Friday, April 11, 2008

Beds and Temples

"Officials have completed removing all 416 children from the ranch and have won custody of all of them," say the latest reports on the Texas FLDS incident. I'm completely flummoxed at how the Yearning for Zion group is being treated. I believe their civil rights are being violated on the strength of an anonymous phone call by a girl they have yet to identify. News reports are extremely slanted. For example, look at the report of "marriage" beds found in their temple. Does it surprise you to know that we have beds in our temples also? Several years ago when I was pregnant, I felt some vertigo during a session, and was taken to an area in the temple for medical attention and to lie down!

My completely unsolicited opinion is that authorities should open up channels of communication whereby girls and women who would like to voluntarily leave this group can receive some support in doing so. Other than this, children should not be removed from their homes. "Indoctrination" which takes place among the FLDS is no worse, in my view, than children as young as 13 who are exposed to sex and violence through media, or given birth control at home or in school! What is happening in this case sets a dangerous precedent. Now read what a former FLDS member has to say about this situation:

"THESE PEOPLE NEED A VOICE!

I left the FLDS three years ago when I was 23. I had a very happy childhood free from television, drugs, and abuse. These are some of the things I personally witnessed:

When a girl thought she was ready to get married, she would tell her father that she was ready to move on. Her father would turn her over to the prophet (Rulon or Warren Jeffs) to be placed in marriage. I saw Rulon many times tell the girl that she needed to be 18 before she was married, and I saw some girls ask to be married anyway, and sometimes he would give in to their request. It was not a common thing to see a girl younger than 15 get married, but if they did, it was always the result of her father putting a lot of pressure on Rulon or Warren to do something about their daughter. No one was ever forced. I saw several girls tell the prophet that she didn't want to marry so and so and that was the end of it (I know this because word really got around). Rulon and Warren always asked a girl if she had anyone in mind before she was placed with someone. Sometimes they would ask for an older guy with several wives already.

You've got to realize that the only thing these girls really lived for was getting married and having children. They do not have the same mindset as your typical teenage girl. Some were rebellious and wild teenagers sure, but 90% of the girls I grew up with only wanted to get married and have children. At the same time, 90% of the men didn't want their daughters to leave home and were very protective of them. My father wept when my older sister got married (she was 19) but he knew it would make her happy.

As for the men. 95% of the men I knew were honorable and trustworthy. They had beautiful families that loved them and would do anything for them. "by their fruits you shall know them". I challenge anyone to look at those children in Texas and honestly say "they are a product of pedophiles and immorality". An example of immorality would be someone that advertises their body by wearing next to nothing, uses foul language, uses drugs and exhibits no self control. You will not find that with these people. Sex is not even in their vocabulary. Literally.

I personally know every man on that Ranch in Texas. Search the world over, you will not find men more dedicated, more committed, and more focused on living in Peace and living their religion than within that group. They do not care what anyone else does, they only want to live their religion.

You should also note, half of the children raised within the FLDS, end up leaving on their own free will and choice. 95% of them you will never hear from again. 5% seem to spread rumor and false accusations everywhere they turn either because they are lonely and need someone or something to blame, or because they really were hurt or abused and somehow think it's the church's fault.

As for this raid in Texas here are some interesting facts:

1)There is only one Dale Barlow over the age of 40 within the FLDS. This man was convicted of fathering a child with a 16 year old two years ago. He has been on probation ever since and is not allowed to leave the state of Arizona except to report to his probation officer in St. George, UT. Authorities know where he is and he has not yet been arrested. (There is another member whose name is spelled Dell but he is in his late 60's)

2)There is absolutely no physical evidence that this 16 year old who supposedly called in to report abuse even exists. Anyone could have made that call.

3)Anyone that thinks there is something wrong with having a bed in a temple that has disturbed linen and a female hair, is assuming WAY too much.

4)If I was a four year old child and I was taken away from my loving mother and father, I would be confused and hurt and would probably find a way of seeing how it was my fault.

