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Texas ‘Polygamists’ have rights too?

I am gently informed by Mormons that the Mormon-like polygamist community in Texas are not Mormons.  Read their arguments and my initial post on this subject here.

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So, a Texas court has ruled that the State acted inappropriately as it extricated more than 400 children from the Texas polygamist compound.  Here are two articles that discuss the matter:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080522/ap_on_re_us/polygamist_retreat

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=080522213014.gw8y4mb6&show_article=1

That article contains this comment which is consistent with my earlier post, which takes issue with the hypocrisy involved:

“The Department conceded at the hearing that teenage pregnancy, by itself, is not a reason to remove children from their home and parents.”

And according to this article, the 911 phone call which started off the whole thing is now believed to be a hoax.

Now, I want to make it perfectly plain that I have no affection for Mormonism.  I found it deeply ironic that a number of Mormons would challenge my description of these Texans as ‘Mormons’ while they, no doubt, feel perfectly entitled to the name ‘Christian.’  My problems with Mormonism run deep.

But here we have a plain example of the need for, and the disintegration of, our first and second amendment rights.  We also see exposed the blinders that organizations such as the ACLU are wearing.  The trampling of the civil rights of this community in Texas was pretty obvious almost from the beginning.  Yet no one came to their defense because… because… they were a religious people whose views were dastardly… they had sex with multiple partners (which secular society frowns upon) some of them, we were told, were underage (which even the porn industry denounces, judging from the spam I get). [that’s sarcasm, friend]

The secular response might have been different, I suppose, if the impregnated young women had access to abortion!

This Texas case is an example of a bandwagon run out of control.  The ugly truth is that there are many, many people out in our country today who believe that religious parents are inherently dangerous and that they should be more closely watched.  (Consider this WND article, for example).  The difference is that we saw it writ large in Texas.  Christians should take notice.  If there is legitimate child abuse involved then that is one thing, yet even then ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is still the guiding principle of our land.  We can- and should- at least have expressed our outrage at the trampling of their due process rights.

On that front, I think even the Christian community bears some responsibility for not speaking out.  I warn: If the scurrilous religionists in Texas are treated like dirt, what is to say that some day some other religious group is deemed to be scurrilous?  Who will come to their defense then?

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I am not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I am not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the incurably sick, and I did not speak out because I am not incurably sick.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I am not a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

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    • JLF on May 23, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    In the battle for souls, a little bit of marketing hype has crept in. Certainly everyone thinks his brand of religion is the correct one. I can’t think anyone believes they belong to the wrong church. Recently, the LDS have been making serious conversion inroads amongst Catholics in Latin and South America in addition to other places including Africa and Asia. The latest rounds of anti-Mormon backlash seem to be part of a turf battle. When Mormonism was merely an amusement and oddity they were not a big concern to other denominations. But that has changed now that Mormons have serious and growing influence. Up until fairly recently Mormons seemed content stay primarily in Utah and the western US wastelands. But that has changed. Even the august Southern Baptist Convention’s Dr. Richard Land has openly acknowledged that the 300,000 Baptist converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has opened Evangelical eyes to the competition.

    What makes this growing influence even more troubling to traditional Christianity is Mormons tell investigators they don’t have to rely on a priest or pastor to interpret scripture or provide the last word on doctrine. Mormons say everyone can find out for themselves whether what they preach is right or not by humbly reading the Book of Mormon and approaching God for a confirmation that they really do bring the restoration of Christ’s original church and His original doctrines. Given there is a considerably firm and fast difference between the old traditional Christian doctrines and LDS doctrine and there isn’t much wiggle room for negotiating a compromise. In fact there isn’t any place at all in Mormon doctrine for traditional Christian beliefs such as the Nicene and other related creeds. Mormons even offer Old and New Testament passages as support for their position and then say to put everything to the test by asking for Holy Spirit confirmation – even the doctrine the LDS Church teaches.

    The interesting thing about how this whole affair has evolved is the way the traditional Christians have responded. Rather than acknowledging the effectiveness of recommending people humbly approach God in prayer and fasting to get confirmation of what they teach, they chose to demonize Mormons and attack them as an enemy. They have placed the correctness of the Nicene Creed as the bedrock of their doctrine and no discussion or dissent can be tolerated. If the NC is not correct then logic tells us much of their religious doctrine is not correct. The traditional Christians go on to use individual differences between the two doctrines as proof of Mormon heresy. But their proofs almost always are filtered through the lens of the Nicene and other traditional creeds and rely on mankind’s understanding and traditions. But Mormons say the discussion ought to be whether God has in fact opened the canon and restored prophets and apostles to lead His restored Church. They say all these other things are subordinate to what should be the primary discussion. If what Mormons claim is in fact authentic then all the other stuff is essentially meaningless because it really does come from God, human failings not included. Mormons offer direct access to God as their way to prove what they proclaim. Their detractors offer tradition and the understanding of men as theirs. Or so it seems to me.

    • Anthony on May 23, 2008 at 5:43 pm
      Author

    “Mormons offer direct access to God as their way to prove what they proclaim. Their detractors offer tradition and the understanding of men as theirs. Or so it seems to me.”

    2 Corinthians 11:14

    “But Mormons say the discussion ought to be whether God has in fact opened the canon and restored prophets and apostles to lead His restored Church.”

    Hebrews 1:1-2

    • Travis on May 23, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    “I found it deeply ironic that a number of Mormons would challenge my description of these Texans as ‘Mormons’ while they, no doubt, feel perfectly entitled to the name ‘Christian.’”

