Freedom of Religion Carte Blanche, Unless You are Warren Jeffs?

warren jeffs
Photo by Joyce Kuzmanic | St. George News

Warren Steed Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison Aug. 9, 2011, for sexually assaulting two teenage girls under the guise of marriage. A marriage, he asserted, was ordained by god and was his duty to fulfill, as well as that of the children whom he is now in prison for raping.

Is it fair to say at this point that he is guilty as charged? One of the staples of our constitution and legal system as a nation and a free society is the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven beyond reasonable doubt.

A Texas jury spent less then 30 minutes deliberating the answer it would give to the above question. Yes, he is guilty as charged, the jury decided.  And while ruminations of an appeal linger – an appeal, mind you, which may indeed find a way into the higher courts of Texas and beyond – for today, he is a convicted pedophile and rapist.

Let that sink in.

Now, let’s ask a question some may not want to hear. Would he have been guilty had he not been convicted? It stands to reason that had he not been arrested, charged and convicted, he would surely be engaging in the very behavior for which he is now in prison; but, was it wrong before he was caught?

You bet it was. And now in hindsight, as we play this scenario out in our own heads and try to get our minds around what has taken place, our natural progression of thought might lead us to ask this question: Can the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemn this man’s actions without condemning their own faith?

Jeffs was the president of the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a church which lays claim to being the one rightfully established by the founding prophet, Joseph Smith. The FLDS church maintains that it is practicing religion as Smith, ordained by god, ordered it to do.

The LDS church has long since abandoned and condemned polygamy. One might assert that the reasoning was political – a survival move. Another assertion might be that they ardently believe in obeying the laws of the land regardless of their religious beliefs. But if so, those laws are the very laws that Utah, and other states, turn a seemingly blind eye to when it comes to the FLDS church and polygamy.

Why are we not hearing an outright condemnation for polygamy and the actions of this abhorrent man from the LDS church?

Perhaps, to do so places the LDS church in the somewhat uncomfortable position of having to answer some very difficult questions? Questions like: Does the Mormon religion believe that polygamy is, in fact, right and God ordained, and that it will one day be restored to their church here on earth or in heaven?

If Warren Jeffs’ behavior was in fact wrong, how does one reconcile oneself with the fact that Joseph Smith engaged in what may be considered similar behavior – that of polygamy? Would Smith have condoned the inclusion of children in Jeffs taking polygamist wives? Does polygamy lead to more debased sexual conduct as say, pornography, as is said by some to do?

If you are reading into this line of questioning with even a hint of religious condemnation, you are letting your emotions get a hold of you and it is clouding your reasoning. This is not an accusation. These are reasonable questions that a reasonable and moral human being should ask. And, given this recent trial and the stance of the FLDS church on polygamy, it is not unreasonable for us to at least be seeing a connection between polygamy and sexual abuse, whether it is with children or adults.

Jeffs had, as all of us have, the sovereign right under law to a fair trial by a jury, and he was convicted; but what he did may very well still be happening in this land even as I put down these words.

If it is criminal for Jeffs, it is criminal for them.

That said, and this is the crux, the essential question to be asked is: When does freedom of religion cross the line and become simply what this was – criminal behavior?

Jeffs claims to be a prophet and that his actions were not only right, but that no one has the authority to question him. Is he wrong?

Let’s really ask ourselves this, because our answers reveal something about each of us and what we think on the subject of morality; regardless of our beliefs on deity. If our answer is in fact yes, Jeffs’ claims in his defense were wrong, then what, if anything, should we do about the fact that this religion is being practiced right here among us with the same, or variations of, conduct for which Jeffs was found criminally guilty?

It should not even be a question whether sex with under-aged girls should be swiftly and sternly dealt with. But what of the question of polygamy? Should it be protected under the law?

I have questions.  So should you.

See you out there.

copyright St. George News 2011

email:  dhyland@stgnews.com

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17 Comments

  • Not a Mormon August 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Hilarious how you presume mormonism is a valid religion in the first place.

