I have been very troubled by this story since it broke a few weeks ago, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Thinking about all those mothers and children separated from each other with no just cause grieves me. I cannot imagine what they are going through, and trying to imagine makes me cry.
The judge will not even allow nursing mothers to remain in state custody with their babies. She rationalizes, “every day in this country, we have mothers who go back to work after six weeks of maternity leave.” How women, who have the option of pumping during the day and nursing at night, voluntarily returning to work, is in any way comparable to women who’s children were kidnapped from them is completely beyond me.
[I began writing this post on the 23rd. As of the 24th, it is reported that the judge has had a change of heart and is allowing mothers of nursing children under 12 months to remain with their babies. A small bright spot in this nightmare.]
The fact that the state is so blatantly denying these people due process based on some very flimsy “evidence” is maddening. The call was fabricated by a woman in Colorado. There is no Sarah, but the state doesn’t care; they’ve been dying for an excuse to get inside for years. Even if Sarah existed, the state should have located her and removed her to safety while her allegations against her husband were investigated. They had absolutely no right to take those children away from their families.
The government asserts that the children are all in danger of child abuse and must be removed from their homes. Nevermind the fact that there is no reason to believe any of them have been harmed. The government has no right to remove the children simply because they might possibly be abused in some way in the future, yet that seems to be the rationale. From what I understand, beyond the Sarah issue, the possible abuse within the community centers around the fact that some girls are married at an age younger than permitted by the government, and their husbands are therefore guilty of statutory rape. And there are also allegations from a few women of their husbands forcing themselves on them. A crime to be sure, but not one that has anything to do with the safety of these 437 children who have been ripped from their mothers’ arms.
Apparently we are all entitled to our constitutional rights as long as we don’t belong to a group that is identified as fringe, however the government chooses to define it. Is it just a matter of time before the rights of conservative Christian home schooling families are threatened in a similar manner? So many people, Christians included, maybe Christians especially, are applauding the state’s “rescue” of these children. They don’t care that the families are being denied their constitutional rights. The FLDS’ beliefs and practices are unpalatable to them, so people rationalize the situation and say that the state did the right thing. They don’t seem to comprehend the fact that they could be targeted next. It’s all okay when it’s some group of weirdos being persecuted, but what happens when you’re seen as the weirdo? Either the government abides by the law for all citizens, or we are all in danger of having our rights trampled.
I am not defending the group’s beliefs. I do not agree with many of their practices, and I don’t understand everything that has taken place within the community. What I am defending is their right to due process. These people have already been deemed guilty by the government, the media and much of society despite lack of proof. That is wrong.
The state acts as though they have performed a noble deed by kidnapping and terrorizing these children. They say they are only interested in their safety, as they shuttle them off to foster homes across the state, homes that are known for abuse including poisoning, rape and death. Yes, I’m certain those FLDS children will be much safer in such environments as they become exposed to all the best our immoral society has to offer, instead of safe in the protective arms of their mother’s where they live simple and productive lives.
I am not trying to paint an idyllic picture of life in this community. From what I know of him, Warren Jeffs abused his power as leader of the group, and I’m sure there are FLDS men who are on power trips, but I bet there are also good men who love and protect their families. I don’t know how young brides feel about their marriages. Many of them defend their way of life, though it’s hard to say whether it is out of truth or fear. I am aware of stories from ex-members like Carolyn Jessop, but there are also many members and former members who speak positively of their experience within the FLDS church and defend their way of life.
I guess the point is, ultimately, these things don’t matter when it comes to the question of whether these children should have been forced from their families. Maybe there are many young women who are oppressed and even abused by the FLDS men and who wish for a different life. I have no idea. But that is a different issue, and this is not the way to reach them. Acts of aggression like this, stealing children, only serve to further isolate and aggravate.
These children are going to be irreparably damaged by the government’s actions. They’ve grown up in an extremely conservative environment with little exposure to our popular culture. It would be near impossible for any child forced from the safety of her home to adjust to life without her mother, life with a foreign family, wondering when she’ll get to go home. How much more difficult for these children. I can’t believe for a moment that the government really believes they are protecting these children. I don’t think they care.