Justice Department sues fundamentalist Mormon sect for discrimination
The US Justice Department alleges that the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), which controls most of the law enforcement and other government services in two adjacent communities, discriminates against those who are not members of the polygamous sect.
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But in recent years, as many as several hundred boys – when they reached adolescence and might have been seen as competing with adult men for wives – were excommunicated and forced from the community, usually without much formal education or marketable skills.Skip to next paragraph
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Over the years, critics say, authorities in Utah have been less than aggressive in prosecuting suspected crimes committed by FLDS members – including those outlined in the Justice Department suit, misuse of public funds, and welfare fraud.
In 2006, the Mormon Church-owned Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake City acknowledged that "the state's history, a conservative belief in free choice, and an unwillingness to stir up a hornet's nest in the national media have likely all contributed to the kid-glove approach lawmakers and law-enforcement officers have taken when dealing with polygamous communities."
Now, that laissez-faire attitude seems to be changing.
"We have made substantial progress during the past decade in bringing justice and security to the people living in the twin cities of Hildale and Colorado City," Mr. Shurtleff said, adding that his office has sought federal involvement for years.
"Finding a solution to the illegal activities that have been occurring in Colorado City for decades has been one of my highest priorities," Horne said. "I remain committed to stopping the illegal conduct perpetrated by the FLDS church on non-church members."
Although the LDS and FLDS churches are distinct and very different, any public confusion may not be helpful to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who is Mormon.
His father, former Michigan governor and 1968 presidential candidate George Romney, was born in Mexico because the Romney family had moved there in the early 20th century to avoid federal prosecution for polygamy. Mitt Romney’s great-grandfather was a polygamist.
According to a Gallup poll released Thursday, 18 percent of Americans say they would not vote for a well-qualified presidential candidate who happens to be a Mormon, virtually the same as the 17 percent who held this attitude in 1967 when George Romney began his failed run for the presidency.
“It is unclear how the current level of resistance to the idea of voting for a Mormon presidential candidate will affect the election,” writes Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport. “History shows that these types of attitudes in and of themselves are not an impediment to victory. For example, a May 1960 Gallup poll found that 21 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a well-qualified candidate who was a Catholic, but Catholic John F. Kennedy went on to win the presidency that fall.”