Waco II?

What are we to think about that action against the Mormon polygamists in Texas, surrounded in their compound by government agents worried about child abuse? From 400+ Kids Taken From Polygamist Compound:

More than 400 children, mostly girls in pioneer dresses, were swept into state custody from a polygamist sect in what authorities described Monday as the largest child-welfare operation in Texas history.

The dayslong raid on the sprawling compound built by now-jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was sparked by a 16-year-old girl’s call to authorities that she was being abused and that girls as young as 14 and 15 were being forced into marriages with much older men.
Dressed in home-sewn, ankle-length dresses with their hair pinned up in braids, some 133 women left the Yearning for Zion Ranch of their own volition along with the children.

I’m thankful there was no Waco-type bloodletting. I believe the secular arm should indeed be used against religious groups that violate the moral and natural law, as seems to be the case here. And yet, is taking all of these children away from their mothers and father a violation of parental rights and religious liberty?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.meanderinglutheran.blogspot.com Ryan Oakes

    Good question. Yet, the government does this regularly with others who abuse their children. The question still remains: should the government take children away from their parents. In all honest I really struggle with this question. My wife and I just got done watching the movie Gone Baby Gone (which deals with this question). Fantastic movie. We had a great discussion afterwards. I highly recommend it, though the language is graphic.

  • http://www.meanderinglutheran.blogspot.com Ryan Oakes

    Good question. Yet, the government does this regularly with others who abuse their children. The question still remains: should the government take children away from their parents. In all honest I really struggle with this question. My wife and I just got done watching the movie Gone Baby Gone (which deals with this question). Fantastic movie. We had a great discussion afterwards. I highly recommend it, though the language is graphic.

  • Pingback: » Waco II?

  • Pingback: » Waco II?

  • WebMonk

    Abuse is one of the things that very quickly overrules the parental rights and religious practice rights afforded to us. People can’t rape someone and call it a protected action because it’s part of their “religion”. Ditto with parental rights.

    I don’t know what the law in Texas says about marriage age, but I’m sure it doesn’t allow 14 year-olds to marry even IF they want to get married and they have their parents’ permission. That’s rape.

    Laws saying that children can be taken away from their parents for various reasons can certainly be abused and misused, resulting in horrible travesties and torn families. Taking kids away from parents who marry off their 14 year-old daughters to older men isn’t one of those abuses of the law.

  • WebMonk

    Abuse is one of the things that very quickly overrules the parental rights and religious practice rights afforded to us. People can’t rape someone and call it a protected action because it’s part of their “religion”. Ditto with parental rights.

    I don’t know what the law in Texas says about marriage age, but I’m sure it doesn’t allow 14 year-olds to marry even IF they want to get married and they have their parents’ permission. That’s rape.

    Laws saying that children can be taken away from their parents for various reasons can certainly be abused and misused, resulting in horrible travesties and torn families. Taking kids away from parents who marry off their 14 year-old daughters to older men isn’t one of those abuses of the law.

  • Bror Erickson

    This has very little to do with religious freedom. They are allowed to practice there religion, and even though it is against the law, no one is telling them they can’t have more than one wife anymore. In this day and age who cares. Consenting adults are consenting adults.
    But when it is no longer a question of consenting adults, then it becomes a problem the state is right to get involved with. Religious freedom can only go so far.

  • Bror Erickson

    This has very little to do with religious freedom. They are allowed to practice there religion, and even though it is against the law, no one is telling them they can’t have more than one wife anymore. In this day and age who cares. Consenting adults are consenting adults.
    But when it is no longer a question of consenting adults, then it becomes a problem the state is right to get involved with. Religious freedom can only go so far.

  • Joe

    Texas law allows 16 year olds to marry with parental consent and younger people can marry if they get a court order.

  • Joe

    Texas law allows 16 year olds to marry with parental consent and younger people can marry if they get a court order.

  • Carl Vehse

    Not surprisingly, the new article is worded so that one must read down to the sixth paragraph before there is a mention of “Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” and all the way down to the 23rd paragraph of the news article before the word “Mormon” was mentioned.

