Skepticism

Is This Really the Best Way?

I didn’t tag this post as religious in nature, because it’s not really about religious philosophy or any of the elements in that arena where critical thinking may be necessary. It’s kind of political in nature, but that doesn’t really cover it fully either. No, this post is about the odd way one group is making a stand against something it sees as an injustice. Unfortunately, the Skepchick blog doesn’t have a tag for well-intentioned but extremely misguided movements, so I just tagged it “Current Events”.

I’ll save you my usual jokey rants and overblown proselytizing on this lovely Friday, and simply break this down for you in small, easily digestable little chunks:

Just the Facts

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint (FLDS) have a retreat in Eldorado, Texas that was raided this month by state law enforcement officials because polygamy laws were being violated, and because their was evidence of indiscretions with underage girls.

The children of the families in the retreat have been taken into custody by Child Protective Services (CPS), and are about to be distributed to foster homes, like cards being dealt at a poker table.

The parents and FLDS think CPS should return the children to their families. (I agree. The polygamists and the statutory rapists broke the law, not the children.)

The FLDS is exercising its free speech rights and protesting the actions of the state and CPS.

FLDS has a strong member base in Utah.

Houston, Texas has a professional basketball team called the Rockets.

Utah has a professional basket ball team called the Jazz. The Jazz play their home games in Salt Lake City.

The Houston Rockets and the Utah Jazz are pitted against each other in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Last night (Thursday, April 24, 2008), the Rockets and the Jazz played the third game of their playoff series in EnergySolution Arena in Salt Lake City.

A crowd of roughly 50 protesters held a rally outside EnergySolution Arena before the game in support of the FLDS families.

Salt Lake City attorney Bob Breeze sponsored the rally, and has another planned before Saturday’s Game.

Breeze called for the Rockets and Jazz to cancel the remainder of their playoff series.

Breeze called for FLDS supporters to also protest at the hotel rooms of Rockets players.

Now the Opinions

I am fully on board with FLDS (never thought I’d type those words in my life) when it comes to the welfare of the children.

Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to exercise his or her right to free speech and to protest, and they should take advantage of those rights whenever they see fit.

It’s a good idea to think through your protest beforehand.

Lobbying to cancel an event, like basketball playoff game, for completely unrelated matters is a bad idea.

Not a single professional basketball player from Houston (or from the entire state of Texas for that matter) has any pull when it comes to the actions of law enforcement or CPS.

Even though they are in the public eye, professional basketball players should be granted their privacy when away from the basketball arena.

There are always better ways to get media attention for one’s cause than the initial plan. One should always look into the alternatives before acting.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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100 Comments

  1. I don’t only disagree with the notion that the 400+ FLDS children should be returned to their parents, I’ll go ahead and say that it’s outrageous.

    The mothers and families are openly complicit in creating the atmosphere of abuse and violence against their own children. What’s more, legally, children must be removed from an environment in which allegations of abuse have been leveled. Since the culture of the secluded FLDS compounds has been documented to create an acceptable paradigm of community wide abuse, all children must be removed from that environment until the investigation is finished.

  2. I think it’s important topoint out that Eldorado is somethinglike 600 miles from Houston. Not only is this wrong, it’s stupidly wrong. In most parts of this country, they wouldn’t even be in the same state. In the east, that would be two or three states away. Mormons – not the smartest cult in the world.

  3. What’s more, legally, children must be removed from an environment in which allegations of abuse have been leveled.

    And they have been. The children were detained in San Angelo while the allegations were being investigated. They were already removed from the abusive environment. They are now being sent to foster homes, despite the flimsy case for abuse.

  4. Um, the families are the polygamists and statutory rapists.

    Yes, I’m aware of that. But in this case, distributing the children to foster care is more a punishment for the children than it is a safety measure or a form of punishment for the actions of the adults.

    Many of these kids are of breast-feeding age. They need to be with their mothers. And more importantly, most of them show no sign of physical or emotional abuse. They seem to be healthy happy kids that are now being forced away from their families.

  5. The parents and FLDS think CPS should return the children to their families. (I agree. The polygamists and the statutory rapists broke the law, not the children.)
    I was going to respond to that, but others already have in kind. It’s not about the children “breaking the law.” It’s about being in an abusive environment, and it’s up to a judge to decide whether that environment is abusive. The women are naturally going to defend their way of life and say it’s not abusive because it’s the only thing they’ve known.

  6. It’s not a church, it’s a cult. The FLDS cult has actively promoted unconstitutional acts among its populace. (ie, treason). It is all–I repeat–all about the subversion and abuse of its young. The children are safer out of the cult, just as the Branch Dividian children would have been. They either gave up their rights when they joined this anti-American cult or never had any to begin with if they were born into it. Read Under the Banner of Heaven if you think I’m being the slightest bit hyperbolic or reactionary.

  7. It’s about being in an abusive environment, and it’s up to a judge to decide whether that environment is abusive. The women are naturally going to defend their way of life and say it’s not abusive because it’s the only thing they’ve known.

    We may all have different ideas of what abuse is, but the fact remains that in this case, the authorities are claiming abuse, but have yet to prove there was abuse at the compound.

    In addition to the lack of proof of abuse, of the over 400 children, not all of them are female and not all of the females are in the target age range to be married off (which is the only thing authorities can claim to be protecting them from at this stage). Yet all of them have been separated from the community and now are being systematically separated from their mothers and placed into foster care.

  8. Sam, I think you are completely wrong on this one.

    Well, you’re entitled to your opinion, no matter how impetuous I might consider it to be.

    I’ve read accounts of all manner of atrocities perpetrated by all manner of people. But I won’t let that keep me from looking at this case objectively. And right now, there is no indication that life at that compound was horrendous for all the children.

  9. There’s another issue here. If a child in any family is abused, all the children are taken. CPS doesn’t say, “Well, you never hit your middle child, so you can keep that one. ”
    These children don’t know who their biological mothers are, and the mothers won’t say. It’s a very hairy situation.

  10. This topic is in the greyest of grey areas in my mind. Seriously. I have no idea what I think is right or wrong here, and I’ve almost stopped reading about it because my lungs have started to hurt from all of the smoke coming out of my brain.

    I wish you all good luck in debating and fighting this out. I’m going to look at pictures of Fat Unicorns and eat things (perhaps…cake?)

  11. the way i see it, it isn’t so much about protecting specific children from abuses in the immediate future, but more about breaking these children out of the cycle of indoctrination that allows these groups to survive.
    should the government engage in this type of activity? i’m not sure. in this case it seems right to me to place the children in foster homes, but i’m not sure i like the broader implications it raises with respect to the first ammendment.
    it’s a tough one.

  12. It’s a very hairy situation.

    This is one thing we can say for certain.

    I was hoping to point out with the post that protesting a hairy situation at a completely unrelated baskeball game simply because one of the teams is from Texas may not be the best approach. But I guess a deeper inspection of the case will be just as much fun.

  13. I was hoping to point out with the post that protesting a hairy situation at a completely unrelated baskeball game simply because one of the teams is from Texas may not be the best approach. But I guess a deeper inspection of the case will be just as much fun.

    I do agree with you there. Not the time or place. I think we all got stuck a lot earlier in your post, though.

