Let Texas be Texas?

FLDSoverviewRegular GetReligion readers may recall that I am a native Texan, though I must confess of the “prodigal” variety. Still, I speak fluent Texan and my instincts about my native land are pretty good.

So that Los Angeles Times update about the unfolding events in Eldorado caught my attention, the one with the headline that said, “Texas has its own view of polygamists — Unlike Arizona and Utah, it closed a compound forcibly.”

So Texas “has its own view” of polygamy and allegations of statutory rape and/or forced marriages of very young girls? And what might that unique point of view be, precisely? Read the whole story, please, and tell me what you think the X-factor is.

Here’s the top of the story, which I will unpack a bit.

After a polygamist sect took up residence outside this tiny ranch town a few years ago, the library stocked paperback, cassette and hardcover copies of “Under the Banner of Heaven,” an unsparing look at such groups that was suddenly in hot demand.

OK, so the town is full of liberals who loved that book’s fiery view of Mormonism and other forms of violent religious fundamentalism in America? It was the kind of book that makes religious liberals happy. Correct?

The local weekly newspaper devoted stories in nearly every edition to the outsiders. And it posted online audio clips of the sect’s self-styled prophet, Warren Jeffs, ranting in a creepy monotone about the Beatles being covert agents of a “Negro race.”

Ah, more evidence that this town was worried that the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was a bit on the far-out, right-wing side of things. They didn’t even like the Beatles! And there were all of those old-fashioned dresses and hair styles.

The people of Eldorado (pronounced el-doh-RAY-do) took in the sect’s arrival with nervous anticipation — because they understood that, unlike in Utah and Arizona, this would not last long in Texas.

There is the question again. What is the mysterious agent at work here in West Texas, something that is not found in places like Utah and Arizona.

The article continues to tip-toe around this question, all the way through. We do not even get a discussion of the possible answers.

Is this a town full of anti-fundamentalist liberals? Is it a town full of Southern Baptists who read Jon Krakauer books and strive to defend rock ‘n’ roll? Is it a town full of Christian fundamentalists who are hung up about older men having lots of sex with teen-aged girls? You know, the omnipresent moralizers who want to throw water on other people’s fun? Are the streets packed with cowboys who want to enforce their own view of anti-religious justice?

The most likely answer is this is a town full of anti-fundamentalist fundamentalists. Texas is that kind of place, you know.

This story contains all the usual details from the past few days of coverage. The new element is this “it could only happen in Texas” theme.

Texas’ raid contrasts sharply with the approaches of Arizona and Utah, which have looked the other way for decades while the FLDS put underage girls into “spiritual marriages.” The 10,000-member sect was founded in the 1930s by religious leaders who continued practicing polygamy after it was banned by the Mormon Church in 1890.

“God bless Texas,” said Flora Jessop, an activist who escaped the FLDS at age 16. “The state has done in days what Arizona and Utah failed to do in more than a century — protect children.”

I am genuinely confused. So you tell me. What’s the X-factor? Are the states of Utah and Arizona actually pro-polygamy, at the level of police and civic leaders? Sure the Times is not saying that. Surely.

Now, before you click “comment,” let’s be clear about the question I am asking. I want to know what you think the journalists at the Los Angeles Times were trying to say. Stick to the journalism question and don’t go raging off into a discussion of what you think about the FLDS and/or its critics.

Focus: What was the Times trying to say?

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Will Warner

    I’m guessing they’re trying to say something like this: Local and state law enforcement have wide discretion when dealing with prickly religious separatist groups, such as the choice of whether to take the whole sect into custody or just the few families who seem to have participated directly in criminal acts, and Texas law enforcement has chosen to be more aggressive than Utah or Arizona, which we here at the LA Times think was the right call. The bit about the locals may also be hinting that Texas has fewer non-FLDS Mormons than Utah or Arizona, which may heighten suspicion of the ranch, but I can’t imagine why they didn’t point that out more clearly.

  • Will Warner

    Actually, “take into custody” is a mealy-mouthed euphemism, I should have said “arrest.”

  • http://thuledingles.com/ Ted Clayton

    The LA Times staff who wrote this piece (Miguel Bustillo and Nicholas Riccardi) deliberately set out to simultaneously flatter & mock, both TX & AZ/UT.

    While laying-on allusions to a strong, decisive and effective State of Texas, they paint the Eldorado locals as information bottom-feeders who couldn’t evaluate cow manure, if they hadn’t been born & raised in its mythology.

