Thursday, April 10, 2008

More on the FLDS

In a follow up to Maureen’s post this past Saturday, more information is being revealed about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the FLDS), much of it only reinforcing the original suspicions. Also being revealed in an AP article written yesterday is additional information on prior raids on the sect.

According to the article, raids on the FLDS had previously been carried out in 1935, 1944 and 1953. After each of these previous raids, children were taken to foster care and arrests were made, mirroring the present day events. In these previous raids, families returned and more joined this sect once given the opportunity, allowing the sect/cult the ability to continue and grow.

In another article posted on MSNBC, the question of whether the FLDS is a cult or sect is debated. While this debate is very interesting, one of the most intriguing issues covered is why people join these cults or sects. Among the reasons provided as to why people join these groups is that they know nothing else, most often being born into the cult/sect. In the FLDS, it has already been revealed that minors are being married to adult males to have their children; some of these children who have been born into this cult and have now grown up assuredly know no other way of life, leading to the possibility that they will eventually return to the FLDS.

With these past instances of the FLDS continuing to grow and thrive after previous raids, coupled with the fact that many of these members most likely know no other way of life, it is expected that the FLDS will once again reemerge and be able to recruit “willing” members. Members are used to having “Church leaders have kept a strict hold on every aspect of FLDS life — from the modest prairie-style clothes worn by members, to amount of time their kids stay in school and which house a family calls home.” Some are eager to break free, as evidenced by the sixteen-year-old girl who initially contacted authorities, but it seems that many will return to their previous way of life once given the opportunity.

Even conceding the FLDS’ First Amendment rights and ignoring the fact that polygamy is illegal, there remain several disturbing issues. The primary issue is that many of these members have not been given free choice in joining. Having grown up from birth in a lifestyle of polygamy and underage marriage may seem like a perfectly ordinary life for those who do not know anything else. Some, perhaps many, of these members joined the FLDS of their own free will and remain of their own free will; those that have become members solely due to birth cannot be said to have exercised this same level of free will.

In a case such as this, there is no clear cut method for resolving the problems associated with groups such as the FLDS. Obviously, government intervention has not worked as such intervention has only allowed the FLDS to grow. Removing underage children to foster homes has also been tried and failed. Education would seem to be nearly impossible as many members are exposed from birth and are taught this way of life from day one. Accordingly, apart from arresting every single member of the organization, an impossible feat, or constant vigilance, also impossible, it seems that the only method available at this time to curb the growth of the FLDS, at least temporarily, is to wait for further reports from members wishing to leave and willing to provide information as to the present location of the group.

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