    ELDER PRICE:
    “You all know the Bible
    Is made of Testaments old and new.
    You\’ve been told it’s just tose two parts,
    Or only one, if you’re a Jew.
    But what if I were to tell you
    There’s a FRESH third part out there?
    That was found by a HIP new prophet
    Who had a little…
    Donny Osmond flair?

    Have you heard of the
    All-American Prophet?
    The blonde-haired,
    Blue-eyed voice of God!
    He didn’t come from the Middle East
    Like those other holy men!
    No, God’s favorite prophet was…
    All-American!

    I’m gonna take you back to Biblical times; 1823.
    An American man man named Joe livin’ on a farm in the holy land of Rochester, New York!”

    ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
    “You meant he Mormon prophet Joseph Smith?!”

    ELDER PRICE:
    “That’s right, that young man spoke to God!”

    ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
    “He spoke to God?!”

    ELDER PRICE:
    “And God said:
    ‘Joe, people really need to know
    That the Bible isn’t two parts!
    There’s a part THREE to
    The Bible, Joe! And I, God
    Have anointed you to dig up this
    Part three that is buried by the
    Tree on the hill in your backyard!’ ”

    ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
    “Wow, God says go to you backyard and start digging, that makes PERFECT SENSE!”

    ELDER PRICE:
    “Joseph Smith went up to that hill,
    And dug where he was told.
    And deep in the ground, Joseph found
    Shining plates of gold!”

    JOSEPH SMITH:
    “What are these golden plates?
    Who buried them here, and why?”

    ELDER PRICE:
    “Then appeared an angel!
    His name was Moroni!”

    MORONI:
    “I am Moroni….”

    ELDER PRICE:
    “The All-American Angel!
    My people lived here
    Long, long ago!
    This is the history of my race!
    Please read the words within!
    We were Jews who met with Christ,
    But we were…
    All-American!

    But don’t let anybody see these plates
    Except for you…
    They are only for you to see…
    Even if people ask you to show
    The plates to them, DON’T.
    Just copy them onto normal paper.
    Even thought this might make them
    Question if the plates are real, or not,
    This is sort of what God is going for….

    Joseph took the plates home,
    And wrote down what he found inside!
    He turned those plates into a book,
    Then rushed into town and cried:”

    JOSEPH SMITH:
    “Hey! God spoke to me and gave me
    This blessed ancient tome!
    He hath commanded me to publish it,
    And stick it in every home!”

    ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
    “Wow! So the Bible is really a trilogy,
    and the Book of Mormon is Return of the Jedi?! I’M interested!”

    ELDER PRICE:
    “Now, many people didn’t believe
    The prophet Joseph Smith.
    They thought he’d made up this part three
    That was buried by a tree on the hill in his backyard!”

    TOWNSPEOPLE:
    “LIAR!”

    ELDER PRICE:
    “But Joe said:”

    JOSEPH SMITH:
    “This is no lie
    I speak to God all the time,
    And he told me to head west!
    So I’ll take my part three
    From the hill with the tree,
    Feel free if you’d like
    To come along with me,
    To the promised land!”

    TOWNSPEOPLE:
    “The PROMISED LAND?”

    JOSEPH SMITH:
    “Paradise!
    On the west coast!
    Nothing but fruit and fields
    As far as the eye can see!”

    ALL:
    “Have you heard of the
    All-American prophet?
    He found a brand new book
    About Jesus Christ!
    We’re following him to paradise;
    We call ourselves Mormons!
    And our new religion is…
    All-American!”

    ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
    “Wow! How much does it cost!?”

    ELDER PRICE:
    “The Mormons kept on searching for
    That place to settle down,
    But every time they thought they’d found it,
    They got kicked out of town!
    And even though people wanted
    To see the golden plates,
    Joseph never showed em!”

    “Now comes the part of our story
    That gets a little bit sad…
    On the way to the promised land,
    Mormons made people mad.
    Joseph was shot by and angry mob,
    And knew he\’d soon be done….”

    JOSEPH SMITH:
    “You must lead the people now,
    My good friend… Brigham Young.

