On April 22nd, 2008, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rejected a proposal by Texas 51st District Judge Barbara Walther to "supervise" FLDS prayer sessions. Full stories by KSL Channel 5 in Salt Lake and the Deseret News. Previous post HERE.
Judge Walther's proposal stemmed from a hearing on Monday April 21st, discussed in a previous Deseret News story, to address issues brought up by lawyers for the mothers and children taken off of the FLDS Church's YFZ Ranch. The judge herself actually surfaced the proposal after one of the FLDS attorneys raised the issue of privacy during prayer.
"The way our clients pray is sacred to them. It becomes less sacred when people not of their faith are monitoring them and their conversations," said Andrea Sloan, an attorney representing four FLDS women who sought a temporary restraining order for the right to pray in private, have phone access to their attorneys, and to stop breast-feeding mothers from being removed from their children. [Ed. Note: It's all these insane restrictions upon these people that are slowly turning the entire country against Texas.]
During the ensuing discussion about prayer privacy, Walther noted that there is a mainstream LDS community in San Angelo. While the judge acknowledged that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is different than the FLDS Church, she also noted that they appeared interested in seeking a reasonable compromise to resolving the issue. At that point, the judge then proposed, "Would it be insensitive to have someone from that church monitor ... ?", asking the guardians ad litem in the courtroom to contact local LDS leaders to see if they would be willing to provide a "buffer."
The judge was also reflecting concerns expressed by attorneys for Texas child protective services about improper communication between mothers and children that could occur in private prayer times, which could affect pending investigations. They believe the adults could coach their kids on how to "game the system" under the protective cover of "praying". And apparently the judge shared that concern, saying that "If they cross the line or coach the child or make any kind of comment on litigation — all bets are off". [Ed. Note: This is one of the more incredible expressions of paranoia I've ever seen. I wonder if Texas CPS believe in little green men, as well.]
But when Abilene Stake President Charles L. Webb, whose stake includes the San Angelo congregation, learned of this, he was "dumbfounded" and bucked the question up to LDS Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City.
And on April 22nd, LDS Church Headquarters issued the following statement:
"We only have news reports of what a judge said in court. We have had no contact from judicial officials and therefore no clear understanding of what, if anything, we are being invited to do.
"It would be erroneous to base any request for assistance from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the basis that our beliefs and practices are close to those of this polygamous group because they are not.
Neither would such a request necessarily be fair to those of this polygamous community, which long ago chose a different path from ours. In fact, many in these isolated communities view us with some hostility as part of the outside world they have rejected."
The LDS Church was apparently too polite to publicly address another concern - the understandable concern that, by agreeing to Judge Walther's proposal, it would be placing itself in the position of appearing to "spy" on the FLDS group under the guise of "leading" or "supervising" its prayer sessions. The Church commendably wants to avoid the appearance of being used in a domestic espionage operation.
However, the entire issue may have become redundant during the afternoon of April 22nd, when, according to another story in the Deseret News as well as CNN, Texas authorities decided to divvy up the 437 kids among 16 different group foster homes. After locking the FLDS lawyers away temporarily in the San Angelo Coliseum so they could not "interfere", the authorities quickly loaded the kids up on busses and bussed them off to internal exile, in much the same fashion as the Soviet Union once did to dissidents.
And there was reaction from Salt Lake. This afternoon, long-time FLDS attorney and current spokesman Rod Parker denounced the latest moves. Parker says the judge ignored their petition for a temporary restraining order. He says parents were given no notice about the move and the children's lawyers detained in the San Angelo Coliseum and were prevented from talking to the children while the buses were being loaded.
"The Child Protective Services department of Texas is afraid of due process. They would lose in a fair fight in this case, and that is why you're seeing them move so quickly, and that is why you're seeing them move unilaterally, because they do not want to have a fair fight with these parents on a level playing field," Parker said.
Learn more about the FLDS perspective on this case at the FLDS Truth website, which presents information on proper FLDS doctrine and practices. The Captive FLDS Children website presents their perspective about the ongoing situation in Texas. This situation also discussed on Phxnews.com, Libertarian Socialist News, and the Vanguard News Network Forum.
Commentary: This is overkill. You do not penalize an entire community because of the purported sins of a few. You do NOT deprive parents of their basic right to communicate with their children, unless such communication poses an immediate danger. You do NOT lock lawyers up to prevent them from performing their professional duties.
Texas has disgraced itself in the eyes of all fair-minded patriotic Americans. They've chosen the same tactics used by the Chinese in Tibet, rather than handle this problem the constitutional way. How can we criticize the Chinese actions in Tibet when we allow rogue government agencies to kidnap and forcibly disperse 437 innocent kids; we've forfeited moral authority and political leverage? And we can't blame this one on Federal "zogbots"; it's Texas state "zogbots" running this op.