story, and I know the evils that may have been involved, and I know they have some good legal representation. But I think they need a shepherd, and someone (yes, I mean the Church), should at least and make that offer.

  84. Just me on April 18, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Maybe everybody here has already read Bob Lonsberry’s blog from a couple days ago? http://www.lonsberry.com/writings.cfm?story=2362&go=4

  85. Just me on April 18, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    The Salt Lake Tribune 04/18/2008 6:51 PM- SAN ANGELO, Texas – A judge has ruled all 416 FLDS children will remain in state custody. . . . ( http://www.sltrib.com/polygamy/ci_8975995?source=rss )

  86. ECS on April 19, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Matt – Volokh stated that while parents may teach their children they should smoke pot, parents are not free to purchase pot for their children. When a child actually buys the pot after growing up in a household isolated from the outside world and any information that smoking pot is in fact illegal and where smoking pot is celebrated and indulged, that the child is making a conscious choice to violate the drug laws is a tenuous argument indeed.

    The leaders and parents of the FLDS community are dancing dangerously close to the line between advocating illegal behavior and inciting it.

  87. Adam Greenwood on April 19, 2008 at 9:53 am

    I imagine that a pretty high percentage of kids whose parents smoke pot and teach them that pot smoking is fine grow up to smoke pot, ECS, but that’s no excuse to rip them from their parents.

  88. ECS on April 19, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Adam Greenwood – if the FLDS limited their activities to teaching their children to smoke pot, then I’d agree with you.

  89. lyle on April 19, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Amazing.

    I’m glad that brainwashing and indoctrination are enough to remove children from the homes of their parents. First they came for the FLDS…whose next? I hope the FLDS sues Texas into the last century for these flagrant constitutional abuses.

    http://www.keyetv.com/content/news/topnews/story.aspx?content_id=247fdf95-4688-41f5-8b97-66be59f555ff

    Psychiatrist Bruce Perry testified that teen girls don’t resist early marriages because they are trained to be obedient and compliant.

    Perry took the stand in a hearing concerning 416 youngsters removed this month from a polygamist compound near Eldorado and placed with Texas Child Protective Services.

    Perry, who’s an expert on children in cults, says while the teen girls believed they were marrying out of free choice, it’s a choice based on lessons they’ve had from birth.

  90. Steve Evans on April 19, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Lyle STAMPS?!?!?!? Holy moley.

  91. Trish on April 19, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    So Polygamist members are afraid to disobey their leaders because they will lose their salvation (sounds familar). They probably lied to Texas authorities about what was going on at the ranch.

    Four questions?

    1) I read in the paper this morning that the judge decided to keep those kids away from the parents. Does anyone know why yet?

    2) What is the news link that states “Sarah” was a fake and made up by Rozita Swinton?

    Texas Rangers say that she is a “person of interest” in the case.

    3) Is it ok to take children away from their parents because of cult-like, brainwashing?

    If that was the case, then a lot of kids would have been taken away from their parents (including my parents :).

    4) What does smoking pot have to do with forcing under age girls to marry and have sex with old men? Yuck!

    Make mine the “Bob Marley, extra crispy” please.

  92. Cicero on April 19, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Here is my round up of links on the story.

    Including the Live Blogging of the recent court hearing.

    My understanding is that the judge is not required to issue a justification for her decision, but from the testimony it appears that essentially belonging to the FLDS constitutes an immediate danger to children because they might be “influenced by any beliefs that may be unhelpful.”

    There is also this interesting exchange:

    “You offered no specific testimony or evidence to the court that the respondents in this case have been neglectful to this court, have you?” the attorney says.

    An objection arises from a prosecutor, and the judge shapes it for her to move things along.

    “That’s exactly what I was going to say, judge,” the attorney says.

    “Next question please,” the judge instructs the parents’ attorney.

    “Judge, I’m at a loss,” the parents’ attorney said. “I’ll sit down.”

  93. Cicero on April 19, 2008 at 5:46 pm
  94. bbell on April 19, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    ECS by your logic the next infant born to an FLDS member in TX is to be removed and adopted out by the state?

    Essentially that is what the state is saying here that FLDS members may not have children in TX.

    Who is next?

  95. Just me on April 19, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    This could serve as a model to address a host of societal problems around the globe.

