An Outsider’s Look at the United Effort Plan

July 29, 2009
By

If you were in downtown Salt Lake City today, you may have noticed a large rally of over a thousand peacefully protesting polygamists. What is happening to the financial affairs of the FLDS right now seems completely inexplicable, but I need to try to understand what is going on.  And it seems to me to behoove every citizen of the United States to do the same.

FLDS Protest at Matheson Courthouse

This is going to be a vastly simplified version of events, as I understand them:

The FLDS are a group of people with Mormon restorationist roots who believe in principles espoused early in the history of our movement, such as plural marriage and consecration.  They formed a community with its base in Colorado City, on the Utah/Arizona border in the 1930s.  Their desire to live the Law of Consecration resulted in what became known as the United Effort Plan (UEP), which started as a subsidiary organization of the FLDS church.  Properties and businesses were owned by the UEP and members received trusts to live on and develop.

In 2005, The Attorney General of Utah filed a lawsuit and seized the holdings of the UEP in the FLDS communities of Hildale, Utah; Colorado City, Ariz.; and Bountiful, British Columbia in Canada. It was alleged that Warren Jeffs and other FLDS leaders had mismanaged it, including defaulting on a series of civil lawsuits.  An accountant, Bruce Wisan, was appointed to act as special fiduciary of the trust, with its estimated $100 million in assets.

First of all, I don’t understand the legal process that could seize control of this arrangement when the majority of its members wish to continue their involvement in the United Order.  Judge Denise P. Lindberg has stated in a recent ruling that because the trust is being used illegally, “to promote polygamy,” that distributing the land to the FLDS church is invalid and violates basic trust law.  Fundamentalist supporters make this argument:

“If a trust is declared invalid, shouldn’t it simply be dissolved and the assets revert back to original ownership (or as close to it as possible)? Does the state or any court have the power to absorb private trust assets or give them to other people, based on the fact that the state and/or court do not approve of the beliefs and or practices of the organizers or beneficiaries of said trust?”

Second, Wisan appears very hostile to the aims of the UEP.  Why would this Mormon Stake President be given control over how to manage the assets of several entire communities of people?  It’s been very, very disturbing to read reports of how the trust has been handled since he has become involved.    Perhaps I’m missing something, but of their own free will these people have legally signed their property over to their church.  Now, measures such as the sale of property set aside for a temple, and reforms designed to violate the rights of the FLDS to live their religion are being enacted.  Little notice is being taken of the desires of those who have entered into the trust and whose financial, emotional, and spiritual interests are at stake.

In Lindberg’s ruling, FLDS members and church representatives Willie Jessop, Dan Johnson, Merlin Jessop, Lyle Jeffs and James Oler were prevented from any input in the case involving the United Effort Plan (UEP) Trust.

“It is black letter law that potential beneficiaries of charitable trusts have no right to make claims upon such trusts,” she wrote. “Because the UEP Trust is a charitable trust, the only individuals with legally cognizable interests are the Utah and Arizona Attorneys General as representatives of the community, and the court-designated special fiduciary.”

In this country, we don’t take away an individual’s legal rights because he has had a consensual sexual relationship with a person other than his wife.  If this person prefers to call his relationship a marriage, and connects it with his religious practice, why is there suddenly a concerted effort to deprive him of his rights?

Principle Voices,” a support group for those involved in fundamentalist Mormon lifestyles, has voiced their opposition to

1) any ruling that deprives polygamists of the right to organize or manage a trust with their own assets.

2) any ruling that declares a trust formed by polygamists as “promoting illegal activities”, “invalid”, un-Constitutional, or “illegal”, simply because the organizers embrace plural marriage.

3) any ruling that deprives the FLDS (or any other polygamists) of the right to access their own assets or their right to self-governance. (By extension, substitute the name of any other group such as the Kingstons or the AUB, etc., in place of FLDS; we oppose any ruling or government action that would deprive any of those communities of their rights.)

4) any ruling or government action that establishes an inequity in the law that distinguishes, and diminishes, the rights of polygamists from the rights of other American citizens.

A group of people sympathetic to these points has gathered to stage a peaceful protest today (Wednesday, July 29), outside the Matheson courthouse in support of these concerns.  Here the court is considering the sale of the several hundred acres of land known as Berry Knoll which has been prophesied as the future site of their temple.   Do you disagree with their points?  Do you feel that the rulings being contemplated in the case of the UEP constitute an inequity in the law?  Do you believe, as I do, that Mormons and other citizens should have an interest in the outcome of these proceedings?

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95 Responses to An Outsider’s Look at the United Effort Plan

  1. annegb
    July 29, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I work with one of these women. I like her, she’s sweet and kind. She’s also whacked. She totally believes that the prophet is Warren Jeffs, or vice versa. I haven’t asked her much about her life as a plural wife, but her children were taken from her because they were molested by a 16 year old stepbrother. She’s heartbroken and feels this is persecution of polygamists. Maybe it is.

    She knows how I feel about Warren Jeffs; we just agree to disagree and are still friendly.

    I think this goes back to Arthur’s “life is complicated” conclusion.

    I live in southern Utah, surrounded by polygamist clans—many believe in different prophets. I am fairly judgemental about their standard of living, I believe they live in ignorance and poverty, to a large extent. I can’t speak for those from Colorado City….but the ones in my ward do not live well and they don’t seem happy. I feel very very sorry for their children.

    As to your questions, I don’t know. If I had to vote, I’d vote for more stringent government oversight. Because I know they are abusing children, and forcing very young girls to marry. It would be okay if the young ones had any choice, but they don’t get those four rights the polygamists are fighting for. The young boys out on the road, they don’t have any freedom to choose. There is a hypocrisy in their argument that belies its validity.

  2. Anon
    July 29, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Thanks for fleshing this out, BIV. Matt, Chris, and I were able to stop in for a bit. Matt put up a photo essay here.

  3. July 29, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Annegb, because we know that Mormons also abuse children (witness the recent scandal where the Seminary teacher had sex with a young girl under his charge), does it follow that we should take away their legal rights to do what they wish with their property?

  4. July 29, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Sorry, the anon posting was accidental, he he.

  5. javelin
    July 29, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    This is not about property. The U.S. government has the right to step in and protect the children. Since this is a closed community, there will be uncommon means in dealing with this situation. The regular Mormon church is not a closed community, so the issue in regards to property is irrelevant with the seminary teacher.

  6. brjones
    July 29, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    “In this country, we don’t take away an individual’s legal rights because he has had a consensual sexual relationship with a person other than his wife. If this person prefers to call his relationship a marriage, and connects it with his religious practice, why is there suddenly a concerted effort to deprive him of his rights?”

    This comment makes absolutely no sense. This is called polygamy, and it is illegal in this country. Furthermore, the United States Supreme Court has long since affirmed that outlawing polygamy is a legitimate government interest and is not an unconstitutional abridgement of the freedom of religion. In the alternative, if it’s not actually a marriage, then I think in many cases it constitutes statutory rape, since although a parent can give consent to the marriage of a minor child, they cannot, sofar as I know, consent to sex for that minor child outside of a marriage contract. So which is it, marriage or rape? Either way, it’s illegal and I’m surprsed, as always, to find any seemingly reasonable person expressing sympathy for this kind of behavior.

  7. brjones
    July 29, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    #3 – legal issues aside, the mormon church is not analagous to the FLDS situation for a number of reasons. First of all, the government suspects that child abuse is systemic within this community and is taking place on a widespread and institutional level. Because one seminary teacher has sex with a student does not indicate that the church itself is encouraging and cultivating systemic child abuse as is suspected with the FLDS church. Secondly, mormons are not required or encouraged to donate all their property to the mormon church, as are FLDS members.

  8. July 29, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Either way, it’s illegal and I’m surprsed, as always, to find any seemingly reasonable person expressing sympathy for this kind of behavior.

    Really? Surely reasonable people can disagree while still being reasonable, brjones. Besides, a lot of things that are illegal are seen by reasonable people as wrong (and sometimes rightfully so).

  9. javelin
    July 29, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Polygamy is hard to prove. The U.S. government does not recognize the marriages performed by FLDS men who don’t register each marriage. It is the first marriage that is usually registered. All others are live in companions. See the problem?

  10. brjones
    July 29, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    #9 – Javelin, were you asking me this question? I wasn’t sure. As I said before, if they’re not marriages, then they constitute statutory rape in many instances. Either way, it’s illegal.

  11. brjones
    July 29, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    #8 – Christopher, I agree with you that there is room for differing opinions. That said, much of the behavior that is known to have taken place on a large scale within the FLDS religion goes far beyond polygamy. I don’t particularly care if consenting adults want to be polygamists. It is illegal, so they’re taking their chances that they could be prosecuted, but I’m not particularly offended by it. That is very different from grown men marrying girls who are barely in their teens. Frankly, I don’t care if they had parental consent. That is disgusting, and I don’t know what’s more disgusting, the men who are doing it or the parents who are willingly handing their children over to become their victims. So while I understand that reasonable people can differ, I absolutely find it surprising, and a little disturbing, that reasonable people are sympathetic to that kind of behavior. That doesn’t mean I equate those who are sympathetic with the people who are engaged in the behavior. I just find it surprising that anyone would reserve their sympathies for the adults in this community, most of whom are complicit in this atrocious activity, if not direct participants, when, in my opinion, the only real victims here are the children. Those who have been victims of this sort of “marriage”, those who are being groomed for it, those who have been raised in fear of it, and those young men who have been banished from the community and sent to make their way in the world as young teenagers for no other reason than the perverts running this community don’t want to share the girls with them. If anyone wants to take a stab at defending this enterprise, have at it.

  12. Jenkins
    July 29, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I look at this as two distinct issues:
    #1 abuse of children. It is unlawful, however, unless the victim or someone close to the victim accuses someone the government can do little. Unless, of course you want big brother looking in your windows at night to see what is going on in there. It’s horrible this happens but when there is a closed community that feels persecuted by the law it is unlikely they will go to the law for help. The same type of situation occurs among groups of illegal immigrants.

    #2 polygamy. First, I don’t understand the difference between polygamy and what they portray college kids doing on television. Except the polygamist has a responsability toward his partners. The fact that this is part of their religion cannot be judged too harshly by any of us. To me the polygamy laws are an excuse to persecute some ‘weirdos’ that don’t dress like normal people or behave like normal people. I would hate to see heightened government controls over anyone, especially a religious group. Government may start by persecuting this group but next it might be any group that opposes gay marriage or teaches against abortion (after all, an abortion may be necessary because of incest).

    I do not want the government to have any excuse to persecute me or my religion. So I would be careful about which side of this issue you are speaking about. One does not mean the other is happening. However, in the current climate where polygamists feel like outsiders and law breakers they will not go to the authorities for protection and this enables bad people to control them more easily.

  13. Dexter
    July 29, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    How do you figure polygamy is at all like what college kids are doing?

