Don’t Mess with the Reich of Texas: The Abuse of Children by the State

On the basis of an alleged anonymous call and an anonymous informant who saw a female hair on a bed and claimed that a teenage girl was pregnant, 416 children were forcibly removed from home and many have been separated from their mothers.

I was in New Orleans when I saw CNN’s heavy coverage on the raid on the strange religious compound of the Fundamentalist Latter-day Saint (FLDS) Church in Texas. Sadly, my reaction was a selfish one. I cringed and felt embarrassed to have anything in common with these religious cousins, and wished that modern polygamy in these strange groups would just go away and stay out of the news. Here were 400 children being ripped away from their home and their families by the power of the State, one of the most traumatic things that could happen to them, and my reaction was to think about me and possible PR problems for my religion (“no, we don’t practice polygamy! those people aren’t us!”), while ignoring the trauma of fellow humans in my own nation who might have much in common with me. I apologize for my pettiness.

I erred in not raising questions sooner about these actions. I accepted the media coverage at face value – something a lifetime of experience has taught me to be foolish. But then some questions began percolating. I recalled some of my painful experiences with the Hmong community, where teenage marriage is a common part of their culture, even here in the U.S. In my experience, the child protection authorities rarely do anything severe in these cases. Raiding a Hmong family or “compound” with a pregnant teenager and taking the kids away would be unthinkable here (and that’s a good thing). I know one case where a 25-year-old man “married” a 13-year-old girl, who soon gave birth to a baby. This was over a decade ago, when I think the laws were enforced a little more vigorously. The man had serious legal trouble and was convicted of a felony, but the child was not removed from the home, the marriage was not broken up, the man was not imprisoned as far as I know, and the family remains a healthy and happy family to this day. The woman tells other Hmong girls not to do something as stupid as marry at age 13, and says it made her life “hell” for quite a while – but she has triumphed in so many ways and is a remarkable mother, woman, employee, and now a college graduate.

I know of recent cases where 18- or 19-year-old men married 14-year-old girls who soon gave birth, and the girls attended high school and the couple seemed to live in the open without having to flee from authorities anxious to take kids away. There have been times when I wished the authorities would have stepped in and saved a young teenager from being pressured into marriage. In one case, at the request of a 16-year-old girl, I got involved with the police when an older (age 19) man who had sex with her and had been pressuring her to marry him got angry and told her to commit suicide. He gave her a bottle of pills to swallow, and she took them (she was OK, thanks to her mom getting her to the hospital quickly). Shortly after she got out of the hospital and the 72-hour mental health watch (as I recall – it’s been a while), I was there with her mother trying to help the police understand that this guy was dangerous, that charges should be filed and that he must be kept away. How shocked I was when a woman police officer who had just interviewed the good-looking man came to talk with the girl. In the officer’s view, it was just a wonderful love story. I can still hear the voice of that officer: “But he loves you.” How sweet – it was all just a misunderstanding and now the couple could be reunited. He ended up “marrying” her and took her to Minnesota, where her life was hell. She finally got the courage to take her two boys and leave him. Her life was set back terribly though all that. How tragic. I’ve seen things arguably worse than the alleged crime in El Dorado be pretty much ignored by the authorities. Yes, there are differences and gaps between regions, but when I look at what’s going on in Texas, it seems more like an intergalactic void than just a regional gap.

The point is, in this day an age of rampant sexual promiscuity, I don’t see a lot of raids occurring because a 17-year-old man gets a 16-year-old girl pregnant. Maybe Texas has much higher standards. If a 16-year-old was improperly married to an old man, then investigate that case and file charges against the man. But how dare we sit back and allow an entire community to be raided? How dare we ignore the cries of mothers whose children have been ripped away from them?

Wake up, fellow Mormons. You could be next. Like me, you’re a bunch of crackpot loonies teaching your children bizarre things about angels, gold plates, miracles, prophets, and revelations, and you build strange compounds you call temples. Some of you and your kids sit through three-hours of mind control each Sunday, reinforced by early morning seminary for tired teenagers at 6 am each weekday morning to cement their minds with your rigid religious views. And then there’s your cult-like/gang-like programming of young men in the Boy Scouts of America, complete with uniforms, colors, and strange hand symbols. How can the all-powerful state allow this kind of deranged parenting to go on? It’s not about Mormon mommas and poppas, it’s about the children! You can do anything in this world “for the children.”

