Saints Under Siege

The Texas State Raid on the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints

281 pages

9 illustrations

October, 2011

ISBN: 9780814795293



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Stuart A. Wright is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Office of Research at Lamar University.  He is the author or editor of a number of titles including Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspectives on the Branch Davidian Conflict.

All books by Stuart A. Wright

James T. Richardson is Professor of Sociology and Judicial Studies and Director of the Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies at University of Nevada, Reno. He is the co-author and editor of 10 books.

All books by James T. Richardson

In April 2008, state police and child protection authorities raided Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado, Texas, a community of 800 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a polygamist branch of the Mormons. State officials claimed that the raid, which was triggered by anonymous phone calls from an underage girl to a domestic violence hotline, was based on evidence of widespread child sexual abuse. In a high-risk paramilitary operation, 439 children were removed from the custody of their parents and held until the Third Court of Appeals found that the state had overreached. Not only did the state fail to corroborate the authenticity of the hoax calls, but evidence reveals that Texas officials had targeted the FLDS from the outset, planning and preparing for a confrontation.
Saints under Siege provides a thorough, theoretically grounded critical examination of the Texas state raid on the FLDS while situating this event in a broader sociological context.  The volume considers the raid as an exemplar case of a larger pattern of state actions against minority religions, offering comparative analyses to other government raids both historically and across cultures.  In its look beyond the Texas raid, it provides compelling evidence of social intolerance and state repression of unpopular minority faiths in general, and the FLDS in particular.


  • "There has been a disturbing recent trend toward military-style government raids on minority religious communities. This book offers an incisive set of analyses by distinguished religious movements scholars of the massive state raid on the FLDS community in 2008. [It] will be the book of record for interpreting this historic event."

    —David G. Bromley, co-author of Cults and New Religions: A Brief History

  • "In this significant volume, noted scholars explore the historical, sociological, legal, law enforcement, media studies, and religious studies aspects of the 2008 raid on the Yearning for Zion ranch. A must-read for those concerned with the dynamics of how and why law enforcement agents take aggressive actions that harm children they are tasked with protecting."

    —Catherine Wessinger, Rev. H. James Yamauchi, S.J. Professor of the History of Religions, Loyola University New Orleans

  • "Saints Under Siege is a welcome corrective to the sensationalism surrounding the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints...this book can heighten students' hermeneutic of suspicion towards [child abuse] allegations."

    —John-Charles Duffy, Journal of American Academy of Religion

  • "Saints Under Siege's strength resides in its multi-author and multi-hermeneutic approach as each chapter considers a distinct set of historical, cultural, and political/legal realities underlying the raid."

    —Spencer L. Allen, International Journal for the Study of New Religions

  • "Wide-ranging and provocative collection."

    Journal of Church and State

  • "A highly recommendable book for both academic and popular readers alike looking to gain further insight into government-sponsored religious intolerance in contemporary America."

    —Johnathan W. Olson, Florida State University