Thursday, July 24, 2008

Senate Hearing on FLDS/Polygamy and a personal rant on religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

I didn't catch most of this hearing as I didn't read my email that said that Terry Goddard would be testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary panel on the FLDS and Polygamy and that it would be on C-Span 3 as well as streamed on the internet. My sketchy notes are at the very bottom of this rant. :-)

Many women I know watched in horror as the abuse of children became evident when the FLDS compound in Texas came under scrutiny and massive media coverage a few months ago when hundreds of children were removed and again when they were returned to the compound.

The absolute authority of religious doctrine over how a family conducts its business, both private and public, if it wishes to remain within a congregation of a church is nothing new. I happen to have a couple of my ancestral family branches come from a group of people who attempted to leave the Catholic Church a few centuries ago in Switzerland only to meet with horrific torture and death before escaping the country and then continent. The FLDS may be a much smaller group than other larger organized religions within which the repressive doctrine of absolute servitude to a single person through whom God speaks is at the core of the religion but it is not the only one and certainly not the most sizable example.

This is why the men, with significant input from their wives and scholarly female friends, wrote the constitution to address the centuries of inequity in European governments and religions with which they were most familiar and which they were specifically addressing in the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States of America, and the Bill of Rights - the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. They addressed both the tyranny of monarchy and religion albeit they addressed it in a bit more diplomatic manner speaking of freedoms. The flip side of any freedom is the tyranny to which it stands in contrast.

People in the United States, especially in the Mid-West where I grew up, don't like to talk about religion or politics,at least not in "polite company." As far as I have been able to discern, "in polite company" means in the company of women, children, in groups of diverse background be they socially, ethnically, or economically diverse. In other words, don't stir up the rabble with potentially revolutionary thought. Ha! They don't know me very well do they? Obviously someone like me, questioning everything from the get go, did not fit in well with those folks who were interested in preserving or conserving the status quo. Society needs a few folks like me or we would stagnate and die. Too many folks like me and we would become unstable with a lack of integrative infrastructure. At least that is the simplistic view. Complex systems are way too hard to talk about, so we simplify and get the basics wrong from time to time. That is just the human condition.

Let me let you in on a little secret. Tories still exist. Monarchists still exist. Just because people are living in the U.S.A. doesn't mean they actually support the tenets of our Representative Democracy. Most of the folks who don't support democracy don't even know they aren't supporting it. Religious freedom (which can also be read as freedom from specific religious tenets,) equal protection under the law, and freedom of speech are the pillars of our fledgling democratic state. And yes, we are still fledgling. The United States is less than 250 years old. We allowed slavery until 150 years ago, and women have had the vote for less than 100 years. This is all transitory and very unstable. This is why every citizen of the U.S.A. has responsibilities as well as rights. If we don't exercise these responsibilities then everything will disappear. Poof. No more democracy. Anyone who attempts to impose his or her way of thought and belief on you is engaging in distinctly un-American activities. When people say that by not allowing them to impose their way of thought that I am imposing mine, well let's just say that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. I don't expect or want others to view the biosphere as a complex living system that holds special spiritual meaning for them. I like my own view of life and love.

Don't talk about religion or politics (or sex) in polite company. WTF? We have to talk about these things. Nothing gets me madder than a swarm of killer bees than perfectly competent women saying that they don't get involved in politics. Ick. Ptooey. Hack. Spit. That leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. Who is carrying their share of the political responsibility? No. NOT their husbands! Their husbands do not understand the impact of current policies on families in the intimate way that women do. Allowing men more political input than women pretty much guarantees that education, health and the general welfare of the common person will take a back seat to areas where there is a concentration of male power: territorial aspects of life like borders, both real and imagined, and large symbolic tributes to power and status. It's okay, that is just how they are, for the most part.

I simply wish women would look at where submission, deference, and allegiance to a centralized patriarchy leads... to Warren Jeffs and if allowed to become ineradicably entrenched in society and culture to the cruel and immoral domination of papacy as represented by many corrupt papal regimes throughout the ages.

We need equal access to education so that all children are presented with access to the best understanding of art, literature, science, and world geography and history that our country can offer them. These children have a right to be well fed before the school day starts, as well as well fed in the evening when they complete their homework. These children have a right to healthcare. These children have a right to childhood, adolescence and early adulthood that broadens their understanding of the world and opportunities that it holds.

Religious indoctrination cuts off these avenues of learning and opportunity at an earlier age than the age of consent, the age of majority, and the age of full adult citizenship. Anything that cuts off opportunity to full rights and privileges as an adult is decidedly not American in spirit if not in law.

The separation of church and state, equality under the law, and the right to freedom of expression are all being denied by religious groups in the United States. Speak up women. Speak up for our children.

Notes from the last few minutes of the hearing

human trafficking -- it is not the travel - it is the servitude.

the land they purchase

income streams, laundry of money in Nevada and Wyoming through corporations

task force

centralization of property and power to the leaders of FLDS
Bryce canyon property sold for 8 million - probably to fund legal
members of the community regularly go without pay for work
businesses were expected in the 1980s to turn over ownership to the church
mid to late 1990s leadership determined not only who marries whom but also how long they stay married to whom. "shem dear you need to get dressed and meet me at uncle Rolands--- I've been released from your father. 3 wives of his father -- he was not worthy of three wives. sons were admonished to support the church. "the time is too short, there is no support
waren and roland. women were remarried to others -- home was taken -- financial support without visitation of children. 2000 - stop doing business with those who have left and remove any such employees. 1999 end of the world was immanent. This gentleman spoke of his father, himself, his brothers -- 70 year old father had to drive alone -- unlike usual practice of traveling with a family member which he no longer had -- and he careened into a ravine to his death later that day --- with no skid marks evident.

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