Polygamy Trial Gets Underway In Arizona, Is It Freedom Of Religion? Lawyers Hope Judge Will See It That Way
The government seems to be setting off clashes across the country. People growing tired of stagnant wages, political posturing, and court officiated laws; trials are set to begin this week in both Arizona and Utah to determine whether being able to marry more than one person is a right of freedom, a right of religion, or just plain illegal. While at the same time, a community is being sued due to allegations that police officials residing in it are not enforcing the laws of the land effectively.
The Justice Department started suit in 2012 to sue Arizona, Colorado City, Utah and Hildale’s members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In 1890, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, broke away from the Mormon church when the Mormon church rejected polygamy as one of their doctrines.
The Justice Department claims that the officials within the jurisdictions where polygamy exists, turn a blind eye to the offenses and illegal acts of the community. The Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyersopening statements began this week, and the trial is likely to go on for weeks as testimony is heard from both sides.
Those who will be brought to the bench are members of the police force, former members of the community, outside experts and public officials of a small community of just 10,000 people who have a primary system of self-rule. Just a drive from Zion National Park, the community conducts their own affairs adjacent to the surrounding areas.
The list of allegations ranges from negating to arrest members who have committed crimes against those who are outside of the community, not allowing people outside the community utility services, water, or housing, and purposefully destroying the crops of those who didn’t follow along with the religious sect’s ideology. All alleged crimes went against the Federal penal code.
The small community, who is the target of the trial, are those who follow the teachings for a man by the name of Warren Jeffs, who after being on the FBI’s most wanted list, was found guilty in 2011 for assaulting various underage girls in the community. He is currently serving a life sentence.
The defense, led by Jeffrey Matura, insist that this is nothing more than a religious witch hunt. Targeting the practices of the religious sect out of disgust for their religious preferences, the allegations he claims have no merit and are nothing but prejudice being played out in court.
He insists that any wrongdoing by officials has already been singled out and that those who didn’t conduct themselves within the law have already been released from their police duty. An overreaction by the government, it is an attempt to tarnish the community and to create backlash for the religious sect.
There are other lawyers who question the notion of the legality of the separation between church and state. If the religious community can prove that the law enforcement is not independent of the church, but rather an extension of the church itself, it will raise speculation about who the enforcement is bound to.
Currently in the works, is a case that is scheduled on the docket in Utah over the debate about whether having more than one wife is legal. The US Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear a case where a lower court has refused to issue a legal ban on the cohabitation of polygamous activity. At this time, the issuance of more than one marriage license to one person is still legal in the State of Utah.
Religion in this country is supposed to be afforded freedoms; the problem is that when religious practices impinge on the law of the land, or go against it, which one takes precedence? Arguments for both sides have been waged for decades. The majority of Americans believe that marriage should be restricted to two people, but with the new passage of gay marriage rights, many think that the door is now open for those wishing to expand, or to redefine marriage.
If it is no longer a sanctity between a man and woman forged for the raising of children, then it really has no legal boundaries. Polygamy, some legal scholars would insist, is nothing more than just another marriage situation that is no less legal than two men or two women joining in holy matrimony.