Friday, April 18, 2008

Religious Liberty or Pedophilia?

If you haven't followed the situation in Texas, it's ugly. There is a Mormon sect there where the state alleges that girls as young as 13 were forced to marry older men and have children early and often. The State of Texas has removed more than 400 children from the compound and is in the process of holding mass custody hearings trying to protect the kids from what they allege is an abusive situation.

I'm a bit conflicted by this. I understand that a 13 year old cannot consent to marriage in the United States. And 50 year old men marrying them are pedophiles in my opinion. And I truly feel sorry for these young girls who are in essences brainwashed and abused, while their mothers sit idly by and watch it happen. But I don't like the idea of the state interfering in religious practice, because you don't know where it will stop.

I'm not condoning what went on at this compound in Texas. I just don't trust the government to stay out of religious issues. With the emergence of Obama's pastor's rants as a political issue, the church is receiving some interesting scrutiny. It is one thing when a rogue religion violates the law of the land on child abuse and polygamy. But I don't want to see government expand its powers to begin infringing on religious practices. Rev. Wright's sermons and events like this invite well-intentioned legislators to meddle in things where they should tread lightly. And government walks with a heavy foot.


bishopman said...

It certainly is a tough situation. One thing that bothers me is the state lumping all the families together in one circus-like hearing, rather than having a hearing for each separate family. It borders on treating them like cattle.

If they are breaking law, take the necessary steps. At the same time, they have the right of due process like everyone else.

Geoff Brown said...

Regardless of the religious and polygamist issues, I think we all agree that child abuse needs to be detected faster and prosecuted more vigorously. Does anyone know of any especially innovative ways to do this? We've created an online role-playing course that lets teachers (who often notice signs of abuse, but fail to act) practice a conversation with a possible child abuse victim. It gives expert feedback after every choice. If you know of other innovative programs (using technology or not), please let us know. Thanks!