As John the Baptist cried out against the sin of King Herod, saying "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife," so today the Voice of John blog cries out against the Government of Texas, saying, "It is not lawful for you to have the children of the FLDS sect."
I have zero religious support for the FLDS religion, or the mainstream LDS religion, for that matter. I have no doubt that things are going on at the FLDS YFZ ranch which I could never condone. However, it appears that the vast majority of these things are legal, and it appears that the State of Texas has produced no concrete evidence in court of abuse and/or imminent danger to the 437 it has unlawfully kidnapped. And even if the state does manage to produce such evidence, it looks like it would only be able to prove this happened in some families, giving them no warrant whatsoever for kidnapping the other children. Constitutional protections in such cases are in place to protect real rights. They do an imperfect job of this, but to sweep them away is to oppress and persecute people. For Christians to support this is to participate in state sin. God held David responsible for authorizing the murder of Uriah on his behalf; I expect He would hold me responsible for authorizing the state to kidnap children on my behalf.
Before siding with the state in this matter, please educate yourself by reading at the Common Room. Please do not shield yourself from opposing points of view. You may find that your initial impressions based on what you hear in the news are false and not based on fact. You may "think" or "feel" now that these children should be taken away, but people should not go to jail based on a feeling, and children should not be taken away from their parents based on a feeling, either. One of our God-given protections in this land is the presumption of innocence until we are proven guilty. Suspicion of guilt is not enough to authorize the state to take action. And unless you have truly investigated things, your feeling is mere suspicion. "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." (John 7:24) You shall not follow a multitude to do evil. (Exodus 23:2)
I have been asked for some suggestions about what people can do to help in this matter. I have brainstormed some suggestions. I am only confident of the effectiveness of the first two.
Things which I know will help:
- Fast and pray, for the children, and for the parents
- Purpose in your heart before God that you will never support similar injustice. Agencies like this could not function if the whole public did not support them and accord them a level of trust which is completely undeserved. Go look at the number of people who say "I think such and such about FLDS. I haven't read any opposing views and what I know about FLDS I heard in the mainstream media. I support the government in this." That is the true source of this tragedy.
Other things which might help:
- Find out how to foster FLDS children. Make your home a loving temporary refuge for them. Don't try to change them. Allow their parents to come live with them if possible, or at least to see them if possible.
- Tell people the truth. If they are supporting this action and are unaware of the things you know of, ask them to read the things you have read. If they will not do that, ask them why not. Ask them their sources for what they believe, and lead them to investigate those sources. Remind them that for the Christian, the end can never justify the means. "Shall we do evil that good may come?" Absolutely not! (Romans 3:8)
- Attempt to find a way to privately help finance someone's custody battle. They will do much better with a privately-funded attorney than a state attorney.
- Help set up a legal defense fund, in fact. I don't know how to do this. I wish there were such a fund to help, run by non-Mormons, but assisting these FLDS, and committed to Constitutional law. Such a fund would abandon anyone who truly committed abuse to whatever horrors the government wants to inflict on them, but would seek to protect the rights of everyone who did not.
- If you live in Texas, attempt to contact your representatives as well as the people involved here. Tell them that the legal protections that they are skipping are a right you are unwilling to give up and are unwilling to see removed from other people in your name by your agents and representatives.
- It's my personal belief that people outside of Texas should not tell people inside what to do, and vice versa. Nevertheless, if you do not live in Texas and do not share this conviction, you might want to mount some federal campaign. Alternatively, I see nothing wrong in saying, "I don't live there, but what you people are doing is WRONG. We see it and are taking notice."
- Preach to state officials like John the Baptist. Remind them that God is watching them and that "It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that, to face the judgment," and that they must give an account for the deeds which they have done in the flesh. Majority vote or government appointment will not shield them from responsibility in That Day.
- Make sure your own state isn't legally authorized to do things like this.
- Protest. In public, in groups.
- Contact conservative talk radio hosts and persuade them of the importance of advocating for Constitutional rights in this matter
- Speak to your church leaders about the subject. They have a flock they should be leading in this matter
- Oppose welfare and government subsidized loans. The FLDS sect likely benefited from both of these, and both are sinful programs which Christians should not support, anyway. The state likely could have forced the end of the FLDS group by ceasing to distort the free market like this. No violence or sin would have been needed. This is one of many cases where the state has caused a problem it is now using as an excuse to claim more power.
- Enlist the support of your congregation for any of these suggestions
- For the really serious: pack up your car and drive to Eldorado. Cook, do chores, and otherwise take care of FLDS women (and possibly men, too), so that they can devote themselves full time to seeking the welfare of their children. In this way you can be a personal testimony to them as well as to the world. I have no doubt that there are plenty of wrong things about the FLDS; the Scripture says, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. Of course, right now the FLDS parents may welcome mundane chores to take their minds off of the tragedy they are going through; don't insist on offering unwanted help. Take your children along with you; keep them with you at all times; bring your spouse and/or your children's grandparents, if possible, or a group of several adults. In this way you will be offering quite a testimony to the world, about many things.
- If you can get in touch with the FLDS, watch for news items that quote them and put them in a bad light. They are quite naive about many things, and this is probably hurting their case in the court of public opinion (which is very much where this thing is being judged). Offer them advice on how they can bolster their case; things not to say, things which should be said differently. Stress the importance of competent legal counsel.
- Convince the FLDS to sell or mortgage the YFZ compound and use the proceeds to purchase the best legal help money can buy for any parents who are innocent of sexual activity with children under 16 since 2005, or under 14 before 2005. Explain to them that while the state provides free counsel, the state is still footing the bill, and therefore there is every reason to expect the suggestions offered to them will not be quite as good as they could get by paying for advice themselves.