Thursday, April 26, 2012

Boydshake


Sometimes, when I consider moving on from this blog to something else, I look at the number of hits the blog has received. The number just keeps increasing. It passed thirty thousand a few weeks back. I know that actually successful blogs get that many hits in an hour, but seriously…I don’t really know even 3,000 people. The little attention junky inside me gets excited as the numbers go up.

Boyd K Packer (President of the quorum of twelve apostles for the LDS church) has something to say about men getting excited:

There is, however, something you should not do. Sometimes a young man does not understand. Perhaps he is encouraged by unwise or unworthy companions to tamper with that factory. He might fondle himself and open that release valve. This you shouldn't do, for if you do that, the little factory will speed up. You will then be tempted again and again to release it. You can quickly be subjected to a habit, one that is not worthy, one that will leave you feeling depressed and feeling guilty. Resist that temptation. Do not be guilty of tampering or playing with this sacred power of creation. Keep it in reserve for the time when it can be righteously employed.
One of you, perhaps, has not fully understood until now. Perhaps your father did not talk to you. You may already have been guilty of tampering with these powers. You may even have developed a habit. What do you do then?
First, I want you to know this. If you are struggling with this temptation and perhaps you have not quite been able to resist, the Lord still loves you. It is not anything so wicked nor is it a transgression so great that the Lord would reject you because of it, but it can quickly lead to that kind of transgression. It is not pleasing to the Lord, nor is it pleasing to you. It does not make you feel worthy or clean.
There are ways to conquer such a habit. First of all, you must leave that factory alone long enough for it to slow down. Resisting is not easy. It will take weeks, even months. But you can get the little factory slowed back to where it should be. “ – Boyd K Packer General Conference Priesthood Session, October 2, 1976

There is a bit of cold water thrown on my party when I notice how many folks get to my site by searching for pictures of Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus or for the phrase "little Titis". The internet is a vast and immature place where viscous banal information is the undertow washing people onto its far-flung shores.

I should get with the program rather than ignoring it.

So…here is a picture of Boyd K Packer singing Kelis’s megahit: “Milkshake”.



Hollywood grew to be the most flourishing factory of popular mythology since the Greeks. -- Alistair Cooke 


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fifty-Cent Gas

Last September Gordon Moon was indicted for failure to report sexual abuse of a child. It looks like he is going to trial, and he faces five years in prison.

Sexual abuse of children is probably one of those things where if there were good ways of gathering statistics about it then there should be good ways of making those data zero. To compare severities and frequency one has to compare reports and news stories. For instance, at the same time the 43-year-old Gordon was being indicted a 40-year-old man from Vernal Utah (a VERY small, VERY rural, town near where I live) was sentenced to five-years-to-life in Salt Lake County for repeatedly raping his teenage daughter on a farm in that county. The story got very little news attention.

Gordon Moon is a prominent member of a small community in Duchene country. Duchene County is famous for oil shale. Gordon was on the school board,  a bishop, and a smiling star in a sage-brush dynastic family. It is actually in his role as a bishop that he ran afoul of the law.

It is strange to compare severities because doing so appears to diminish one event over another. The case Gordon failed to report was that of one teenager having sex with another. This sounds so much less severe than the Salt Lake Farm Incest (SLFI) case. However, the girl in the Gordon case felt “terrorized” by her abuser, and his family. One of the things we must keep in mind is the effect on society the criminal act has. Follow-on abuse and terror are certainly aggravating factors in any case.
Gordon had allegedly counseled the victim to: “think about what (the boy) is going through, and I don't need to start telling the cops or anything because he's already going to have to go through a bunch of repentance and all that stuff”.
Sentencing is also a poor way of judging severity. There are often disclosures and plea bargains that can reduce both sentences and charges. In the SLFI case it came to light that the defendant was re-creating a family dynamic he had learned as a child. When the SLFI defendant was 22 his father stopped raping his sister; his father had been at it since the SLFI defendant was 15.