  14. No children are not removed just because there is an allegation of abuse. Children are removed by law enforcement if they have probable cause to believe that there is serious or eminent risk of significant harm. CPS needs a court order to have children removed and must convince a judge that there has been serious abuse, a child is at risk of significant harm or there is no parent capable of adequately caring for the child. The issue in this situation is that there can be no confidence that the children would not continue to be abused if returned home and while this is difficult for the children and parents the overriding concern if the safety of the children. Cps must be able to regularly convince a judge that the risk is ongoing for the placement to continue.

    One of the main problems in this case is that who the parents are is not known for a significant number of the children because the parents wont say and the children have been told not to say. There are likely small children thought to be the siblings of some young teen age girls when in fact they are their children. The DNA testing that is going on will sort things out as to who’s a parent of what child.

  15. According to the story on NPR yesterday they have found several underage females that have already had mutliple births, I’d call that proof. Aparently they were instructed to lie about their age only after they were told they could stay with their children did they admit their actual age, as I recall that made up over three hundred of the children.

  16. Sam, protesting this situation at a basketball game may not be the “best” approach for you or me, but what criterion do you think the protestors are using?

    Getting noticed is usually priority one protestors, sympathy for the cause is priority two. After all, folks can’t sympathize with what they don’t know about. Protesting at a NBA game and harassing celebrity players definitely meets priority one.

    I’m too biased against their message to judge whether sympathy could be generated by this protest, as no matter what they do they are not going to get MY sympathy.

    On the other topic:
    “Well, you’re entitled to your opinion, no matter how impetuous I might consider it to be.”

    Sheesh, Donna said she READ A BOOK on the subject. I think that’s pretty good evidence that she hasn’t arrived at her opinion hastily or ill considered.

    If anything your response was ‘impetuous.’

  17. what I find even more amusing than the actual protesting outside an NBA game is the cable news crews standing outside the building, interviewing fans as they enter, asking them what they think about the whole FLDS thing.

    As if being a basketball fan somehow makes them experts on the finer points of child abuse in polygamous cults.

  18. Sheesh, Donna said she READ A BOOK on the subject. I think that’s pretty good evidence that she hasn’t arrived at her opinion hastily or ill considered.

    No, I did not say that I read a book on the subject. I suggested that Sam read a book as a starting point for learning more about the abuse inherent in this subculture.

    What I didn’t say is that I have met the author of the book I recommended and spoken to her personally, and I know several other ex-mormons (both fundies and mainstream) and have heard all kinds of horror stories from them.

    Sometimes I get so frakking sick of people who read this blog putting words into my mouth. Jeez.

  19. Getting noticed is usually priority one protestors, sympathy for the cause is priority two. After all, folks can’t sympathize with what they don’t know about. Protesting at a NBA game and harassing celebrity players definitely meets priority one.

    Well, I fully concede they got noticed. I mean the story was all over the newspapers and Internet.

    But I think they undermine themselves by using a sporting event to launch the protest and by plotting to harrass athletes who have absolutely nothing to do with the case. That’s no going to generate any sympathy. In fact, it may just turn a whole bunch of basketball fans against them.

    Sheesh, Donna said she READ A BOOK on the subject. I think that’s pretty good evidence that she hasn’t arrived at her opinion hastily or ill considered.

    If anything your response was ‘impetuous.’

    And you are also entitled to your opinion.

    Her opinion — the one in question here — is that I am “completely wrong on this one”. That is what I consider to be impetuous, not her opinions of FLDS cult actvities, which were derived from researching the books she mentioned, and most probably not impetuous.

    It appeared to me that she had made her judgement that I was completely wrong about the Texas case because of an expectation that stemmed from reading accounts that may have indeed described potential problems in FLDS communities, even though those problems have not been shown to exist in Elderado.

    To me, it seems necessary for a good critical thinker to approach things without such a strong bias to get to the truth. And I think deeming someone completely wrong without doing that is impetuous.

  20. Another very sad part of this whole story is the boys and young men that had the misfortune to start their lives in this cult. Sadly a significant percentage of male teenagers and young adult men are driven from this cult. The father’s and mother’s are told they have to kick their boys out or their whole family will have to leave. The obvious goal is to ensure that there will be enough women for future polygamous marriages. This is no small amount of young men who are often just tossed out fn the street with few life skills and no community of family connections. I saw a woman on the news who’s started an organization to help these young met get on their feet and have some support. What’s going on is really evil on many different levels.

  21. Yeah, I am frequently impetuous. ;-)

    Obviously when I say things like “you are completely wrong,” the “in my not-so-humble opinion” should be inferred. As a woman, I try not to go around qualifying my statements in that manner, because too many women are afraid to state their opinions and ideas without belittling themselves in one way or another. Men are rarely criticized for stating their opinions directly; while women are frequently criticized for speaking out in the same way.

    That said, unless I specify note something I say is backed up by a specific set of data, then it is my opinion and nothing more.

  22. Men are rarely criticized for stating their opinions directly; while women are frequently criticized for speaking out in the same way.

    Oh, I was with you all the way. Don’t ever stop speaking out in whatever way you want on my account.

    And I hope you don’t think I was trying to insult you with my response. I was simply adding my opinion about your opnion.

    The funny thing is, I hope you’re right, Donna. I hope the state finds that all manner of bad things were going on there. That way, those kids will actually be safe, and my home state won’t look so much like the “bumbling bad guy” again.

    I hope that happens.

    But right now, with the sparce evidence that’s been made public and the information we’ve received through the media outlets, I have to side with the moms and the children.

  23. As far as I can see, the FLDS has been treated far too leniently. I’m glad the children have been removed from this sick backwoods sex cult, but how about some criminal charges for the serial child-rapists and their enablers?

    And I’d be happy to shut down the whole fucking NBA if it meant rescuing some of these kids.

  24. Sam, I have to really disagree with you that there is no proof of abuse.

    The entire reason the raid took place was because an underage girl called a family violence shelter to report that she had been abused both physically and sexually, including being raped, beaten, and choked. She was afraid for her life and the life of her baby, and desperately wanted to escape the “ranch.”

    Slate published the actual affidavit that presented all of the evidence and described the several calls made by the girl.

    You can read it here: http://www.slate.com/id/2188574/entry/2188575/

    I can’t imagine that document not changing your mind. This wasn’t a little innocent compound of polygamists, this was a horribly abusive cult that forced young girls into sexual relationships and didn’t allow them contact with the outside world. I believe all of the children should be removed forever from the situation, even if that means going into foster care. Any foster home would be better than that place.

  25. I can’t imagine that document not changing your mind.

    Well, again I would suggest that anyone put all their biases behind them for a moment and look at this with a critical eye.

    Indeed, there is reason to believe these types of atrocities occur. The history of FLDS is not a pretty picture when it comes to marriages and rearing children. It’s easy to jump to conclusion unfavorable to the Elderado community.

    However, take a look at the links below. The FLDS denies “Sarah” exists. The state of Texas can’t find her. And the phone used to make the calls to Texas officials in the first place has been linked to a 33 year old Colorado woman with a history of making such hoax phone calls.

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5j_f6za8jjN7vLwXh3bqyHh_I3lZQD908163G0

    http://origin.sltrib.com/ci_8969094

    http://www.abc4.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=480027bd-4854-4b21-bed4-c5d74eeb4d4a

    Does all that mean that abuse doesn’t go on at the compound?

    Well, no. Of course not.

    But based on the strength of the evidence, we can’t say for sure that it does go on either.

  26. From that phone number article:

    The arrest warrant affidavit released Wednesday says that several calls alleging abuse there were made using several phone numbers, including the number linked to Swinton.

    Emphasis mine.

