"The entire FLDS structure is supported by how many children can be contributed to the system, so the abusive cycle is repeated, time and again. The more wives a man is assigned, the richer he will become both on earth and in the hereafter. Women and children are considered chattel and the measure of a man’s success."
"It was all done in the name of the Lord."
"If we abandon these children, because of fear of lawsuits or costs to our state, we are no better than the men who systematically sexually assault the young girls in the name of religion…"
"I have often pondered how the public would react if the same sort of ritualistic crimes that I have investigated within the FLDS had instead centered on a congregation of Satan worshippers. The only difference is that Satan worshippers know without a doubt that they are going to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if they get caught raping. If the FLDS crimes had been put in proper perspective, outraged citizens and lawmakers would have demanded action years ago."
Book: Prophet’s Prey
Author: Same Brower
Published: Bloomsbury USA (2011)
My Review: Two warnings. First, for all those who couldn’t already guess (hopefully not many of you), this book is quite disturbing. Second, this may be a rant review. You’ve been warned.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (a long-ago breakaway sect of the more well known Latter Day Saints) has, since its foundation, been one of the most notoriously secretive and isolated religious groups in history. And not by accident.
Tucked away in rural areas of Utah, Arizona, Texas, and other remote locations, FLDS members are raised with zero access to the outside world and are, generation after generation, brainwashed to believe that 100% obedience to their prophet (currently the incarcerated and certifiably insane Warren Jeffs) is their one and only ticket to heaven. Their entire town police force, business administration, and all other leaders with any semblance of power have all had quite a bit of the Kool-Aid, if you know what I mean.
While this isolation is strange and arguably unhealthy in and of itself, the true evil exists in the depraved activities that are not only endorsed, but mandated and revered within the community. Child abuse, rape, underage marriage, incest, tax evasion, unlawful eviction and neglect— the horrific list of both civil and criminal offenses goes on and on and on.
It’s terrifying to think that this “religion” has been flourishing for so many years without any significant or effective intervention by government; a government that just happens to be charged with keeping us safe and enforcing the law. It would be less appalling (although no more excusable) had these agencies been blissfully unaware of the crimes taking place within these secluded communes…
But they did know— they DO know. Mountains upon mountains of evidence have piled up over the years of investigation (primarily by private parties, brave ex-FLDS individuals, and specialty contractors) and yet the cause is continually deemed “too expensive, too complicated, too political” for any meaningful involvement by all entities that may have the power and resources to effectively address this nightmare.
Let me ask you this. How many thousands of young children have been neglected, assaulted, raped, and abandoned; how many wives and sister-wives have been battered and torn again and again from their families; how many fathers have willingly sold their pre-pubescent daughters into the hands of dangerous pedophiles while Child Protective Services, the police, and even the Attorney General’s Office(s) have turned a blind eye?
Inexcusable and absolutely sickening if you ask me.
But before you start in on religious freedom, I’ll tell you that I understand completely the importance of the First Amendment. I believe in the Constitutional right to practice your truth in the religion of your choosing. I even believe in the right to live in rural, uber-isolated communities worshipping a man who may or may not have serious issues with paranoid schizophrenia and sadistic pedophilia. But I do have lines.
I DO NOT believe, for instance, that you have the right to “marry” a 12 year old girl to a 55 year old man and stand by complacently while she is repeatedly raped, abused, impregnated, and traumatized for life. (Many times recorded on audiotape, by the way, so the “Prophet” could re-live the atrocities of his limitless power again and again. Yeah, I about puked just there.)
I DO NOT believe you have the right to abandon young, pre-teen boys (now frequently referred to as “Lost Boys”) on the side of the road with absolutely no skills or resources and forbid them from returning to the only community that they have ever known or even contacting the families with whom they have grown up— all for the purpose of growing harems of young women for the predatory, decrepit leaders of this vicious cult.
I also DO NOT believe you have the right to evict people from homes that are rightfully their own, re-assign men’s families and destroy their lives because you don’t like the way they looked at you last Tuesday, or to launder money through corrupt agencies across states to fund multi-million dollar prophet-harem homes while everyone else is forced to live in squalor.
Not even in God’s name do I believe that these things are okay. Especially in God’s name!
Moral of the story: This “religion” (at least the way it is practiced now) is very literally a lifelong torture sentence and, in my opinion, an unbelievable violation of all the laws and human rights that we hold dear and inalienable in our society. Whether the FLDS like it or not, they are part of this country, and part of this world. Behavior like this is monstrously destructive and we’ve set a terribly dangerous precedent by making allowances and oversights on the basis of “religious freedom.”
And really? Religious freedom? So (as Sam points out in his book) if this were a Satan worshipping group, per se, and they were all about this kind of rape and pillage and brainwashed obedience bullshit, would we stand around idly and turn our gaze?
I think we all know the answer to that question.
It is way, way, way beyond time to make this right. For the sake of the women who are unimaginably traumatized and want out; for the sake of the assaulted, battered, neglected children who are too young to fully comprehend the brutality they endure (the trauma will come); for the sake of men and boys who are left with nothing and who often find their only answer in suicide.
This needs to change, and it needs to change now.