New Sherwood

The Raid

COYOTE HILL, CALIFORNIA – One man was killed and three were seriously injured while resisting the removal of more than 150 children from a fundamentalist religious compound on Thursday morning. Law enforcement officers moved swiftly in a pre-dawn raid intended to shield at-risk children from further abuse.

The St. Isidore Community, an extreme Roman Catholic group that shuns mainstream culture, is located in a remote valley in the mountains of northern California.

The authoritarian sect is alleged to be in violation of numerous state laws, including child-labor laws, vaccination requirements, a 2008 law prohibiting corporal punishment, the 2010 California Homeschooling Act, and last year’s legislation which limits the kind and number of firearms per household.

Although a few armed men attempted to interfere with the raid, resulting in one fatality, the community seemed to cooperate once it became clear that resistance would likely result in more bloodshed. The deceased man is said to be the father of the first six children removed from the compound.

Child Protective Services received an anonymous call on Monday from inside the compound. The caller claimed that he was 14 years old and was forced to milk cows every morning at 5:30am without pay.

He also complained that he was not allowed to attend the local public school which is now the right of every child in California over the age of 12.

When questioned by the CPS worker, he further admitted that he was not allowed to watch television, listen to hip-hop music, play video games, have a Facebook or MySpace site, cuss, date girls, smoke pot, or wear his pants down around his underwear.

When asked if he had received California’s mandated vaccinations – now up to seventy-five in number – he said that he didn’t know anything about that.

In response to a question about corporal punishment in the community, the caller revealed that just the other day he had witnessed his little brother reduced to tears while receiving five swats on the bottom merely for disobedience. The sect has been rumored for years to insist on strict, blind obedience from its children.

Authorities have received numerous complaints about the ultra-conservative group in the past, although it was not clear whether any laws had been broken. Members of the community are said to exhibit cult-like characteristics indicating a degree of brainwashing, mind-control, and religious fanaticism.

All of the women and girls dress in long-skirts or jumpers, which is perhaps the most visible example of the oppressive restrictions imposed by the community’s patriarchs.

For the most part the wives seem to be frightened into submitting to their husbands. Although neighbors claim to have witnessed, on rare occasions, the wives of the community chastising their husbands in public, they seem certain that the wives are punished severely at home for the offense.

Strict fasting is enforced by the priests of the community on all Fridays of the year, as well as during the weeks preceding their main religious celebrations, leading many to wonder whether the children are properly nourished.

The men are said to be stockpiling weapons with capabilities far exceeding their legitimate need for controlling the squirrel and gopher populations.

The county sheriff will be hosting a press conference on Tuesday to discuss the results of this ongoing investigation.

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April 21, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

7 Comments »

  1. Jeff:

    Yow! That’s just a little too close to home…

    I’ll have to share my “Catholic Commune” experience pretty soon. Yup…you guessed it. We lived communally with a couple of other Traditional Catholic families for nearly three years. You gave a pretty clear picture of what our “round-up” would’ve looked like, even accurately describing the reactions of our neighbors as they observed our “nutty” lifestyle. They called us “Amish Catholics,” though we only had 15 children in our little community, not 150!

    Like

    Comment by Kimberly | April 21, 2008 | Reply

  2. Jeff, the only reason that’s not funnier is that it’s too close to home. But I have to laugh at the 14 year old boy complaining that “he was not allowed to watch television, listen to hip-hop music, play video games, have a Facebook or MySpace site, cuss, date girls, smoke pot, or wear his pants down around his underwear.” Being a secondary teacher I can tell you that this describes easily 80% of public school junior high and high school boys today.

    Like

    Comment by Mike | April 21, 2008 | Reply

  3. +JMJ+

    Wait a minute! You mean this isn’t some parody? =(

    Good grief! A father of six children had to die because a surly teenager wanted to wear his trousers down around his underwear? Is human life so cheap?

    Like

    Comment by Enbrethiliel | April 22, 2008 | Reply

  4. Kimberly: I’d love to hear your Amish Catholic story. Sounds fascinating.

    Mike: I don’t doubt that at all.

    Enbrethiliel: No, no, the story is a parody and totally fictional … but it is believable. I had in mind recent news stories about the raid on an FLDS community (a group of polygamous Mormons) in Texas in which over 400 children were placed into state custody based on one phone call that is turning out to have been a criminal hoax. The stories seem to focus on the same kinds of particulars in order to create an impression. And still, although the call was likely a hoax perpetrated by a woman in Colorado with no connection to the group, the children are being separated from their mothers and moved into foster care. It’s an incredible precedent and very unsettling.

    Like

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | April 22, 2008 | Reply

  5. I’m rethinking that property in your neighborhood! :)

    Like

    Comment by The Western Confucian | April 22, 2008 | Reply

  6. California has a law against corporal punishment? I thought that was defeated.

    Like

    Comment by Lydia | April 24, 2008 | Reply

  7. Hello Lydia,

    Yes, the bill was defeated – but it was re-introduced this year with modifications and is presently making its way through committees.

    Just to be crystal clear:

    1. California does not (yet) have a law against corporal punishment.

    2. There is no “2010 Homeschooling Act” (it’s still 2008).

    3. California does not (yet) give every child over the age of 12 the right to attend public schools.

    4. California does not (yet) limit the number of firearms per household or prohibit weapons capable of killing anything larger than squirrels or gophers.

    5. California only requires 27 vaccinations (if you include the boosters) before the age of 5, not 75, and exemptions are still available.

    6. So far as I know it is not a crime (yet) in California for parents to require their children to do some regular farm chores without pay.

    The setting for the parody was intended to be just a few years into the future, maybe 2012 or 2015.

    Like

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | April 24, 2008 | Reply


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