With the recent raid on the FLDS compound in Eldorado, Texas, I have been thinking about polygamy and civil liberties.
I am troubled because of the similarities between the government’s persecution against the FLDS folk, and the persecution against my Mormon predecessors in the nineteenth century. My third great grandfather, Robert Owens, practiced plural marriage and was driven out of Navuoo, Illinois along with the other Mormons. They had to trek across the United States into the wilderness of what would later become Utah Territory, in order to live and practice their religion in peace.
Even after arriving in the Great Basin in 1847, the government continued to harass the Mormon people. They sent an invading army to the Salt Lake Valley in a conflict known as the Utah War. They passed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy act in 1862 and the Edmunds-Tucker act of 1887, both of which were specifically targeted against the Mormon church. It was not until the church stopped practicing polygamy in 1890 that they were allowed to live in relative peace.
These early pioneers suffered persecution by violent mobs and also by government decree. Governer Boggs of Missouri issued an Extermination Order in 1838 to drive the Mormons out of the state, or kill them if they wouldn’t leave voluntarily. The order wasn’t rescinded until 1976.
These events have set a historical precedence of flagrant and tyrannical abuse by the government against the God-given, Constitutionally-protected rights of its citizens. It happened 150 years ago, and it can happen again.
With recent reports that the 2008 raid against the FLDS compound in Texas may have been instigated by a prank phone call, I am greatly concerned about the apparent violations by Texas authorities against due process of law, of the right to habeas corpus, and the protection of individual liberties of the citizens of the United States of America. It is the FLDS today, but tomorrow, it could be anyone. When will we cry out against injustice and tyranny?
May heaven help us all.