  14. ahem
    July 29, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    If they are so closed and insular why have their homes, faces, children and religious beliefs dominated the media for the last several years. Do insular societies travel hundreds of miles to have their faces shown on national television. I don’t think they are insular at all – that certainly wouldn’t be any reason to single them out even if they were like javelin suggests. Because the government SUSPECTED something was the entire reason for the overeaching and tragic law enforcement fiasco and at the YFZ. After all the millions of dollars spent they have 10 men they have indicted (not proven) because they think they have enough stolen evidence to convince a jury that a religious marriage approved by the couple and the girls parents but not approved the all wise government, constitutes child abuse. Because the state refuses to recognize multiple marriages they CANNOT comply with the law. An 8 year old can and has received court permission to marry a man decades older than herself in TEXAS. It appears to me the FLDS have a far lower rate of abuse than society in general who claim teen sex is child abuse but their very culture, dress, and school sex education classes promote it from the cradle.

  15. July 29, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Neither abuse of children nor polygamy is at issue here. We may deplore the fact that a cocaine user takes or sells drugs to underage children. And we may prosecute him or incarcerate him for his crimes. HOWEVER we do not take away his property or his legal rights to form financial trusts with others completely separate from these other issues. And the fact that this is being done simply because a person is a member of a particular religious group is heinous. So many of these families are monogamous, or have nothing to do with the alleged abuses.

  16. July 29, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    I am very ambivalent about the FLDS, and it’s a bit bothersome. OT1H, I have no real sympathy for Warren Jeffs and the FLDS leaders, and no real problem with seeing them prosecuted where there’s evidence they’ve done wrong. OTOH, I have very real sympathy for those who believe they are following God’s will for them in the face of official persecution at the hands of the state. I disagree with them about that, but I do not see that disagreement as grounds to heap more persecution on them — I believe in the Eleventh Article of Faith.

    I very much have a problem with the feigned morality of those who look down their noses at people who sleep with multiple partners only when the people wish to call their relationship a marriage and see it as a responsibility rather than just a rotating orgy.

    I don’t see how the FLDS membership have forfeited their rights to a general say in how their property is handled even when they have placed it in a trust, with that will expressed in the trust agreement. If any portion of that trust agreement is found to be illegal, it can be amended to bring it into compliance with whatever governing law demands, and the remaining portions should still be followed. We’re not talking about an organized crime syndicate here. There is no racketeering involved in their property. If participation in the trust is being used to avoid legitimate debts (or legal fines), then that can be handled without taking total control of the trust and using that power to manipulate people to go against their consciences.

  17. javelin
    July 29, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    How do you know that these families are monogamous, or have nothing to do with alleged abuses? It sounds like you are being subjective instead of objective.

  18. Dexter
    July 29, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Polygamy is not about multiple wives and treating everyone with dignity. It’s about marrying off children to older men without their consent. It’s about abuse to the young girls and neglect of the young boys. This is not comparable at all to consenting adults who have sex. Anyone who thinks they are comparable is clueless.

  19. javelin
    July 29, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Polygamy is not about marrying off young girls to older men. It’s when a husband has more than one wife. Both apostles Elder Oaks and Nelson have two wives. Their first wife passed away, and they then got sealed to their second wife. They will have two wives in heaven. That’s polygamy.

    In today’s society, there is no reason to live in polygamy since we have moved away from the farming communities of long ago. You are right in saying that polygamy today leads to abuse to young girls and neglect of young boys.

  20. July 29, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Javelin, #17, the community of FLDS is varied, as are many such groups. An objective look at the Bishop’s list that was used in the court cases of the YFZ ranch, for instance, showed that of 37 listed family groups, 13 were monogamous. There were wives that were married at young ages to older men, and others who were married to young men their same ages. None of the men have yet been convicted of crimes.

    My concern is the legality of discriminating against this group of people because of their religion. Once again, the emphasis is not whether a particular person is committing a crime. Instead, the property rights of entire communities of people are being infringed upon because they belong to the FLDS. This has grave implications for those who belong to any religious community.

  21. July 29, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Dexter, I have to wonder how many polygamists you are actually acquainted with. I regret to say that there are members of these communities who are abusive, as there are members of other communities who are the same, because PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. However, those polygamists I have met have been consensual, respectable, and zealous in living a high standard of religion. I admire their conviction. I find it sad that the LDS are so far removed from OUR VERY OWN ROOTS that we cannot sympathize with the difficulties the FLDS are encountering in these legal matters.

  22. primary chorister
    July 29, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    My friend, born and raised in a polygamous cult (her grandfather was a prophet) escaped at age 19 with her family when they found their nieces and nephews were being molested by high up members of their church and the leaders were not being held accountable for it. As a matter of fact, the family was condemned for not supporting the “brethern”. She now says she believes people ought to be able to practice poligamy, but must be made sterile so as not to expose innocent children to such horrors as she and her family experienced. It seems extreme to me, but I haven’t lived it and she has.

    As for money. Yes, let them have it back— Right after they repay all the welfare money the men’s second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh wives ask the US government for to feed, clothe and shelter their children. Under US laws those women are “single” and can and do get welfare checks. How about reimbursing all the free medical given to these poor “fatherless” children? I read Warren Jeffs considered it part of their religious mandate to “bleed the beast [government]” this way.

    Remember the lecture Christ gave to the scribes and Pharisees about the whited sepulchres? Just because their women wear long modest dresses and french braided hair and pick up after themselves, it doesn’t mean they aren’t looking the other way when their niece is being molested or when they are cheating uncle Sam. What about those well groomed men, have you read how they ‘break a baby’ so they don’t cry?

    So, lets say they get their money back from a man who, under court order and with much oversight, has been managing their collective trust account and it goes back to the secret back rooms of the Animal Farm where all pigs are created equal, but some are more equal than others (how many of my daughters did you marry?) and some cows are milkers and some are breeders (good girl Bessie, TWINS! Here’s more shoe money for your kids and an extra bathroom and I took Virginia’s car from her and you can go on two more vacations with me this year) and when we old bulls are feeling threatned by the upcoming bucks we’ll just dump them on the streets in the big city without any of their “fairshare” of our collective money in their pockets. We’ll just let the “Beast” take care of them.

    Read Carolyn Jessop’s book Escape or Flora Jessop’s book Church of Lies. Or talk to someone who’s been raised in a polygamous cult. There’s no fond memories, just a lot of oppression and fight for survival against the few in power. Those few in power want that money back. They use it as a weapon to enforce their will and to bribe and punish. Do you put the gun back in the hand of someone who shoots it at the feet of women to make them dance?

    I just wish we could be certain it would be shared equally, something that was never done before.

  23. Betty
    July 29, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Bored in Vernal: Quite a few families are missing from the available “YFZ Bishop’s List.” If you’ll notice, the families for the 12 indicted FLDS men are not on there. So you are not seeing the whole picture. They haven’t been convicted yet because they haven’t gone to trial yet. Just recently, they set the trial dates:
    http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2009/jul/23/trial-dates-set-for-sect-members-facing-criminal/

    I don’t think this group has been discriminated against – at least, not as far as the UEP Trust issue goes. They pulled the same protest stunt, over the same issue in November. They have been given multiple chances for resoluation but they’ve refused to work within the law.

  24. Stan
    July 29, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    “In this country, we don’t take away an individual’s legal rights because he has had a consensual sexual relationship with a person other than his wife. If this person prefers to call his relationship a marriage, and connects it with his religious practice, why is there suddenly a concerted effort to deprive him of his rights?”

    Whoa… Aren’t there other protests about sexual relationships, marriage and individual legal rights happening just down the street from this one? Freaky.

  25. brjones
    July 29, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    “My concern is the legality of discriminating against this group of people because of their religion.”

    Bored, these people are not being discriminated because of their religion. They are being discriminated because they teach and practice an illegal behavior, and one that is found unacceptable by the rest of society. Native American churches may complain that they are being discriminated against because of their religion, when in fact they are being prosecuted because they use peyote, which is illegal. I am fully confident that if the FLDS group were not a religious group, but instead a Tuesday night book club that was teaching and practicing polygamy cum statutory rape, they would be equally persecuted and prosecuted. I think you’re coming dangerously close to making the argument that anything a religious group does should be allowed as long as it is a legitimate part of their religion. That is not a tenable position in modern American society, nor should it be, in my opinion. I realize that your original argument is not about polygamy or child rape, but your argument is based on the idea that their rights are being deprived because of their religious beliefs and practices. I just don’t think that’s the case. Any group that was doing what they have been doing would be persecuted and despised by the American people, and rightly so, in my opinion.

    And to those of you who are complaining that the authorities did what they did on mere suspicion of child molestation, shame on you. If the authorities had a credible suspicion that someone was molesting one of your children, I’m sure you would want them to take action, and I would want them to on your behalf. And before anyone makes the argument that the entire raid was based on one prank phone call, let’s remember that young men and women have been coming out of that community for years telling horror stories about rape, submission, brainwashing, abuse and many other awful things, and the authorities have not done anything. All the information in their posession was more than enough to give them reasonable suspicion that illegal activities were taking place. I think the argument that “I wouldn’t want big brother looking in on me so I don’t want them investigating the FLDS for child rape” is absolutely cowardly. I would gladly give up a modicum of my privacy to protect my children or yours, and I think it’s disgusting to hide behind “religious freedom”, especially one’s own hypothetical circumstance, in criticizing those authorities for trying to protect children. Further, I think every parent who gave their young child to a leader of the FLDS is criminally negligent and is unfit to be a parent, and I sleep easier every night knowing they’ve had their children taken away. The fact that they believed Warren Jeffs was a prophet is a preposterous excuse for their shameful failure to protect their own chilren. If a so-called prophet is asking you to do something obviously despicable or to harm your child, try using an ounce of brain power before you blindly comply. Finally, I have multiple ancestors who practiced polygamy in the LDS church, and it has absolutely no impact on how I feel about those practicing it now. If I had an ancestor who was a serial killer it wouldn’t make me any more inclined to feel sorry for Ted Bundy, and the fact that my ancestors may have been perverts or unthinking zealots doesn’t make me feel any more sympathy for those who are doing it today in a much more enlightened society. At least Mormons weren’t breaking the law in the majority of instances.

  26. Brent Hartman
    July 29, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Thank you, BiV, for posting about this.

    Could those who are making allegations of widespread child abuse please present some evidence to back up your assertions? How do polygamist teenage pregnancy rates compare to L.D.S. teen pregnancy rates? Should law enforcement raid L.D.S. family services to find out the specifics in all the teen pregnancy cases they handle? Surely there’s nothing to hide, right? Why did Texas return all the children back, to what the anti-FLDS, along with some people on this list, claim as being an extremely abusive environment? Is it due to Texas being so sympathetic to the FLDS? I don’t think so.

    By the way, how accurate is the information I get from the anti-Mormon websites that target the L.D.S. Church? As accurate as the information put out there by the anti-FLDS bigots? I’ve heard all kinds of stories from former L.D.S. members about things as outlandish as satanic sacrifices in L.D.S. temples. Surely people wouldn’t lie to destroy a church that they had a falling out with, right?

