Is forcing your teenage daughter to get married to a man with multiple wives and have her first sexual experience on a bed in the middle of the chapel an act you should lose custody of your children over?
Not in Texas.
In an embarassing ruling for the Texas State Child Protective Services agency, the Third Court of Appeals ruled that the state had no right to take custody of the more than 440 children living at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compound in West Texas. Read the whole story HERE.
The court ruled that there was no proof the children were in immediate danger, which is apparently the only legal justification for seizing custody in Texas.
This whole case bothers me. In a country built upon freedom of religion, this case toes the line of what is acceptable religious beliefs and what requires government action. Clearly to me, these children are being abused. Isolated from the world and born into the sect they will most likely die a part of because of an accident of birth. The male children are routinely abandoned so there are enough wives for the current men. The female kids have it worse, being in my eyes little more than property, sheltered from the world their whole lives, forced to conform and believe, until their parents marry them off in their early teens to a much older man. These kids are brainwashed from birth, and as a free citizen, I honestly have trouble imagining what it would be like to have no opportunity at all to make choices in my life.
One of the founding principles of this country is freedom to choose and practice your own religion, or no religion. But there has to be limits. Where do you draw the line? When does a belief stop being protected, and start being child abuse?