    AZ/UT are supposedly semi-paralyzed with vaguely self-serving anxiety. (They also make claims on Los Angeles’ Colorado River!) Probably cowards. Maybe partly responsible for the mess.

    But then, they provide several chunks of solid information (not news), making clear that conditions in AZ/UT are indeed a bit more nuanced than that, and that actions taken in Texas, though admittedly assertive, are … ‘been there, done that’, in AZ/UT.

    This article by Miguel Bustillo and Nicholas Riccardi (using the term ‘article’ loosely) is the sort of free-association speaking-in-tongues that mental health workers are so fond to hear flowing from the mouths of their clients. It (they hope) reads as something mysterious, a bit exotic, daring even.

    Actually, the Texas raid is a story of intense interest to the readers (of this nationally-ranked newspaper), now in a low-ebb of journalism-worthy, um, news. The LA Times simply must have something up on the hot story, and in the absence of news, they titillated & fluffed a non-news regurgitation.

    Or, as we are wont to say in places such as Eldorado, “If ya can’t dazzle ‘em with brilliance, just baffle ‘em with Bull Pucky!”

  • J.H. Weber

    The Times appears to agree with Sam Harris, whose thesis is that moderation is an inappropriate, enabling response to extremism.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com MattK

    I always think of Texas as a place where men take seriously their responsibility to be men. Do you remember the shootings at the university of Texas shooting from decades ago? What did the police do? They gave a pistol to a man who’s wife or girlfriend was killed and invited him to go up the tower with the polce to kill the sniper. That is the kind of place Texas is. It Texas things get done.

  • http://www.ksvaughan2.byregion.net Karen Vaughan

    I think the writers mean that in Texas the local government was not controlled by FLDS police and judges so that they could come in and take effective action. I think they further believe that Texas is less Mormon and that Mormons in Utah and Colorado have mixed feelings about polygamy that prevented their taking action- basically confusing consensual polygamy in a religiously conservative context with the statutory rape that is taking place in the polygamous religiously conservative context. The Texans also don’t have the legacy of Short Creek to politically tie their hands.

  • Jerry

    I think the LA Times was reflecting a perception or reality about Texas that many of us share. When a friend moved from Texas to California years ago, people there said something like “Why do you want to do a damn fool thing like that”? We return the favor. We remember that is where Kennedy was assassinated and his killer was assassinated while in police custody, where LBJ came from and where GWBush makes his home.

    People might talk about flyover country etc, but when I think of Texas I hear Twilight Zone music playing.

  • http://www.vagantepriest.blogspot.com/ FrGregACCA

    Well…

    Here’s how Utah is apprently handling things these days..

    “Hildale and Colorado City worry over Texas Raid”

    So apparently there IS a Texas “X-factor.” However, I suspect that “X-factor” would also be present in virtually every rural county in the nation, at least those outside of Utah, southern Idaho, or northern Arizona.

    When all is said and done, what it probably comes down to is the following, directed at Jeffs, Jessop, et. al.: “Y’all ain’t from around here, are ya?”

  • http://deakskunk.blogspot.com Robert M. Armstrong

    The Texas X factor is obviously lack of and LDS presence. The LDS church wishes to keep polygamy under the table because the polygamists are an embarrassment. LDS truth claims include the caim other churches have abandoned true doctrine, doctrine which was restored by Joesph Smith. Joseph Smith taught polygamy. Under pressure from the Federal government the church abandoned polygamy. This was clearly a change in doctrine. The existence of Mormons who still teach polygamy points out this fact. Best to keep them out of the public eye. Easier to do this in places like Utah and Arizona, where the LDS church is an institutional presence. In west Texas the LDS church is not an institutional presence. The authorities can act without taking its leaders wishes into consideration

  • Kirk

    Hidy, tmatt.

    I think the L.A. Times remembers that Texas is the state of the Branch Davidians. I haven’t seen any stories comparing the raids on the two groups.

    The people of Schleicher County, Texas had reason to be nervous. (This is a story I haven’t seen in the news yet.) In 2000, the county had a population of 2,935. There were fears that the FLDS community would eclipse that number, and that the fundamentalist Mormons would take over county government. Why don’t the reporters interview residents of Eldorado and tell us what they feared.

