I've been very concerned about the raid on the polygamous sect in Texas since the moment it began.... for a lot of reasons.
Certainly the hold that Warren Jeffs, the now imprisoned leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has had over his followers, especially the women and children, is cause for great concern. Forced marriages and pre-arranged marriages between young teens and older men offends us all. And the horror stories from women and children who've escaped the cult-like religion are terrifying.
But, this raid seems to have been based on faulty, misleading or nonexistent information. And the resulting horror now being forced on 416 children and their mothers by Texas Department of Child Protective Services (CPS) is potentially much worse. Children are being forcibly separated from their mothers and crowded into living conditions that are simply pathetic.
The size of the relocation and the coming massive legal actions will do tremendous damage to the children. The Texas and federal officials were simply totally unprepared when they invaded the Yearning for Zion Ranch. Like the US troops that invaded Iraq, they were expecting massive resistance, but never figured out what to do once the families and children surrendered.
ABC NEWS is reporting today:
More than two dozen women who belong to a reclusive polygamous sect said in a rare public appearance that they felt lied to by state officials and pleaded for their 416 children to be returned to them.
The women returned to the sect's West Texas ranch Monday night after state officials separated them from their children who were taken into state custody after a raid on the compound last week.
Many of them sobbing, several of the mothers told ABC News that they weren't able to say goodbye to their children before being given the option to return to their ranch or be sent to another shelter.
"All we want is our children back, clean and pure," said a woman who identified herself as Sarah and said her five children were still in the state's shelter. "The last thing we have is our children."
This is being badly mishandled by the State of Texas and their CPS. FOX NEWS Reports:
"They said, 'your children are ours,"' said the sobbing 32-year-old whose three sons are aged 9, 7 and 5 and who would not give her last name. "We could not even ask a question."
She said the children at the ranch have not been abused, but she feels like "they are being abused from this experience." She said the children have been "have been so protected and loved."
The women believe the abuse complaint that led to the raid came from a bitter person outside their community.
What was needed here was a lot more investigation and a lot less Rambo-style raiding and massive relocation of children into poor conditions and terrifying isolation.
The State of Texas is crossing a dangerous line. While we fight on the left for more freedoms and opportunities for gays and lesbians and a greater choice of lifestyles and marriages, things are happening in Texas which seem to deprive us all of freedoms and civil rights and due process.
Are we damaging children in the name of protecting them? Are we denying people their civil rights?
I recognize that this post might make me very unpopular with both my readers on the left and on the right. Equating the plight of this polygamist cult with the fight for gay rights, women's rights and religious freedom may offend many people. But you cannot demand freedom for one group without at least protecting the civil rights of another, even when you disagree with their beliefs. No, ESPECIALLY if you disagree with their beliefs.