20 Dec 2010

Utah law professor uses Mormon polygamists as example of how religious extremism leads to deliberate child abuse

Protecting the Unprotected: Religious Extremism and Child Endangerment
Journal of Law & Family Studies, Vol. 12, No. 2, p. 391, 2010

The following excerpt is the first three paragraphs of the article titled above by Amos N. Guiora, professor of law at S. J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah. The full article can be downloaded as a pdf at the following page: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1659783

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) has recently been the focus of intense government and media scrutiny regarding the practice of plural marriage involving under-age girls. Girls, as young as fourteen, when their prophet proclaims that God has commanded them to marry men (in some cases three times their age), are forced to have sexual relations with their husbands. These girls, and their parents, submit to the command believing their prophet’s words are, in fact, the words of God.

Similarly—and just as tragically—boys in the FLDS community, some as young as thirteen, are placed in compromising and dangerous situations. While it is difficult to determine the exact number, as many as 1,000 boys have been expelled from the community for breaking its strict standards since Warren Jeffs became the prophet.1 Breaking these standards involves doing things as simple as wearing short-sleeved shirts, listening to CDs, watching movies and TV, staying out past curfew and having a girlfriend.2 According to experts, these “lost boys”3 are banished from their community primarily in order to minimize competition for older men seeking to marry child brides.

This Article’s primary thesis is that male and female children alike are victims of child abuse and neglect4 in the name of FLDS religious doctrine. While others have addressed “terror in the name of God”5 (attacking internal and external targets alike) child endangerment in the religion paradigm is, I suggest, fundamentally different. Simply put, it is the deliberate injury to one’s own child predicated on religious faith, in particular religious extremism. To that end, this Article will focus on the danger to members of an internal community (members of a particular faith) rather than to an external community (members of other faiths).


Amos N. Guiora is a professor of law at S. J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah where he teaches Criminal Law, Global Perspectives on Counter-terrorism, Religion and Terrorism, and National Security Law. In addition, Guiora incorporates innovative scenario-based instruction to address national and international security issues. At the S.J. Quinney College of Law, Guiora, in collaboration with other leading experts, helps lead the school's efforts to provide cutting-edge research, innovative training, and public service initiatives in the prevention and mitigation of global conflict. Professor Guiora has also served in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the Israel Defense Forces as a Lieutenant Colonel. His senior command postings in the IDF were Commandant of the IDF School of Military Law, Judge Advocate of the Navy and Home Front Command, and Legal Advisor to the IDF's Gaza Strip operations.


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