And you Protestants could be on the list next, right after us, and you Catholics, and everyone else. Some of you even live in homes with beds – beds that may very well have an tell-tale female hair or two on them. Which is about the extent of the physical evidence that got 400 kids hauled away from their families in Texas.

The removal of 416 children from their families in the state of Texas is beginning to look more like the Third Reich or the Cultural Revolution of China than the Land of the Free. (Kudos to Guy Murray for his coverage of the case. His blog, Messenger and Advocate, is a good source for tracking the play-by-play action.)

After the broadcast of grieving FLDS mothers a couple days ago, the Texas authorities explained what this action was all about. Pay attention to their words, or rather, to the tone and the messages behind the words, for I think they reveal what you really need to know. The following text comes from a KSL news story, “Texas Defends Separation of FLDS Mothers from Children” by John Hollenhorst and Marc Giauque:

After the sobs and tears of FLDS mothers were broadcast around the world overnight, Texas officials are defending their removal of children from parents. Texas officials aren’t backing down a bit in their two-week battle with the religious group led by Warren Jeffs.

Marleigh Meisner, with Texas Child Protective Services, said, “Quite frankly, it’s not about us, and it’s not about the mommas. It’s about these children whose cries have been unheard.

A total of 416 FLDS children are now in state custody, mostly at the Coliseum in San Angelo. Eighty-two mothers of younger children remain in the shelter; 57 mothers of older children were sent away by order of state officials; 51 of those returned to the FLDS compound, and six asked to be taken to safe shelters elsewhere.

A TV station in Texas is reporting that some of the children have been taken a very long way from home. Buses arrived last night at Boys Ranch, just outside of Amarillo. That’s in the Texas Panhandle, about 350 miles from the FLDS compound in Eldorado. There was no direct confirmation from state officials, but they did acknowledge that about 20 adolescent boys from the FLDS group have been bused away from San Angelo. There’s no explanation yet as to why that group is being handled differently.

Under federal and state laws, the children are entitled to a showdown in court on their status. That will happen Thursday.

Today there were some hints that state officials might allow some of the children to see their parents, at least occasionally, in the future. . . .

For the FLDS members, it was an unheard of public relations strategy: they opened the gates last night and allowed news crews to talk to moms. Their tears drew national sympathy. One mother said, “Where are my children? I don’t know who’s taking care of them.”

But Texas officials are giving no ground. One Texas legislator, Rep. Drew Darby, said, “In Texas we have a saying, ‘Don’t mess with Texas.’ Well, I’m going to change that up a bit and say, ‘Don’t mess with the children of Texas.’ And that’s what this is about, is protecting those children.”

It’s not about the mommas, eh? You’re darned right it’s not. What about these “unheard” cries of children – who do you think they are crying for? So if some girls are at risk of marrying older men, or if some have gotten pregnant from older men, explain to me how “protecting those children” requires taking them – all 416 of them, a whole community! – away from their homes and especially away from their mothers? Get an injunction to keep older men away from the younger girls, if you must, but to haul off little kids and strip them from their mothers? Their cries are certainly not being heard by those who are abusing them, the officials of Texas.

The message that needs to be heard in that quotation above is not the self-righteous proclamation of concern about the children, but the message of trashing parental rights. This isn’t about the mommas, and it’s not about the children (why abuse them this way if you really cared?). It’s about the power of the State, supreme in power over its citizens, able to trash parental rights at will.

Get a bunch of religious weirdos together, have some anonymous tipster point a finger, and then send in the dogs, the troops, or, in the case of Waco, the guns, tanks, and incendiary devices. Tear away all the children, or burn down the whole compound and everyone in it if needs be. By Gov, the State will stand supreme. We can say “good riddance” when it’s someone we fear or even detest. But who will be there to stand for us when it’s our turn? Because when it comes to religious weirdos, many, perhaps even most of us fit the bill, nutcases who believe in heaven and God, or Allah, Buddha, Elvis, whatever. We’re all mentally ill enough and certainly – atheists included – incompetent enough as parents that that a totalitarian State can easily find reason to march in and take away our kids, as long as they can round up an anonymous accuser, or claim there was one, and then find a hair or two on a bed, a child who looks untidy, or evidence of religious mind control like Bibles or Books of Mormon. Not to mention food storage – what are they going to make of that? Let’s get this over with and just lock me up now.

