Tuesday, 3 June 2008

sect or cult?

not a long post today. was just thinking about the texan children from the fundamentalist church of jesus christ of latter day saints, who went back to their parents today. this comes after a recent ruling by the third court of appeals in texas. it overturned a ruling by the district court judge barbara walthers.

it's interesting that the judges from the court of appeals were all male, conservative and republican. i find it disturbing that judges can be partisan, but that's a side issue. the main issue is the welfare of the children. i can understand that they would be desperate to get back to their parents. given their very sheltered upbringing, it would be pretty traumatic to be thrust into the big wide world, without even having their parents to support them.

on the other hand, a religious group that needs to shut itself off from the wider world is itself disturbing. it seems to imply that there is something to hide, that there are practices happening which would not be approved of by the wider society in which that group lives.

in this case, we have a leader who has already been convicted and sentenced "for forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old cousin and to submit to sexual relations against her will". the allegations around young girls being married off to much older men are serious ones. there are issues also around indoctrination and the ability to leave of one's own free will in groups like this.

i've been hesitating to use the word "cult", but this has all the hallmarks. it will be difficult to prove abuse, in the sense that most of the young women won't know they are being abused. which is why i don't think those children should have been sent back.

however, the fact that they were placed so far away from their parents around the whole state was not a good thing either. in any case, i hope the authorities keep up their investigations, and continue to keep a close eye on this community.

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