The way I read the story, and stories in the local paper sometimes have to be translated from clusterspeak, the SLFI defendant father (SLFI-Dad) had raped SLFI's sister continually from the time she was 11 until she was 18. At 18 SLFI-Mom found out about it and she went to the local bishop (I think there are only something like 20 families in Vernal, but I’ll have to look that up) who then called in SLFI-Dad who fessed up. SLFI-Dad was then excommunicated from the LDS church.

So, you see how severity can be a difficult thing to determine? To me the whole SLFI thing sounds like a rejected script for a “The Hills Have Eyes” sequel. I will admit to not only having watched “The Hills Have Eyes 2”, but owning it on DVD; the SLFI script sounds like it might even have worked better than what they settled for.

Gordon attempted to silence the victim that came to him for support. Instead of listening to their bishop the victim and her family went to law enforcement. Vernal (Which is a small city in Duchene County) may be almost 1,000-times larger than Vernon, but it is still a small enough town where everyone knows the identities of its accusers. The stress the already-abused Gordon-accusing family is experiencing is unimaginable to most big-city folks.

The story comments the internet has washed up are undoubtedly only a taste of the humid vitriol dripping from the foul breath of local accusers; many of them may not be literate enough to stoke internet flames. What needs to happen before healing can really begin in that brave family? In the SLFI-Dad case the abused girl was simply sent home to silently handle her situation. According to Gary Searle, chief deputy attorney for the Tooele County Attorney’s Office that resulted in a whole lot of healing.
“There have been things that have happened in the family — healing, those kinds of things — which have gone on and they were looking for a result that would allow them to move forward rather than in a typical sex abuse case where the family’s looking for some serious punishment,” Gary Searle, chief deputy attorney for the Tooele County Attorney’s Office.
Perhaps Gordon was only thinking of the healing process for the girl that came to him. Perhaps he knew that silence is a better salve for injury than justice, or at least it sounds that way.

SLFI-Dad was sentenced this week to 15 years in prison, and given $30,000.00 in fines. That is only about two years in jail and $4,000.00 in fines per year that the SLFI-Dad abused his daughter; sounds lenient to me. All but 180 days and $1,500 were suspended. That is less than a month per year, and a little over fifty cents per day for the abuse. I don’t think that would cover the gas money required to even attempt a seven-year stint of most misdeeds.

No charges are even being considered for the SLFI-Bishop.

So Gordon’s real crime may have been in simply being unsuccessful. If the girl had just gone home and shut her mouth then eventually his problem would have gone away.

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.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Getin Jenky With It

I believe Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC lives in the great state of Illinois, and could therefore take a boat to Canada. He might violate a few border laws if he did not get the correct clearance first, and it is a long way by boat. But he could travel the length of Lake Michigan, hang a left at Cheboygan, and be in Canada.

I think Jenky would like Canada. True, it is not as “Christian” as the USA (with only 77% of the population being Christian as opposed to 78.4% of the folks in the USA) but it is close. The big difference would be the amount of Catholics. Roman Catholics in the US only account for 23.9% of the population, but in Canada they are a whopping 43.2 %.

I personally like Canada for a number of reasons. Here are a couple of them:
  1. They are the second largest country on earth by landmass, and have a much smaller population than the US. This gives the country tons of wilderness space. Much of it is awesome.
  2. They have universal healthcare. Everything that is an approved procedure is paid for by the government.
  3. They have no legal restrictions on abortions or vasectomies.
Catholic religious institutions run 87 of the state funded hospitals in Canada. I am lead to believe that, unlike the Santa Creu i Sant Pau Catholic hospital in Barcelona Spain, the Catholic Hospitals in Canada do not regularly perform abortions or vasectomies. In other words the Canadians have figured out how to have a much more comprehensive public healthcare system with fewer legal restrictions than exist in the US, and all the Catholic everything has not been forced to shut down.

