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 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?

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