Friday, May 23, 2008

What if a liberal state banned conservatives from having children?

I maintain a fairly constant attitude to Mormonism or LDSer’s which is characterized overall by a general apathy. Most Mormons seem harmless enough to me and generally appear to be a positive force for the communities they live in. Although, that annoying habit of baptizing the dead does creep me out, but again, it appears harmless.

Like most religions, Later Day Saints have their share of fundamentalist sects. Again, I more or less take a benign attitude towards them. I cannot claim to have an understanding or handle on the appeal to the return of ludditism, but each to their own.

The thing about letting adults have the freedom to choose their convictions and lifestyle means not only that they will choose things which seem strange and bizarre but they will probably choose to have children and attempt to pass on their values. Again, the bottom line becomes; either we live in a society where adults are free their convictions and lifestyles and free to pass on those values or we do not live in a free society.

And a funny thing about raising children and passing on those values; it doesn’t always work out the way you plan. One day the children grow up, and despite your best efforts, the children might just chose very different values. Trust me on this. I know - I am one of those children all grown-up.

I have been watching the news on the Texas state battle with the fundamental LDS sect with some interest. I first caught the mothers on Larry King’s show. I stiffer more wooden-cardboard-cut-out group you couldn’t find. The women all looked extremely shell-shocked, and although, I thought them more than a trifle weird I worried about the fundamental harm the state was doing by arbitrary removing all the children from their parents without showing apparent ‘just’ cause in court. Contrary to what a few so-called social workers suggested, I doubt the overall feeling the children experienced was relief from being removed from their home, siblings and their parent’s care.

According to this Globe and Mail report, a Texas court has ruled that the state authorities erred by removing the all the children from their parent’s home without proof the children were in immediate physical danger and ordered the state to return the children to their parents in 10 days.
SAN ANGELO, Texas — In a ruling that could torpedo the case against the West Texas polygamist sect, a state appeals court said Thursday authorities had no right to seize more than 440 children in a raid on the splinter group's ranch last month.

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin, Texas, said the state failed to show the youngsters were in any immediate danger – the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court action.

It was not clear whether the children, now scattered in foster homes across the state, might soon be returned to their parents. A Canadian teenaged girl from British Columbia is reported among the children rounded up during the raid by Texas child-welfare authorities.

The court ruling gave a lower-court judge 10 days to release the youngsters from state custody, but the state could appeal to the Texas Supreme Court and block that from happening. The decision in one of the biggest child-custody cases in U.S. history was a humiliating defeat for the state Child Protective Services agency. It was hailed as vindication by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who claimed they were being persecuted for their religious beliefs.

“It's a great day for Texas justice. This was the right decision,” said Julie Balovich, a Legal Aid lawyer for some of the parents. She was joined by several smiling mothers who declined to comment at a news conference outside the courthouse in San Angelo.

Every child at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado was taken into state custody more than six weeks ago after someone called a hot line claiming to be a pregnant, abused teenage wife. The girl has not been found and authorities are investigating whether the calls were a hoax.

Child-protection officials argued that five girls at the ranch had become pregnant at 15 and 16 and that the sect pushed underage girls into marriage and sex with older men and groomed boys to enter into such unions when they reached adulthood. But the appeals court said the state was not justified in sweeping up all the children and taking them away on an emergency basis without going to court first.

My great-grandmother was married at 13. She was won by my great-grandfather in a poker game. At 18, my great grandfather didn’t know what else to do with her so he married her. Their marriage lasted for 62 years and spanned two continents and produced five living children. My grandmother married at 15 and gave birth to my father two months after her 16th birthday. Her marriage lasted for 60 years. I think one would be hard pressed to prove my grandmother was sexually abused by my grandfather. All the men in my father’s family were groomed to grow-up to be husbands and fathers – am I suppose to believe this is a bad thing and borders on psychological abuse?

The state has no business breaking up a family unit, and doing potentially doing untold harm to the psychological health of these children without showing just cause in a court of law. But here’s a thought. Why are men with multiple wives and children more worthy of malicious state prosecutions, than say - an unmarried woman with multiple children from different fathers?

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