June 3rd, 2008
06:07 PM ET

Removing the FLDS children: Upsides

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/03/art.polygamyreturn.jpg]
Steven Hassan
Cult expert
Author and mental health counselo

On the face of it, the Texas Supreme Court's 6-3 vote to support the Appellate Court reversal of Judge Walther's decision—to remove the children from the FLDS compound in Eldorado—might look like a blow, but I don't see it that way.

The fact is, the overall situation is vastly improved for the children and other members of the group and there is great hope.

•First of all, I predict there will not be any more so-called “spiritual” marriages involving underage children.

•Second, the investigation into the facts of child sexual abuse—of girls as well as boys—has begun and is set to continue.

•Third, despite the upset brought about by the dramatic intervention by Texas Child Protective Services, the children and other members of the FLDS group have no doubt had many, many positive experiences with people in the real world, as evidenced by the tearful goodbyes when they had to go back.

•Fourth, the "genie is out of the bottle" and the FLDS leadership will have a very difficult time re-indoctrinating everyone into "keeping sweet"— the mind control state of complete and unquestioning obedience — because so many members have now seen and experienced so many positives of being outside the closed, totalitarian community.

For example, FLDS teaches that African Americans are creatures of the devil and yet the children, who have met and been helped by black caregivers, now have found them to be filled with intelligence, love and spirit.

Even the adults of the community have had positive experiences interacting with lawyers, media people and others who have helped them regain access to their children.

Lastly, the media coverage has shed a light on the realities of mind control: FLDS is only one of many authoritarian groups in the United States, daily denying basic human rights to their members and all too often perpetrating the vilest of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.

Editor's note: Steven Hassan has counseled FLDS runaways and trained state officials in how to help cult members.  His website is freedomofmind.com.

Update: Steven Hassan would like to add these comments to his blog:

I do think there was trauma at first when they were taken from everything they knew.  However, I do believe there was a tremendous amount of child abuse going on aside from underage sexual molestation. I do believe that the FLDS will need to be on their best behavior ever. They have never had to think about the "outside world" until that was shattered when Jeffs, the "Prophet" was arrested and convicted.

Filed under: Polygamy
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. KarenD

    Doesn't circulating almost 8 million dollars count as a positive experience as well?

    June 4, 2008 at 11:09 am |
  2. A. R. Thomas

    Are you serious? Is anti-FLDS prejudice so strong that you can honestly be allowed to "publish" such an ignorant and inconsiderate article on a presumably respectable mainstream website such as cnn.com? These children were herded and hoarded away from their beds, their schools, and even their families by the United States Government! Returning them to their families now in no way shape or form begins to recompense these children for the trauma and suffering they have endured over the last two months.

    And let us not forget, no evidence was found of marriages involving underage children at THIS compound, otherwise the children would not be returned. Nor was evidence found of child abuse. Any "fact" you may think you know to the contrary is simply your own bigotry.

    Any positive experiences acquired by the children are going to be overshadowed by the fact that they were abducted and warehoused away from their families without just or legal cause.

    The gall of your position in this article saddens me but not nearly as much as the fact that CNN thought it was appropriate to place the article on their website. When Barbra Bush commented that hurricane Katrina worked out well for some of resultant refugees CNN reported the statement as the horrifically inconsiderate drivel that it was, its unfortunate that your like sentiment is accepted ostensibly because its in reference to FLDS children.

    And I am not, nor have I ever been a member of the FLDS or even the Mormon church. I am, however, and have been every day of my life a United States Citizen who believes in the rights afforded to all U.S. Citizens under the Constitution including Freedom of Religion.

    June 4, 2008 at 10:03 am |
  3. Julie San Diego, CA

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    The Presidential race is important, but these kids are literally getting a new life because of everything that's been done by the media, the state of Texas, and many compassionate, caring individuals (social workers, foster parents, concerned volunteers) who have focused on the best interests of the children by taking a stand to remove them from an environment that is questionable, at best.

    Go ahead and rail on me if you disagree. I don't care. Until you've seen an 18=month-old who is just beginning to trust enough to look a stranger in the eyes because the last stranger "mom" brought into the household decided to torture him by covering his body with cigar burns – well, you just won't get it.

    Always, always, always err on the side of protecting the children.


    June 4, 2008 at 2:21 am |
  4. Boise Leon

    What is really scary is that people like Steven Hassan sincerely believe that he is rescuing lost souls.

    June 4, 2008 at 1:38 am |
  5. Gary Chandler in Canada

    4rth!? 8 am to 8 pm unannounced, unchallenged entry to monitor the children. (add child labor laws, minimum wage standards, universal education.)

    June 4, 2008 at 1:11 am |
  6. Lorena Bobbit Jeffs

    Talk about the law of unintended consequences!!!!

    This FLDS event looks to have far reaching consequences not even contemplated by the Nazi Party members in Texas.

    1. The feminist liars who claim they care about women and children have been exposed as phoneys and hypocrites. This is good. Everyone with a brain noticed that they did not raise one finger to help those children and mothers. They hate men and want to destroy the dreaded patriarchy. They wouldn't have cared if every one of those kids was killed ... just so long as the kids never went back under the patriarcy.

    2. The Attorney General of Utah has been outed as a secret Nazi Party member. This little episode of religious persecution may just end his career and turn his dreams of succeeding Orrin Hatch as US senator to dust. Good riddance I say.