    Oh, God… why are you letting me die?
    Without having me
    Show people the plates?
    They’ll have no proof I was
    Telling the truth or not.
    They’ll have to believe it just…
    Cuz.
    Oh! I guess that’s kinda what you
    Were going for….
    Blargggh…”

    ELDER PRICE:
    “The prophet Joseph Smith DIED for what he believed in.
    But his followers, they kept on heading west.
    And Brigham Young led them to paradise. A sparkling land in Utah called…
    Salt Lake City!
    And there the Mormons multiplied, and made BIG MORMON families.
    Generation to generation until finally… they made ME.
    And now it’s my JOB,
    TO LEAD YOU WHERE THOSE EARLY SETTLERS WERE LEAD LONG AGO!!!”

    TOWNSPEOPLE and PRICE:
    “Have you heard of the All-American prophet?”

    ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
    “Kevin Price!!!”

    TOWNSPEOPLE and ELDER PRICE:
    “The next in line
    To be the voice of God?!”

    ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
    “My best friend!!!”

    TOWNSPEOPLE, ELDER PRICE, and ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
    “He’s gonna do something
    Incredible!
    And be Joseph Smith again!
    Cause Kevin Price the prophet is…
    All…
    All…
    All…
    ALL-AMERICAN-!”

    ELDER CUNNINGHAM:
    “If you order now, we’ll also throw in a set of steak knives!”

    ALL:
    “ALL-AMERICAN!”

  • Spydyee August 15, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    PLEASE NOTE THAT THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED HERE DO NOT REPRESENT OFFICIAL POLICY OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS

    Let me address a few things regarding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the ending of the practice of polygamy from the perspective of a convert to the church and a woman. Then I will address the issues about what is really going on with Warren Jeffs and the FLDS church.

    First of all, the LDS church fought the anti-bigamy laws all the way to the supreme court because the prophets believed in the practice of polygamy as a commandment from God for certain, specific men, under certain specific circumstances. At the time the laws were passed less than 50% of all the members of the church were involved in the practice and obviously most of that number were the women. Over 65% of those that practiced polygamy had less than 4 wives which is the magic number that the other polygamous religion, Islam, states that a man can have. Next let me cover a couple of other things that the “righteous ” practice of polygamy did that the FLDS does not do and something that it does do that the “righteous” practice never did. In the days of Brother Joseph and Brother Brigham a man had to be able to provide a separate home for every wife. Only two blood sisters could share a home. No man could be approved to take a wife that he could not financially support. At no time did the prophet upon excommunicating a man for whatever reason take from him his wives and give them to another.

    Let us remember that even outside the church in the 1800s girls married as young as 14 in numerous parts of the country. In my genealogy, which is filled with good Southern Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, and Church of God members i have 7 different incidences where 14 and 15 year old girls were married to 18, 19, and 20 year old men. I was born in 1962 and was married at 16 and a mother at 17 and my first husband was 18 and 19 respectively when he became a husband and a father.

    Now lets look at why polygamy was stopped by the church. Now personally I have just about had it with the catering to try to be like the mainstream Christian religions by bending the reality of why the practice was stopped. Polygamy was/is a commandment from God and no matter how confusing that is to anyone it is a reality. HOWEVER, there are also other laws of God. God gave us 13 articles of faith. These are the pillars of our religion. Before the anti-bigamy laws were passed the practice of polygamy was not at odds with any of these articles of faith. However, once the laws were passed and the US Supreme Court case was lost at that moment the practice of polygamy came into direct conflict with one of these articles of faith. (FYI that would be the 12th article of faith and if you do not have a copy of the articles of faith in your house or in your head then google it) Since this article of faith states that we believe in being subject to the leaders of a country and the Supreme Court is one of the three branches of the leadership of our country AND it says that we believe in obeying the law then there was no way for the practice to be allowed to continue since it was and still is in direct conflict with the articles of faith. So that is that and polygamy is out the door in the “official” church.