    Inner city death rates due to gang violence rival those in countries experiencing factional warfare. States could proactively determine, say, that the cultures of especially problematic inner city neighborhood perpetuate abuse by promoting a percentage of minors to engage in crack whoring or whoremongoring etc., or else that a certain particularly probelmatic Middle Eastern ethnic enclave promotes abuse by encouraging some minors to strap bombs on themselves in the hopes of glorious martyrdom. Take away the children in each case wholesale to be returned only to situations where this practice isn’t perpetuated. Wait a generation and viola!

  96. Just me on April 19, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    . . . I just went to the first site I came to concerning another religiously fundamental polygamous society, that of Saudi Arabia, and cut and pasted this: “1% of males and 15.4% of females were married between the ages of 15 and 19 years.” Anyway, suffice it to say I think one could find Saudi brides married as young as Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint girls are.

    Note that news reports say some children now wards of the state were visiting the ranch from Canada. One newspaper story has something about the claim one child in particular had come from Canada to visit her grandmother. So, a Texas family court judge could likewise reasonably rule that Saudi culture promotes the taking of underaged brides. Thereafter, should any Saudi citizens come anywhere in Texas with children in tow, the state could swoop in and take all Saudi children into custody, to return them only in cases where families who could demonstrate their willingness to raise their children without perpetuating underage marriage under the laws of Texas.

    Don’t mess with Texas—-and if ya come there, you best learn to act civil!

  97. WillF on April 19, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    I thought this was a noteworthy comment on Guy Murray’s blog that is worth reading (from a former CPS social worker): http://messengerandadvocate.wordpress.com/2008/04/18/texas-judge-rules-all-416-must-remain-in-state-custody/#comment-16604

  98. Just me on April 19, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Carolyn Jessop, author of Escape and former fourth wife of Eldorado, Texas, Ranch leader Merrill Jessop, has now is alleging in her news interviews (I don’t know if the book mentions this or not) that Merrill would often “water board” torture infants under a faucet!

  99. Just me on April 19, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    With these kinds of allegations, true or not, the authorities pretty much have to go in and take the children out of possible harm’s way, and then go through due process to see if any allegations can be made to stick. Sure such a situation could happen to anyone anywhere, where frightening allegations are being made to authorities. That’s just how it is.

  100. Just me on April 19, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Maybe in some future century the first step authorities would take in a situation like this would be to take a page from Maury: First administer a lie detector test to their informants such as Carolyn Jessop and then procede to the residence of the accused such as Merrill Jessop and offer to administer one to them.

  101. Eric Boysen on April 20, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    The link that Dave put up to “The State and the FLDS, chilling comments by one who has been through the foster care system.” uses an interesting expression in describing the FLDS: “Consistent Mormons.” I guess we are the inconsistent Mormons!

  102. Just me on April 20, 2008 at 10:46 pm
  103. ECS on April 21, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Three FLDS men were interviewed on the Early Show this morning. One of them refused to deny that teenage girls are married to older men. Another man said that there were many people in the FLDS compound who weren’t aware of the laws against marrying underage girls.

    Here’s the link to the interview:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/21/earlyshow/main4029811.shtml

  104. Matt Evans on April 21, 2008 at 11:30 am

    #87, the experts at the Texas hearing argued the state should take the boys and young kids, who were at no risk of illegal marriages, because of what the parents were teaching them. That’s how the state justified taking the kids even of households they had no evidence had been involved in an underage marriage.

    The media frenzy on CNN has been outrageous, I’ve seen a lot of CNN in my life, and Friday night was the first time I’d ever seen coverage of a legal case where both sides weren’t represented. Larry King’s show had two ex-FLDS, a journalist/anti-polygamy activist, and a California CPS director, all cheering against the sect. One of the legal analysts even said she thought the government’s strategy was to disrupt the sect — and she said it approvingly! Cooper Anderson’s show was more of the same. Not a single contrarian presented. While I of course agree Texas’s case has a bunch of holes, I was still surprised CNN didn’t dare invite anyone on who would point out the holes or the religious persecution.

  105. James on April 21, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Two thoughts about how this is degenerating into a comedy of errors.

    First: If it is true that some of the teens scooped up by the state of Texas are not from the ranch but are from the FLDS colony in BC, then we may have an international incident here. If the teens are from BC, and they were born there, then they are Canadian nationals, Crown subjects, and the Texas government has just kidnapped foreign citizens and is holding them hostage.

