If You Think Decriminalization will Eliminate Abuse in the Mormon Fundamentalist Subculture, here’s Why It Won’t Work
Those who advocate decriminalizing polygamy claim Mormon polygamy is a benign lifestyle about relationships and family, and that laws prohibiting polygamy drive polygamists underground isolating them from mainstream society. They argue that there is no more abuse and corruption among polygamists than there is among monogamists, and that decriminalizing would tend to eliminate what little abuse and corruption that does occur. They further contend that victims would be more apt to come forward and testify against their oppressors.
The pro polygamists are mostly of the Mormon fundamentalist type who shy away from the term, legalization as opposed to decriminalization because legalization implies government control as in monogamy. The Mormon polygamists want to control plural marriage without government intervention. In that regard I think the historical record reveals that to allow the polygamists cart blanch control over the plural marriage lifestyle is synonymous to putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Sadly, that is the essence of what we have under the Utah Attorney General’s policy of not prosecuting a religious tenet.
The contentions of the pro polygamists and Utah Attorney General are flawed. If polygamy were decriminalized nothing would really change, if anything, abuse would be more rampant. That is because Mormon polygamy is authoritarian. Decriminalization would take plural marriage out of the hands of government and place it under the capricious control of a priesthood. And as we have seen with Warren Jeffs, narcissistic priesthood leaders are reluctant to allow government to dictate how they administer plural marriage.
Decriminalization implies that marriage is taken out of the hands of unscrupulous prophets freeing up women who might otherwise be abused. To believe that is a mistaken idea.
Authority – that is priesthood authority is the foundation of Mormonism. No doctrine, edict or ordinance, which includes the marriage ceremony, is complete or efficacious without being sealed by proper priesthood authority.
A plural marriage not sealed by priesthood authority is considered adulterous. If the true believer wants to be exalted he must submit to priesthood authority.
When a discussion about decriminalization was first leaked by the Utah Attorney General’s Office several years ago Owen Allred, the prophet and leader of AUB at the time came out publicly against it. He argued that it would take the sacredness out of plural marriage and every Tom, Dick and Harry would be taking plural wives without the supervision of a prophet. But what he was really afraid of was losing control of the sealing ordinance which meant a loss of power and money, because the plural marriage ceremony is merchandised. A man desiring a plural wife must be a full tithe payer and demonstrate fealty to the prophet.
When a subordinate explained to Owen that decriminalization did not erase priesthood authority – that nothing would really change, he changed his mind and supported decriminalization.
Fun and the rigors of being a plural wife are not inducements for women, that is unless they are the favorite or head wife. Otherwise Mormon polygamy is extremely stressful for women. The inducement is Section 132, the alleged belief that Jesus Christ commands it, and that unless she accepts plural marriage she will be damned or destroyed, and if she submits she will become a queen of her own world in the afterlife.
Polygamy shall be forever prohibited:
That phrase, “polygamy shall be forever prohibited,” appears in the Utah State Constitution. The Utah Legislature made polygamy a 3rd degree felony and is found in the bigamy statute. Contrary to the Utah Constitution the Utah Attorney General has stuck to his policy not to prosecute a religious tenet resulting in defacto decriminalization. It has not detoured abuse in the fundamentalist subculture.
The Attorney General’s olive leaf had little effect on the megalomanic, Warren Jeffs who continued to seal marriages with underage girls. He continued to drive young boys out of the group. He continued to excommunicate men he perceived as threats – taking the wives and children away from them and giving them to his loyal sycophants. Defacto decriminalization did not keep Brain David Mitchell from kidnaping Elizabeth Smart. And it is strongly suspected that incest is still practiced in some groups. The Attorney General began an incest investigation into the Kingston Group but for some reason, dropped it.
As long as polygamy remains on the law books it acts as a deterrent in spite of defacto decriminalization. Knowing that they could be prosecuted, the majority of Mormon polygamists are less apt to do something stupid to attract attention to themselves. – like abusing wives and children. If polygamy is officially decriminalized that restraint will be lifted.
Many plural wives are forced to support themselves. Many are treated as secondary wives. These deadbeat polygamist men take the position that by marrying them they have made it possible for the women to be exalted and there, their responsibility ends. As far as they are concerned they did the woman a favor.
By way of reminder, Mormon fundamentalists teach that plural marriage is the only way a woman can be exalted. The indoctrination of this belief is so paramount that thousands of women are willing to suffer secondary indignation so they will be worthy of a celestial exaltation in the afterlife.
During the seventies and eighties there existed several con men in AUB who were always attempting to promote get-rich-easy schemes. Some of these men worked their way into the leaders inner circles.
