State of Texas Had No Right To Seize Children in Raid on Polygamist Ranch Analysis and Commentary

SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) – Texas child-welfare authorities on Friday appealed a court ruling that rejected their right to seize more than 440 children from a polygamist sect, and they asked to keep the children in foster care while the case is reviewed.Authorities appeal court ruling in polygamist case

U have been following the case of the children of the members of the Mormon splinter group in Eldorado, Texas with some interest for the last couple of months. There are a number of religious, social and political ramifications implicit in how this situation is resolved.

The most pressing issue, and the one that concerns me most today, is whether a government agency has more rights over a child than the child’s parents. The Texas Child Protective Service (CPS) seems to think, as do their counterparts in most states, that they have more rights than the parents. They based their seizure of these children on an anonymous phone call reporting supposed sexual abuse of an underage girl, yet when they examined the children, they found no evidence of any type of abuse. Yet, rather than returning these children to their parents, the CPS sent them to foster homes all over the state of Texas.

The CPS is now saying it cannot return those children becuase they still do not have positive proof of who is the parent of whom. Well, it is not their reponsibility to determine that. The parents and the children know who belongs to whom, as does the community. The children should be returned to the ranch where they all live communally and let the adults and children sort out the relationships. I am quite sure that they will do a much better job than the CPS, DNA tests and all, will ever do.

The CPS must be forced to bring these children home and must be held accountable for its illegal actions. Heads need to roll, and even possibly the CPS must be abolished and replaced by a new agency with new personnel that has new guidelines for what it can and cannot do to “protect” children.

Which brings us to the religious and political implications of this case. I am only going to touch on these briefly today, but I will return to these issues in more depth at a later date.

The ranch where these children and adults live is a religious community that has certain rules that are different from the rules of society in general; for example, they practice polygamous marriage and the elder of the community have patriarchical authority over the members.

Individuals have a recognized constitutional right to engage in any form of consensual sexual relationship with any number of partners. Thus, a person can live with multiple partners and even sire children from different partners so long as they do not marry. However, when that same person accepts a legal commitment for those partners “as a spouse,” we jail them.Polygamy laws expose our own hypocrisy

The article from USAToady cited above provides some thought-provoking insights into the whole issue of polygamy and marriage in general. It seems that there was a case of a polygamy conviction that was appealed to the US Supreme Court. This case. was declined by the Supreme Court. But we may yet see the Supreme Court take a polygamy case, perhaps related to the El Dorado raid. Sucn an appeal as well as a possible appeal of the California Supreme Court ruling overturning a ban on same=sex marraiges, will go a long way, if the Court actually accepts these cases, in re-shaping the definition of what a marriage is in the United States.

Currently, each state has the right to set its own rules for legal marriages and can set up laws that make anything outside of those rules illegal, as is the case with polygamy in many states. But, as far as I am aware, just as there is no national law against or for same-sex marriage, there is no national law against or for plural marriage of any form. Most state marriage laws either explicitly or implicity define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. This is the generally accepted “Christian” definiton of marriage, which raises some serious Constitutional issues that have not yet been resolved.

But, is the United States really a “Christian” country? We now have a much more culturally and religiously diverse population, and many of those religions allow polygamy. The US Constitution guarantees the freedom to practice one’s religion. Does that protection include polygamy?

Also, the implications of a decision that upholds the unconstitutionality of same-sex marriages would have ramifications for the debate on polygamy. If a marriage can occur between people of the same gender in opposition to the “Christian” definition of marriage, why not allow multiple marriage partners, if all agree to the arrangement?

These are the political issues involved and it will be interesting to see how the politicians resolve this conundrum. As for the religious issues, well, that is another story we will take up later. I need to do a lot of stuff in my books to provide the necessary background for that discussion.

Until next time, peace! And Happy Memorial Day to all my American readers. I may be back tomorrow with a new post, but more than likely, there won’t be another post until Tuesday. Drive carefully if you can actually afford the gas to go anywhere this weekend.

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