    Second, the DNA testing is going to be far less helpful than Texas realizes. The FLDS are so interbred that it will be difficult if not impossible to sort the people into father-mother-child groups even with mitochondrial DNA analysis which is more complex and expensive than the usual RFLP methods. The DNA labs and owners are going to be very happy with the extra billables that they are going to be able to submit to Texas for payment. At the end of it, I suspect that the best that they might be able to do is to sort people into clan groups based on the original families that started the fundamentalist movement.

  106. Just me on April 21, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Legal eagles hereabouts: does anti- “white slavery” laws make it a crime to bring in a plural wife from another country?

    (……I think it’s the Mann Act, isn’t it, that makes it a felony to import from out-of-state women even of otherwise legal age of consent for immoral purposes. But I just saw reference somewhere to the US Supreme Court’s Cleveland decision that apparently says the Mann Act applies to women brought across state lines by fundamentalist Mormons to be plural wives. Was this interpretation later overturned by subsequent USSC rulings?)

  107. Bob on April 21, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    #106: “DNA testing is going to be far less helpful than Texas realizes.”
    Not to mention when religious leaders are called to the stand and state God changes DNA for his purposes.

  108. Cecile Allcock on April 22, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    This has been going on for many years now in homes across America. It may be on a much smaller preying ground but it is still all the same. The State agencies known as CPS has been destroying innocent families in all states with no real legal help for the parents or for the children. Innocent nonabusive parents are losing their; rights, homes, jobs, and children. People don\’t want to believe that this can happen in America but it does everyday. Parents can lose their children on such simple things as a child falling out of a swing or a child running out the door without a diaper on. Some lose their children for no other reason but that the State didn\’t give the child back in time to meet Federal guidelines. I lost a grandson that way. There was no known abuse but being they didn\’t give him back soon enough it would be to devastating to the child to just give him back to his family. Besides the foster adopt loved him and wanted him so the State moved to terminate his parents rights. People say they would never take my child or grandchild but you better believe that someday if this is not stopped everyone will have a child related to them in the foster care system. The courts won\’t stop it. The Family court is a part of their system. WHY you say?? Because The Federal government pays out large bonuses to the State for them. The federal law on child abuse and neglect is found primarily in Title IV-B and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act. Title VI-B and Title IV-E offer funds to the states variously for family preservation and support services, (This preservation and support is only done in most cases by a case plan that is given to parents while the child starts down the road to adoption) child welfare services, state administrative costs in administering child welfare programs, foster care payments, and adoption subsidies. Welfare cost the state lots of money and the Feds don\’t pay the states back but a pittance for what they have to pay out for poor families. On the other hand States get much more money for the children if they are in the states care. After a lengthy court ordeal they get large bonuses for every adoption the state can arrange. Our American children have become a commodity for the states and families are being torn apart in unreasonable numbers. When will people wake up to what is going on? Will TX finally bring this violation of the families rights to the front page and finally do something? Some how I doubt it. Until they find themselves personally going through this nightmare no one wants to believe this could happen to them. BUT IT WILL.

  109. Trish on April 23, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Over the years, I have read that some polygamist wives apply for state welfare as single mothers (Arizona and Utah).

    Does anyone know if this has been happening in Texas? If so, is it fraud to take the benefits?

  110. Adam Greenwood on April 23, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Apparently not only was the original call a hoax but Texas miscounted the number of children they took by 21. The real number is 437.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/religion/5719330.html

  111. Just me on April 23, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Some mothers accompanying their children were reclassified from being over 18, and hence adults, to being under 18, and hence children.

  112. Martin Willey on April 23, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Just me: What is your source? What I heard Texas CPS say is that it was hard to get everyone in one place at one time for a count. I also saw a SL Tribune report that lawyers for the parents and children had confirmed that between 20 and thirty of the women whose age was in controversy were, in fact, adults.

