Polygamy and Utah: Hypocrisy Abounds

Must read:
Texas officials are protecting FLDS children from abuse – Salt Lake Tribune

The final paragraphs are indicative of a major problem within the FLDS ranks: institutionalized destruction of families and family units while simultaneously creating a culture of abuse. Who is supposed to step in in these cases?

Utah and Arizona have tread lightly in decades past, hoping to avoid the PR problems that face Texas now.

On Friday, Heather and I listened to an NPR reporter interviewing one of the women from the YFZ “ranch”. You’d have thought that for all the 19th century facade the polygamists adopt, she’d be flustered and ill-spoken. She dealt with the media like a GOP/Rove/Bush/Cheney pro; sticking to talking points and not answering the tough questions all while playing, rather expertly, the victim.

One of the weird things about religious subcultures is how opinions are formed and then wielded. I haven’t seen any poll data from Utah vs. the rest of the world about the actions of Texas Child Protective Services, but I would be willing to bet that most Mormons view the raid and subsequent placing of FLDS children in protective custody/foster care as an “atrocity” as does Mr. Firmage in the above commentary. While the raid and subsequent actions are difficult to imagine, somebody has to take a stand for the children. At some point, the reality of the situation has to trump our no longer valid high-minded notions of religious freedoms.

I agree with Ms. Chapman when she states:

Fathers indoctrinate their small children that their abuse or abusing is spiritual, while mothers prepare their female children for rape in a wedding dress. The reason children can’t tell officials who their parents are is that they are confused about their own identity and that of their parents.

A few years ago, I recommended Jon Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith” for its look at fundamentalism in the microcosm of Utah and how it destroys the fabric of society and the laws that form it. As this story in Texas of religion at its worst goes on, I can’t recommend this work highly enough as an intro into fundamentalist Mormonism.

The nagging question for me is that I wonder if certain parts of the YFZ culture don’t resemble the Mormon church itself circa 1840-1890. I didn’t say all of it, just certain parts.

How far should “religious freedom” go? When children are being treated like pawns in a power play, I think the religion has ceased being a religion and turned into something uglier and more horrifying. That we as a larger society have ignored it for so long only makes it more uncomfortable and more polarizing to discuss.

But discuss we must.

  • trent

    It’s nice to hear someone asking good questions on this case because for three weeks all I’ve heard is people who think they have all the answers, pro or con.

  • Kevin Smith

    Have we seen “proof” of the abuse yet? Has it been proven yet that the call came from within the group, and not a prank from the lady in Colorado or similar?

    I’m as anti-religious as the next guy, But Texas f’d this one up big time.

    This smells eerily like Waco.. when “liberal” Clinton and Janet Reno killed “cultists.”

    – A middle of the road dude.

  • Dogmom

    Jon, I always appreciate your comments on this subject because I know they come from a relatively unique and knowledgeable perspective. I am also aware of and appreciate the balance you strive for on the subject of Mormonism itself, perhaps for family considerations. For many years I worked in the court system in Mohave County, Arizona, the county that encompasses Colorado City and other traditionally polygamist communities in Northern Arizona, and often wondered why law enforcement agencies seemed to ignore what was common knowledge — the “situation” going on up there; there were even members of county law enforcement agencies who were participants. It seemed so incongruous. The hypocrisy goes so deep. Really, the proverbial blind eye was at work here. I understand that there’s a county attorney in office now who has taken an aggressive approach to prosecution, but I think I understand that it’s a sticky issue, for obvious and not-so-obvious reasons, but religious freedom notwithstanding, geez, it’s the kids who have suffered and continue to suffer, generation after generation. I so believe in the freedom to believe in the deity of toast, if that’s where it takes you, and I don’t for a minute think that I have any answers here, but there’s got to be some kind of enforcement to those who are harming so many.

  • Bunnie

    Being from Utah and living for a while in Page, AZ, rather near the Colorado City, AZ/Hilldale, UT communities of the FLDS. I am so frustrated by the lack of knowledge, especially that now perpetuated by the media. as to how these communities work. Yes, UT and AZ have kept up blinders hoping that no one would ask questions. I’ve actually meet these people, been to there towns and have actual friends from polygamist families, some within this particular sect, some from other sects, some still living the lifestyle and some who have broken free. It is ugly, to say the least. It has definitely moved far beyond the religious aspect, especially with this particular sect. Why is there not more reporting from those who have escaped, besides the soul lady that is on every media outlet. Are they still so afraid of this mafia-like society? I wouldn’t doubt it. Maybe TX went about it the wrong way. Maybe this was the only way to make it stop! I liken this treatment of women and children to that of the Saudi (and other muslim) communities. How have we been allowing this in the US in 2008!! It infuriates me! Where in the hell are the women’s and children’s groups screaming about civil rights? Where is the ACLU, when they could really be attaching themselves to a worthwhile cause for once, instead of defending the rights of pedophiles to have websites instructing other pedofiles on proper victim grooming? I blogged about this the other day myself at
    I don’t care how the hell they get those women and children out of there, just get them the hell out! The next step should be to prosecute the men of the sect for false imprisonment, brainwashing, child abuse, child molestation…it goes on and on.
    One last thing…did you ever think that the Mormons can’t really go along with this TX incident and haven’t bothered to do anything about it in the past with their own polygamists because deep down they really still believe in the practice? They only gave it up when they wanted to be admitted to the Union, so miraculously (and timely) the prophet has a revolation? And they still believe they will have multiple wifes in heaven.

  • Lisa

    I appreciate your commentary as I’ve been following this story. I read Krakauer’s book last year (after watching Big Love on HBO) and agree that is an interesting introduction to the subject. I agree with everything you’ve said here. Unfortunately everyone on these ranches have been brainwashed and think that what they’re doing is for god.

  • witchypoo

    From former members I’ve seen interviewed, it seems that Blood Atonement is still practiced within this sect, and I don’t believe you get more fundamental than that. In my research, I have discovered that the sins that require one’s blood to be spilled (because Christ’s blood just won’t cut it) are lying, adultery, theft, leaving the church, and many other things that the majority of the populace does not consider to be punishable by death.
    There is freedom of religion, and there are also laws to protect the innocent.
    It’s a thorny subject, but the children have no voice within the sect. Who then, will protect them?
    I feel that Texas officials handled this with as much grace as they could muster. The children were not displayed, their identities are protected, and they are dealing with an all round difficult situation.

  • Amy

    I’ve been watching this pretty closely, and I do believe these children have been raised in a culture of abuse. I do believe these women and children have to be cared for. The 2 things that have me worried the most is that these children and families are being lumped together by our legal system and each citizen/ each child deserves to be evaluated individually. Also, these children have been in ‘care’ for over 3 weeks and haven’t been evaluated. As a parent this is so scary to me. Over the past decade I’ve seen our rights so eroded and this just seems to be the pinnacle. There is no way in the entire state of Texas that they don’t have the manpower and resources to give these families the legal speed that they deserve as citizens.

  • Lesley

    Last Friday, Bill Maher commented that if the Pope had been the CEO of a giant daycare enterprise employing thousands of care workers who’d turned out to be pedophiles – and had covered up their abuses and moved abusers from daycare to daycare to avoid detection – he’d be in jail today. But because he’s the head of a religious organization he’s protected.