This case is not about the children. It’s about the power of the State. No apologies. No backing down. No care for the children who are being traumatized and abused as they are torn from their mothers. It’s all for their own good and protection, just like the Cultural Revolution.

Can you imagine going into downtown L.A. or the projects of Chicago and, on the basis of allegations that there are some abused kids there, sweeping in with the police and taking away all the kids from the community? There may a variety of crimes that have taken place among the FLDS Church. There may be genuine abuse that needs to be addressed. But the grotesque, massive overreaction of the State of Texas is about something far more than protecting a pregnant 16-year-old, and cannot be compatible with the noble principles of the US Constitution. Let them get away with this abuse, and we will all be at risk in the future.

The Washington Post in an April 15 story provides further insights:

One woman, Marie, said the women weren’t allowed to say goodbye to their crying children.

“They said, ‘your children are ours,'” said the sobbing 32-year-old whose three sons are aged 9, 7 and 5 and who would not give her last name. “We could not even ask a question.”

She said the children at the ranch have not been abused, but she feels like “they are being abused from this experience.” She said the children have been “have been so protected and loved.”

The women believe the abuse complaint that led to the raid came from a bitter person outside their community.

“Your children belong to us.” That’s what this story is about. Not how much we dislike a religion, but who children belong to. Parents, or the State? The control of the rising generation is always the key issue when a state expands it power to dangerous levels. It is a dangerous current that can sweep everything else away in time, and we are already knee-deep in the flow.

I think the FLDS Church is dreadfully wrong and hope its members will get out. I am oppose child abuse, teenage marriage, polygamy, and forced marriages. But those accused of crime still rights and require fair, honest due process based on credible evidence, not hysteria and bigotry. And traumatizing children by separation from their parents should be a last resort only when truly needed to protect the child from eminent harm. If a 16-year-old was abused, if a 14-year-old was pregnant, if one suspects that a bed was used for something other than sleeping, how does that require that little boys and girls be stripped away from their mothers who may only be guilty of having strange beliefs, perhaps only marginally stranger than yours and mine?

Anyone out there dare to speak out? There isn’t much time left.

Update: Anderson Cooper’s blog has an interesting interview with Kathy Jo Nicholson, a former FLDS member who warns of how harmful the FLDS system has been. More reasoned and credible than much of the coverage. Troubling stuff, yes – but my question is whether the heavy-handed community-wide actions of authorities were justified, and whether it sets a precedent that can be used to haul away children of other strange groups, like the real Mormons, or the Baptists, when anonymous calls are made and “everybody knows” the group is extreme or harmful in some way.

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Author: Jeff Lindsay

121 thoughts on “Don’t Mess with the Reich of Texas: The Abuse of Children by the State

  1. Oh, but didn’t you hear the briefing from Marleigh Meisner today? She assured the world that the children “have recovered” from the trauma of separation from their parents. She knows this, because she saw a group of boys playing kickball with some officers.

    So all is well. The children “have recovered.”

  2. Forgive me if I do not feel much sympathy for mothers who allow their 14 year old daughters to marry 50 year old men. To me this cycle of abuse has to be broken.
    Yes, we do live in a free country, but these kids have no freedom. They are forced into this life from birth.
    Hard for me to understand any of you wanting these children back into that compound.

  3. I’d rather live in a world where bad men can be bad, than live in a world where all are forced to live another’s definition of good.

    I’m willing to live with the tyranny of agency. Give me freedom from the tyranny of “do gooders”.

  4. Jeff—that is one of your greatest posts. I remember calling the police once because a Hmong girl had been forced to have sex. The parents called the next day and said the police did not show up. I called again and they finally came to their house. If that had been a white girl…….

    Jeff—the FLDS is our sect. We are all the same—Jews, Christians etc. What is happening is downright wrong.