  113. Just me on April 23, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    OK, well, according to Paul A. Anthony’s contribution “Judge urges case-by-case considerations; new count shows more children at coliseum” printed yesterday in the local Standard-Times:

    //Some numbers have jumped for two principal reasons, [CPS spokeswoman Shari] Pulliam said:

    //* Some girls claiming to be adults have since been correctly classified as juveniles, and the totals of both categories remain in flux as numbers are added and subtracted from each.
    //* The sheer number of children has made counting difficult, something CPS hopes will be eased by this week’s DNA testing.
    “We’re just not getting a lot of factual information,” Pulliam said. “It’s just been really hard.”//

  114. JT on April 23, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Uh-oh. Bob, is post #108 an allusion to the “miraculous means” theory mentioned on BCC’s Friday Firestorm last week regarding Hagoth? I somehow thought throwing something out there like that would come back to haunt me. :)

  115. Just me on April 23, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    According to my count, the “miraculous means” comment was #109 while #108 refers to Cleveland decision regarding the Mann Act.

    Meanwhile today’s Salt Lake Tribune says that Sen. Maj. Leader Reid “previously wrote to then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in September 2006 saying the federal government should work with state officials to address the ‘broader pattern of serious criminal conduct by all those who use multiple marriages to abuse women and children.’ Reid suggested at the time that Justice should establish a federal task force to investigate interstate crimes by polygamist communities.”

  116. Just me on April 23, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    From Wikipedia: “Cleveland v. United States (329 U.S. 14, 16-17) (1946). The Court decided that a person can be prosecuted under the Mann Act even when married to the woman if the marriage is polygamous. Thus polygamous marriage was determined to be an ‘immoral purpose.’”

  117. JT on April 23, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Just me (116): The “miraculous means” theory I was referring to was something that I had mentioned in a thread about Hagoth in BCC about the possibility of God actually changing the DNA of the Lamanites (I wasn’t advocating it, but asking why such a theory that involves the miraculous sounds silly when the story itself presupposes a belief in the miraculous). Most thought this “miraculous means” theory sounded silly, inlcuding a Bob that may or may not be the one commenting in (108).

  118. Raymond Takashi Swenson on April 23, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    I wonder why a woman who is a mother of a child and say, 17, could not be considered emancipated and an adult for the purposes of controlling her own life?

  119. Bob on April 23, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    #118: I like “miraculous means”. I just don’t have any. I have tried to put Ikea furniture together with MM, but it just falls apart. MM also seems to put a end to a debate.

  120. Adam Greenwood on April 23, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    It gets worse: the judge has ruled that nursing mothers can’t stay with their breastfeeding infants.

    http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_04_20-2008_04_26.shtml#1208964908

  121. Adam Greenwood on April 23, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    An informed commenter here claims that the raid has been marked by a number of abuses and irregularities but that the judge has changed her mind about yanking babies from their mothers’ breasts: http://volokh.com/posts/1208964908.shtml#358097

  122. JT on April 23, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Bob (120) – Good call. MM is a little too easy and isn’t as fun. However, if you can put your Ikea furniture together at all, you will have witnessed MM firsthand.

  123. Trish on April 24, 2008 at 12:29 am

    so nobody knows if the FLDS wives are “Bleeding the Beast?”

  124. Eric Boysen on April 24, 2008 at 12:58 am

    The first time I ever heard that term was in reference to the FLDS in Colorado City. Whether it has been their practice in Texas I couldn’t say.

  125. Just me on April 24, 2008 at 3:28 am

    According to the Texas blog chatter I’ve read, FLDS apparently received no welfare benefits from Texas (otherwise their birth certificates etc. would already have been on file).

    Meanwhile, here are the words of Arizona’s governor from 1953 (source: http://savethechildbrides.com ):
    [ . . . ]

    More than 120 peace officers moved into Short Creek, in Mohave County, at 4 o’clock this morning. They have arrested almost the entire population of a community dedicated to the production of white slaves who are without hope of escaping this degrading slavery from the moment of their birth.
    Highly competent investigators have been unable to find a single instance in the last decade of a girl child reaching the age of 15 without having been forced into a shameful mockery of marriage.
    The State of Arizona is fulfilling today one of every state’s deepest obligations–to protect and defend the helpless.
    The State is moving at once to seek through the courts the custody of these 263 children, all under the age of 18. They are the innocent chattels of a lawless commercial undertaking of wicked design and ruthlessly exercised power. This in turn is the co-operative enterprise of five or six coldly calculating men who direct all of the operations and reap all of the profits, and are the evil heart of the insurrection itself.
    [ . . . ]

  126. fifthgen on April 24, 2008 at 10:53 am

    From the SL Tribune: “Earlier, Texas officials said they had not found the girl, who used the name “Sarah.” But that became immaterial when investigators found evidence of sexual and physical abuse, CPS spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner said. She described “Sarah” as a metaphor for the young women who were being abused and impregnated.”