    I grew up hearing all the anti-Mormon bigotry I could handle. I despised it when the “Godmakers” video made it’s yearly rounds around the community I grew up in, because I knew the hatred and ridicule that I was going to have to endure as a result. I can assure you that it’s not fun for a little kid to be spit on and punched for his religious beliefs. Now, members of the same church I grew up in fall for the exact same tactics, as I guess it’s easier to do when the persecution is not directed at you. I guess they feel it’s better to be the persecutor than the persecuted.

    What the judge in this case did was take a religious United Order, and stripped the religious aspects out of it. She stated that it’s illegal for those who live D&C 132 to the fullest to be a beneficiary in any trust. The fact that the state of Utah destroyed a United Order, and stripped rights away from people for their belief in one of Joseph Smith’s revelations from God, is appalling.

    It’s ridiculous that in the state of Utah, I can have sex with as many women as I want without fear of prosecution, but if I make a religious covenant with more than one woman, then suddenly I’m a criminal. Believe me, there are much easier ways to have sex with multiple partners than to covenant with them to be their husband. Plural marriage is not about sex, it’s about family, which is something the carnally minded have a hard time understanding.

    As far as the law of the land goes, please read D&C 98:4-15 to get the word of the Lord on this issue. The law of the land must be constitutional, and what does the Constitution say about religion? “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Anything more or less than this cometh of evil, and we are commanded by the Lord to forsake those evil laws.

    Brent

  27. brjones
    July 29, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    #27 – I don’t know where to begin in addressing this comment. Brent, you seem to think that the State of Utah should hold a special place in its heart for the teachings of Joseph Smith. I’m just curious as to whether this is a serious comment or just a bad joke. Plural marriage is illegal, and for pretty much everyone other than mormons and offshoots of the mormon faith, a disgusting practice. I realize that you don’t feel that way, but it’s a little surprising that this fact is lost on you.

    “Plural marriage is not about sex, it’s about family, which is something the carnally minded have a hard time understanding.”

    This is an interesting statement considering the admissions Warren Jeffs has made about being a false and fraudulent prophet. I have a hard time believing that men marrying 14 year-olds and forcing them to have sex with them is really about family. I have seen numerous comments on this blog acknowledging how real and how wrong spousal rape is, and now for some reason many people are brushing off the accusations of children who have leveled numerous allegations that, married or not, they were forced to have sex with their “husbands.” Even if they were validly married, is this not spousal rape? Apparently when such allegations involve an attack on a principle that your religion still believes to be true it’s a little easier to turn a blind eye.

  28. brjones
    July 29, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    #25 – Stan, this was a brilliant comment. Sorry I didn’t catch it before. In fact, this is exactly what Prop 8 did. Gays had the unconditional legal right to marry in California, and Prop 8 took that right away for the sole reason that they wanted to “call this relationship a marriage.” I wonder if anyone here finds that as appalling as taking away the rights of the FLDS. I would suspect not. This is very apropos. As I said above, apparently our outrage over certain issues is only kindled when it fits our preconceived ideas of what is right or wrong.

  29. Brent Hartman
    July 29, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    brjones,

    I think the state of Utah should honor the God given Constitutional right for one to freely exercise their religion, and Mormons should honor the 11th Article of Faith.

    From the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook, we learn that out of the 1231 societies, only 186 were monogamous. 453 had occasional polygyny, 588 had more frequent polygyny, and 4 had polyandry. It turns out that most of the world doesn’t feel it’s as disgusting of a practice as you do.

    Warren Jeffs doesn’t represent the majority of fundamentalist Mormons, as most fundamentalist Mormons aren’t FLDS. Once again, I ask you, what percentage of FLDS teenagers have been forced to have sex with their husbands? How many fundamentalist Mormons have forced wives to have sex with their husbands. How widespread is this practice, and how does it compare with other social groups in the United States? Are you judging the whole by the actions of a few, and if so, can I do the same with you? Can I judge the L.D.S. people based on the actions of a few abusers in your ranks? Should I condemn all L.D.S. people because Ensign magazine published an article by convicted sex offender Oleg Barabash?

    You keep stating that plural marriage is illegal, but fail to recognize the highest law of the land. Did you read section 98? Here’s part of an article from the Deseret News, July 6th, 1886, that basically paraphrases what the Lord gave us as revelation in D&C 98.

    “The Prophet did not say that any law passed by Congress is the supreme law of the land. He knew better. He knew that Congress would pass laws that would be invalid. What he said was this – ‘When a people or a church have received a divine command and a law is enacted against it, do they not know whether the law is constitutional or not, seeing that Congress is prohibited by that sacred instrument from passing any law respecting an establishment of religion? And if the Supreme Court, yielding to popular clamor against an unorthodox body rules that the unconstitutional law is constitutional, does that alter the stubborn, patient, invincible fact that the law is in violation of the great guarantee of religious freedom? Any man who says that he really and firmly believes a certain law of God binding on him, and who will not obey it in preference to a conflicting law of man or a decision of a court, has either an unsound mind or a cowardly soul, or is a most contemptible hypocrite.’”

    So which one applies to you?

  30. MoHoHawaii
    July 30, 2009 at 2:57 am

    If this person prefers to call his relationship a marriage, and connects it with his religious practice, why is there suddenly a concerted effort to deprive him of his rights?

    The wrinkle here is the LDS Church’s extreme sensitivity to bad PR coupled with its enormous secular power in the state of Utah. Why is there a concerted effort by the state of Utah to deprive these folks of rights? In short,it’s because polygamists embarrass the people who run Utah.

  31. July 30, 2009 at 5:53 am

    Neither abuse of children nor polygamy is at issue here. We may deplore the fact that a cocaine user takes or sells drugs to underage children. And we may prosecute him or incarcerate him for his crimes. HOWEVER we do not take away his property or his legal rights to form financial trusts with others completely separate from these other issues

    But, if they put together financial trusts to further their illegal activities we go after all their involved assets. RICO, et al.

    Honestly, I’ve wondered about why no one did this since about 1980 or so when I was in law school and thought of it.

    What MoHoHawaii and others miss is that there have been a number of efforts over the years. The debacle in Utah/Arizona where they took all the children and all it did was make people miserable left them frustrated and searching for a practical response. What they are now doing sure seems like one, the mess in Texas surely wasn’t.

    As for the child abuse statistics, in Texas the FLDS rates, as alleged by the State of Texas, were less than the usual city population of Dallas or Houston. Basically, if I move into an urban center, I’ve done more statistically to hurt my kids than if I join the FLDS. So, do they take away all the children from the “Baby Daddy” relationships downtown? No, though they do recognize that there is a huge problem when older guys date younger girls — the pregnancy and sex rates jump significantly, as do the date rape ones. Prosecutors are just at a loss at how to go about doing something that doesn’t look like harassment and that will change the dynamic rather than picking people at random to harm without making a real difference otherewise.

    Anyway, it is an interesting development, but the same tools are used in many areas, there is even a federal statute to make it easier.

  32. July 30, 2009 at 6:51 am

    I still think this is a larger issue than just polygamy, but I can’t resist jumping into the fray:

    Do we not remember that plural marriage is a principle that has been sanctioned and approved by Deity, at least in certain instances? How can we label it as “disgusting, appalling, carnal?” Or are we going to dismiss half the prophets, ancient and modern, as sex-crazed pedophiles?

    I don’t want anyone coming into my home and snatching my children just because I belong to a certain religion, without looking at my individual circumstances. Neither do I want them taking away my rights to form a financial partnership with my church. How are these financial trusts “furthering illegal activities?” I see the UEP as it was originally intended as making it possible for a peaceful people to work together to make a living in a desolate place with no water that no one else wants. (Not to mention to try to build a Zion society, as commanded by God.)

    Beware! If you build up a society where human rights are trampled, it will come back to bite you.

  33. Clay Whipkey
    July 30, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Frankly, I think a big part of the problem with abuse and weirdness within polygamist communities is the fact that polygamy is illegal. It forces them into secretive, outlaw lifestyles. It makes the whole community paranoid and separated from larger society, which puts them in a position of placing inordinate amounts of trust and reliance on their leaders/protectors. That inordinate trust is what allows abuse to flourish.

    If polygamy were legal, the practice could be more open and visible, subject to all the normal regulations of marriage. If the FLDS weren’t forced to live like outlaws, law enforcement could have a lot easier come-and-go relationship with them.

    In principle, I don’t see any good reason that the law should not allow consenting adults to enter into polygamous relationships. You might disagree on terms of your own faith and understanding of “God’s laws”, but just like with gay marriage, that’s not a fair way to make laws for a community of diverse religious background. However, I also think in addition to it being legal, standards of child care should be equally applicable as they are elsewhere. Is underage marriage really legal? That seems wacky. Is that just so when religious families’ kids get knocked up they can let them get married at 15 to avoid having bastard children?

  34. pjbrownie
    July 30, 2009 at 10:28 am

    I’m fairly perplexed here. First, there are many different polygamist groups. They don’t all fall under the FLDS rubric. I know many good UAB folks who claim their line from the original offshoot who don’t do the child bride things, integrate will into normal society, etc. The abuse issues of the FLDS church probably have more to do with the hijacking of Mormon fundamentalism by the mafia-inspired Jessop family than anything related to the polygamy doctrine.

    The second, and most disturbing issue, is the abuse of economic freedom of a group the majority disagree with. This is blatant attack on their fundamental rights to contract. If there is mismanagement by one of their “judges” let them battle it out in their own way. I don’t want the government telling me I can’t live the law of consecration because they disagree with my religion, so we need to let them alone with theirs.

  35. July 30, 2009 at 11:17 am

    This is blatant attack on their fundamental rights to contract.

    No question.

    I think in discussing this we need to seperate the three issues.

    The first, is what can the courts do once a group is engaged in a conduct that is considered illegal (and whether or not Lawrence should apply). The law and the legal applications are simple and clear. The real suprise is why no one thought of it before (excepting me, but it seemed so obvious when I first looked at it, though obviously it is not, given what people have been trying and still continue to try — and that Texas has yet to try anything like this). Anyone who has looked at RICO should find this a yawner in application.

    The second, is what should be illegal or not. There are real issues as to the criminalization that has gone one and whether or not it should be maintained in this era. Do we retroactively prosecute Jacob and Abraham? Obviously this is what is driving a great deal of the emotion here.

    The third, is what are the actual abuse statistics. The numbers, assuming everything alleged in the Texas case are correct, are less than for the normal urban populations. City dwellers as a whole are worse than the FLDS. Sobering. It also is what makes the FLDS feel so abused. Regardless of how much people dislike what they are doing, assuming the allegations are all correct, the raw numbers call for anyone who moves into an uban center (e.g. if you move to New York City) to have their children taken away for endangerment. We obviously are not doing that, nor are we calling for everyone living in cities to be punished.

    But the consecration issue is really the legal issue, and is used as part of the group controls. Disagree with the trustee? Lose your house, your job and all your possessions. Makes for a very coercive environment, all in all. Different from a worker managed firm model or an entrustment model where whatever you have is yours.