    Now many of the members of that time refused to give in on this issue and the church split into the mainstream church and then all the polygamous splinter groups. The FLDS trace their roots directly to this time and are a first generation splinter group. Very honestly I think they got stuck in a time warp or time bubble and the rest of the world has traveled on around them and they have totally lost touch with reality particularly with the clothing and the hair thing. However, to each his own on trivial things like clothes and hair.

    Now lets talk about Warren Jeffs and polygamy and only the polygamy for a moment. Warren Jeffs is breaking the law. However, with regard to the taking of plural wives he, like Kody Brown and the Christian (non-restorationist Christians) polygamists are all trying to undo an injustice done long ago by the Supreme Court that was just about as bad a decision as Plessy v. Ferguson because they chose to keep an unconstitutional law on the books just because the general climate of the county was so hostile toward the idea of polygamy because they hated the Mormons. They even acknowledged that it was unconstitutional in the manner by which it was passed.

    Now lets get to the real problem with Warren Jeffs. remember that time bubble I spoke about earlier? Well he is living in it. By the time that the FLDS split from the LDS church the marrying off of young girls had decreased a great deal as life spans had become longer because of advances in medicine and sanitation. However, there were still families that allowed their daughters to marry as young as 14 and 15 to men anywhere from 2 to 5 years their senior. He is stuck in that time frame and the morals and laws of the country have marched on by him. I am not justifying his actions merely defining the mental world he surround himself with every time he goes to the ranch. The LDS church did not have to come out with a manifesto to tell members not to marry off their young girls once laws were enacted to create a minimum age for marriage. This was because the marrying of young girls was never a commandment from God nor was it a direct correlation to the practice of polygamy.. It was, in those days, merely a normal social custom due to the shorter lifespan. Today it is illegal and therefore for all restoration churches that claim t believe in Joseph Smith as a prophet along with all that he translated and all that was reveled to him, it is, as my Muslim friends would say, Haraam (forbidden). In this instance Jeffs proves he is not a prophet because no prophet has ever given any instruction to the church that directly contradicts one of the 13 articles of faith as Jeffs did by stating that God told him that he was to marry these underage girls. Revelations can come down that contradict previous revelations because that is one of the purposes in having a prophet on the earth so that as the world changes so to will God’s instructions to his followers in order to help them stay on the correct path. However, the articles of faith are the pillars of our religion and the benchmark by which a person can judge whether a person speaking to you is actually called of God. Any alleged prophecy that is in direct conflict with an article of faith is a false prophecy regardless of who is saying it.

    In summary;
    1. Warren Jeffs is not a prophet because he gave instructions to his flock that directly contradicts one of the 13 articles of faith.
    2. Warren Jeffs is a polygamist and that is illegal therefore because it is illegal and that goes against an article of faith means that he is wrong and therefore guilty of the sin of adultery and fornication as well as the laws of man regarding the plurality of wives.
    3. Warren Jeffs is a pedophile and this is 2011 an no matter how much he tries to live in that little time bubble it is illegal to take a girl under the age of consent as a wife whether in a spiritual or legal sense. It is illegal to have sexual relations with a girl under the age of consent whether you are “married” to her or not.
    4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints cannot condone the practice of polygamy so long as it is against the law because of the conflict with the 12th article of faith.
    5.The church never will condone the marriage of girls younger than the age of consent as deemed by law or custom.

    You asked a question that i would like t answer. You asked, “When does freedom of religion cross the line and become simply what this was – criminal behavior?” When you do a behavior that is against the law and you or another entity has previously exhausted every known legal recourse to vacate or repeal the law at that point it is no longer religious freedom of religion it is criminal behavior and if you are going to d the crime in protest of what you feel are unjust laws then you need to be willing to do the time as part of your protest of the unfairness of the law.

    I would now like to voice my opinion regarding the association of polygamy with pedophilia. Polygamy is one crime in this country unto itself. There are hundreds of polygamous families in this country that live in fear of being discovered but not because the are practicing pedophilia. That fear is the tools that men like Tom Green and Warren Jeffs use to hold power over those they desire to control. These men use the fear of the children being taken from them to control the women. Most states allow social services to take children form a parent if that parent knowingly involves that child in a crime even if the child is only an observer and not an active participant under the contributing to the delinquency of a minor law and most states could even prosecute the parent under these laws. This gives these men considerable power over these women.