    3. The ACLU...yeah...the good old ACLU would not lift a finger. Yeah..yeah ... I know, they ultimately filed one amicus brief after they were shamed into it...but once again everyone with a brain knows the ACLU abandoned those kids in their time of need. Feminst agenda issues at play no doubt.

    4. Interest in plural marriage has probably never been higher among the goyim. The FLDS women look like angels with their beautful long hair and long dresses (no make up, no high heels, no low back tattoos-nice!!!) the children are beautiful...and these people pray...every day..and the lord perhaps answered their prayers. This is a big boost for christian religion and monotheism.

    5. States may well overhaul child welfare laws to prevent such abuse.

    6. The feminst lesbian cult which runs CPS offices nation wide has been exposed.

    7. Good American people have come to the painful realization that our nation has been perverted by those entrusted to do right. But they don't do right. they are wicked and evil and serve the devil in countless ways.

    Long live the resistance!!!

    June 4, 2008 at 12:14 am |
  7. PJ

    How can anyone think what is going on in texas with the FLDS is okay. Look I have 10 granchildren and the thought of any of my children or grandchildren living in a place where adult men some even practically senior citizens praying on innocent girls and boys it makes me nauseated. My chilren are a gift from God they are not a possession for adults to rape and brainwash. I am amazed that everyone is not outraged at the thought of sending these precious children back to these animals and the mothers are just as guilty for allowing the horrible things going on there to occur. As a parent you protect your children. If these parents call this love apparently they don't know what love is all about.

    June 4, 2008 at 12:01 am |
  8. tony

    If this is supposed to be a justification for the blatant violation of the people's constitutional rights which you and your govt agency clients engage in, then you must be really beyond reform. Count yourself lucky that you are not being made to pay personally for your crimes against these people.

    These people might be authoritarian, but using the authoritarian powers of government to change them is even worse since the power of the government is derived from us, the people, and we don not approve!

    By the way, I'm black and might be the devil to these people, but you and the government have no right to substitute your ideas for theirs. Get another job, mister Judge.

    June 3, 2008 at 10:41 pm |
  9. bob

    I think the author needs some of his own medicine. Can't he tell those were not tears because the kids were going to miss their captors they were tears of JOY that they were going home!! Plus he better do more research. None under 16 were pregnant. Only 1% of minors were pregnent (they were 16-17), that is slightly less than USA in general. So if the kids in the ranch are less likely to become pregnant there.... then why do the families need all the supervision you claim they need?? You are using the actions and speeches of one criminal to try and convict a whole religon. Thankfully, we have Supreme Court Judges appointed for LIFE or this could have turned out differently and everyone in America would surely suffer. Hassan needs to look at both sides here and stop taking what supposed runaways say at face value. Do a little research.

    June 3, 2008 at 10:09 pm |
  10. Annie Kate


    I hope you are right about this being positive in the end. I'm just afraid that the children will wind up more conflicted as the mothers who didn't go to the group homes tell them how the big bad world took them away from their home and the mothers who loved them.. And I bet they work in their prophet in the story somewhere.

    I hope this action and the continuing investigation of the abuse charges educates everyone in the FLDS to what is acceptable and what is not in taking care of their children and can integrate it with their practice of their religion. Hopefully the sect will get to a point where they can work with the people on the outside instead of against them.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 3, 2008 at 9:05 pm |
  11. Mark Stewart, Canada

    I think tearful goodbyes to firends for a week has a hell of a lot more to do with emotional instability following a violent attack on family. Whoever quipped this PR article for the abductors who swilled tax payer dollars into their pockets, you should know that there are other people than the Supreme Court Judges who understand the real dynamics here. Responding to such a mean spirited and stupid article, I will not waste space with an explanation of the obvious. Go back and read the Supreme Court decision, and stay the hell out of the lives of ANYONE but your self in this world.

    June 3, 2008 at 8:45 pm |
  12. Daniel

    I would like to know since these children have taken from their home and put in foster care how has it change the children mentally. Are the children damage from the exposure of our open world. This seems very interesting that we can judge but when you see how well these young ladies carry themselves compared to how the women on commercials and movies carry themselves will it change their self respect. Women are common but ladies are unique.

    June 3, 2008 at 7:36 pm |
  13. Kristen

    I'm sorry but this country is about to make history in choosing the first African American Nominee for President of the United States. Who cares about the FLDS?

    June 3, 2008 at 6:55 pm |
  14. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    Hi Steven,
    You think there won't be any more child molestation or exploitation from this cult?
    Well, you're the expert.
    Look into my eyes, you are feeling very, very sleepy. . . .

    June 3, 2008 at 6:53 pm |
  15. Judy Stage

    Hello Steven, I view the FLDS investigation in the same light as you. Good will come of this and I sincerely see the hand of God in the action by the Texas CPS. We know the world and who we are by our experiences and the world around us. Now, the members of this cult can come to experience and understand the plight fostered upon them by men whose emotional and physical abuse of others is not what a democratic society and family life is all about in this country. Their positive experiences will hopefully carry them out of this community in the future.
    The conditions set for returning these children to their parents will forever change the way children are treated in this community.
    I have read media portrayals that the CPS has failed in this instance but they have not in my book. The men of the FLDS who have hardly been seen during the whole episode will eventually have to answer to the law. You know what they can do with their sweetness.
    It is my hope that CNN and Anderson Cooper 360 continue to shine the light on all aspects of the FLDS for years to come and keep them honest or, at least with in the law of a democratic society.

    June 3, 2008 at 6:36 pm |