  5. Jeff, I’m normally a huge fan of this blog, but I think you are dead wrong about this case. I don’t agree with all of the methods being used, but this is a sick community and drastic measures need to be taken. This is the same group that kicks its boys out so there will be enough girls for the “elders” of the city. This is the group that has a history of tolerating sexual abuse, and will separate children from their mothers to make sure the mothers don’t take those children to safety.

    I appreciate your sensitivity to the precedents we set for infringing on religious beliefs, but this isn’t one of the more moderate polygamous groups. This group is evil and it’s time to call a spade a spade and do something about it.

  6. Deanna,

    “Forgive me if I do not feel much sympathy for mothers who allow their 14 year old daughters to marry 50 year old men.”

    Remember first, we do not know the whole story, two, anytime you a group of humans togother there is forms of problems or abuse, third, many of these women grew up in this and may not know of a way out from this. I could use many examples to show my point but I think Jeff did a good job of this. You cannot say what you would do if you were face with this same life. They should be able to worship as they please within the law and I am sure the state could have found out a better way to deal with this. But we will try to have sympathy for you as a mother if anything like the state taking away your rights or family from you.

  7. I can appreciate the compassion and concern about the children. I have done a lot of thinking about them since this situation started making headlines. There is a lot of emotional scaring I’m sure for parents and children alike.

    I have seen many situations here in the state of Missouri that have made me sick to my stomach, concerning how the state has dealt with parent and child issues. Usually they seem to make things worse.

    With this situation I think I will have to disagree, although things I’m sure could have been handled better. This group of people has made a mockery of Free Will and God. Teenage daughters being married off to 50 year men, young boys being kicked out for trivial offenses, whole families being assigned to other men, Defrauding the government for Welfare. This is a group that did a lot of evil in the name of God.

    I will though pray for these children, who I am sure are feeling lost right now.

  8. Amazing. So someone has an evil religion. This justifies stripping away young children from their mothers?

    “Deanna” – just a name with no identification linked to it, could have been anybody using that name once – feels the action is justified because the parents “force” their kids into that religion from birth. Whoa, I know a whole lot of parents who are pretty set on raising their children in their faith. Sure makes me nervous about that Jewish compound down the street. Why don’t we raid the synagogue and free those children? Maybe I can find some literature about what an evil religion it is, too. Hey, there’s a bookstore right here in Appleton that might help. Has plenty on how every religion but Protestantism is evil. Nice section on the Mormons, too.

    Anonymous @ 11:42 has heard rumors that this religion separates its children from their mothers so the mothers won’t take their kids to safety. Thanks for that helpful information. I trust you gave this anonymous tip to the authorities to help justify the raid? Although I’m puzzled so see that these 416 children appear to have mothers who appear to have been allowed to be with their children, until your helpful call triggered the forced separation by the great Reich of Texas. Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems like the mothers main concern is getting their kids back out of the hands of the State, not out of the hands of the church. Don’t you see just a bit of irony and perhaps a logical disconnect in justifying the raid based on a rumor about children being separated from their mothers? Hello?

    Ah, I see, the religion is “evil.” There’s the principle we can use to justify who can parent and who can’t. If someone belongs to an “evil” group, what right do they have to be parents? Evil, I tell you, must be stamped out at all costs, even the cost of personal liberty and Constitutional rights. So let’s strip children from parents who believe to evil groups like the FLDS. Or the Mormons, the Jehovah Witnesses, the Southern Baptists, the National Rifle Association, or the obviously evil National Education Association (my wife is a member and we both allow NEA materials into our home, influencing our children — and yes, it’s easy to see plenty of evil in what they support, so lock us both us up). Each of those groups have a history of evil in one way or another and to this day are actively promoting somebody’s definition of evil. Save the children! WE must do it for the children, no matter how much they cry over being rescued and sent off to an orphanage or some place for their own good.

    And “aaron” said that the raid is justified because of other allegations he’s heard about the group, including welfare fraud. Right on, brother! And this brings me back to my recommendation that we just sweep through the poor parts of our major cities and round up all the kiddies because you KNOW that there is abuse and we KNOW that there is welfare fraud and we KNOW that some kids have been kicked out and mistreated. Let’s take the kids away en masse.