    The welfare and other side issues just add color, except to the extent that what is going on is a fraudulent concealment or allocation of assets in order to qualify for welfare. Similar things go on with some communal groups in Upstate New York where the trustee owns everything and so everyone else is assetless and penniless, qualifying for welfare while being able to live in houses and buy hats.

    This entire topic probably calls for more essays.

    As for Clay Whipkey’s comments, Buckley said that the same was probably true of the gay community and that things like marriage and other socially open norms would turn them all into Republicans. Or might. Part of federalization is letting some states find out, experimenting on things state by state.

  36. Brent Hartman
    July 30, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    My grandfather was branch president for well over 35 years. Much of that time in rural areas. He spent countless hours going to stake meetings that were over an hour and a half away. He was a full tithe payer his whole life. He consecrated years of his life, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Church.

    Now hypothetically speaking, what if he would have been excommunicated from the Church, rightfully or wrongfully? What compensation would he have received from the Church for all that he contributed? Nothing, which from my perspective is right. He freely consecrated that time and money.

    What is going on with the UEP is opening the possibility of the LDS Church being sued by ex-members for contributions the ex-members freely gave. As much as I may disagree with the policies of the Church, I certainly wouldn’t support ex-members getting contributions back. Even if that may benefit me. :)

    Personally, I wouldn’t be a part of the UEP. Like almost every religious organization I’ve ever investigated, I’d say that there is a little too much priestcraft for my liking. That’s why the Lord blessed us with agency to decide for ourselves what we feel is the proper course. That’s also why there’s procedures in the D&C to combat against priestcraft. However, it’s up to the individual member to take responsibility for himself, and for the group he associates with. It’s not the responsibility of the government.

    If someone wants a deed to the house that was given to them then demand it. If those who control the property refuse to give you a deed, then you have 2 options: stay in the house knowing that if you have a falling out with those in control that you could be evicted, or leave.

  37. brjones
    July 30, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    #30 – Brent, perhaps I should clarify. I don’t believe in the LDS faith and I don’t believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. I believe that religions are subrogated by and subject to the laws of the United States, and I’m right. Just one example of this is that of a Mormon prophet, allegedly the one and only true prophet on the earth dying in exile because he knew that if he was found he would die in prison. You can quote your scripture all you want, but if you practice your religion in defiance of federal law, you will be punished, and I dare say your church nor your god will have any say in the matter. I realize that most people here are very hesitant to criticize others’ practice of polygamy because they believe it is a true principle and because it was a beloved principle of men they consider to have been prophets. I wholeheartedly disagree. In this instance, I have the majority of the civilized world in agreement with me. I think at this point it might be best for me to recuse myself from this conversation, since comments like “plural marriage has been sanctioned and approved by deity” are becoming more and more frequent. If the argument about polygamy begins with the assumption that it is a true principle from god, as do so many covnersations that take place on this blog, then I really have nothing to add. It’s simply impossible to have a rational and objective conversation about the issue. I would only point out some of the other things that have been sanctioned and approved by god, namely: murder, theft, genocide, infanticide, fraud, racism, etc., etc. As long as people are willing to excuse ANY behavior they are convinced was approved by god, then what in the world is the point of having a conversation about this? I guess the FLDS have just as much right to tell 1 14 year old who she has to marry as Joseph Smith did. I think it’s still a valid point, though, that at least when Joseph Smith did it it was not criminal behavior. You can talk about the morality of it all you want, polygamists are still criminals.

  38. Brent Hartman
    July 30, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    If religion is subject to the whims of the state, then the state becomes the religious authority. That violates the establishment clause of the Constitution. Separation of church and state goes both ways.

    In many states it’s perfectly legal for a 14 year old to get married with parental consent. Should laws be different for those in unpopular religions? Wouldn’t that violate the equal protection clause in the 14th amendment?

    You keep talking about what is legal or illegal, but your positions seem to keep falling on the wrong side of the highest law of the land. Until you can get rid of that damn Constitution, you’re never going to be able to eliminate those unpopular groups you despise.

    By the way, what’s so disgusting about plural marriage? I’m always interested in the perspective of those who have no idea what their talking about. Teach me about plural marriage. :)

  39. brjones
    July 30, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Well, Brent, I never said that religion is subject to the whims of the state. I said that it is subrogated by and subject to the laws of the United States, and so it is. To whit, there is only an establishment clause because the constitution says there is. To take it a step further, the U.S. Supreme Court is a living extension of the constitution, which is why after that court declared that the laws banning polygamy were not unconstitutional, the constitution may now be read so as not to include a protection of polygamy. Additionally, as I’m sure you know, the establishment clause in no way guarantees religions the right to do whatever they want. Its primary purpose is to prevent the government from establishing a state sponsored religion. Hence the title “establishment” clause and not the “absolute religious freedom” clause.

    I’m not sure what your point was about 14 year olds being allowed to marry with parental consent. It has no relevance nor bearing in this conversation. At no point have I argued that 14 year olds should not be allowed to marry. Marrying, at whatever age, is a completely separate issue from that of being forced to marry, by a parent, or even moreseo by a religious authority, and it is certainly a separate issue from that of marrying, at whatever age, someone who is already married. I know this has been pointed out, but perhaps I need to spell it out for you. That…is…illegal…in…this…country. Should I repeat that for you, Brent, because I’m not sure you’re really understanding this point. You want to keep dragging the discussion back to the morality of it, which I’m perfectly willing to discuss, but which is also a separate issue. You continue to avoid the issue of settled law. Polygamy is a crime anywhere in this country. On this issue, as with any other issue of reality based law, your religious “laws” are completely and irrefutably meaningless, pointless, useless and powerless. Whether it’s unpopular in a certain region to be married at 14, it is unquestionably illegal in that region to be married to two persons at the same time. If you need further explication, perhaps you should google it.

    In my opinion, plural marriage is not inherently disgusting or even immoral. Unfortunately, it seems that in societies that engage in it as a group, there often inevitably follows many other unseemly trappings such as those that have been found in the FLDS group at issue. I don’t see it as a coincidence that issues of control, manipulation, abuse and other similar elements inevitably exist where polygamy is being practiced. Just my opinion.

    And by the way, don’t intentionally insult my intelligence and then attempt to be clever or coy by sticking an insipid emoticon after your comment. If you’re going to call someone an idiot, just do it and own up to it.

  40. July 30, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    40 — This isn’t, legally, plural marriage. Each man only marries one wife legally, and the rest are married in a religious ceremony that makes no pretense that it is establishing a legal marriage. This is not illegal in any state. If any of these additional “wives” are under the age of consent, then having sex with them would be statutory rape, but it is not polygamy, and does not violate any anti-bigamy laws. If there is welfare fraud going on, that would also be illegal. These are the aspects of the FLDS that I am not conflicted on — prosecute whatever criminal activity is going on. But please be clear of which laws are not being broken.

    Engaging in statutory rape does not remove your right to engage in a legally binding contract, nor does it deny you the consideration the contract promises you. Engaging in welfare fraud may make some of the assets of the trust you are living off of subject to confiscation, depending on the terms of the trust agreement and how they have been used. Trusts can be used abusively — not in a child-abuse sense, but in the sense of avoiding legitimate legal claims — and that can be grounds for changing or setting aside the trust. This may, in fact, be exactly what is going on. If so, then it’s not a matter of the FLDS being persecuted for an unpopular lifestyle and unusual property arrangement, but, rather, a consequence of illegal activities including fraud.

    I’m not aware of any basis for denying the FLDS the right to create a UEP and operate under it. This might comprise that, or it might just be that they were operating it illegally, and are going to have to face some consequences for that. If it’s the latter, I have no complaint with it at all. But none of this has anything to do with them violating anti-bigamy laws.

  41. brjones
    July 30, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    #41 – Thanks for the clarification, Blain. I posed this question before, but didn’t get much of a response: if these relationships are not actually marriages, then, as Blain pointed out, they constitute, in many instances, statutory rape. And even if they were marriages, what of the numerous allegations from these young girls that they were forced to have sex with their “husbands?” That is rape, regardless of whether they are married. Where is the outrage about this? The majority of the comments seem to contain sympathy and solidarity directed towards the adults in the FLDS community, but what about the children who are undoubtedly the victims of these acts, even if there are less than were suspected? Again, this is a separate issue from the question originally posed by Bored in Vernal regarding the finances. Are we really upset and sad that these people have been interrupted in the illegal and, in my opinion, immoral practices that have been taking place? I don’t get it.

  42. July 30, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    42 — I am not a fan or supporter of marital rape, nor of statutory rape. However, these are issues that society has chosen, for the most part, to turn away from. Substantiating allegations of marital rape is extremely difficult when it has taken place, and it is relatively recent that it’s even been considered legally possible. Statutory rape is only rarely seen as anything other than a win for the person engaging in it socially — getting to have sex with a minor is seen as a positive in the greater society, unless they have a relationship which has humanized the minor, or unless the minor is young enough (usually younger than 16), or unless they don’t like the person. I don’t agree with this, but nobody seems to give a rip what I think about it.

    Now, there may not have been much substantiation of these allegations due to fear, coercion and manipulation. Or it may be because the allegations have been exaggerated. I tend to think it’s more along the lines of the former than the latter when it comes to specific allegations being made by individuals who have lived in these communities. When it comes to people not in those communities who are making claims that are not strictly quoting those who were, I’m not at all sure that things aren’t more like the latter case. If there is evidence to support a criminal case of rape of any kind, or of fraud of any kind, then by all means prosecute it. But don’t generalize a condemnation of a people based on a handful of unsubstantiated complaints.

    And what of the participants who entirely agree with what they are experiencing? This is where my ambivalence falls.

  43. brjones
    July 30, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Blain, I totally agree with you about those voluntarily involved. I don’t care. My outrage is confined solely to those who perpetrated those acts against those who did not, or could not, consent, and those who allowed it to happen.

  44. Brent Hartman
    July 30, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    brjones,

    You said:

    “I’m not sure what your point was about 14 year olds being allowed to marry with parental consent. It has no relevance nor bearing in this conversation.”

    Prior to this you said:

    “I guess the FLDS have just as much right to tell 1 14 year old who she has to marry as Joseph Smith did.”

    “I have a hard time believing that men marrying 14 year-olds and forcing them to have sex with them is really about family.”

    “In the alternative, if it’s not actually a marriage, then I think in many cases it constitutes statutory rape, since although a parent can give consent to the marriage of a minor child, they cannot, sofar as I know, consent to sex for that minor child outside of a marriage contract.”

    “I don’t care if they had parental consent. That is disgusting, and I don’t know what’s more disgusting, the men who are doing it or the parents who are willingly handing their children over to become their victims.”

    Hmmm, interesting. Wait, there’s more! On one hand you say:

    “In my opinion, plural marriage is not inherently disgusting or even immoral.”