  27. That first link also says:

    “Texas’ child welfare agency says its investigation into the ranch, including interviews with children, has found evidence of abuse. They allege that the sect encourages adolescent girls to marry older men and have children, and that boys are groomed to become future perpetrators”

    Even if the calls were not made from a member of the ranch, the abuse was there, coming from new and stronger evidence than the calls.

  28. Anyone hear of an “ongoing investigation”. It is regular practice when there are serious allegations or maltreatment and some initial evidence that there is a likelihood the allegations could be true that the safety of the children will be the moving factor when deciding whether to keep children in placement. If the allegations prove false or there is no other maltreatment found then I’m fairly confident the children will be returned.

    However, IMO the DNA tests will result in a number of criminal charges and continued placement of the children. Just because the initial call may be found to not have credibility, maltreatment found to be happening will not be ignored because a bogus call started the whole process.

  29. I was going to point out what Sam wrote in his last comment. To date, they haven’t been able locate the girl who allegedly made the calls.

    Unfortunately, I think this may have been a case where law enforcement jumped the gun. They’ve been trying to find cause to raid the compound for years now, and when they got their chance they pounced.

    Even if they can prove that some of the children have been abused, the result of all this may be that nobody gets charged, the state gets sued, and any future attempts to prosecute the FLDS will be much more difficult.

    That would be unfortunate because, as I’m sure we can all agree, there is a horrific culture of abuse inherent in their community.

  30. Even if the calls were not made from a member of the ranch, the abuse was there, coming from new and stronger evidence than the calls.

    And yet, it’s been three weeks since the raid, and no arrests have been made. (Save one man who apparently interfered with law enforcement officers coming into the compound. He was later released.)

  31. At some point the speculation by pundits and folk like us starts sounding like a sports talk show where the respective strengths of a player or team is hashed out.

    In the end I hope no children have been abused and no parents civil rights have been trampled. Beyond that we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s also not uncommon for many weeks or months to go by before criminal charges are brought. This situation will require physical evidence which is usually lacking in sex abuse cases. Again the DNA should be telling. Also there have not been any evidentiary hearings with regard to the children’s civil cases because the courts and CPS don’t even know who to serve the legal documents to because the parents are unknown. Until the parents are known the courts will have a very difficult time releasing a child to a presumed or alleged parent and in fact CPS may be prohibited by Texas law from doing so.

  32. I am so angry with you right now you are lucky that several states seperate us. I live in Texas so you are safe. This case isn’t about free speech. This case is about child molesters. These people had set themselves up with a huge compound in the desert of west Texas where they could molest children, make them pregnant so that they could have more children to be molested. This has nothing to do with freedom of religion, freedom of speech or any other freedom. Every adult in this hell hole either molested children, aided in the molestation of children or knew of the molestation of children and condoned it. This was an evil hellish place where molesting children was considred to be the work of god. You couldn’t be wronger if your name was wrongy w wrongenstein.

  33. 1) I imagine the lawyers for the FLDS will push the angle that the original call that led to the raid and the “probable cause” was, in fact, a hoax. Thus all evidence they’ve collected as a result of not vetting that call properly must be dismissed, no matter how damning, because of that tricky Constitution thingy and it’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure.

    2) The lawyers and courts in Texas will not be impressed by the protesters in Utah. Besides, I’m sure they are all Spurs fans.

    John B. Sandlin

  34. I am so angry with you right now you are lucky that several states seperate us. I live in Texas so you are safe.

    First of all, watch the threats. I’m sure you don’t mean that the way it sounds, but I cannot have someone attempting to intimidate my writers.

    Second of all, I was also a bit pissy over Sam’s comment about agreeing with the cult, at first. The FLDS does have a history of bigotry, violence, and child molestation, and I was pretty relieved to hear that so many children were removed from that environment.

    But, Sam’s follow-up explanations are certainly thought-provoking. His evidence is compelling, and reminiscent of similar panics over child endangerment that destroyed families due to unfounded accusations and panic.

  35. I’m always amazed that there is anybody willing to work for child protective services in any jurisdiction. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    Snatch the children precipitously, and you are the evil destroyer of families. Fail to remove children before something really bad happens, and you are the evil bureaucrat who shuffled papers when you were supposed to be protecting children. Get it right and nobody notices.

  36. Nope. I think your wrong Sam. It’s not like any of these parents have homes outside the compound. The only way to return the kids to the parents, if they even knew who the parents for any child was, would be to return them to the compound. Once at the compound, anything could happen to these kids.

    The leader of this cult has been convicted of marrying off under aged girls to older men. This is the same cult, so there is probable cause to believe that the same thing is happening here. The choices are to go in and see, or turn and look the other direction, like law enforcement here in Arizona has been doing for decades. This cult has an ongoing record of breaking the law when it comes to sexual activity with young girls. It has been documented that they see nothing wrong it what they are doing and it is unlikely that they will suddenly see the light and stop. So, government either lives up to its responsibility to protect these young girls, or pretends everything is ok.

    We can’t allow people to break the law and rape young girls just because they think that their invisible friend approves of it. Religion can not be an excuse for breaking the law. I only wish they had gone in sooner.

  37. I wish you all good luck in debating and fighting this out. I’m going to look at pictures of Fat Unicorns and eat things (perhaps…cake?)

    You know what they say…when it comes to fundamentalist religions, fat unicorns always win.

  38. Evidence seems to be coming out now that not all the marriages in the compound were polygamous, and in the ones that were, not all the women were underage when married. Thus, the assumption of “guilt by association” seems troubling.

    In my experience, most groups — whether Christian, atheist, pagan, or whatever — consist of mostly nice folks, a handful of jerks, and maybe one or two monsters. I’d be surprised if the same thing wasn’t true with these folks. If a girl spent her entire life there and then had a child whom she attempted to raise in the same way she herself was raised, is she a criminal or a victim?

    I think what disturbs me most is that I believe our justice system is designed to try individuals and hold them accountable for their actions as individuals. I am not the slightest bit confident of its ability to try groups, organizations, or belief systems.

  39. I’ve been walking around for days unknowingly and silently agreeing with Sam.
    Absolutely there are some horrible people in the compound, but until abuse is determined for each child, the children should be returned to their parents. We all know their beliefs and their practices are completely whacked, but it really is the right of every parent to bring up their children under any religious doctrines they wish, short, of course, of breaking laws. As Sam says, try to look at it without your moral and emotional biases.
    I’m even going to take it one step further, which should effectively take the majority of heat away from Sam. I think ones morals are mostly learned through upbringing and culture. Even extremes like murder are considered okay in some cultures and some contexts. Capital punishment is acceptable by many. So, is having sex with a girl of menstruating age really that immoral? Illegal yes, but immoral? It wasn’t really all that long ago that girls were married in their early teens. Weren’t Romeo and Juliet minors? Of course rape and abuse are wrong, but not all of the compound mothers had proof of these things. Sex with a minor is illegal and the men responsible should definitely be tried for it. I’m not debating that they broke the law. I’m just trying to make all you skeptics step in front of your emotions and see the facts clearly. Those who broke the law should get tried. The abused children should be separated from their abusers. The non-abused children should be returned to their families. I don’t like it either but that’s the way I see it.

  40. I’m just trying to make all you skeptics step in front of your emotions and see the facts clearly. Those who broke the law should get tried. The abused children should be separated from their abusers. The non-abused children should be returned to their families. I don’t like it either but that’s the way I see it.