    Who can be trusted with children? Only the State. Der Staat über alles. Über alle Familien. You’ve all got some defect, some history of evil in your family or your church or your community or your organizations that justify anonymous complaints against you. So what right do you have to raise and influence your children, forcing them into your own religious and political beliefs? Doesn’t the State have a compelling interest to make sure that kids are given the right education and upbringing? It worked in Germany, it worked in China, and it’s working just fine in Texas. What’s your beef?

    Interesting that the people most willing to point their finger, cry evil, and call in the authorities are ones who hide behind anonymity.

  9. “Jeff, I’m normally a huge fan of this blog, but I think you are dead wrong about this case.”

    Of couse you would you have never had your rights violated by the goverment.

    “I don’t agree with all of the methods being used,…”

    Always with the “but” it is ok if we think we are doing good even if it is against your constitutional rights.

    I can think of alot of intercity problems (gangs) where I would like to send in the national gauard and sweep up everyone then think about the innocent later. Not really. As bad as things are we have to take things one at a time, case by case not in a sweep. I think you need to go back over your bill of rights or think about another country. I plan to move out of the United States because I do not trust our goverment. I love this country but there are to many people that think that this type of thing is ok. I just hope it does not happen to you.

  10. “Texas court officials said more than 350 lawyers had volunteered to represent the children free of charge. “

    Do those lawyers make you proud? Free of charge as they sue the state if the goverment will allow them to. Where is the ACLU when you need them?

  11. The word “cult” raises my hackles. Those who use it cannot define it. No matter, because the word is meant to defame rather than describe. Most of the time, it means nothing more than “a religious group that I do not like.”

    And often that religious group is mine, the LDS church.

    On one web site that I frequent, emotions are running high against the FLDS. Some are saying that children should be taken away from the FLDS and their parents thrown in prison. No trial is needed because everyone already knows that the FLDS “cultist” are child rapists. Others have gone further, saying that prison is too good for these evil “cultists”: they should be put to death.

    Those who have expressed some concern about the way the Texas authorities have proceeded in this case are immediately accused of being sympathetic to child rapists — or worse, of being child rapists themselves.

    The LDS church has stayed out of the controversy (rightly so, in my opinion). Nevertheless, in the minds of many, there is little distinction between the FLDS and the LDS groups. Both are dangerous non-Christian “cults” started by those servants of Satan, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.

    Given our history, Mormons should be the first to insist that the rights of unpopular groups—even “cults”—be protected. Otherwise, we could be next.

  12. Good Day Jeff and All,

    I read this post with some interest. What I found was a great deal of cynicism and some very misguided statements. The first point I would make, is that you really shouldn’t take what the media tells about these cases very seriously. You’re only getting a fraction of the necessary information. In a case as large as this, involving as many Children’s Protection Workers as this case would necessarily involve, there is a whole other side of the story that you can not know, because those caseworker’s are absolutely prohibited by law from telling their side of the story. You can bash the state, and criticize these caseworkers for pulling these children from their mothers, and these caseworkers can say nothing in defense of their actions. All you will ever get from the media is one side of the story, most of which will be supported by minimal and distorted factual information.

    You’ve criticized the state of Texas for pulling these children from their mothers. I would point out to you, at the risk of receiving a great deal of criticism, that the mothers of these children are just as guilty of a crime as the father’s are. Both parents have broken the law by engaging in polygamy, not just the men. Perhaps that seems a bit harsh, but, it is a factual statement. Both the men and the women are bound by the laws of this country, and both are required to follow the laws of this country, regardless of whether they know about the laws in question. If both parents are engaging in criminal activity, both parents are at risk for imprisonment. That being the case, the state is faced with the prospect of having to remove the children from both parents; it really wouldn’t be a choice.

    The comment you’ve made about the children belonging to the state utterly misses the point. This isn’t a case dealing with who controls the children; it’s a case dealing with protecting children from child abuse. Forcing young girls, who are in fact children, to marry old men is by its very nature, abuse of a child. Teaching young boys, and young girls, that it is a God given right and proclamation for old men to marry multiple young girls is brainwashing and is abuse of a child. No matter how you cut it, what was going on in this compound was very serious criminal activity, not religious activity.