    …and on the other hand you say:

    “Plural marriage is illegal, and for pretty much everyone other than mormons and offshoots of the mormon faith, a disgusting practice.”

    Would you put yourself in the “pretty much everyone” category? You went on to call your ancestors who practiced plural marriage “perverts”. (comment #26)

    I think we’re just going to have to agree to disagree. It’s been nice talking with you! :)

  45. Dexter
    July 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Brent, what exactly is your position? Religions should be free to do whatever they want? You said, “‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’. Anything more or less than this cometh of evil, and we are commanded by the Lord to forsake those evil laws.”

  46. Brent Hartman
    July 30, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Dexter,

    While you attributed those words to me, they are not mine. I was merely paraphrasing what the Lord said in D&C 98.

    Religions should be free to do whatever they want as long as they don’t infringe upon the constitutional rights of another. As the Lord said in D&C 101:77-78, “According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.”

    That’s my position. Free agency to do as you see fit, as long as you don’t infringe upon the agency of another.

  47. brjones
    July 30, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Let me clear this up for you, Brent. Yes my ancestors were perverts and I’m ashamed that they were involved in the practice, as was joseph smith, brigham young and the rest. I find it pathetic that you’re throwing around scriptures that only a handful of people on the planet recognize and insisting they be obeyed, and demanding that the government bend its will to the teachings of a man considered by the majority of the civilized world as a colossal joke at best and a lecherous criminal at worst. I’m not surprised that you’re more offended at the government trying to stop adults using 14 year olds to gratify themselves sexually than you are at those doing it, since you so revere men who spent their lives refining the practice. Luckily for you, you will likely never have to endure the frustration of attempting to have a rational conversation with someone who insists on making unsupported and unsupportable declarative statements based solely on invented scripture and what you’ve been fed by those in the “know.”. I’m sure you will enjoy your continued self-imposed ignorance, as there is absolutely no chance you’ll ever encounter anything that will controvert it. So yeah, why don’t we agree to disagree.

  48. Dexter
    July 30, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Brent, I’m well aware that you were quoting others.

    The problem is that polygamous groups often lead to infringement upon the agency of others. Often times, children. So why you continue to defend the FLDS like they are poor victims of a heinous US government is beyond me. You seem to argue that the government is going after this trust bc of polygamy. Maybe if the trust wasn’t in debt to the tune of 3 million dollars it wouldn’t be in this mess. Maybe if the trust didn’t fail to respond to lawsuits it wouldn’t be in this mess. Maybe if the trust hadn’t failed to pay court fees it wouldn’t be in this mess. Maybe if the trust didn’t fail to pay its lawyer it wouldn’t be in this mess. I’m all for sympathizing with individuals or groups who are being unfairly targeted by big brother or by anyone else. But polygamists are not anywhere near the top of the list of people who are getting a raw deal and deserve a break.

  49. ahem
    July 30, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Most people will agree polygamy should be allowed between “consenting adults” . They don’t really care. But it’s just as discriminatory to allow parents to legally consent to their teen daughter’s monogamous marriage (and subsquent conjugal relationship) but not allow parents of a daughter of the exact same age to legally enter into a polygamous marriage (and subsequent conjugal relationship). The law discriminates based on religious belief (polygamy) and that is unconstitutional. Polygamy does not guarantee “glorification in heaven” any more than monogomy guarantees “eternal devotion and undying love” from a single devoted spouse. It is the ACTIONS and REACTIONS of the people involved in either one that make it a hell or heaven.

  50. Dexter
    July 30, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    I disagree that it is unconstitutional, and so does the Supreme Court. And if you don’t think polygamy is a bad idea, go read the BOM.

  51. Brent Hartman
    July 30, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Dexter,

    What makes you think that the law of agency is any less important in polygamist groups? Sure you can point to some cases of agency being violated in polygamist groups, but I can point to cases of agency being violated in the LDS Church. How about Lemuel and Julia Redd, the LDS parents that kidnapped their daughter to prevent her from getting married? I don’t know of any church, with more than a few members, that doesn’t have examples of bad, and even criminal behavior. Unlike the FLDS, most churches don’t get judged by the view bad apples.

    Most of that 3 million dollar debt is owed to Bruce Wisan, the court appointed manager of the trust. The same Bruce wisan that discussed with his attorney the “sociological and psychological war” with the FLDS. It’s kind of interesting that the biggest debt of the trust is owed to some court appointed LDS guy. An appointment that was made at the request of some other LDS guy named Shurtleff. Probably just a coincidence.

    I agree that there is probably priestcraft within the FLDS, but I can make a pretty good argument for priestcraft within the LDS Church as well. Personally, I wouldn’t give up my rights to another man, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t. Police ask people to give up their constitutional rights every day, and many people comply. That is completely legal. They have no one but themselves to blame. The only people that we know for sure are using force to make others comply are the people within the government. If Warren Jeffs split up a family, the family always had the option to leave. When the government splits up FLDS families it’s at the end of a gun barrel with the threat of death, and they have no other viable option than to comply. When you have government officials openly talking about driving the FLDS from the state, and splitting up families at gunpoint, I think there’s a pretty good case that they are getting a raw deal.

    I don’t have a doubt in my mind that if the FLDS gave up plural marriage and the united order, they would be treated no differently than the LDS church. Bad apples and all.

  52. Dexter
    July 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I think it is naive to compare random acts of abuse within any sphere to the systematic abuse taking place in polygamous cults. I also think it is naive to say the victims of Warren Jeffs always had the option to leave. Are you being serious? That’s like saying kids who are kidnapped could have found a way out. These people are raised in these societies where they are so closed off from the outside world that the thought of leaving everything they know to go to a strange new world is more intimidating than staying in an abusive environment. The government should be looking for any legal way to get in there and see what is going on and try to break up these groups. While you are worried about Warren Jeffs’ replacement’s right to freedom, I am more concerned the rights of the children of these societies.

  53. Brent Hartman
    July 30, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Dexter,

    The reason Utah won’t arrest consenting adult polygamist is because they know that the Supreme Court will uphold the right of adults to covenant with one another.

    The only thing that keeps Hugh Hefner on the right side of the law is that he doesn’t make religious covenants with his partners. It’s the religious covenant that is considered criminal, and that will never be upheld by the SCOTUS today. The racist and bigoted rational of the Reynolds decision can no longer be used.

    On to polygamy in the Book of Mormon. In Jacob 2:30, the Lord states, “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things”. Was Jacob talking to a righteous group? I don’t think so. Have we been commanded in this dispensation to live plural marriage? Yep. Now if you want, you can argue that the Church is no longer is a state of righteousness, and the command to live plural marriage has been rescinded, but I think there are still those who have a desire to raise a righteous seed unto the Lord. The Lord also gave a revelation to the prophet John Taylor that said men should exercise their own agency in this matter. I’m prepared to take full responsibility for my actions.

    Now, is there any evidence of polygamy being lived in the Book of Mormon. I believe there is.

    Alma 10:11, “For behold, he hath blessed mine house, he hath blessed me, and my women, and my children, and
    my father and my kinsfolk; yea, even all my kindred hath he blessed, and the blessing of the Lord hath
    rested upon us according to the words which he spake.”

    Just who were these “women”? With all the others that he listed off, it kind of makes one wonder.

    Ether 14:2, “…and every man kept the hilt of his sword in his right hand, in the defence of his
    property and his own life and of his wives and children.”

    Man had to defend his life, wives and children. Interesting.

    Just a couple more verses. In Ether 6:20, we learn that the brother of Jared had 22 children. In Ether
    7:2, we learn that the righteous Orihah had 31 children. The only people I know with that many kids are all
    polygamist. Do you know any monogamist with 31 children?

  54. Dexter
    July 30, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Brent, what are you saying? That polygamy is the correct way to live? Are you a brighamite who believes that monogamy is a pernicious evil developed by the romans? You cite to the BOM. Do you believe it is true? Do you believe the LDS church is true? I can’t tell if you are LDS or FLDS or a member of the reorganized church. You seem to believe the BOM is the word of God, but you also seem to believe that polygamy is still the correct way to live.

  55. Brent Hartman
    July 30, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    From my perspective, polygamy is the correct form of marriage for the righteous. I’m a Brighamite, along with being a Josephite, and I do believe monogamy is a pernicious evil developed by the Romans. One that unjustly limits the options of women. I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and have a testimony that Joseph Smith restored the gospel here on earth for this dispensation. I believe, along with Joseph Smith and Ezra Taft Benson, that the Church is still in a state of apostasy. For the Church has changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant. I was born and raised in the LDS Church. I’m still a member, although not in good standing, and I’m a fundamentalist. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and I know polygamy is still the correct way to live. I’ve witnessed the blessings that come from living Celestial laws. I can’t deny them.

  56. Dexter
    July 30, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Monogamy was developed by god, if there is one.

    The BoM directly contradicts your belief.

    Jacob (I paste the entire section below) taught that one husband and one wife is the correct way to live, UNLESS God commands otherwise. So, how can you argue that monogamy is a pernicious evil developed by the romans if god said that it is proper except when he commands his people to raise seed.

    Frankly, I don’t believe in the BoM so the scripture is no authority to me. But if you believe the BoM is the word of god, then how do you justify BY teaching that polygamy is always the way to go when the BOM teaches it is only the way to go when he commands it.

    27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any aman among you have save it be bone cwife; and concubines he shall have none;
    28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the achastity of women. And bwhoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.
    29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or acursed be the land for their sakes.
    30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up aseed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.
    31 For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and aabominations of their bhusbands.
    32 And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts.
    33 For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction; for they shall not commit awhoredoms, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts.
    34 And now behold, my brethren, ye know that these commandments were given to our afather, Lehi; wherefore, ye have known them before; and ye have come unto great condemnation; for ye have done these things which ye ought not to have done.
    35 Behold, ye have done agreater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brethren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the bstrictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds.

  57. Brent Hartman
    July 30, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    Dexter, I answered this is comment #54.

  58. Dexter
    July 30, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    So Brent, let’s say there are 50 boys in town of polygamyville and 50 girls. And they all want to stay and live in polygamyville to worship and strive to be close to god. None of them want to leave. What do you propose? Women should be free to marry whomever they want, regardless of whether a boy is already married? What is the ideal outcome? The three best men marry ten girls each. That leaves 47 boys and 20 girls. The next best 6 boys marry 3 girls each. That leaves 41 boys and 2 girls. The next best boy marries 2 girls. So then 10 boys are married to all 50 girls. That is the ideal society? What do you propose the other 40 boys do? Get out of town? Water the plants? Seriously, if this is such a great and righteous plan what do you do with the 40 boys who didn’t get married? Kick them out?

  59. Dexter
    July 30, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    58, Brent. No you did not answer it. Jacob and BY completely contradict each other. Jacob teaches monogamy is the right way to live, unless the Lord says otherwise. BY taught monogamy was a pernicious evil that is never the right way to live. You did not answer it. You cannot answer it.

