April 11th, 2008
04:14 PM ET

Jami Floyd: Prosecution or persecution?

Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is behind bars but his Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is going strong, with 10,000 members. This, despite 165 years of intolerance for these people who engage in a very different form of faith.

That’s why the latest raid in Texas raises the question of religious freedom. The FLDS counsels young women to “give themselves to their husbands.” And we all know these folks are far from your run of the mill congregation.

Authorities claim that this latest raid comes on the heels of a 16-year-old girl claiming she’d been married to a 50-year-old man. In Texas, a girl that young can’t marry, even with her parents’ permission. But so far, the girl hasn’t turned up. And hundreds of women and children have been rousted from their homes.

If a crime was committed, by all means prosecute. But to target religious people for practicing the tenets of their faith, well, in this lawyer’s opinion that’s not prosecution, it’s persecution.

– Jami Floyd/"In Session" Anchor and 360° Contributor
Read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session”

Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd • Polygamy
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Patti

    I have been following the situation taking place with the children of the FLD community.

    Why is it that people are not free to come and go as they see fit with the community? Would that not be described as a dictatorship with harsh penalities for disobeying?

    As one mother stated...."America is the land of the free......". then it would seem that she doesn't see it applying to the members of this sect and they have no freedoms. But she wants it to apply so they officials will return the children to the FLD community.

    I don't think you can have it both ways.

    April 15, 2008 at 1:42 am |
  2. Annie Kate

    How many underage pregnant girls does it take to convince the legal system that abuse is happening? Multiple marriages are against the law as is child abuse; from what I've seen the authorities have these folks on both counts.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 11, 2008 at 8:40 pm |
  3. Bailey

    In American Criminal Justice there is often a fine line between prosecution and descrimination. Many people will judge this situation the same way they judge Islamic Sharia laws. Although I do not agree with either religious system, people have the right to practice thier belief within reason.

    It is just hard for Americans to understand that some people want to live without: sex in the city, playboy, and romantic love and marriage. It should disturb many people to learn of the number of arranged marriages that still happen in some Indian and Korean immigrant subcultures in America. The conflict is cultural. American expectations are based not only on moral monagomy law but on the pretense that individuals have the implied right to exogamy. Ultimately, the question is whether or not the women have the right to refuse marriage and do the women have the option of leaving thier cultural construct?

    April 11, 2008 at 8:19 pm |
  4. Johanna

    While I believe that people should be allowed to believe what they believe, the fact that underage women, just entering puberty, were made to marry men at least twice to three times their age and had no say in it is a crime against those girls' basic human rights.

    To suggest that these people shouldn't be prosecuted is crap. Leave their beliefs alone, but make them understand that in America, do as the Americans do: protect our young impressionable women. At the least, wait until these girls are of legal age and give them a choice!

    April 11, 2008 at 7:14 pm |
  5. Charlotte D

    Puleeeze. When is it religious freedom to rape young girls and brain wash them that this is OK? Polygamy and child molestation are against the law and three cheers for the State of Texas for having the guts to move in and protect those innocent children both male and female. If it is true that the children could be ordered back to their homes, I hope this drags out in court a long time before that happens and that the girls have time to discover for themselves the lies they have been told. Do a DNA test and if one man has fathered children with underaged girls, wouldn't that be evidence of a crime?

    April 11, 2008 at 6:19 pm |
  6. Slater

    Being in the legal field myself, I find it hard to stand by while these people are raided and persecuted for their beliefs. I heard the same story; that the 16 year old girl has not been found.

    In a court of law, this poses a huge problem. No body no evidence. It could also mean that all the raids and efforts that law enforcement have made; may go down the tubes and all the children will be ordered returned to their homes and parents. No evidence no case. Remember, it is a court of law, not a court of justice.

    On more than one occasion for purposes of case law research I have had to look into the case of Eddie Lee Sexton, in Florida. While the case was shocking, if you read the story (and perhaps the court case) you will get a good idea of what evidentiary support authorities need in order to arrest, detain and prosecute child molesters.

    April 11, 2008 at 5:21 pm |