    So now the raid is based upon a metaphor? If only the armored vehicle and guns of the Texas state agents had been metaphorical, too.

  127. MArtin Willey on April 24, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Just Me: Your point in comment 127 is a little unclear to me. Are you suggesting that what went on 55 yrs ago in another state somehow justifies what is happening in Texas now? And if so, why? The whole problem in Texas is that there has been no individualized examination of specific family situations, Rather, wholesale judgements re being made based upon what this group is supposed to be like. A lot of people would call this approach discriminatory, if applied to another group. If there are specific instances of abuse, let’s see the evidence and get it stopped. But assuming abuse becaue of vague generalities about religious practices or 55 year-old facts about another group is no basis for tearing families apart.

  128. Just me on April 24, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I’m not supporting or myself crititicing any aspects of either the 50s Short “Crick” raid or today’s Eldorado raid, but am just pondering some questions raised by both. (As an example, commenter /ArizonaDays/ says (today over at San Angleo Standard-Times blog), …but most importantly, the thing to remember from 1953 and Short Creek Raid is ALMOST EVERYONE RETURNED TO THE FLDS church. The adults, the kids after they grew up, most of the members. So the Short Creek Raid did exactly what? And what will this Raid do in Texas? What will be the aftermath? ( http://www.gosanangelo.com/users/ArizonaDays/comments/ )

    * * *
    (( —-Oh, and in regard to the fact that the exact number of children Texas believes they have in custody necessarily remaining in flux, /ArizonaDays/ comments today, “…It was reported in the news CPC told the women, “If you are underage with a baby you will be allowed to stay with your child. If you are not, your baby will be taken away from you”. If you were 19 with a baby what would you do??? Tell the truth or lie and say you were 16 so you could stay with your child?…” ))

  129. Just me on April 24, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Editorial commentaries in todays Eldorado, Texas, Standard-Times:

    * Why do Texas officials, especially Child Protective Services, seem so intent on punishing the mothers and children of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints ranch in Eldorado? . . . (see here: http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2008/apr/24/mothers-children-getting-punished/ )

    * /San Angelo trying to balance sect’s rights, human rights./ For nearly 30 years, with my work, I traveled the Intermountain West, its highways and back roads – from the Latter Day Saints backbone of Salt Lake City, Provo, Bountiful, and Ogden, to the Panhandle of Idaho and down to the fundamentalist enclaves in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. . . . (see here: http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2008/apr/24/raid-aftermath-raises-questions/ )

    Then there was the April 11th Brooke Adams Trib piece

    * “Polygamous crackdown echoes 1953 Short Creek arrests” (that talks about reactions in the fundy [-Mo----or, as I remember them being called, "polyg"] communities to events in Eldorado, see here: http://www.sltrib.com//ci_8887264?IADID=Search-www.sltrib.com-www.sltrib.com )

  130. Just me on April 25, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    As the children are moved, their number continues to grow. At a midafternoon news conference on Thursday, a Child Protective Services spokesman said 25 more people taken from the ranch were reclassified from adults to children, bringing the total to 462.

    http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2008/apr/25/coliseum-population-down-to-260-as-mothers-from/

  131. lyle on April 25, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    For those interested in volunteering, here is a site they created.

    http://captivefldschildren.org/

  132. MSG on April 27, 2008 at 1:04 am

    The State will take children out of any home, regardless of religious beliefs, when child abuse is reported. I’m thankful for that.

  133. Do Something Now on April 28, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Sweet are these uniquely American words…

    - We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. (The Declaration of Independence)

    - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; (1st Amendment)
    - The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. (4th Amendment)
    - nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. (5th Amendment)
    - In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense. (6th Amendment)
    - nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. (8th Amendment)
    These and other pillars of the American way of life (where is the presumption of innocence, at least for the mothers?!) are being ignored and cast aside in my home state of Texas and we need to raise a united voice of alarm. The FLDS case is turning into an immense human tragedy. The wrongful acts of the government committed against these children, and those parents who are innocent, is a travesty of immense proportions that will live in infamy. The lack of outrage is almost as disturbing. Not since slavery have so many children in this country been forcibly separated from their anguished mothers.