    Any story about aberrant moral practices by a mainline Christian denomination would have the denomination named within the first paragraph, if not the headline.

  • Carl Vehse

    Not surprisingly, the new article is worded so that one must read down to the sixth paragraph before there is a mention of “Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” and all the way down to the 23rd paragraph of the news article before the word “Mormon” was mentioned.

    Any story about aberrant moral practices by a mainline Christian denomination would have the denomination named within the first paragraph, if not the headline.

  • Philip

    The people in the RLDS colony in West Texas were breaking the law. The “families” broken up in it were illegal and supported by the welfare system. A man is married to one woman, the rest of his wives are given a “spirit wedding”, as an unmarried mother the women in polygamist marriages draws on the welfare system. The welfare system builds the buildings in the colony and funds lots of other frauds. Women and children are viewed as a source of income.

    Girls are routinely married off to older cousins and leading men of the colony denying young women (14 yrs and up) and young men of the colony a satisfying family life. The “marriages” are putting the women into the misery of “an eternal marriage”.

    Maybe now Pinesdale, Montana will be exposed as a polygamist colony and be shut down like the ones in Colorado City, AZ and West Texas.

    One quarter of the graduating class at Corvallis, MT last year had the last name of Jessop. All were from Pinesdale. Jessop is the most common name at Colorado City and the colony in Texas.

    By the way polygamy is still the official policy of the LDS. Although the LDS has repudiated it, the LDS cannot alter Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon. Any good RLDS will make that point.

  • Philip

    The people in the RLDS colony in West Texas were breaking the law. The “families” broken up in it were illegal and supported by the welfare system. A man is married to one woman, the rest of his wives are given a “spirit wedding”, as an unmarried mother the women in polygamist marriages draws on the welfare system. The welfare system builds the buildings in the colony and funds lots of other frauds. Women and children are viewed as a source of income.

    Girls are routinely married off to older cousins and leading men of the colony denying young women (14 yrs and up) and young men of the colony a satisfying family life. The “marriages” are putting the women into the misery of “an eternal marriage”.

    Maybe now Pinesdale, Montana will be exposed as a polygamist colony and be shut down like the ones in Colorado City, AZ and West Texas.

    One quarter of the graduating class at Corvallis, MT last year had the last name of Jessop. All were from Pinesdale. Jessop is the most common name at Colorado City and the colony in Texas.

    By the way polygamy is still the official policy of the LDS. Although the LDS has repudiated it, the LDS cannot alter Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon. Any good RLDS will make that point.

  • The Jones

    No, it’s not a violation of religious liberty. You mentioned before that it violates both moral and natural law, and religious freedom in the United States does not have to throw natural law to the wayside to make room for the religious liberty of crazies who turn the base desires of the flesh into theology.
    Liberty doesn’t mean the freedom to do ANYTHING, the freedom of speech hasn’t meant that you can say anything with no constraints, the freedom to bear arms does not mean that you can have whatever weapon you can afford (although if it does, I want my F-16, and I want it now), and the freedom to associate does not mean that you can freely associate for the purposes of overthrowing the government. There are reasonable constraints on all of these rights. I think calling a polygamist and pedophilic camp in Middle-of-Nowhere Texas a case of religious liberty gives a bad name to the real cases of religious liberty in the world today.

  • The Jones

    No, it’s not a violation of religious liberty. You mentioned before that it violates both moral and natural law, and religious freedom in the United States does not have to throw natural law to the wayside to make room for the religious liberty of crazies who turn the base desires of the flesh into theology.
    Liberty doesn’t mean the freedom to do ANYTHING, the freedom of speech hasn’t meant that you can say anything with no constraints, the freedom to bear arms does not mean that you can have whatever weapon you can afford (although if it does, I want my F-16, and I want it now), and the freedom to associate does not mean that you can freely associate for the purposes of overthrowing the government. There are reasonable constraints on all of these rights. I think calling a polygamist and pedophilic camp in Middle-of-Nowhere Texas a case of religious liberty gives a bad name to the real cases of religious liberty in the world today.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    You can afford an F-16? Wow!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    You can afford an F-16? Wow!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    The Jones:

    I’m having this fund raiser at my church, see…

  • Bryan Lindemood

    The Jones:

    I’m having this fund raiser at my church, see…

  • WebMonk

    I’d take an M1-Abrams, personally!

