Wednesday, April 09, 2008

FLDS: Mass Child Rape in the Name of Religion...

It's usually easy and fun to make light of Mormonism, one of the more transparently manufactured Christian heresies. Made up by an illiterate huckster less than 200 years ago and pandering shamelessly to his most libidinous and base patriarchal fantasies, Mormonism, and the larger Latter Day Saints movement, is, overall, pretty deserving of mockery. The issue of polygamy is the one that most comes to mind when talking about the Mormons, though the majority of LDS groups have abandoned the practice (somewhat grudgingly). Today it is officially practiced only by scattered "Fundamentalist" LDS groups. (The FLDS, as they like to called themselves.) On closer examination, however, we can see very clearly that the fundie Latter Day Saints movement is far from a laughing matter.

Now, ordinarily I go by the theory that what two (or more) consenting adults to with each other in the privacy of their own bedrooms is neither the state's concern nor my own. Indeed, in terms of adult polygamy I feel the same way - as long as everyone knows what they're getting into beforehand and is free to bow out if they want to, I don't really care what adults do with each other. That goes for Mormons and everyone else. The problem with a lot of the fundie LDS folks, however, is the issue of child marriage. You see, many of the polygamist LDS communities like to "spiritually" wed young girls, some of them not even teenagers, to horny LDS elders that are old enough to be -my- father. Then they proceed to "spiritually" have sex with them, "spiritually" bang out more babies, "spiritually" abandon many of the male children, and then "spiritually" start the whole practice again with a whole new generation of girls. God be praised!

No, wait, that's fucked up.

I shouldn't need to explain why that's different from consenting adults, but I'm going to anyway - A 30 year-old woman who got married to a 40 year-old when she was 9 doesn't count as a consenting adult once she grows up and is still stuck in that marriage. To use a term I don't much care for, she's been brainwashed by her religion and her social situation. It is no different, and I mean no different at all from a kidnap victim exhibiting Stockholm Syndrome. She didn't opt into it at 9, there was no decision-making process on her part, she was thrust into a situation and has been taught that there's no other valid way of living, and now she's being used, literally, to manufacture a new generation of victims. It is child abuse writ large.

Likewise with child abandonment. It's an issue that isn't brought up as much, and the press does the issue a disservice by euphemistically referring to it as the phenomenon of "lost boys. Some LDS communities, nominally for spiritual reasons (of course), abandon or "excommunicate" teenage boys just to get them out of the community. Why would they do that? Come now, that doesn't take much imagination. Any population is going to give birth to more or less an equal amount of males and females, but fundie LDS elders want a large number of the female babies for themselves (spiritually, of course), leaving a surplus of boys. Boys that might, I should note, pose a threat to the harems of the elders. Hence, for any of a number of so-called sins, a large number of teenage boys are conveniently expelled from the community and left to fend for themselves in an outside world that they've been taught from birth to fear and revile. Once again, this is child abuse writ large.

I bring all this up because of a raid last week of fundie LDS leader Warren Jeffs' compound in Texas. Jeffs, as you'll recall, is in prison for arranging the "marriage" of a 14 year-old girl to an older cousin, an arrangement than culminated in her repeated rape. Well, a phone call to police by a 16 year-old girl (who is now missing), brought authorities to the Yearning for Zion Ranch, where they found hundreds of women and children, many of them showing clear signs of physical abuse, living in an insular LDS community. Hopefully this investigation will run to ground this particular group and their "spiritual" practice of organized mass child rape.

There are numerous interesting news articles on this matter, and I refer you to two of them in particular (here and here) because I haven't the stomach to recount the matter myself.

I also refer you to an excerpt on Mormonism from Christopher Hitchens' book God is Not Great - How Religion Poisons Everything, from Hitchens is a firebrand and I don't always agree with him, but his account of the founding of the LDS movement is without any misty sentimentality for the group's religious nature and lays bare its laughable origins. Here's the excerpt.


Garret G said...

A very disturbing string of incidents from an absolutely evil man. The pain he has brought into the world with his actions.... but it is mass child rape in the name of Warren Jeffs penis and the pleasures of his twisted mind. A religion enabled it, an evil one at that (polytheistic with hundreds or thousands of gods, each with their own planet- this is not Christianity), but the issue is the twisted mind behind the actions, not the excuses the twisted one made.

on another note

I went and read Hitchens other exerpts from his book posted on Slate- thanks for that link. I watched his debate with Dinesh Desouza as well. I like Hitchens ascerbic wit, he reminds me of my wise-ass uncle. Hitchens' might not be blind to his arrogance (I am sure like my uncle he has been told this many times) and he is not unaware of his spiritual death (he has been "evangelized" many times)- so it is left until the end, his physical death, a fate we all share. At that time we discover truth OR we simply die. Jesus mentions with hell comes the gnashing of teeth. I don't take this to be pain, I take it to be anger- anger at God, and if one explicitly heard and knew of the truth while walking the earth, anger at self. I cannot imagine the horror of discovering that it was true, Christianity, when you spend a good part of your life convincing those you love (and could care less about), that it was UNTRUE. There needs to be no torture in hell, no pain, no worms, nothing, other than the thought that you rejected God, and encouraged millions to do the same.

Jay said...

Excellent post, Skippy. I fear that as more details of this group emerge, the story will become that much more tragic.

Skippy the Skeptic said...

You're tellin' me, JAK. Yesterday it came out that their "Temple" had marriage beds in it where, presumably, these pedophiles were "spiritually" raping their "spiritual" child brides. I'm interested to see what kind of charges are going to brought up in the case.

Jay said...

Apparently the lawyer representing the FLDS is taking the angle that everything that went on within the compound is protected religious practice, to which I say Bullshit!

Child rape is child rape regardless of how you try to justify it.

I've got to agree with Garret's comment here - the issue is the twisted mind behind the actions.

Skippy the Skeptic said...

That defense won't fly for a second - it's almost embarrassing to see the guy try to frame it that way. Harvey Birdman could do better.

The government is kind of ball-less about things like home-schooling certifications and vaccinations, but there's no way any court would find child-rape to be a protected religious practice.