EVALUATING THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE TEXAS RAID OF APRIL 3, 2008

Kenneth F. Pierpont, M.Ed, M.Div, D.Min.

On April 3, 2008, the State of Texas raided the compound of the Fundamental Church of Latter Day Saints near Eldorado. Child Protective Services (CPS) with a signed warrant was the authority for the raid.

Local authorities claimed that they had suspected the ranch called “Yearning For Zion” was actually a polygamous community operating in violation of Texas law. The local sheriff was interviewed on television and indicated that he had an “inside person” giving him information about the group. He denied that the person was actually a member of the group, however.

The basis for seeking authority for a raid by the CPS was the claim that a sixteen-year-old girl had made a frantic call to an aid agency, identifying herself as in a captive marriage to a fifty-year-old man who was abusing her and by whom she had borne a child.

It has since been discovered that the phone call was traced to Colorado Springs, Colorado to the apartment of a young woman who had a history of making false reports to police. The young woman is said to have had a twelve-month prison term pending at the time the call was made.

The Texas State authorities were reportedly shocked at the large number of persons they discovered in the compound. They had estimated the number of children they were intending to rescue from sexual and other abuse at about 100. Instead, about 400 children were living there in all age ranges.

Now, one month later, about 437 children have been placed in state foster care. Over the weeks since the raid the number of persons in state custody has continually changed in that the state has reclassified some of the older teenage girls as “children.” In one case a young woman so classified has given birth to a baby.

The action of the State of Texas raises numerous questions for Bible-believing Christians who are concerned about their children with regard to state control. It is too early in the development of this occurrence to know all the ramifications for those of us who cherish both our children and our Christian freedoms but some issues need to be addressed even at this early stage. There are several issues vital to the interests of our country. I will deal with just four of them.

I. THE ISSUE OF DISAGREEMENT WITH THIS LATTER-DAY SAINTS GROUP

First, the group that was raided is an avowed Mormon group. It identifies with Mormonism which Bible-believers regard as cultic since it adds other authorities along side the Bible which, in turn introduces a host of doctrinal errors abhorrent to Christians everywhere.

At one time Mormons in the large Utah group advocated and practiced polygamous marriage. The founder, Joseph Smith, Jr. was known to have had a minimum of twenty-seven wives. Brigham Young, who took over the movement at the death of Smith is known to have had at least fifty or sixty wives, conservatively speaking. Other authorities cite the number of wives “sealed” to both men in the hundreds! These Mormons are said to have abandoned the practice of polygamy about the time President Buchanan was ready to send troops to Utah to enforce federal law against it. In 1890 if officially abandoned polygamy.

In the most adamant terms it needs to be said that Bible-believers absolutely reject the teaching or practice of polygamy in any and all its disgusting forms. This paper is certainly not intended to protect or excuse this group or any group from such horrendous sin before a holy God.

In addition, it has been alleged that the Texas Mormon group has been abusing young girls by pushing them into marriage while still in their mid-teens, often with men far beyond the girls ages. It is further alleged that the young men are being raised in an environment that fosters “male domination” and sexual predatory conduct. Again, if such is the case, the Bible Christian absolutely rejects such practices in the firmest of terms. True Christianity aims for the highest standards of personal conduct and respect for all men, women, boys and girls. Let this be underscored. No approval of this group, or any groups anti-biblical teachings is implied by anything further written in this paper!

II. THE ISSUE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the Congress (and hence all branches of government) from “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. In other words. freedom to believe and carry out ones faith or to refrain from doing so is an absolutely private matter safeguarded to the preferences of each citizen. This right is so sacred as to have led the “parade” of amendments to the Constitution, called the “Bill of Rights” that was ratified and made a part of the Constitution on December 15, 1791.

Granted, this right must needs be balanced with the prohibitions of criminal law which preclude anyone from flaunting such laws in order to exercise his or her “religious freedom.” In cases where criminality or insanity are at the heart of so-called “religious freedom,” it should be understood by all citizens that religious rights do not eclipse the rights of others.

This would mean, in the setting before us, that the “Fundamental Mormons” there in Texas, are not free to break the law with impunity, such as is alleged to be happening. It would further mean that the various agencies of the government do have responsibility in upholding the laws of Texas and of the United States just as they would in any other case of wrongdoing. Religious freedom is crucial to a free people. But, of course, the protection of citizens is equally important. When the exercise of religious freedom becomes an abuse to someone elses freedom and wellbeing, the state does have an obligation. The Bible teaches that the “higher powers” [government authorities] are the “minister of God” for good (Romans 13:1-4).

On the other hand, regardless of how outrageous the various teachings of any group seem to be, it is still true that such beliefs are to be safeguarded to those devotees. Regardless of how much from the mainstream of modern society a religious people seem to deviate, that in and of itself is no justification whatsoever for attacking, thwarting or abridging the rights of such persons or groups. The right of a cultist to teach error is protected by law in our country. My right to teach the Bible is also protected by the same laws. We cannot have one without the other.

When Adolph Hitler began provoking, attacking and subjugating small groups of people in Europe in the 1930s, it raised little serious attention at first. Even brazen and merciless attacks upon Jewish people did not arouse many to action. Only after it became clear that this madman was intent upon ruling the world were his intentions seen as the destruction of everyones freedoms. By that time persuasion of words had to be replaced with a call to arms.

Much of my observation of the “news” regarding this raid and the people at its center has been to see and listen to outrage against these Mormons for what is being said of them by people on the outside. Critics of them dominate the news. Coverage of their defense counsel, on the other hand, has been sketchy at best.

