Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Prophet Goes to Jail!

This is the headline story from every major news station in my State:

"Warren J*effs found GUILTY as accomplice to rape"

The leader of a polygamous Mormon splinter group was convicted Tuesday of being an accomplice to rape for pressuring a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin into a religious and sexual union.
Finally, after years of torturing a community, he's going to jail. 5 years to life. Which means he might get as little as 7 years and as many as twenty.

I've learned much about this man over the last decade and a half. When I was twenty-one, I was studying religion and spent almost a month in Colorado City/Hildale. And over the next many years I went back several times. This place is like nothing I've ever seen. The whole place is a dirt hole filled with 1/2 built houses, broken roads - all under a beautiful backdrop of red rock plateau's. One school. One grocery store. Hundreds of children walk through the streets in packs; families. Girls must wear long dresses, long sleeves and long hair. I brought many dresses and still, I had to layer long(er) sleeves over them.

I stayed in a house with one family - one family with one husband, three sister wives and 33 children. The oldest was my age. 33 children age 21 and younger. They were actually wonderful. I loved every minute I spent with them. The teenagers would sneak "out to the sticks" and share a six pack of beer between twenty of them. They would fall in love without ever speaking to each other. It seemed so simple to me. I made friends there that I still have today. &, in fact, I introduced a friend to one of them and she ended up marrying into polygamy. (the guilt!) But back then, their prophet didn't purposely mislead them, lie to them and hurt them. Back then, they were led my a man named Rulon Je*ffs and everyone adored him.

Don't get me wrong, the lifestyle was still very strange and sometimes painful to watch. Girls would be wakened over night, at sixteen, to marry a man in a strange place. Boys would have to marry girls they didn't know when they were hoping to marry someone else. But they all agreed to it. It was God asking, not man. They signed their homes to the trust. They gave the prophet all of their earned money - in which he turned around and paid them, less tithing. They were led by a man they loved so everyone just followed him. When he died, they were torn about who would lead. It ended up being one of his many sons and it was the beginning of the end for the entire community.

He began tearing families apart. If a man didn't agree with him about something - anything, he would take away his wives and children and place them with another man. Because the homes were all held in trust, they would lose everything. In some cases, men have never found their families. They're shipped to South Dakota or Texas or Colorado. People began standing up for themselves and moving away on their own. And finally, charges were filed and he ran just like the coward he is. His people still took care of him by sending him money when they didn't have enough to keep their homes warm. They were used to being shunned and punished for wearing anything immodest but he was found in a t-shirt and shorts - plenty of skin showing. White, pasty, gross, rapist skin. He hurt so many people and still, he tried to manipulate them. He's disgusting.

So today put an end to the question of whether or not he would lead his community again. The answer is no.

These people are strange. They're odd. They're different, just like many of us. But they believed as they were taught. Their lives are unraveling and it's all many of them have every known. First they were abandoned by the LDS church and now their prophet. I feel sorry for them. I feel strongly that the big church in this state (Morm*ns) should do whatever it takes to educate, shelter and rehabilitate them. It breaks my heart.

I think of the family who took me in and gave me lessons on cooking, sewing, raising children and I have such love in my heart for them. I wonder if they're still a family. Or if they, too, were victims of this awful man.