Polygamy is a very touchy subject.

It was in the doctrine of the early Church to practice it and ever since Official Declaration 1 in 1890 polygamy has not been a part of the Church Doctrine and will be cause for excommunication if the practice is not repented of.

Notions of what exactly constitutes abuse have changed over time.  Neglect and other terms are often used to disparage the parenting of some individuals.  “Abuse” and “neglect” are very highly charged emotional terms that tend to cloud the debate.  If the acts are described in greater detail rather than simply categorized there may be some clarity to the discussion.

One example should suffice.  If a parent forces their kids to fight each other, that might be called abuse.  My grandfather many years ago became very tired of two of his boys fighting each other.  I don’t know how often they fought or how rough it was but no one seemed to have suffered any permanent damage.  One day my grandfather grabbed a stick/switch and told my dad and his brother to fight each other or he would fight them both.  It was a one-time event that cleared up the problem.  They didn’t fight any more.  I would not call that one time event abuse.  Giving it proper context and meaning takes away some of the sting.

Well, there has been a lot of action recently in Texas against a polygamist settlement.  The polygamist group in particular is the FLDS faith with settlements in Texas, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada.  There have been underage marriages, statutory rapes, expulsion of young men from the group to avoid competition for marriageable women, and abuse of ownership of property for punitive reasons.  The FLDS faith has a bit of a bad track record in following the laws of the land and natural laws as well.

In Texas a 16 year old girl complained of abuse and the state agencies responded by getting a warrant for the entire 1700 acre ranch and searching the whole thing for the 16 year old.  So far the state has not been able to conclusively say they have even found the 16 year old that made the allegations.

In the course of executing the warrant and protecting the children, the state of Texas has decided to take ALL OF THE CHILDREN INTO STATE CUSTODY.  More than 400 of them will be stripped from their families, moms and dads.  Because many of them will be siblings in very large families, they will probably also be separated from each other.  Currently the men are still in custody at the ranch (not free to leave) and more than 150 women have followed their children to be with them at this time.  Texas has 14 days to determine if the separation will be more permanent.

The state of Texas also chose to invade and search the temple of the FLDS people.  Traditionally religious structures were given some additional protection from state intrusion because of respect for religious belief.  There were other less-invasive means of securing the contents of the temple and awaiting additional hearings or something to avoid the wholesale desecration of the FLDS temple.

This is very heavy handed state thuggery.  There is no reason to simply remove all of the children from the settlement, treat all the men as guilty and turn the worlds of these children inside out.  The men are not allowed to leave the ranch and even if they were they are not allowed to visit their children because a state court judge will have to decide if visitation is appropriate.  This is a massive abuse of power and not consistent with the best and  highest traditions of freedom and due process in the United States.  This action stemmed from ONE accusation of abuse, not two, or ten, or a hundred.  One accusation of abuse was enough for the State of Texas to step in and completely destroy a community for a time.  That is outrageous.

What is worse is that the citizens of Eldorado Texas in a non-scientific poll of the town generally support the actions of the state and find the raid to be a good thing.

After the Short Creek Raid in Arizona in 1953 of a polygamist group, 236 children were taken into custody, and approximately 150 of them were in foster care for two years or more before being returned to their parents.  Some children were never returned.  It is entirely possible that similar results will come from this Texas raid.

Texas has a bit of a history of heavy handedness in dealing with people with different religious beliefs.

If they are coming for the polygamists today and no one cares, what is to stop authorities from coming after home schoolers and other non-favored and non-popular groups?

It is true that when someone’s rights are trampled on, it effects the rights of everyone.  There is no reason to think that when oppression of one group begins and is at least passively accepted by the larger population that the oppression will then move on to other groups and will continue unabated.

Texas should be ashamed of such heavy handed thuggery and inability to even attempt to determine who is guilty or not.  Simply taking all of the children and treating all of the men as guilty until proven safe for visitation is plain wrong.  Even if you don’t agree with their religious practices.

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