That's the number of children who were taken from the YFZ compound here in Texas this week. I am absolutely stunned that so many children were hidden there, away from public view. The scariest thing is that these children know no other way of life. The girls are brought up to believe that their purpose in life is to be married young and bear as many children as possible. The boys are brought up to believe it is their right to have as many wives as they like - provided they aren't exiled from the community because there are too many young men.
What's even scarier is how many children might be in the Colorado City community, which is much, much larger than the Eldorado compound. There might be thousands there, hidden from view and "protected" by the local authorities, who are all FLDS members.
I know that "regular" Mormons are ordinary people who happen to believe in odd things. By all accounts, most are fine, upstanding members of their communities. But the fundamentalists are something else all together. If you haven't, you should read Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven." It contains an excellent history of Mormonism and of the fundamentalist cults that sprang up.
I don't consider FLDS to be a religion - it's a cult, pure and simple. Any group that hides its members away from sight and indoctrinates them to believe that young girls should have sex and bear children with men decades older than they is a cult.
My hope is that the Texas authorities can find good foster home for these kids and help them transition to the real world. Otherwise, in a few years, they'll be raiding the compound and removing even more children.
And as for the girl who called in the report of abuse - she's got to be the bravest girl. I hope she's safe with the other kids and hasn't been whisked away as a result of her call for help.
I'm not a praying person, but I am praying for these children.