    Now my daddy always taught me something about the long arm of the government, laws, law abiding citizens, and criminals and he did it by talking about his 2nd favorite subject in the world, guns. Daddy always said, “If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.” Well lets apply that to polygamy. If you outlaw polygamy then only outlaws will practice polygamy. So the cure to having the practice of polygamy not be totally associated with underage marriages, arranged marriages, and rape is to decriminalize polygamy. You do not have to legally sanction it but at least decriminalize it to where people like Kody Brown who is not marrying underage girls or having his family live in a fenced compound and wear dated dresses and even more dated hairstyles are not forced to move in order to avoid prosecution (persecution).

    You have a night and day situation and it is the very thing that divided the fundamentalists that became the FLDS from those that became the AUB. The AUB prohibits the taking of underage wives and prohibits arranged marriages. The two groups split long ago over these two issues.

    Decriminalization is the solution. Kody Brown wants that as do many others. Some want the marriages to be legally condoned but I think that is going a little bit too far because society at large is not quite ready to accept that. You have to take things slow.

    When I was in school in the 1970s there wee two boys that we all knew were gay and they were a couple. They were pretty much ignored as long as they acted like all the other pairs of straight guys did when they were hanging out together. We knew they were gay but we all just kinda ignored that fact and went on our way because they did not flaunt their relationship in front of us. However, one day one of them got hurt in the carpentry lab and had to be carried to the hospital. They were loading him in the ambulance in front of the school when the other one came out of the school, rushed to the side of the young man that was hurt and they embraced and the one that was hurt kissed the hand of the other young man. From that moment forward nothing in the school was ever the same. Have I said this enough yet? We all knew they were gay! However, they had never been seen expressing affection toward one another so it made it easy to ignore. That day changed the situation. 2 days later the one that did not get hurt was attacked by a group of boys and beaten. The one that was hurt was “accidentally” (NOT) locked in a storage room in the wood shop so he could not meet with the other one at the time the attack took place. Things changed and not for the better. However, after a while things settled down and they were once again more or less ignored. the occasional snide comment was made and the kids involved were reprimanded but for the most part everyone became more comfortable with them and the occasional sly public display of affection.

    Society has to become more comfortable with plural marriage and we have to clean up the criminal element, child abusers form within its midst. However, as long as it is outlawed you will have outlaws practicing and once you push someone who might start out as a good person with a strong religious belief into the mentality of being a criminal, always looking over their shoulders you make it easier to commit more crimes. Decriminalize it and let states vote on whether to legalize ti within their states just like gay marriage. Prosecute the child abusers and forbid plural marriage to be entered into by anyone under the age of 18 no matter what state they get married in without regard to state age of consent/marriage laws no waivers, no parents can sign consents for age modification. Only legal adults can choose to enter into polygamous relationships. This would draw a line in the sand that clearly states that you cannot engage in behaviors that are harmful to children no matter what religion you profess to believe.

    Hopefully everyone can see that decriminalization does not equate to legalizing it. Gay Marriage is not criminalized but it is also not legalized except in a few states. the court systems do not have time to chase down all the polygamists in the country. The prison system cannot handle all the polygamists if they are prosecuted. But most importantly to me the welfare system cannot afford to support these kids that taking these working fathers out of their homes and off of their jobs is literally dumping them on the backs of the taxpayer. Leave them alone as long as they are not involved with having sex with minors.

    PLEASE NOTE THAT THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED HERE DO NOT REPRESENT OFFICIAL POLICY OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS

  • Charlene Osland August 15, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    I agree that there is much more to this than Warren Jeffs. Now is the time to make decisions on upholding the law for the other polygamist men and their wives. Were they involved in the underage marriage decisions? Did they willingly give their daughters to other (older) men when providing their underage daughters gave them some advantage in this cult? Are the mothers protecting their children? Why are the boys driven out? Thay should be cared about as well. These children are not being educated, are insulated in this world and growing up without skills to achieve, make decisions for themselves, use critical thinking, and the ability to survive in society. They are being retarded in any personal growth and learn only that they are valuable as multiple wives and brood mares. This entire society must be investigated and brought before a court or some human rights commission that has some authority to ensure that these children receive their right to an education and freedom of speech and freedom of choice. This is far from over hopefully for these young people who are being robbed of a choice of their own lives. This is abuse from all aspects.