    Yes, I understand; But as pointed out several times above, there’s more to it than the actual crimes committed. The environment itself puts the children at risk.

    While I agree that breaking up a family without good reason is a horrible thing to do, will we be putting those children at risk by not doing so?

    I am reminded of a famous Roman who, some centuries ago, declared that we no longer have the stomach to deal with the corrupt practices and mores of our day.

    If we accept Sam’s opinion, what do we do? What would it look like? Should we return these children to their family groups, and return them to their compound? To continue on as ever before?

    And if we reject Sam’s opinion, what is the possible damage to the children being separated from their mothers?

    Which is the better outcome?

  41. While I agree that breaking up a family without good reason is a horrible thing to do, will we be putting those children at risk by not doing so?

    Yes, one of the places where I vehemently disagree with Sam is when he wrote:

    In addition to the lack of proof of abuse, of the over 400 children, not all of them are female

    My first thought was, “If there is proof of sexual abuse in a family, does that mean you only take away the abused child and leave her brothers in the care of the abuser?” I would certainly hope not.

  42. Over the last year I’ve come across numerous articles about FLDS. Unfortunately, mostly in pretty trashy magazines. That being said, if the anecdotal accounts are accurate and what I’ve read about the environment these kids grow up in is accurate then I imagine that it is a dangerous environment for a child to grow up in.

    The difficulty with these cases is that the kids grow up isolated from the outside world and are probably terrified of what’s happening around them when they are suddenly taken away. The mothers are often guilty of enabling abuse in these environments but are also abused themselves. I won’t get into the freedom of speech argument as I don’t think it’s actually the point at all. I also don’t agree with the argument that “the children didn’t break the law so they shouldn’t be punished”. Any child that is in danger is going to suffer when removed from their parents. The psychological damage often comes from the confusion a child experiences when the person who is supposed to keep them safe is the one abusing them.

    I for one was relieved to see that they had at last intervened in the cult.

    (For my first post on skepchic I hope I’ve kept a cool head!)

  43. As to the “it’s only the female children that are in danger” bit, I’ve seen a few male former FLDS members state that they were molested as little boys.

    And maybe I’m interpreting this incorrectly, but it seems like they’re waiting for the DNA testing results before going much further with prosecuting, because they need to sort out who has which children. Insert standard I’m-so-not-a-lawyer disclaimer here.

    If you take out emotion and just look at it logically, yes, it’s still pretty hairy. But I also think logic dictates that protection of innocents is of the highest priority. How to do that protecting is when things get complicated.

  44. Yes, one of the places where I vehemently disagree with Sam is when he wrote:

    In addition to the lack of proof of abuse, of the over 400 children, not all of them are female

    My first thought was, “If there is proof of sexual abuse in a family, does that mean you only take away the abused child and leave her brothers in the care of the abuser?” I would certainly hope not.

    I would hope not as well, Rebecca. And I didn’t mean to imply such a thing. Perhaps my wording was inadequate to make my point there.

    What I meant was, since no proof of abuse has come to light (yet), the only conceivable thing the state could be protecting the children from at this point is being forced to have sex as minors; or being forced to marry while underage. And the apparent belief of FLDS is that girls of a certain age are ready for that. Boys, as far as I know, are not forced to marry at a young age.

    And if that is indeed the case, we would have to ask why the boys from the compound have been removed from their mothers, too.

    Again, I’m only speculating that young boys are not indoctrinatated in the same way as the teenage girls. Anyone have more information about that?

    By the way, several of the first busloads of kids from the compound arrived at Houston area foster facilities last night (from what I gather, they’re being disbursed all over the state), and one of the local news channels did a piece about the homes. And I have to admit, one of the homes they featured is very nice.

    In fact, it is a multiple resident facility with agricultural land and working craft shops on the premises, just like the compound from which the children were taken. It’s kind of strange, because the place looks like a cult compound, only without the crazy religious part.

    At any rate, these kids may suffer the emotinal turmoil of being separated from their families, but the transition to their new physical surroundings should be smooth; at least at that one home.

  45. And if that is indeed the case, we would have to ask why the boys from the compound have been removed from their mothers, too.

    As I understand it, if the boys are left in such an environment, they will be raised to believe that such abuse is normal and desireable. Do we want this “lifestyle” to be perpetuated? It is not enough to treat this wound, the cause of the disease must be treated as well.

  46. Sam, while there have not yet been any charges brought, we are all spoilt by programs like the various CSIs where they get a DNA result in hours. Unfortunately, while this is possible if you have the resources, just about, most state DNA testing facilities are way overloaded with work. I recently saw a case report on a TV program about real US CSI work where the backlog at the facility used by that state meant that it would likely take a minimum of 8 weeks to get the DNA result for just one person. Here we have a situation where we need the DNA results of hundreds of people before we can even decide if there is a problem, hence the fact that there are no charges yet is hardly surprising. At least not without the active cooperation of the possible underage mothers.

    Additionally, as others have said, it is standard practise to remove any children from a possible abusive situation and so the state has no real option but to remove them all until they have evidence one way or another. This is nothing to do with whether there is a case to answer to or not, but purely a child protection issue which always proceeds on the basis that the state must protect the children first and worry later whether there is an actual legal case to answer for. Until then, returning them to a suspected abusive environment, especially one that is deliberately isolated from the outside world, is not an option. Child protection is the one area where innocence until proven guilty is not the overriding legal factor but the protection of the children is. So on that basis alone I must disagree with you Sam. Everything else must wait on the actual evidence, whatever it turns out to be.

  47. Quick sort of related question: how do these FLDS people earn a living? That’s a LOT of kids. They wouldn’t happen to be living off the Texas taxpayers’ dime in a pedophile’s paradise, would they?

    I have bought all sorts of delightful Amish items, for example. I have spoken with Amish people (because, you know, they live in houses not hundredsof miles away from everyone). I am not a huge fan of Amish dogma (no music? WTF?), and don’t really appreciate knowing that while they’re talking to me about that quilt over there in the back of their minds they are convinced that I’ma goin to hell, at least they have a little transparency. And they work for their living. And they have some righteous (albeit not so feminist) views.

    I guess what I’m saying is that the Amish are pretty extreme, but even they interact with the “English”and have their rumspringa (although I don’t know how much freedom of choice one can have if choosing to not be in the faith means losing your family and being catapulted into a culture and way of life that you’re completely unprepared for). These FLDS people are totally sequestered,no?

    And how come there aren’t any “religions” where some lady looked into a hat or whatever and decided that 30 year old women can have multiple 19 year old husbands who do all the housework?

  48. And how come there aren’t any “religions” where some lady looked into a hat or whatever and decided that 30 year old women can have multiple 19 year old husbands who do all the housework?

    Well, it wasn’t until I was twenty-eight and she was forty; but I just couldn’t convince her to marry me…. :(

  49. There has been ample evidence for the abuse. For one thing 20 girls between the ages of 13 and 16 have children. That is child molesting. Some of them have more than one child. When a 50 year old man “marries” a 13 year old child. Fucks her and she has a kid that is abuse. It is illegal and it is wrong. The boys are kicked out and left homeless as soon as they reach adolesence so that they male to female ratio is forced way out of balance and the middle aged child molesting men can have more children to rape. Nothing like a good case of child rape to put the lead back in your pencil. This wasn’t some knee jerk reaction to a bunch of religious cultists. They had been there for years. This was a reaction to child rape. It isn’t any better for the fact that they called it marriage. If someone rapes a child, films it, and sells it on the web it is child pornagraphy and everyone is offended by the sick son of a bitch. This just didn’t get filmed and sold on the web.