The most notorious con occurred in 1989 when 1.54 million dollars was stolen from a lady name Virginia. Hill. I was the lead investigator in a civil law suit [theft by deception] to recover the stolen money plus damages. After two Supreme Court appeals the Plaintiff, Hill, received a 6.6 million dollar judgment – which to date is only shy 1.5 million of being paid off. A Utah Supreme Court ruling stated the Defendants engaged in a “pattern of unlawful activity.” (See Hill vs. Allred, Jenson, et.al., Fourth Dist, Court, Case # 970400153)
The “pattern of unlawful activity” was the product of a classic example of the illusion of invulnerability. Two AUB men acting as Realtors were given 1.54 million dollars to purchase the DI Ranch in southern Utah for Hill. Instead they went to their priesthood leader and prophet, Owen Allred, asking him to inquire of the Lord whether they should purchase the ranch, give the money back, or keep it. The prophet, after apparently “deliberating with the Lord” decided they would not give the money back, but pay off the mortgage of the Granite Ranch located in Snake Valley, Juab County.
The theft was justified upon the proposition that the ranch would fall into the hands of a rival polygamist leader. The illusion was the “Lord’s blessing.” In their subjective rationalization, Hill and her agent, Shugart, were cognitively judged to be wicked and would use the money for wicked purposes which may hurt God’s people. They, the AUB people, God’s people, were righteous and would put the money to righteous use. Nothing is sinful when you have God’s blessing, and God will protect you. This form of irrational thinking is a result of priesthood authority which they believe trumps the law of the land. It is the “illusion of invulnerability” and what some refer too as “priestcraft.”
Pro polygamists argue there is no more instances of child molest among Mormon polygamists than in mainstream society. I firmly disagree.
In every book written by women escaping polygamy there are horrid stories of child abuse. Every woman I’ve talked too who has escaped polygamy relates stories of child molest.
The pedophile has distinct character traits like strong feelings of inadequacy. The child can’t detect those inferior feelings. At times these men form a super god complex, feelings of power of life and death over their victims. They often behave sexually like children and actually think they are being seduced by attractive adolescent girls. If the offender is a narcissist or sociopath he will be without feelings of guilt and will not learn from experience – repeating. The recidivism rate among rapists is especially high.
The Mormon fundamentalist environment has become a safe haven for pedophiles where humility is an attribute and inadequacy goes undetected. It is a place where he can exercise [priesthood] authority. I am not speaking out of conjecture. As a Salt Lake County Deputy Sheriff I specialized in sex crime investigation and taught at the Utah Police Academy. I gave sex crime seminars State wide and participated in a child molest seminar at Brigham Young University.
In AUB four high priest apostles, members of the ruling priesthood oligarchy, were excommunicated by a priesthood court for allegedly molesting their daughters – but only after their molestations became so well known the priesthood could no longer cover them up and had to take action. One went to prison.
These men were supposed to be chosen by inspiration, in other words, revelation. We might therefore conclude that the Mormon fundamentalist god selected thieves and child molesters to head his priesthood.
The sex urge:
I have already demonstrated that the male sex urge originates in the Y-chromosome. The power of those genes I submit are much underestimated. Look at the risks men in positions of trust take in compliance to the sex urge. For example, GOP Congressman Christopher Lee. The guy stunned the Nation when he emailed a lady not his wife: “a very fit classy guy,” along with his picture, nude to the waist.
What about Congressman Mark Foley and Senator Larry Craig who is reported to have played footsy in a public restroom with an undercover cop. And then there is John Edwards a onetime presidential candidate.
These are just the most recent cases. If you check the Internet you will find many more politicians who over the years that have done stupid things. But they are not the only ones, clergymen have yielded stupidly to their perverted Y-chromosomes as well. And on any given day if you scan a major newspaper you will read where someone was raped, a child molested, or a public person has been ostracized for alleged sexual improprieties.
Decriminalization is not apt to diminish the power of the Y-chromosome which has been around millions of years longer than Mormonism or the religions that evolved from the Bible. The bigamy statute acts as an inhibitor. Lift the inhibitor and logic tells you abuse will increase.
The lost boys are classic examples of Mormon fundamentalism left to its own rules. For every stable child put on display by the pro polygamists I submit there are at least two dysfunctional children.
This is due to the secondary wives and children which comprise the majority of the subculture. The elite or favorite families are like an oligarchy, similar to the 20/80 theory where 20 % of the families pay 80% of the tithing. The Lost Boys come from the 80%.
