Friday, April 11, 2008

Prioritizing freedoms

Images of authorities forcefully entering a polygamist compound this week have been disturbing on many levels. Obviously the accusations of sexual abuse are the most significant.

What makes this situation murky for some is the religious freedom factor. (That, of course, is besides the track record in Texas for authorities killing members of non-mainstream religious groups). I don't think many people who read this will say it is OK to force girls to marry men. There may be a few who are OK with having multiple wives.

But in a country that prioritizes religious freedom (with a Constitutional Amendment to prove it), outside views clearly have won in this case.

There are all kinds of beliefs out there that some think are strange: keeping silent during child birth, reincarnation, resurrection. At what point do you think the government should be able to tell someone they can't do something their religion instructs them to do?


Anonymous said...

Something about 14 year olds getting married and having sex with 50 year olds has always turned Texans off, I say don't knock till you've tried it...

Ashley Northington said...


I think that's all I can say to that, anon.

I think that anytime you believe your religion has instructed you to do something to someone else against their will and that may hurt them sexually, financially, emotionally or physically is when an entity, like the government, should be allowed to step in.


Anonymous said...

OK, look at it this way .. you can be a Catholic working in a pharmacy and the courts have said you MUST sell condoms or birth control/morning-after pills BUT ... the same courts have said if you are Islamic you cannot be forced to deal with pork products. So some religions are more equal than others? Gimme a break. This age-old conflict between religion and the state goes back to the 1840s when the U.S. government first tangled with Mormon religious beliefs. The church agreed to drop polygamy as the cost of entering the Union.

ashley said...

Here's where you draw the line: When children are being beaten and raped and adults are being held prisoner in a slave-like existence. I've always said that we have no right to criticize other harshly patriarchal cultures when here in the US, we've allowed this crap to go on for years. Read Carolyn Jessop's book Escape or John Krakaur's book Under the Banner of Heaven for the real story. The Fundamentalist Mormon culture is a woman-hating one. Women are kept pregnant back to back from the time they hit puberty and are brainwashed to worship The Prophet and live by his principals. They are treated as property, "assigned" to one man and then perhaps another if the woman is not "obedient" enough.

When Carolyn Jessop escaped she tried contacting authorities outside of Colorado City (because Colorado City police are also FLDS and enforce the slavery of women and girls themselves) they refused to help her. There is no network of support for these women so that they can escape, and many of them have never been exposed to mainstream US culture, as they were brainwashed from birth that we are evil and want to destroy their culture.

The US Government has failed these women and children. We should all be ashamed. I am so happy that these horrific crimes are finally coming to light. To me, the fact that we've allowed it to go on for so many years is a signal of how deeply embedded the patriarchy is in our greater culture.

It's very telling that most of the women brought out of the YFZ Ranch don't want to go back. They've finally been freed. They do not have the education or the skills to survive (at least at first) in our culture. They will need a lot of help transitioning. I have faith they will make it though. I only worry about the fact that these people have compounds elsewhere in the US, Canada, and Mexico, have armed militias, and are willing to do anything it takes to perpetuate their lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

U.S. courts have ruled that Rastafarian adults cannot legally smoke a plant. I can't even imagine a legal argument that people ought to be able to flaunt statutory rape and domestic violence laws in the name of religion.

You can believe anything and should not be penalized for it. Sort of like you shouldn't be punished for writing stories about underaged sex or forced sex. If someone goes out and do either of those things it's not a violation of their first amendment rights to prosecute them, even if they did write about them first. I think it's pretty clear from the State of Texas's actions that they aren't investigating beliefs. They are investigating suspected actions and incidents in the real world, not beliefs from someone's head.

Anonymous said...

Indians on their reservations are allowed to grow, posses and smoke weed and partake in many other activities that would be criminal on the outside. I think this is about as tolerant as the gov't can get on the issue right now. As for extreme religions, I believe that aslong as we are not stoning women for adultry or for being raped we have plenty of room to criticize other religions(Islam). Being tolerant of Islam is like being tolerant of pedohiles( like thier "prophet") sexual preference, it is just dangerous.
Christianity is about the least tolerated/protected religion in America, right now it is PC to attack Christians while "understanding" muslims.

Anonymous said...

The point that you are all missing here is that there was a report of one instance.

The GOVERNMENT answer was to take everyone in the community into "protective custody". So when your neighbor is doing something wrong and gets busted, I guess you believe the whole neighborhood should be arrested due to proximity and association.

Sounds a lot like Europe and Russia in the 1930s.