Must-watch television show on escaping Mormonism

One of our readers with her own website, Lady Atheist, has a nice review of a new television show on TLC (formerly The Learning Channel). It’s called “Breaking the Faith,” and is about children escaping the odious Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  That’s a sect of Mormon Church that practices polygamy (illegal in the U.S.) and was formerly headed by Warren Jeffs, now in jail for life for sex crimes. But apparently the faith goes on, polygamy and all, and I don’t know how they avoid being forced to obey the law. One of the women (girls, really) who is trying to escape comes from a family with 32 mothers and 302 siblings!

The show’s website is here, and there are intriguing—and very frightening—clips.  Were I not the only American who didn’t have cable t.v., I’d surely be watching, for the clips clearly show what brainwashing can do to children, and they break my heart. Here’s a snippet of Lady Atheist’s review:

The FLDS makes the Amish look like the Kardashians.  The control is total and they grew up with almost no contact with “gentiles.”

Four boys/young men (ages 18-20) who are already on the outside break out four girls/young women (ages 18-22) who have gotten word to them that they want out of their religious prison.

These kids reveal an astonishing alternate reality that has been constructed by the cult.  The “prophet” is the top guy.  There is also a “bishop” and a group of brownshirt types nicknamed the “God Squad”.  People on the outside are called “gentiles” and there is an inner circle called the “United Order.”  Their compound is called “The Crick.”

. . . Despite a tightly controlled environment, each realized that there was something wrong in their Paradise, inspiring them to escape.  In some instances, they left behind a sibling who also wanted out, and their regret about this is palpable.

Of course, their limited experiences didn’t prepare them for what they would find on the outside.  Although they came to see their leader and lifestyle as flawed, most of their beliefs are so entrenched that they experience intense fear and guilt almost immediately.  Apparently later episodes show them having fun, but the first episode gives you a glimpse into what is much more than culture shock.   They knew there was something wrong with their cult lifestyle, but they had no idea how much of their lives was based on lies, and they are genuinely dismayed as they try to sort it out.

They stay at a safehouse which is actually the home of one of the cult’s most notorious turncoats –and they hear the other side of the story for the first time in their lives.  The girls look terrified as they face a loving woman who wants them to have a dignified and safe life for themselves.  It would be like one of us meeting Jeffrey Dahmer and hearing him say that all those stories about eating people were made up.  They aren’t sure what to believe, and they are reluctant to give up everything at once.  Who would?  This will be tough going for them.

This is a real-life version of “Big Love,” and I recommend it if you get cable.

The women dress like something out of the 19th century. Here’s a screenshot:

Picture 1

How sad for young lives to be completely ruined simply by an accident of birth. I wish there were a way to make it illegal to indoctrinate your child in any religion before the age of, say, 18.

p.s. There’s also a show called “Breaking Amish,” which deals with leaving that closeted community.

119 Comments

  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    OMG 302 siblings! I read somewhere that the human mind can really only handle groups of 150 (which is an argument for flatter organization structure in corporations)….basically you wouldn’t even really know many of your siblings or even recognize them!

    There was another show besides Breaking Amish that was about leaving the old order and there was a guy who had left and was helping others leave. I can’t remember the name of that one but I like it better than Breaking Amish as it seemed less sensationalized (though I could be wrong and it really was this show).

    • Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      150? Not sure I could handle 15….

      b&

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        Yeah me neither but I realize my work network is probably in the 200s.

        • Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          Woah…I barely interact with a single other person for work, and that pretty much entirely by email and phone. There’s at absolute most a half dozen others with whom I ever have any contact.

          I can’t imagine anywhere near as many people as you describe….

          b&

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

            Luckily, I don’t have to interact with them all at once but I’ve either worked on projects with them, worked on teams with them or reached out to them for help or to help them. It’s mostly a good experience because I have a lot of people I can reach out to if I need expertise in certain areas.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted December 6, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

            You should try the oilfield for a time. Land on a new rig every month and have to learn your way around 100 other people who you’ve never met before, and most of whom you’re not going to meet for another decade. Next month, same thing again on a different rig. Next month another.
            You do get to meet the same old faces eventually. But you may go several years between meetings. Except when passing in opposite directions through airports.