    Certainly the children of this fundamentalist splinter group are traumatized by the separation from their mothers and families, but whose fault is that? The men who abused them and the women who enabled the abusers. The State has merely intervened to prevent further abuse from occurring.

  • lostinutah

    Went to the Jazz game Thursday night and walked by the protesters yelling and holding signs about the “injustice” in Texas. And all I could think was…when is it EVER okay to marry underage girls to men twice their age so they can reproduce in bulk? For heaven’s sake people, it comes down to that. Yes, these people have civil rights. And yes, they need to be protected. But not at the expense of those children. They are the important part.

  • Mark

    Being an atheist I’m naturally appalled with religion, of any sort, in general. Regardless I’ve learned to accept that humanity, with all its frailties, seems to need ‘direction’ and that it finds said direction through the creation of religion. Shame.

    I firmly believe that the ultimate purpose of any religion is to control its members (and to convert nonbelievers so that they too may be controlled). The FLDS takes this core process to an extreme and through the process wreaks havoc upon the lives of its very members. Well, that’s not completely true. It wreaks havoc upon the lives of the females. As usual, not only is control the ultimate process, but control of the female of the species in particular. Notice how the men enjoy all the rank and privileges, while the women are treated like property.

    This isn’t a religion. It’s not even a cult. It is simply men having their way with women without regard for those very women. Shame on the Mormon church. No. Fuck the Mormon church and all in it. They should be as embarrassed as should be the Catholics (of which I am the former) who have allowed their church to become the respite of pedophiles and perverts.

  • MsShad

    I think Mark said it best, right above me said it best.

    I used to work in the field of preventing child abuse, and I don’t understand how anyone could consider pregnant teenagers married to men 2 and 3 times their age “okay” because of religion.

    It just makes me gag.

  • Emily

    I am astounded that the Mormon church, with all of its resources (both $$$ and knowledge and shared history) hasn’t stepped up to the plate here to help re-educate these women. They are more concerned with maintaining their public image of having had nothing to do with polygamy, ever. As we all know, it’s a false image.

    Were I a fundamentalist Texan Baptist, perhaps, I’d be calling down hellfire on the “Prophet” for his neglect of these YFZ folks.

    There’s no easy solution here, and it’s all very sad. I know it had to be done, but of course I feel for the children torn from their mothers. I also worry — remember Short Creek? Will this raid really have a long term affect of helping these people open their minds? I doubt it. I have a feeling that this “persecution” will only serve to strengthen the resolve of the true believers.

  • Brandy

    I think many of the posters have made excellent points here.

    What I wanted to bring up/point out is that the public’s sympathy is being played upon by this sect. How? By simply pointing out that children are being taken from their mothers. I’m not innocent of being taken in by this ploy for a minute. It tears at my heart to think of the scared and sad children. It’s likely that the majority of these children are loved and well cared for. But what those who start to question the correctness of removing these children must remember is that these children are being cared for by people who are raising them into a culture where the women will likely be raped at a tender age and at best will live in an emotional hell for most of their lives. The boys will either foster this culture or be shunned from all that they have ever known. I just hope the public and the government will have the courage to break the cycle.

  • Sandee

    It’s not about religion anymore. It’s about sex – old men wanting to have sex with young girls. Disgusting!

  • Betsey

    Those poor babies. They’re innocent. Shame on anyone who is saying these child molesters are being persecuted. Child molesters and their enablers (the wives) are in the same boat in my opinion.
    Go Jon for posting on this, repeatedly. Your point of view and insight as former LDS is appreciated. Keep it up.

  • Kevin Smith

    More riffraff on national “news” shows tonight.

    The problem is that those children have been stripped from their parents without any proof of wrongdoing. Those children are or will be severely scared by this experience, many for life.

    What happened to guilty until proven innocent?

    I’m not saying there was no wrong being done there, but where is the proof? Sure are a lot of people jumping on the blame and disgust bandwagon before its ready for passengers.

    Underage marriages and pregnancies may be wrong by your (our) morals and societal standards, but it is practiced around the world without such disdain. Watch National Geographic channel some time. People should (but won’t) stop forcing THEIR OWN religious or religious based morals on others.

    All I’m saying is, there is/was/would’ve been a much better way to deal with this. Texas f’d up. One wrong doesn’t make another right.

  • Anton

    I was having drinks with my friend, a CPS worker who has been in San Angelo working on this case and I was asking her why these children were being taken away from their mothers when it is the men who are commiting the crimes. She basically informed me that it wasn’t about religion but about the cycle of rape of minor-aged girls in this “community.” While the “fathers” are obviously criminals, the mothers are just as guilty of neglect, at least the way CPS sees it. It was just interesting to get this insider perspective.

  • Mary Moon

    Look. Religious freedom is one thing. Sexual abuse of children is another. When I was a member of a sexual abuse survivors group I was shocked at how many survivors were the daughters of preachers or deacons or some other titled member of a church.

    That’s all I have to say about this.

  • Jodie

    One of the principles of my religion is “to affirm and promote the inherent worth and diginity of every person”. It’s difficult to do in this case, I think CPS was right in removing the children because their human rights were being violated. They were being brain-washed into a culture that subjugates women and believes in child marriage. That’s just not in step with the laws and general views of our country. Freedom of religion is a basic principle, but children don’t get to choose their religion usually.

    I grew up in south Texas with unusual parents that were a bit anti-organized religion… former Catholic father. They always told me to make up my mind about religion when I was older. I missed out on some basics that our society takes for granted. I tell people that I learned the Christmas story from Charlie Brown and it’s true. In my 30s, I discovered a group of people who think like I do… the Unitarian Universalists. I was amazed to find people that accepted others regardless of theology and felt that we could all worship together… even atheists. My personal theology has evolved over the past 15 years that I’ve been a UU. But I find being a part of the UU community has made me stronger and more able to speak out about my beliefs on sometimes controversial subjects. I still don’t tell too many people at work that I’m a Democrat… but hey, I work for a Dallas based conservative Fortune 500 company. Just some thoughts for you, Heather and your readers. For more on the UU think see their website

  • Bannod

    Did anyone see Larry King Live when he interviewed some of the women from the YFZ Ranch? There were 6 or 7 seated, but only 3 spoke. They were definitely “programmed”. When Larry asked how their husbands felt, no one could give him an answer. They only said (all 3 of them) that their only concern was getting the children back. After the commercial break, one of the women then replied that of course her husband wants the children back.

    Another one of the women led a tour of one of the dormitories. She showed the large kitchen and dining hall, and then some of the bedrooms. Some bedrooms had a double bed where a grown woman slept and twin, bunk or cribs where younger children slept. She referred to them “some girls”, not as the children of the grown woman who slept there. Other rooms had twin beds where older girls slept. It was definitely a women’s dorm – not a man, or any masculine items – in sight. I don’t know where reproduction took place, but it definitely wasn’t in those rooms.

    The women don’t have a clue about “Honey, I’m home!” There is no family unit there. I feel it’s nothing more than a breeding facility for future FLDS members. The women are nothing more than concubines, really. They’re enslaved by the threat of burning in hell if they don’t submit to their “husbands” and reproduce.