  50. 1. “Unfortunately, I think this may have been a case where law enforcement jumped the gun. ” TheCzech has it right, the poster I’ve quoted is wrong. Law enforcement that fails to act has failed as law enforcement. The result is that there will now be an investigation, without having to deal with a cult protecting perpetrators.

    2. Sam suggests that removal to foster care (even possibly for a short period of time) is somehow traumatic for children.

    Is there any real reason to believe this is true? My college psychology classes are dim, dim, dim, but I seem to recall that children are substantially more resilient than Sam implies by his commentary.

    3. FLDS appears to be using this “grey” area (which looks pretty black and white to me) as a wedge to reform. Short of flight, this is the best hope they have of blocking an investigation.

    I see no reason to allow them to do this. I don’t see any value in “freedom of religion” arguments here, nor is concern for the children over phantom trauma particularly relevant.

    We don’t live in a state where any religion is allowed to violate human rights, nor is any religious organization above any such investigation thereof.

  51. “Is there any real reason to believe this is true? My college psychology classes are dim, dim, dim, but I seem to recall that children are substantially more resilient than Sam implies by his commentary.”

    Agreed. I still can’t quite get my mind around Sam’s reasoning for a) why these kids are better off with the cult and b)the distinction between male and female children in terms of safety.

    The removal process would undoubtably be scary and confusing, however, if they are in stable foster homes where they are not subjected to abuse then this could only be a positive outcome. I felt pretty uncomfortable with the way Sam separated the kids in terms of gender. The girls may be at risk from physical abuse, (although perhaps the boys are as well – but I’m speculating as I don’t know enough to give a factually based argument) but if the boys are growing up in this environment and are expected to behave like the older males when they grow up then in a sense they are also at risk.

  52. I think perhaps Sam doesn’t mean that the weans should be left with the cult; Only that some of these young girls be allowed to keep their babies.

    I imagine that the mums and babies would be removed from the cult as a matter of course.

  53. Rav, I can kindof agree with that. If the mothers are very young and are removed from the cult with their children, and they can all be placed together with a foster family (or something), that would be a very healthy solution. The young mothers and teenage boys need as much help as the tiny children.

    The older people, especially the women, need therapy and help to escape the cult. This is very difficult especially when you’ve been indoctrinated to fear normal society since you were a young child.

    I feel incredibly sad for just about everyone raised in a religion like this. It is thousands of times worse than what I experienced in my evangelical upbringing.

    I feel the least amount of sympathy for the men in power. I can’t find it in my heart to think anything but that they belong in jail.

  54. I also can’t find it in my heart to think that Sam understands the dangers of cults, never mind the dangers of this type of polygamous society. Sorry Sam, but you haven’t convinced me. :-)

  55. Well, not everyone grows up in a cult. I practically put myself into one when I was fourteen, and though I eventually extricated myself (after twenty-five years), I lost my would-be fiancee to another one (a cult in fact, as opposed to my own fundamentalist arseholery).

  56. I also can’t find it in my heart to think that Sam understands the dangers of cults, never mind the dangers of this type of polygamous society. Sorry Sam, but you haven’t convinced me.

    That’s okay, Donna. No need to apologize.

    I’m not trying to convince anyone of my understanding of the dangers of a cult, or of this type of community. Although I would wager I probably know as much about these things as anyone else reading this.

    The problem is, we all have an expectation that there were dangerous, cult-ish things going on (physical and emotional abuse, etc.) at Eldorado, and that all the members being indoctrinated into the community were forced or otherwise unhappy to be in polygamous families. And that expectation obviously stems from things we know about other cult communities.

    But can we jump to that conclusion about Eldorado right now?

    It seems many of the commenters here have turned off their skepticism under the weight of the things they’ve learned and opinions they’ve formed from other cases.

    Again, it’s not unreasonable to think that the Eldorado group is any different than any other FLDS cult community. But right now — and I admit I haven’t read the news since yesterday — but right now, we simply don’t know. They may be just a bunch of good happy people with alternative views about family.

    I’m not trying to be obtuse or hardheaded or nitpicky. The mothers and children were initially removed from the compound and held at an arena in San Angelo while the investigation was going on. I coniser this to be necessary and just, considering the suspicions by law enforcement.

    However, these mothers and children, who three weeks into the investigation, cannot yet be considered abused and cannot yet be deemed unhappy with the lifestyle based on the investigation, have been removed further and separated further and sent to foster homes all over the state.

    I don’t find this to be just at all.

  57. Well, I don’t want to sound like a troll, but you really just don’t get it. Sigh.

    The reason this kind of crap didn’t get stopped in the 1950s was the exact same kind of argument you are putting out here now. These people have already gone onto conservative news crying about getting their families torn apart, so they can get sympathy and continue their cycle of abuse. And here you are playing right into their bullshit.

    It’s their own disgusting doctrine that is tearing them apart, not sane people removing their children from their custody. It’s an entirely abusive system and the victims need protection. I don’t even care if some of the women claim to be happy. You cant believe what victims of this kind of abuse say. Of course they’d rather stay in their subculture. They’ve been told since they could speak that the rest of the world is Satanic and that if they don’t follow the rules they will burn in hell forever.

    I don’t know why you can’t understand how bad this kind of thing is. There is just about nothing worse than leaving the children to have another generation indoctrinated into the same lifestyle.

  58. Agreed with Donna’s above comment.

    How could Sam come up with: “They may be just a bunch of good happy people with alternative views about family.” ? So forcing 15 year olds to “marry” their 19 year old cousins (as Warren Jeffs did and was convicted for) and 13 year olds getting screwed and impregenated by men old enough to be their grandfathers and teenage boys being banished from the sect so that there are ample girls to form teen harems for pervs are “alternative views about family”?

    I would think that refusing to immunize your child is more along the lines of “alternative view”, but nobody’s sticking up for that BS here. Why stick up for systematic child rape? “Alternative (acceptable) views of family” might be more along the lines of having two daddies, for example. It’s not the norm, but there is not necessarily abuse involved (I only say not necessarily because I woulnd’t dare claim that there is zero abuse in all gay-parented families).

    Maybe that little girl in Yemen whowas sold to a 30 year old at 8 was just “part of a different culture”? Her dad had “alternative views of family”?

    I am sick of opression and abuse getting the “it’s not our culture, let’s not judge” treatment. The point that it took America so-and-so years to get to this level of (questionable) freedom, so why should the middle east be expected to suddenly do a 180 (as pointed out somewhere, probably not even this thread) regarding human rights seems valid, but guess what? We are in a time with unprecedented means of communication and idea-sharing…it can happen a lot faster now. (Roops,sorry for the tangent)

    Anyway, this whole thing makes me sick. Would you, Sam, stick up for the Children of God? They were all about sex with kids, too, but I suspect that since they were wearing tie-dye and smoking pot instead of early ’80’s gunne sax with “kansas bangs”, they seem more sinister and less quaint.

  59. This is a problem for which there are no “good” solutions, only ones that are less bad than the others.

    The fact is, many young women were raped by older men and made pregnant by them. Children are never responsible for being abused. Adults are always responsible for preventing children from being abused. The men who raped the children bear the most responsibility, the other adults who knew it was going on and did not try and stop it are guilty of conspiracy to rape.

