What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
Note: Any responses received will be posted at the bottom of this post.
As of this morning I have closed the FLDS petition. This was necessary so that I could email the 2,000+ people who signed and encourage them to follow up and contact their representatives. The website I used will not allow me any contact with the signers until the petition is closed. Having served its purpose (and reached double what I was ever hoping for), it’s now time to follow up.
I encourage you to contact the following government leaders, including those from your own state if you live elsewhere, to demand a response regarding the petition and the issues it addresses. I chose to contact the officials in Texas, as well as Arizona and Utah, since FLDS communities exist there as well.
I contacted the following people:
Texas Governor Rick Perry
Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst
U.S. Senator John Cornyn
U.S. Senator Kay Hutchinson
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Carey Cockerell
President George W. Bush
U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey
Utah Governor Jon Huntsman
Utah Lieutenant Governor Gary Herbert
Utah Attorney General
U. S. Senator Orrin Hatch
U.S. Senator Bob Bennett
Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard
Arizona Senator Jon Kyl
Arizona Senator John McCain
I sent the following letter out to AZ Governor Perry, customizing it as necessary when sending it to the other officials and state representatives:
Last week, I started an online petition that calls for the release of the innocent women and children currently being detained in your state. The petition received over two thousand signatures from people all over the country, who like myself, are concerned with your state’s intervention into family life.
I don’t think that a single person who signed this petition condones abuse in any fashion. Most don’t agree with polygamy or the FLDS religion. What unites us, however, is our demand that the Constitutional rights guaranteed to each citizen of this country be preserved.
If there are cases of abuse, we encourage you to investigate and prosecute them. But we condemn any broad action that targets innocent individuals who have done nothing to merit removal, interrogation, and detention. A fundamental maxim in our country’s legal process is the fact that all citizens are innocent until proven guilty. Apparently this is disregarded in your state.
As the petition says, we urge you to release the innocent women and children being held captive by CPS. We also demand an apology for this mistreatment and blatant disregard for the rule of law.
Despite a person’s religion, race, or lifestyle, all should be entitled to the basic liberties and protections guaranteed by law. Removing children from their families on the basis of some alleged future abuse is illegal, since Texas statutes indicate that there must be an immediate need based on present abuse. Your state has failed to demonstrate such evidence in justification of the removal of 437 children.
We therefore urge you to release these people and allow the families to return to their homes. Please do continue in your investigation of abuse in specific cases, but the broad targeting of an entire community must stop.
To view the petition:
– http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/free-the-innocent-flds (online version)
– http://www.connorboyack.com/blog/images/petition.pdf (PDF version)
Please take a few moments to help put the pressure on these politicians and get some results from our actions. Thank you all for your participation and support—now, let’s demand action and results!
I received the following message from Wynee Breece, Senior Volunteer and Community Engagement Specialist:
The Department of Family and Protective Services has received an outpouring of responses including support, concerns and suggestions for the situation in Eldorado, TX. Understandably, public opinion varies based on each individual’s experiences and personal belief system. We, as an agency, share the public’s deep concern for these children, and we are working closely with law enforcement agencies, the court and other professionals to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of each child. The court oversees all CPS legal cases and is responsible for determining what is in a child’s best interest. Every child’s future is important to us; thus, we are working diligently to achieve best outcomes for each of these children. We acknowledge that you have taken the time to voice your concern, and we appreciate the many responses we have received. If you would like to email the petition to me, I will relay it to the Commissioner. Thank you for contacting DFPS to express your viewpoint.
If you would like to contact Mr. Breece, please email me and I will give you his email address.
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch replied (letter dated April 25, 2008):
Dear Mr. Boyack:
Thank you for your letter expressing your concerns about the recent raid of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) Texas compound.
I certainly understand your concern regarding this issue. However, I am hesitant to comment on this matter as it involves ongoing legal proceedings and matters falling under the province and jurisdiction of the state of Texas. While I share your concerns that many people throughout the country have regarding the crimes associated with polygamy, including sexual abuse of children, I also believe that the members of the FLDS Church should be afforded their constitutional rights.
I am hopeful that, as this matter unfolds, the Texas courts will be able to address these events in a manner that is respsectful of the rights of all the parties involved and the interests of the children. Rest assured that I will continue to monitor this situation with interest.
Thank you, once again, for your letter.
Utah Senator Robert Bennett replied (letter dated May 22, 2008):
Thank you for writing regarding the April raid on the Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.
On April 3, 2008, Texas law enforcement raided the YFZ Ranch, owned by the polygamist sect known as the Fundamental [sic] Church of [sic] Latter-day Saints (FLDS). Texas officials were reportedly motivated to conduct the raid by claims of sexual abuse and underage marriage occurring on the ranch. Official reports state the raid was instigated when an unidentified caller told a Texas crisis center that she was 15 years old and being abused by her 50 year old husband. Because marriage of a youth under the age of 16 is prohibited, and because of the abuse allegations, the police believed they had jurisdiction to intervene. Upon arriving, they romved the children and women from the ranch in an effort to identify ongoing abuse at the ranch. All told, child protective services removed more than 460 children from the ranch and placed them in foster care pending individualized hearings. On May 22, 2008, the Texas 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled that the children were not under “imminent danger”, and should not have been removed from the ranch in such a manner. However, the judge did not order the children to be returned to the ranch.
The case is truly heart-wrenching. Claims of sexual and child abuse and the stories of families being separated pending hearings cannot help but touch us. But, family issues, including the removal of children from homes, fall under the jurisdiction of each state. As an elected federal representative from Utah, it would be inappropriate for me to intervene in this Texas matter.
I trust that the local officials in Eldorado, Texas, will make informed decisions regarding the YFZ Ranch and will bring those who may have harmed children to justice while maintaining the affected families intact insofar as possible.
Thank you again for writing.