    And the men? What a deal they’ve got! When sex with one wife starts to become routine, he gets a new one, a virgin, who won’t know how really bad he is in bed.

  • Leesavee

    Texas has done the right thing by stepping in and removing the children from the situation while they sort everything out. It is the responsibility of government to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and these girls must be protected. If law enforcement were investigating a family for abusing a child, you can bet the child would be taken from the situation…not only for protection, but also to be questioned privately, away from those he or she might fear.

    Thanks for posting about this, Jon. It’s a very important topic, and you have an interesting take on it.

  • noise

    As harsh as it might sound, I have absolutely no sympathy for the women of the Texas FLDS compound; it was beyond irritating to tune into the media and watch those mothers wring their hands and snivel for their children as they purposely dodged illuminating inquiries right and left. The way they’re “answering questions” and “cooperating” with authorities amounts to nothing but a vague, sanitized illusion of conjugal bliss set on repeat to charm the empathetic. It’s extremely troubling to note that both the women and their multitudes of children suffer from identity crises and further drag these legal processes by capriciously changing names and pointing out parents. The genetic tests just to mix and match them all will be a bitch, politically and financially.

    I’m a fresh face of seventeen years, blessed without any religious influences despite living in a Mormon-entrenched neighborhood since junior high (one church is just across the street), so I’m not going to presume exactly what happened within the cult, but I’ve done enough research to know that polygamy usually entails women as being nothing more than breeding stock, male supremacy, perpetual abuse (sexual, mental, emotional, physical), and brainwashing the gullible into sacrificing everything in the name of corrupt religion and God. These women who seem to be blatantly lying to the media about the number of plural wives and underage mothers and who most likely knew about whatever abuse which might have been transpiring behind closed doors don’t deserve any compassion, at least not from me.

    So, regardless if Texas Child Protective Services manage to conjure up a solid case against the compound (for every child), it’s encouraging to see that the issue of polygamy has been stirred into national attention; hopefully, some people won’t be won over so easily by tears and parental instinct. In all, I hope everyone decides to do his or her own investigation into the nature behind not only polygamy, but also fundamentalism.

    Though those children will probably be scarred for the rest of their lives, regardless of this particular experience, I’ll agree with Kevin Smith on the fact that these cultists are being tried “guilty until proven innocent,” which–dare I say it?–is rather un-American according to our constitutional rights. I have no doubts about the harms of polygamy, but “proof of wrongdoing” would be a better support for Texas authorities rather than their nebulous claims of child abuse at this point in time.

    But the whole deal with it being “accepted” in other parts of the world? We don’t live in those other parts; we live in a nation that respects civil liberties (most times) and the right to not being abused or oppressed or brainwashed into thinking that letting women live out their lives as fatted cows forced to lie (or worse, convinced) that the polygamist “lifestyle” is perfectly healthy for its participants.

    As an outraged agnostic/weak atheist, I will always be appalled by any religion and its teachings (moderate religion is hypocrisy), but the protection of child molesters and sexual fiends far outweighs my disgust for the fundamentalist community (and the Vatican).

    Whatever results from this abuse of “religious freedom,” I hope that everyone who decides to sit up and pay attention will come out of it all with a little more knowledge of the effects of religion on society and society on religion.

    (By the way, the whole Waco scenario? Shooting members trying to escape that fire was immoral, but try comparing that to the horrendous policies of David Koresh and see if you can still pull down the blinds.)

    Thanks for listening to me, a mere high-schooler, rant and rave. Also, Jon? Heather rocks my socks off :) Thank you for your input on such a divisive subject (if only you could talk to my mother!).

  • noise

    Just an addition:

    The post above was mainly concerned with the polygamist practices revolving around the FLDS branch of Mormonism. I know that a lot of people who are against the YFZ ranch don’t seem to be phased much by polygamy that doesn’t involve child marriage–the family behind Big Love, for instance (which I haven’t seen). Now THAT is something I should look into.

    But for the moment–what do y’all think about “consensual” polygamy? Does anyone have references to communities who practice this successfully without inadvertently screwing up their children? Do modern civilizations even need polygamy? And what about polyandry? For those who have been involved in or with or have been insiders to polygamy–what are the main reasons that people enter into polygamous relationships: is it for pragmatic purposes or for love? And is it truly possible to love multiple persons as deeply as the conventional spouse one pledges to support and care for enough to stumble through marriage (and hopefully avoid divorce)? And if not, doesn’t polygamy undermine marriage? As for as I can tell, if it’s not for economic benefits it’s for breeding children by the numbers.

    I’ve heard that many women who practically throw themselves into polygamous marriages do so because they would rather marry a rich man with other wives than be subject to being a “poor man’s” bride. Doesn’t that make polygamy rather superficial?

    People have underage sex and untraditional sexual relationships all the time (menage-a-trois), but I can’t see that many of them are serious enough to “marry” and suffer more than one spouse based purely on how great they are beneath the sheets. Most say that whatever two, or even three, four, or more people want to do behind closed doors is none of their business if it doesn’t violate preconceived moral issues–like sexual abuse and child brides, but polygamy transcends sex sex sex and truly becomes an often insular “lifestyle” (real, defined lifestyles–unlike the bullshit dribbling from those denouncing homosexuals).

    How “normal” is polygamy? Skepticism will define me for the moment, but I’d love to hear anyone else’s opinion (provided that they have read through this equally lengthy post).

  • Andra

    Watching all of the press coverage on this case is kind of making up for the giant hiatus before the next season of HBO’s “Big Love” begins. I kid.

    But seriously folks, this whole situation is whack.

    Since this story broke, I’ve found it quite interesting to notice LDS members staunchly defending their faith and reiterating the fact that Mormons are not in the same bed as the polygamous FLDS members, yet my best friend from homel says many of her peers and friends at BYU refuse to acknowledge the vast differences between Muslims and Fundamentalist (extremist) Muslims. My, what an exquisite run-on sentence I just busted out!

    Maybe they are the outliers, but I’m just sayin’. Interesting.

  • Lesley

    There’s an ongoing societal tendency to paint all mothers as saints who can do no wrong. Some of this is fueled by feminism which – as much as I hate to say it because I am a feminist – tends to excuse women from responsibility for their actions. Mothers are capable of all kinds of abuse and violence. Many pedophiles couldn’t get a foot in the door without mothers giving them access, and how many mothers know and turn a blind eye? Plenty, unfortunately. Many children are abused and even murdered by fucked up mothers. Clearly many of the women in this cult believe it’s alright for men to have sex with their kids. That should mean they have no right to parent, but instead people sympathize and call the women victims. Why? Because the women look like sad sacks in their Victorian prairie wear? I have no doubt many of these women are victims but if, because of their indoctrination, they cease to be able to care for their children appropriately they shouldn’t have access to them. This rule applies to other mothers. Why doesn’t it apply to these ones?

  • Boulder

    I have to concur about the Krakauer book, Jon. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to tell friends that it is one of the best books (of any type, on any subject) that I’ve read in years and years.

    It isn’t “light” reading – lots of footnotes and references to refer to while reading – but it is very well worth the time investment.