    We are dealing with citizens of the United States. Their religious beliefs are peculiar to most, but according to the laws of the land, they are allowed to believe whatever they want to. As with any citizen, they are allowed to practice their religion freely, though they are not allowed to break the law in the name of religious practice. But as with any citizen, if there is an allegation by the state of unlawful behavior, such citizen is allowed to know the specifics of the charges against him and he is required to be given due process and equal protection under the laws. Has this occurred?

    Setting aside the fathers for a moment, and if any are guilty of violating the law there should be appropriate action taken, the more pressing question to ask ourselves is this: does anyone truly believe that in one chaotic hearing the state brought forth enough evidence to justify the removal of over 450 children—the population of a small elementary school—from their mothers? That is, was it proven that each child and each mother were required to be separated because there was no other option for the state? C’mon.

    Vague evidence that appears to have been spawned by a hoax call is not sufficient to yank children from their mothers in the United States of America! Yet, it is appearing more and more that the purported justification for the raid of the FLDS ranch, complete with tanks and assault rifles, was nothing more than a prank call from a deranged person well known for making similar calls. Embarrassed, the state is now desperately trying to come up with some evidence to justify the old style Soviet action taken against its own citizens.

    Many of the victims of the state’s misguided attempts to “protect” them are not old enough to go to school. Yet, in their infinite wisdom, state personnel feels justified in sending these poor, innocent children to the dreaded foster care. This option is almost universally viewed as the last resort and one reserved for those horrible situations where the parents are both in prison, on drugs, or have broken so many bones of their kids that the state has no choice. While some foster parents may be angels on earth, it strains credulity to be asked to assume that most fit that description. Indeed, the potential for abuse in a foster care situation is high, probably many times higher the than the chances of actual abuse at the FLDS ranch. Remember, these children and mothers want nothing more than to stay together. This is not a situation where the children are hungry or the mother is unable to care for them. Rather, the state is worried that the belief system at the ranch teaches that the women should be subservient to the men and should marry too young. So, they pull away a 3 year old little girl from her mother so that she might be able to avoid that belief/teaching? And what is she going to learn in foster care? Incredible.

    There are very few people who do not have some beliefs that would be viewed as improper by many people. Do we take their children away? Who is to decide what beliefs are allowed and what beliefs are not? It is a slippery slope, my friends. Do not assume that you, your family, or your friends are immune to the abuses of the unfeeling machinery of the state.

    Do you have children or grandchildren? How would you feel if they were taken from you? If they were at unknown locations with people unknown to you, how would you feel? And, if you were told that it was for a few weeks, would that make it easier? What would the impact on your kids be? Losing them for 10 minutes in the store is torture to a mother or father. Any parent has further considered the nightmare of their child being abducted or being killed. Most parents would rather die themselves than have such happen. Yet, the state has authored this incomprehensible tragedy for hundreds of citizens, and in the name of unsubstantiated, phantom like allegations. The state has painted all with same brush, a grotesque and bigoted action that has no justification in law or morality.

    Remember, these little boys and little girls have mothers that love them deeply; they have held them and taught them and hugged them and prayed with them. I am pretty sure they will bleed if cut. I feel sure that they weep when their flesh and blood are stolen from them. Should we not make this assumption? The filial feelings can be assumed to be as deep as any of us have for our loved ones—so imagine the sudden, tricky abduction of your children from you. And then envision being part of a despised group of people with little resources to fight back and no one willing to be your advocate.

    And, what if, after months or years of separation from your children, the state is unable to prove its case of abuse? Then what? Is it just a “sorry about that” from the state? Just a simple “we know we took you away when you were 3 years old and you are now 8 and we have not found anything to justify it—oh well, sorry.”
    Jesus Christ said “…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25: 40) Martin Luther King wrote from the Birmingham jail on April 16, 1963 “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Regardless of your race or religion, a wrong of this magnitude must be condemned by all those that cherish freedom and family. All of us in this country need to voice our objections long and loud to this state sponsored kidnapping! We need your help! It is not too late! Please add your voice to the many who are expressing outrage over this catastrophe!

  134. Do Something Now on April 28, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Contact Texas Governor Concern line — (512) 463-1782

  135. Adam Greenwood on April 28, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks for the comments, all. Email any updates or further comments to adam at blogname dot org.

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