Saturday, April 21, 2012

Church of the First Born

When I state that I am of two minds when it comes to polygamy I become intrigued by the idea that bipolar disorder might make bigamy legal. Then the latest news delivers some tidbit of information that causes me to realize that I don’t have the option of choosing at which times I view polygamy as either unobtrusive adult play or sickness.

I really want to picture polygamy as a bunch of consenting adults engaging in what consulting adults should engage in; namely whatever they generally want. There is something that is particularly interesting about the concept that two or more people might reach a consensus on shared responsibility and mutual pleasure that goes against the grain of cultural norms. That kind of experimentation is what could result in a better future for our species.

Then I read some news story. The latest concerns the conviction of a couple of the leaders of one of the many polygamist sects in Utah. Geody Harman plead guilty to raping Terrill Dalton’s 15 year old daughter at his command. Terrill, who apparently goes by the name "Holy Ghost” when it suits him, was convicted in March, with the help of Harman’s testimony, of raping this same daughter when Harman was done with her. The rapes occurred over the mountains from where I live in the high-density Salt Lake City suburb of Magna. Dalton and Harman’s sect is called “the Church of the First Born and the General Assembly of Heaven” and elements of it can be found all over the west.

Polygamists in the Mormon tradition are child-raping incestuous criminals who use social structures to avoid lawful society and prey upon the weak. Not a month passes when there is not a report of abandoned children, girls beaten almost to death for not marrying some old man, rapes upon rapes, monetary misdeeds, and other incredible behavior. If these polygamist “communities” were gangs or the mob their actions would fit more comfortably into the context their names suggest. Because we name the communities after the sexual activities of their male members they sound less criminal.

The state of Utah is especially poor at discovering and prosecuting the crimes against humanity that these groups perpetuate. This is because the history of the majority church in Utah established child-raping incestuous activity as a pathway to righteousness. Though I’m sure the majority of the LDS church would like the child-raping-incest crimes to stop they would prefer them to simply go away under the blind eye of their concerned ignorance than actually do anything about it. Every time a prosecution of a child-raping polygamist hits the news it is a reminder that the exalted prophet of god and founder of the Mormon Church was convicted of child rape (admittedly not in an acceptable trial) and tarred and feathered for his crime.

It is impossible to be a Mormon and not accept the child-rape-incest style of polygamy on some level. The standard line is that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s child raping was “consistent with the time”. I guess the idea is that in the early 1800s child rape was accepted, and that we should accept it as OK. Slavery was also OK in the USA in the early 1800s.

Mitt Romney is probably going to be the GOP candidate for president of the USA. In his famous speech where he addressed being a Mormon candidate (6 December 2007) he said: ‘My faith is the faith of my fathers - I will be true to them and to my beliefs.” Mitt Romney’s grandfather was a founder of the “Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times” a group that “escaped” to Mexico to perpetuate their child-raping incestuous activities there. Eventually, after Romney’s father George had left the sect, they dissolved into a rampage of murder theft and arson.

The name of the group that emerged victorious from the anarchy that befell Romney’s Church of the Firstborn was called the “Church of the Lamb of God”.

It is difficult to say how much the original “Church of the Firstborn” influenced this year’s “Church of the Firstborn” child-abusers. There is an understandable shroud of secrecy covering the organizations. It is impossible to tie Romney to this new crop of child rapes by anything other than his own words. His grandfather was a sustaining member of one of the craziest of “polygamist” communities and Mitt Romney maintained in a carefully-worded speech that he “will be true to them”. I’m sure he meant it in some acceptably mainstream and not in a child-raping-incest-fueled way though.

The “Church of the First Born and the General Assembly of Heaven” is one of many loosely-associated sects. They get their name from a bible quote:

"But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks." – 12 Hebrews 22-25 NIV

The reference to “Mount Zion” makes this passage especially attractive to Mormons. The use of the name today consistently implies the Mexican break-away sect and its founders. They are considered great men by those that can overlook their child raping incest as simply a cultural norm associated with the time.


LadyAtheist said...

This is one of the creepiest things I've read in a long long time. I wish I hadn't read it!

Is it a coincidence that most cults with a charismatic leader usually involve that leader having all rights to all the wimmin? and then if it's at all successful those rights will extend to the other men. Why aren't there any cults like that run by women? Very odd.

Charles Manson tried to get paroled last week. Even as an old man, I bet he would start up a group again if he got out, and he would have sex with all the women.

Makes me wonder about the parts of the Jesus cult story that never got written down.

adult onset atheist said...

Thanks for the comment.
I wonder what level of "charisma" is required to "seduce" a young teenager who is a economic (and in the case of the Mexican and southern Utah compounds geographic) prisoner? I guess I wish it was a lifestyle decision and not a pattern of abuse. Then there would be more productive ways of thinking about it than the gut-wrenching "How can we let this happen in our world" ones.

BTW we have another related phenomenon here. It is called the "Lost Boys". Undereducated teenagers are thrown off the isolated compounds as soon as it is legal to kick them out (16?). Abandoned and destitute they wash up en-mas onto the welfare system of the state. There are even unofficial homes just for them. The local paper had a story of one of the homes in a neighboring town recently.

Checked out your blog and liked it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this.

I confess to the same moments about confusion about polygamy, particularly when shows like "Sister Wives" make it seem relatively innocuous (except for the part where the husband seems to be a big kid on a perpetual series of sleep overs and the wives seem to have all the actual responsibility). More importantly, though, I don't see myself as a judgmental person and I don't want to presume that a life chosen by adults is "wrong" just because I'm uncomfortable with it.

Your post reminded me, however, that much of what is called "polygamy" is, in fact, child abuse. It's probably important to separate out non traditional lifestyles from criminal behavior.

In any case, your post made me feel that my qualms are not simple bigotry, and I'm grateful.