    Having very good friends growing up who are Mormon (not fundamentalist) and as an adult, I also found that the book enlighted for me some of the more basic tenants and history of Mormonism as a whole, which was also quite interesting.

    Also, nosie up there who is only 17? Lots of thought provoking writing for any age, let alone 17.

  • Sally Fulton

    Noise, are you sure you’re only in high school? Wow.

    I watched something on You Tube, an interview with an older woman who was a wife in a plural marriage. Not one that involved minor children as wives. This was all consenting adults. And what she had to say made a lot of sense really.

    She had the time and space to go to college, have a career AND have children, because there were sister wives to take care of her children. When asked about jealousy, she said take this out of the bedroom and into the kitchen and living room where most of your life happens and jealousy becomes less of an issue. To her, the pros far outweighed the cons.

    Having sex with underage children, brainwashing, all the horrible things that may be going on there should not be allowed to continue. I agree. What worries me is the government’s involvement. When we here about sexual abuse in Catholic churches, we don’t storm the local church. We prosecute the offender. This is America afterall and religious freedom is one of the things we hold dear. Where do we draw the line? If the government finds out there is underage sex going on in the Presbyterian church, should they then be allowed to come and take our children?

    This is a very complicated subject to say the least. Thank you Jon for putting it on the table.

  • Suzanne M

    When we here about sexual abuse in Catholic churches, we don’t storm the local church. We prosecute the offender. This is America after all and religious freedom is one of the things we hold dear. Where do we draw the line? If the government finds out there is underage sex going on in the Presbyterian church, should they then be allowed to come and take our children?

    It’s a little different when rape and forced marriage are a pretty much tenet of the religion, don’t you think? If Presbyterianism had, as the FLDS enclaves do, a religion-wide practice of underage forced marriage and rape, I think the government would have a keen interest in the safety of those children. When the Roman Catholic sex abuse came to light, it wasn’t about priests who lived with children, forcing them to become breeding stock at an illegally young age. That, in each of its individual cases, is one priest in a given parish sexually abusing usually a series of children; the solution is to take him away. It’s a vastly different situation. The FLDS members live together in an insular community where rape and forced marriage is widespread, accepted, and possibly even expected. Their parents are complicit; the leaders of the “religion” are complicit; and in a number of places where the FLDS live, the local law enforcement is complicit. There is no help for these children within the community; help must come from outside it.

  • Suzanne M

    I forgot to say thanks, Jon, for your continuing coverage and commentary. I’ve been watching this unfold, scared that it’s all just going to be thrown out in the end, and these kids will be sent back to further abuse. Especially when I see the disgusting rape apologetics coming from some commentators (not here) on the subject.

    Also, sorry for the double-posting and my rampant semicolon abuse in that last comment.

  • Ashley S.

    I do believe SOMETHING must be done about the child molesters that are among the flock. (Not saying every man in there is one by the way)

    I believe that everyone in the U.S. should have the right to practice any religion they like..On the same token, everyone in the U.S. should have to follow the laws of the U.S. (especially the ones that involve protecting children.

    But, from what I’ve gathered these cults thrive on fear..They convince the flock that the outside is bad – the outsiders will arrest all of us – you’ll be separated from your family, etc. And I’m afraid that raids like this will be interpreted by other polygamists as an attack from the ‘mean old outsiders’ to destroy their religion rather than to protect children.

    I don’t know how it can be handled differently. . I just wish we could decriminilize it and then then there would be no reason for them to barracade themselves up like this. They would be more out in the open and not have this fear of the outside world. I believe if it were out in the open and at least accepted by law enforcement there would be much more reporting of crimes against children without fear of punishment for their lifestyle..

  • MP

    I’d like to know with what ACTUAL CRIMES each of the FLDS mothers has been charged, to justify taking their children from them. It LOOKS like a witchhunt, based on hysteria, speculation, and disagreement with their religion. Is there any EVIDENCE that ILLEGAL acts have been committed by these women?

    How is DNA (except that obtained by a rape kit, which wasn’t used) going to divulge the alleged abuse and abuser of a young child? Having a weird or minority religion is NOT a crime. Is it illegal to give birth as a teen? Is there a legal limit on the number of children one can bear? Is Texas targeting EVERY woman who gives birth without a marriage license, or just the ones whose friends and family dress funny? WHAT did these women actually DO?

    WHO gets to decide WHICH religion is abusive and criminal? Teaching children to love, praise, and obey the sadistic Biblical Jesus-God, who was conceived via the virtual rape of a virginal teenage girl (at most); drowned, plagued, and slaughtered millions of people (MORE than Hitler); had his own self/son brutally beaten and executed; and who repeatedly commanded his followers to kidnap, enslave, rape, torture, and kill other people; (yes, all of that IS in the Bible) – could be considered abusive – and that includes ALL Christians. I personally think Christianity is sick, but I would NEVER advocate CRIMINALIZING Christians just because they teach their children to worship a bloodthirsty, killer God. Exactly WHEN does brainwashing and devotion to God become illegal? Who is next?

    IF there were actual CRIMES committed, then the perpetrators should be charged and have their day in court. If NOT, then they should be left alone and have their children – even if they’re weird.

  • Birdy

    As some one that grew up Mormon, what I have learned of the FLDS is deeply deeply offensive to me. I grew up outside of Utah (an Air Force brat), my take on the religion that I believe in is one of choice–above all you are given free agency and YOU must choose right from wrong not be forced to believe and adhere to God’s laws. In the FLDS sect, I see power being horribly horribly abused. While I don’t excuse the adult members of responsibility, I do see that their free agency has been stripped by those in ultimate power. They were isolated and brainwashed by men (or who knows women might have been involved as well) that made sure that their followers were pliant and in most cases inbred.

    The child abuse and rape is to me of course repugnant. The idea that woman and children in the FLDS sect are traded around like chattel is also deeply offensive. In my upbringing in the LDS church, great emphasis was placed on the family unit….it’s importance now and in the afterlife.

    What I see in the FLDS Church (a sect removed from the LDS Church by 100 years and is no more like the LDS Church than Satanic Worshippers are like Wiccans), is a vile affront to the way LDS practise and other “polygamous” families work.

    I have no problem with polygamy, (while I do not wish to practise it) if is practised by truly consenting adults.

    I live in San Antonio, Texas, and while I am wary and concerned for these children (I hope that they are treated kindly and not told THEY are bad people, and not lost in the System), I am very glad they are off of the Ranch and are now given the ability to learn to someday choose the path they wish to follow.

    As for the Mormon Church getting involved: it’s not an organisation known for overt charity/kindness. Most of what they do are quiet acts of service. When have they ever advertised in Mass Medias that they sent hordes of food trucks to Katrina afflicted areas? I am sure they are involved, they just aren’t putting out press releases that they are. The baptist charities and catholic charities are doing a lot of work as well to help these poor children. And really the LDS Church has no responsibility to police the FLDS Church as the FLDS Church ARE NOT part of the Mormon Church. But I am sure they ARE helping because that’s the right thing to do. ‘Course I could be wrong, the Church might be staying away from this because of our distant ties to this sect are a source of embarrassment–having something THIS HORRIFYING being any way associated with the Church.