  60. Ray
    July 30, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    It’s really sad that a topic like this that could generate some excellent discussions about the legal matter BiV raised always will devolve into a fight over polygamy. I know it’s inevitable, but it’s sad.

    My take on the political / legal issue is simple:

    The government confiscates property all the time when it believes illegal activity is occurring. I don’t like it in this case, as I don’t like when it happened in the late 1800′s, but at least the governemnt is being consistent.

    I do think it’s hypocritical to claim to be single to get federal money then claim to be married when arguing for “the principal” publicly – I wouldn’t mind if the government simply demanded repayment of funds gained fraudulently through such means. Let the community declare one way or another whether they are married or not – and deal with the consequences of that declaration.

  61. brjones
    July 30, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Ray, I have to disagree with you about the discussion turning to polygamy. My experience with this site is that the discussions generally distill down to the issues that people care the most about. For some reason you don’t like the issue of polygamy. I have my theories as to why that is, but that’s not entirely relevant. What is relevant is that many people think it is still a very topical and important issue, and one that they would like to discuss, and I think it marginalizes people’s points of view when you remark about how sad it is that we’re talking about this. It may be settled for you but it is clearly not for many other people.

  62. Dexter
    July 30, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Ray, why is it sad? We have a fundamentalist mormon who is (hopefully) willing to help us understand the mindset of modern day polygamists. Isn’t the point of sites like this to discuss what people want to discuss? Whether you like it or not, polygamy is and will always be a huge issue for the church. That is not a fact you can wish away.

    By the way, I agree with you about how nice it would be if they were simply consistent. If you believe in polygamy, don’t shout how great it is in SLC and then lie about it to collect welfare.

  63. July 30, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    #49 and #52–
    I have read reports that there is a 3 million dollar debt that is mostly due to lawyers fees. Wisan is being paid $205 an hour for managing the trust. His accounting firm and his lawyers also are being paid at their standard rates. In order to pay this, the land set aside for a TEMPLE is going to be AUCTIONED???

    I don’t care WHAT you personally feel about polygamy, this just is not fair.

  64. Dexter
    July 30, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    What do you suggest? That the trust not be responsible for its debts? Why do you think the court had to appoint representatives of the trust? Because the trust failed to respond to lawsuits. The trust made its own bed, and so did these polygamists, it’s time for them to all lie in it, with all their wives.

  65. July 30, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    I think the trust should be responsible for the debt IT incurred, and not the debt that was forced upon it by seizing its assets and appointing an unwanted, overpaid administrator and a ton of lawyers.

  66. July 30, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    $205.00 an hour?
    Please.

  67. Dexter
    July 30, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Bored

    Please stop. Why do you think these people were appointed? The Trust IGNORED lawsuits. If you ignore lawsuits, eventually, you will pay in some way or another. Do you feel bad for dead beat dads who don’t pay child support? Do you feel bad for people who you loan money to and they never pay you back, and when you sue them, they just don’t respond in any way? This is ridiculous. How about some accountability for the trust? Why are we crying about a group that takes advantage of welfare and then spits in the legal system’s eye when they are sued and cries about constitutional rights. Please. Please. Find someone else to feel sorry for. Find someone else to defend.

  68. brjones
    July 30, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    #64 – What does the intended use of the land have to do with it? It’s an asset that should rightly be sold to satisfy the obligations of the trust.

  69. brjones
    July 30, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    Bored, that is not a remotely exorbitant hourly fee. I think you’re letting your religious beliefs cloud your objectivity in this matter.

  70. July 30, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    OK–this has probably become tedious and boring to all but the three of us! But I will just end by saying that I do not wish to dig myself into a hole defending the FLDS since they are not my deal. And I don’t understand all of the reasons why Warren Jeffs didn’t respond to some of these problems early on. I simply cannot tolerate the legal persecution of individuals because of their religion. And make no mistake, that is what is going on here. Because a few members of this church ALLEGEDLY abused the welfare system, you are painting all of the families with the same brush. Because there have been some cases of abuse, you are making it a consequence of the practice of plural marriage. You mustn’t do this. These are good, honest, peaceful people who are trying to do what they sincerely feel God wants them to do.

    This has been said OVER and OVER again: if there are abuses or underage marriages, or welfare fraud, then concentrate on the INDIVIDUAL cases of wrongdoing.

    I’ll tell you who I feel bad for. I feel bad for the people who have sacrificed and given everything they own, who have truly consecrated, and who now have nothing, who ask for only a stewardship and a place to live their religion, and are being forced to line the pockets of a bunch of lawyers. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  71. Dexter
    July 30, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    I can’t believe you are blaming the lawyers. The blame lies at their doorstep. They brought it upon themselves. If Joe Schmoe rips me off and I try to sue him and I can’t collect any money from him because he lost all the money he stole from me, would you blame the lawyers for that too? This is not persecution based on religion. It is justice. Next time, don’t ignore lawsuits. The people running this trust ripped people off. It’s that simple. They would not be in this mess if they had not spit on the legal system by ignoring lawsuits as if they are above the law.

  72. Dexter
    July 30, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Second sentence should say “the blame lies at their OWN doorstep.” They should have known better. These polygamist groups made their bed. Time to lie in it. The lawyers are not to blame.

  73. ahem
    July 31, 2009 at 12:13 am

    If the people are so hard done by and abused by their leaders why were
    A) the men there – if they are in so much danger of having their wives and children being reassigned and kicked out of their homes with nothing.
    B) the women there – if they are so abused by their husbands, lifestyle and lack of choice
    C)the boys there – if they are only going to be shoved out so a few graybeards can have all the pretty girls
    D) the girls there – if they are going to be used up by “dirty old men” .

    In the end, the only thing that makes sense or matters to me is that the FLDS are the ones who paid out the money for food, fuel and lodging (as well as taking off work) and attended the rally to show support of their church and leadership. That is their choice – we all should respect that.

    If they didn’t want to be a part of that:
    A) the men could have loaded their families in the car and rushed to the attorney generals office for protection from their religion.
    B) the women could have got the ear of the media and Mark Shurtleff and his staff and demanded protection from their abusive husbands and church leaders.
    C) the boys could apply to Dan Fischer and the Diversity Foundation for a home and paid college education.
    D) the girls could have called up CPS or Flora on their cell phones and demand protection from what MIGHT happen to them.

    The government has done everything to “protect” them from their religion – but they DON’T WANT protection….they calmly and emphatically told the government and media – we want Lindburg, Shurtleff and Wisan to respect our right to LIVE our religion and worship the way we believe. “Give Back our Land”.

  74. alice
    July 31, 2009 at 12:17 am

    I’m sorry. I know you really feel this, BIV, but I think an unrealistic, romanticism is clouding your judgment.

    These are people who flaunted the laws of Man and God and allowed children and women to be intimidated and abused on an ongoing basis. They defrauded the Federal government and several state governments. And I don’t understand why you take offense at money going to lawyers and not to the excessive lifestyle of Warren Jeffs.

    These people are not being persecuted for their religion. They’re being held to account for lawlessness. It’s too bad you choose not to see that and prefer to frame this as a matter of fear and paranoia for others to internalize.

    Certainly there are people who have been victimized. But they were victimized by their leaders. And they choose to return to that abusive way of life. I will not take responsibility for that and, even though I respect your intelligence and sincerity, I fail to see why you do.

  75. Brent Hartman
    July 31, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Dexter,

    There are more single women than single men in almost every church. According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, among singles over age 30 who attend church weekly, there are only 19 men for every 100 women. Why not give these women more options for marriage? I’m a firm believer that women can think for themselves. I don’t think they need society baby sitting them. They don’t need protection from other forms of marriage. Let them marry the man of their choice, and in the system of marriage of their choice. I’m sick of less than desirable men trying to force women into a system of marriage that would cause the women to have to settle for a lessor.

    Monogamy is God’s preferred method for the wicked. Jacob was speaking to the wicked. Plural marriage is reserved for the righteous. As I said before, plural marriage is about family. If a man is not going to raise a righteous posterity, then God would prefer to limit the damage, hence, monogamy.

    Most men don’t want to live polygamy. They make jokes about how they couldn’t handle another wife, because they can barely handle the one they have now. I’ve heard that response so many times from other men. How insulting that must be for their wives. “I wouldn’t want another one of you!” Men also don’t want to subject to the thoughts and wills of unified majority against them. In other words, they don’t want to be outnumbered. Sisterwives gain leverage in plural marriage. The man has to be a better husband, or he’ll have hell to pay times the number of wives he has. It’s not a coincidence that women’s authority in the Church faded when plural marriage was abandoned.

    For me, I love my wife and my children. I can’t express in words the joy they bring to me. Why wouldn’t I want to expand upon that?

    Alice,

    No doubt you would have supported throwing the prophet Daniel in the lion’s den for his unlawfulness. He wasn’t being persecuted. Daniel was just being held accountable for his unlawfulness. Right? Stop letting bigotry, stereotypes, and unproven allegations cloud your judgment.

    This has become a Church that the writers of the Nauvoo Expositer could have fully embraced. I sometimes think that the mob who killed Joseph has won. Sad.
    ————————–

    Thanks again, BiV, for posting on this topic, and standing for agency and justice. You didn’t have to put yourself out there for criticism, but you did, and I truly appreciate it.

    Later!

  76. Dexter
    July 31, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Ahem, this is an incredibly naive view. Remember Elizabeth Smart? She was found walking with her kidnapper. Did you ask “why didn’t she run away, she was on State Street for crying out loud?” I don’t think you appreciate what these children are raised in. They don’t know any better. You expect them to know what social service to call and to call them and explain what? That they are being treated the way they have always been treated? Victims of abuse, especially children, don’t know how life is supposed to be. These people are raised to believe that the way they are treated is ordained of God and you think they will just make a call to the government to sort it all out?

  77. Dexter
    July 31, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Brent, I can’t begin to describe how nonsensical your view is. I think you need to wake up to reality. You say you want freedom for women? That is hilarious. How many women want their husbands to share his affections, money, time, and energy on another wife? You act like it only helps the women but you don’t seem to grasp all the pain and jealousy and suffering that it would entail. You are living in a dream world, man.

    And your position that monogamy is for the wicked is laughable. I guess adam and eve were wicked. If polygamy is so divine why wasn’t the earth started with adam and eves 1-20?

    You think it’s insulting for a man to say he couldn’t handle another wife? Hilarious. I’m sure wives would prefer to hear, gosh, I wish I had a fresh wife or too, I’m getting bored with my current wife. You said “I’m a firm believer that women can think for themselves.” I find that line extremely ironic and insulting. I can guarantee you that if you polled women from all walks of life 95% or more would say that they would prefer a husband of their own than share him with someone else. If you are so for women being able to think for themselves than why are the only women who are for polygamy raised in cultures that are shut off from the outside world? If it is such a great idea that free thinking women would realize on their own than why do they all live in closed communities where religious leaders have to manipulate them with nonsense about god’s will and blah blah blah?

  78. larryco_
    July 31, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Someone may have already mentioned this, but a good source for background information on Colorado City and the UEP is Ben Bistline’s The Polygamists.