    Unfortunately wisdom, ethical and moral strength do not always appear at the legally designated time of “adulthood”, the time when legal culpability appears.

    If I were running the legal case, I would do DNA testing on everyone. Every male who was an adult at the time of conception that has a child by a woman who was underage at the time of conception of that child I would charge with child rape and go for the maximum penalty for each instance. If that means that some of these 50 year old perves spend the rest of their life in jail, I think that is a good thing.

    Every adult who lived in the compound, male and female I would charge with being an accessory to child rape, or conspiracy to commit child rape for each instance of underage conception by an adult male that occurred while they were an adult and living in the compound.

    According to what I have read, that will cover all of the adults who were living in the compound. None of the adults who fit into either of those categories is a fit parent and should have all parental rights terminated.

    I appreciate that this will mean that women who were raped as children, bore children of that rape, and are one day over the age of “being an adult” when other children were raped will have to be prosecuted as accessories to the rape of other children. That really sucks. I don’t know what else to do.

    Parents who are underage are not guilty of any crime and so are not to be prosecuted. Whether they are a fit parent (mother or father) for their children would be determined on a case by case basis.

    Children who do not have a fit parent must be put into foster care (which is horrific in Texas and is something I would fix).

    I would confiscate the compound, trace the money and prosecute the funding sources as accessories to child rape. I would look for similar type compounds and apply the same solution to them too.

    I don’t at all see this being about polygamy, I see it as being about child rape.

  60. I have to get back to moving day, so this thread will have to exclude me from here on out.

    But I do want to note that Sam is raising a concern–one which I don’t think is valid in this case–but is still worth expressing.

    And while I wouldn’t have quite phrased it the way writerdd did when she wrote, “The reason this kind of crap didn’t get stopped in the 1950s was the exact same kind of argument you are putting out here now. These people have already gone onto conservative news crying about getting their families torn apart, so they can get sympathy and continue their cycle of abuse. And here you are playing right into their bullshit.”

    There is a reason there is a procedure to be followed in these cases. And it has been followed very well, without issue. Those looking to make it into an issue have not been forthcoming with any more information than Sam has, and I think that’s inadequate, given the investigation is ongoing. For me to regard the allegations as inadequate of intervention (given all the other earmarks fulfilled by FLDS as a cult) requires the outcome of that investigation.

  61. It’s their own disgusting doctrine that is tearing them apart, not sane people removing their children from their custody. It’s an entirely abusive system and the victims need protection. I don’t even care if some of the women claim to be happy. You cant believe what victims of this kind of abuse say.

    Really?

    You realize that would give you license to run in and arrest anyone in any place where you assume abuse is going on, don’t you?

    “You were beaten and abused.”

    “Umm . . . no I wasn’t.”

    “Yes, you were. You’re a victim of this type of abuse, so I can’t believe you when you tell me you’re not.”

    Well, good luck with that.

    Anyway, I feel like I’ve expressed my opnion as well as I can on this matter, and it seems some commenters continue to misunderstand, but I’ll give it one more shot anyway. Beyond that, I can’t keep sawing sawdust like this.

    Suppose you were aware of a group of mothers and children who lived in the most deplorable conditions you can imagine. Suppose they were being beaten on a daily basis, forced to have sex while underage and with crusty old men. Suppose they were taught that tree elves provide happiness to all of human kind and require everyone to live in communes and in polygamous families. And suppose every single one of those mothers and children was miserable in that setting, but oblivious to the fact that living that way was counter to accepted social norms.

    Now suppose a governing body found out about the group and stepped in to determine if any laws were being broken. Suppose they barged into this commune, this place where brutal practices occur, and dicovered that indeed lots and lots of bad shit was going down. Suppose they then separated the women and the children from the men. And suppose they placed the women and the children together but away from the commune.

    Now, even in this worst case scenario, imagine what that kind of separation must be like for the children. Remember, they may have been miserable at the camp, but they’re oblivious to what goes on outside the place. So they are probably going to be a little bit scared. But at least they’ve got their mothers and their siblings with them for comfort and support.

    Now, even though the women participated in polygamous relationships, and even though they are a little too confident about the teachings of the tree elves, do you think it’s a good idea to separate the children further, taking them not only from their mothers, but also from their siblings?

    If you answered “Yes” then I agree with you.

    It is a very good idea, considering the bad shit that was going down and considering the mothers were okay with indoctrinating the children into the lifestyle. The children would suffer some initial trauma from the separation —a necessary evil — but ultimately they would be better for it.

    However, would you do the same thing, would you separate the families the same way, if the governing body stormed in and discovered that no more bad shit was going down at the compound than goes down among the general populace, and that the only real difference between the people of the commune and everyone else is their innocents and belief in the tree elves? Would you be okay separating these frightened children from their mothers and siblings, the only familiar things in their lives at this point?

    If you answered “Yes” then I disagree with you.

    I don’t think disbursing the Eldorado children throughout the state was necessary; at least at this point in the investigation. They were separated from the men and under the care of the state already. If there was abuse coming from the mothers, it wasn’t going to happen while they were all being held at the San Angelo coliseum. And at least the children were able to ride out a frightening situation with their mothers and siblings; people who could most likely provide them comfort, no matter how kooky their religious beliefs.

    In short, I think all children have the right to remain with their families unless and until there is substantial proof of imminent risk of serious harm. And right now, there just isn’t.

  62. Sam, you don’t get it.

    In this circumstance all of the adults are perpetrators. Either they directly raped children themselves, they encouraged other adults to rape them, they allowed other adults to rape them, or they covered up when other adults raped them. Not once, not twice, but dozens and dozens of times.

    The parents of the children have told the children to not disclose who their parents are. The parents are doing witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

    The members of the cult are not telling who is related to who. They won’t tell the authorities who are the parents of which children. That is why the authorities need to do DNA testing. That obstruction of justice is not to protect the children, it is to protect the perpetrators. The authorities don’t know who are the parents of which children, so they don’t know which children are siblings of each other.

    Why the adults allowed all this child raping to go on isn’t the issue. That they allowed it to go on is very much the issue. That they are obstructing efforts to stop the child raping is very much the issue. That they are obstructing efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice is very much the issue. That they are obstructing efforts to transition the children out of this abusive environment is very much the issue.

    Adults telling children it is wrong to cooperate with the investigation is abuse. Adults putting blame and guilt on the children for what is happening is wrong and is abuse. It is abuse if the child’s father does it, it is abuse if the child’s mother does it, it is abuse if the child’s sibling does it, it is abuse if any adult does it, it is abuse even if a child does it.

    These children have lived in an abusive environment their entire lives. If they are ever going to have a chance to break free from that abusive environment they need to get away from the influence of the perpetrators. The perpetrators will play mind games, will blame the children, the children will accept that blame (because that is what abused children do), the children will blame themselves and be unable to transition to an environment where they appreciate that raping children is unacceptable behavior and is abuse.

    How many generations of abusive pedophiles is enough? It seems like you want to add another.

  63. Sam- for what it’s worth, I understand where you’re coming from. The operative word a lot of people seem to be missing is “if”. Since nothing has been proven, and no charges have been filed, all this talk about child rape, abuse, etc. is speculative. You’re simply speculating in the opposite direction. As in, “What if none of it actually happened? Would this still be the acceptable action to take pending investigation?”

    People- Sam is just warning against the dangers of presupposition. The problem with this sort of case is that the people involved are so insular and non-cooperative, we may never know the full extent of what went on inside their compound. Assuming we know and treating them based on that assumption is a bad road to go down.