    Thanks Jon–I was wondering when you would open a discussion on this very troubling issue.

  • Pixielyn

    I come from a very religious family, you might say; fanatics. Since I come from a background like this I can tell you that these mothers are indeed victims and will have to be ‘reprogrammed’ before they can understand the wrongs done to their children. Right now they are being commended for upholding gods law by defending their way of life and their men. They are entrenched in a way of life that we dont understand, we cant comprehend. Their way is the only way they know.
    My hope now is that Texas does the right thing and brings in the best psychotherapists to reprogram and rehabilitate these children in a non threatening manner so that they have a chance at a normal life. Being yanked away from their lives is going to have a huge impact on their future dealings with life.
    Being a person who does not walk in the religious path my parents walk, I can tell you that this road toward normalicy is all foreign. It will take much time for them to acclimate.
    My heart goes out to them all.

  • southerngirl

    The article was great and right on, but some of the comments were mind-boggling!

    “A lawyer for the Children said on the Today Show, the lawyers are also being kept from the Children, and do not know where they are. This is massive kidnapping.”

    “Now would be a good time to face reality. The first reality is that FLDS enemies lie. For example, the phone calls reported to have been from an abused 16 year-old living within the Eldorado FLDS community, now appears to have been from a non-FLDS 33 year-old in Colorado. The second reality to face is that the FLDS appears much less sinister when compared to the larger American society.”

    “The actions of the Texas state government with regard to the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) has put it on a course toward disaster. Texas is like the Titanic headed for an iceberg called the Genocide.”

    ” All parents are child abusers.”

    Now if those aren’t statements of brain-washed cult members, I don’t know what are.

  • ben

    Hey Jon,

    I’ve lived in Utah all of my life and I’m Mormon. How do Mormons feel? I would hope they mostly are glad the children are out. I am. I’m always surprised by your comments regarding how Mormons feel.

    I for one am glad they got the children out. I think they are doing the right thing.

  • Danny

    I think the most interesting thing to come out of this whole mess is the Mormon church’s scramble to try to separate themselves from the FLDS. The reason I find it so amusing is that the Mormon Church tries so hard to be accepted by the greater Christian community while they are unwilling to accept the Trinity, still believe in polygamy in the afterlife through the practice of sealing men to multiple women in temple ceremonies, believe that Jesus visited North America after his resurrection and that its members can one day become gods and rule their own planet. Now those beliefs are about as far removed from conventional Christianity as you can get. Yet the Mormon church and its members continue to be baffled at their lack of acceptance in this community. So why does the Mormon church find it so strange that some people not as familiar with the practices of the LDS church and the FLDS church would make a fairly obvious parallel between the two organizations given that they both share the Book of Mormon, and both consider Joseph Smith to be a profit? The Mormon Church needs to realize you can’t separate yourself from your history on one hand and still worship the profits who once preached this lifestyle on the other.

  • Eighty eight

    The children are most definitely innocent, but the mothers and fathers are not. They allow abuse, they committed the abuse, and just remember abuse does not only exist as physical. I am sure they were loved, in only the most righteous conditional way you can with 18 children. Some of these mothers on the news could not even get it straight as to the plea for help, please send my children back, our children, my children, i mean, our children” whose children are they, I know it can get confusing, just remember, you gave birth to them, didn’t you?
    They could have never prepared the Texas legal system for this many children in their protection, should we ever be prepared for something like this?
    I think they will have a better life, it may not look that way now, but compared to where they would be in less than 10 years, they may actually be able to go to school, play in the park, and not be pregnant at 12.

  • MommainAz

    I live in Mesa, AZ with a high population of Mormons. I am not mormon but it is very interesting to talk with my neighbors about what they think of this situation. Most do feel that the kids should have never been removed from their homes and that the government is over stepping. They also seem to feel that plural marriges themselves are not a problem and that the only thing wrong with this FLDS cult is that they sexually abuse children. Hmm. Nevermind the brain washing, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and financial drain on our economy for paying for them to be on welfare and pay for their Warren Jeffs run schools.

  • bookratt

    Freedom brings with it an obligation to responsibly follow the laws of the land and to respect the rights of others.

    Polygamy is illegal in the US. I don’t care if it’s done by a man who calls himself a profit (sorry, prophet) and tries to hide behind his so-called priesthood, or by a man who calls himself a sheik, and tries to hide behind a robe.

    FLDS followers could go to any one of a dozen or so countries where polygamy and child brides are perfectly legal–even encouraged.

    But if they choose to stay on US soil, they cannot practice polygamy nor marry their underage girls, and should be prosecuted for refusing to protect their own children from harm.

    While the prosecutors are at it, they should make sure to convict the mothers and fathers for knowingly committing welfare fraud under the group’s own name of “bleeding the beast”–ie: taking from the evil outsiders –you and me–who do not share their faith.

    I want them charged for not naming fathers with significant financial assets, who live in the household and by law would need to contribute to the child’s upkeep to receive benefits they are not entitled to. I want them charged with theft by deception, for lying and stating they receive no financial assiatnce either from a spouse or the religious group as a whole, in order to receive AFDC and other taxpayer-supplied benefits.

    If they received farm subsidies from the US government, but did not adhere to the practices and rules required to obtain them, I want them charged with that.

    I want their not-for-profit status removed, permanently. And the people who are listed on the official papers as those in charge under the non-profit, should be jailed for fraud and should have to pay back taxes on the profits of the for-profit businesses they front for.

    Any person with a license or state certificate, or public servant, ie: police officer, teacher, certified heath care giver, or other public official, found to have conspired with or to have enabled these people to operate in that county for so long, should be named as co-conspirators for the abuse charges.

    If that means teachers, who are also parents, within the FLDS group itself, who homeschooled their own kids along with others–and who may have teaching certificates from TX or elsewhere–lose their licenses to teach permanently, so be it.

    Same with medics, nurses, doctors, lawyers or anyone else within the group who must adhere to state standards, who happen to be FLDS and can be shown to have known about and ignored this problem. They do not get a pass on following the law because they think they are more spiritual or worthy.

    Track the money, shut off the illegal entitlements. Prosecute ALL the offenders. Close them down.

    And folks, the reason we went after Koresh at Waco is NOT because he was a weird religious guy. That’s allowed in the US. What’s NOT allowed is gun running and illegal use of stockpiled weapons, child abuse and domestic violence–all of which the Branch Davidian leadership and David Koresh himself were guilty of.

  • blurb

    @bookratt, well said!

  • Jen

    Bookratt just said everything I wanted to post. It’s amazing how many people are not looking beyond what the 45 second blurb on the news states about these sects. The amount of financial corruption being perpetrated is astounding,,, and we’re the ones bankrolling it.

  • eric

    A more interesting point is how this LDS splinter group is being procucuted for their “religious beliefs” while (for instance) Islam is being accommodated for many of the same. I wonder if their defense lawyers will explore the similarities.

  • Ashley S.

    I hope that they aren’t punished for practicing a religion of their choice – only crimes involving children.. otherwise that’s stepping in a lot of shit.