  79. Jen
    July 31, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    #76 Brent-

    “There are more single women than single men in almost every church. According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, among singles over age 30 who attend church weekly, there are only 19 men for every 100 women.”

    There are also many other worlds and maybe many of the righteous men went to those worlds and will meet up with these righteous women later! To bad for you. :)

    “Monogamy is God’s preferred method for the wicked.”

    That is just NOT true. The Lord created Adam and Eve to be one and this is His established pattern of how a relationship should be. Just ask Him.

  80. Anon
    July 31, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    To Brent,
    So since polygamy is all about family…then you’re saying that the only role of women is to birth babies and raise them all together?? That doesn’t sound very equal to me. I love my kid, but I hated being pregnant and I’m not a big kids person so I really don’t want to raise in the next life. So Sorry, as a free-thinking woman I think the idea of polygamy is absolutely repulsive. Whether it’s between consenting adults or not…I love my hubby and don’t want to share him with anyone else. He’s my best friend. Polygamy no matter what lessens this relationship. Sorry, but I don’t want to spend eternity pregnant and raising kids while my hubby gets all the glory..Icky. Not my idea of a fair God to only allow polyandry and not the other way around. So I know there are plenty of people who will gladly live it either in this life or the next…but it’ll never ever be for me no matter what stage of life I’m in.

  81. Betty
    July 31, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Bored in Vernal: “And I don’t understand all of the reasons why Warren Jeffs didn’t respond to some of these problems early on.”

    In case you’re curious, the backstory on this is available: Based on a revelation, Warren Jeffs decided to establish “Yearning for Zion” (YFZ) in Texas and move his favorite followers there. He claimed that Short Creek had been rejected by God (which is why the big white temple was built in Texas, not Short Creek.)

    Anyway, the costly construction of YFZ was financed by pilfering the UEP Trust. Jeffs removed UEP equipment and materials (including an extensive irrigation system at Berry Knoll) to Texas. He also raised cash by covertly selling off parcels of UEP land.

    Then several suits were filed against the Trust. Jeffs was faced with having to reveal the amount that he had depleted it to fund his YFZ project. Not wanting to be caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Jeffs established his “answer them nothing” policy and ignored the suits. This, of course, led to default judgements against the Trust.

    Even after Wisan was appointed to oversee the Trust, UEP assets continued to disappear. Following the removal of a grain elevator, Wisan had to get a judge to issue an injunction against removing UEP property.

  82. July 31, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Thank you, Betty–that’s very interesting, and no, I didn’t know any of the story.
    Do you think the Short Creek people consider YFZ part of their community, or do they resent it?

  83. Brent Hartman
    August 1, 2009 at 12:51 am

    I just want to offer an award for anyone that can point to an instance where I said that the only role of women is to birth and raise babies. I’ll even let any winners pick the amount of the reward.

    Anon, I’ll reserve the right for myself to say what I believe and don’t believe. If you want to disagree with me then fine, but don’t unfairly put words in my mouth

    In the gospel I teach my children, a woman is viewed with more reverence, honor, and respect than even our Savior, Jesus Christ. Christ laid down his life, as he saw his father do, and the Father sacrificed His life following the example of his Wife. A woman was the first to sacrifice her life for the people of this earth.

    I also give thanks to the prophetess and high priestess that was chosen to introduce this sacred doctrine to this dispensation. I continually exhort my daughters to follow the examples of the strong, independent, and valiant women that have gone on before. May they one day be prophetesses and high priestesses in the gospel.

  84. Ray
    August 1, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    #62 – brjones, I’m not sure where that came from. I have NO problem with discussions of polygamy. It’s just when the point of the post is ignored and it turns into a “polygamy is evil” vs. “polygamy is the will of God” argument that I think it is sad. I didn’t try to stop the discussion; I simply said I like discussions that stick to the purpose of the threads and don’t turn into name calling tissy fits.

    As everyone here knows, I don’t like verbal fights that devolve into name calling. Really, that’s all.

  85. August 12, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    OK. I have read the original post and ALL of the replies here. As I am an Atheist (yes, the right to NOT believe and be free to live without persecution is also protected under the First Amendment), maybe I can be the most objective since I don’t believe in any gods because “morality” is always shaped, influenced and defined by man and the society in which man lives.

    That said, I think the legality issues concerning the UEP Trust boils down to questions about fraud and using one’s “freedom of religion” as a free pass to violate the law as well as subvert the human rights of others.

    1. Are the ones controlling the UEP trust abusing their power to unjustly force families out of their homes?

    2. Is “white” slavery being committed under the cloak of religious freedom?

    3. Are women and underage girls being enslaved by means of forced arranged marriages (polygamous or monogamous)followed by forced pregnancy/forced childbirth (which are violations of women’s human rights) even though pregnancy and childbirth puts only females at 100% risk of disability and death?

    4. Should “freedom of religion” be used to excuse forced marriages on young girls by de facto trafficking of women and girls as property to be traded like a favorite gun or horse across state and federal boundaries, in violation of the Mann Act — U.S.C 18 Sec 2421? (this does NOT just apply to polygamists!)

    5. Are other people’s rights, liberties, and freedoms being abridged or otherwise denied because of the male dominated trustees’ actions?

    6. In the name of equality of rights for women, should not women also be allowed to marry more than one man? (After all, I think that’s only fair if we allow polygyny we should also allow polyandry)

    7. Is this group using their “freedom of religion” to get away with depriving children of their right to a basic academic education equal or superior to that of the public school system?

  86. lex parsimoniae
    August 13, 2009 at 2:00 am

    I just happened upon this exchange and am somewhat appalled at what is going on here.

    This all starts with someone stating they think something might be fishy with the idea that the State would seize the assets of the UEP and essentially hold it and eihter allow, or even urge, a government appointed trustee of thoe UEP assets, into the practice of bleeding off millions of $$ in a way thet could easily be perceived as immoral, not illegal.

    But within a VERY few post it devolves into a battle re polygamy sprinkle liberally with child abuse allegations.

    The crux of the original topic was whether or not the members of the FLDS organization should be allowed to reacquire the remains of the UEP assets, or if they should be maintained perpetually by the state, and consequently be slowly drain of their value in order to pay the continuous costs associted with the said perpetual management.

    The proper sicussion should have revolved around the associations of the principal involved. Not their religions or sexual preferences.

    I’ll be honest (though anonymous) here by saying I feel a bit conflicted, being an active, temple reccommend and temple attending, MPriesthood holding member of the larger oragnization of the LDS church.

    This is certainly a foggy area, that requires much research, thought, prayer and pondering to see through to the truths, and beyond the hyperbole, and the typical emotionalism that is variously fronted as Faith by some, Law by others and Reason by either. All of these (Faith, Law and Reason) have led to the most heinous of atrocities. And in the end we really needent agree with each other to “get along” any more than we all have to agree with me that creamy peanut butter is the best and crunchy is just gross.

    There are some fundamental issues, both in the original topic, and the emotional derived topics that developed. I find it particularly interesting that, though I disagree with him on many points, Brent seems to be the only one attempting to approach the discussions with even a modicum of logic or attempt at explaination by reference to what are to him, and many others at mormonmatters, authoritative, rather than by political writ.

    But I think maybe these fundamental could be teased out and we could find more common ground.

    It is ironic, to me, that I feel I must address the last post before mine, first. (Scripture says the last shall be first.)

  87. lex parsimoniae
    August 13, 2009 at 2:26 am

    Jaqueline, good points but most are terribly irrelevant here.
    1. The answer to this one is subjective, determined only by whether you believe Jeffs, et al, are prophets/inspired men of God. You are an atheist, which quite disqualifies you from answering. You making a judgment on that question is about a relevant as a “birther” saying they do not have to obey laws signed by Obama, be cause he is not “constitutionally” the President, since they (a large number of them at least) think he was born in Kenya, rahter than HI. Just as you cannot see any proof of Jeffs contact with a divinity you do not even believe exists, neither do the “birthers” see any proof Obama is the President when he refuses to provide proof, those of his family members who claim he was born in HI can’t decide which hospital it was in, numerous family members and family friends claim to either have been present at his Kenyan birth or arrived or heard of it shortly afterwards, and there are a number of inconsistencies surround various forms of “proof” that has bee provided for his legitimacy. I do not necessarily subscribe to the theory that he’s an illegitimate President, but I do not subscribe to the idea that Jeffs was a prophet either. Obama may have irrefutable proof, for all I know and refuses to provide it out of some “principal.” But the followers of Jeffs also feel they have their “proof” and your and my inability or outright refusal to see, admit and accept that proof results in our less than hospitable treatment of his cause. Many FLDS “know” Jeffs didn’t abuse anyone and that abuse was obly “perceived” in the minds of the unfaithful, the spirituall weak, and the uninitiated. You and I likely agree that he engaged in some monumental abuse of power. But still that question really has no bearing on the topic of whether those who contributed to the UEP should get their assets back. How many people think the people who lost all their retirment funds in the Enron scandal should be given what money can be salvaged from it back, or the people duped by Madoff? I do. Likely those people will consecrate their assets again to their cause, buthten I myself perform hundreds/thousands of hours of service to my Church and community in the name of my Church and also pay 10% of my increase to it. If the Church were to be dissolved and assets siezed by the government because the leadership was found to be acting in way similar to that of Jeffs, I too would hope and expect that the government would return those assets I gave the Church in proportion to what was left. I then would make the decision to either give it to some other Church leader or to use it myself. I would also chafe at the idea that someone, in a favorable position with a non-governmental organization, was given executorship of those assets, and then proceed to expedite his own interests to the effect of draining the value of the assets and still never have any idea if I will get it back or it he will bleed it dry or it will be silently shuffled somewhere else and disappear altogether.

    I think the assets should be processes in the most expeditious manner possible and be returned to the original contributors in proportion to their contributions.

  88. lex parsimoniae
    August 13, 2009 at 2:49 am

    2. Again a subjective answer to a subjective question. Nearly every religion requires some acts of “service” to either itself or others, and requires it to the exclusion of recompense. One could say we, as members of our respective faiths, chose to perform the service, but the cultural stigma of refusing service when it is requested is very intense in some religions. The psychological pressure exerted is every bit as powerful and inducement to serve and the crack of the whip was to the African slave. And when the consensus of your group is that those asking you to do work are the mouth pieces of God, not doing so can ruin you emotionally, financially, socially and even at home in your family. Similarly, many political groups exhert the same pressure on their members, unions exhert the same pressures and so do governments. Lives, fmailies and fortunes are often lost because someone decided to not spout the “party line.”