    Funny, because if you think the two situations are comparable (I don’t), I find it ironic that you insist on calling the FLDS “Mormon” and vehemently resist calling Mormon’s “Christian.” Or do you concede that Mormon’s are Christian?

    But really, the situations are not comparable. I think Christians agree that to be saved one must be a Christian. Therefore, when other Christians insist that Mormon’s are not Christian, they are making a judgment about our standing before God. And when we (LDS) insist that we are Christian, we are saying that we have taken upon us the name of Christ – that we are saved.

    When we (LDS) say that the term “Mormon” should not be applied to the FLDS, we are saying that the media should make a clear distinction between two completely different organizations. We are not making a judgment about whether or not they have taken upon them the name of Christ. I doubt the FLDS really care whether the term Mormon is applied to them. I could be wrong, but if they follow the teachings of Joseph Smith, then I am sure they care more about being called Christian than Mormon.

    Colin is right that Mormon’s are ambivalent about the nickname “Mormon”. Christ is God, Mormon was a man. We want Christ’s name, not Mormon’s. But the nickname has stuck whether we like it or not. As long as it has stuck, we don’t want it to be used in ways that confuse us with other groups. The term Mormon is almost universally used to identify the LDS Church,and to use it to identify a completely different group causes confusion.

    • Anthony on May 23, 2008 at 9:13 pm
      Author

    I also find it ironic that I can post two blog entries which come out and in aggressive terms defend the rights of the FLDS and the thing that prompts Mormon readers to comment is whether or not the FLDS should be called ‘Mormons.’

    No, I do not think Mormons should be called Christians. The meaning of the word has meant about the same thing for more than a thousand years, and Mormon beliefs diverge from dramatically from the beliefs associated with the word for a thousand years. That’s just a simple fact. Nonetheless it is important for Mormons, who have beliefs radically different than Christians through the ages, to usurp for themselves the same name. As clearly implied in your post, Travis, it matters a great deal to you, too. And there is the irony: Christians are not permitted to delineate what is meant by the term, though it has existed for century upon century, yet Mormons are quick to mark off the territory by which the term ‘Mormon’ applies to.

    I see no point at present to argue the matter. I mentioned it in order to make it plain that I have no sympathy for Mormonism, and is clear from my comment now, I am prepared in general to harshly rebuke the Mormons- for a number of reasons. And yet- here is the point- given all that, I am greatly disturbed by the Texas event and fiercely protest how it happened.

    I wonder if the focus on the confusion on the so called ‘different groups’ has more to do with the FLDS apparently not giving up polygamy while the LDS would consider it a PR nightmare if suddenly people thought that Mormons really are polygamist. I think that is probably closest to the truth.

    • Travis on May 24, 2008 at 8:27 am

    If you really want your readers to focus on the bigger issue, you can avoid the distraction yourself by simply (and graciously) using the official name of each organization.

    You’ll be doing the LDS, the FLDS, and yourself a big favor. The LDS won’t be offended, your readers won’t be distracted from the real issue, and, consequently, you will be a more effective advocate of the FLDS’ rights.

    While many LDS Mormons believe Texas did the right thing, I agree with you and with the Appeals court in Austin that Texas did not act appropriately.

    I personally applaud your defense of the FLDS, and I will make no more objections here to your ambiguous use of the term ‘Mormon’. But if you really want the sub-issue dropped, you should drop it yourself by using accurate terminology that you know will not distract readers from your main point.

    Otherwise, I suspect you really have two motives – to defend the FLDS and to ruffle LDS feathers. You are doing both quite well.

    Many bloggers have capably defended the FLDS without bringing objections from LDS readers for their use of terminology. You can do the same if you really want to.

    Let’s pray CPS changes its mind and does not appeal.

    • JLF on May 25, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    sntjohnny quoted scripture, that is 2 Corinthians 11:14 and Hebrews 1:1-2. Therein lays the confusion. One man says it means one thing and another says something different. Historic Christianity claims the understanding of men through 2000 years of tradition is the proof. Mormons say the way to understanding is by the direct manifestation of the Holy Ghost and that the understanding of men is trumped by direct communication with God. When a person sincerely wants to know, they humble themselves in earnest prayer and if they believe God will tell them the truth and are humble and willing to apply what He tells them in their own life, they will get an answer. On the other hand, if they approach God in prayer only as a curiosity or with their mind made up or they have no intention of putting His message to work in their life then they lack faith and will not get an answer. If I understand what sntjohnny intended in quoting Corinthians, he is saying praying to God will invite Satan instead. That must mean you can’t trust God to answer prayers and that what Christ taught in Matthew 7:7–8, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” does not work. Other scripture that supports prayer is James 1:5-6 and Enos 1:1-17.

    • JLF on May 25, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    stjohnny says

    “I wonder if the focus on the confusion on the so called ‘different groups’ has more to do with the FLDS apparently not giving up polygamy while the LDS would consider it a PR nightmare if suddenly people thought that Mormons really are polygamist. I think that is probably closest to the truth.”

    The need for polygamy no longer exists. Students of why it was implemented in the first place understand that there was a critical shortage of honorable men in which deserving women could select husbands. This has eternal significance when you understand the doctrine of Eternal Marriage which bears directly on Life Eternal or eternal increase. From a layman’s view, such marriages could only be because of carnal lusts or as a means to obtain power and influence by Church leadership. Again, man’s understanding is not God’s understanding. If one has already determined what it means then no amount of cajoling or discourse matters. But if one again, humbly, seeks confirmation from God through prayer as I described earlier, then with faith that God will truthfully tell him, he will get an answer.

    • Anthony on June 2, 2008 at 8:34 am
      Author

    Update: I heard that the ACLU has at last become involved in this affair. Good for them!

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