Why would I bring this up? Surely Bishop Jenky knows all this? In a recent public religious address (The April 14th homily at men's march and Mass in Peoria- podcast available at: http://www.cdop.org/pages/ABishopPodcast.aspx ) the Most Reverend Danny Jenky compared president Obama to Hitler and Stalin (and Otto Von Bismark for good measure) in his desire to support federal healthcare legislation (Obamacare) which would destroy everything. You think I’m engaging in my usual hyperbole? Perhaps I am a bit, but less than usual. Here is a quote from Dan’s homily:

“This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries -- only excepting our church buildings – could easily be shut down. Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the instrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb.

No Catholic ministry – and yes, Mr. President, for Catholics our schools and hospitals are ministries – can remain faithful to the Lordship of the Risen Christ and to his glorious Gospel of Life if they are forced to pay for abortions.”

All this shuttering will happen because of some legislation which is considerably less like funding abortions was passed in the US. I don’t think what is working for the Catholic Church in Canada is like them being forced to pay for abortions and vasectomies; it is just that what is happening in the USA is much less like it. I’m trying to figure out where Jenky is coming from in his hyperbolic attack, and then take a couple steps back towards reality (not necessarily all the way back) till I enter an area I like to call “sane”.

It floors me that people for whom a Church pulpit has been purchased spout such vitriol from it, and blame it on their theoretically “loving” god. Because our president has pushed a healthcare package forward that will improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, and may even prevent the untimely death of thousands, he is labeled a mass murderer like Hitler and Stalin?

Go figure; eh?

Murrah

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." – Voltaire

Until September 11th 2001 April 19th 1995 was the date associated with the most horrible act of terrorism perpetrated against United States. This attack was perpetrated by a man who at one point famously stated that: “Science is my religion”. This has been used as proof that Timothy McVeigh was an atheist, and that his atheistic lack of morals allowed him to plan and carry out the deadly attack. Unfortunately this idea is partially true.

McVeigh was certainly confused about his belief system. In addition to the obvious moral shortcomings evidenced by his Oklahoma City attack his statements underscore his confusion. He was raised strictly Roman Catholic and boasted maintaining “core beliefs”. McVeigh also was quoted espousing a very deist god. Since any of these three belief systems would have raised moral questions long before McVeigh’s bomb was detonated he must have used a patchwork morality which he could arrange to justify his actions.

McVeigh was obsessed with the Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents. He even camped out at Waco while the events now synonymous with that town were unfolding. Each of these prior incidents was steeped in cultist-religious absurdities. Randy Weaver was associated with the hate-steeped Aryan Nations and Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord “Christian” churches. David Koresh lead an apparently polygamist sub-cult of the Branch Dravidians. Both groups collected firearms to use against government intrusion, and either would appear to be fertile ground for McVeigh’s terrorist plot to grow to fruition in. McVeigh even timed his attack to coincide with the second anniversary of the Waco event to draw parallels to it. Either group could have provided philosophical motivation.

However, McVeigh’s crippled morality did not spring from either of the groups whose events motivated his attack. He had pieced together a fantasy conspiracy out of fragmentary theories concocted from semi-analyzed evidence. A cottage conspiracy industry has developed in the US, and Timothy McVeigh is its most alarming product.

In 1964, when President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, a simple splotch noticed in the corner of a few frames of film spawned the most famous of all conspiracy theories. In 1992 the Waco standoff yielded hundreds of thousands of frames of potential conspiracy generating video. Phantom gunfire, tanks with trap-doors, secret passages, and more increasingly bizarre evidence. Each second was analyzed, and re-analyzed, by true believers who knew they could find something if they looked hard enough.

Millions were spent in congressional investigations spurred by increasingly shrill calls for “truth”. Blame was found, and blame was probably immorally avoided. The great shadowy government conspiracy was not uncovered (it never is; is it?), but it was that conspiracy which Timothy McVeigh attacked in Oklahoma. The limp bodies of children whose lives he snuffed out on that April day were “collateral Damage”.