  89. lex parsimoniae
    August 13, 2009 at 2:50 am

    3. This one is partially subjective in the same way as 2. Especially if you really, really believe that God is telling you (through some prophet) to do these things. Not to open a can of worms here but, just look at the Prophet Gore. I think more of Al Gores global warming (sorry I meant Climate Change) claims have been proven incorrect, by his own data, than those he actually made. (that was a bit of hyperbole there) At every turn the science does not back up the IPCC claims, the IPCC data does not back up the claims (the report data shows no statistically significant correspondence between human activities and GW/CC), the known laws of physics don’t back them up(storms are in some factor proportional to the temp diff between poles and equator so a warming earth wold mean less storms)(higher CO2 means more food for plants which means more plants , more food for animals and people not less)(higher CO2 & warmer temps means more water retention in the atmo not less & since heavy storms are less likely the resulting more gentle rains will result in less erosion, more humidity results in fewer droughts and deserts), direct & sattelite measurements don’t back them up(ice core samples, geo records, fossile records all show higher CO2 levels and warmer temps means less erosion, more plants, more food, less desert, an explosion in # and population of new species, expansion of arable land and moderate climates, deserts into grasslands, grasslands into forest, on and on) and even the hundreds of scientists on the IPCC panel don’t even back it up ( most signatories were government reps and only a handful were scientists. most actual scientists on the panel have repusiated to summaries and the reports stating the report and summaries are not substantiated by the data). Yet so many people still beleive in the face of all the evidence, just like so many FLDS probably still beleive Jeffs is a prophet.

  90. lex parsimoniae
    August 13, 2009 at 2:58 am

    4 I’m glad you said this “(this does NOT just apply to polygamists!)”
    Though this question should be asked it still has nothng to do with what should be done with the UEP assets.

    Really there is no real good answer here regarding the “human trafficking” concept. Some men are “kept” just as some women are. Fully intimidated by either their wive’s physical size/power, economic power, or the force of a set of laws that often favor women over men in family matters.

    OK, this is much longer than I planned,so I’m going to abbreviate the rest by just saying NONE of your questions address the issue of what to do with the assets. Sorry, None of them. Though I think ALL of your concernes are very valid and I would certainly say I see elements of violations of each in any prudent standard in the actions of Jeffs, et al. But only from a perspective outside that of BIV’s original topic.

  91. lex parsimoniae
    August 13, 2009 at 4:06 am

    Sorry, but I just can’t leave the major portion of the thread alone. You guys sucked me into your weird little world and the only way out is directly through it.

    On the subject of polygamy.

    From a Christian (non-mormon) pov, if I am to be completely honest, the Bible is in-consistent. Until you read the orignal (or as best as we have it) languages in historical context. It is clear that early Christions were told a “bishop” should have “but one wife” but this was told to persons who were obligated to live the Roman law of one wife. It was also a thematic injunction against the Roman practices of wife swapping and other extramarital escapades. Beyond these facts we know very little about just why ti was taught and what circumstances actually brought the topic to bear.

    The OT is very clear that such arrangements were not only permissible but approved by God. Too many prophets were involved and even specifically blessed by God for their management of such relationships.

    Christ obviously had litle problem with the idea of polygamy. Anybody remember his parable about the one bridegroom and the TEN virgins? Christ fairly directly taught polygamy was OK when he implied it was OK for the man to take TEN wives. though the parable is sometimes described as a contrivance by the early church to bolster the imminent return of Christ, it also is interpreted by many churches as refering to poeple preparing themselves to meet God because Christ could come at any time or the person could die at anytime so be prepared. This story could also be interpreted as showing direction for wise men in chosing wives who are also wise, not just to satisfy carnal urges. If the bridegroom had beena more carnal man he’d have thrown open the door and invited all of them in for a party. But he chose the five women who show prudence and forethought. Though the actual message intended to be sent was more along the lines of being prepare to meet your maker at any time by being good little boys and girls, he specifically used the polygamist relationship in the context of the participants being, right in what they were doing, making no mention of any sort of idea that “oh by the way, this is just a story, and you really shouldn’t marry 5 women.” This was clearly a part of what Christ just accepted as being acceptable.

    Just as there are a very FEW mentions in the Bible (OT&NT)of how bad it was to have more than one wife, brjones pointed out the same in the Book of Mormon. But just as the number of instances where the OT and NT either say or imply by the preceived righteousness of its practicioners, that polygamy is OK or good, so does the Book of Mormon, ala the references given by Brent.

    If we look at the modern history of the LDS Church we also have the same dilemma. We have the early church leaders not only saying it was good and acceptable but several prophets and apostles absolutel stated that if the Church ever abandoned it, the Church would be abandoning God for the love of the world and would eventually be denied His protection in times of need. According to them it was an enlightened doctrine or salvation and exaltation. Possible the most difficult of all doctrines because it required both men an women to abandon their animal natures (women their covetousness and selfishness and men to subsume their sexual passions and desires to dominate.) But then we have Gordon B. Hinckley saying point blank “it is not docrinal.” Now we have a few issues here where the OT, the NT and modern prohets all contradict each other.

    The problem does not start with the number of spouses. The problem starts with THE SPOUSES themselves. One can say they feel that polygamy is disgusting. One can say, not me, I’m not sharing. One can say, OK but why can’t women have multiple husbands too? From a certain cultural and emotional bias any of these seeme legitimate. But are they really?

    IF it is true that there are more women than men (modern medicine is making this less true but for the most part it is still statistically true over the course of human history) does not every woman deserve a husband? If it is true that men and women are as equal as so many say, then that means the must be a similar ratio of good to bad women as good to bad men. Given that equanimity, we still come out with too few husbands or good husbands for the good women. And what if, as is popular on our increasingly gynocentric society women are better people, on the whole, than men, then we have an even greater roblem of male scarcity.(I don’t espouse male dominance either. I beleive all should find their place they can best contribute and then to do so.) All women deserve to have a man that treats them with deference, love respect and values them for all they have to offer a family, not just cooking, cleaning, daddy’s midnight entertainment or baby making. If any of this is true then the only model for all the women who would want a marriage can only be polygamy.

    Let get away from the theological and the sociological aspects and look directly at the genetic/Darwinian perspective. Given the propensity for females to outnumber the males in the general human population, the only solution to full mating and reproductive capacity of the species is to engage in the acceptance of multiple female partners to individual males. The advantage would go to those males best able to provide the females with what they value. some desire protection and so the more athletic and even violent will attractnumerous famles. some desire comfort and ease which would favor teh wealthy, and hopefull y the more industrious. Others will desire more cereberal or cultural attributes and so they will gravitate to those men. All in all you would have men with obvious beneficial traits in a better position to mate and pass along those traits to their offspring. Obviously, attractive more women means having more offspring. The genetic lines of men with less desirable traits would be less prevalent in each successive generation. theoreticall this woul dlead to a much faster/efficient general improvement to the human genome.

    Consider also the question of women marying more than one man. Here were wade hip deep into the Dawinian mire. Theoretically, males will be more likely to stick around if the female bears his offspring. This is bourne our through many many centuries of human record keeping and writen/oral tradition. If one woman were to solicit and gain the sexual attention fo numerous male, the resulting offspring will likely not be easily attributable to a particular male. The males will not be as likely to stay around and the family unit would break down. soon the woman has no husbands and maybe several children. Not good. But this is all theory right? So we can just ignore this littel tidbit of logic, right? Not so fast, what situation do we have in the culture of several minority and/or impoverished populations in the USA. Many teen girls have sex with multiple partners hoping one will step up and claim her exclusively and keep her to himself. They often allow themselves to get pregnant hoping to “trap” one of them. This is a common story told by girls across the US and other countries as the reason they have sex with so many boy/men so often. There is ample cultural proof of what happens right there. Besides, keeping genetic line straight, an obviosly good idea, would be enormously, to the point of near impossibility, difficult. The expense (by using modern gene analytics) even in our highly medically advance society are prohibitive and impossible in any society that is more than 10-20 years les advance than are we. Simply speaking the question “who’se your daddy?” would take on drastic changes of meaning and not being able to accurately trace lineages might easily subject the population to genetic problems we really do not want to deal with, inthe wake of the many potential incestuisms that would accidentally follow.

    Now with a monogamous relationship or multiple-wife situation that lineage in clear and easily traceable.

    Thus even nature supports the MFF relationshipo and not the FMM.

  92. lex parsimoniae
    August 13, 2009 at 4:09 am

    OK a need to go to sleep now so I’m fresh when the Mormon Gestopo traces my postes and my Stake President calls me in for an early temple recommend interview because of my “seeming” defense of poly and my statements about fromer prophets.

    Later, guys.

  93. Amy
    August 5, 2011 at 3:23 am

    It’s August 4, 2011, almost exactly two years after your post. And I am stunned to see that nobody has posted a comment! I found your blog post while searching the Internet re FLDS. Warren Jeffs has been found guilty of rape of a 12-year-old girl and of rape by association for providing other children for “marriage” with men. I wholly support that conviction; under no circumstances (religion included) should sexual acts with children under 16 be permitted in the United States. That said, I am shaken to the core by U.S. government actions regarding the UEP. Although I hate–despise!–the idea of supporting this polygamist group in any way whatsoever, I think the money/land ownership issue is separate. I wish it weren’t, because I’d like to round up all the men and the complicit adult women who perpetuate this lifestyle–but not by any means. So long as they have their own private God Squad, to use Jeffs’s term, our legal system can’t infiltrate. So I feel hopeless about the possibility of outreach, let alone social services protection for the children. To answer your question, I think all U.S. citizens should have an interest in the UEP issue. And I think all U.S. citizens should have an interest in the polygamy/pedophilia issue. Actually, I don’t really care about polygamy. But why child brides must be part of that culture I do not know. Is it too much to ask to wait until a girl is at least 16, if not 18?

  94. Anonymous
    August 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Polygamy isn’t the big issue. It’s abuse of a trust and more dramatically, a charitable trust. The main issues are over payment of debts and attempts to hide taxable income.
    Taking the first issue, you can just pick and choose which creditors to pay your debts to. Even if its for religious reasons, you can’t decide to not pay a debt. This is especially the case with court ordered payments, which is the case here.
    The second issue is there attempts to “bleed the beast” or the government. There is evidences of taxable income not being recognized in an effort to avoid paying taxes.

    They could dissolve the charitable trust, but that would still place the respective assets into the control of someone to manage the dissolution. Plus, locating said beneficiaries would be next to impossible in a case which has seen complete noncompliance by those managing the trust.

    So far Bruce Wisan has been pretty fair in trying to pay the debts of the organization. Designating land as the site of the “future temple” is just grandstanding. As far as being hostile, you have an accountant forcing you to dissolve your assets and pay your debts. Do you think that relationship would be someone adversarial? Even if Bruce is fair to the trust and the creditors, it would still be offensive to the FLDS members.

    Add to that, you have situation where some of the creditors are former FLDS members, outcasts from their community, left to starve and suffer away from their homes, their family, and community and you can see how any accountant under any circumstance would not think highly of the organization.

    No one has said anything because the way this organization was run was abusive, self righteous, and detrimental to many of it’s members.

    Most of the polygamist groups in UT have been left largely alone, particularly the ones around Salt Lake. The FLDS, though, with their abuse of children, both of child brides and teenage “lost boys” will be targets of legal action for many years to come.