In the case of fundamentalists, if agencies would teach the FLDS people to live in the mainstream by providing them with financial skills, knowledge about housing, vocational counseling, etc., many FLDS members would probably leave the YFZ Ranch and other FLDS communities on their own. Many of these fundamentalists have lived with “mind-forged manacles,” imprisoned by religious leaders who kept them from receiving education and from making their own decisions. They have been denied the American right to “pursuit of happiness” and like everyone, they long for freedom. If such a life-skills investment could be made, the bill would amount to far less than the $14 million spent ineffectively trying to eradicate this stubborn and devout population. If the fundamentalists knew that they were free and capable, they’d put their energy into building their own lives instead of adamantly defending themselves. Then the people of northwestern Texas who believe their lands have been invaded by a dangerous cult could relax. The process of helping people get out of your home and into a home of their own seems to work for everyone. It’s a process we might want try in other places where people fight over religion and land, such as the Middle East. Those who believe that God gave the land to them (both the Palestinians and the Israelis) have been at war for a long time. If they would help each other establish homes somewhere besides controversial spots (such as Gaza) then everyone could benefit. Of course, they’d probably need to enter into a broader way of looking at property ownership. Some of us believe that no human being can really own the earth, that we live on it together by the grace of God.
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