What little television footage has been made available inside the compound (referred to by critics of the Mormons as a “fort) has portrayed modern clean and humble quarters where the children in question have been living. Interviews television reporters have made with a few of the mothers have registered in my mind the agony these parents must be experiencing at the sudden loss of their offspring. As a father of four, the very thought of having any one of them torn from my arms to face an uncertain future in the hands of people who neither understand them nor hold a parents affection for them is terrifying.

The excuse the CPS has publicly given for taking all the children, even down to toddlers less than two years old, is to avoid the possibility that the children would “be coached to protect their parents.” And what is the implication in this remark? It is altogether obvious: the CPS personnel will be subjecting them to its own brand of interrogation instead. And all this because a group dared to practice a religion out of the mainstream of modern acceptability.

Both my wife and I practiced Christian schooling for our youngest two children because the corruption we saw and knew in the public schools to which our children would otherwise attend was an unacceptable breach of our Christian principles. We decided to go to jail, if necessary, to protect our religious freedom. We, being educators, were not in opposition to others, Christian or not, who did not choose our path. We honored the attempts of other Christians who stayed in public education with their offspring to give them an “accredited education.” Nevertheless, I left public education to administer a Christian school where both my wife and I taught. We did not seek to be law-breakers but our God-given religious freedom dictated to us the necessity to follow what we believed in our hearts to be the best for our children. Do these Mormons have the same right that my wife and I and many other Christian parents exercised? Do they have the same rights as you? Or are they inferior citizens?

III. THE ISSUE OF PROBABLE CAUSE

Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to our Constitution reads in part as follows: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The Fourth Amendment, coupled with the above, form a bastion of freedom guaranteed to every citizen. Note the powerful wording of this amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”

So, what of “probable cause” with respect to the Fundament Mormons? Well, there was the supposed “frantic telephone call from the sixteen-year-old girl.” But a number of sources have alleged that the authorities had already traced this phone call to Colorado, not to the inside of the Mormon compound hundreds of miles away, and had done do before launching the raid. If this is the case, probable cause would have to have hinged upon something else. At this point, numerous complaints have been lodged challenging the propriety of this phone call to establish probable cause. To date no probable cause has been brought forth. Therefore, there may have been no probable cause. This is a very sobering thought for Christian people who find themselves out of step with the value system of the lost world around us that is far from Christ.

Could it be that someday, maybe not that far away, you or someone you know may fall victim to a rumor that will eventuate in a raid upon your home or church? It looks as though it has happened in Texas. It may happen anywhere.

IV. THE ISSUE OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

To whom do your children belong? In recent years numerous laws have been passed that have impacted the influence parents may exercise over their children. Numerous attempts have been made to deny parents the right and responsibility of exercising corporal discipline over their children. Now the laws dictate which seats in YOUR vehicle your children can ride in. Laws dictate the necessity of immunizations for your children. Laws dictate to teachers, counselors and clergymen a mandate to report even the suspicion of any form of child abuse. In numerous places children are subjected to sex education without parental permission. On and on it goes.

Probably a case can be made for the supposed protections the above-mentioned laws may afford for children. But, is it not possible that by these the stage is being set for a whole host of “child protection laws” that will leave parents at the mercy of the State with regard to raising their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord? Am I overdrawing the danger here. I think not.

What if the day comes when teaching ones child about the reality of Hell becomes looked upon as “child abuse”? What if the day comes when insisting that your minor child attend church with you becomes “abusive”? What if the day comes when your neighbor picks up the phone and reports you to “Child Protective Services” because he saw you give a few paddle strokes to your childs behind? For the person who says, “It can never happen” I respond that it already has. The children in Texas were torn from their mothers arms “for the good of the child.” I wonder how many of those terrified children taken away April 3rd this year believe what is being done to them is “for their own good.” Who decides what is in the childs best interest?

The Bible says the children of ones youth are as arrows in the hand of a mighty man. The Bible says parents are to train up their children. The Bible says that at the knee of the parent the child is to learn the holy Scriptures which are able to make him or her wise unto salvation. The Bible says that the one offending one of these little children which “believe in me [Jesus]”. ought better to be drown in the depth of the sea. The Bible says that ones children are the heritage of the Lord. That is very strong language. What a strange paradox that a mother can legally decide to slay the baby in her womb but cannot even keep the baby only two years outside her womb if the State claims custody. Is there danger over the custody of children in this country when a parents religion or cultural preferences conflict with the majority of the “experts” in child-rearing? From where I sit I see grave danger.

Conclusion

So does the State of Texas have no responsibility when it comes to investigating these reports of suspected abuse of children at the Mormon ranch? Of course, it has responsibility. Authorities in the greatest country in history have the collective means to monitor and investigate any matter that seems to be illegal. By following the law, the State of Texas could have continued investigating this matter if it so chose. If polygamy laws have been broken the men, not the children, ought to be the object of the authorities concern. We are a nation of laws, none of which include subterfuge as a means of fulfilling a governments legal obligations.

In 1972 the Supreme Court case Miranda versus Arizona established that every American has the right to the presence of an attorney when questioned by authorities and may exercise the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. Not a few criminals have escaped prosecution because some law enforcement person forgot to “read him his rights.” One wonders what rights the 437 children of these Mormons were apprised of just before they were subjected to the interrogations that were intended to incriminate, perhaps damn, their parents.

How very vigilant we must be to protect our children, our rights and our country from would-be mere human “saviors” whose motives may be pure or they may be something far less.

This and related articles of the Christian faith at: www.kenwalks.com

Comments

  1. This was an interesting read. It made me angry and very uncomfortable, kind of like reading about Waco. I did some praying for these families and children. I guess I need to pray for those in authority – that they would have wisdom. Thank you for taking time to post this.

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