  • http://www.rebelliouspastorswife.blogspot.com Lora Horn

    While the tone is not clear regarding the attitude of the writer, I think that he is more making the point that they while the community was not happy about them being there the authorities were cautious and allowed them to have their “religious freedom” despite that until it was clear it became an issue of child abuse and human rights, something that Arizona and Utah have ignored. The phrase at the end, where they talk about the people still running around in their antiquated clothes kind of indicates they are focusing on those issues, not on what the community thinks, and not on crushing the “religion.”

  • http://jettboy.blogspot.com Jettboy

    I think it is a combination of “fundimentalist anti-fundimentalists” with a twist of anti-Mormonism. Texas is to me the Baptist Utah.

    Robert M. Armstrong might not be that far from the truth, if his spin is in the negative. Mormons have deep memories and they still tell stories of what the Federal government did to their ancestors. Just busting into private religious affairs with guns blazing is too close for comfort to what many in the Mormon community considers un-Constitutional behavior. You have a legal problem then you go after the perpetrators as individuals, not against groups. Otherwise you go from law enforcement to jack-boot bigots.

  • Mina

    I think they may indeed be saying that the local police, judiciary, and civic leaders in Utah and Arizona have been pro-FLDS — if not actual members of the community. Several FLDS police officers and a judge (Walter Steed, who signed commitment orders for husbands who wanted their wives committed to mental institutions, allegedly to punish them) were (finally) forced out of thier jobs a couple of years ago. The mayors of Colorado City have all been FLDS members with multiple wives. The city councilmembers have all been FLDS. These officials had gone unchallenged for decades, and during that time they certainly had the power to subvert the law to protect their way of life (and every reason to do so, since their belief was that the prophet’s teachings trumps any laws of “the beast” — government). For more detail, see this link: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/09/21/polyg.media/index.html

    Also, this LAT article from two years ago (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-polygamyenclave-13may1206,0,6534347,full.story) provides more background, and perhaps some insight, on why these reporters see a predictable difference in the way Texas would deal with this group, especially when residents watched them use deception to build a secured compound in their town (when buying the land, the FLDS said it would be used only as a hunting retreat).

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  • Dale

    I think this a prime example of writing that promises more than it delivers. Obviously the reporters have some theme about Texas in mind, but it never makes a sufficient appearance to be clearly recognizable. Either a more explicit statement about Texan culture was edited out, or they got too clever with what they were trying to imply.

    I’d suggest that there’s an unexpressed premise that Texans lack subtlety, that they are given to grand gestures. Thus, Texan governmental authorities remove 400 children from parental custody in a single huge police raid, rather than proceed with a more cautious, incremental prosecution of individual offenders. Texans are into “big”; Arizona and Utah, not so much. Texas is the proverbial bull in a china shop.

  • Dale

    People might talk about flyover country etc, but when I think of Texas I hear Twilight Zone music playing.

    But when you hear that music, you’re in the Bay Area. Hmmm.

  • http://www.msu.edu/~chasech5/Site/Introduction.html Christopher Chase

    I think Robert Armstrong and Jettboy are on the right track here. The LA Times story is suggesting that there are deep divisions between TX, AZ and UT, and that the first protects “their” women while the second are too milquetoast to do so. There are several X-factors here. One is operational. While the TX compound (which is the right word to use, since its a sealed community with surveillance towers), is clearly wholly within TX, the FLDS communities in AZ and UT are on the borders, which would require both states to coordinate carefully in a massive raid, possibly with the Feds to avoid a Waco/Ruby Ridge type situation with many children present. Second, there strong LDS presences in both AZ and UT which makes the situation more historically complicated. Finally, the libertarian character of AZ in particular suggests an individual rather than a collective approach towards law enforcement. Of these three, only the second was obliquely discussed in the article, and that is a shame. If reporters aren’t well-enough versed in 19th century American religious history to contextualize the LDS, how are they to understand the relationship of FLDS to the wider communities they’ve settled in?

  • Asinus Gravis

    It is that stuff about “spiritual marriage” that has me puzzled.

    Is that something like Platonic love? Is it more like Mary and the Holy Spirit? Or perhaps like Jesus and Mary Magdalene? The “spiritual” part seems to suggest to an ex-Baptist that there is nothing “material” or “physical” about it–but that doesn’t seem to fit the claims about pregnant young teens in this story. Perhaps “spiritual marriage” means that the local religious group considers them married, but the relationship is not a legally recognized marriage.