      • lisa parker
        Posted December 6, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

        I thought my eight siblings was something! We had Thanksgiving dinner together; my husband’s brother with his wife and two of their children, my siblings and their spouses and only a handful of our ‘second generation’ and there were 56 of us. And one sister and her family couldn’t be there!

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted December 6, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

          I find that disorienting sometimes. I have a very small family. The upside is less BS the downside is dying alone but the last part is predicated on outliving everyone so you get to be all smug. LOL!

    • Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      You might be thinking of “Amish: Out of Order” on the National Geographic channel, featuring Mose Gingerich. That is a pretty good show. The young men who leave seem to have a hard time substituting self control for their former community’s control.

      http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/amish-out-of-order/

  2. gbjames
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    sub

    • francis
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      //

  3. H.H.
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    It should be noted that while both shows market themselves as “reality television,” they are in fact scripted reenactments.

    • Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      I happened to catch 50% of Breaking the Faith and I’m not sure that I agree that it is “scripted reenactment”. Maybe in later episodes where the escapees are more comfortable, I could see them reenacting some bits, but the first episode was very convincing as to its authenticity.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      I hope they’re reenactments, because I was rather squeamish about them being filmed for television. Even though they’re adults, could they really give informed consent to being filmed if they’ve never seen a television?

  4. uglicoyote
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Road.

  5. JBlilie
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I strongly recommend that you read Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven for the full dose of craziness in Mormonism.

    • µ
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Totally agree. Couldn’t stop reading that book and read it during one weekend

    • ladyatheist
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      Added to my reading list! Thanks

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 5, 2013 at 4:43 am | Permalink

      + 2

  6. Anthony
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    on the subject of cable TV, this caught my attention the other day, although I haven’t watched it: “Church Rescue” (On National Geographic? Ugh.)

    “Running a church takes more than faith, and even the holiest of institutions can fall victim to harsh realities. Enter the “Church Hoppers” — three business-savvy ministers who travel the country helping faith-based organizations reestablish themselves in the marketplace so they can continue spreading the good word to their followers. They use the wisdom of Scripture and a little Southern ingenuity to pull off inspiring interventions.”

    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/church-rescue/

  7. µ
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Re “Were I not the only American who didn’t have cable t.v”

    I don’t have cable TV. Don’t think I ever miss anything important

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Me too.

    • Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Have to add my chips to this sub-thread… I cut the cable right after the Telecommunications Act of 96 went into effect (thanks, Gore) resulting in the largest single public giveaway in our history (at that time). Amazing how much time there is in a day now.

      Am going to track this one down online, tho…

    • Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      <aol>Ditto.</aol>

      b&

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Ditto. But then, I never watch any kind of TV at all.

      • Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        Ditto ditto. Closest thing I have to a TV is a laptop I’ll sometimes watch something I’ve downloaded.

        b&

        • JBlilie
          Posted December 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

          Mega-dittos! I haven’t watched TV since 1987.

          • Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

            ’87 was when I went off to university. No TV then. Several years later, though still in school, I somehow acquired a pocket TV, with an LCD screen a bit bigger than a postage stamp. I think I mostly listened to the News Hours on it. Some time after that, I got a TV tuner card for the computer I had. I think I actually watched a few different shows regularly, for a year or so. Then I got completely fed up with the media in the wake of 9/11, stopped watching TV altogether, not long after retired the computer with the tuner, and didn’t even think to get a tuner with whatever replaced the old one.

            Every now and again I’ll be at somebody else’s place with a TV and be reminded why I don’t have one….

            Cheers,

            b&

            • gbjames
              Posted December 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

              Must be strange to be so young.

      • Nwalsh
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        Not even the Dodgers? :)

      • Nwalsh
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        Oops, my dodger comment below should have been directed at Mark Joseph. Cheers.

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted December 4, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

          No problem; I figured that out (you actually did place the comment in the right place, which is sometimes hard on these threads).

