Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More on Mormons

The historical relationship between Mormons and the rest of America has been one of periodic violence, almost entirely of the latter against the former. The pattern goes back to the birth of the religion, in the early 1800s. First a general community resentment of and revulsion against the Mormons among them. Then rumors -- founded or otherwise -- of bad behavior in the Mormon community. Then an intervention supposedly on behalf of the rule of law and the trampled rights of the Mormon minority. Which quickly becomes a general assault on the whole religious institution, if not a near-pogrom.

Followed by remorse and reflection, when it's too late to do any good.

Wait 20 years, repeat.

Which is why, perhaps, it's good that the mothers tell their stories now so the reflection can begin before the cycle runs through.

Even a journalist is twinged by trouble. In part, perhaps because his trade got used in the process:

For nearly two weeks, journalists covering the removal of children from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compound, known as the YFZ Ranch, have had access to just one side of the story.

During the initial raid, the men who live on the ranch weren’t allowed to leave, and the women who had been removed with their children were sequestered away in shelters.

That gave state officials the advantage of presenting their allegations of physical and sexual abuse of children on the ranch to the public with little chance for rebuttal except through church lawyers.

Well, the situation changed dramatically last night, when Texas Child Protective Services and police officers separated dozens of mothers from their children, keeping custody of the children and sending the women back to the ranch. (Some may have chosen to go to a battered women’s shelter, according to a CPS official.)

Of course, you don't need a journalist to tell you how to feel about a scene like that:

How does it feel if your seven year old child is in a shelter with the chicken pox and you can't be there to hold their hand. To whisper a sweet good night, to arrange the blanket just so?

All you have to be is a human with a heart.