New Sherwood

This is justice?

Damn, this whole thing just reeks. Why are these people presumed guilty until proven innocent? Yes, there were pregnant teenage girls on the FLDS ranch. There are pregnant teenage girls in every city, but their families – if they have any – are not ripped apart by the state in this way. Maybe the difference is that ordinary teenage mothers don’t have enough family to matter. Maybe the difference is that the FLDS teens are “married”, and the state of Texas prefers its teenage mothers free and single. Unless Texas comes up with some evidence of real abuse, this is proving to be nothing but raw persecution of a religious group because they dare to shelter their children from the degradations of modern culture.

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April 22, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

19 Comments »

  1. You don’t think that forcing one’s teenage daughter into a polygamous “marriage” with a 50 year old man constitutes child abuse?

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    Comment by Chris | April 22, 2008 | Reply

  2. “You don’t think that forcing one’s teenage daughter into a polygamous ‘marriage’ with a 50 year old man constitutes child abuse?”


    Yes, I do, but the situation is not without nuances. “Teenage” could mean anything from 13 to 19. “Force” could mean physical coercion with threats of violence, or merely arranging a marriage in a system everyone accepts.

    If a man is literally forcing his teenage daughter to marry – and to consummate the marriage – he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But so far as I know the state of Texas hasn’t brought charges against anyone for this. Apparently they can’t find any FLDS women to cooperate.

    If a man is arranging his 16 or 17 year old daughter to marry, with his daughter’s trust and consent, and in the context of a culture that accepts this arrangement, he ought to be left entirely alone.

    Until 2005 the legal age for entering into marriage in Texas was 14. It was raised to 16, some believe, with the FLDS specifically in mind.

    It is doubtful that many of the young women, whatever their ages, were literally forced to marry. Being raised in this environment, it is probable that most expect their marriages to be arranged and do not actively oppose the system in which they find themselves. An “arranged marriage” does not have to mean a marriage without consent.

    In any case prosecuting abusers should not involve this kind of a witch hunt. The state could take my children away – and yours – with the same flimsy pretext they have used in this case. Removing 400 children from their homes and placing them in state custody, on the basis of one allegation that turns out to have been a hoax, reeks of an entirely different motive. Where’s the due process here?

    Polygamy, of course, is against the divine and natural law. But almost everyone in America condones what amounts to polygamy (in the form of serial monogamy) today. Most condone what would be considered polygamy if not for the absence of marriage certificates. If we’re going to go after polygamy, we need to back up and start with those who copulate and procreate with multiple partners but never bother to marry in the first place.

    As it is, the children and their mothers are being punished for the unproven crimes of their fathers. Again – if the news reports are to be believed – NO family in Texas is safe from being torn apart by the government on the basis of one false allegation. It’s hard to stand up for a wacky polygamous cult like the FLDS, but if we’re not paying attention we could be well be next.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | April 22, 2008 | Reply

  3. Another thing to consider: the state of Texas supposedly had an informant in the FLDS community for four years. And yet, the pretext for this raid was NOT information provided by their informant, but a fraudulent call from a woman in another state. Surreal. Apparently the “informant” inside the actual compound had no criminal activity to report.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | April 22, 2008 | Reply

  4. Amen. Thank you for posting this.

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

  5. Jeff-I haven’t read the coverage in depth, but I think I am with you on this.

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    Comment by Jim Curley | April 23, 2008 | Reply

  6. “As it is, the children and their mothers are being punished for the unproven crimes of their fathers.”

    That’s a very, very good point, and I no longer know exactly what to think about this raid.

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    Comment by Dale Price | April 23, 2008 | Reply

  7. In some states pregnancy alone emancipates minors… I have a serious problem with taking 16 year old pregnant women into child and family services custody in a situation like this.

    The time will come when that Catholic family with 6+ kids and not a lot of material wealth is going to be challenged by the state on the grounds that they are not wealthy and still having children above and beyond the acceptable 1.8 (in a decision influenced by their beliefs about natural laws and the ends of marriage confirmed by their faith)…

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    Comment by asimplesinner | April 23, 2008 | Reply

  8. I hold no brief for the polygamist cults. They are simply systems for getting middle-aged men sexual access to 15-year-old girls. That’s as sick as I care to think about. Also consider what they have to do with all the 15-16-year-old boys to get them out of the way. They’re sent out to work (usually at manual labor) outside the colony and send all their money back to their family and the cult itself.

    That said, why was it considered necessary to remove the children from their mothers? Take every one of the men out if you want, but leave the victims (women and children) alone. Since most of these families are supported by the state anyway, through AFDC and food stamps, the men aren’t serving any practical purpose.

