Wednesday, June 4, 2008

FLDS - Former Leader Dead Since...?

So down yonder there in Eldorado, Texas, the children of the FLDS members are being returned to the YFZ Ranch and to their parents who believe that the fashions of the early 1800s and polygamy are both the way to go. And while not everyone is totally sold on the idea of wearing prairie frocks and living behind a walled off compound with your many, many wives, the FLDS members claim that this is the will of God and that they are just following the rules (most of them that were made up by people who were not God, but they don't mention that part). They also seem to think that society is basically an evil hell and that all of their children were removed from their little self sustaining city (which supports itself on the revenue off of it's concrete and cheese factories. Go figure. Concrete and cheese. The two C's of polygamist economics. Who knew?) for no reason at all. Oh, well, there was a reason. And there was more than one (which is kind of fitting, being as how those folks don't seem to think that anything should be in quantities of "one").

See while it's been known for a while that the FLDS practice polygamy, it's sort of been the underlying current to that (the one that isn't talked about publicly) that the "wives" that the men acquire are sometimes "acquired" when the "wives" are actually still "girls" that are legally unable to give consent. The FLDS members have told anyone who has asked them about this that the girls are not forced and that there is no force and there is only love. (If you listen to them justify their behaviors for more than about 2 minutes, you're going to twist off, I guarantee it.) Well, now there won't be any force and there won't be any love if the girl is not of the legal age to get married without consent. Because the truth has been handed down!
On Monday, the seemingly self appointed spokesperson (and martyr in training) Willie Jessop announced that the FLDS, after almost 10 years of not bowing to pressure from the government and refusing to make any changes to the way that the FLDS practice marriage in their own little made up world, are vowing to abide by the age laws and requirements for marriage in all states. Aw, really? Gee, thanks, Willie! You're announcing publicly that you are promising to follow the law from now on? So, SO generous of you there, Willie. (Admit it. Like me, when you hear "Willie" you think "Groundskeeper".)

So how did they come to this conclusion? The way that the FLDS dealio works when it comes to changing their made up doctrine is that the prophet gets the word from God and then passes it along to his minions. Yeah, and that's all fine and good, but in this instance, their "prophet" is serving a 10 year to life jail sentence in Utah after being found guilty of rape by an accomplice. (Heck of an organization they've got going over there, eh?) So, when asked who authorized the change, Willie said, "Joseph Smith." He also said that he was "unaware" if Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned prophet, had any hand in crafting the statement. Um, Joseph Smith? The founder of the regular LDS Church? Interesting. See, he died about 168 years ago in 1844. And you're saying that he is the one that authorized this reform that just happens to coincide with the children being returned to the YFZ Ranch? So you do know if a guy who has been dead for 168 years authorized the change, but you don't know if a guy who is currently alive is aware of that change? Interesting. So, did Joseph Smith hand deliver your new rules to you personally, Will? Was he riding his unicorn when he stopped by to drop it off?
Let's see what the new rules seem to say, shall we? Ahem...
  • The church's policies regarding marriage have been widely misrepresented and misunderstood. Indeed, much of the misinformation circulating on this subject seems designed intentionally to fuel the flames of prejudice against the church.
  • The church's practices in this regard continue a long tradition of marriage in this country that would have been found to have been unremarkable in 19th century America. In the FLDS church all marriages are consensual. The church insists on appropriate consent, including that of the woman and the man in all circumstances.
  • Nevertheless the church is clarifying its policy toward marriage. Therefore, in the future, the church commits that it will not preside over the marriage of any woman under the age of legal consent in the jurisdiction in which the marriage takes place. The church will counsel families that they neither request nor consent to any underage marriages. This policy will apply church-wide.
  • The church believes in purity, cleanliness, and innocence. Our children and families are the cornerstones of our lives and our religion. We hope that this modest clarification in policy will alleviate recent concerns and allow the church and its families to reside in peace among our neighbors.

Good hell, where do I start? I guess at the beginning ::sigh:: Here we go...

Misinformation circulating? Care to be more specific? I find it interesting that he is proclaiming this is all a result of "misinformation", yet the purpose of his statement isn't to clear up any of the "misunderstandings", it's simply to say that they're changing their rules. OK, if I'M being "misunderstood", I'm not going to cave if it's not a matter of my being wrong, but is a matter of someone else not getting it. And as far as fueling flames of prejudice against the church? I had not given the FLDS two seconds of thought EVER before all of this occurred. There are no "flames" over here. There's not even a Bic Lighter over here. Relax, there Will.

And, yes, I'm sure that the church's practice may have been seen as "unremarkable" in the 19th century. But here's a news flash for you (and you might want to sit down for this one because it's HUGE!): The 19th century was about 200 freaking years ago! Just because you dress like those who settled this fine land (or those who co-starred alongside Michael Landon in "Little House on the Prairie") doesn't mean that it's OK to still maintain and enact what they may have considered an "unremarkable" practice of marriage. Let me tell you what else was seen by some as being "unremarkable" during the 19th century...slavery! That some thought that slavery was "unremarkable" during it's unfortunate time in this country, would that make it OK for you too to have a handful of slaves over there? I would hope not. (Then again, I was hoping not on the multiple wives thing and that didn't go so well.) You're going to need a new justification there, Willie.

Before I go on, I just wanted to point out that one of the detriments to not living within society and then having to attempt to interact with society, especially if you're on the defensive when you're doing so, is that your way of simple, simple life isn't quite as sophisticated as those who are experiencing other aspects of life outside of a secular community. See, when you have day to day exposure to a variety of different people that you are not related to as opposed to the same few hundred people every day, you tend to accumulate more information about, well, about everything, really. Some of us haven't lived our lives being told only one thing over and over and over by the same people. Instead, we've heard a variety of opinions from a variety of sources and have been allowed to decide how we feel about things on our own instead of being told what to feel and how to act. Bottom line: That excuse is lame. I can only assume that you think that the people that you're trying to appease don't see through it. And that little fantasy land seems to work for the purposes that you need it to, so have at it all you'd like. It's a lame excuse.

He basically concludes that the church is going to not encourage it's members to run afoul of society's rules on being married to one spouse and one spouse only, even though it's all about the "misinformation" that the public has received. Um, OK. But here's my favorite part: "We hope that this modest clarification in policy will alleviate recent concerns and allow the church and its families to reside in peace among our neighbors." Translation? "Holy crap. When they find out how many of us have been sexing up young girls who were under age, we could find ourselves on the bitch side of prison polygamists. We'd better try and appease the masses. I know! We'll tell them we changed our mind and the prophet who has been dead for 164 years gave the OK. That should do it! Where's my quill and parchment? I need to start crafting this new "policy" immediately. Now, what should it say? Hmmm...." Or something like that.

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Irritated said...


Loved the article. I thought you might enjoy my take on the FLDS. I would have sent an email, but I couldn't find the address. I hope you enjoy it.

Ellie said...

I thought you might be interested in a story in the new issue of the SPLC’s quarterly investigative journal Intelligence Report, which was released today.

The story is about the racist, polygamous FLDS cult and the recent raid on their property. The article features evidence of the cult’s racist nature.

You can read this story and the rest of the publication at:

Ellie Gunderson
Public Affairs Intern
Southern Poverty Law Center