McVeigh knew that the US government killed people with impunity. He knew this partially because he had done killing for the US government while on active duty in the first gulf war. He referenced the killing he had done when discussing how he became a terrorist. He also spoke about his wartime experiences when he mentioned his desire to commit suicide. He described the Murrah building attack as “State-assisted suicide” at one point.

Despite his sometimes rambling disjointed motivations McVeigh remained resolute on the topic of conspiracy. His attack had the higher purpose of bringing down the shadow-conspiracy that was treasonously defiling the constitution.

His conviction put a six-and-a-half-year damper on the main-stream acceptance of conspiracy theories.

After 9/11 conspiracy theories spewed forth like the contents of a pop-bottle that had been shook for years. The WTC towers may not have been hit by planes. They may have been hit by planes with secret “pods” attached. The planes may have been special cargo-plane missiles, or the missiles may have been fired at the same time the planes hit so their effect could be covered up. Then there is the issue of “secondary explosives”.

The nonsense has found a ready republic. One poll suggested that over a third of the US population believes that the WTC towers came down as a result of a government conspiracy. That is way over 100 million believers.

If each person who believed in the government conspiracy 911 theories donated a thousand dollars to the presidential campaign of one candidate they could probably get them elected. Once they controlled the presidency would they still so adamantly believe in government conspiracies?




Saturday, April 14, 2012

Polygamy Polynomial

The other day I received advice on how to increase my “Happiness Quotient”. My immediate thought was: “What the heck* is a Happiness Quotient anyway?”.

I tried to simply ‘understand’ that the person dispensing the advice was trying to be nice –he was smiling- but I had this nagging feeling that something was not right.

Ever seen a vacuum salesman at work? They throw some fake dirt on a carpet and then make a big deal of vacuuming it up. I am usually left thinking: “Fake dirt?”, or: “Is my wallet still in my pocket?”. I had similar mixed feelings of skeptical concern when I heard the term “Happiness Quotient”.

I looked this term up and found out that it is a very popular term. Everyone is trying to increase their “Happiness Quotient”. So the term “Happiness Quotient” must really mean something or it is some powerfully viral bull-hockey*.

I know what a quotient is. If I divide the number 10 by the number 5 then the quotient is 2. In other words a quotient is the number of times one quantity is found in another quantity. In order to understand what a “Happiness Quotient” is I need only find out what these two quantities are.

I immediately thought that pleasant events could be one, and life could be the other. Then the “Happiness Quotient” could be the number of pleasant events in one’s life. This sounds good, but it is more of an enumeration rather than a division problem. If we divide the span of a pleasant event into the span of a life the quotient is the number of potential pleasant events, not a measure of pleasantness. Division is the wrong way of using these numbers to arrive at a measure whose increase is a good thing.

Thinking that I was going at it wrong I searched for some assistance. What quantities does one use to calculate a “Happiness Quotient”? After some searching it appears that a “Happiness Quotient” is simply rated, and subjectively rated at that. There are many studies that apparently correlate perceived happiness with some objective measure, like income. In other words – no division. I get the feeling that someone looked at happiness measures and thought: “I remember quotient is some quantity from math class and math is hard so it sounds really really really cool”, and so the “Happiness Quotient” was born.


Money is a very important part of people discussing the “Happiness Quotient”. This may be because they are being paid to write about it. I make money when people click on the ads put up automatically on the sidebar. So far I have earned in slight excess of sixty seven cents. Trying to calculate that rate of return suggests the creation of a quantity that could be called: “the starvation integral”. Luckily the upshot of what people say about “Happiness Quotient” and income is that one is not needed for the other. The use of old quotes is popular; suggesting that people have known this forever and you need to get on board or be stupid.