  64. Sam, you don’t get it.

    Umm . . . Yeah, I do get it. I’m just apparently having all sorts of trouble relating some simple ideas about hastily drawing conclusions.

    I think you’re painting this issue with a wide brush because of your preconceived notions about FLDS. In your mind, FLDS = bad, no matter the circumstances.

    And before you attack that statement, I’ve conceded that FLDS has a poor track record. They have done some terrible things, and law enforcement has just cause to keep an eye on them. But the fact of the FLDS association doesn’t necessarily equate to guilt in this case. At least not yet.

    I mean, you wouldn’t assume that every Christian stones a disobedient wife because they believe a book that tells them to do that, and because some Christians have done that in the past, would you?

    Of course not. So why would you jump to a conclusion hastily in this case, especially when so much is on the line for these people?

    Granted, fundamentalists groups are more likely to follow their sacred teachings to the letter, but it’s still innappropriate to assign guilt before establishing that any offense has been perpetrated.

    CPS officials have conceded there is no evidence the youngest children were abused. About 130 of the children are under 5 years old. Also, according to evidence presented in the custody hearing last week, teenage boys were not physically or sexually abused either, yet more than two dozen teenage boys are in state custody, at a boys’ ranch that typically houses troubled or abandoned teens.

    Out of some 430 children total, two teenage girls are pregnant, and although identities and ages have been difficult to nail down, CPS officials say no more than 30 minor girls in state custody have children.

    Many of the church members, while conceding that polygamy is taught, say that not all of them practice polygamy, but are actually in traditional nuclear families.

    One FLDS member testified under oath that she and her husband and their three children form a traditional family and live in a separate house from other members. An FLDS expert who testified at the hearing, along with a former member of the sect, both estimated that around half the marriages in the sect are polygamous.

    One member whose teenage son is now in foster care testified that she is a divorced single mother.

    Even if you think the members are lying to cover things up, you have to take note of CPS’ findings and the experts and investigators from outside the group.

    And if you do that, it’s obvious that any evidence for the type of abuse you’re talking about, the raping, does not apply to every member of the cult, and especially not every child. In addition to that, without DNA test results, the evidence cannot yet even establish concretely the guilt of any of the men at the compound.

    Yet you would arrest them anyway, and you think it’s perfectly all right that all the children (above nursing age) have been removed from their families?

    Again, AT THIS POINT IN TIME, there is no evidence of non-sexual physical abuse against any of the children, and in regard to the few who might have been forced to marry and have sex while underage, the evidence is still pending. So the only grounds for removal of every single child from their families AT THIS POINT IN TIME is the assumption that something bad has or will happen to them because of the parents’ beliefs.

    And U.S. courts have consistently held that a parent’s beliefs alone are not grounds for removal. Yet, the state of Texas railroaded the children and mothers through a quick hearing that’s been criticized heavily in legal circles, and then shipped the kids away.

    I find that to be unjust.

    How many generations of abusive pedophiles is enough? It seems like you want to add another.

    Of course I don’t. That’s just a ridiculous thing to say. I just think the state has made some poor judgments in this case, and I’m trying to apply an unbiased, critical eye to the story.

    I’ve said before, I hope the state turns out to be right in this case. That way, the children will truly be out of harm’s way, and the sect can indoctrinate no more people into its belief system.

    But right now, we cannot say that the state is correct.

  65. You’re simply speculating in the opposite direction. As in, “What if none of it actually happened? Would this still be the acceptable action to take pending investigation?”

    Exactly.

    I’m a sucker for the whole innocent until proven guilty thing.

  66. It guess it really would suck to be a CPS social worker. ;-)

    This thread has been interesting, amusing, mildly frustrating and occasionally gratifying from my vantage point. The topic of child abuse should never be avoided as it usually was not that long ago.

    Welcome to my world.

  67. I think a lot of people have commented explaining how that doesn’t apply when it comes to allegations of abuse.

    I had no problem with the state assuming guilt intially, based on the nature of the probable cause. But when the evidence, or lack thereof, began to a shine an ever more innocent light on large numbers of the cult members, they shipped the kids off anyway, before the investigation could be completed.

    So what we have is, the state assuming guilt right off the bat, and even though they’ve been unable to prove guilt, they’ve continued to treat the members as guilty anyway.

    Do you think that’s right, or is that just something else we have to accept when it comes to the magical, all-powerful, constitution-bending allegations of abuse?

  68. I had no problem with the state assuming guilt intially, based on the nature of the probable cause. But when the evidence, or lack thereof, began to a shine an ever more innocent light on large numbers of the cult members, they shipped the kids off anyway, before the investigation could be completed.

  69. Dammit, tab key.
    I understand what you’re saying, but I think we’re just going to continue arguing in circles here about the same things everyone else has mentioned, including not knowing which children go with whom, etc, etc.

  70. So they will get off again and the abuse of their polygamous bullshit religion will cycle through another generation or two before it comes to light again. Sigh. How many people are we willing to let be destroyed by this before we as a society put a stop to it? I can’t even believe this is being discussed. Vomit.

  71. I understand what you’re saying, but I think we’re just going to continue arguing in circles here about the same things everyone else has mentioned, including not knowing which children go with whom, etc, etc.

    Yeah, you’re probably right. And I said I wasn’t going to saw the sawdust anymore, but I did anyway.

    My apologies.

    I just hope I’ve expressed my opinion in a manner that everyone can understand.

  72. For me, it’s just that my main desire in life right now is to help people escape from fundamentalism, and I just despair when I hear about stuff like this, especially when children are involved because they have no way to know that their parents are full of shit.

    I know how insidious fundamentalist brainwashing is, even when sexual abuse is not involved. It all just makes me want to crawl in a hole and cry.

    I really do think that it’s better to get kids out of households like this, even when physical abuse can’t be proven. I know that’s not how the law works, but I know what I went through and it was completely mild compared to what the FLDS are pounded with. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

  73. For me, it’s just that my main desire in life right now is to help people escape from fundamentalism, and I just despair when I hear about stuff like this, especially when children are involved because they have no way to know that their parents are full of shit.

    That’s the worst part of indoctrination. I mean , if an adult buys into that garbage of his or her own free will, well I can’t have much sympathy. But the children are blank slates that may never be exposed to anything else but the fundamentalism.

    Hey, I just noticed we reached 80 comments in this thread. I fee like I’ve been writing a lot of them, but it’s good to see so many people active in the discussion.

  74. Hey Sam, 81!
    It’s not that guilt is assumed, it’s about the level of risk to the child and likelihood of a child being abused or maltreatment continuing when a child is returned home that the courts need to weigh. I commented previously that until parentage is established the courts are not likely to return children home. Also criminal guilt (beyond a reasonable doubt) is never the standard used in civil court for CPS matters. There the standard is usually “more likely than not”, which is generally considered to be 51%. And as other posters have mentioned, when you have a child under the age of 16 either pregnant or a parent and the father is an adult then that can only be considered child abuse by law and beyond doubt for any reasonable person IMO. It doesn’t matter if the father or girl say their married. So if the child is pregnant or is a mother of a child then what more evidence do you need to justify saying the circumstance presents risk and the children are likely to be abused if returned before the completion of the investigation.

