Tuesday, April 15, 2008
ABC Nighline covers El Dorado TX; students and self-defense; Pope's visit
Tonight, April 15, ABC Nightline presented a look inside the polygamous sect (FLDS, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) a fringe offshoot from Mormonism, not part of the LDS church. A similar group in Colorado City, Arizona from which Warren Jeffs was taken, convicted and imprisoned, is part of FLDS.
The quaintly dressed wives said they wanted their children back (416 were taken). They were interviewed in wooded cabins. The property, south of San Angelo, Texas, has a white "palace" and guard towers. The women would not answer questions as to when they were married or as to whether they shared wives with their husbands. They claimed to be in "Zion" or "Heaven on Earth."
On the one hand, it would be possible to compare the Texas Ranger raid with Waco; on the other hand, it would be possible to view the encampment as a place where there are enormous numbers of young women who cannot give legal consent (as in the Dateline series with Chris Hansen).
Some people who are deeply into religion do view the collective "emotional" experience of the "family" in the community as much more important than individual rights or consent.
Very early marriage, right after entering biological childbearing age, is accepted and even encouraged in some religious cultures.
The State of Texas maintains that it can treat the "camp" as if it were one household and keep custody of all of the children.
The ABC story is "Sect Members Describe Raid on Polygamist Ranch; Police Wearing Body Armor, Carrying Automatic Weapons for Raid in Which They Took More Than 400 Children" by Scott Michels, Neal Karlinsky, Mark Lima and Sigfrid Lydquist, link here.
I visited Colorado City, AZ in 1983, and the Waco TX site in March 1993 during the FBI standoff (from a 1/2 mile viewing distance).
"Good Morning America" will continue this story early on April 16.
Nightline followed with a story about "Students for Concealed Carry on Campus," website. About nine campuses in the United States allow students to carry concealed weapons, including Blue Ridge College, an hour from Va. Tech, which must commemorate the tragedy of last year on the anniversary tomorrow.
The show continued with a presentation of Steve Zelin, the Singing CPA or troubadour in NYC on Tax Day (near a last minute mail drop-off), story.
The report concluded with a brief note about the visit of the Pope, and his "apologies" for the priest scandal problem, and determination to eliminate "troublesome" priests even if this means a shortage. However, the Pope has not penalized other cardinals who were accused of misconduct.
On Wed April 17 Diane Sawyer interviewed Morgan Spurlock about his new film "Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden," website here, starts April 18. My review is here now.
Update: April 19
Larry King Live on CNN interviewed some of the women from the (El Dorado) compound. Some of the rooms and quarters from the compound were shown. The lowest age of marriage stated by any mother was 20. On Friday, the judge ordered that the children be held. Again, it is hard to tell for sure from what has been shown exactly what is going on. I don't think this is like Waco, but the mothers certainly did sound sincere.
Update: April 27
NBC Dateline did a detailed report of the Texas FLDS investigation. There is a serious question about whether the original caller could have been an impostor, but that will not matter legally if real abuse of minors is shown.
The Deseret News has a video where the mothers give their side of the story, here.