“Who is wealthy? The one who is happy with his portion.” -- Talmud


“Money can never buy happiness or love.” -- Ancient Chinese Saying


“A man is rich in proportion to the things he can afford to let alone.” -- Henry David Thoreau

Unfortunately, despite all this pithy ancient knowledge to the contrary, wealthy people (according to these ‘studies’) think that they are happier. I found it interesting that at least one person quantified the amount of happiness that money provided.

“Boosting the frequency of sex in a marriage from once a month to once a week brings as much happiness as an extra $50,000 a year.”


Which made me wonder: “How rich could I be if I put all my effort into it (and –y’know- ate a lot of vitamins E and C)?”. Because of the menstrual cycle of women is happiness from heterosexual sex best modeled by some trigonometric function? Shortly I began thinking –since I live in Utah- that there might be some sort of polygamy polynomial that could be used to boost one’s happiness. If one had two wives would increasing the frequency of coitus make for a happiness quadratic? Could bonding of the sister wives with each other lead to cubic happiness terms?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Smart Crowds

Last night Elizabeth Smart spoke at the local high school. The parking lot was as packed as I have ever seen it; suggesting that the crowd gathered to hear her story rivaled or surpassed events like graduation. This was a big event; even the minor Osmonds do not draw such crowds when they come to town.

The Smart event relied on local, mostly word-of-mouth, promotion. The event was catered by Elizabeth Smart’s catering business. Tickets were not that expensive either. A winning combination for a small Utah city. Contrast that with today’s (11 April 2012) 7 PM screening of “The Day My God Died” at the Rose Wagner performing arts center in Salt Lake City. That event features a special post screening Q+A with Anuradha Koirala and Executive Producer Geralyn Dreyfous. That event is free (sponsored by Rio Tinto) highly publicized, and occurring in a famous event center rather than a high-school auditorium. I doubt it will match the draw even the least of the Osmonds could achieve in Tooele.

The movie “The Day My God Died” is about children being abducted from their homes to be used as sexual slaves. Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her home at age 14, and forced to become Brian David Mitchell’s plural wife.

To be somewhat more balanced I should point out that between Elizabeth’s abduction on June 5th 2002, and when she was recognized walking around the suburban city of Sandy in the company of her abductors on March 12th 2003 her photo was a constant staple of local newscasts. Elizabeth Smart was a pretty blond girl from an affluent family who’s knife-point abduction from her parent’s million-dollar home overlooking Salt Lake City was vividly witnessed by her younger sister. The media had caught Missing White Woman Syndrome, and they were hell-bent on infecting all of Utah. The victims highlighted in “The Day My God Died” are just a bit too brown-skinned and young to garner the same kind of attention that Elizabeth got.

Shortly after Elizabeth was abducted Brian Mitchell’s other wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee, ritualistically washed her feat, dressed her in robes, and prepared her for her wedding to Brian Mitchell. This is similar to the ritual exploitation regularly forced on teenage women in polygamist communities all over Utah. Barzee’s complicity to child rape was arguably less than that of Warren Jeffs’s whose conviction would not stick in Utah’s courts. On November 17th 2009 Barzee was sentenced in Salt Lake City to 15 years for her part in Elizabeth’s ordeal. Barzee is currently serving the last four and a half years of her 15-year sentence at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Texas. Jeffs is also serving time in Texas.

It is coming up on the 10th anniversary of Elizabeth's abduction. In the nine years since she was freed she has been a darling of the media. Just over 18 months after she was freed Elizabeth took to the stage to perform an opening harp solo of the US National Anthem for a sold out Toby Keith concert in Salt Lake City (November 6th 2004). Toby Keith is an ultra-patriotic country singer who penned super hits like “Angry American (courtesy of the Red White and Blue)” { And you'll be sorry that you messed with The U.S. of A. 'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass It's the American way} so performing the national anthem before one of his concerts is an honor, but I’d never heard of a harp soloist doing it before. People magazine has featured her on their cover at least twice. The latest time for her recent “Dream Wedding” in the Hawaii LDS temple. Now she is on a motivational speaker tour to sold out venues like Tooele High School.

