Friday, May 30, 2008

Blogger wonders why LDS Church seems to be AWOL in Texas/YFZ custody case.

"It is a matter of some curiousity to me personally that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, normally so quick to offer aid and comfort to victims of oppression and natural disaster, have apparently offered nothing to these people, not even kind words. To date, I have heard only assertions that those FLDS are not connected with 'us' in any way. Where is the Good Samaritan?" --Kurt Shulzke, I Perceive blog

It took me a while to formulate a response from my own personal perspective. Here it is:

Being a member I can give a little insight, from my own perspective, as to why the LDS Church has had so little to say in this matter. The LDS Church has renounced polygamy as a practice, but not as a doctrine. The Church excommunicates members who practice polygamy, and refers to the polygamous offshoots as apostates. Most of the polygamists refer to the LDS Church as apostate since they no longer practice polygamy. The LDS Church actively proselytizes among all other people, but they make no effort to proselytize among apostate groups. Early Church history documents that much of the persecution the Church endured was stirred up by apostates, so the Church is reluctant to take a bullet, so to speak, for apostates.

The Church is damned if they do, and damned if they don't, in this case. If they step up and say this is a case of religious persecution, critics of the Church are poised to say the Church is defending polygamy and is against the rule of law, and that they have a secret desire to re-establish the practice of polygamy. If they step up and say Texas is doing the right thing by prosecuting these people, other critics will say that the Church is delighting in the persecution of its enemies. The Church, I'm sure, wants to avoid that perception at all costs. So the Church has been content to keep silent, except for the steadfast disavowal of any relationship with the FLDS.

But even Judge Walther has dragged the LDS Church into the middle of this mess. While in the shelter in San Angelo, CPS didn't allowed private prayer time for fear that the FLDS mothers would use the time to coach the children to avoid answering CPS questions. Judge Walther suggested that LDS representatives could supervise the prayer sessions. But she didn't understand the tension that exists between the two faiths. FLDS members would resent it and view it as an intrusion, and LDS members would wonder why they should be asked to spy on the FLDS for CPS. Let them do their own spying. They seem pretty adept at that anyway. Understand that this is my personal perception of the rock and a hard place that the LDS Church finds itself in with this difficult situation.

It's safe to say that the way the FLDS practice this tenet of their religion makes most Latter-Day Saints very uneasy. Forced or arranged marriages of 13 or 14 year old girls to 50 + year old men or cousins or uncles is as repugnant to present day Mormons as it is to Baptists or any other group. Plural marriage as practiced by 19th century Mormons was voluntary, and even the first wife had a say, as I understand it.

My own view of this whole thing is that this seizing of all the children was wrong, and motivated by prejudice and bias, and CPS has run a ruthless hate campaign against the FLDS group, knowing that if they can get the rest of us to despise these people enough, they just might get away with this horrible abuse of power. If there have been crimes committed, prosecute the guilty, prove the crimes in court and punish them apropriately if convicted. But this business of taking all the children before any crimes have been proven punishes the innocent before the guilty.

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