Testing the intersection of religious liberty and child protection, the state of Texas removed over 460 children from a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in April, 2008.
Today, an appeals court said the state of Texas was in error given that Texas law requires imminent danger as a test for removal. The authorities appealed to the “pervasive belief system” of the cult as one reason to take all children. The court indicated that the beliefs of the cult was insufficient basis for imminent danger.
While I have no sympathy for the doctrines or practices of this group, I do think an appeal to the beliefs of the cult as a prime foundation for removal could set a ambiguous precedent for how child welfare professionals regard religious beliefs. There are less dramatic actions that can be taken and indeed probably should be taken to prevent harm to children.