Update: 11:15am pst--I have to get to work, but will return later. I hope the diary doesn't disintegrate into an overall discussion of religion, which never goes well, but rather I hope the discussion can remain focused on what is happening, the DOJ litigation, and for those of you willing to write letters... a letter to your state authorities, as mentioned at the end.
Update 2: 12:25pm--I really AM leaving right now, but wanted to post a link to a report on the DOJ suit from CNN, including an interview with Mike Watkiss an Arizona reporter who has been following the cult for years. I can't add to the diary, but here is the link: http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/...
UPDATE 3: Back again:) I meant to post this link earlier, as well, but ran out of time. It explains a bit more about the AZ legislature's (failed) action and is quite interesting. http://cnn.com/...
If you aren't familiar with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and their two-state fiefdom--Colorado City (Short Creek), Arizona and Hildale, Utah--then you probably aren't familiar with it's religious leader, imprisoned child molester and FLDS cult "prophet" Warren Steed Jeffs, either. Jeffs thinks the twin cities and his cult church are a match made in heaven while the Southern Poverty Law Center calls the FLDS a "general hate group".
On August 4, 2011, Jeffs was convicted of two counts of child sexual assault against a twelve year-old girl and a fifteen year-old girl in San Angelo, Texas. He is now serving a life plus twenty-year prison sentence. Jeffs remains the head of the FLDS while in prison. --US DOJ LawsuitThe 15 year old child mentioned by the DOJ who was "spiritually" married to Jeffs had a child by him, something reinforced during Texas' trial against Jeffs through DNA testing.
A tape played at the Texas Jeffs' hearing included the sounds of his raping his 12 year-old bride, mentioned above by the DOJ, while several of his other wives "helped out" bringing members of the jury and many attending the hearing to tears and sobs.
It's no match made in heaven but "hate group" [for their views on race and other things] doesn't begin to address the depravity of what has taken place and and continues to take place in the cult.
Authorities in Arizona don't think the match is made in heaven. [Note: Fox News, but I used this because of the importance of the several people interviewed.] Nor does the Attorney General in Utah though both these agencies and governments have often been heavily criticized for doing too little or nothing at all.
Texas definitely doesn't think it. South Dakota is only beginning to come to realize they have a problem. Colorado and Nevada are surely next to wake up. Idaho Authorities have been bombarded by mailings from Jeffs and his followers. In Canada, authorities continue to stare (but not do much else it seems) at the FLDS component in Bountiful [Note: link is to part one of five parts of the riveting, if horrific, FLDS Bountiuful story, Leaving Bountiful].
To add to the list, last Thursday, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against the cult's twin cities and two utilities under their control charging discrimination and violation of civil rights. Apparently, the DOJ doesn't think the mixing of government and religion is constitutional and are now, finally, poised to do something about it:
The actions and omissions of the Marshal’s Office constitute an impermissible delegation of decision-making and authority to the FLDS, an entanglement of religious and civil functions, a fusion of government power and religious authority, and have the purpose and effect of the Cities impermissibly advancing religion. Because of these actions and omissions, there is no effective means of guaranteeing that the Cities’ governmental power is neutrally employed. [bolding mine] --DOJThis is what theocracy looks like.
The Town of Colorado City, Arizona (“Colorado City”), and the City of Hildale, Utah(“Hildale”) (collectively, “Cities”), and two utility agencies under the Cities’ control (collectively, “Defendants”) have engaged in and continue to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and the laws of the United States. --DOJ lawsuitYou can read each of those Constitutional Amendments mentioned above here.
Defendants have engaged in a pattern or practice of illegal discrimination against individuals who are not members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“FLDS”). The Cities’ public officials, the Colorado City/Hildale Marshal’s Office (“the Marshal’s Office”), and utility entities have acted in concert with FLDS leadership to deny non-FLDS access to public space and services. Furthermore, the Defendants have denied non-FLDS members access to housing in the Cities, and they have coerced, intimidated, threatened, and interfered with the housing rights of non-FLDS members. The Marshal’s Office has inappropriately used its state-granted law enforcement authorityto enforce the edicts of the FLDS, to the detriment of non-FLDS members. In addition, the Cities’ officials have misdirected and misused public resources in the service of the FLDS. --DOJ lawsuitFor decades, people raised in the cult, where secrecy is foremost--only obedience more important--have increasingly been taught to avoid the "outside" gentile world. Police and authority are scary to the cult which lives by its own religious laws, ignoring almost all other laws, and children are taught to avoid contact at almost all costs with any form of outside authority. This, of course, helps the cult leadership stay in control.
According to a document filed in court known as "The Record of Warren Jeffs," which was seized during the Texas raid, the prophet had announced that God had ordered him and all the faithful not to recognize civil authority, or to "Answer them nothing." The Arizona RepublicMost--and historically, sometimes all--in the local policing agency are FLDS. The fire chief and firemen are FLDS. Prior to Jeff's demand that all parents pull ALL children from public school, the majority of teachers were FLDS. After Jeffs began charter schools (which were also eventually closed, in 2005, also at Jeffs command in favor of home schooling), most if not all of those teachers were FLDS. Few, especially girls, attended school through high school even before Jeff's became the prophet after his father, Rulon Jeffs, was "lifted up and renewed" (died and entered the celestial kingdom). Many have never attended school past the sixth grade.
