Now we are seeing the reports trickle in about the rescue of hundreds of young girls from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) “Yearning For Zion” Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. In an article titled Sect Teens Made to Have Sex, the Washington Post reports the discovery of a bed inside the compound’s temple where girls, some as young as 12 or 13, were ritually raped to consummate their “marriages” to much older men. Many of the rescued girls are pregnant. One 16 year old girl already has given birth to four children.
Authorities have had to explain why they waited four years to take this action, when the systematic abuse of young girls in FLDS communities was common knowledge. Jon Krakauer exposed this subculture back in 2003 in his investigative book Under the Banner of Heaven. A few other stories, like that of Carolyn Jessop, have also surfaced in the last decade. Jessop was interviewed on the Today Show on Tuesday:
I think it’s a form of pedophilia hiding behind a religion as a protection. There’s just a desire to control and manipulate and torture people, and religion is just used as the cover.
In this video, she discusses the indoctrination of children to believe that the abuse is God’s will. Children are never exposed to “any other kinds of information to challenge the information you’re given…you have no skills to see it as what it really is.” If a woman is unhappy with her lot in life, she has been carefully trained to believe it’s because “you don’t have the spirit of God, and it’s your fault.” The isolation was such that Jessop describes her experience of integrating into the world after her harrowing escape as being like “ending up on a new planet.” As she told the Washington Post earlier this week, the women who have left the Texas compound “have no concept of mainstream society, and their mothers were born into it and have no concept of mainstream culture. Their grandmothers were born into it.” Jessop herself was a sixth-generation member of the group. It’s astounding that anyone would ever have the insight and strength to even consider escaping under these circumstances. Where the girl who blew the whistle on these criminals found the courage to do so, I can’t even imagine.
Given even this limited information, what is being discovered in Eldorado should surprise no one. Equally unsurprising is the fact that the group’s attorneys are citing religious liberty as a shield to interfere with the continuing search for documentation of the abuse. The temple where the child rape bed was discovered – and I’m not going to call it anything but that – is described by authorities as “massive,” and as containing “multiple locked safes, vaults and desk drawers” thought to contain evidence. Lawyers for the sect argue that much of this material should be off-limits as evidence “for legal or religious reasons” and have attempted to have the search ended entirely.
Gerry Goldstein, a San Antonio lawyer flanked by nine other attorneys the church hired, said the search of the temple is analogous to a law enforcement search of the Vatican or other holy places.
Now, why are we not hearing thundering condemnation of this perverted, criminal behavior – in the name of God, no less – from Family “Research” Council, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, American Family Association, or any of the other self-proclaimed defenders of “traditional marriage?” Where are they? Every other week of the year these groups can be counted on to beat their breasts and scream about how our children are at risk from pedophiles, and how the institution of marriage will be destroyed by a “slippery slope” that leads to polygamy and incest (and that somehow, this is all connected to “the homosexual agenda,” so send a generous donation right away!).
In this case, rather than some propagandistic nonsense made up about a group of people who have no connection at all with these things, we are talking about an actual community, comprising perhaps 10,000 real people, that practices pedophilic rape, polygamy and incest, with very real consequences. Little girls are taught that unless they submit to sexual servitude at the whim of the old men running the joint, they will be condemned to hell. The inbreeding within these communities has resulted in widespread genetic disease. Young men (because there is always a surplus of them) are systematically driven out of the community, and many end up suicides or living on the street. Don’t these ordinarily loudmouthed trumpeters of “moral values” care? It doesn’t appear that they do.
I suspect that in some cases it may be that the notion of keeping children isolated from the rest of society, teaching them that “God has a plan” for their lives – especially their sexual lives, that the execution of this “plan” is the responsibility of male religious leaders and heads of household, and preventing them from accessing any contradictory information, is a bit too familiar for comfort. It sure sounds familiar to me.
What do you think?
Thanks for exposing the hypocrisy of the muted christianist-right. There has been some condemnation. I have been talking to Gina Dalfonzo, the Prison Fellowship Ministries BreakPoint blog editor. She did write a brief post. Here is what we exchanged on the Social Chastity Belts thread. Ann Morse wrote “Social Chasity Belts”. Don’t know if you’ve heard of her. She appears to specialize in “Marriage & Family” and “Sexual Ethics” categories.
Gina shares your respect for the courage of the 16-year-old girl who blew the whistle, but she stays away from any critical analysis of the FLDS ideology. Wonder why. 😉
Thanks for pointing this out. I do check in with the Breakpoint blog from time to time, as it’s yet another outlet for the anti-gay nonsense emanating from “Prison Fellowship Ministries.”
I’m delighted that Gina thinks so highly of herself, but a blog entry by her about FLDS doesn’t qualify as a condemnation from PFM. There are probably thousands of blogs out there that said essentially the same thing. She doesn’t speak for the organization, Chuck Colson does. Given the many official PFM communications from Colson that unquestioningly repeat various echo-chamber lies about our community, his silence about this real subculture founded on the sexual enslavement of children is indeed deafening.
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