Friday, May 23, 2008

Cry Out for the Children (Breaking for Local News)

This is a break from IsraelWatching for local news

Cry Out for the Children
by Donna Diorio

Today's Dallas Morning News headline read -
"Appeals court: State had no right to seize children from polygamist compound"


May 23, 2008 Who can explain what it is about a news story when the Spirit puts His finger on your heart to not just pass it by like so many other sad and outrageous news stories we are exposed to day after day?

The news story about the children the state of Texas removed from the FLDS polygamous sect ranch is like that for me. The finger of God is in my heart about it.

I know the message on my heart is that if the people of God will not cry out for the children, thousands of FLDS children across North America are doomed, never to escape their abused captivity under an abominable perversion of the Word of God. This is a spiritual battle first and foremost, and that is not to say that we should pray only, but we should pray and then cry out in the public arena.

For hours and hours I have researched what is being written in newspapers and by the new grass roots ‘free press’ of blogs and commentary websites. Sadly, the voice of the people of God is simply not being raised in the public square for the protection of these children.

Overwhelmingly the articles and reader talkbacks, web page and blog commentaries are more interested in preserving the “civil rights” of the children (not to be removed from their polygamist families) than they are seeking to protect the children from systematic sexual child abuse.

Everybody knows what the FLDS is doing in their isolated, fortressed compounds in the Western United States, Canada and Mexico. Sexual relations with minors is illegal in all those places, but the educated, engaged voices in America are crying out AGAINST the authorities in the State of Texas and Child Protective Services for removing over 400 minors from the Eldorado, Texas compound.

It is discouraging that so few believers have spoken out on behalf of the real issue at stake here - protecting the children of the sect. Marci Hamilton, author of God vs. the Gavel says the FLDS sect is a “conspiracy of adults to commit systematic child sex abuse.”

That is decidedly not the message of most commentaries and news stories the public is being bombarded with concerning these children. Few are the stories that give voice to women who have escaped life in the FLDS polygamist system. They are out there speaking up and trying to get the truth out, but pundits and reporters would rather major on the violation of civil rights angles straight out of the liberal relativism legalese playbook.

Maybe there would be a spiritual intercessory outcry and public outcry from Christians:

If Christians were exposed to interviews of Elissa Wall, victim in the Warren Jeffs trial and author of Stolen Innocence; or Polygamy’s Rape of Rachel Strong; or 17 other FLDS survivor testimonies detailed in Andrea Moore Emmett’s book, God’s Brothel; or the book Shattered Dreams by Irene Spencer, who at 16 years old became the second wife of an FLDS cult leader, who was also her brother-in-law; or Carolyn Jessop’s Escape, or Susan Ray Schmidt’s His Favorite Wife: Trapped in Polygamy.

If Christians would hear the cry from FLDS survivor and rescue advocacy websites, like Rowenna Erickson’s Tapestry Against Polygamy site. If Christians were aware of the work of Debbie Palmer (Keep Sweet: Children of Polygamy) and Daphne Branham (The Secret Lives of Saints) who has investigated the genetic family tree ties between minor girls in the FLDS compound in British Columbia and adolescent girls from the Eldorado Texas compound.

If Christians knew that watchdogs in Colorado are reporting recent Jeffs’ family purchases of large tracts of land in remote Colorado places. If Christians knew the history of unsuccessful attempts in the past by other states for legal intervention on behalf of children in the FLDS polygamist sect and how the public opinion war was won by the sect playing on public sympathies of their right of religion – and the public ignorance of the true nature of minor sexual abuse and brainwashing that is the reality of life in the FLDS sect.

Some Washington politicians have shown interest in the case but the U.S. Attorney for Utah and the FBI’s Salt Lake City field office head say there is no need for a federal polygamy task force.

As one of the few high placed newspaper editorial writers to speak out on behalf of the FLDS sect children, Ellen Goodman of the Washington Post writes in an article entitled, Sex Abuse in the Name of Religion Isn’t a Lifestyle – It’s Sex Abuse, that there has been enormous concern generated by the story but it says something about our culture that the concern has primarily been “of children taken from parents, of families wrenched apart….Is this a rescue operation or a state-sponsored attack on parents?”

“Nevertheless,” Goodman asks “what are we to make of an entire sect that has sexual abuse at its very heart?

This is the critical question, and I believe it is the question from the very heart of God for us.