5)The media keeps saying that 100 something women left on their own? They simply refuse to let their children go without them.

6)There are three sides to every news story and so far, everyone is getting only two. People that have left and are bitter, and people that are jumping to conclusions. I would like to be the third because I know these people, I am a product of these people and I believe they should be understood and left alone.

I left on my own accord because I was standing in the way. I wasn't ready to give up material things and I didn't believe Warren Jeffs was a prophet. I drew my own conclusion, and every member of that church is fully capable of doing the same if they so choose." austlittlebeast@yahoo.com


I was touched as I read of the men who knelt outside their temple and prayed and wept as it was desecrated. Someone has sent me a link to the song Warren Jeffs wrote, and after which the compound is named. Go here and listen. It's a haunting piece, and the twang in the voice of the vocalist recalls the long-braided, home-sewn dresses in the pictures we've been seeing. However much we may wish to distance ourselves, this is our tradition. The words and sentiments are our own, and these people are being treated exactly as we were 150 years ago.
Yearning for Zion
by Warren Jeffs



Heavenly beings have come to direct the work of the fulness of times:
To bring to pass Zion, the Lord’s pure in heart, a people perfected in Christ.
Who will be Zion, filled with his love, laboring now with the hope
Of a glorious day, when Zion shall rise, and the words of the prophets unfold.
When Zion shall flourish upon the hills, the wilderness blossoming fair as the rose,
When Zion comes singing with songs of great joy
With praise and thanksgiving assembles to worship our Lord

Oh, Zion!
Put on thy beautiful garments,
Which are the powers and gifts of his Spirit in you,
Draw from the heavens the almighty power to build and redeem again Zion!
Oh, hearken all Israel!
Live for the promise of God.
Our Savior shall dwell in our midst
For the household of faith he will stretch forth his arm
And bring forth the redemption of Zion.

Imagine the people of Enoch of old, trained in the order of heaven
A beautiful city the Lord called his own and forever made his abode
Coming to join with the Zion on earth when finally the earth finds its rest
A kingdom established in celestial laws, a people the Lord can accept
A New Jerusalem it will be, a land of refuge, a city of peace
Upon every dwelling the Lord shall create
A cloud for a covering, a flaming

Symbolically, the song cuts off here.
Oh, Zion!

23 comments:

Kalola said...

Thank you for your excellent post. I appreciated your explaining that "we have beds in our temples also."

And I wholeheartedly agree with your opinion that "authorities should open up channels of communication whereby girls and women who would like to voluntarily leave this group can receive some support in doing so." I had been thinking today that perhaps all of this happened so that those who want to leave the sect now have the opportunity to do so.

Anonymous said...

You should know that in most states there is no need for immediate corroboration to remove children from a home. The children are usually detained immediately with a hearing held before a judge within a short period of time to determine if the child should continue to be detained or if the child can be returned to his parents immediately subject to certain conditions or none (if the allegations can be shown to be unfounded at the first hearing).

brooke said...

hey - i just wanted you to know i appreciated your post. it's made me look at the coverage very differently. while i could never live the way they do, i cannot begrudge them from living that way. what is right for some people isn't right for others, and it is our duty to honor and respect everyone - no matter what.

C. L. Hanson said...

Giving teens access to contraceptives is not "indoctrination." That is medical care. Parents have the right to teach their kids whatever they want about the meaning or significance of sexual contact, but freedom of religion is not a license to keep your children away from the doctor and deny them (potentially lifesaving) medical care.

That said, regarding actual indoctrination, the FLDS have the right to teach their kids that polygamy is righteousness and is the will of God even if the rest of society finds this belief distasteful.

Regarding the point by anonymous (that not much concrete evidence is needed before removing a child from a potentially dangerous home for a hearing at least), sure I can see the logic in that. But this case appears to be going a step beyond "We have reason to suspect this family, so we'll check it out to be safe." This is more like "Some FLDS have abused their kids, so we will take all of the kids from the entire community." I don't think there's any precedent for this, nor should there be.

