Tag Archives: FDLS

The Rule of Law in a Free Society

D.M. Hallowell, a close friend of this blog and normally one of the most insightful pundits in cyberspace, has now written several posts harshly criticizing the Fundementalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). FLDS, of course, broke off from the main Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) over the issue of polygamy.

When Texas raided the FDLS compound, taking every child from his and her parents, I criticizerd Texas. When the courts ruled that this was an abuse of power, I praised the courts. D.M.’s unhappy with this.

As he writes, “This is one of those can’t define it but know when I see it situations.” While guy instincts are wise in many areas of life, legal philosophy is not one of them. A free society requires laws that prevent specific actions, as all that is not forbidden is permitted. An illiberal society which is run by the emotional biases of those in power forbids all that is not permitted, and so injurs freedom.

D.M. then proceeds to give several reasons in support of total child removal. As I understand them, they are:

a) the FLDS supports an alternative lifestyle that is not normative

b) The Head of the FLDS is a convicted sex offender

c) The FLDS religiously instructs its followers to school their children within the FDLS community

d) FLDS views on marriage are anti-feminist

In response to the first two:

a) Normative sexual and family norms do not define lawful conduct. The laws define lawful conduct.

b) Obviously, this is serious (indeed, it is the only serious point in the list). As the status of criminals in the United States is properly handled through the courts, I take no view on this point other than what the courts say.

For the third point, the right to homeschool children is widely recognized (albeit with regulations) in every state in the country. Homeschooling is not just for those of the leisure class who believe their children are being held back by public schools, but also for those who disagree with the socialization in values supported by the State. It is for this reasoning that home schooling was so loudly agitated for by both the Left and the Right from the 1960s to the 1990s.

For the last point, D.M. appears to be referring to the FLDS that wives are “sealed” to their husbands and enter into heaven as part of a family. It is my understanding that this is also mainstream Mormon theology. A similar concepts (that men enter into heaven in their earthly bodies, but women enter into heaven in their perfected bodies) occurs in Islam. While I certainly urge all members of the FLDS to convert to the true practice of the true faith (the Latin rite of Catholicism, obviously), I also recognize their right to a theological perspective on sex and gender roles that is different from mine.

Indeed, I’m surprised that D.M. even brought up the last two points, as their implications are so chilling. Would D.M. alsos support raids of the Hutterite Colonies along the Jim River, because they practice sex-segregated meals, obedience of wives to husbands, and community-based schools? What about the Amish? Or does D.M. support police power only against polygamist religions, such as Islam?

I know that D.M. said he beliefs this without thought, relying on his feelings. But I emphasize that replacing the rule of law in a liberal society with the rule of prejudice is very dangerous. Indeed, the rule of prejudice will surely generate an illiberal society.

(In spite of this, I do not support the police taking the children of prejudicial illiberals away from their parents. Those families, like mine, have rights in a free society. Even if they oppose it.)

Religious Tolerance, after they take the kids

After Texas raided the Yearming for Zion compound of a small religious minority, the Fundementalist Church of Latter Day Saints, I wrote:

The Texan Raid against the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is an example of religious persecution. Combining the unsubstantiated allegations of the Crystal Gale Magnum hoax with mass persecution of a religious minority, the attack on the FLDS Church will probably be seen as the disaster it is for decades to come.

I then asked:

a) When does the government’s case collapse?
b) When are people fired over this?
c) Which government employee is the first to serve jail time?

The answer to the first part is, “today“:

SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) – A state appellate court has ruled that child welfare officials had no right to seize more than 400 children living at a polygamist sect’s ranch.

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the grounds for removing the children were “legally and factually insufficient” under Texas law. They did not immediately order the return of the children.

Child welfare officials removed the children on the grounds that the sect pushed underage girls into marriage and sex and trained boys to become future perpetrators.

The appellate court ruled the chaotic hearing held last month did not demonstrate the children were in any immediate danger, the only measure of taking children from their homes without court proceedings.

Obviously, as in any criminal case, time may provide new evidence and change the situation. But the fact remains that Texas’ bizarre raid against FDLS, in which large numbers of children were seized from their parents, makes the Elian Gonzales debacle look a day at the circus.

If you’re a WASP with weird folkways, stay away from Texas.

Religious Intolerance

Congratulations to Adam for putting into words something I have been thinking (but unable to say well) for a bit now. The Texan Raid against the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is an example of religious persecution. Combining the unsubstantiated allegations of the Crystal Gale Magnum hoax with mass persecution of a religious minority, the attack on the FLDS Church will probably be seen as the disaster it is for decades to come.

The Metropolis Times: El Dorado Raid
At the end of last march, someone claiming to be a 16-year old girl named “Sarah” called a local crisis center, claiming she had been sexually and physically abused by her husband named “Dale” at the YFZ Ranch, a religious center for members of the FLDS Church. County officials concluded that because FLDS members have been associated with child abuse in the past, any allegations must be true, and that if some FLDS leaders have been marrying minors, then every follower of the religion must be involved in it.

So, instead of finding out where the girl lived and investigating in her home, they took the children away from everyone in the entire town. This is religious bigotry. Whether you think polygamy is sanctioned Biblically or not, it is not equatable with child abuse.

Of course, now we learn that her supposed husband hasn’t been in Texas for three decades according to his probation officer and that the call doesn’t seem genuine:

“There is no verbage or terminology used that leads me to believe the statements were made by someone inside,” said Ezra Draper of Hildale, Utah, who left the FLDS sect six years ago. “I think it’s bunk.”
“The term FLDS use to describe other people is “gentiles,” not outsiders, and they don’t observe such holidays as Easter Sunday, when the alleged victim claimed she was last beaten.”

To me, the questions are

a) When does the government’s case collapse?
b) When are people fired over this?
c) Which government employee is the first to serve jail time?