    The mainstream LDS church gets a great deal of criticism because it taught polygamy, and engaged in the practice for many years. Young girls were married off to old men during the time that your church taught that polygamy was okay. While your church has done all it can to distance itself from polygamous practices, your LDS Church supplied the roots for the FLDS Church to exist.

    You may believe that all the police had was an allegation of polygamy and abuse. What you probably don’t know, is that they also had enough evidence to convince a judge to give them a search warrant to enter the place. You can’t know that because, you weren’t involved in the investigation. This compound has most likely been subject to investigation for many years. All the phone call was, is a catalyst that lets the police enter the compound to gather evidence for crimes which they already knew were being committed. They just needed a triggering event to allow the prosecution of the crime to begin.

    I found it interesting that you were willing to say its okay for a 25 year old man to marry a 13 year old girl because his culture and religion allow for it. In his country, that may be an accepted practice. In this country, it’s called statutory rape in virtually every state in the union. The same holds true when 18 and 19 year old men marry 14 year old girls. In most states the age of consent is 16, not 14. In many states the age of consent is 18. That’s one of the reasons you may not see prosecution of those 16 and 17 year olds.

    I agree with the fact that we are granted religious freedom in this country. It generally holds true that we can practice our religions completely free from government interference. That is one of the greatest aspects of our country. But, even the government has to draw the line somewhere in terms of religious freedom. That line is drawn at breaking the law. At the point of committing a crime, your religious freedom does end. This makes complete sense if you consider the case of Satanic Cults. As distasteful as it may be, Satan worshipers also have religious freedom just like us Christians. But it seems to me a major practice of Satan worshipers is that of human sacrifices. Shall we simply allow them full religious freedom so that we don’t violate their civil rights? Do you realize how crazy that sounds? But that is what you’re suggesting in your comments about the government controlling religion. Religions that teach and practice criminal activity as part of their religion just simply are not, and should not be allowed complete religious freedom. Your own church teaches adherence to the laws of the country and state. This is one of the reasons your church no longer practices polygamy; it’s illegal. Would you not be violating your own church teachings if you now engaged in polygamy in violation of the laws of the country? That’s part of the undertone of what you suggest in this post.

    In closing, I want to leave this thought. This story about the FLDS church is sensational, and attention drawing. It insights passions about how harmed these mothers are to have their children torn away from them by the government. The media will play that angle up for all it is worth. But keep in mind you will always only be hearing one skewed side of the story. You won’t hear the other side of the story; you won’t hear the government’s defense of their actions, because they can’t tell that side of the story. You won’t hear the truth, because the truth lies somewhere in the middle of what the media is telling you and what the government would say if it could tell its side of the story. So keep that in mind when you’re posting comments about this event.

    Sincerely,

    Catholic Defender

  13. Two weeks after the raid and the tipster has still not been found. Maybe it was just some teenager playing a prank. There has been enough evidence of teenagers who act without thinking of consequences lately – videotaped beatings come to mind.

    Besides having 100s of children torn from their mothers based on a phoned-in tip, I have seen another development related to this that disturbs me. There are several cases of which I am aware where a teenage girl decides she is mad at dad/grandpa/uncle or wants out from under the tyranny of parental control after she violated curfew again. So she cries “abuse” knowing the authorities will come sweeping in. She exacts her revenge or gets away from dad and/or mom by working the system, leaving the accused in an awful legal mess. The accused becomes guilty until proven innocent (despite what the law says) because there is a child involved. If her character is attacked in defense of the accused, it usually backfires because you are picking on a child. So it becomes his word against hers and to “protect the innocent”, the accuser usually wins. I doubt this is unique to Texas, but that is where I live and where I have seen this happen too many times.

  14. I don’t think I would have had much sympathy for these mothers before I had my children. Now, I think I know how they must feel. My thoughts and prayers are with them, as is my heart as I grieve for their hopefully temporary loss.