Anonymous said...

Don't know how impregnating 15yos is anything but exploitation and creating a lifetime of servitude. And when a whole culture does it and does it in defiance of laws I can't imagine what the justification for romanticizing it or putting a gloss of devotion over it could possibly be.

If that temple (it disgusts me to use that word in this way) had any part in a culture of breeding women like dogs in a puppy mill — and there's significant reason to think it was the means of intimidation by which that was accomplished — the men's emotional outpouring is just sick and disgusting or a pathetic attempt to displace their responsibility for their actions.

I want you to know I tried to find more measured ways to say this but this is a matter of gut-churning revulsion and I can't pretend otherwise.

anonymous alice

Bored in Vernal said...

Alice, I appreciate your feelings, but consider the possibility that they are culturally based. The news reports on this story here in Saudi Arabia are very different than those in the States. Plural marriage to young girls has been acceptable in other parts of the world for centuries. Who are we to say our cultural bias is better or more enlightened? If you are LDS, our own tradition has this same practice less than 200 years ago.

ProudMamaBlogga said...

BiV, I appreciate your thoughts on the news coverage. I think the media is going to far. It bothers me that they show video after video of women and children. The way they portray it emphasizes that this group of people is an 'other.' I don't know the inside details of the story; but my heart aches for parents and children who love each other and are separated right now.

Maraiya said...

Thank you so much for this post! I'm amazed at how quick we are to judge others on little evidence or to condemn a society for the known crimes of a few. I do feel that we as active LDS should have greater sympathy for the FLDS faith if they are being unjustly persecuted. While it is possible that heinous crimes have been committed, (really, is there a church/faith or group of people who doesn't have criminals and deviants among them?) I'm sure there are many among this faith who have loving families and are striving to serve God as they best understand Him. Who are we to judge them or to tear their families apart?

Anonymous said...

If loving families are giving 15 yo girls to middle aged men then I ask you what kind of God wants that kind of devotion?

I'm much more comfortable with a God who wants men to keep the covenants they've made with their wives of 30 or 40 or 50 than go looking for replacements.

anonymous alice

Maraiya said...

Alice - and you know that all of the FLDS families are guilty of that how? Isn't it possible that not all of the plural wives were taken as young teenagers? Isn't it possible that the ex-FLDS member BiV quoted has some points in her argument? How can you condemn an entire society based on the actions of, as far as we know, only a few?

Lessie said...

Chanson, thanks for clarifying about the birth control issue. I wasn't able to articulate my objection and you said it nicely.

BiV, thanks so much for this post. My heart has been going out to these people since I heard about this. As so many others have said, I disagree with their practices and beliefs, but the way the state has handled this has been atrocious. And thanks for reminding us that even though it's probable that some abuse has happened here and there, it is probably not a sect-wide issue. There are loving fathers and husbands who have had their children and wives separated from them and are probably hurting so much. And yes, my heart goes out to these children. I ache for them. It pains me so much to see my own sons hurting, I can't imagine what these women must be feeling.

Amanda said...

BiV, do you currently live in Saudi Arabia? If so, could you add some links to news coverage of the Texas/FLDS FIASCO? I would be really interested to read those as I think that you bring up a great point about our cultural biases...

Anonymous said...

Do you realize that Warren Jeffs whose photo you have in this entry is in jail for forcing a 14 year old girl to marry her 19 year old first cousin against her will?

Or that he, Jeffs, had 6 year olds removed from their families in AZ and placed without their parents on the Yearning for Zion Ranch?

Have you heard any of those zombie-like women with the voices of scared 6 year olds? Have you noticed that when they discuss how sad they are that their emotions just don't seem to be registering what they're talking about even though they may be dabbing at tears? Do you have any doubt at all when you listen to them that they have been subjected to a great deal of abuse themselves?