Girls are literally taught to treat boys as "snakes" and are forbidden to touch them and in general to have anything to do with them (including cousins, etc. and note that girls are frequently married to first cousins) until they are "married". There is no dating. Girls are assigned husbands by the prophet (they cannot decline) and increasingly, these girls--including hoards of under-aged girls--are traded among the FLDS elite. For instance, a Jeffs under-aged daughter is given to marriage to a Jessop, while a Jessop daughter (or two) is given to a Jeffs or other FLDS worthy man often three or more times that underaged child's age. Everything female is nothing more than chattel to always male "priesthood heads"; the husbands of wives and fathers of children.
Because of continual generations of inbreeding (and possibly incest in some cases), the areas of Colorado City and Hildale have the highest rate of fumarase deficiency, a very rare disease, in the world.
By the late 1990s, Tarby and his team had discovered fumarase deficiency was occurring in the greatest concentration in the world among the fundamentalist Mormon polygamists of northern Arizona and southern Utah. -- LinkThe girl's purpose--perhaps playing with her friends in the morning, and married just hours later--is to have children; to bring waiting spirits into this world. These children could be a first wife, or a 60th wife. Records were found in Texas showing Jeffs had 78 wives, 24 of them under the age of 17. The cult believes that all men must have at least three wives to enter the "celestial kingdom".
Obviously, the numbers don't add up in this belief. There are not enough girls and women to go around. Many believe that the abandonment of young boys is a result of this numbers problem. See "Lost Boys" at the end of the post.
ALL behavior and belief in the FLDS centers on salvation. If one sins, one falls away from God. If they do not strictly obey their priesthood head, they cannot receive salvation and enter the celestial kingdom. Their entire future--here and in the great beyond of death--is at stake. If they do not obey the Prophet, they are disobeying God the most egregious of sins. The prophet is never wrong and represents God in the world. All salvation and future life is bound to their priesthood head and God. Period.
Men that are found to have committed some sin--or perhaps an alleged sin--have their wives and children removed and "reassigned" to other men. Some child brides have had three husbands, for instance, by their early 20s and a child with each husband. Often there are no goodbyes. One minute there was a family, the next minute there is a different one with all new mothers, in any number, a new father and "priesthood head" and perhaps dozens and dozens of new siblings located in the same community, or perhaps in another.
Jeffs teaches that a child's DNA is changed by God to match that of a "new" father after reassignment. Children are forbidden to contact their birth (or previous) father or speak about him. It is claimed by some, including Carolyn Jessop (see links below), that some children do not even know who their biological fathers are.
Men that refuse to give up wives at the hand of the "prophet" or women that refuse to leave their husbands are excommunicated and considered apostates. Those still in the cult are ordered to cease communicating with apostates. Indeed, excommunicated and escaped (apostate) members often don't even know where their families are. Their families--from mothers to siblings--are swallowed almost wholly into the cult and may disappear completely. It is reported by Carolyn Jessop that entire families vanished during the night from Colorado City with no one knowing where they had gone.
The control in the church is overwhelming. It is brandished, oft times, with an iron fist resulting in physical abuse. Those who have managed to escape the cult--and that is a literal term, escape--often report sexual and/or physical abuse from relatives and fathers even while mothers were made aware and even from early childhood into adulthood. Nothing is done. Everyone is at risk.
Leaving the cult for most is not an option. These cult members have known no other life since birth. They have been increasingly forbidden television, movies, library books, the internet, music, secular text books or radio. Recently, under an even stricter edict from pedophile Jailhouse Jeffs, children's toys and bicycles were ordered to be gotten rid of and children are forbidden to play basketball or other games in the city parks which have been fenced off or used for materials storage throughout the town(s). Instead, Jeffs, for the umteeth time, will explain that the end is near and commands his cult flock to pray. And pray. Then pray some more. And pray harder.
When doomsdays come and go, Jeffs informs the flock that they are seen as too imperfect and that God has given them more time to become more perfect and prepare. Time and time again this happens.
And the vicious and controlling cycle begins again wrapped in the cult's secret horrors.
When a young under-aged girl forced to marry tries to bolt--like 14 year-old Ruby Jessop [and here, but caution to those who are sensitive]--the cult will do anything and everything to get her back. They cannot afford, legally or otherwise, to have these young children continue to escape and talk about the forced rape and abuse they endure to the outside world. Actually, they can't afford to have ANYONE, regardless of age, talk about it. But more important, the women and their children don't belong to themselves. They "belong" to--are thought of as property owned by--the cult and its priesthood. They have no freedom nor are they allowed any self-determination or choice. In reality, there is no free agency.
The FLDS controls everyone and virtually everything in the twin Colorado City/Hildale cities.
It is against this background that the DOJ suit was filed.