There are Lost Boys in every group. It was estimated by the late Richard Kunz, president of the Seventies Quorum that 65% of the youth in AUB apostatized. Unlike the FLDS, where girls are concerned, there is no real effort in AUB towards coercing the girls into staying in the group. They are not worth the work it takes to turn them around, and then if they happen to be from the secondary class, the elite boys don’t want them.
At least a third of the plural wives in AUB are converted single moms. The elite boys raised in the group do not want anything to do with these women because they are “used.” What they want is young virgins.
The attitude of the AUB priesthood towards secondary boys who want to leave is good riddance, it eliminates competition for the plural wives. The AUB boys have been raised in close proximity to mainstream society and therefore are better equipped to function on their own as compared with FLDS Lost Boys who have been raised in isolated and sheltered circumstances.
Isolation is part of the fundamentalist mentality. The more isolated and insulated the group, the more control the priesthood has over information. The control of information equates to control over behavior. And the behavior sought is to compel females to prepare to be plural wives. The behavior the priesthood strives to instill in the boys is adulation and absolute loyalty to their prophet and priesthood. The children in the FLDS are deliberately programed to be dysfunctional in mainstream society – hence, dependence upon their priesthood masters.
This sort of oppression and manipulation takes place in all the organized polygamist groups but not quite as sever as in the FLDS. However, the closer the contact with mainstream society the easier it is for secondary children to defect and assimilate in mainstream society. Dissident youths are not corrupted as the true blue polygamists might claim. The fact of the matter is the youths are in a position to compare the polygamist lifestyle with the outside world and make an intelligent choice. In AUB the youth that stay are by and large among the elite families who are assured positions of respect [within the group] and the boys, plural wives. In other words, it is to the advantage of the elite to stay in the group where as it is to the advantage of secondary youths to flee – rather than succumb to that of an impotent sycophant – analogous to obedient sheep.
Adhering to the Utah Attorney General’s policy of not prosecuting a religious tenet unless and underage girl is involved might make government leaders feel good and relieve law enforcement of enforcing the bigamy statute but it won’t prevent unscrupulous fathers and priesthood heads from brain washing girls into Mormon servitude the minute they turn age 18.
My prediction is predicated upon twenty years as a practicing Mormon polygamist, investigating crimes committed by polygamists, and as a consultant to Tapestry Against Polygamy where I came in contact with at least a dozen women who complained of being victimized by the Mormon polygamist lifestyle.
Lying for the Lord:
Mormonism has a history of righteous lying beginning with Joseph Smith. It is well documented that he and a couple of his leading acolytes, John Taylor and Parley P. Pratt, told enormous lies to cover up their plural marriage frolicking.
A copious volume, past and present, could be written on the subject. B. Carmon Hardy, author of Soleman Covenant, The Mormon Polygamous Passage, wrote an excellent essay entitled “Lying for the Lord: An Essay,” which appears as “Appendix I” in his book. Anyone doubting that Lying for the Lord was a common practice, especially where polygamy was concerned, should take the time to read Hardy’s account.
Lying was justified by the use of amusing phrases like, “coloring of truth – pretzled language- dissimulation- to give a modified impression of the truth- pragmatic resort to distortion- defensive adaptations- advancement of the cause and the glory of God – rich and contradictory texture – cloven speech and manners- exigency and circumstances- verbal contortions- extenuation- Mormon inspired phraseology- inspired lies- semantic usages- mistruth and Mormon logic.” My own innovative phase, “ acrobatic syntax.”
Justified lying got its start with the practice of polygamy. In that regard polygamy had to be treated as a “holy commandment,” which I submit was a form of self-deception. Brigham and his priesthood cronies devoted considerable time as the Journal of Discourses substantiates, inculcating upon the minds of the Saints the sacredness of Section 132. But as I have demonstrated, and observed in the current polygamist subculture, there is a wide gap in the actual practice and the “holy rhetoric.” The way women are procured and treated in Mormon fundamentalism addresses a more lustful connotation as opposed to a “sacred obligation.”
When lying to preserve the practice of polygamy becomes so easy and habit forming that it can be done without feelings of guilt, lying to preserve the self also becomes easy. For example, I once attended a general priesthood meeting in AUB where Ormond Lavery, one of Owen Allred’s closest apostles, told the congregation that he would “lie through his teeth to save the Priesthood.” Although he didn’t say it, the message was clear, all in attendance were expected to do the same.