    One really weird thing about all this is finding out that many of the polygamists are related to my wife. Look up Ervil Lebaron sometime. He’s my wife’s 5th cousin. One sick b@57!#|) too.

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    Comment by Danby | April 23, 2008 | Reply

  9. Danby interesting insight – much of which I find agreeable.

    Early on out of college I rented a room from a civil servant who worked for our state’s family services department as a computer guru of some sort. (I never totally understood his job, but he was my landlord, not my pal!…) He came home one day complaining of a problem he as a programmer-guru had been called to deal with. Apparently one state employee had to have child support removed from his check to support dependents but a difficulty had arisen… The code in place for such programs only was able to accomadate 20 entries. This son-ova-pup had twenty-four dependents… under 18!

    Big jerk that I am, I was sort of of the thinking that after he knocked up the third, fourth or fifth woman with his sixth, seventh, or eighth child he could not afford… we as a state would have done better to stop the damage, lock him up and put them all on wellfare… Well America being what it is, rights being what they are, and my opinion not being law… these dummies that laid him down (and dear Lord they must have been created infinately stupid and/or gullable) got the situation they got.

    The moral of my story being, even in more secular realms where faith systems play no roles people can get involved with really stupid things with really stupid men. It might just be preservation on my part, but no matter how obviously stupid/deluded/duped/manipulated these women are… we can’t ask the state to come in and “fix” things.

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    Comment by asimplesinner | April 23, 2008 | Reply

  10. Has anybody seen any recent story as to what is happening to these kids? The last story I saw said they were going to hold hearings over several weeks, and some child psychologist was recommending against putting them into the regular foster-care system. Is there any possibility that with the hearings they will be returned to their mothers, at least?

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    Comment by Lydia | April 25, 2008 | Reply

  11. Lydia, they began moving the children into foster care yesterday:

    “Scores of children boarded buses stocked with food and bottled water Tuesday at the San Angelo Coliseum and began journeys that will scatter the former Schleicher County residents to every corner of the state.

    Following an order signed by District Judge Barbara Walther, the state’s Child Protective Services agency removed about 100 of the 437 children taken this month from the YFZ Ranch northeast of Eldorado to children’s shelters and group homes as far-flung as Amarillo and Houston.

    The move alarmed at least some of the children’s attorneys, who said they received no word of the order and had not been told where their court-appointed clients were headed.

    ‘We are not being told anything,’ said Genie Wright, a San Antonio attorney representing a 3-year-old girl who has a 1-year-old brother. ‘What I’m trying to find out, and what no one is telling me, is whether they have been separated’ from their mother.

    The children who were moved comprised boys and girls ages 5 to 17, said CPS spokeswoman Shari Pulliam.”

    More news at this site.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | April 25, 2008 | Reply

  12. Shoot. I had hoped from the talk in the earlier story about hearings in the next few weeks that they were actually going to start treating these people as individuals rather than as animals to be herded–asking specific questions on a case by case basis about whether there was any reason why these children should continue to be separated from their mothers. But no.

    I don’t fully understand why this situation is being treated so differently from most CPS cases. Don’t get me wrong: I hold no brief for CPS workers. I think they are mostly brainwashed liberals who are looking to cause trouble for families, and especially for fathers and for Christians. But there is usually at least the need for an individualized hearing for each child separately before the child can be taken away. The judge in this FLDS case has just been handing out blanket removal and moving orders for the children without any individual consideration, which is bizarre. 400 children? It’s beyond thought.

    I know people who were a little naive and as a result went through brief hell with CPS, but at least they had their day in court, had a chance to hire their own lawyer, got a sensible judge and sensible attorney at litem, and it all turned out well, thank God.

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    Comment by Lydia | April 25, 2008 | Reply

  13. Me too, Lydia. More from GoSanAngelo:

    “The Third Court of Appeals has decided to hear arguments over whether the state of Texas can place children from the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints currently in its custody into foster care without giving each of their families the opportunity to defend themselves in court, according to a press release.

    The decision comes after Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), the leading provider of legal aid in Texas, filed a request with the court to order state District Judge Barbara Walther to hold hearings at which each family would be able to respond to allegations of abuse. TRLA is arguing that the children should not be sent to various locations throughout the state until the court decides whether these hearings should take place.

    ‘These families have the right to have their voices heard in the legal process,’ said TRLA attorney Robert Doggett. ‘The idea that these children can be taken away without giving their families the opportunity to address allegations and fight to stay together is absurd.’

    The appeals court will conduct a hearing at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Austin. Although the state of Texas has said that all of the FLDS children would be placed into foster care by the end of the week, these developments make it unclear as to whether that will still occur. More than 100 of the children were moved from the San Angelo Fairgrounds to facilities across Texas on Tuesday.”