  • WebMonk

    I’d take an M1-Abrams, personally!

  • Joe

    See you messed it all up tanks and airplanes are not “arms” as the word was used in 1789.

    A law of neutral application will be held as constitutional. The Supremes have already told us that in the 1990′s. Laws against statutory rape will not have to yield.

    The bigger issue that is only tangentially related to this story is how the ban on polygamy can survive the Court’s recent rulings on the right to privacy in the sodomy laws context, the religious freedom argument in favor of polygamy (between adults) and the pressure to legalize domestic partnerships/gay marriage.

    As for the welfare angle, many of the fundy polygamist sects refer to it as “bleeding the beast.” It is okay to take the money under less than honest circumstances because the gov’t will not let them openly engage in plural marriage.

  • Joe

    See you messed it all up tanks and airplanes are not “arms” as the word was used in 1789.

    A law of neutral application will be held as constitutional. The Supremes have already told us that in the 1990′s. Laws against statutory rape will not have to yield.

    The bigger issue that is only tangentially related to this story is how the ban on polygamy can survive the Court’s recent rulings on the right to privacy in the sodomy laws context, the religious freedom argument in favor of polygamy (between adults) and the pressure to legalize domestic partnerships/gay marriage.

    As for the welfare angle, many of the fundy polygamist sects refer to it as “bleeding the beast.” It is okay to take the money under less than honest circumstances because the gov’t will not let them openly engage in plural marriage.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    I agree that natural law is one of the most important categories here. But so is jurisdiction. There are many legal questions where the first question that has to be answered is not “What is right” but “Who has jurisdiction?”

    It would be wrong for you to allow someone in your household to starve to death. This does not mean your next-door-neighbor has the authority to walk into your house day after day to make sure the occupants all get fed enough. It would be wrong for a town in Nebraska to take private property from someone. That doesn’t mean that the Queen of England can jail the members of the town council.

    Many have the idea that it goes without question that a nation has jurisdiction over everything that happens within its borders. But our Supreme Court recognizes that there are all sorts of cases where the states may even be doing something clearly wrong without the Court having jurisdiction to hear the case in the first place. Since William Rehnquist, questions of Federalism have become very prominent, after having been forgotten for generations. How the state should respect the integrity of the family is another question. Even when parents are doing something clearly wrong, we have to ask questions of proper jurisdiction before we can ask what the state should do. The way some talk, I think they see the family as having NO natural jurisdiction. That whatever the state allows them is a privilege rather than a right. I think this is wrong.

    It is also wrong to think that once you take the state out of the equation, there is no solution. There are all kinds of sanctions a community can use that do not involve force.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    I agree that natural law is one of the most important categories here. But so is jurisdiction. There are many legal questions where the first question that has to be answered is not “What is right” but “Who has jurisdiction?”

    It would be wrong for you to allow someone in your household to starve to death. This does not mean your next-door-neighbor has the authority to walk into your house day after day to make sure the occupants all get fed enough. It would be wrong for a town in Nebraska to take private property from someone. That doesn’t mean that the Queen of England can jail the members of the town council.

    Many have the idea that it goes without question that a nation has jurisdiction over everything that happens within its borders. But our Supreme Court recognizes that there are all sorts of cases where the states may even be doing something clearly wrong without the Court having jurisdiction to hear the case in the first place. Since William Rehnquist, questions of Federalism have become very prominent, after having been forgotten for generations. How the state should respect the integrity of the family is another question. Even when parents are doing something clearly wrong, we have to ask questions of proper jurisdiction before we can ask what the state should do. The way some talk, I think they see the family as having NO natural jurisdiction. That whatever the state allows them is a privilege rather than a right. I think this is wrong.

    It is also wrong to think that once you take the state out of the equation, there is no solution. There are all kinds of sanctions a community can use that do not involve force.

  • fw sonnek

    #13 RICK RITCHIE

    I think you are on to something really important here rick and missed as a guiding framework by many conservatives and religious people.