  • Kari Evans

    The removal of the children from the ranch was done according to the Texas Family Code. There continues to be people saying they are “guilty before proven innocent”. According to the family code if a child is in imminent risk of harm they can be removed from the home, there is no mention of guilt or innocence; it is totally based on the safety of the child. CPS is not a criminal agency they are not involved in the criminal prosecution of anyone, their only concern is the welfare of children. If parents are not willing to protect their children from abuse someone has to step in and do it for them.

    This is not about religion, this is about child abuse. This new media blitz by the sect is a smoke screen to the true issues. They are attempting to get as many people to feel sorry for them as possible to divert attention from the fact that they have allowed men to marry their children and rape them. I understand mothers and fathers missing and wanting their children back, I have removed very few children in the past that the parents did not feel the same way. But the fact that these women have refused to protect their young girls from abuse makes them just as at fault as the men who have perpetrated the children.

    I don’t think anyone knows how the situation is going to pan out, but I do know that right now these children are safe and protected.

  • Reba

    Poplygamy in itself is fine to me. If a person wants a few dozen wives, fine. However, you cannot marry a person under 18 or take any state funding.

    I also find it interesting that people are appauld by the treatment of the FLDS compound in Texas. If the police recieved a tip that someone was being abused within the compound, even if it is false, they went in under good faith and any illegal activity found is justified.

    I think this whole thing needed to happen earlier and I hope other states begin looking into the practices of polygamy if one exists in their district.

    Once all the DNA tests are completed it frightens me of the inbreeding that will be uncovered.

  • Audrey

    I just wanted to quickly say – I am LDS and all of the LDS people I have talked to, without exception, do NOT see this as an “atrocity”. They have all felt that these children are being abused and that the abuse must be stopped. I’m not sure what they think about the method, but the number one thing they say is that there is awful abuse going on in the FLDS and it needs to be stopped. I just wanted to let that be known since a lot of people outside of the LDS community like to assume what those of us in the community will do. I’m sure there are some LDS people that think it is an atrocity, but I that is due to individual opinion variance rather than LDS doctrine.

    Also, as a former BYU student, I did not meet one single person during my 4+ years there that was ridiculous enough to equate Muslims with Extremist Muslims. Come on people. Of course there are probably a couple of nutjobs out of the 35.000+ students there, but you will find nutjobs at every college – guaranteed. I know I should let these comments ride, but it is hard when your alma mater is constantly misrepresented by people who don’t know very much about the school. I know it’s not perfect, but we are not stupid, we know the difference between true Islam and radical Islam as well as anyone else.

    On a different note, I heard a former FLDS member – a woman – describe all of the members of the FLDS community as victims of the system. She was sexually abused from a young age and she still called the abusing men “victims”. I was pretty surprised. I’m sure there is some truth to that, but I still think we’ve have our free will and ability to make choices – she did, she escaped even though she also was a product of the society. It made me think…

  • Dogmom

    Bookratt, you should tack your post on the door of every law enforcement office in Arizona, Utah, and Texas! Very well said. You go, girl!

  • A

    I no longer live in Utah, so I don’t know what they are saying on the news there, but I am also LDS and agree with what Audrey said. I don’t see this as an atrocity.

  • Bannod

    This – from Yahoo news:

    A total of 53 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 are in state custody after a raid 3 1/2 weeks ago at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado. Of those girls, 31 either have children or are pregnant, said Child Protective Services spokesman Darrell Azar. Two of those are pregnant now, he said; it was unclear whether either of those two already have children.

    “It shows you a pretty distinct pattern, that it was pretty pervasive,” he said.

    State officials took custody of all 463 children at the ranch controlled by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, saying a pattern of teen girls forced into underage “spiritual” marriages and sex with much older men created an unsafe environment for the sect’s children.

    Under Texas law, children under the age of 17 generally cannot consent to sex with an adult. A girl can get married with parental permission at 16, but none of these girls is believed to have a legal marriage under state law.

  • Ngaire

    Agree totally Jon.
    and frankly the more i see and read and hear of organised religion, the more I am convinced that there NOTHING more ugly or horrifying.

    well done on taking a stand and being willing to discuss this.

    Ngaire In Brisbane Australia

  • Lyzcult be

    I think this is an important conversation that is definitely being skirted in this whole issue.

    I am not Mormon, but I am often shocked at how much my conservative Evangelical, homeschooled upbringing mirrors cult behavior. And I don’t mean to say that I was sexually abused, but the general unwillingness to trust the government, to believe that anything about modern medicine and justice, if it is not bathed in the blood of Jesus is no good. It is no longer about what is right and wrong, but what the cult/religion/family wants you to believe and if you don’t believe it, you get thrown out.

    Groups like this function in the way a dysfunctional family doesn’t. They create communities where detractors have everything to lose. So they are forced to stay in or get out and lose everything, from their children to their salvation.

    We shouldn’t be so foolish to believe that, for lack of a better word, sin doesn’t effect these communities. Statistics show that children are abused at the same rate no matter what the professed religion of the abusers or the victims. And abuse is allowed to happen when people refuse to stand up for what is right. It is the same with the Catholic church. Instead of standing up for what is right, leaders staged a cover-up and let abuse become institutionalized. We think this is so horrible, but how often does it happen on an individual family level? If one in five girls are abused (and that is just reported cases) in this country and 98% of the time it is by a FAMILY MEMBER, then how many of us are covering up the sickness in our own families? I’d venture to say a lot more than have the guts to realize. A lot more than have the guts to stand up and say something. I think if we were all honest with ourselves, we would recognize that this story strikes a nerve because it hit so close to our own homes and our own lives.

    I don’t mean to say, “he who has no sin, cast the first stone”–I mean to say we should all be casting a lot more stones. We should all have the courage of the Texas gov’t and women like Alyssa Walls and stand up for the truth and stand against abuse no matter what the price, because the ultimate reward is truth.

    And that was a tangent, I am sorry. It’s just there is no other place for this kind of important discussion. And I think I know the reason. It’s too hard.

  • Lyz

    sorry, my cursor made my name “Lyzcult be” it should be just “Lyz”


  • Dave K

    You know, I thought you had hit a nerve before, but wow, what a response.

    Reading through some of these posts, twelve monkeys comes to mind.

  • Jennifer

    Well, here in NE Ohio, we’re completely grossed out by the whole thing. Incest is one thing- and that’s bad enough, but to live in a “culture” where it’s the norm is just beyond revolting.

    I am so sick of hearing about these nuts rant about their lost religious freedom. It’s not about banning a different way of life- we have a large Amish community here and with the exception of a few jerks, the consensus is live and let live. And while the Amish do keep to themselves, they’re not shut off completely from our world. Sometimes, they need modern medical help, and they’re completely welcomed, and they’re very respectful. I actually find them very intriguing. But- any of their members are free to leave at any time, and in fact- when kids reach an age of maturity, they’re encouraged to try out the outside world to some extent to make sure that this faith is right for them- unlike the FLDS, they condone free will- you know… God (hmmmm)

    I wonder if the real Mormon church truly realizes how badly this kind of activity tarnishes their reputation. There are a lot of people in my state that get the two churches confused. Because the Mormons defend the FLDS, they assume they’re one and the same. Considering how adamant Mormons are about ascertaining that polygamy was banned many years ago, you would think they would condemn the crap going on at the YFZ dungeon- oops I mean “ranch”.