Yesterday the Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the San Angelo court was wrong to give CPS custody of the children because the evidence presented was "legally and factually insufficient."

Unfortunately, this is the same Appeals court where the only faith-based court brief was filed (that I’m aware of) on May 2nd, appealing to the court to be careful not to set a “dangerous precedent” for religious liberty and parental rights in the “cases over allegations of sexual abuse alleged in the polygamist ranch raid.”

This also says something about us that the case has caused Christians to voice concern and ask for prayer about potential legal precedents that might cause religious liberty issues for Christians in the future, without voicing much concern for the sect children themselves.

At times we are so on watch with self-protection, we are actually foiling the best attempts of our government to protect all us.
A salient point that was brought by a Counter-Terrorism expert, Jeffrey Breinholt in Polygamy and Terrorism: The Religion Factor in Texas, who wrote: “The question is whether a state or federal government can define what constitutes a crime, and whether that crime can be enforced where the alleged conduct is religiously-inspired.”

Since returned to a Department of Justice post, Breinholt noted, “…the Texas case involves a common issue in counterterrorism - the ability of the government to take action against religiously-inspired conduct.” Muslim defendants in terrorism prosecutions, Breinholt explains, also claim that their planned violence should be excused because it was mandated by their faith.

In the end, it is the public that decides what it is going to put up with and what it will not. We may believe that we can live with granting illegal expression of religious belief to polygamists, but can we live with that precedent being extended to jihadists?

The most critical concern is to ensure the freedom of FLDS children from sexual predators, but there are farther reaching ramifications to how the public, the media and the courts ultimately view this case.

As Ellen Goodman wrote, “… in the end, what we have on that ranch in Eldorado is not a lifestyle. It's a pedophile ring. If we cannot rescue children from that, we've already destroyed their village.”

In the end, if Christians cannot put in first priority the thousands of FLDS children currently, as well as the older generations of FLDS members who have been raised in and held captive by a gross perversion of the Word of God, then we are in default. If we don’t stand up for the weak and the oppressed now, we will not long hold onto our own strength, liberties and freedom.

Pray for the Supreme Judge of the whole Creation to arise on behalf of the FLDS children represented in the Texas case. Authorities and advocacy groups in several western states, as well as Canada and Mexico are watching carefully the developments in this case. If the state of Texas prevails in intervention to set the captives free and prosecute the illegal polygamists, then others will take courage and act in their jurisdictions. If the state of Texas fails, everyone will throw up their hands and give up on these victims of institutionalized child sexual abuse.

On behalf of the children, the girls and women, and even the “lost boys” and men who have been excommunicated by the alpha males of the FLDS, let us cry out to God for justice in this case… Then we must follow our intercession with our public outcry to holding up the arms of the authorities and sending a message to the judges: Protect the victims, not their abusers.

7 comments:

Laura said...

I am a first-time visitor to your blog, but I felt compelled to comment on this.

I share your concern for the children's safety, but I am convinced that the Christian perspective does not necessarily lead us to separate all 400 children from their parents.

Where in the Bible does God say that marrying a 15 year-old-girl is wrong? Many of the men of faith from the Old Testament had multiple wives, certainly many of them young, and while I do not believe this is God's plan, God does not speak out against the men for marrying these women, as long as they were from among God's people.

The thing is, I believe God hates injustice, and it is inherently unjust to punish the innocent with the guilty. There may be some cases of abuse among these people -- and by abuse I mean unkind, hurtful treatment, not the marriage of a consenting young woman to a kind but older man -- but what man in this community has been charged with any true abuse?

I do believe that it is unrighteous to break the law, and in any capacity in which these people have broken the law, I think it is proper for them to be punished appropriately. But just as God would spare a city from judgment for the sake of a handful of righteous people, is it not right for our government to refrain from tearing this community apart if even a handful of innocent people are found? I think it is right in God's eyes for the accused to stand individually before a judge, to be punished only if they themselves are found guilty.

This is to say nothing of my feeling for their overall beliefs. They will face a greater Judge one Day, to whom they will have to give account for the things in their religion which are contrary to God's Word.

IsraelWatcher said...

Laura, you obviously did not follow any of the links in the article or you would see plenty of victim testimony about the FLDS cult. Female children brainwashed from birth to be compliant with becoming a teen bride of an old man is abusive, Laura. And the way the young men are put out of the cult so there are more young girls for the older men is the smoking gun. You may think that God doesn't care about what this cult practices, and that is something between you and God. I do not agree and so write articles like this to educate readers to elements of the news story they may not be getting from therr local news sources.