          Nope, not even the Dodgers. I listen to the games on the radio while I’m doing my e-mail, reading the WEIT blog website, etc. I’m pretty amazing at turning off the commercials, and turning it back on two minutes later at the start of the next half-inning.

          Since Ben gave us a personal history, and since this probably the only time I can top him, I’ll add mine. I stopped watching TV in 1975, with the exception of the occasional baseball game at someone else’s house. The last time I ever had the TV on at all the was the final pitch of the 2006 World Series (Adam Wainwright struck out Brandon Inge looking on a really nasty curveball). Now the thought of watching TV just makes me sick, and I can’t really conceive of any set of circumstances in which I would ever turn it on again.

          My lack of craven kowtowing to the great god Medea media is quite the topic of discussion at my office, and I get an endless stream of banal comments about what I “missed” last night on TV.

          All of which leads to yesterday’s somewhat amusing xkcd: http://xkcd.com/1299/

          • Nwalsh
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

            Good for you Mark, sometimes not easily accomplished. I have MLB here on computer. Big Giant fan (sorry)had lots to cheer about last few years. Cheers.

            • Mark Joseph
              Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

              I’m sticking with the tried and true: “Wait ’til next year!”

    • Richard Olson
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Three times in 5 decades something came over me an I subscribed to cable. The first time I kept it for almost a year, the second time about 6 months. The final time I subscribed she got fed up with me right after it was installed, by then I was already fed up with it, and they departed almost simultaneously around a month later.

    • Kevin
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Ditto. 1988 was the last time I regularly watched TV…and I watched every old movie known to humankind. My kids have never seen a TV except at grandmas. Alas, they have never seen a black and white movie either. Kurosawa will be their first.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      Yeah I was about to say that Jerry is far from the only American without cable as many people (especially young people) get their shows elsewhere and using different media. This is the same in Canada where cable is even more gouge-y.

      I’m stuck with satellite because I live in a boonies area and I use a WAN for Internet (so wireless over land to a repeater) which gives me good highspeed but not the rates that would allow me to stream a lot.

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:03 am | Permalink

        I think the point, tho, is not so much about the vehicle as the content… ;)

        • Posted December 5, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

          You are right, it is all about content. I live in Switzerland where the state-owned TV offers supremely excellent programs, especially documentaries and films, that are not constantly interrupted by commercials. I also have cable and have a good choice of excellent channels that offer quality HD TV and brings me the best of British TV. I ignore many channels that are pure tripe as far as I am concerned. I especially enjoy the documentaries, especially the nature and wildlife documentaries as well as socially concerned documentaries. I don’t spend all my time watching TV, I plan my entertainment ahead, and all in all, it is much, much cheaper than going to the movies.

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted December 5, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

          Humbly beg to disagree, at least a little. *Even if* the content is “good” (which I doubt is possible, given the need to keep the audience’s attention long enough for them to look at the commercials), you have two problems with the vehicle. One, it encourages passivity. Two, McLuhan’s dictum, “the medium is the message.” If something if presented as entertainment, it will be received as entertainment–regardless of the educational or artistic merit of the content.

          Superb commentary: Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

          • Diane G.
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

            Well, I think we’re still on the same page. I was meaning to say that no matter how you get your TV show or what you watch it on, it’s still a TV show. With all the passivity, etc., that goes along with it.

            Oh, I read that Postman when it first came out. :)

    • Jon
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I don’t even own a TV.

      http://onion.com/191FcOv

      • gbjames
        Posted December 5, 2013 at 6:20 am | Permalink

        ;)

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:01 am | Permalink

      Wow, very cool to know there are so many other non-TV-watchers here! I thought we were rarer than atheists…

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:35 am | Permalink

        Yet I am the complete opposite and watch more TV than movies or anything else:

        Doctor Who
        Revolution
        Dexter (now finished)
        True Blood
        Walking Dead
        Almost Human
        Orphan Black
        Breaking Bad (now finished)
        Big Bang Theory
        Two Broke Girls
        Person of Interest

        ….and I’m sure I missed some.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:37 am | Permalink

          Oh yeah: Game of Thrones, Crossing Lines.