  • Jennifer

    Oh- by the way, I read all the comments for that article and they were downright terrifying. Well not all of them- but whoever that pligkid person is—– frightening!

  • Lesley

    new information has emerged.

    According to the Globe and Mail, More than half of teen girls taken from polygamist sect are pregnant or had baby.

    “A total of 53 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 are in state custody after a raid 31/2 weeks ago at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado. Of those girls, 31 either have children or are pregnant, said Child Protective Services spokesman Darrell Azar. Two of those are pregnant now, he said; it was unclear whether either of those two already have children.

    “It shows you a pretty distinct pattern, that it was pretty pervasive,” he said.”

  • Lesley

    Oh yeah, and on a related note, this horrific story came out of Austria early today. I mean…whoa. This father apparently had a history of abuse and sex offender status but wasn’t investigated or a suspect when his daughter suddenly disappeared. He kept her imprisoned as a sex slave in the basement of the family home for 24 years from the age of 18. The abuse started when she was 11. She bore 7 of his children in the basement with no medical assistance. One of her inbred children died at birth and he threw the child into an incinerator in the family home. His wife is pleading ignorance…I’m not sure, given the evidence that she can be innocent. Anyway, yet another horrendous crime perpetrated by a really messed up control freak who had the means to get away with it.

  • noise

    EVIDENCE that I read every single comment that goes onto this post/have too much time to whittle away–

    @Sally Fulton:
    “She had the time and space to go to college, have a career AND have children, because there were sister wives to take care of her children. When asked about jealousy, she said take this out of the bedroom and into the kitchen and living room where most of your life happens and jealousy becomes less of an issue. To her, the pros far outweighed the cons.”

    So, when placed within the boundaries of my questions, I suppose this labels “consensual” polygamy as nothing more than pecuniary arrangements? It’s wonderful for this plural wife to have time to learn and work and establish herself outside of the home, but because she purports jealousy as an extended branch of her relationships with her husband and sister wives, I can’t see why this band of brides can’t draw up a financial adviser or their attorney(s) and plan out an economic network that won’t bind them all in a convoluted legal nightmare (economists, help me out?). If it is permissible to apply this particular wife’s characteristics to the rest, each seems perfectly capable of standing as her own individual–but rather than applying herself as an independent woman, it seems to me that she (and this might be too pretentious to say, but–) chooses to milk her sister wives into handling the little things that she can’t juggle into her regular schedule. What if every one of those wives wanted to have her own time and space to go to college, have a career, and leave the additional childrearing to the other legs of her marital relationship? There isn’t a formula to calculate how many wives a man might need to take in order to balance each other’s differences and desires to avoid potential conflicts between all members.

    Although marriage (at least, legal or civil unions–wait, scratch that; “religious” matrimony has often been intertwined with state sanctions), at its very core, is a contract that attends to the provision of economic, political, or social stability (see: Europe and beyond) between two hopefully consenting parties, love and sex have entered, without much argument, as primary reasons or critical components of keeping a relationship alive (from the first Industrial Revolution in Great Britain and onward). If each of these wives has consented to a plural marriage because she truly adores the prospective husband or even desires social stability, then jealousy becomes of increasing importance over its influence on the home; who decides what actions need to be taken when one of the wives or the husband falls ill or dies, etc.? Who has priority and who has superiority? In addition–how does this arrangement affect the mentality and developing mindset of the children? Who should they listen to? Their birth mother or their “aunts/other mothers”? To say that polygamous marriages bring promises of perpetual harmony regardless of the involvement of multiple persons bespeaks of a discomforting presence of “cult of personality” or simple, brainless acquiescence. When a man has to decide which one of his wives he wants to bed one night or another, who says that feelings won’t be hurt or insecurity won’t arise? His devotion is split in numerous directions, so what does he gain from such a bargain? Pure, carnal pleasure? A flourish of pride and flush of male domination from his ability to choose? Ignoring the fact that your husband diligently sleeps with various women you are obligated to deal with every day (or meet on occasion, depending on the array) calls for a compare and contrast on the emotional and mental equality between a husband and one or all of his wives.

    Eliminating the notion and diminishing the importance of “love” and “affection” within marriage further devalues the institution to its primitive, political form: a written pact of fiscal and communal agreements meant solely for the bearing and rearing of limitless amounts of children for the sake of society and one’s own bloodline. Equilibrium in tenderness and passion becomes optional and often unachievable when the focus switches to tangible benefits. If society wants to dodge and evade the archaic proposals of mistresses and concubines being placed on equivalent or higher pedestals than one’s wives because marital partners have no obligation to respect nor support one another on a par, than the bedroom plays a vital role in keeping things together. Marriage and friendship and legal liaisons do not equivocate.

    But what do I know? Maybe love on multiple planes is within reach and can or will provide a safe, free-thinking, accepting, nonjudgmental environment for all participants. Perhaps religion will not be a factor in making such a decision (though it depends on what people will do to appease the god of Abraham, including following all 600+ biblical decrees to reach salvation and approving plurality of wives).

    @Suzanne M
    “That, in each of its individual cases, is one priest in a given parish sexually abusing usually a series of children; the solution is to take him away.”

    And yet, some archbishops will purposely ignore a priest’s sexual deviancy and reappoint them to another diocese. The Vatican is extremely hesitant on openly acknowledging the extent of not only the sexual exploitation of children as young as four years old (raped, nonetheless), but also the nonconsensual liaisons between priests/missionaries and nuns across as many as 23 different countries—done mostly in fear of contracting venereal diseases from prostitutes. Some offenders even coerce said nuns into having abortions to cover their tracks. And for the devastated families and desolate victims of sexual manipulation? A monetary compensation for them to shut the hell up; I’ve read that the Catholic church has spent something around $2 billion to cover all the lawsuits that have been slapped upon them. Thank the invisible gods for that. The prayers promised on said victims’ behalf by our latest Pope are insufficient compared to the suffering bestowed upon them for fifty abusive years; the Vatican should be shamed and condemned for its aversive response (or no response) to such heinous crimes, and for playing down the severity behind a call to “love your priests.”

    @MP (#31)
    For the most part: amen.

    “…my take on the religion that I believe in is one of choice–above all you are given free agency and YOU must choose right from wrong not be forced to believe and adhere to God’s laws.”

    Then should there be organized religion at all? All children are born as atheists and, depending on the household and region in which they are born, they are indoctrinated at an early age—from Sunday school, Bible studies, whatever—of the infallibility or truth behind their “one true faith.” I’ve never heard of a church valiantly preaching and promoting to its members about the many different faiths, like Islam and Judaism (all interlinked with Christianity anyway), or even no faith (atheists), and that they should go out and explore on their own to find one of the many paths to salvation. I’m not trying to pick a fight with malignant intentions, but where in the Bible does it approve the worshipping of “strange” gods? Some worshippers eventually convert to something else or deconvert altogether, but all in all, too many of them become entrenched in the religion they’ve been taught from their youth. Did _they_ decide that they wanted to be Christian/Muslim/Jewish/etc.? Or was that decided for them before they knew enough to understand the differences or even realize the existence of other faiths and non-faiths? What do you think? (Not sarcastic.) Am I misinterpreting?

