Monday, April 21, 2008

Polygamy Parents Speak Out

Well…thanks to the focus of our powerful media and a major state government police action against a polygamous sect that has set off the alarm bells, we now have for more than a week observed from afar the three ring circus of this retention of 416 children from this religious community.

While most of us do not relate to these people nor share their views or lifestyles, this situation does call on us to consider and want to know the real facts/issues behind this domestic conflict. The lines in our country between church and state, liberty and responsibility, and the role of government justice systems is being continually blurred by actions on all sides. It seems to me the pendulum is swinging at extremes on the moralities at stake. The “religious right” wants increased legislated morality and government controls in place while secularists want more freedoms and independence to live without influence of religion. All claim they have the right not to be exposed to the other side’s views or influences. Hence you are seeing a more divided America…and world at large.

I don’t claim to know anything about this sect or their religion. I know a little about Mormonism, but I understand these people are way outside the current Mormon church…though it sounds like maybe they’re just a more FUNDAMENTALIST form of same. Probably trying to revert back to living in the good ole 1800s, wagon train days. I don’t relate to their isolationism, their dress, their hairdos or polygamous beliefs. But…I don’t think I am in a position to deny them their sovereignty to live that way if all of them are in agreement. And while I understand the concerns we and government people have about children being abused even within religion…I’m not sure we have the right to go in and intervene as we have. It is now coming out that the original call from a supposed minor being forced into marriage and having children was a hoax…and I share liberal ideals about our government being VERY CAREFUL about arresting or intruding on individual privacy without substantial proof. If we are to believe the latest media reports, it sounds like “cause” is going to be difficult for these bureaucrats to prove. And this could then end up another case of all the lawyers in Texas making money by suing our “rich” government for unlawful intervention. Then these people can just build a nicer temple and bigger houses for their big families off of government revenues…which come from our tax dollars! (Reminder to self to write a blog on “tort law reform” someday soon).

From a rationale standpoint on this issue of parental control or rights…I think we and our government should walk very carefully about trying to control these family situations. While many touters in the media have been screaming “brain washing” and “child abuse” in this situation, we should be careful about how far we allow government to intervene here. Main reason being…the ACLU and various atheistic leagues and movements are writing and concerning themselves about ALL children from ALL religions who get programmed or indoctrinated in many ways by their families and churches. At what point do you draw the line between educating, parenting, and leading a child down the road of any particular faith…versus indoctrination, brain washing and unfair control of a child’s sovereign rights to reject that religion or way of life? Who is going to make the call between parental rights and children’s rights versus the rights and power of “the state”? This can get very messy in a hurry and have repercussions on all levels of parental and religious freedoms…and perhaps justifiable limitations there of. Again, who’s qualified to make that call?

One could argue from a religious standpoint that parents and the family are sacrosanct in respect to raising and nurturing their children and should have no societal or governmental interference. After all, the good book says to “honor your father and mother all the days of your life”. Some interpret that as meaning Gods way is that children should remain subservient and obedient to their parents all their lives. Perhaps that is what these people in this sect are dealing with as core values.

On the other hand, if life begins at conception and is to be recognized as a living individual with rights at the earliest age…then one has to respect the individual wishes of that child. If they want to leave their home, church or town…they should have the right, correct? But…most of them don’t have the wherewithal to do so…no job, money…not enough learned independence. So…whose job is it to “rescue” these children if they need rescuing? The governments? The/A church? A local agency of some kind?

I observed an interesting interview this past week between the Anglican Bishop of England and one of the most renowned atheists of today (that interview will probably make another topic for discussion here soon). In that interview the atheist brought up the question about religious education and programming…and is it correct to program a child ONLY in the religion or philosophy of you the parent? And is there such a thing as a “Christian, Muslim or Jewish” child, or is that something the child should decide at a certain age? I suppose a child has no choice about being Jewish since that is a race and a religion. But to assume that child will be or is of the Jewish faith is another thing. Many obviously turn toward other religions or secularism. But, this issue does reflect somewhat on this Polygamous sect in the news today. What are the various rights between the parents and the children? How many of these 416 children went “willingly” with the officials, or were they coerced to do so against their wills? If so, what right does our government have to do so? And to probe even deeper, how would any of US feel if our children were yanked out of our church or their school and taken by government authorities for “questioning and processing”? Probably not too happy about it.

And one final question that crossed my mind. Do these people call THEMSELVES polygamist? Do they have other “labels” for themselves that might be more defining or meaningful? Who initiates these labels and why do we use them? And while we ponder that, weren’t many of our Biblical heroes polygamists (David, Solomon, Abraham?)…and if so, does God really care about that issue?

Ah…I know…I always ask the impossible questions…:)

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