Tuesday, April 08, 2008

401 Texas Children Seized in Raid on Polygamist Compound

The following post set off an interesting debate on the official online discussion group of a national Christian civil rights organization. After a complaint by a subscriber to the board, the chief counsel of that organization asked the people involved to take it off line. I have reproduced the original post here along with my final post. I am inviting the rest of the people involved in the discussion to use the comments function of this blog entry to allow others to read this very important diaologue.


Although I am not a fan of polygamy in any sense, nor young marriages, I am shocked at the apparent overstepping of our liberties in this Sunday’s raid on the Mormon sect ranch and removal of 401 children from their mothers and placing them in State custody. I thought we were innocent until proven guilty, and then only the truly guilty would pay the penalty. Here, six month olds to sixteen were yanked from their mothers.

One girl (whom they have yet to find) alleged she was the wife of a Mormon sect leader one year under the age limit in Texas law.

And as a result, all 401 children are removed from their mother’s care, custody and control and are now in State custody. Even Communist China has not attempted such a feat.

And to top it off, my fellow Southern Baptists supplied church busses to the police to assist in removing the children and mothers.

If there is a wrongdoer to be had – punish him just short of cruel and unusual, throw the keys away…enforce the law as to the criminal. But…do not destroy the Constitutional rights of his family(s). Is this not prima facie evidence of a need to have a Constitutional Amendment to the United States Constitution protecting parental rights from overzealous judicial actions?

They came first for the Communists,

and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,

and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.

- Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)


Friend, nobody disagrees that polygamy and adult child sex is illegal or that the Texas authorities should have stepped in. I totally agree with the first poster who said that the guilty parties should be punished right up to the edge of cruel and unusual.

But, what we are also saying is that the wholesale seizure of all of the children, including those not in immediate danger of forced marriage, presents strong due process questions. Who is to say that the next step will not be finding all of the children of a certain denomination endangered because that denomination practices faith healing or does not believe in psychiatry or counseling? Or that failure to place children in public schools is neglect?

We had a case here in Tulsa a few years back where every little girl in a particular pre-school program was forced to submit to a full pelvic exam at the school without the knowledge or permission of the parents. The object of course was to determine if the little girls had been molested. If I remember correctly, there were no accusations of molestation against any of the parents, the authorities just wanted to make sure it wasn't happening, apparently because of the "at risk" nature of the families and neighborhood.

Now I ask you which was worse, the possibility that one little girl was molested or the certainty that all of the little girls were molested by a back room pelvic exam at school? Sometimes the remedy does as much or more damage than the problem.

Let me reiterate this. There is a large portion of the judiciary and the government child welfare bureaucracy who see all Christians exactly the same as those polygamists. To them we are the same people, just different issues. It is a matter of perception not reality. But, perceptions can become reality when a court or a social worker go looking for a reason to put a kid into the system because too often they find what they are looking for whether it was there or not originally.

The founding fathers understood these dangers and gave us strong due process protections and we ignore large scale government actions such as this one at our peril.

Bill Kumpe


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