In the sad case of the children caught up in the maelstrom of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) alleged child abuse matter, I tend to fall onto the church side in the separation of church and state.
The state is ill-equipped to deal with 400-plus youngsters it has torn from the bosoms of their mothers in the guise of protecting them from alleged abuses.
In considering this case it’s important to keep in mind some rather unpleasant facts:
In America, there are over 500,000 children in foster care;
Approximately 300,000 kids are taken out of their homes every year because of neglect and abuse, and put in foster care;
Some 73 percent of the children put in foster care end up on the streets, or even worse, in jail;
Even though some 100,000 of these 500,000 youngsters are available for adoption, only a pitiful 1.2 percent will ever be adopted.
These statistics should concern every American. It’s obvious that the government, which is great at starting wars and taxing the citizenry to pay for some of the worst hare-brained schemes imaginable, hasn’t got the slightest idea of how to raise children.
They know how to take children from their homes but they don’t know how to raise them once they’ve got them in their hands. Yet the idea that the government is better equipped than parents to raise children is widespread among the big-brother liberals who lust after inserting the power of the state into the very heart of the American family.
The reality is that when you take children from their mothers and put them in the hands of the state or its subordinate agents you ultimately do more damage to them than almost any abuse they might have suffered at home.
This is why I am calling on the Christian community and the churches to step up, take the children from the government, and assume their responsibility to keep these FLDS families together.
We need about 500 churches to take in 500 families. These children should be with their mothers, who are as much victims as their children are alleged to be. Splitting them up from their mother and their siblings is not going to be performing a service to these kids.
Just because we don’t agree with their lifestyle does not necessarily mean that we can do a better job than the mothers can do in raising them.
We should keep in mind that the allegations against the FLDS remain speculative and unproven, yet the government rushed in and disrupted whole families on the basis of a single phone call from a teenager who, if she even exists, can’t be found.
We’ve been through all of this kind of thing before. In the McMartin pre-school case during the 1980s, California government agencies acted on rumors that turned out to be absolutely false.
As Doug Linder wrote in 2003, the resulting McMartin Preschool Abuse Trial, which he called “the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history,” created a seven-year, $15 million investigation that led to not a single conviction.
“More seriously, the McMartin case left in its wake hundreds of emotionally damaged children, as well as ruined careers for members of the McMartin staff,” Linder recalled.
I’m not saying that the FLDS case is a replay of that notorious miscarriage of justice, but we surely must keep in mind the lessons it taught us about rushing to judgment and endangering the welfare of children before the real facts are known.
In the meantime, the Christian community needs to come forward and provide homes for the families and their children until all this can be sorted out.
Finally, as an afterthought we should be thankful that it is not Bill Clinton’s Attorney General, Janet Reno, running this operation against the FLDS Waco-style. If she were, by now the moms and their children would probably all be charred bodies in the smoking ruins of their compound.
By Michael Reagan April 17, 2008