The True Cost of Polygamy
by Angela Lash
Mainstream practitioners of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) denounced polygamy officially in 1890 but members of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) are doing all they can to make this “alternative lifestyle” acceptable. Using the freedom of religion clause from the 1st amendment, adherents say plural marriage is their right.
One such community (of many spread throughout the western United States, Mexico and Canada) is Colorado City, AZ. There, the first amendment is used as cover for molestation, statutory rape, and government fraud.
Jon Krakauer, in his book “Under the Banner of Heaven,” [see the books page on this site] brings unmistakable evidence of these crimes as he highlights the sect known as UEP (United Effort Plan) – the world’s largest of the three fundamentalist LDS sects in Colorado City. From his work, the following information came to public light in 2003.
Members of the UEP are strictly ruled by their ‘prophet,’ who is always male, as women are forbidden from leadership roles. Members are prohibited from watching TV, reading newspapers and magazines and from speaking to people who are not members of their faith. UEP’s prophet in Colorado City during the time under scrutiny in Krakauer’s book was Rulon Timpson Jeffs, who also liked to frequently remind his followers that both homosexuality and having sex with a person of color were both unspeakable sins punishable by death on the spot.
Rulon, who died September 9, 2002, had an estimated 20 wives and some say up to 60 children, though there are no ways to verify the exact number of either. (Reference)
Taxpayers Footing the Bill
The abuse of the American taxpayer by practitioners of polygamy is addressed by Krakauer in this excerpt from his book:
“To avoid prosecution [for polygamy], typically men in Colorado City will legally marry only the first of their wives; subsequent wives, although “spiritually married,” to their husband by Uncle Rulon, thus remain single mothers in the eyes of the state. This has the added benefit of allowing the enormous families in town to qualify for welfare and other forms of government assistance. Despite the fact that Uncle Rulon and his followers regard the governments of Arizona, Utah and the United States as Satanic forces out to destroy the UEP, their polygamous community receives more than $6 million a year in public funds.
More than $4 million…flows each year into the Colorado City public school district – which, according to the Phoenix New Times “is operated primarily for the financial benefit of the FLDS church and for the personal enrichment of FLDS school district leaders.” Reporter John Dougherty determined that school administrators have “plundered the district’s treasury by running up thousands of dollars in personal expenses on district credit cards, purchasing expensive vehicles for their personal use and engaging in extensive travel. The spending spree culminated in December , when the district purchased a $220,000 Cessna 210 airplane to facilitate trips by district personnel to cities across Arizona…The federal government built a $2.8 million airport that serves almost no one beyond the fundamentalist community.
In 2002, seventy-eight percent of the town’s residents living on the Arizona side received food stamps. Currently the residents of Colorado City receive eight dollars in government services for every dollar they pay in taxes; by comparison, residents in the rest of Mohave County, Arizona, receive just over a dollar in services per tax dollar paid.
“Uncle Rulon justifies all that assistance from the wicked government by explaining that really the money is coming from the Lord,” says DeLoy Bateman. “We’re taught that it’s the Lord’s way of manipulating the system to take care of His chosen people.” Fundamentalists call defrauding the government “bleeding the beast” and regard it as a virtuous act.”
(More on this investigative reporter’s work on the FLDS can be found here.)
Isolation and Deprivation
Not surprisingly, Rulon Jeffs taught his followers that the moon landing was a complete hoax. Additionally, Krakauer brings to light that, “according to UEP dogma, wives don’t belong to their husbands [the leader can give them to another man whenever he chooses]. Nor do children belong to their parents; all are property of the priesthood and may be claimed at any time.”
Many children in these communities are molested and ‘married‘ at horrifyingly young ages, what we would call statutory rape. In what cannot be called anything less than pedophilia, the human cost is horrific. Practitioners of polygamy take wives as young as 14 years old, depriving these girls of what’s left of their pre-adult years. In fact, many girls are molested before they are 14, then forced to marry their abusers.
Prosecutor David Leavitt (brother of former UT governor Mike Leavitt, and prosecutor of the famous polygamist Tom Green) argued that “People in the state of Utah simply do not understand, and have not understood for fifty years, the devastating effect that the practice of polygamy has on young girls in our society” [p. 24]. Leavitt summed it up succinctly when he said, “Polygamy is abusive to children, abusive to women, and abusive to society.”
More from Under the Banner of Heaven:
“Where in the constitution does it say it’s ok to molest & impregnate young girls?”~Pennie Peterson (former resident of Colorado City AZ)
Debbie Palmer became stepmother to 31 kids when she married Ray Blackmore, most of whom were older than she was.
Blackmore was the father of Debbie’s own stepmother, so she became a stepmother to her own stepmother & stepgrandmother to herself.
Debbie Palmer’s 13 year old daughter, Sharon, was molested by her own husband, and her stepdaughter feared she would be forced to marry him, because “some of her friends in Colorado City had had to marry their stepfathers after being molested by them.”
There isn’t room here to go into another human cost of this culture: the many birth defects, miscarriages, and deformed children that result from girls subjected to incest and inbreeding.
The fundamentalist culture which teaches young girls that it’s acceptable to be molested, raped, and impregnated by men many times their age, all under the name of religious freedom, is not just abominable, it is simply evil.
You can now follow Angel Lash on Twitter. @Lash3
Hot Air Editor’s note: The original post was updated as per current style guides to remove references to the word “Mormon” and to use the preferred “Latter Day Saints” and “Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints” to distinguish between the two groups.
This article was found at:
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