The Marshal’s Office has failed to provide policing services to non-FLDS individuals on the basis of religion. The Marshal’s Office fails to protect non-FLDS individuals from victimization by FLDS members, fails to investigate crimes against non-FLDS individuals and their property, and refuses to arrest FLDS individuals who have committed crimes against non-FLDS individuals. These crimes and actions include destroying crops on a non-FLDS-operated farm, vandalizing property in the control of the UEP Trust, returning at least one underage bride to a home from which she had fled, and trespassing on property occupied by non-FLDS individuals. --DOJ lawsuit
Non-FLDS individuals experience the hardship and mental and physical stress resulting from the knowledge that the Marshal’s Office will not come to their aid in time of need. For example, in January 2012, a woman who was, in effect, excommunicated by the FLDS, fled her home in the Cities with her six young daughters after learning that FLDS leaders demanded that she sever all contact with five of her six children. This woman believed, based on its policies and previous actions, that the Marshal’s Office would not come to her assistance to protect her parental rights if she complained about the FLDS edict separating mothers from their children. She decided, as many other non-FLDS members have done, to flee with her children under cover of darkness to safety outside of the Cities. The failure and refusal of the Marshal’s Office to protect all citizens without regard to religion has given rise to an “underground railroad,” composed of non-FLDS members who provide safe havens and a means of egress for individuals abandoned by law enforcement. Ibid
The Marshal’s Office deploys its resources to enforce FLDS religious edicts. Such conduct includes dispatching Marshal’s Deputies in official vehicles to confront persons about their alleged disobedience to FLDS rules and instructing such persons to report to FLDS leadership. Ibid
In 2001, Jeffs issued an edict that all domestic dogs would be banned from the Cities.Less than one month later, in compliance with Jeffs’s edict, Marshal’s Deputies went to each household in the Cities and asked residents to turn over any dogs that they had in the home to the Officers. The Marshal’s Deputies then shot and killed the dogs in a slaughter pit a short distance from the Cities. Two of the Marshal’s Deputies involved in this incident remain employed by the Marshal’s Office. Ibid
The Marshal’s Office has seized the property of non-FLDS individuals without due process of law. For example, in April or May 2010, the Marshal’s Office departed from its normal procedures in handling a stud horse who escaped from its non-FLDS owner. The Marshal’s Office caused the horse to be euthanized without contacting the owner. Members of the Marshal’s Office knew or should have known the stud horse, which had distinct markings, and they knew or should have known the identity of the horse’s owner. This action was taken on the basis of the owner’s religious affiliation. IbidCarolyn Jessop and here, the FLDS mother who planned and executed a harrowing escape with her eight children, one of them disabled and recovering from cancer, in 2003, then the wife of near-royalty Merril Jessop, later convicted of marrying a 12 year-old girl to "prophet" Warren Jeffs, confirms this incident in her book, Escape as has Elissa Wall, another escapee, in her book Stolen Innocence.
Elsewhere in the book, Jessop states that Warren Jeffs had animals tortured to death in front of small children to terrorize them and claims the "prophet" believed "that a society that treated animals humanely was corrupt and had turned away from God."
In October 2005, Fred J. Barlow, during the time he served as Marshal, wrote a letter to then-fugitive Jeffs, stating in relevant part, I rejoice in the peace that comes over me when I follow the directives that you have sent to me through [FLDS member] Uncle William [Jessop]. I have felt a unity between the peace officers.They have all stated to me their desire to follow the directives that are placed before us. . . . I want to fill the position that you would have me fill and do the job the way that you would like it done. . . .We will continue with that directive unless you would like us to do something different. Three out of the current six Marshal’s Deputies were either employed by the Marshal’s Office or finishing the required police training for the Marshal’s Office at the timeMarshal Barlow wrote this letter to Jeffs. --DOJ lawsuitThe policing problem has been going on for quite a long time.
As we await sentencing in the Jerry Sandusky case, the abuses against children continue unabated in the FLDS. Every child bride in the FLDS is being abused. Child trafficking, something not addressed to date, likely continues.
There are so many issues.
It's about time the DOJ got involved in investigating child trafficking for purposes of "spiritual marriage" of underage children and the subsequent sexual abuse/rape of said children.
It's about time the feds investigated trafficking and use of young boys to work for cheap wages (which are then required to be given to the church) through church-related businesses both in the US and in Canada.
The Edmonton Journal’s Sheila Pratt exposed child labour trafficking, wherein young boys from Bountiful have been sent to Alberta businesses, owned by FLDS and affiliates, for cheap labour.It's about time the feds investigate the abandonment of under aged boys along the roadside or in nearby cities by families under order of the prophet (the "Lost Boys").
Some of these victims got out. The ones who did reveal that psychological and spiritual abuse kept them locked in exploitation.
Working 40 hours per week and being paid $30 perhaps felt like little compared to the threats of going to hell that victims heard daily from their exploiters.
There are dozens more issues and they are not new. They have been going on for decades and have been ignored for just as long by everyone from police to politicians.
It must change.
If you are in any of the states where the FLDS is active, please take a moment to write your state government and ask for long needed action and intervention.
Go here and click the "speak out" tab at the top to write your state's elected representatives and authorities.
I want to thank you for reading this. I know it was probably very difficult for some of you.