  • CurtisB August 16, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Warren Jeffs committed unlawful acts with children and aided in others doing so as well. Period. Freedom of religion does not grant him permission or the right to violate such laws.

    Bigamy laws may very well be before the Supreme Court in the near future now that Kody Brown and his four wives (of “Sister Wives” fame) are taking the matter to court. However, Warren Jeffs was not convicted for practicing polygamy, he was convicted for sexually assaulting children. No way should freedom of religion permit him to do that.

  • Jancis M. Andrews August 16, 2011 at 4:46 am

    Yes, polygamy is wrong because the one man and his many women do not participate in the practice as equals. The man lords it over the women, who have to fight for his favour and attention. Moreover, only the first woman is the legal wife and as such has certain rights. The remaining “wives” are nothing more than concubines in a harem. They and their children have no legal right to share in the man’s health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, tax benefits or pensions. Should they decide to leave the man, they are not entitled to wife support. Women who partake in polygamy risk impverishment for themselves and their children, not to mention psychological damage because they are rivals for the attention of the man. Polygamy comes to us from the dark ages when women had no rights and were considered chattels. It has absolutely no place in the 21st century. Finally ….Mother Nature has made the sexes roughly equal in number. There are certainly not even two women for every one man. Polygamy would thus contribute to social chaos because rich men would collect as many women as they could, leaving poorer men without the chance of having a wife and a family of their own. A foretaste of this is in present-day China, where, because of the one child policy, and because the Chinese favour sons, baby girls are aborted or killed at birth. Statistics show that there are now roughly 119 men for every 100 females, and the Chinese government itself has already stated that this could lead to social chaos, and is taking steps to try and persuade parents not to abort their girl babies. Will they succeed? Who knows? But it is quite apparent that polygamy is an anti-social movement. It’s high time that this ancient patriarchal practice was kicked into the garbage can of history, where it should have been kicked eons ago. The year is 2011 AD, not 2011 BC.

    • PCollen August 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      “A foretaste of this is in present-day China, where, because of the one child policy, and because the Chinese favour sons, baby girls are aborted or killed at birth.”

      An interesting observation: Apparently the FLDS views females as assets, and views males as liabilities , within their society. One male to every 10 females would certainly be no problem for them, particularly when the females can not only reproduce, but rake in all that welfare money by just ‘being sweet”.

  • Rex Whitmer August 17, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Actually as far as the FLDS goes, women do participate fully in most cases. Brain washed or not, they truly believe their religion. Personally, I would never accept Jeffs as a prophet or leader because he has no lineage of authority. Secondly, the Church as ordained by the Savior have fifteen persons involved in making decisions for the Church and it’s members. Apparently Jeffs rulled his flock as a prophet king of sorts. So far as I know, and I know from ancesteral records and writings of some of the progenitors of my family, no prophet commanded any woman to marry any man and no one ever took wives once wed and gave them to other members, no matter what occured. This man has no contact with God, which is evidenced by his actions, and those who have followed him who are living to see the predictions of John Taylor when he brought the matter before the apostles. The members themselves practice fraud against the goavernment of the United States, by getting food stamps and other welfare matters from the government.

    • kelly August 20, 2011 at 7:04 am

      I’m going to disagree with this one, about the “willing participation.” As a polygamy run-away, I can tell you, God is more powerful than a fist. They don’t have to beat you, when they can simply wave the bible at you and tell you hell fire and the eternal damnation of your soul await you if you rebel. All you family and friends and everyone you know are part of the system, even if your heart tells you this is obviously wrong, what if they are right? What if it is the voice of satan causing you to question what they say is “Gods word?” Even years after escaping you will sit up nights in fear of gods punishment for your rebellion.