    It is important also in our personal lives, as a point of morality, to not be busybodies involved, uninvited, in the lives of others.

    A careful reading of Dr Martin Luthers explanation of the 8th commandment in the large catechism largely hinges on the issue you raise here.

    It is better to obey than to sacrifice. A constant guiding principle in life is “Is it given to me to be responsible to do something or say something.”

    It is so very hard to do nothing when we see what we perceive to be an injustice or wrong, but often that is what faith demands… to trust that God is active and will provide the proper actor to resolve a problem where it is not given to us to resolve that thing.

  • fw sonnek

    #13 RICK RITCHIE

    I think you are on to something really important here rick and missed as a guiding framework by many conservatives and religious people.

    It is important also in our personal lives, as a point of morality, to not be busybodies involved, uninvited, in the lives of others.

    A careful reading of Dr Martin Luthers explanation of the 8th commandment in the large catechism largely hinges on the issue you raise here.

    It is better to obey than to sacrifice. A constant guiding principle in life is “Is it given to me to be responsible to do something or say something.”

    It is so very hard to do nothing when we see what we perceive to be an injustice or wrong, but often that is what faith demands… to trust that God is active and will provide the proper actor to resolve a problem where it is not given to us to resolve that thing.

  • WebMonk

    Rick, I’m very much in agreement with what you’ve said, but I don’t think it applies to this situation. Rape, even inside a family, is definitely within the jurisdiction of the state to investigate and punish.

    While you make very good points, I don’t think they’re applicable here.

  • WebMonk

    Rick, I’m very much in agreement with what you’ve said, but I don’t think it applies to this situation. Rape, even inside a family, is definitely within the jurisdiction of the state to investigate and punish.

    While you make very good points, I don’t think they’re applicable here.

  • Bror Erickson

    Jursidiction does play a large part here. But I think we also have to realize that this compound has been there for quite sometime. The community at large has been uncomfortable with it for quite a while. And the state had largely ignored it. I’m not sure how a single girl calling on a telephone and not identifying herself leads to such a massive invasion of the compound, but that is what happened. Evidently the state had to wait until they had cause to step in, in order to establish jurisdiction. I guess the larger question is could that telphone call be enough to establish jurisdiction? my guess is the court will allow it.

  • Bror Erickson

    Jursidiction does play a large part here. But I think we also have to realize that this compound has been there for quite sometime. The community at large has been uncomfortable with it for quite a while. And the state had largely ignored it. I’m not sure how a single girl calling on a telephone and not identifying herself leads to such a massive invasion of the compound, but that is what happened. Evidently the state had to wait until they had cause to step in, in order to establish jurisdiction. I guess the larger question is could that telphone call be enough to establish jurisdiction? my guess is the court will allow it.

  • Joe

    Yes, the authority of a state to investigate based on an anonymous phone call has been upheld by the courts. But also, after the phone call the police got other information from some former members to get a second search warrant. The first warrant was limited to finding the girl who called for help.

    Frank wrote:

    “Is it given to me to be responsible to do something or say something.”

    I think is a helpful and important question to ask but I also think one must ask, “If I do nothing is there anyone else who will or can do something?” If the answer to that is no, then you really need to evaluate whether you should become involved. “Its not my place” has the potential turn into little more than an easy excuse to sit ideally by as an evil occurs.

    A person can sin, break the law, fail as a neighbor, etc. just as easily by omission as by commission.

  • Joe

    Yes, the authority of a state to investigate based on an anonymous phone call has been upheld by the courts. But also, after the phone call the police got other information from some former members to get a second search warrant. The first warrant was limited to finding the girl who called for help.

    Frank wrote:

    “Is it given to me to be responsible to do something or say something.”

    I think is a helpful and important question to ask but I also think one must ask, “If I do nothing is there anyone else who will or can do something?” If the answer to that is no, then you really need to evaluate whether you should become involved. “Its not my place” has the potential turn into little more than an easy excuse to sit ideally by as an evil occurs.

    A person can sin, break the law, fail as a neighbor, etc. just as easily by omission as by commission.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X