Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Texas Mormon Polygamists, A Miscarriage of Justice

(Mormons in the 19th century incarcerated for polygamy)

They may be strange. They may look like they tumbled out of a time machine. And some may even be guilty of something. The anonymous phone call that led to over four hundred children being taken from their families. To most people, this is a punishment worse than incarceration. Texas child protective services seems to have waged war on the encampment in their state of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints.
There have been disturbing reports from ex members of that church of forced marriages to underage girls. There have been boys kicked out in a pattern that hinted at skewing the sex ratio in the church to favour older men. Some of these boys who were thrown out of the church and their homes could have made plausible neglect cases in civil and criminal courts. Some girls and women have left that church and availed themselves of judicial remedies to their complaints.
Child protective services in Texas seems to be waging a rambling inquiry that defies any known judicial norms. The trauma of families being torn apart is a form of abuse by itself. There are far less destructive ways of mounting an abuse investigation than the way it was done in Texas.
There are homes that are never investigated where both parents marry and divorce repeatedly. In many other homes they get together and break up with no legal arrangements at all. The rate of abuse in homes with step parents is very high, but there are no preemptive attacks by Child Protective Services on such homes. The newest alternative life style is same sex marriages. Children in many states can get abortions and birth control without parental consent, before the age of consent. Anything goes now. It seems that the Mormon polygamists have finally tested society's limits. So now we can prove to ourselves that there is something that we won't tolerate. We pat ourselves on the back for "protecting" these children and take no stock of the strain modern society places on its children.
There are most likely children who have been abused in the FLDS church. But far larger denominations in society's mainstream have been taken to judicial task for child molestation and other crimes in a manner that did not shred the societal fabric.
Perhaps the Texas FLDS church compound should be investigated. But the abuse of their children and parents should cease immediately. The children should be reunited with their parents and enjoy the same right of due process as enjoyed by believers in the religious mainstream.
The inquisitorial nature of the debacle in Texas should frighten us all. And it should never happen again.

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