April 29, 2008 - I have held off making any comment on the Texas raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints until I gathered enough information. This is what we know so far:
A woman in Colorado illegally phoned in a false claim to Texas authorities that she (claiming to be Sarah) had been raped and abused and forced to bear children for men in the FLDS church establishment.
As a result of that one unverified telephone call, Texas authorities mounted a raid on the church grounds, removing the children present by force and against the will of their parents. The children have since been set up in foster care all over Texas while authorities attempt to sort out what was going on there.
DNA and other evidence obtained as a result indicates many of the ?underage? female children were impregnated by men they were ?spiritually? married to at the church.
Nobody was murdered. There is no evidence of rape. Nobody was kidnapped. The entire case rests upon the right of the state to dictate at what age a young woman may consent to consensual sex, even if married under church doctrine.
Many states have adopted laws that claim a female citizen does not have the right to consent to consensual sex if under a certain age. Those laws claim that the ?underage? female who does have consensual sex has been ?raped?, and the male who had sex with the willing female is a rapist who must be prosecuted and punished, and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. The female is held as entirely innocent by law, while the male is automatically deemed an offender.
But the prosecution of these ?Statutory Rape Laws? is highly arbitrary and capricious as practiced in most states. Here in Oregon, District Attorneys have adopted a policy of not prosecuting a young man age 17 for having consensual sex with a girl age 15, but if a man age 25 were to have sex with the same young woman he would have the law books thrown at him. This is a common practice in most states that summarily excuse and accept teen sex as ?normal? and not illegal. From a legal standpoint, this is a practice that was bound to eventually become a major legal issue. Clearly it is discriminatory on the basis of the age of the alleged offender.
First, almost all law in the United States is based upon the Ten Commandments and other biblical laws against certain behaviors, but nowhere in the Bible is there a prohibition against having sex with a female of a certain age specific if the act is completely consensual after marriage. In those days it was common for a man of means to marry a young woman of age 12 or 13. The silence of God?s Word on this issue is quite telling with regard to actual biblical morality as compared to what man has dictated as being legally acceptable.
So I find this issue involving the FLDS church to be one of religious freedom under our Constitution, as it finds itself in conflict with state law. I believe this will be the issue that finds itself before the Supreme Court.
Under the Christian Bible, there is no prescribed marriage ceremony to establish a marriage. Under state law, a Marriage License is required prior to marriage along with age requirements, etc. The conflict is obvious.
The question might well be to determine if ?marriage? is a legal or religious right, either protected by the right to practice one?s religious beliefs, or subject to the laws of the state. Can it be both? If you view this conflict objectively, I think you will conclude that ?marriage? was originally based upon religion long before anyone came up with the bright idea to license married people in return for certain rights they could claim. Think about it.
No matter how this issue is decided, the way Texas handled this debacle is contrary to their alleged claims that they were only acting to protect the children. There was no allegation that any of the children under age 12, either male or female, were being abused in any way, sexually or physically. In every other case where child abuse of any kind is suspected, authorities move in and immediately expel the males(s) from the home. In this case, the children were forcibly removed from the home into foster care against their will, and depriving them of both their mother?s and father?s influence. I think Texas will be vilified and pay dearly for that.
These children were being raised in a very controlled, pristine and moral environment. They were not being exposed to MTV and ?Shot At Love With Tila Tequila?, and other fine television shows as they probably are now while in foster care. I believe this raid was conducted because these people living at the FLDS establishment were simply ?different? and the state wouldn?t tolerate it. If it turns out that some of the young women age 13-14 were being forced to ?marry? elders in the FLDS church against their will, I?m sure that will eventually come out, but I?m waiting to see just how many of them will now claim that ? if any. We?ll see.
Carl F. Worden