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An American Cult

There are an estimated 30,000 - 50,000 people in the Western U.S. and Canada who are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They're polygamists, some of them have 70 wives and 80 children, and they have high rates of incest, poverty, and fraud in their communities. Young women, some just 13-years-old, are treated as property, they're bartered and traded between communities, given to older men they've never met and joining households with several other wives. Children are indoctrinated into "perfect obedience" to God, to the "prophet," and to their elders. Babies are trained not to cry by slapping their faces or holding their heads under water.

Many of the children don't attend school past the eighth grade, they're taught that dinosaurs never existed, and man never walked on the moon. They're also taught that blacks are inferior and evil — the offspring of Cain and doomed to slavery. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated FLDS as a hate group.

As all cults, it has a central leader, a prophet, "God's mouthpiece on earth". The current prophet is Warren Jeffs, who took over in 2002, after the death of his father.

According to former followers, the prophet is considered to be God's mouthpiece on earth. It is believed that God speaks directly to Warren Jeffs to reveal His will. And through the prophet, God directs which male members are worthy of entry into heaven (females are invited into heaven by satisfied husbands). Jeffs is also the only person who can perform marriages, and it is through him that wives are assigned to their husbands. Pleasing the prophet can result in loyal members being rewarded with one or more wives. Wives are considered to "belong" to their husbands for eternity.

In order to reach the highest degree of glory in heaven, members of the FLDS believe that each man must have at least three wives. A significant means of prophet power is derived from his ability to punish followers by reassigning their wives, children and homes to another man. Obedience is highly valued, and it is rare for wives to resist reassignment.
Warren Jeffs has 40 wives, at least a dozen of whom were formerly married to his father, and 56 children. He demands strict obedience from his followers, who are expelled from the community if they dare to cross him. Many young boys are expelled for other reasons, even more sinister:
Polygyny presents obvious problems for a religious group or community. Since roughly equal numbers of boy and girl babies are born, it takes extraordinary steps to provide men with multiple wives. Where do the excess males go? Where do the surplus females come from?

Benjamin Bistline spent part of his childhood among polygynists in the main FLDS group in what is now called Colorado City, AZ. He has written a book about his experiences. 8 He has observed that in order to maintain a culture in which most men have many wives, it is necessary to persuade most male youths to leave the community at a relatively young age. Teenaged women with restricted education are then matched up with older men, preferably before they develop an interest in boys their own age. After an unregistered marriage, the new wives financially support the family by applying for welfare as single mothers. FLDS beliefs and practices
Many of you probably knew about FLDS already. I didn't and I'm just amazed that this is happening in the 21st century in the U.S. and Canada.

Posted by zorkmidden on Jul 10, 2005 10:50 am

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