In Hill vs. Allred, Jenson, AUB et. al., lying by the Defendants was justified in saving the Priesthood because the money laundering was an AUB operation. But by saving the Priesthood, which in the long run they didn’t, that is in court, they were really trying to save their own skins. But due to the phenomenon of “cognitive dissonance” the AUB Priesthood was ultimately saved as far as the members were concerned.
From my perspective this is all “mental acrobatics,” a form of self-deception or contradiction which I submit has a genetic and mementic antecedent – the way the brain is programed for the survival of selfish genes and memes.
When polygamy was finally eradicated in the Church during Heber J. Grant’s presidency lying for the Lord became conspicuously absent. In blatant contrast, lying among the Mormon fundamentalists now is as conspicuously alive as it was while the Church practiced polygamy.
The courts may eventually decriminalize the practice of polygamy. But I doubt that the moral conscious of the silent majority of Americans will accept the practice anymore than they have accepted homosexuality as a legitimate, alternative form of acceptable sexual pleasure. I submit that even under decriminalization there will be secret acts of polygamy just as there are secret acts of homosexuality among “switch hitters” or ostensible heterosexuals. In other words, decriminalization will not eradicate lying anymore than it will eradicate the abuse of women and children.
Law enforcement argues that they don’t have the resources to go after polygamists, besides, without the testimony of a victim and witness it is a hard crime to prove. They further argue that it’s a “victimless crime” like prostitution where all parties are consenting adults. With promiscuity, such as it is, ubiquitously common, why bother the polygamists?
We prosecute prostitution for more than moral reasons. Pimps enslave prostitutes. Drug addiction goes hand in hand with prostitution. Other crimes like robbery, identity theft, burglary are closely associated with prostitution. In other words, where you find prostitution you find a hub of other crimes.
There is a definite analogy between prostitution and Mormon polygamy. The prophets who merchandise plural wives are in essence “pimps.” They both sell women for sex and for profit. The Mormon prophet just wraps it up with a religious veneer.
Where you find organized Mormon plural marriage you will find welfare fraud, child molest, incest, neglect and con men perpetrating their frauds.
All plural wives are not consenting adults. Many are coerced. The classic example is found in Polygamy’s Rape of Rachael Strong, by yours truly, a true story of how a young attractive 20-year-old girl was coerced into becoming the 18th wife of her stepfather, who used God and damnation to almost drive her to suicide. When she and her mother, who was the third wife of this man, finally worked up the courage to leave the polygamist cult they appealed to law enforcement for justice and was turned down in a most uncomplimentary way.
All the elements of rape were present: force, resistance and penetration, but it occurred over a four week period making a charge of rape questionable. But the crime of bigamy was as solid as granite with first hand testimony and letters written by the stepfather who was also the prophet of the group. But neither the Utah Attorney General or San Pete County Attorney would prosecute.
This particular Mormon fundamentalist prophet had a history of sex with a sixteen year-old girl who gave birth to his child. The facts showed conclusively that his motive was sex and that he was a sexual predator. He reserved a house especially for his three youngest wives where he routinely had sex with them in a special room in the basement. He made them all take birth control pills.
Using the bigamy statute to prosecute this man would have put him out of business. But of course we don’t want to disturb a religious tenet. The AG reported to the Deseret Morning News, that Rachael gave the prophet sex because it was her duty, suggesting it was voluntary, which was contrary to the facts.
In my opinion Rachael was victimized three time, first by Mormon doctrine, second by her stepfather, and third by law enforcement.
The message sent was its okay to use Mormon doctrine (lies, threats, damnation, hell or whatever can be cogitated as long as it has something to do with religion) to coerce women into a plural marriage and then intimidate them, against their will, to submit to sex.
Of course it is not practical, or even morally correct to go after every polygamist. But where coercion is clear and evident I think the bigamy statute should be used to prosecute abusive polygamists.
Mormon polygamy is here to stay thanks to genes and memes, just like prostitution, and in spite of jailing men who have sex with underage girls. There is going to be other crimes associated with Mormon polygamy, like other crimes are associated with drug addiction and prostitution. Section 132 in essence works like a drug, inducing irrational behavior. It is one of the drawbacks of a free society. We must therefore do what we can to penetrate the polygamist milieu.
I can almost guarantee that if the bigamy statute stays on the books with the caveat that it will be used in cases of coercion, neglect and fraud it will do ten times more to inhibit abuse than decriminalization; and abused women will be ten times more apt to come forward and testify. It will give women in polygamy power they don’t otherwise have in a male, priesthood dominated lifestyle.
Fear of arrest and appealing to the rational side of the brain (muckraking and iconoclasm) in my opinion is the most effective way to combat abuse among the Mormon polygamists.