Court Rules in Favor of FLDSMay 23, 2008
As many of you know by now, the 3rd District Texas Court of Appeals has ruled Texas Child Protective Services acted improperly in Raiding the FLDS YFZ compound and taking custody of their children. As an enthusiastic supporter of religious freedom, I was heartened by this ruling. The idea that was stated in the original petition by child services and argued for by the state before the Court of Appeals, namely that the FLDS belief system inherently endorsed child abuse and that the entire community constituted a “household,” should send chills down the spine of anyone in a religious minority.
I certainly don’t endorse child abuse or underage sexual activity (particularly involving older men) whether it is called marriage or not. However, the idea that these cases were not investigated individually and the the justification for treating the group as a corporate entity was specifically it’s system of religious belief is utterly inimical to the first amendment and is downright frightening. These Texas appellate judges are to be commended for introducing a measure of legal sanity into the debate.
Further, it is my personal belief that polygamy between legal adults, particularly as a purely spiritual affair in which plural wives receive no legal recognition, as is the case with the FLDS, should be regarded as protected under the first amendment as well. The legal justification for my position is rather complicated and I don’t have time to comment on it now but perhaps I will soon. (My work as a union president has kept me swamped through most of the spring but is finally lightening up…. In other words, the blog is not dead!)
Since this blog is devoted to Jewish Mormon dialogue, let me add that as a Jew, I have no religious issues with polygamy per se. Perhaps I will revisit the position of polygamy under Jewish law in a new post in the near future.