During Elizabeth’s captivity she became convinced that she was indeed married to Mitchell. She wore wigs, dark glasses, and disguised her voice in public so that she would not be recognized and separated from her “husband”. For the nine months she was captive Elizabeth was often in the public company of Mitchell. Mitchell was a itinerant preacher who attracted attention. One photographer who snapped a picture of Mitchell quaffing a beer at a large party recalled the two women dressed in robes that accompanied him. Thought he did not bother to discover their identities he believed that they were Mitchell’s plural wives, one of them was Elizabeth Smart. Even after she was separated from Mitchell by police it took several minutes of intense direct questioning for Elizabeth to reveal her identity.

Mitchell called himself “Immanuel” and carried around a book revealed directly to him by god that was titled "Book of Immanuel David Isaiah". Three days after Elizabeth was freed the LDS-owned Deseret News published Immanuel’s revelations in full.
"I, the Lord brought forth out of obscurity and out of darkness through my servant Joseph Smith, Jr. And by the hand of my servant Joseph, I, the Lord God, Jehovah, brought forth out of the bowels of the earth the Book of Mormon, which book contains my true doctrine, and stands with the Bible to witness for my name unto all the earth, to show unto all people that I am the very Christ who suffered and died for their sins, and rose again the third day, that all men who will believe in me, and will repent, and be baptized in my name, shall have eternal life."
The revelations go on-and-on. They basically praise Mormonism with a few caveats and additions. Immanuel uses the word “verily” a whole lot. Immanuel made flesh as Brian Mitchell kept his revelations secret to prevent his possible excommunication from the Church he loved. They were discovered along with some pictures of naked children shortly before he abducted Elizabeth. Immanual went from active member to excommunicated in a mater of days. The Church kept the fact that they had discovered Immanuel’s pedophilic pictures quiet until after Immanuel was safely in Jail for Elizabeth’s abduction.

While an active member of the mainstream LDS church Immanuel eked out a living by milking his relationship to the religiosity of more affluent members of the LDS church. He was quoted as saying “The Lord Will Provide”. He made a rickety handcart replica for one patron. He did some odd jobs for the Smarts.

After her “marriage” to Immanuel was terminated by the state Elizabeth was not continually in the bright spotlight. She served a two-year mission in Paris for the LDS church. She was seen playing harp on Paris streets hoping to attract attention for the LDS church through her musical skills and story.

What would she tell potential converts? That there is this book of revelations directly from god to a convicted con-artist you should read? That this same man was tarred and feathered for plurally marrying very-very-young teenagers? That These revelations used the word "verily" a whole lot and described cataclysmic events? That you should believe like she does that these are divine scriptures because she knows in her pretty blond heart that they are true, and that knowledge provides emotional and spiritual comfort to her?



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Verily, even the gum was blessed

In May of 1997 the LDS church razed the Deseret gym (161 N Main in SLC) to construct their new conference center. The conference center now dwarfs the temple situated in it’s high-walled compound just across north Temple street from it. The blocky white conference structure sports a multi-story waterfall, and roof-top-gardens; several people have mentioned it’s resemblance to a portion of what they imagine Babalonia’s ancient hanging gardens to have looked like.

The Deseret gymnasium which the conference center replaced was an impressive place to exercise. In addition to the basketball courts needed to hone up ones church-ball moves it had handball, racquetball and squash courts; a running track; two swimming pools; weight-training rooms; an aerobics room; and a golf practice range. When the LDS prophet Gordon Hinkley announced at the annual spring conference in April of 1997 that the Deseret Gym would be closing on May 1st it caused a minor reaction. Some complained that: “the Deseret Gym is truly a first-rate, first-class facility and has many, many productive years ahead of it to serve the Salt Lake area's exercise aficionados.”