  15. I completely disagree. This isn’t about PR for our religion Jeff. We need to realize that what these people are taking part in is ILLEGAL. No matter how they’ve manipulated the legal technicalities to their advantage, you can’t argue that it is “right” to have underage girls submitting (even willfully) to their male elders. One cry for help is enough, even by someone who may have lied. It doesn’t matter if everyone in the compound is “happy” or “willing” because these children have grown up thinking it’s acceptable to be in polygamous families. They’ve grown up thinking that having sex with a 50 year old man is right, and getting pregnant at the age of 14 is ideal. I don’t care about the past, this is NOW. How were they to determine which children were being forced against their will to have sex? Test them all? Ask? No, it’s not enough. The mothers, and fathers for that matter, should have thought about what they were doing and how in America we refuse to tolerate that disgusting activity. We ARE punishing the mothers, and for good cause. We are punishing the children too, but someone needs to open their eyes.

  16. People have the right to their crazy beliefs, but they do not have the right to perpetrate illegal acts on others. The constitutional rights of an FLDS man ends when he commits stautory rape on his “spiritual wife”.

    The children are safer outside of this cult.

  17. I think if the FLDS are complaining that their “right to worship” has been violated, they need to look at themselves. What they have done in the practice of their faith is break the law. No one is above the law. Sould the state of Texas go after all cases of statutory rape? Yes, but in this case, where the crime was so obvious, they were right to act.

    And as LDS people we believe in obeying the law, that is stated clearly in AoF 12. As long as LDS, or anyother people keep the law they have nothing to fear from the state.

    Never mind the fact that Wilford Wooddruff saw in vision what would happen to people who continued to practice polygamy after 1890. He clearly stated that lands, bulidings, and people would be impounded by the state and that the right to worship would be stopped. This is what has happened with these misguided people.

    I feel sorry for the FLDS mothers, but at the same time, they shouldn’t have let their daughters be raped, and their and themselves husbands break the law. They are getting what they deserve. If you break the law, expect to accept the consequences.

  18. The other issues aside–and they are very grievous–is it possible that the officers going into the FLDS temple will have set a precedent for someone who is dying to know what goes on in LDS temples to start a rumor, and the “law” come charging in to scope it out?

  19. Jeff,

    Frequent reader, but first time commenter. While a few of your points are well-taken, I think as a whole you’re off base on this one.

    Remember: The men (and to a lesser extent, the women) in these polygamous relationships are living in open, flagrant violation of federal and state laws. There is NO PARALLEL to any comparable LDS practice; rather, the LDS church is clear that they teach and expect all members to comply with the law of the land, wherever they may be. c.f. Article of Faith 12.

    This case sets no precedents regarding infringing on religious liberties. This principle is already crystal clear in both statutory and case law – claiming “religious freedom” does not give anyone cause to violate the laws of the land.

    Have we so soon forgotten that the leader of this group was on the FBI’s ten most wanted list? You don’t get there by teaching strange religious principles; you get there by committing numerous and/or heinous crimes.

    As someone who has personally known many FLDS people, and personally known many people who are close to FLDS people, I can second the poster who mentioned that EVIL, EVIL things are taught and perpetrated. But this is not the reason nor the justification for the government intervention – the violations of the law are.

  20. From Carlos U.

    Jeff, most of the time I agree and love what you post, but not this time. To paraphrase myself on anoter blog:

    I’m a practicing, faithfull, historically aware member of the Church married to a descendant of poligamist pioneers.

    None of that makes me feel the least ammount of sympathy for child molestors, child rapists, people who transport minors with the purpose of engaging in sexual acts, etc. I thank God the state of Texas had the cojones to do what Utah and Arizona have been too cowardly to do. These perverts engage in pre-meditadet, systematic, ongoing conspiracies to commit ilegal and inmoral acts with CHILDREN that have been condemend by our church authrities. And mental gymnastics about the constitution don’t negate the primary issue: The state and the Fed have the authority and the MORAL OBLIGATION to step in and stop this evil secret combination.

    Let me put it this way: What would you thing of a group that purposefully grooms young girls to be sexually abused and exploited by older man? How are these people different from the many groups that engage in sexual slavery? I don’t see much difference between them and the Russian and other Mobs that take young girls and makes them sex-toys for older, paying men. Free agency? What free agency do these girls have? None. They are married aganist their will, and if their husband doesn’t cut the mustard with the leaders, he’s kicked out and then they belong to some other man, free agency be damned.

    Let’s not confuse the extremes with the normal. This was an extreme case, and it needed extreme intervension.