Laura said...

Donna,

I respect that you goal was to present a side to the story that your readers may not be exposed to. My intent was not so much to refute your position as it was simply to encourage you that Christians who take a different perspective are not always doing so because they feel more strongly about political beliefs than their religious beliefs. I feel very strongly that God's will should prevail, that His will is more important than the letter of the American law. I think you and I agree that God's will is that good, loving parents remain with their children and only unkind, abusive parents should be separated and punished. Where you and I disagree, I think, is on how many of these parents are abusive and unkind.

I have been following this story very closely for a while, and have read and heard many testimonies about the FLDS from those who have escaped, and I agree with you that there are some terrible things that have gone on, at least in some of the FLDS communities, and I certainly believe God cares about this and wants to see justice done. I want to see the people who have done wrong things punished just as you do, but I don't like the assumption that the Yearning for Zion community is guilty of everything that the women who escaped from other FLDS communities have experienced. Just because another church in your denomination does hideously shameful things does not make everyone in your congregation guilty of those things as well. The investigators who have looked specifically into this group have never suggested any physical mistreatment of the boys, in fact, they have not found evidence of physical abuse to any of the children.

The only objectionable thing I have read that this community specifically is guilty of is "forcing" young girls to marry older men. Now, when the women in this community are asked, they say they had a choice of whether or not to marry their husbands, and I believe them -- perhaps theirs was like the choice Ruth had when her mother-in-law's directed her to marry Boaz, who was older than she was by enough that he marveled at her choosing him at his age. Where in the Bible is marriage of young girls to older men condemned? If the husband is treating the wife well and she is happy, on what basis should I believe that our God is unhappy with it?

Incidentally, there's some great coverage at The Common Room giving more evidence than I can post here that perhaps this particular community is not guilty of so much as the State of Texas would like us to think.

Anyway, I don't mean to be contentious. I really think you and I just have different opinions on the extent to which the crimes of the FLDS overall are going on in the YFZ community, and perhaps also different opinions on what constitutes brainwashing. You and I can never know how much these particular people are guilty of, and my prayer is that God, who does know, will bring about justice in spite of us.

IsraelWatcher said...

We are indeed far apart in our view of faith, Laura. For one thing, the link you provided is informationally supplied by the GritsForBreakfast blog, which is also on the polar opposite side of this from me.

My view is that the New Testament teaches the disciples of Jesus to obey the laws of the land except where it is in express violation of the commandment of God.

So that means Nazis were sinning against the command of God to obey Hitler's commands to murder Jews.

We all must, however, obey the law of the land that says no adult may have sex with a minor child under the age of 17 (or is the law 18?)or it is legally rape, regardless of our 'religious' opinion that it may be right.

Since the Bible is silent on those age limitations, then it is left up to the law of the land to define what is appropriate in every age and society. The problem with the FLDS is they are trying to live in a time warp - in an age where society accepted a much younger marriageable age.

They are also trying to live in polygamous marriages which has been deemed completely unacceptable dating back to the time when the Yearning For Zionist hairstyles were actually a current style - like the 1800's!

Polygamy has been illegal in our society for a long time and just because it has be unprosecuted until now does not make it legal no matter what a person's religious belief is.

In this case, the "Christian" thing to do is to "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." In other words, obey the law of the land that says these "spiritual" marriages with minor children are illegal. Instead the FLDS has devised clever loopholes to sidestep the laws of the land. The know they are breaking the law and this is why they obscure the facts . It is why Warren Jeffs lived like an outlaw on the run, hiding out in the different FLDS compounds to escape having to come to terms with the law of our land.

The exchange of girls between the various compounds is a sure indication that what is practiced in one is practiced in all.

The girl who testified against Warren Jeffs was asked to come to Texas to help make it easier on the girls who were being taken from the YFZ ranch. She saw her own long lost sisters through the windows of the ranch and could not reach out to them.

As for mistreatment of the boys, it is mistreatment when a large percentage of boys are put out of the FLDS communities for the purpose of keeping the girls-to-men ratio preserved. Call it whatever else you want, but the boys and men have been put out by the alpha men. Some animal species do that, but it is not intended for human beings.