The Deseret Gym had been dedicated on January 5th 1965. That is was still considered a 1st-rate facility after 30 years of continual use speaks to the loving maintenance it received. The most famous maintainer of the Deseret Gym was Appellee Mayson.

Appellee had not worked at the Deseret Gym for over 15 years when it was torn down. He had been fired, but not for any irregularities in his performance on the job; he was fired for failing to maintain his temple recommend.

The church readily conceded that Appelle’s job was in no way "even tangentially related to any conceivable religious belief or ritual of the Mormon Church or church administration". The Deseret Gym was open to the public, and non-Mormons often exercised there. However, the LDS church maintained that any facility or enterprise that it owned, or owned a substantial financial interest in, could require a temple recommend for employment if it chose to.

I’m sure that Janitorial work is not one of the LDS Church’s higher callings, and sometimes it is necessary to hire unrecommended janitorial staff. However, the Church maintained that it had the right to fire anyone on the basis of religious status regardless of any existing civil rights laws. In 1987 the US Supreme Court agreed [CORPORATION OF PRESIDING BISHOP v. AMOS, 483 U.S. 327 (1987)] .

I should point out that having a temple recommend is different from being a Mormon. There is no indication that a failure to believe wholeheartedly in all the tenets of the Mormon church was any part of the determination that Appellee was unfit to maintain the gymnasium. Of course I guess not believing in Mormon dogma would be a reason to lose a temple recommend, but it is not the only reason. One can lose a temple recommend for a variety of reasons while remaining - at heart - a true-believing Mormon. Losing a temple recommend means failing a -sometimes intense- background investigation.

Less than a decade before Appellee was terminated the temple recommend background investigation officially considered race; African American people were considered “cursed” and immediately failed.

There are few official guidances on the temple recommend procedure, and interpretation of the guidances differs widely from bishop to bishop. The temple recommend is sometimes called a “bishop’s recommend” because of this.

What did the Supreme Court decide when it upheld the LDS Church’s right to discriminate in its employment for its completely secular activities on the basis of an arbitrary “worthyness” investigation?


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Family-Friendly Parks


“Attorney General Tom Horne says women are virtual slaves in the polygamist community of Colorado City.”


I believe AG Horne is being metaphorical in the above statement. I do not think he is literally referring to some sadomasochistic FaceBook game, nor do I think this is an advertisement for really interesting garage sales in Northern Arizona. I beleive Horne is talking about the actions of Arizona police officers who enforce the religiously-motivated mistreatment of women in a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) controlled community.

This is the community made famous when it’s leader (Warren Jeffs) tried to establish a compound in Texas, and was convicted of raping a 12 and a 15-year old girl. He was also convicted in the state of Utah where he undoubtedly performed and supervised many times the number of rapes conducted in Texas, but that conviction was overturned on appeal, and Utah’s AG has decided not to pursue it further. I pointed out in a previous essay how Jeffs has been under suspicion of raping both male and female children in the state of Utah for decades, but he moves to Texas and –BAM- he is knees-down on a concrete floor praying for soap-on-a-rope in less than a tenth that time.

Jeffs has not been spiritually idle while he has been a guest of the state of Texas. Using the prison phone he has been delivering sermons that are piped into a loudspeaker system back in Utah. The number of male excommunications (always quite high) has also increased; over a hundred in the last year or so. Jeffs also published a 149-page book of revelations from prison, with at least 20 ALL-NEW-NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN revelations straight from god.

Male excommunication is actually one of the practices that contributes to the metaphorical slavery of women in the FLDS communities. Men who are excommunicated are severed from contact with their wives, and since they have no legally-recognized marriage to them there is no legal recourse. Women who are severed from their husband are then re-assigned to new husbands. I do not know the specifics of the bidding process for determining the re-assignment, but outsiders are not permitted to bid.

