Saturday, August 28, 2010

Some Religions Are More Equal Than Others

If this had happened at the FLDS compound in Texas, do you think the suspect would still be awaiting arrest?  When Texas authorities received an anonymous tip about a (fictitious, as it turned out) child bride who had been married against her will and abused by her husband, they swept in and removed 439 children from their families and warehoused them until the courts ordered them returned to their parents.

Sadly, the Grant County case is not a freak occurrence in the Amish community. It's not even the only one in the Midwest this year. Amish children are especially vulnerable, since the faithful are taught to shun the outside world and avoid the secular authorities. They also believe in forgiveness rather than prosecution.

But, by and large, Americans hold the Amish in high esteem, so we give them the benefit of the doubt.  Just as faithful Catholics give their church the benefit of the doubt when bishops protect abusers rather than their victims. Have any Catholic schools been shut down in the wake of those abuse scandals?  I haven't heard of any.

But if a religious group is not only in the minority, but also widely despised, a whole different set of rules apply.


Dan said...

First, your saying that the Amish kids are taught to shun the outside world. I've worked with the Amish many times and the Amish kids do not shun "the English" and this statement is completely false. They also do not avoid secular authorities. In many places, Amish men belong to volunteer fire departments and fire departments work closely with the police. Amish also report crimes to the cops, just as in the case in Grant County. even in your link about the Kentucky case, it was not what you portrayed.
And yes, the Amish do believe in forgiveness instead of prosecution. Remember the shootings of the Amish girls a few years ago? The Amish forgave the shooter and helped out the family of the shooter. So what?
So, what is your point? So what if they have not been arrested ye? Sometimes, this is what they do in small towns and I am pretty sure the Amish will make sure their charges will be brought to justice. And the cops don't seemed to distressed that the guys are not jail awaiting their hearing.
Plus, what does this have to do with school closures? Nothing. Nothing has been alleged that involved Amish schools.
Other than ripping on the Amish, i just don't see the point of the post.
What happened at the FDLS is shameful on the parts of the social workers in Texas.

Ordinary Jill said...

That is exactly my point. What happened at the FLDS is shameful. It was not a justifiable reaction by the child welfare authorities, by any excuse. Many of the reasons given by the Texas authorities (the isolation of the community, the vulnerability of the children) apply equally to children in other faith communities.

Our society (and certainly our government) should not treat minority religions differently based on whether or not we like them.

The Grant County authorities mentioned that it was unusual for that Amish family to reach out to them. In the Missouri case (not Kentucky), there was a great deal of debate among the local Amish as to whether they had a duty to report such things. The Amish are indeed taught to shun connections with the outside world (such as electricity and social security), once they have accepted baptism (the unbaptized youngsters have more leeway). The rare cases of child abuse that come to light are believed to be only a fraction of the actual cases that occur. The incidence of abuse is probably similar to the national average, but abuse in the Amish community is less likely to be reported, due to their beliefs.

But that doesn't mean we should discriminate against the whole community because we don't like how they raise their kids. For the most part, in the case of the Amish, we don't. But in Texas, in the case of the FLDS, the state authorities certainly did.

There are too many people in this country who seem to believe that freedom of religion only applies to their version of Christianity, or to other groups that they see as benevolent (like the Amish), but not to those groups that they dislike.

Dan said...

I just don't think that the Amish are afraid to go to the police when neccessary and in abuse cases. Yes, in some areas, they may not report abuse, but this is no different than any religion or even culture. Most people would rather not report abuse. Period. Think of all the crap you have to go through- questioning by cops, social workers, the DA and if it goes to court, the judge and jury.
Who would want to go throught that?
Yes, the prosecutors really screwed up in the FDLS case and I think in the MA abuse case before that.
As a parent and divorced, I would hate to get the authorities involved, even if the ex abused the kids. I'd rather handle it internally rather getting the cops involved, if possible. Same with being married.
But if the cops have to be involved, then so be it.

Tim Morrissey said...

Good post, Jill, and good defense of it.