The New Testament is pretty clear that God made us to be husband and wife in a union that makes us one. Jesus said that it was "hardness of heart" that prompted God to give a provision for divorce, but Jesus said He was raising the bar on even that one, and that we were not to put asunder by divorce what God had joined as one. If Jesus doesn't want husband and wife to divorce, how much more does He not condone husbands having multiple wives.

We aren't living in ancient times, we are living in 2008 United States of America. Religious convictions of this nature do not supersede the laws of the land. If we allow them to, then chaos - not law - will rule because we will revert back to every man doing what is right in his own eyes. That always spells trouble.

So are you an FLDS member?

Laura said...

Donna,

I am certainly not an FLDS member! On the contrary, I am a Bible-believing Christian (I attend a Church of Christ) and as such strongly reject even the Mormon faith, and much more so the FLDS beliefs. I think they have added man's words to God's words, and it seems quite clear to me that many of their additions are contrary to what the Bible teaches.

I was trying to explain another Christian viewpoint to encourage unity among Christians rather than division. I was saddened to see in your article that you understood all those "on the other side" as rejecting the only valid Christian viewpoint, and I wanted to assure you that many of us are led by Biblical principals to believe the opposite of what you believe. Doesn't Romans 14 tell us that there will be disputable matters where people on both sides of an issue will be accepted by God? I am terribly distressed that my post seems to have done the opposite of my goal -- to polarize people who are supposed to be brothers and sisters.

Contrary to what you might think, I do agree with you on just about all the points you made in your latest reply -- I think those men who have wives under the legal age of consent should be punished; I think that the laws on bigamy should be enforced as written (I'm not sure they actually forbid what the YFZ members are doing, but if they do, then it's completely appropriate for those laws to be enforced). Putting boys out of the community to preserve a ratio is deplorable and should be punished, and, yes, I believe God desires marriage to be between one man and one woman.

I probably went off topic in my explanations of why I believe it not to be inherently evil for an older man to marry a younger woman. You are right, there are laws in America which the YFZ members have an obligation to obey. No matter how I think God feels about such age spans in marriage, we live in an age where the law limits this. This is not the time or place to argue about those laws. :-)

I ask you to believe me, I really do agree with you regarding the points you brought up in your last post. Where I diverge from you is that I am not convinced that every last person who stands accused today is guilty, and I am troubled that they are being punished as such before any evidence against them as individuals is seen. I just want the innocent to be spared punishment (in the spirit of "the soul who sins is the one who will die"). As I suggested before, perhaps you and I only differ on this because neither of us has all the facts about each individual accused in this case. I trust that God will carry out his judgment in this life or the next.

Regards,
Laura

IsraelWatcher said...

Christians can believe all sorts of things, and although I think it is a desirable thing to reach for unity between Christians, I do not believe that means I have to refrain from writing my perspective for fear of appearing divisive.

Here's the thing. Although Christians may hold a million different views, the truth of God's mind is not relative. That means that a million views may miss the mark of what God means - and that is what I search for, what is God's mind about a thing, not what are the biases and prejudices of the denominations I have been taught by.

Unity is a good thing, and yes, we can disagree over non-salvation issues and be accepted by God (and each other). I never said anything along those lines. If that is what you thought I was saying, it wasn't at all.

Mostly I have been speaking to people who are not of our faith, and who do not have the Word of God for a compass in their lives.

Unity is a good thing, but it is not a good thing if it robs us of the ability to have and express a viewpoint for fear of stepping on someone else's toes. We reach for unity where ever we possibly can, but we also have to have the courage to speak unpopular things.

God not only instituted marriage, but He also mandated government as a means of protecting people. Dietrich Bonhoeffer did some wonderful writing on the just role of government - since he was wrestling with the unjust version.

Anyway Laura, It is okay to disagree. I am putting forward my views because all I'm seeing is the view that the authorities are wrong and we should leave those people alone. I believe the authorities are exercising a God-mandated authority to protect the public. I don't believe everything authorities do are perfect, and we have to keep a watch over them - but as a society, Americans are really stuck in Sixties type distrust of authority. God is not against authority, in fact, if we are not under proper authorities, God views us as in rebellion also to Him. We can fall into the ditch on both sides of the narrow path.

No problems with me, Laura. I accept you as you have identified yourself here, a fellow Christian with some conclusions or questions different from mind. Still, I stand by the views I have written. Deal?

Laura said...

Agreed. May God bring all of us to a better understanding of his will in all things.

It is a good work to encourage people to use God's word as a compass for their lives, and I wish you the very best in your efforts. God bless.