Have you read the account of Carolyn Jessop that her husband was accustomed to "breaking" infants, i.e. making them docile and compliant, by slapping them until they cried and then holding their faces in a stream of water until they couldn't cry and breathe at the same time?

Just making sure that you're aware of what's going on when you suggest sympathy for the group that makes these things possible.

anonymous alice

Anonymous said...

The only complaint I have about the authorities in this situation is that they did not act soon enough. They knew about this cult for years, yet it has taken this long for them to do anything. And let's not forget there are dozens more situations like this throughout the southwest that are not being dealt with.

Like most institutions, this "church" devolved to suit the needs of those in power. Oh, how conveeeeenient, as the Church Lady says, that 50-something year old guys can have as many child brides as they want.

Wouldn't it be something if we had some big, bizarre-looking, shut-off structure (called a "temple") out in the southwest where women in their 50s diddled 12- and 13-year-old boys? "Spiritually married" 'em, of course. I'll just bet the posters on this thread would have loads of sympathy for them. Their "hearts would go out to them."

And so what if some other cultures practice "plural marriages?" That doesn't make it desirable OR right. Anytime one person in a relationship is subjugated, it is wrong. And isn't it just an oddity that most of the time that person is a woman?

NJCher

and p.s. what a crock that Warren Jeffs' poem is What fluff. I dare anyone to try to say what it means.

Christopher said...

BiV, I don't know how I missed this post when you put it up last week. Thank you for it.

anonymous alice, to answer your questions:

Do you realize that Warren Jeffs whose photo you have in this entry is in jail for forcing a 14 year old girl to marry her 19 year old first cousin against her will?

Yes, I think most commenters here do realize that. No one is defending Jeffs' actions here.

Or that he, Jeffs, had 6 year olds removed from their families in AZ and placed without their parents on the Yearning for Zion Ranch?

Again, yes, we're aware of that.

Have you heard any of those zombie-like women with the voices of scared 6 year olds? Have you noticed that when they discuss how sad they are that their emotions just don't seem to be registering what they're talking about even though they may be dabbing at tears? Do you have any doubt at all when you listen to them that they have been subjected to a great deal of abuse themselves?

I've listened to every interview and watched every video of the women from the YFZ ranch. I don't agree with your assessment of their voices as "zombie-like." Until any of us experience the hell of going through what they've experiences in the last 3 weeks, I for one do not feel comfortable mocking their emotional response. And yes, there is a lot of doubt in my mind that these women were abused in their marriages. But you're right, they have been abused. By the Texas State authorities.

Have you read the account of Carolyn Jessop that her husband was accustomed to "breaking" infants, i.e. making them docile and compliant, by slapping them until they cried and then holding their faces in a stream of water until they couldn't cry and breathe at the same time?

I've read and listened to everything Carolyn Jessop has to say. Most of what she says contradicts other statements she has previously made. She comes across as an angry individual with an axe to grind that will do whatever is takes to grind that axe. She holds little to no credibility in my book.

Please check your cultural biases and "enlightened" imperialist attitude at the door.

Christopher said...

NJCher,

Regarding your p.s.:

what a crock that Warren Jeffs' poem is What fluff. I dare anyone to try to say what it means.

Okay, here it goes.

Heavenly beings have come to direct the work of the fulness of times:

An allusion to the heavenly messengers, including God, Christ, Adam, John the Baptist, Moses, Elijah, and others that Mormons believe visited Joseph Smith and restored Christ's church to the earth.

To bring to pass Zion, the Lord’s pure in heart, a people perfected in Christ.

The age-old quest for a utopian society, collectively known in Judeo-Christian history as "Zion." Mormon scripture affirms the future reality of such a perfected community of believers.

Who will be Zion, filled with his love, laboring now with the hope

Mutual love and charity (the pure love of Christ) will permeate the Zionic community.

Of a glorious day, when Zion shall rise, and the words of the prophets unfold.

This community will be the fulfillment of biblical prophecies.

