Youngster custody case prompts FLDS members to protest at courthouse

FLDS Church members are on strike outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in Rigby Monday afternoon. | Silas Wright,

RIGBY – At least a dozen pickets gathered on the north lawn of the Jefferson County courthouse Monday afternoon. The women were dressed in long dresses and the men in long-sleeved shirts and jeans, and all of them held signs with messages about children’s rights.

A sign from a boy read, “We love our father. Why can’t we stay with him? “Another read:” Can I decide my fate? Choice of children. “

The sign refers to Nephi Fischer, the organizer of the rally. He tells that anyone involved in the protest is a member of the fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Polygamy is one of the fundamental tenets of the Church, and the purpose of the protest, according to Fischer, revolves around a custody battle between him and the mother of three who was there to fetch the children.

Fischer says his goal was to draw attention to the case in hopes that a judge would prevent the exchange.

The custody case has a long and complicated history and is tarnished by the fact that Fischer and the woman were never legally married, even though there was a religious ceremony between the two. State and federal laws prohibit polygamy, although the practice of multi-partner religious marriages continues in FLDS communities primarily in the western United States.

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The protest ended shortly after the Jefferson County MPs arrived to ensure a peaceful exchange of children between Fischer and the mother. A tearful farewell took place between Fischer and the children as they hugged in front of their mother’s vehicle. Fischer says he plans to continue fighting this case in court.

The FLDS Church is an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which abolished the practice of polygamy in 1890.

Warren Jeffs, longtime leader of the FLDS Church, was arrested on charges of sexual assault in 2006, and several other charges were added in the years that followed. In 2011 Jeffs was convicted of two sexual assaults on a child and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Silas Wright |

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