      As for this talk about his religious rights, I have heard people say “well its still a crime to have sex with an underage girl.” I haven’t yet heard one person mention the rights of the CHILD. She has the right not to be ordered out of her cloths, crying. And what of HER freedom, when she is being literally imprisoned, physically restrained, tied down, and raped?

  • PCollen August 17, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Q: “Would Smith have condoned the inclusion of children in Jeffs taking polygamist wives?”
    A: Apparently NOT, because he didn’t. No other answer can be given, or even speculated upon. It’s like asking: Would John Kennedy eventually have divorced Jackie and married Marilyn ? Well, most likely NOT.

    Q:” Is it fair to say at this point that he is guilty as charged?”
    A: Yes. Pretty hard to argue that fact. What more proof would the jury need than the tapes and documents they certainly spent much more than 30 minutes in the court considering. I’m surprised deliberation lasted that long. You don’t have to deliberate much on the obvious.

    Q: ” Can the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemn this man’s actions without condemning their own faith?”
    A: Absolutely, given the age of the victims. Jeffs was not judged and convicted on being a polygamist. He was convicted of having, and facilitating having, sex with minors. LDS never has been accused of allowing sex with minors, and renounced adult polygamy in the late 19th century.

    “The FLDS church maintains that it is practicing religion as Smith, ordained by god, ordered it to do.”
    A: You can’t break the law in the name of religion. Religious freedom does not include the right to throw babies into the fire, or screw your neighbors 14 year old daughter even if you do have your neighbors permission to do so.

    I’ll “cut to the chase” now:

    “But what of the question of polygamy? Should it be protected under the law?”

    Polygamy is not bigamy, and is no more a crime than is “shacking up”. It should not be a prosecutable offense under the law if between consenting ADULTS. However, the male polygamist should be accountable for the welfare of his offspring

  • Grace August 17, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    I am sure the LDS church is torn because it is still canon of the so-called “revelation” of Mormon founder Joseph Smith Jr, as quoted in Doctrine & Covenant 13:2, the famous polyg command which was quoted from at Jeff’s defence. It’s still on the LDS.org website. If you read carefully, vs 50 oneward “God” says those who don’t abide by it will be damned and destroyed.

    Read “In Sacred Loneliness” by Todd Compton or search for “the wives of Joseph Smith”, both written by Mormons. Joseph had over 30 wives as young as 14 (who was promised salvation by Smith and Kimball, her father and a number already married to other men. So you see the dillema of the ‘so-called’ mainstream Mormon church. I just can’t see why anyone would believe in such stuff, but I guess this America, the land of the free. and such men and discusting ”prophecies’, such as these men forced on their followers. I just feelo SO sad for their victims.

  • Betty August 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Joseph Smith took plural wives as young as 14 and he had only a few years to experiment with polygamy and group dynamics. He took women who were married at the time to his own faithful followers. He threatened and manipulated parents into convincing their own daughters to be his “wives”. So I am not convinced that Jeffs is that much different. The youngest wife of Brigham Young was 16 and most were in their 20’s or 30’s.

    IMHO, as long as the LDS still maintain D&C 132 as valid sacred text, they are complicit in the outrages that the polygamist sub groups commit. That section proclaims polygamy as necessary for the highest exaltation and says that a wife who objects to her husband’s new wives will be destroyed by God. That means that the women have no real choice and no equality. Those who approve of polygamy based on concepts of the highly consensual and equitable polyamorists that they know do not understand Mormon or Islamic polygamy. It is, basically, slavery of women.

