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Polygamy, Cults & The Constitution
Written By : Melissa Clouthier
April 20, 2008

Over four hundred Texas children have been parted from their parents, the second mothers, their third mothers and their cousins who may also be their sisters and brothers. Good luck to the authorities trying to figure it all out. The case is a colossal mess. What to do?

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Reading excerpts from a former Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints member, Carolyn Jessup is truly disturbing reading. As time has progressed, the church seems to have descended more into madness–but that’s what happens when one man’s inclinations are taken as gospel. Whether it be a dictatorship or a cult leader, totalitarian regimes take villainous turns. Mugabe, Castro, Hitler, Mussolini, Hussein, Stalin, Chavez, Jessup, name the man, pick apart his particular psychotic tendencies and you’ll see his paranoia, brute force, sexual deviance and whatever other perversion he prefers become encouraged and enforced with either the state’s or God’s authority Himself behind the tyrant.

What to do, though, when the dictator claims religion as his cloak? In America, this is sticky business because none of us are much interested in the state poking their over enlarging noses into our religious and family business. This case is disturbing, in this respect. Hundreds of children, over 100 of them babies, have been parted from their mothers when there is no indication of abuse or neglect. Coupled with this, the women are brainwashed victims themselves. Some of whom had children as young teens themselves. They know no different.

The children and adults have been taught to mistrust the state authorities and lie. So, the only way around this is paternity testing which will no doubt reveal egregious cases of incest and abuse. Then what? There are two directions this will go and I think this will be the ultimate result, but I’m not sure it’s right:

But this isn’t just about sexual abuse. There is a whiff of cultural imperialism here. This is about further marginalizing an already-marginalized way of life – one person’s religion, another’s cult. Texas is taking on polygamy itself, FLDS polygamy specifically – its pervasive oppression of women, all-powerful patriarchy and molding of children’s minds.
The Rangers didn’t round up just the potential victims of sexual abuse (12- to 18-year-old girls). They didn’t stop at criminal behavior. With reluctant and sometimes subversive victims, Texas child advocates have shown no consideration for different family groups, distinct styles of discipline or actual proof of specific abuse. Paternity testing will clear up some but not all of those questions.

Okay, let’s start with the first assertion–cultural imperialism. Do we all become “wards of the state” when the state draws the line here and there? Polygamy is objectively wrong. I have many reasons for believing this, but it’s a diversion to go into right now. I wonder. Does the author believe that to outlaw incest is cultural imperialism? How about statutory rape? I mean the ages are arbitrary and who is she or anyone else to say that a pubescent girl of 12 who is menstruating isn’t ready for marriage and children? How about bestiality? This case will ultimately forward the idea no lines should be anywhere.

The crimes are what I’m concerned about. Welfare fraud. Statutory rape. Incest. And, if polygamy is against the law, polygamy. That’s the only thing the state can address. And since everyone will lie or be confused, DNA testing is the only way to get to the bottom of it. And families will be split up. For now, though, the children who aren’t being abused, should be with their mothers and sent back to the compound. The boys and girls who are “married” or are otherwise victims need to be kept safe and sound until this is sorted out.

Ultimately, I worry for the average family’s rights. But children deserve a chance to be safe until they have consent. Consent is impossible under a dictatorial regime and even more so under a cult regime.

Cross-posted at Dr. Melissa Clouthier who lives in Texas in a Monogamist Compound near Houston.

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