All right, I’ve tried to bite my tongue, but I can’t take this any longer.
What the State of Texas is doing to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is wrong. Firstly, there is no indication yet that the phone call which prompted the raid was legitimate. When investigating a battered woman call, if the woman isn’t battered (or if she doesn’t exist), it seems to me you have no case.
Now, I understand the whole idea of, “Well, I went to their house because I thought they were bank robbers but I found pot, so now they’re under arrest for drug possession,” but what actual crime did law enforcement find when they went looking for a woman who wasn’t real? So far it appears the only crime is Parenting While Freaky, which, coming from Texas, the state that gave us mothers hiring hitmen to take out rival cheerleaders and family reunions-cum-baseball bat beating deaths, caries an incredibly high burden of proof.
Is this how Texas responds to all teen pregnancies? Or just the ones that make you want to gossip about them?
Secondly, today the news story is that 31 of the 53 teenagers in state custody have been pregnant at least once. That’s 58%. So a high teen pregnancy rate is grounds for removing all children from a group? This story also carries the first mention of a real crime, the fact that in Texas girls under 17 can’t consent to sex. However, it wasn’t until the state seized the children (and one would suspect did medical examinations) that they could even begin to speculate which teenage girls have been pregnant and which haven’t. While no one has been charged, the state felt free to conduct DNA tests. I thought I remembered something about “illegal searches and seizures,” but the government agent standing over my shoulder has just assured me that it’s a false memory.
Ultimately, what legal authority do parents have to instill a belief system in their children? I was baptized in my church when I was eight years old; were my parents “abusing” me? I’m not arguing against last year’s conviction of the FLDS leader: I believe that girl didn’t want to participate yet the church leaders and her family agreed to allow her husband to force her to participate. But this is a case of Texas seizing children who, by all indications, wanted to participate. I’m sure Texas will say, “Well, they don’t know they can choose to disagree,” or, “They have been intimidated into compliance,” but even so, don’t you have to have a victim press charges? How strong of a case is this? “When investigating a hoax, we found non-victimized victims, non-perpetrating perpetrators, and decided this belief system was too dangerous for children.” Since when does Texas get to decide what religious groups get to have children? There are people in the world who think it is abusive to teach children to believe in God. Is the only thing keeping them from taking away your kids the fact that they don’t represent a majority (yet)?
I know everyone hates abuse, but how do you fight abuse while protecting freedom? And when those two goals conflict, which wins?