Texas Supreme Court is set to weigh in on state's actions toward a polygamous sect.
Are the beliefs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), the polygamous sect that the state of Texas has also accused of child abuse, sufficient grounds for removing all the children from the group's compound in Eldorado, Texas?
The answer now lies in the hands of the Texas Supreme Court, and how it rules will help resolve a major church-state clash that began when Texas officials last month took some 460 minors from the sect's Yearning for Zion ranch after receiving phone calls from an alleged underage spouse complaining of physical abuse. That complaint, it turns out, was almost certainly a hoax – the first in a series of bad news for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).
It also now appears that evidence about the sect's belief system that the state collected during the raid – and presented to a district court to justify its temporary removal of the children – is probably flawed. In the DFPS's biggest setback so far, a Texas appeals court on May 22 overturned the district court's decision to keep the children in state custody temporarily.
"Existence of the FLDS belief system as described by the [DFPS] witnesses, by itself, does not put children of FLDS parents in physical danger," the ruling read. "It is the imposition of certain alleged tenets of that system on specific individuals that may put them in physical danger."
The state's Supreme Court is expected to rule this week on DFPS's petition for emergency relief from the appeals court decision, possibly as early as Tuesday. If the appeals court decision stands, most of the children will be returned to their parents at the sect's ranch.