Thursday, April 10, 2008
Dan Jones Poll Shows 62 Percent Of Utah Respondents Approve The Removal Of All 419 Children From The Eldorado, Texas FLDS Compound
It appears most Utahns agreed with the removal of all 419 children from the Eldorado, Texas FLDS compound by Texas authorities, and that nearly half of Utahns believe local law enforcement does not do enough to prosecute crime in polygamist communities, according to a poll conducted Tuesday April 8th and Wednesday April 9th by Dan Jones & Associates. Full story published in the Deseret Morning News and aired by KSL Channel 5. The latest figure of 419 children is being reported by the Salt Lake Tribune and Catholic Online. Pictured above left, the FLDS Temple.
Here are the results of the statewide poll of 314 people, with a 5.7 percent margin of error:
- 31 percent of Utahns said authorities were definitely justified in removing the children
- 31 percent believed the actions were probably justified
- 13 percent believed the actions were probably not justified
- 6 percent said they were definitely not justified.
The poll also showed that 48 percent believe Utah officials do not do enough to prosecute crime inside polygamist communities, according to the poll. Only 7 percent said local law enforcement definitely does enough to prosecute and 30 percent believed they probably do enough.
However, Utahns appeared split on whether officials should prosecute polygamy without evidence of child abuse. Fifty percent said polygamy alone should not be prosecuted, while 41 percent believed it should.
Utah's antipathy against polygamy is driven not only by the fact that the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to reject it, and those who practice it, but because of a number of high-profile negative examples. The most recent was the example of Warren Jeffs, who's now in prison after being convicted of two counts of being an accomplice to rape. He got very little sympathy from the Utah public. Another negative example is the Kingston Family, some of whose elders have faced child abuse and incest charges. In October 2004, Utah child welfare authorities removed eight children from the family of John Daniel Kingston for neglect and abuse.
A more positive example was Tom Green, married to five wives. Green was an articulate and positive spokesman for the lifestyle, appearing on a number of media venues, and never actually mistreated his wives, but his downfall was brought about not only by the fact that he married and impregnated one of his wives when she was just 13, but also officially "divorced" the other wives so they could qualify for public benefits. Former Juab County District Attorney David Leavitt, who's currently the leading challenger for Chris Cannon's U.S. House seat, successfully prosecuted Tom Green, but locals were sufficiently ambivalent enough about it that Leavitt lost his subsequent re-election bid - by 22 votes.
In another major development on April 9th, reported separately by the Deseret Morning News, Dale Barlow, the man whose alleged actions prompted Texas officials to raid the FLDS compound and seize the children, told the Deseret Morning News that he could not possibly have done what he's accused of doing. He denies knowing or ever having met his accuser. He also denies having been in Texas since 1977. The Salt Lake Tribune also published a similar story.
Furthermore, Barlow's story tends to be corroborated by two sources. Chief Friend Walker of the Mohave County (AZ) Probation Department said that the 50-year-old Barlow, who lives in Colorado City, Ariz., has been on probation since August 17th, 2007, and is required to request permission to make trips out of state and be given a travel permit before leaving the state as a condition of probation. He further states that Barlow has neither requested nor has been given any travel permits to Texas.
Attorneys for the FLDS Church also say Barlow was not at the ranch and believe no child with the girl's name was at the ranch, either, according to a memorandum filed Wednesday April 9th. They also argued that the phone call from the girl was never corroborated and additionally claim that such information did not justify the issuance of any search warrant.
The whole situation began when a 16-year old girl with an eight-month-old baby and pregnant with another child claimed she was married to Barlow, indicated her last name was Barlow and lived at the YFZ (Yearning for Zion) Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. She related this story in several calls placed to a domestic violence crisis hotline on March 29th and 30th. The girl claimed that Barlow was both physically and sexually abusive to her, and broke several of her ribs once. She also claimed that the last time Barlow abused her was on Easter Sunday this year. However, Texas child welfare officials have not been able to identify her from among the 416 children now in state custody.
And in yet another development reported by the Deseret Morning News, the Salt Lake Tribune, and aired by KSL Channel 5, Texas authorities finally made a dynamic entry into the FLDS Temple itself and found several beds therein. One bed was unmade, and a hair was discovered on the bed. This has triggered speculation that sexual activity involving underage girls may have been taking place within the temple. In Texas, people under 17 may not marry without parental approval.
Another story aired on April 8th by KTVX Channel 4 provides some more detailed background on the situation.
Commentary: The Eldorado debacle, following so closely on the heels of the Warren Jeffs trial, really puts polygamy and its practitioners on the ropes. Even those who practice it responsibly are likely to face closer scrutiny. However, if gay marriage starts being imposed from the top down nationwide, advocates of plural marriage, at least for religious purposes, will gain a strong propaganda advantage to promote a campaign to legalize the practice. How could one possibly justify gay marriage but not heterosexual plural marriage?