    The latter case would make it like many of the “marriages” in colonial Virginia among Baptists, Presbyterians, Quakers and other non-Anglicans. There only those married by an Anglican priest were legally married. So those outside religious groups performed something like what is called “civil unions” for their members who were not legally married but who lived together as if man and wife.

  • R. N. Wightman

    I think that there are five factors in play here:

    1. The reporters are generally ignorant of the LDS faith, and its divisions and differences. A fundamentalist is a fundamentalist, regardless of his religion; this makes him (a redundancy) “a right-wing fundamentalist,” since liberal fundamentalists go by the name of “pundit.” The fear that the county government may have been taken over by members of the FLDS sect seems to be a well-founded one which the writers either chose not to see or chose not to report. This would have set the story into the more complex context of the AZ/UT difficulties given above, and required more restraint, solid journalism, and dare we say it, “work” on the part of the reporters.

    2. The reporters are subconsciously operating out of the omnipresent envy that California has that Texas remains Texas; i.e. that Texas and Texans refuse to acknowledge California as their “moral mommy”, pardon, “moral compass.” Thus the Texan way of life is a perceived threat to all “correct-thinking civilized people.” After all, with the exception of Austin and a few “enlightened” neighbourhoods in the major cities, Texas is made up of small towns filled with ‘bitterly anti-immigrant yokels who tote both Bible and rifle, while clinging to outmoded concepts such as the right to disagree with one’s neighbour on almost any subject and the respect of that neighbour’s right to his own opinion regardless.’

    3. The writers, wishing to buy into the “Everybody knows…” fallacy which so many Californians share, found that it did not fit with the facts on hand, so they simply chose to ignore the disconnect and hoped others would too. After all, “Everybody knows….” about Texas. Both assertions would be assumed to be true by the LAT’s enlightened readership, rather like two ships not passing in the night. “Nothing to see here, folks, move along, move along.”

    4. The writers display a shocking ignorance of the primary reality of all small town life, that the first duty of a newcomer is to “fit in,” (or make himself inconspicuous and innocuous to the natives). This is true from Maine to California. The criteria for “fitting in” may be drastically different in terms of political, religious, racial, sexual, social outlook, but the iron-clad law of small towns is that you fit in or you move on. “Y’all ain’t from around here, are ya?” is a question asked (with suitable regional dialect) of every newcomer, and it takes time to “fit in.” I suspect that an LDS family dropped onto the shores of Venice Beach would be asked the same thing by the shirtless young men whizzing by on their roller blades, and with the same sense of bewilderment (wanting to know if this family intends to stay and thereby become a “threat” to the “local way of life”).

    5. And finally, it is not so much that the memories of the various groups involved (LA reporters, FDLS members, local Texans, Texans in general- who remember Kennedy, the Tower Shootings, and Waco, with a horror unremarked by their superior coastal cousins-, and the American people as a whole) have such long memories, as they have selective memories and convenient amnesia. Texas: the place where violent things happen. California: the place of liberal tolerance (where a gay Carmel 9th-grader was shot dead by a classmate in the middle of a biology lab). We want our stereotypes, and we really don’t want the complexity of the facts messing with them, at least the “we” who control what is seen as “fit to print” is concerned. The LAT reporters were just “following orders,” or at least the zeitgeist of southern Californian liberalism. Unfortunately for the writers, there are people, yes, even here in Texas who are capable of understanding sophisticated and even conflicting hard data with nuanced (and even “tentative”) interpretation, and some of us read (and believe) our Bibles and have a rifle or two in the (locked) gun cabinet. We are not bitter nor anti-immigrant nor racist, but we do have an aversion to condescension and mockery posing as “news.”

    The article is not so much a “news story” as it is an exercise in “confusement and subtile trickeration” in order to confirm the southern Californian prejudices, pardon, “perceptions” -I had forgotten momentarily that, by definition, liberals cannot be “prejudiced”; that is a term properly applied only to those who disagree with them.

    And so, I will say to Messrs. Bustillo and Riccardi, “Bless your hearts!” Texans will know what I mean in that affectionate send-off.

  • http://ontheotherfoot.blogspot.com Joel

    It seems to me that the difference is between the respective self-images of Texas and Utah. (I suspect Arizona is being lumped in with Utah simply because of the Arizona Strip colonies.)

