One of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read. If you think that Big Love and Sister Wives represents a realistic depiction of what it’s like to live in a polygamist sect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints you could not be more mistaken. If anything these programs are convenient distractions from horrors that are really going on behind the walls of most FLDS communities.
Yes, popular TV programs like to portray modern polygamist groups as just a bunch of quirky little consenting adult Christians who live normal healthy lives, they just all consented to being married to the same guy. However in most FLDS areas, especially those under the control of Warren Jeffs, these shows couldn’t be further from the truth. Most live in squalor because they consecrate everything they earn back to the church. They live on church owned land with no legal lease arrangement so the “prophet” can kick them out for any perceived infraction, the most common of which is just happening to have been born male because that means they will eventually be a competitor for the little girls in the group. Yes I said girls, not women or females. These are little girls that are being married off to much older men to gain political clout within the community. Some of these girls are as young as 12 and most are married off well below the legal age of consent.
So if you happen to be born as a girl in a FLDS community the odds are that you will be denied to play with dolls because the prophet has said that girls “should learn to raise real children”. You won’t have any other toys. You’ll be home-schooled but most of that will be only church sanctioned propaganda, like the fact that we never landed on the moon. Then in your early teens you’ll be married off to some man three times your age and brutally raped before you’ve even had the basics of sex education (see comment above about propaganda). You see if girls knew what normal sex was supposed to be like they’d surely resist what the men in the FLDS culture force on them. Now you’d just better hope that your husband overts his eyes from the prophet fast enough ‘cause if he's too slow he might get banished from the cult and you and your sister wives are doled out to the prophet’s political cronies and you just have to submit to him and his abuse and hope the cycle doesn’t repeat itself.
Being born male isn’t exactly an easy life either. You’ll be put to work on church projects when you are so young that the hammer you’ll be given reaches all the way to the ground when you sling it in your work belt. The only way the church elites can maintain their high number of wives is to restrict the number of men in the community. So the odds are pretty good that right about the time you start thinking about starting your own family that you’ll be driven out of town and dropped off on the side of the road adn told never to return. If you get lucky enough to be allowed to stay well hog dog, You will be allowed to follow in your indoctrination and become a serial child abuser. But don't get too comfortable in your role as abuser/rapist. You still could lose all that at the drop of a hat if the prophet decides he doesn't like you anymore.
No matter what your gender your odds are the greatest in the world to develop serious genetic defects due to inbreeding. FLDS geneologies boggle the mind. There are only about four suranmes and they recycle a lot of the same given names and middle names. Wives are sometimes taken from a father and given to his son, or from one brother to another. So you'll have children growing up in the same house whose father is also an uncle or a brother or a cousin. The CDC has estimated that over half of the world’s cases of fumarase deficiency are in Short Creek UT/AZ. So you may be stillborn or only live a few weeks.
The author of this book is LDS. Not FLDS, just LDS. He lived only an hour away from where much of these atrocities were taking place but just didn’t give it much thought. The FLDS were just the red-headed step children of the “true” church. Not until he got involved as a private investigator on a simple eviction did he come to understand the lawlessness and church sanctioned abuse that was taking place in his backyard.
As American’s we are proud of our First Amendment. We like the government to stay out of our worship. People should be able to believe or not to believe what ever they want to and the government is supposed to let that be. But when beliefs turn into actions there is something that the government does care about and does make laws to prevent. You can believe that god will bring destruction on the world, but if you try to fly a plane into a building to start the process then we should expect some intervention, not against the belief, against the action.
Somehow religions that profess a link to Jesus get a little more of a pass than others. If I were to tell you that the Taliban had taken control of a small city in Utah had completely converted to Sharia law all hell would break loose to end the process and establish order. However since the FLDS claims a link to Jesus’ teachings all the same Taliban-like behavior is tolerated now and has been tolerated for almost a century. It’s a serous double standard.
As if he had a chance before, this book more than convinced me to vote against Rick Perry. When close to 500 children were in the custody of the state of Texas Perry went before cameras and read all his talking points about, "safety of the children" etc. etc. Yet the Department of Child Protective Services was pressured from above to release all of these kids back to their abusers for no logical reason except that it was costing too much. Just confirmed my suspicions about him. He'll say whatever he has to to look good, but not offer any real support where it is really needed. I'd like to see how he would have responded if it had been a Taliban group and not an FLDS sect.
Polygamy would not exist to the extent it does in the United States if it were not for one man, Joseph Smith. Joseph took his desire for sexual impropriety and canonized it. Officially the mainstream LDS church has since stopped practicing polygamy a century ago, however the FLDS still claim Joseph as their justification for continuing.
Read this book. It’s not a pleasant read. It will challenge a lot of what you believe and think you know about polygamy in the United States. Bower had unique access to the facts that put Warren Jeffs behind bars. It’s quite an eye-opener. Far from just being a quirky little sub-culture, in every measurable way FLDS communities are the most lawless cities in the United States and generation after generation of children are being taught that this is normal and god’s way.