When Zion shall flourish upon the hills, the wilderness blossoming fair as the rose,

An allussion to prophecies recorded in the book of Isaiah.

When Zion comes singing with songs of great joy
With praise and thanksgiving assembles to worship our Lord


Christ the Lord Omnipotent will dwell among his true followers in Zion, and be worshipped through song, praise, and thanksgiving.

Oh, Zion!
Put on thy beautiful garments,
Which are the powers and gifts of his Spirit in you,
Draw from the heavens the almighty power to build and redeem again Zion!


Biblical prophecies of Zion rising up and putting on her garments is interpreted here to mean that the gifts of the spirit spoken of by Paul and other New Testament figures, as well as rehearsed anew in Mormon scriptures, will be enjoyed in Zion.

Oh, hearken all Israel!
Live for the promise of God.
Our Savior shall dwell in our midst
For the household of faith he will stretch forth his arm
And bring forth the redemption of Zion.


Israel here is a reference to the true followers of Christ. Christ shall dwell among those true followers in a coming day in the millennial Zion.

Imagine the people of Enoch of old, trained in the order of heaven
A beautiful city the Lord called his own and forever made his abode
Coming to join with the Zion on earth when finally the earth finds its rest


An allusion to the biblical prophet Enoch who "walked with God." Mormon scripture expands on identifying who Enoch was, and teaches that he established a perfect city--a Zion, if you will--and because he and his followers were so righteous, they were taken into heaven. During the millennium, this city of Enoch will return to earth and become one with the new Zion.

A kingdom established in celestial laws, a people the Lord can accept
A New Jerusalem it will be, a land of refuge, a city of peace
Upon every dwelling the Lord shall create
A cloud for a covering, a flaming


The inhabitants of Zion will live God's celestial law. Their city will be God's chosen city as Jerusalem was in ancient times. God shall protect these sincere disciples in a symbolic way like he protected the children of Israel of old.

Rather than fluff, I quite like the song, and find it full of rich biblical symbolism. I, do not, however like the author of the hymn.

As for the rest of your post ... well, it seems to mostly be a garbled bunch of nonsensical rants littered with an attitude of cultural elitism that is both narrow-minded and inconsiderate.

Anonymous said...

christopher- I will admit that I have cultural biases. They are inevitable and it's worth some effort to identify them so we can neutralize their effect and see what's true and enduring. I have tried to do that. How successful I've been it's hard to say because emotions kick in when the abuse of children and strongly held religious views enter the picture.

I had no intent to mock the emotional disconnect I see in the women of YfZ. I observed it and I think it's a relevant piece of this onslaught of information. I also think it's a trait that developed over a significant period of time rather than in the last 3 weeks. Abuse and/or a pattern of intimidation make sense to me as factors that would produce such disconnected and remote behavior. If they don't to you I'd be interested in what you think produces it because it's not a personality trait we see in conventional populations.

I will admit I am not all that familiar with Carolyn Jessop's previous statements. I didn't folllow Warren Jeff's trial all that carefully. She may have given statements that dispute the one I have heard recently. But I can't say that I agree with your characterization of her as an angry woman.

If she has experienced what she says she has, I can understand how she could be angry indeed. But my observation of her is that she is lucid and measured in her statements. I have to take her evaluation of life in a closed polygamous colony at face value because there aren't many eyewitnesses and what she says fits the generally accepted assessment. I genuinely believe she has the interests of those children and truth in mind. On this I could also be wrong but that's how it seems to me. Right or wrong, I'm not terribly ambiguous but I admit my fallibility.

DNA results that will eventually be in evidence will make it more clear how close to right you, she or I am. I guess we have no choice but to wait and remain open to what the facts may be.


anonymous alice

Bored in Vernal said...

Thank you, Christopher, for your excellent responses. I couldn't agree more. Alice, I don't know if you are Mormon, but the song really resonates for me as a Latter-day Saint. The FLDS share a lot in common with us, and one of these things is their yearning for Zion.