    Texas (speaking as a non-Texan) seems to have a fierce view of itself as a political entity unto itself. I get the impression they’re only a state because they haven’t bothered to declare their independence yet. Because of that, while individualism is respected in general, religion isn’t regarded as anything more than just another cultural factor. Sort of like the rest of America, I suppose.

    Utah, on the other hand, is like the Holy Land. Everything centers around religion, and actions that are taken for religious reasons aren’t judged the same way as things done for other reasons.

    Utah has kind of a love-hate relationship with the various sects that have sprung up. On the one hand, nobody detests polygamists more than the LDS Church. At the same time, Utahns are acutely aware that their state was created as an escape from persecution due to weird religious practices, which makes them reluctant to approve of persecuting anyone else.

    Does that make sense?

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    JOEL:

    That last paragraph is really well stated.

    But Utah is also a pretty conservative place. Aren’t people in favor of enforcing the own laws?

  • Kirk

    I’ve read through the LAT story a few more times since my last post.

    I want to reiterate the Waco connection. I think that Texas–my home state, by the way–is still the state of Waco raids back in 1993.

    The people–and, to a greater extent, the powers that be–won’t tolerate religious cults. While religion is not unimportant in Texas, Texans are highly suspicious of people who hold to beliefs outside a certain spectrum of “orthodoxy.” From what I can tell, mainstream Mormons have yet to reach a level of acceptance within that spectrum, much less the FLDS.

    Secondly, I would assert that the Texas state government has maintained a certain level of heavy-handedness that may be unknown in other states. Thus, the bold move of the Texas Rangers and other law enforcement agencies is not surprising. This could explain why the populace was “nervous” when the group arrived. I can tell you from professional experience that our Child Protective Services agency has a particularly intolerant attitude. Thus, I would not be surprised to find that law enforcement agencies had drawn up plans to deal with the YFZ Ranch bunch in ways that would avoid a repeat of Mt. Carmel.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    KIRK:

    What did the local or even state authorities have to do with the decisions and strategies of the Waco showdown? I honestly do not remember the specifics, other than the fact that key decisions came from the national level.

    So you could argue that the Texans took the actions they did, this time, to avoid the kind of ultimately deadly results with the Branch Davidians.

    One more point: Were there sources INSIDE the Davidian compound that cooperated with the police?

  • http://ontheotherfoot.blogspot.com Joel

    But Utah is also a pretty conservative place. Aren’t people in favor of enforcing the own laws?

    I think they’re leery of any laws enforced against religious behavior, because they’ve seen the same tactic used against them by gentiles. Religious freedom simply means more to Mormons than to other American religious groups.

    While they dislike the polygamists (and especially the FLDS), they also identify with them against a wider anti-Mormon world. Then, too, they’ve gotten kind of used to living alongside polygamists in a live-and-let-live arrangement. Not all the polygamists are hidden away in “compounds.” Some of them simply live their own lives in populated areas.

    (By way of disclaimer, I’ve never lived in Utah. I do live in a heavily Mormon-populated area, so I have a fair amount of contact with LDS, but what I spout here is just from outside observation.)

  • http://sccos.blogspot.com KKairos

    Sounds like it’s got a couple of basic messages:

    1) “Don’t mess with Texas”
    2) More seriously it sounds like the writers of the article may have been trying to highlight two somewhat contrasting but worth a listen sort of concerns: first, that other states have not done enough to counteract the abuses of sects like the FLDS, particularly abuses against its children. Second, the concern that Texas may have indeed done a little bit too much too quickly, acting in a way that was immediately productive but in the larger picture perhaps less so.

    Those were the concerns that seemed to be highlighted in the article, so I’m going to suggest the article was trying to highlight these concerns?

  • Paul

    Utah has kind of a love-hate relationship with the various sects that have sprung up. On the one hand, nobody detests polygamists more than the LDS Church. At the same time, Utahns are acutely aware that their state was created as an escape from persecution due to weird religious practices, which makes them reluctant to approve of persecuting anyone else.

    I think they’re leery of any laws enforced against religious behavior, because they’ve seen the same tactic used against them by gentiles. Religious freedom simply means more to Mormons than to other American religious groups.

    While they dislike the polygamists (and especially the FLDS), they also identify with them against a wider anti-Mormon world. Then, too, they’ve gotten kind of used to living alongside polygamists in a live-and-let-live arrangement. Not all the polygamists are hidden away in “compounds.” Some of them simply live their own lives in populated areas.

