Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Guest post by K MacGinn

I posted this as a guest blogger over at Muslims Against Sharia...

Forgive me, a Western Christian female American, for daring to draw some parallels between fundamentalist Islam and fundamentalist Mormonism with regards to women, children, and family. But, after reading details of this week's news from Texas, I cannot help but perceive some parallels between the two religions. The shocked outcry from the public is loud. But, given some of the concessions that some European countries have been making to Islamic fundamentalists in their countries, I wonder if the day will come when there will not be such an outcry.

Child Protective Services in San Angelo, Texas have taken 416 children into custody after raiding the 1700-acre compound of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). The compound, named the Yearning for Zion Ranch (YFZ Ranch), is located in El Dorado, some 40 miles outside of San Angelo. Court documents show that a number of teenage girls were pregnant, and all children were removed by authorities on the grounds of emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse. Some 140 women left of their own accord. Lynn McFadden, a Department of Family and Protective Services investigative supervisor stated in an affidavit: "Investigators determined that there is a widespread pattern and practice of the (YFZ) Ranch in which young, minor female residents are conditioned to expect and accept sexual activity with adult men at the ranch upon being spiritually married to them."

The tip to authorities came from a cellphone call from a frightened girl made to local family violence shelter March 29 and 30, using someone else's cell phone and speaking quietly to avoid being overheard. The FoxNews article gives the following account:

"The scared girl, already a mother at 16, whispered into a cell phone: she wanted out. She'd been forced to marry a man more than three times her age, becoming his seventh wife.

Her husband sexually assaulted her, and when he was angry, he would beat her while other women held her infant, she told a family violence shelter in a series of secret calls that triggered an investigation of the polygamist sect here.

The girl had looked for opportunities to escape before, but she was warned that outside the double-gates blocking entry to the Yearning For Zion Ranch, in a world completely foreign to her, she would be forced to cut her hair and wear makeup, and to have sex with many men — all damning transgressions in a faith where modesty calls for women to wear long underwear year-round under pioneer-style dresses.
At the end of one call she began to cry; she wanted to take it all back.

But child welfare officials allege in court documents released Tuesday that the compound built by leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was rife with sexual abuse, with girls spiritually married to much older men as soon as they reached puberty and boys groomed to perpetuate the cycle.

The documents detail the hushed phone calls, but days after raiding the West Texas compound, officials still aren't sure where the girl is. She is not named among the children in initial custody petitions by the state."

McFadden said the girls were "spiritually married" to the men as soon as they reached puberty and were required to bear children. (A spiritual marriage is one recognized by the FLDS church, but lacking a state marriage license.) Texas law prohibits polygamy and the marriage of girls under 16. Authorities also believe that the boys were groomed to be ready to marry underage girls upon adulthood and engage in sexual activity, resulting in them becoming new "perpetrators," the affidavit said.

As I stated earlier, I am a Christian -- pretty much "mainstream, middle-of-the-road" Protestant Christianity is what I profess, believe, and practice. For those of you who are not us, I should explain that for many Christians, Mormonism is more of a cult or "pseudo-Christian" religion. (You might have perhaps heard of some of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney's struggles with explaining his faith and pacifying those who are concerned about Mormonism.) Mormonism rejects a number of fundamental tenets of orthodox Christianity. The news report that I am posting here, however, is about fundamental Mormons. They not only have beliefs not in line with mainstream Christianity, but also some that run against the beliefs of the wider Mormon Church (or "Church of Latter Day Saints"). This fundamental group is very much a cult, exhibiting classic signs: isolation, brainwashing, etc. LDS Mormons, the mainstream ones, on the other hand, are well-known and respected by our society for their law-abiding, family-oriented ethics.

And so, the parallels I draw from this news story are: this fundamental Mormon group is outside the bounds of mainstream Mormonism, which in turn is outside the bounds of Christianity. Perhaps islamofascist groups are similar to these fundamental Mormons: outside the bounds of the mainstream, cult-like in their activities. Isolation seems to be a common characteristic of both groups. Polygamy is permitted, as well as marrying what our laws deem "underage" girl.

I wonder how much of these "activities" are allowed by both secular and religious law around the world. I worry about women and children around the world. Will laws that protect them increase and spread, or will concessions continue to be made to extremists?

Source: "Court Documents Show Polygamist Sect Married Girls at Puberty"

~by K MacGinn, Hummers & Cigarettes

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