Author and mental health counselor
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
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with