    This is not a situation where there is only a vague or manufactured disclosure by an incompetent therapist or social worker. Sadly many innocent folk had their lives and the lives of their children ruined by poor law enforcement and social worker practice in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s when false reports were generated by poor interviews. This is not the case in Texas where the fact of babies born to young teenagers is clear and compelling evidence absent any hearsay or one persons unreliable memory.

  75. Hey, late to the conversation… but… for what its worth.

    Sam; I agree with you –gas- and I also am mildly upset that your actual original point (as far as I could read) about the right time/place for a protest got lost in this.

    Abuse = bad

    Protesting at a basketball game = silly

    (Getting attention is fine… but it isn’t like this story has been hiding under a rock.)

  76. Thanks, Kaylia_Marie. Glad you were able to comment.

    And I can’t say I mind the original post getting lost in the shuffle. I doubt it would have generated as much discussion. Who knows, though?

  77. Sam, I guess your information is a little late. This report says 31 of 53 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 are either pregnant or are already a mother.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080428/ap_on_re_us/polygamist_retreat

    As I see it, the only way to treat this “compound”, is as a large extended family. That is how they are living, many of them are near relatives, and they won’t tell the authorities who is related to whom.

    Any extended family that has tolerated this kind of abuse is an unsuitable environment for children. That includes infants.

    Separating the children from their abusive parents is not “punishing” the children, it is protecting the children. Separating children from their abusive parents is not punishing the parents, it is protecting the children. Separating children from abusive adults is not punishing the children or the adults, it is protecting the children.

    This is very different from the genocide that was practiced against Native Americans in the US and Canada and against Aborigines in Australia.

    What happened at Waco was similar. Waco ended badly. The children along with their rapists were all killed; most of them burned to death by the perpetrators but some of them were shot. I think the Texas authorities learned a lot from the Waco event and acted very differently this time.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waco_Siege

    This is also similar to what happened at Jonestown. Jonestown ended badly too.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonestown

    Or Heaven’s Gate. Heaven’s Gate ended badly too.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven%27s_Gate_%28religious_group%29

    The incontrovertible evidence against these perpetrators is the existence of children of girls who are under the age of consent at the time of the child’s birth. If those children and those mothers “disappeared”, there is no case for child rape and abuse.

    Are you willing to bet the lives of these children that the perpetrators won’t try to cover up their crimes? The perpetrators obviously don’t care about the girls and women as actual people, or they wouldn’t be treating them this way. If the children, the girls and women all disappeared along with their bodies, there would be no case unless people talked. Are you willing to bet the lives of these children that any adult from that compound would never do such a thing?

    As they say, that decision is beyond my pay grade. But if I were responsible for making that decision I know what I would do in a heartbeat.

  78. Well the morning MSM TV news has been reporting what deadalus2u references above. Thats over 50% of the girls in the mentioned age range. NBC and ABC both reported that the age range was 13 to 17 not 14 to 17 as reported in the Yahoo story. And a number of the girls were not only mothers but were pregnant again.

  79. I said above:

    Out of some 430 children total, two teenage girls are pregnant, and although identities and ages have been difficult to nail down, CPS officials say no more than 30 minor girls in state custody have children.

    Seems I was a slightly off on the numbers.

    CNN reported today that CPS says there are 463 children total. There are 53 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 in state custody. Of those girls, 31 either have children or are pregnant. CPS didn’t specify how many are currently pregnant. 17 boys are 14 to 17.

    393 children are 13 or younger — 197 girls and 196 boys.

    Of course, an FLDS spokesman said he does not believe the CPS count is accurate. He said he believes at least 17 of the girls may actually be adults but have been labeled by CPS as minors.

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/04/28/polygamist.retreat.ap/index.html

  80. The lack of proportionately between the boys to girls in the older teenage group is quite telling. What seems clear is that of the 393 children younger than 13, 197 are at risk of being sexually abused and are in all likelihood being groomed for future abuse. The other 196 are at risk of either being groomed to become abusers or will eventually be abandon. Chilling compelling numbers.

  81. All I can say is that I don’t have anything like all of the information, and that I don’t remotely envy the people who have to make decisions like this. I can understand all the concerns about it, and personally would like to see the whole cult shut down, but from a legal standpoint, it’s a dicey stuation. I sincerely hope that people who are making these decisions are worrying just as much as we are about whether or ot they are wrong about what’s going on… However, 30 teenage mothers is a substantial number, and clear evidence that at least something is going on that needs to be looked into. I can’t say that keeping them all apart is unwarranted, given the SoP of deception they’ve leveled against investigators, but I can see where it would raise concerns, since they are likely to be causing a lot of stress on individuals who aren’t giulty of any actual crime. The problem is sorting them out in a way that prevents said disappearances. They’re trying to balance the rights of the families against the risk to the children, and it’s not an easy job at any time, I’m sure… In this case, the sheer numbers involved and lack of good information can only make a difficult situation even worse.

  82. . . .I sincerely hope that people who are making these decisions are worrying just as much as we are about whether or ot they are wrong about what’s going on…

    I wanted to respond to Rystefn to say me, too. Considering the microscope they are now under, I’d like to think they are going to be cautious.

    I also wanted to respond to get the comment count for this post to 90.

  83. Another update:

    One of the girls gave birth Tuesday to a healthy boy in San Marcos, Texas. Child welfare officials, state troopers and fellow sect members stood watch outside the maternity ward.

    Rod Parker, spokesman for the FLDS, says the girl is 18. State officials have the girl on a list of minors taken into state custody.

    According to CPS, a child born to a ward of the state becomes a ward of the state also.

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/04/29/polygamist.retreat.ap/index.html

  84. Not sure if anyone’s reading this thread any more, but in light of Bug_Girl’s recent post on racism and feminism, I’d like to share this post from a discussion group on in. Someone there voiced the same opinion as me about how appalled he was that anyone would think it was OK to leave the children with their parents in this situation. Here was the response:

    Anytime people see mothers on TV day after day, crying and lamenting about having their kids taken away, there will be some who are sympathetic. I think it’s just normal human emotion – it’s hard not to be swayed by these people’s obvious distress and make yourself look at the bigger picture of the abuse going on.

    I’ll go out on a limb here, too, to say that it sure doesn’t hurt that the mothers are white, many are attractive and they are “wholesome looking” in their prarie costumes. Get a tattooed group of black and Latino women wearing cheap jewelry and tawdry clothes and I’ll guarantee you they won’t get as much sympathy as the women who were allowing their daughters to be raped by dirty old men.

  85. It is appalling to leave the children with abusive parents because of an emotional reaction to the parents’ appearance. But it is equally appalling to remove children from families before solid evidence of abuse is found because of an emotional reaction to their religious beliefs.

    Take a look at the video I’ve linked to below. It’s not about FLDS abuse or religion, but deals with an emotional hot-button issue, which I think is the element that makes the FLDS case so provocative.

    In this video, you’ll see examples of families torn apart because of sexual abuse accusations without substantial evidence to support those accusations. And even though it’s highly likely that the abuse charges in the FLDS case will ultimately be deemed accurate, it’s easy to see that both these cases should be handled in the same manner.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3439467496200920717

  86. Not sure to what extent this story is on anyone’s radar anymore, but here are some links to the latest updates.

    The children are being returned to their families, the families are trickling back into the compound, and the state of Texas is apparently 7 million dollars lighter for their efforts.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/metro/5817593.html

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iIdMpRHjN4hpNKBhfYyAsR4DDo4QD912TQ307

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/03/usa.religion

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iIdMpRHjN4hpNKBhfYyAsR4DDo4QD9129SQ80

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