        • gbjames
          Posted December 5, 2013 at 6:22 am | Permalink

          I quite enjoyed Orphan Black. Tatiana Maslany is an remarkable actress. I can’t wait for the second season.

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted December 5, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        What? Atheists?? Where?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 6, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Isn’t that the technology that inspired the song “57 channels and there’s nothing on”?
      We had cable here once ; they went bankrupt in about 1990. The cables are still in place for 80-odd % of the housing stock, but it’s all dark.
      To my surprise no-one has tried using the cable for internet. Bit odd that – should be able to compete with fibreopric for link speed, but it’s already in place.

  8. Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    I think this version of Mormonism is closer to how Joseph Smith practiced it, and not the corporation the main LDS Church is today. I remember as a kid seeing women and girls dressed in the same garb as the above photo (never men, strangely) in southern Utah from time to time. My mom told me they were polygamists, which I found so odd (and I was raised Mormon).

    How is it they are able to operate outside the law, the occasional arrest notwithstanding?

    • gbjames
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      In the small rural communities in which they live, they are the law.

    • Frank
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Yes. Mormons love to put on pageants that re-create their pioneer history in the west. These “historical” re-creations are sanitized and fictionalized, so that they hardly resemble the way things really were. The LDS church would be loath to admit that the modern culture of the FLDS is closest to the culture of the original Mormon pioneers in Utah.

      • gbjames
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

        They are the quintessential history white-washers. Their leader (the Prophet) need only have a revelation and the entire population will erase whatever their former understanding of events was in favor of the new truth.

        I enjoyed asking a Mormon co-worker about Mountain Meadows. His response was telling… “well, whose story do you want to believe?”.

        • ladyatheist
          Posted December 4, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          white-washing as in “we were never racists” you mean?

  9. Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Those young women look very pale and even if they were allowed to go outside for some sun, those dresses would make the uptake of Vitamin D problematic. I got to wonder how these women get their medical care?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Nah, I’m even paler. The paler you are, the easier you suck up vitamin D. Without supplementing, my vitamin D levels are normal. I can supplement and get outstanding vitamin D levels. I actually have to be careful not to overdo it with vitamin D & I’m an IT worker that spends a lot of time indoors and when outdoors I’m pretty covered with at least sunblock because I burn easily.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        …and this is a subject to a fictional pamphlet I always thought I should write, “Evolving under cloud cover, the white girls guide to sun protection”. :D

        • lisa parker
          Posted December 6, 2013 at 7:50 am | Permalink

          I like that. I generally tell anyone who asks about my pallor is that I’m just ‘soft white underbelly’

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 6, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Wrong question : what on earth make you think that women (original sinners that they are) should have health care lavished upon them? [I'm typing in the voice of one of the Patriarchs, of course.]
      What was that saying that came to mind a couple of days ago? Something about “barefoot, pregnant and chained to the kitchen sink”?

  10. Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I remember reading a great many articles about the FLDS and the many affiliated groups all over America and Canada. One of the many things that struck me was the fact that their polygamous ways made for an imbalance insofar as there were too many boys (as many as girls) so they couldn’t all have many wives, so they resolved the problem in two ways – killing baby boys as soon as they were born or banishing boys as young as 13, turning them loose into the non FLDS society completely unprepared.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      I have wondered if the same mathematical imbalance is one source of terrorism in muslim countries. If a kid doesn’t see himself getting married in his future, wouldn’t 24 virgins in heaven be a good consolation prize? Not to mention, he could be a hero in his parents’ eyes instead of a pathetic loser.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 6, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        I look to the sheer numerical imbalance in China and shudder.

    • boggy
      Posted December 5, 2013 at 12:37 am | Permalink

      Rather different from the situation in India and China where baby girls are often killed and the gender imbalance is marked. The mother is often beaten by the mother in law or the husband for producing a girl. They don’t like to be told that the father is responsible for the child’s gender.

      • John Scanlon, FCD
        Posted December 5, 2013 at 6:17 am | Permalink

        Someone should educate them a little about the laws of physics and probability, then.

        • boggy
          Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

          More likely the laws of genetics.

      • Posted December 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps the FLDS should move to India and China, this could help correct the imbalance there and stop the slaughter of baby girls.