    “My hope now is that Texas does the right thing and brings in the best psychotherapists to reprogram and rehabilitate these children in a non threatening manner so that they have a chance at a normal life. Being yanked away from their lives is going to have a huge impact on their future dealings with life.”

    One word: YES.

    Same to Danny (#36). Also, @bookratt—well said! I didn’t know the depth of financial corruption brewing in the pits of the FLDS community (though I was made aware of the blatant misuse of FLDS tithing funds collected by self-appointed prophets and the illegal seizure and sale of private lands of its members) —I didn’t really think about it from an economic standpoint until now. Thank you so much for enlightening me and adding significant information to the table :)

    Just curious—to the point of fault many times :)—but what are your experiences with organized religion? I’m just surprised that an Aussie (awesome) would be paying attention to the legal chaos and pointing fingers storming about the US of A.

    “I don’t mean to say, “he who has no sin, cast the first stone”–I mean to say we should all be casting a lot more stones. We should all have the courage of the Texas gov’t and women like Alyssa Walls and stand up for the truth and stand against abuse no matter what the price, because the ultimate reward is truth.”

    Some might argue that the argument of “ends justify means” is Machiavellian/REALPOLITIK, but—thank you. Religious toleration and freedom of religion often blinds us or makes us falter in investigating and exposing the uglier side of faith (in this YFZ case, the legal and religious issues are inherently bound to one another, regardless if anyone is brave or stupid enough to admit it).“Justice,” whatever you think it might be, should never be subject to appeasing an ignorant populace.

    @Lesley (#57)
    That story made me sick to my stomach (and I was eating dinner at the time). Further input from NPR said that only 3 of the children were allowed to live with the “family” upstairs, while the daughter and the rest were forced to survive in a cellar deep enough to mute any cries for help. Those unfortunates have never, until now, seen the light of day. The mother says that she believed “Elis/zabeth” had written a note indicating her leaving the household for good, so she had no reason to suspect any fowl play. Although the daughter and her children seem to be in acceptable condition…

    Even animals try to avoid incest—inbreeding can be a mark against a species in turns of survival of the fittest. What kind of hellish bastard is this 73-year-old vampire to leech sexual exploits from his only daughter?! Knowing of the incinerator sickens me exponentially (even if my writing seems relatively calm).

  • Spatula

    The Texan group represents a major opportunity for assorted politicians who get involved, but it’s a danger as much as a potential PR bonanza. My worry is that everyone handling this case will have politics on their minds far more than the actual well-being of the kids.

  • malt

    If a crime has been committed (which it looks like it has), the parents should be held responsible. If that means removing the kids from their custody and sending the parents to prison, so be it.

    Emily and Mark, the FLDS group hasn’t been associated with the Mormons for over 100 years.

  • ern

    I don’t know what kind of “Mormon” would consider the removing of these children from an abusive situation an “atrocity” as you suggest, but I can certainly attest that the Mormons in my own circle of association or completely relieved that the Texas authorities have acted as they did. In fact, I have read more from the mainstream media about other groups that are outraged at the situation than I have heard from any LDS group or individual. I’m living overseas currently, but the feeling I’m getting from most people in the States is that “ONLY” the adolescent girls are suspected of being abused so why remove ALL the children! Seriously! That makes me want to vomit. ANY children in an abusive family, whether they are directly involved or not, should be removed immediately. I’m glad to read here that most comments are condemning the abuse by the FLDS and encouraging Texas in its course of action.

    Also, just an afterthought, but the research I’ve done on the practice of polygamy in the LDS church (albeit somewhat limited) indicates it was a relatively small number of families involved, there was mutual agreement between husband & wife about the arrangement or else it wouldn’t happen, and there wasn’t all this “marrying a teenager” stuff going on. Like I said, my reading is somewhat limited, but I certainly never saw even the slightest suggestion of abuse in any form.

  • maresi

    I, too, have read “Under The Banner Of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer. It was an excellent examination of not only FDLS but for a person who knew next to nothing about Mormonism and the beliefs of the LDS church it was a must-read. Just like with any religion, un-biased looks at the belief systems of Mormonism can ONLY be written by an outsider. I am a Christian Youth Pastor, and I can see much value in submitting to scrutiny – only then will the truth emerge and see the light of day. Only religious systems with any kind of integrity will continue to eternity – and it’s sadly a rare church/pastor/denomination that can survive scrutiny.

    The abuse of women and children, and the systematic brainwashing of the men in this group is appalling. Considering the ages of these teenage mothers and their certain fates prior to the compound raid, how could we as a country have allowed this to continue? No one sees anything wrong with removing any other adult from society after they’ve abused a teenager – in fact, we demand it! This has ZERO to do with “religious expression.” It has only to do with these men being raised to be predators.

  • Spatula

    Just wanted to add that Bookratt sums up the situation extremely well. Religious belief does not exempt anyone from legal responsibility.

    This community has committed a number of crimes, and whether they were done in the name of Yahweh, Kali or the prophet’s own personal penis is irrelevant. The law is the same for everyone, and these kids should be protected from abuse. A pregnant 14-year-old qualifies as abuse, at least on this soil and in this century.

  • Karmyn R

    I agree with almost all of the comments and feel that the authorities should have stepped in and removed the children form this abuse.

    However, I do feel sorry for the mothers. Most of these women were BORN into the FLDS society and religion. They don’t know any different. They didn’t know they were perpetuating the abuse of their children. I’m sure most of the men don’t realize it either. This is what a cult does – brainwashes. The FLDS has had YEARS to cultivate these activities and thought processes.

    I feel sad for those women and their children to be separated. Does a 4-year old understand why its mother is not there to comfort? I can’t imagine the fear these children are going through, and the agony of separation the mothers are feeling. Not knowing that a wrong was being committed must surely cause a lot of agony in their minds.

    But no matter what – I think the Texas authorities made the correct decision.

  • Furpants

    Great post and lots of insightful comments.

    I think most of the evil done in the world is done by people who claim they are religious. They interpret the laws of their God to commit rape, murder, theft, torture and cruelty.

    Texas authorities did the right thing, and those mothers complaining on the Today Show are getting no sympathy from me.

    I think people who claim to be religious fundamentalists are actually really stupid. Just as fables are told to children to help explain things they can’t understand, so do adults of limited intelligence need parables to explain the world that they are too dumb to understand. Sadly, stupid people are usually also vicious and cruel.

  • trac

    There were 4 buses of children that came where I am with these children- very young- this past friday? saturday? Anyway, at a new conference, the director of the facility (which isn’t a “facility” so much as many homes on property in the middle of the city that houses children that for whatever reason are unable to live at home)- said they are working tirelessly to make this as bearable for the kids as possible. They’ve allowed the older girls, as they are used to, to take leadership roles with the younger children- for example. The children, it has been said, were very distrustful of the staff, as they had been raised to distrust anyone and everyone.

    I wonder what will happen when these kids see that it’s not so bad “out there”. What will happen if down the line the courts order them back home, for example, and they don’t want to go?