Finally furnish freedom for FLDS freaks

The polygamists have built a temple.

Four stories high and adorned with limestone, the Fundamentalist Latter-day Saint temple sits secluded on 1,691 acres of private property in Eldorado, Texas.

FLDS secrecy evokes fear, but I believe that all parties should show the sect extreme tolerance.

It is believed that the FLDS Church timed completion of the temple for April 6 to coincide with the 175th anniversary of Joseph Smith founding his church.

The FLDS Church, like the LDS Church, claims Smith’s legacy, but the LDS Church renounced polygamy in 1890.

Some Latter-day Saints refused to abandon the practice, including two apostles who were excommunicated in 1905. A mass excommunication of Short Creek polygamists (on the border between Utah and Arizona) led to the formation of the FLDS Church.

Religious polygamy is anomalous in this century. FLDS leaders have excommunicated boys for trivial offenses (presumably to reduce competition for wives). Their leader is in default judgment for blacklisting a man in his community.

Hell, they’re just weird.

However, weirdness shouldn’t overshadow our commitment to religious freedom.

Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints preach polygamy, millennialism and secrecy, but let’s put this into historical perspective. Brigham Young’s church did too. Both groups have suffered for their eccentricity.

In the 19th century, the Supreme Court upheld anti-Mormon laws while comparing polygamy to human sacrifice. They stated that free practice of religion only applied to freedom of beliefs, not actual practice.

The government disenfranchised polygamists, and even those who wouldn’t take a seemingly unconstitutional loyalty oath against polygamy. The LDS Church was disincorporated, and the Supreme Court upheld the confiscation of its assets in 1889.

In 1890, as Wilford Woodruff issued the “Manifesto” against polygamy, the government was preparing to seize LDS Temples and other property.

Whatever you think about polygamy, this was wrong. The United States trampled religious freedom to attack a fringe religious movement.

We should not allow this to happen again.

Residents of Eldorado worry that they might have another Waco on their hands, but the FLDS Church doesn’t even allow firearms in its communities.

Contacts within the group have reportedly told law enforcement that the temple will attract FLDS from across the country. Polygamists will visit Eldorado, perform their ceremonies and go home.

We should give them something the LDS Church never got-the benefit of a doubt.

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