  • Angela Birch August 17, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I don’t care if consenting adults ( over 21 choose to live any way they choose. They can do it because they want to, because they think they have some religious impreritiv, to save on rent. I do’t care if they have sex. I think any woman who is willing to share her man because he ants her to is a fool, but people have the right to be stupid beyond belief.
    The minute a man molests or has sex with a child undr 18 it is a crime and should be punished to thefullest extent of the law. I would not only imprison Jeffs I would keep him i solitary with no way to contact people so brainwashed that they would hand 12 year old children over to him. He was convicted of sex with a child not with teens. If they want a prophet dandy but they do not have the right to trade their children’ for some nebulous theoretical salvation that the prophet will hand out.
    I would blanket the towns of Colorado City, Hilldale and the compound of Eldorado ad Pringle SD with signs explaining the law.If the signs were damaged I would convict the ntire town of vandalism. The ignorance and cruelty shown by Jeffs needs to be stampped ot. Jrffs said repeatedly he wasn’ a prophet. Did any of his brainwashed followers hear that.?

  • Alma Joe Wilkinson August 18, 2011 at 3:21 am

    [quote]That said, and this is the crux, the essential question to be asked is: When does freedom of religion cross the line and become simply what this was – criminal behavior?[/quote]
    When the practice of one’s INDIVIDUAL Free Agency–aka Freedom Of Choice–the “umbrella” of Freedom Of Religion, becomes classified as sinful by the fiat of a megalomaniac religious dictator (or father, in the case of many families–yes, even within the REAL Mormon Church) under the auspices of RELIGION.

    THAT defines the fundamental secular difference between the FLDS and LDS Churches–not the practice of polygamy. Joseph Smith said “I teach men correct principles, and let them govern themselves. The exact opposite-in every aspect–is what has defined the FLDS Church since it’s inception, but MUCH more so since Warren Jeffs came to power.

  • Tim Rommes August 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Should it (polygamy) be protected under the law?

    More to the point of our legal system, should it be condemned under the law? I think not so, at least not any more than divorce should be. The point of outlawing things is to protect individuals, the public generally, or the government. There should certainly be, and there are, laws to protect the individual in the case of marriage. Multiple marriage causes, to the extent I have been able to see or imagine, no more and perhaps less damage to society than divorce does. Divorce is allowed wholesale under law. Every support we credit to marriage, and that we credit to it loudly when the question of same sex marriage comes up, is destroyed by divorce. The persons involved in the marriage are hurt. Children of the marriage are hurt. The “fabric of society” is hurt. We don’t even blink. What reason is there to condemn multiple marriage? Why not condemn the wearing of polka dots? Is there a difference between the condemnations, as regards reason?

    Now don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t do it. But then I’m sane. I think. I’m Christian. Some people think that calls my sanity into question. I consider the Bible to contain the highest of moral standards. As such, if there were any moral problems with multiple marriage, wouldn’t the Bible condemn the practice? I mean, it does address the practice. The Bible does recognize the existence of polygamy. But it does so without condemning it. Evidently the practice was acceptable. Ill advised, perhaps, but acceptable. Women speaking in church, however, was prohibited. Evidently women talking was a more serious problem than polygamy. Who’da figured?

  • Ann Amberly August 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    @Spydyee

    You do know that the LDS Church will not baptize polygamists even if they live in countries where polygamy is absolutely legal, don’t you? It isn’t a question of legality. Polygamy was an Abrahamic sacrifice, like unto the commandment by God to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. That is what D&C 132 says. God rescinded the Abrahamic sacrifice of polygamy, thus returning polygamy to its status as adultery–second only to murder in the pantheon of sin.

  • Howard Palen August 25, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Sounds like another amatuer trying to make a name for himself by making crazy accusations and assumptions.

    If this is the kind of slanted drivel this writer is going to put out the editor made a big mistake hiring him.

  • Montana August 25, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    This has been going on too long, it’s a good start but our law enforcement has a long way to go.

    When I was a kid I lived in Utah, and the Boy Scouts was taken over by Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church). This, so called religion, practices underage polygamy, they send the boy s off on missions to divide the underage sisters among the dirty old men of the clan. Now when these underage girls get pregnant, these same dirty old men, send them to the state to get their welfare checks . You should see some of the palace homes that are paid with welfare checks. By the way this is the newest religion that was created right here in United States of America.

    When someone hides behind religion to do or say something that is wrong we should stand up and point it out (right the wrong).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iisl-xH3Xs

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