Court says Texas had no right to keep children

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.

The memorandum is here…

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.

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  • John Weaver

    Yea, this is a difficult case. CPS agencies hostility to fundamentalist groups, particularly Mormons and evangelical Christians, is well known and is not just the product of evangelical propaganda (I think David Hodges did a study that said evangelicals were 400% more likely to be discriminated against by social workers than non-evangelicals). On the other hand, indoctrination practices within evangelical and Mormon frameworks certainly are cause for concern. Still, i’d rather trust parents to take care of kids than the government any day.

    Best wishes,

    John Weaver

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    I too find this troubling.

    To those who might be tempted to be happy that the state is cracking down on some out-of-control conservative religion, I ask this:

    Could a state that finds a cult’s “pervasive belief system” to be adequate cause to take children from their parents not also find the “pervasive belief system” of an Wiccan lesbian to also be adequate cause?

    If it comes down to “I don’t like your religious beliefs or your traditions”, then we know this is ready for abuse. After all, “My religion and my tradition deserve protection by the state and yours can be ignored” is at the very heart of anti-gay marriage laws.

    This is, to my way of thinking, a wholesale and arrogant abuse of religious beliefs by the state.

    I can see the need to go in as a response to a call (which they now think was bogus). And I can see the need to determine whether there had been child abuse. And I can see the need to protect any teenage girls that were on the verge of being married off to some old goat.

    But I cannot fathom how this justifies taking children from their parents.

  • Boo

    But I cannot fathom how this justifies taking children from their parents.

    Well, if there’s pregnant 15 year olds walking around, or ones they can determine have already given birth, that’s pretty much the case right there.

    If you have a chance, read Carolyn Jessop’s Escape. It’s probably a little biased, but there’s a lot of just awful awful stuff going on with that group. Pulling the entire thing up by the root is realistically the only way they’re going to be able to deal with it.

    Of course if they can’t make a case it’ll just make the group cohesion that much stronger.

  • J. James

    Christians have are right to feel ancy about this. For a long time they have been able to hide behind the undue respect that Americans show toward someone’s religious beliefs and practices. “It’s rude to criticize someone’s religion”, the common wisdom goes.

    But abusing and raping little girls is part of the religion of the FLDS.

    What is an evangelical Christian to do? If the FLDS’s religion is fair game, then so is anyone’s. That’s why so many Christians have been tight-lipped about the abuse and rape of little girls of the FLDS. This moral issue isn’t quite so black-and-white for evangelical Christians. They see shades of gray here.

    I, for one, look forward to the day when anyone’s religion can be pilloried, mocked, and ridiculed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I’d like to see a Blasphemy cable channel. That day is coming.


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