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | April 25, 2008 | Reply

  14. From today’s Salt Lake City Tribune:

    “An FLDS woman choked back tears today as she described how her 13-month-old baby was taken from her at the San Angelo Coliseum. The woman, who identified herself as Velvet, 31, was among 64 women who left the coliseum, some to go stay with their babies of 12 months and younger. Velvet said she does not know where her child is tonight. ‘She’s still nursing. She’s never had a bottle before. I need her back,’ Velvet said. Today’s exodus included the women and 63 children. Seventeen women with babies 12 months and under were to be taken to a care facility with their children.”

    “… another woman, Ruth, who spoke at the gate to the ranch, said all her children – twins just over 12 months old, and a 2- and 4-year-old – were taken away. Ruth and Velvet also said that CPS workers told them that if they chose to return to the ranch, they would not see their children again. Earlier today, CPS spokesman Darrell Azar denied those allegations, saying the separations had no bearing on the outcome of the case. Velvet said she returned to the ranch because she doesn’t trust the CPS, claiming workers had lied to her all along.

    CPS attorney Gary Banks told the judge Wednesday that siblings would be kept together. But Ruth, 34, said her twins were not being placed with the older children. She also said that when the CPS workers took the children, the older ones cried, saying, ‘Mother, Mother, don’t let them take us away, we want to be with you.’ Asked what it was like to be back on the ranch without her children, Ruth said, ‘I can’t even imagine life without my children. It’s very emotional to come here and not have them with me.'”

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | April 25, 2008 | Reply

  15. Among the remarkably few men and women my age or thereabouts (31) that I count as friends… The ones who have actually not wholly embraced sterility and infertility… the only among them have had children have done so in the context of unmarried cohabitation/long term dating situations. Inasmuch as these folks that actually have children are free to do so in situations that can best be described as “not ideal”…

    Well the thought comes to mind that no one in the state is stepping in to stop my cousin “sue” from moving in with her “relationship” with the one child she had from a previous marriage in tow. Through the looking glass of sexual mores and approaches to family life, in spite of all the wisdom and studies that affirm children do better in marriages and NOT following a parent (usually mom) from “would-be-dad” to “would-be-dad”… no one is stepping in to penalize or correct folks who are just sloppily falling backwards into these bad decisions they don’t think about with their brains…

    The woman next door – in a sort of quasi-reverse-polygamy – has men come in and live with her for a time, has a child by them and moves on (she is on #3 with 3 baby daddies)… All things being equal and condoms being free or at least on sale in every drug store and gas station around here I can’t be told her decisions (as well as so many like her) to decvelop a family in this fashion isn’t deliberate…

    So unlike “sue” these somen were looking to stay in one place and embrace their best understanding of stability… and like neighbor lady they did so by men who had sired elsewhere (although unlike neighbor lady, they don’t leave after a year)…

    So given that it is their freedom to have one kid that they drag from man’s apartment to man’s apartment… Or – like the Ford Motor Company (and my neighbor lady) – produce children coming down the line all made in the same place with different last names (some are Fords, some are Mercuries, some are Lincolns)…

    Well they don’t have the freedom to live in a big barn-looking house and make babies with some [blankety-blank] just like all the other women I know my age who actually have babies? Why don’t they have the same rights?

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    Comment by asimplesinner | April 25, 2008 | Reply

  16. It’s like they say about avoiding being a victim of a terrorist’s bomb: Don’t bunch.

    These people bunched. They looked odd. They did odd things. (And polygamy is wrong, I want to add unequivocally.) They did them all in one place together. So they came to the notice of the state. And when a report, possibly a hoax, came in about a forced marriage of a teenager going on there, the entire group was torn apart and 400 children thrown to the winds.

    Don’t bunch.

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    Comment by Lydia | April 26, 2008 | Reply

  17. So, do you think the pregnant kids should be returned to their mothers or to their mother-in-laws?

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    Comment by Joseph | April 29, 2008 | Reply

  18. “That said, why was it considered necessary to remove the children from their mothers? ”

    The state of Texas didn’t remove the pregnant kids from their mothers, their fathers did that by giving the kids away to the husbands during the weddings.

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    Comment by Joseph | April 29, 2008 | Reply

  19. […] who dream of rebuilding Christendom somewhere out on the prairie. Lydia McGrew summarizes the unmistakable message: “It’s like they say about avoiding being a victim of a terrorist’s bomb: Don’t […]

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    Pingback by “Don’t Bunch”: FLDS and Intentional Communities « Stony Creek Digest | May 30, 2008 | Reply


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