Many male children are simply driven out of the FLDS towns before they are given the Malkesedak Priesthood. They are collectively known as Utah’s “Lost Boys”, and have been an endemic for many years. Female children are assigned to husbands; usually before the age of 13.

The local police (the self named “Marshal’s Office") are not only complicent in these matters they can be called upon to forcibly remove excommunicated men from their homes. There is a steady stream of teary stories of families torn-apart by male excommunication.

Lorin Holm (age 54) was excommunicated on January 9th of 2011. He tells how he was called to a meetinghouse, surrounded by 25 men, and told he was unworthy. In the newspaper article Holms tearfully describes trips to Zion’s National park with his family that he would miss. In an instant he was torn away from his three wives and 25 children.

You know…Lorin’s is a heart wrenching story…until you get to the “three wives and 25 children” part. There is no mention as to how many wives had been re-assigned to him after he had declared another male unworthy. There is no mention as to how old the wives actually were when they were first married. There is no mention as to how many of his 25 children had already been assigned to marriage to one of the other FLDS members. Lorin was a sustaining member of the community he now says victimized him. The only true victims are the three wives and 25 children, and they have been silent.

In January of this year a group of FLDS men occupied a structure (an old schoolhouse) owned by an excommunicated FLDS member who was apparently planning on using it to have a meeting of other excommunicated FLDS members. The police were called, and (those that were on duty and not inside the occupied structure) refused to do anything about it. The Sheriff from dozens of miles away had to be called in for the excommunicated man to reclaim his property. I know of no disciplinary actions filed as a result of this targeted inaction.

I wrote a couple of pieces about local police (probably because some were involved) refusing to investigate the theft and partial burning of over $10,000.00 worth of books. I wrote of how a woman “escaped” her household only to be surrounded in the house she escaped to (I actually think it may have been the same fellow who owned the occupied schoolhouse) by an angry mob that the local police refused to disband. There are probably dozens of other violent activities engaged in by the local police; all of which have gone undisciplined.

That is not to say that the local police have gone completely undisciplined. Half a dozen of them in Utah alone (over half the Utah-side police force) have been decertified as law enforcement officers over the past years. Most for proclaiming their “allegiance to the FLDS prophet [Jeffs] above the law” when he was on the run to avoid prosecution. Others for “misconduct with minors” uncovered in that same investigation.

The community of ShortCreek spans the Arizona-Utah border; it is Colorado City in Arizona, and Hilldale in Utah. The police decertifications apparently occurred at about the same rate on either side of the border. The resulting stain on public decency was dealt with in very different ways.

In Arizona SB 1433 (2012) was quickly passed, and designated as an emergency measure to speed its incorporation into the law. It would completely disband any police force where over half the force had been decertified as long as:

THE REASONS FOR THE REVOCATIONS ARE BASED ON SYSTEMIC ISSUES AND NOT SOLELY ON INDIVIDUAL POLICE OFFICER MISCONDUCT.” –Arizona SB 1433 (2012) {they apparently have a broken caps-lock key}


The bill goes on to require that corrective action be identified which would be required before, after five years, they could apply for re-instatement. It was in support of this bill that Arizona AG Horne made the banner statement on this entry.

Utah began a bill similar to the Arizona bill, but Utah has a different population than Arizona. Utah has tens of thousands of FLDS-like polygamist Mormons. Many main-stream Mormons have strong ties to the polygamists. Mitt Romney’s grandfather was a member of a polygamist sect that abandoned the US and escaped to Mexico (where his father was born). Before the Utah bill got voted on it was clear it was dead. It was argued that the bill might affect too many small communities in Utah.

As a side note I should write something about those Mexican polygamists. Their story makes that of Warren Jeffs appear mild. It is complete with designated hit squads and at least one group of brainwashed female assassins shooting up a chiropractor’s office.

I’ve actually had people seriously argue that what the police department in Hilldale does is not all bad, and that they should be granted amnesty because of that. What kind of moral code is that? If you take your family to the park you should be able to keep them as slaves?