Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Predators on the Prairie

I'm going to talk about a different type of predator today. The kind who hides behind the law of the land. As a Texan, I join the rest of the world is being appalled by the Polygamist Sect that has sprouted up in my neck of the woods. If you're new to the subject, let me fill you in, whip quickly over the story. Let me start by saying American's enjoy freedom of religion. Worship how and who they choose yet now we're faced with a major dilemma in the form of the FLDS off-shoot of the Mormon church. It is a polygamist society where men, who are rewarded for their contributions to the faith, are allowed numerous wives.

That in itself is just...well, weird. What makes it criminal is that many of those "wives" are 12 and 13 year old girls. EWWWW.

Recently, authorities were contacted by a 16 yr. old girl who supposedly made several frantic calls to police claiming abuse. Naturally, they investigated, a raid on the "compound" ensued. Over 417 children were taken from the place along with the many women in residence. You might have seen this craziness on television. The women in pioneer style clothing, the odd hairstyles, etc. Now, this is a rural area and it's beyond strange to find media vans clogging the streets and lawyers from every part of the state converging on one small town (each child had to have legal representation).

Bottom line: authorities found that some of the "mothers" taken from the compound were 16 and under. One 16 yr. old had four children and was expecting another. Do the math. She wasn't alone in these circumstances. These men have multiple wives, many just teenagers.

Have they broken the law? Yeah, you'd think so. Men in their 40's and 50's are having sex with underage girls but there's a catch. They are protected from the law because of their right to religious freedom and the taking of multiple wives is part of their religion. There are "age laws" in every state and laws against bigamy but they get around this little problem by only legally marrying the first wife. Subsequent marriages are called "spiritual" marriages.

To add to the ick-factor here: when authorities went into their TEMPLE, they found a bed. Ummm. Ewwww. Sick. The people who live here have given no explanation for THAT.

So here's the question. The search for religious freedom was one of the things that brought our forefathers to these shores. It's important. Necessary. But how far are we willing to take it? Once we've started interfering in religious freedom, where does it stop? Should fringe religions be allowed to practice what amounts to legalized child abuse?

I wish I had an answer.

11 comments:

  1. Well you sure don't ask the easy questions, do you? My initial reaction was to jump in with both feet and say that no religion could shield a man or woman in such a case, but... yeah, now I'm gonna have to go off and think about this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Rita, great insights. While I believe that consenting adults should have the right to live (and even marry) in non-tradtional arranngements, I think the legal precedent has been and should be that religious freedom ends where victimization crimes begin. You cannot kill in the name of your god, (except in a war--but we're NOT getting into that) you cannot use your religion to steal from, enslave, or rape someone else. I sincerely hope that's where the courts will come down on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Me, too, Cindy. It's all just so creepy and when you see these women in television interviews they seem so...I don't know how to say this...MINDLESS??? Automatic, simplistic responses as if they've been coached. Little real emotion. One suspects if they were told to drink the kool aid they'd ask...where's the line?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree with Cindy. We need to protect religious freedom, but that freedom should never be allowed to impenge on the personal rights of others.

    Abuse is abuse, it doesn't matter which religion you follow.

    If it weren't for the age of some of the "wives" I'd say leave them the hell alone, but when children are having sex with adults... all bets are off.

    I feel the same way about the religions that stress faith over pharmecuticals. If you're child is deathly ill and we have the technology to heal them, it is the duty of the parent to do everything in their power to make them well.

    Basically, if they're a consenting adult, I have no problems with them doing whatever it is that makes them happy. Hell, they can cover themselves in baby oil and chicken blood and run around their backyards naked, howling at the moon if they think it will bring them closer to spiritual fulfillment. I might laugh should I run across such a display, but I'd still say more power to 'em.

    But a child should never be put in danger (whether mental or physical).

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great point, James. We've lost several children in our area just recently because their parents chose to pray over them rather than seek medical counsel. In the end, the courts will have to deal with these matters.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Child victimization is victimization because it's wrong. It's abuse in a physical and psychological context. When it gets plastered over the media and sprinkled with excuses, you can make anything sound pretty if you want to.

    We like the idea of spiritual freedom so calling your sex acts that tries to put a holy spin on something that is still wrong. A child is a child. They cannot conscent. They cannot understand the full ramifications of the act or how it will affect them until after it is done. This is damaging, not holy.

    Further, young girls internalize the fallout. They absorb the blame and take the guilt as if it was their fault. They defend their attacker because it can often psychologically mean that THEY, the child, did something wrong if the adult gets into trouble.

    I realize there are those who will say our ancestors were okay with early marriages. But our children, while growing quickly today, are NOT growing with the maturity of those ancestors. They don't have the responsibilities or any of the adult situations either. No. These kids are being forced into sexual circumstances but are very much minors in the full extent of the word.

    ReplyDelete
  7. In this case, it was great the media brought all this to light. Informed people can take a stand against these things. Right now these poor kids are traumatized all the way around. There homes were circled by men with guns, they were taken from their mothers and now are all in foster care. All of this after being isolated from the rest of the world for their entire lives. The poor little things must be so confused and scared.

    In the end, their elders, the adults brought this down by behaving like a bunch of pervs.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Let's not forgt that it was discovered that a large percentage of the children had broken bones and other indications of physical abuse. The little boys were being sexually abused as well.
    No, like most koolaid drinking cults (and I do not consider Mormans or the polyligamist Morman groups where the wives are all adults to be cults, simply other religions) this group was based on one man's sick mind and he attracted other like minded men who prey on chldren of all kinds and in all manners.
    In situations like this I am all for going back to Levitcus where stoning is recommended.
    Charlene

    ReplyDelete
  9. We have a small community in the interior of British Columbia in a place called Bountiful. Same problems as in Texas, older men with young girls as their wives. The attorney general of BC is planning to do something! But, we have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada and these people will claim it is their right to practice their religion.

    So, if a man can have any number of wives and it's legal in Canada we have to allow Muslim men to do the same. We have legalized Gay Marriages and I'm afraid that has opened a legal can of worms. Anything goes. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms is constantly challenged by fringe groups of every stripe.

    That's my rant for to-day. Oops, I forgot, one of the girls taken from the Texas ranch is a Canadian. There's been cross border trafficing with these kids. Where will it all end?

    ReplyDelete
  10. That's interesting, Anita. My sis lives in Vancouver; I'll have to ask her if she's aware of this.

    Did anyone else see the interviews with the woman who had escaped the cult? She said the boys were 'encouraged' to leave...so there would be less competition for the young girls. Definitely twisted.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've heard about the boys, too, Molly. They call them the "lost boys". They are suddenly shoved out in the world once they are competition for these older men. Terrible.

    ReplyDelete