As for the interviews with the women, to me they seemed innocent, untouched by the world, and, well...sweet. They have acheived the goal they have been striving for. The FLDS women I have known have been far from brainwashed, but on the contrary, exhibited strong and passionate beliefs. Just look at the pages written by the poor "brainwashed" polygamous early Mormon women in the Exponent Magazine. They articulately expressed their reasoning and their support of polygamy. We need not agree with their views, but these beliefs are not unusual if we look at world cultures over time.

Pligchild said...

Want the rest of the lyrics? Here you go:

A cloud for a covering, ...a flaming pillar by night

O Zion, put on thy beautiful garments
which are the Powers and gifts of His Spirit in you
Oh, hearken all Israel!
Live for the promise of God.
Our Savior shall dwell in our midst
For the household of faith he will stretch forth his arm
And bring forth the redemption of Zion.


There will be a people upon whose hearts
The Lord hath written His law
And all who remain be holy and pure
Then fear not, but trust in the Lord
For since the beginning have men not percieved
Or heard, or any eye seen
O Lord besides Thee, what Thou hast prepared
For him that hath watched and waited for Thee! (Hath waited for Thee!)

O Zion, put on thy beautiful garments
which are the Powers and gifts of His Spirit in you
Draw from the heavens His almighty power
To build and redeem again Zion

O hope of Isreal, come live the word of God!
For He will dwell in our midst!
Through the pure love of Christ, and His smile in our hearts
He will bring forth the redemption of Zion!

fldsview.blogspot.com

FrenchExpat said...

Great post! I am not FLDS, I am a Reform Mormon, on the other side of the spectrum, but Mormon Fundamentalism is an expression of our common Mormon faith, and I respect the FLDS denomination much more than the LDS one. As for your post, this situation in Texas is so sad and it makes me sick to see religiou freedom infringed in what is a witch-hunt for polygamist under the pretext of a hoax of a rape claim. Yes, maybe some FLDS are guilty of that sort of crime, but like in any other religions...

Anonymous said...

To anonymous alice... I have something to say to you. How about looking deeper into things and researching before you jump head first in to something you know NOTHING about! All those accusations against Warren are false.. If you were really looking for the truth you would see that those girls are making a big scene just so they will get attention. It's amazing how so many people believe everything they hear instead of trying to find out the real truth first. I am sure you would be very upset if someone started a big ol' rumor about you and you knew you didn't do it. Just think this over. It might help a little if you have a clue what you are digging your self into before you dig.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post.. very beautiful song.. But where is the rest of it?? The Whole song is about 8 or 10 minutes long I believe. anyways thanks again. :)

Holly in TN said...

I am not FLDS or LDS or even religious at all for that matter but I have a need, no, a duty, as an American to post a message here. What has been done to the families in Texas is an OUTRAGE! I would say that I am shocked but as I see our rights being violated on a whim daily here in Tennessee, I can't say I am suprised, but I am notheless ENRAGED! When I first heard the story on the news, I did what I always do and researched it myself. Since the children were taken I spent countless hours on the internet, read two books and made several phone calls so I could form my own informed opinion. These women seem to be excellent mothers that other Americans only wish they could be. The children seem happy, well behaved and well mannered. The sheltered life they choose is for the sole purpose of protecting thier innocent children from this sick and twisted country we call home. Idiots like Nancy Grace with her big mouth and closed minded bigotry make me sick! I am sorry this has happened. I can only hope these families can return to some form of normality and the children are not permenantly scarred. I personally know of Babtists that beat their wives and children, Catholics that molest children and Pentecostal snake handlers that place a copperhead in a babies hands. Why don't we just round up all the children of all these religions based on the acts of a few? While you are at it Big Brother, you might want to grab the children of Muslims since we know they are ALL breeding terrorists! It is a disgrace and I really wish the people of this country would stop and think how close we are all getting to reliving Nazi Germany right here in the good ol' US.