    Joel has made some excellent observations here.

    Although I do not presently reside in Utah, I am an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “mainstream” Mormon church).

    I have no sympathy for the beliefs or practices of polygamists. However, the raid on the FLDS in Texas is worrisome to me. The actions of the authorities in this case appear unnecessarily heavy-handed.

    Also worrisome is how some opponents of the LDS church have lumped us in with the polygamists. I can easily imagine that the same tactics used against the FLDS could be turned against us. Indeed, many of the more lurid tales told about the FLDS remind me of the slanders against the 19th-century LDS.

    The LDS church has remained neutral in the controversy between the state of Texas and the FLDS. Thus far, the only official comment from Salt Lake has been an attempt to distinguish our church from the FLDS (news release). Time will tell whether the attempt will be successful.

    I oppose polygamy, child abuse, forced marriages, welfare fraud, and all such crimes. If the FLDS are convicted of those charges in a court, then punish them accordingly. Until then, however, I wish for them the same presumption of innocence that I would claim for myself.

  • Kirk

    tmatt,

    I realize that the ultimate approval for the Waco raid was made at the federal level (the raid took place at the very beginning of the Clinton administration, at a time when the office of attorney general was technically vacant), but there was some involvement from local law enforcement agencies. Large-scale raids do not go forward without the approval and participation of the local United States Attorney. who could in some sense be considered a local authority. Furthermore, according to reports, an ATF agent had infiltrated the group.

    Nevertheless, I believe the fact that the two events occurred in Texas to be more than coincidental.

    Now, as you may recall, many people were critical (rightly, I think) of the government’s tactics in the Waco raid and seige. (I was in Waco at the time, attending our alma mater.) Other than the leader and a few of his henchmen, the Branch Davidians were not, individually, evil or dangerous people. They were school teachers and common folks–some of them immigrants–who had fallen under the spell of a brilliant but disturbed man. My point is that the BATF was wrong to raid the Davidian complex as they did, instead of arresting Koresh peaceably in another manner.

    Turning to the recent unpleasantness in Eldorado, it is a certainly good thing that this raid was carried out without bloodshed or shots fired, but it has yet to be seen whether the government’s actions were factually warranted or legally justified. Or, more importantly, whether the court of public opinion will judge the actions to have been warranted and justified. Seriously–removing 400 children based on the unconfirmed outcry of one child–a child they haven’t even located–are you kidding me?? The FLDS may yet receive more sympathy than reproach.

  • Lauren

    After all, with the exception of Austin and a few “enlightened” neighbourhoods in the major cities, Texas is made up of small towns filled with ‘bitterly anti-immigrant yokels who tote both Bible and rifle, while clinging to outmoded concepts such as the right to disagree with one’s neighbour on almost any subject and the respect of that neighbour’s right to his own opinion regardless.’

    Perhaps this was true 20 years ago… in the deep south. You REALLY need to look at the numbers that came in during the Texas primary and the 2006 midterms. Dallas has a lesbian Latina sheriff and will be a blue city within a decade. The demographics of TX towns don’t really leave space for white supremacy.

    The X factor is: TX law enforcement knew what was coming. They waited until they had solid probable cause. They acted decisively because they didn’t have to fear a negative response from the community they serve. LDS and FLDS voters did not and will not determine who is Commissioner, Sheriff or Mayor. There are no sympathizers positioned in local government to pull strings or do PR work.

    TX has a massive CPS infastructure. Chicken pox or no, the system can process 400 more kids if given a bit of time. There’s money for the legal fight. There are foster homes not touched by FLDS ideas.

    Baptists can be smug assholes, but they’re bra-burners compared to the FLDS.

  • Rathje

    Reading John Krakauer huh?

    It always amuses me when Evangelical counter-cult ministers try to invoke “Under the Banner of Heaven” against the Mormons.

    They seem blissfully unaware that Krakauer’s central thesis was that ALL religions suck, and not just the Mormons.

  • Jerry

    PBS Religion and Ethnics Newsweekly had an interview with a couple of women in a polygamous marriage in a group not connected with the FLDS. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week1132/profile.html

  • Charming Billy

    Baptists can be smug assholes, but they’re bra-burners compared to the FLDS.

    Spoken like a true Texan.

    I think the above quotation is the answer to your question, tmatt. This is what the LA Times journalists were trying to say.

  • Kirk