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FLDS Communities Facing Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

FLDS Communities Facing Religious Discrimination Lawsuit
January 21
13:58 2016

The cities of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona, also known as Short Creek, are facing a lawsuit from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ is arguing that the two cities, whose population is mostly comprised of members of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, are in direct violation of the Civil Rights Act, Fair Housing Act and several constitutional amendments.

According to the complaint, “For at least 20 years, the cities have operated as an arm of the FLDS, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The cities’ governments, including the Marshal’s Office, have been deployed to carry out the will and dictates of FLDS leaders, particularly Warren Jeffs and the officials to whom he delegates authority.

For decades, officials of the cities have, by operating at the direction and for the benefit of the FLDS, abdicated their official duties to protect the rights of all citizens equally and to administer governmental functions consistently with the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution.”

The latest example of these violations can be found when the local schools canceled school days for a harvest in which kids were allegedly not compensated for their work.

The lawsuit also alleges that church leaders asked Warren Jeffs for advice from God about whom to appoint to police positions and claims the police targeted non-FLDS members. Another claim mentioned allegations that police officers were used to carry out edicts of the church.

It doesn’t stop there. Some of the complaints claim that non-FLDS children weren’t allowed to play in local parks, and people who weren’t members of the church weren’t provided with basic rights such as water, electricity or police protection.

In the opening arguments that took place yesterday, Department of Justice attorney Jessica Clarke drew attention to the implication that non-FLDS members in the two towns are denied “some of the most basic rights of democracy, freedom to live in a city governed by the laws of the land, not by the laws of religion.”

In response to the allegations, attorney Jeffrey Matura claimed the federal government wanted to make the case about “eradicating the religion.”

“The federal government wants to make this case about religion. This case is about whether Colorado City and Hildale treat people fairly,” said Matura.

While the leader of the FLDS community Warren Jeffs, also known as “The Prophet,” may be behind bars for child sexual assault, he still has a significant amount of control over the church.

Opening arguments were presented on Wednesday in U.S District Court in Phoenix. The trial is expected to continue through the end of February.

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