The El Dorado Raid

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I'm sure you've
seen the stories about the big raid by the Texas authorities (initiated
by the Child Protective Services, on the sole authority of a single
state district judge) which resulted in the kidnapping of 401 minors
from a religious compound near El Dorado, Texas.

The "Yearn
for Zion" ranch is operated by the Fundamentalist Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a rump Mormon outfit which still
adheres to the outlawed doctrine of multiple wives. Church leader
Warren Jeffs was convicted of child rape charges last year for assisting
in marriages of underage church females to older men.

About 200 women
were allowed to leave with the children, who were forcibly bussed
to San Angelo about 50 miles away. The children are being kept under
armed guard at a local community center facility. El Dorado is smack
in the middle of Texas in a largely empty hardscrabble area. The
women are permitted to return to the church property but news reports
indicate that the adult men in the compound are being "detained"
by police, though there is no report of arrest warrants or other
legal pretense for this imprisonment. There is no public access
in or out, for the past several days.

The entire
affair, government authorities say, resulted from a single phone
call by an as yet unidentified 16-year-old woman who claimed she
was sexually assaulted and being forced to marry a much older adult
man (50 years old). A Texas arrest warrant was issued for this guy
and he has been located in Arizona at another church property and
interrogated by local authorities there, but not arrested as yet.
So far the object of the raid, the single 16-year-old female, supposedly
has not been located.

What kind of
warrant based on a single complaint, involves arresting/kidnapping
hundreds of other people, when the object of the warrant is not
located on the premises? And the complainant in the warrant can't
be located to verify her allegations?

While I have
no sympathy for religious groups which brainwash young girls into
relationships with adult men, in a cult-like setting, this entire
matter raises many troubling questions, none of which have yet been
mentioned by the propaganda-like "news" reporting, all
of which is coming from state law enforcement and none of which
has reported a single comment by church members or the families
of the kidnapped children.

Swarms of social
workers are interrogating these children (presumably without parental
supervision) to build cases against other church members for various
crimes. News reports claim that attorneys will be appointed "for
the children" in a few days.

There was some
mention of lawyers for the church filing motions to keep police
out of their sacred temple, but police already entered that building,
amounting to permanent desecration, according to longstanding (and
mainstream) Mormon doctrine. When is the last time defense attorneys
failed to speak out publicly for their clients to the news media?
One can't help but think that church members are being denied access
to legal assistance.

On the basis
of one alleged telephone call from a person who may or may not exist,
we see the mass roundup of children by the state done at gunpoint
(one adult at the site was arrested for "interfering"
with the cops). One supposed complainant, one judge's warrant and
hundreds are rounded up while hundreds more are held at gunpoint,
awaiting what, exactly?

This appears
to be an extreme over reaction if not outright fabricated pretext
for shutting down this church. How can this wholesale Nazi-style
roundup be legal? (Okay, if you think "Nazi" is overreaction,
just substitute "ultra Orthodox Jewish church" for "Mormon"
and do a reality check…)

While LRC has
previously reported on the outrageous civil liberties violations
done by various government children's welfare groups, this seems
to be both that and also a legally sanctioned "hit" on
an unpopular religious group, based on speculation and dislike for
their beliefs.

What I find
interesting is that hundreds of female students in the Houston public
school system drop out every year because of pregnancy at ages of
12 and up, yet there is never any report of arrests for child molestation
or "child rape," much less any raids on any of the schools
where these pregnant young girls are supposedly being educated,
held by state law for 7 hours a day. We know for certain many young,
unmarried girls are having illegal sex, yet Texas CPS has undertaken
no raids or mass roundups digging for other cases of underage sex
occurring in these institutional settings.

Even more outrageous,
the entire Texas children's "correctional" institutional
organization is now under court supervision for the numerous cases
of inmate child rape and abuse and other forms of mistreatment and
corruption, and much of that leadership was fired (though not arrested
nor even indicted for crimes).

So we can conclude
that if the government is involved (in HISD or children's prisons)
no action is taken. But if an unpopular religious group is accused
by one person (who might not even exist, or may not have made any
phone call) then mass arrests and kidnappings are immediately instigated
by government authorities.

Is every group
in an institutional setting (summer camp, religious community, cruise
ship, school), where a single telephoned complaint is received alleging
sexual abuse by one person, now subject to mass kidnapping by CPS
and police, where the adults are forcibly separated from every
child (not simply the one in the complaint) and held hostage
until their lawyers can spring them?

Again, I hold
no brief for child sexual abuse or cult-driven forced marriage of
any kind in any context.

But we are
supposed to be living under state and federal constitutions which
guarantee innocence being recognized before trial and conviction.

We can applaud
the fact that unlike in the Branch Davidian raids at Waco in the
1990s (also sparked in part because of never proven allegations
of child abuse) that these FCJSLDS church members weren't burned
alive or shot to pieces by government storm troopers. In the current
case the cops are local and state, not federal, which explains the
low body count.

What isn't
being reported by the compliant news media (which has merely parroted
government proclamations, and thus far has failed to report any
comments by parents or church leaders) is deafening. Where is the
due process? Was this a fabricated hoax designed to bring down this
church? Since when is "collective guilt" been part of
our "rule of law"? How can state gangsters steal children
and put them in government relocation camps without any trials or
indictments, much less convictions?

There is a
well-worn notion that the test of a society's true nature is how
the law is applied to its least liked members.

If this fascist
style raid and roundup, complete with what amounts to guarded concentration
camps for the kidnapped children and the forced ghetto confinement
of male church member adults, then who among us is really protected
by the figment of legal constitutional rights?

And thus far,
I have yet to read a single word anywhere questioning this entire
effort. Where are the breast-beating civil libertarians (and true
children's advocates) when they are most needed? Where is the supposed
journalistic "Fifth Estate" in all of this? My guess is
that they are still recovering from the Pulitzer Prize parties,
congratulating themselves on the wonderful things they do to protect
society…

April
10, 2008

Mike
Holmes [send him mail]
is a libertarian CPA in the Houston area.

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