Over at StreetProphets, some Christian pastors are starting to take a closer look at what's going on in the Eldorado raid. Quarkstomper views the case through the prism of his own religion's often misogynistic history:
Quarkstomper's wife would advise mainstream Christianity to take the beam out of its own eye, in other words, so then it may see clearly to remove the mote out of its FLDS brethren's.
I really don't know what to say about it. The evil that has come out in the reports about the Eldorado branch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is so vile that anything I could say seems inadequate.
But I can't help but feel shame as well. Nearly all their practices are extensions of doctrines and practices preached in some mainstream churches. (emphasis added)
My wife left the church long ago because she felt alienated by the attitudes towards women in the Catholic Church she grew up in and other churches. As far as she's concerned, all religions have the same attitudes as this group in Texas; they just aren't all as blatant about how they control women.
I try to tell her different. I try to tell her that Jesus isn't about enslaving women; that God isn't about enslaving women; that the Gospel isn't about enslaving women. But people like James Dobson and Jerry Falwell and this Warren Jeffs guy tell her I'm wrong.
In response, StreetProphets regular Pastordan wrote a thoughtful post that expressed discomfort with the widespread presumption of guilt against all FLDSers with little factual basis:
it is worth asking how outsiders know there's something wrong, and whether that knowledge is as based in evidence as they'd like to think. And while we all might agree that your rights end at my nose, do they end when I have a hunch they're on my nose?He linked to Grits, suggesting I might have overstated concerns about the constitutionality of Harvey Hildebran changing marriage laws specifically to target this sect, even though he agrees:
that an adjustment in the Texas age-of-consent law appears to have been aimed specifically at the FLDS. [Henson] thinks that means it won't pass the separation test. I'm not so sure. A lawyer friend says (tentatively) that if the law was indeed targeted at a single group, the government would need to demonstrate that it had a compelling interest in doing so, and carried out it in the narrowest possible way. Which is to say, they had to do it, and they caused the least burden they could while they did so. That's typically not a problem in such a case, and I don't see it being one here.For the record, I never said the law clearly doesn't pass the separation test, only that it "may not" do so (regular readers know I'm not an attorney) and IMO deserves to be challenged on those grounds as part of the process. That said, the courts have created many loopholes to get around enforcing every individual right enshrined in the US Constitution, and the supposedly absolute protections for religious freedom in the First Amendment are no exception. It may well be that those rights have become so degraded and meaningless that, as Pastordan's attorney friend implies, getting around them is no longer any big deal.
Furthermore, there are some recent cases that indicate that the government can establish religion-neutral regulations which primarily affect a single religious group. We'll have to see how those hold up on appeal.
Interestingly, the case on appeal Pastordan mentions, the one which may set precedent regarding the state's ability to enforce "religion-neutral" regulations targeting a specific sect, is also a Texas case from Euless (and a recent one), where a Santeria priest has been denied the right to sacrifice a goat on his own property, despite the fact that municipal codes allow butchering of deer, chickens, and other "tablefare."
Meanwhile, the blogger at Oak Leaves wonders about the difference between Texas' reaction to FLDS and that in Arizona and Utah, declaring:
The question nobody is asking: does the fact that there are more Mormons in Arizona and Utah make a difference? Are non-polygamous Mormons in law enforcement going to look more kindly upon their “separated brethren” who practice the original teachings of the faith?
Indeed, the corollary question no one is asking: Does the fact that FLDS' West Texas neighbors are mostly Christians who're hostile to all religions descended from Joseph Smith explain the sweeping guilt-by-association approach to enforcement in Eldorado? To what extent are activities tolerated in Utah but prosecuted in Texas because the defendants are more isolated and enjoy less (latent) political support?
I think the subjects merit a lot more honest discussion among both religious leaders and constitutional scholars. The answer lies at the crux of the debate over whether the Eldorado raid is religious persecution or legitimate law enforcement.
RELATED: Grits' Eldorado Roundup