Thursday, May 15, 2008

They Came First for the Polygamists

“Texas, calling a polygamist sect an abusive environment, is poised to tell its mothers they will lose their children unless they distance themselves from portions of their religion.”

I fear things have gotten out of control regarding CPS and the fundamentalist Mormon YFZ compound.

Even though the original complaint that launched the police action turned out to be false, 400 children have been removed from their homes because of accusations of underage marriages.

1. If the accusations turn out to be true, the pre-pubescent girls and all of the boys are in no danger.

2. If underage girls are being impregnated, we should prosecute statutory rape as appropriate, but that is not cause to remove all of the children from their homes.

3. These children are reportedly physically and emotionally healthy. They come from loving homes and are well cared for – and no doubt deeply miss their families.

Are these people being persecuted because of their odd religious beliefs and practices? It seems very likely that this is so, and that is wrong.

Yes, they’re weird. To many, normal Christian families are weird. Today they’re going after the fundamentalist Mormons. Tomorrow it may be the home schoolers. Next, it’ll be regular Christians – remember, there are those who think Sunday school is child abuse.

Implore the governor of Texas to get involved. Ask your governor and Congressional representatives and senators to pressure Texas. Don’t let CPS further harm these families. It’s wrong, and it may come back to haunt us all. We don’t want to set a precedent that may one day be used against normal everyday Christians.
They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.


Anonymous said...

In principle I see where you are coming from. I do have a question though... with #1. Do you really think the pre-pubecent girls and boys are in a safe environment where their older sisters are getting married off?

That is beyond statutory rape, it is child abuse. The parents are complicit for allowing it.

ChrisB said...

Do you really think the pre-pubecent girls and boys are in a safe environment where their older sisters are getting married off?


Marrying off your 14-year-old is not the same thing as molesting an 8-year-old. That's not to say it's not wrong too, but it's just not the same thing.

Vinny said...

How about the adolescent boys who were banished to the streets so that the adult men would not have competition for wives? I don't claim to know all the facts, but I tend to think that government intervention was appropriate.

ChrisB said...

Vinny, I haven't heard anything about that. Can you provide a link to a news story?

Vinny said...

I'll look around but I don't actually remember which cable news show I heard about it on. I just remember being struck by it because I always wondered how polygamist communities dealt with the extra men.

Jeremy Pierce said...

I can see how you can say the eight-year-olds are currently safe, but they'll be 12 in a few years. Will they still be safe then? If the issue is safety, I don't think it's quite true that they're safe just because no one's going to rape them yet.

The other issue is that you can remove people from their families just because other people (and not them) were raped. It happens all the time. Parents lose their parental rights because they abuse them. Husbands lose their conjugal rights because they violate their wife's rights. I would think that a repeat offender of statutory rape should be preventing from having access to the victims and to potential other ones.

The best solution isn't to remove the women and children, though. It's to imprison those men.

ChrisB said...

Jeremy, I certainly don't want to maintain the status quo. Find anyone having sex with minors and throw them in jail.

Yes, we usually take all children out of homes with abuse. The thing is CPS has defined the entire compound as one "home" for this purpose. Children have been removed from their parents when there is no evidence that they or their siblings have been mistreated.

This whole thing needs to be carefully investigated, and any wrongdoing should be punished, but I think the government was too quick to take kids away from their homes here.

dianne said...

Just two points...
First, the boys who get kicked out of the compound to fend for themselves on the streets are well documented in various places. Check out the book "Escaped" - I heard an interview with the author on NPR, but it's also been getting a lot of press in other media.

Second, 8 year old girls don't just *become* 14 year old wives. They are indoctrinated to accept that as their fate, to embrace it as part of their eternal salvation. While 8 year old girls might not be sexually touched at this point in time, you can bet that their minds are being touched. Not to mention the emotional abuse of the women who are also led to believe that their eternal salvation depends on polygamy, grooming their young daughters to be young wives, and distancing themselves from their sons so that they can kick them out whenever they're told to do so.

OTOH, I think you have some good points about FLDS being persecuted to some degree because they're different, and you are certainly backed up by today's court ruling, but there are some serious issues in their compounds that go well beyond just that.

BTW, met you on Jesus Creed. HI!

ChrisB said...

Further news today. Yesterday an appeals court said the wholesale child removal was improper. Today it's reported that at least half of the "underage mothers" are adults. One underage mother, according to the story, doesn't have any kids and isn't pregnant.

Dianne and Vinny, the boys getting kicked out of the group for the crime of being breeding age males is unfortunate but is that sufficient reason for what's happened?

I hope I haven't been misunderstood here. I'm not supporting their religion or lifestyle. I'm only questioning the legality and wisdom of removing these kids like this.

I don't like teaching kids that polygamy, underage or not, is ok. There are lots of issues here, but if we allow them to be persecuted because we don't like their religious beliefs, we're setting a dangerous precedent.

In the end, I think this is time for us to decide whether or not we really believe in freedom of religion.

Vinny said...

Dianne and Vinny, the boys getting kicked out of the group for the crime of being breeding age males is unfortunate but is that sufficient reason for what's happened?

I think it is much more than unfortunate. I think it demonstrates a deplorable indifference to the welfare of children and it more than justifies giving the benefit of the doubt to law enforcement.