Can a Church ignore the law?

A church went "nuts" over picking pecans.
A church went “nuts” over picking pecans.

With the subject of religion playing in the news in relation to ignoring a law, now we have another incidence of a church, not an individual, ignoring the law. In this case it deals with child labor and not gay marriage.

Picking nuts

The US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division announced a lawsuit against the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For those of you wondering these are not your main stream Mormon’s they are the branch that still practices polygamy. Apparently they grow pecan trees in the section of Utah in which they reside. To get the harvest in the church elders and a company called Paragon Contractors Corp. rallied the “troops” to pick the pecans. Unfortunately for them the Wage and Hour division disagreed with the way they did this.

Child labor

The FLDS church put everyone to work, including the kids. They cancelled school in two communities and had 1,400 children and adults picking pecans for no compensation. At least 175 of the children were under the age of 13. The Wage and Hour division said both of those acts were illegal and the sued the FLDS for violation of minimum wage violations, overtime violations, recordkeeping violations, and yes, child labor violations.

“Nuts to the law”

Apparently this group had been warned of this in 2007 as well so they were charged with contempt of court as well. So much for being able to plead ignorance of the law. They have been ordered to pay $1.9 million in fines and the WHD is seeking back pay for the workers as well.
I am not sure how many hours the harvest took, but I am sure the $1.9 million fine took a big part of the profit made from the sale of the pecans. I wonder what their plea was when charged?

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