  11. Newish Gnu
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer is mostly about the FLDS — he also covers the LDS — and well worth the time.

    PCC asked, “How do they get away with [illegal polygamy].

    As I understand it, there is only one legal marriage; the rest are “sacramental” only. Among other things, that arrangement means lots of legally single mothers with lots of dependents so lots of welfare which is the only way the economics works out. Oh, you also expel lots of “surplus” teenage boys.

    • Gasper Sciacca
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Mormons taking welfare! Is there no end to their hypocrisy

  12. Mark Joseph
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    One of our readers with her own website

    Are we sure it’s not a blog? ;-)

    I occasionally visit Lady Atheist’s uh, locus for on-line musings, and always find it interesting.

  13. Tulse
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    If I may demure a bit, my spouse is ex-Mormon, and she gets extremely annoyed when folks refer to these breakaway groups as “Mormon”, without any qualifiers. It would be like having an article about ultra-Orthodox Lubavitch separatists titled “On escaping Judaism”, or radical Sedevacantist called “On escaping Catholicism”, or snake-handling Pentacostals called “On escaping Christianity”.

    While mainstream Mormonism is certainly odious, it is no more so than mainstream Southern Baptist or Presbyterianism. Calling these radically fundamentalist groups “Mormon” is a rather gross imprecision.

    • gbjames
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      I’ll reform a question I often ask liberal christians….

      “Who gets to define what a real Mormon is?”

      • Tulse
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        The issue isn’t “real” Mormon in terms of theology, but in terms of what that word commonly refers to. In common usage, the FLDS are not the folks with the big choir in Utah. They’re not “Mormon” as the word is commonly used.

        • gbjames
          Posted December 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think that is fair reasoning. Otherwise only the largest denomination of Christians could be called “Christians”. And the little fragmentary Xtian cults could’t use the term. Was the Branch Davidians Christian? They said so. I’m sure there are lots of Catholics/Lutherans/etc. who would say “they weren’t real Christians”. Which is my point. Who gets to decide who is a “real” Christian/Morman/Jew/Muslim/Hindu/whatever?

          • Tulse
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

            Was the Branch Davidians Christian? They said so.

            I’m not saying that the FLDS aren’t in some sense “Mormon”, only that describing leaving the FLDS as “escaping Mormonism” is as misleading as saying departing the Branch Davidians is “escaping Christianity”. My issue is that Jerry’s title for this post is, I think, misleading.

            • gbjames
              Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

              In the sense that a former FLDS member might remain a Mormon, I get your point.

          • Mark Joseph
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

            Not only that, but for hundreds of years, the Catholics said the Lutherans weren’t true christians, and vice versa.

            We are skirting the edges of a “No True Mormon” fallacy here. If the FLDS self-identifies as Mormon, then the Mormons are stuck with them, just as the catholics are with Torquemada, the protestants with Jerry Falwell and Ian Paisley, and we atheists with Joseph Stalin.

            As always, the truth or falsity of any particular ideology is independent of the creepiness of some of its adherents. Mormonism is false because its history is bogus and its theology ludicrous, not because of the abhorrent practices of some crazies in remote parts of some western states. Similarly, despite the fact the some Mormons are good people does not mean that their doctrine is true. [/end lecture] ;-)

            • Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

              Atheism is categorically different from religion, though, in the same way that baldness is different from hair color.

              You can’t pin a person’s ideology on atheism, any more than you could pin somebody’s ideology on a lack of participation or belief in anything else. Was it Stalin’s lack of belief in Quetzalcoatl that was responsible for the Purges, or his lack of belief in Ares? Or maybe his lack of belief in Shiva, or unicorns, or Santa, or leprechauns, or dragons, or Jesus?

              A Christian, of course, will latch on to only that last one as the true cause of his ideology, while a Muslim would blame his ideology on lack of belief in the Muslim gods of Allah and Muhammad — and simultaneously and perversely insist that Muhammad wasn’t a god, even though any anthropologist would trivially identify him as a god.

              You can hopefully see how attributing a person’s beliefs to what he doesn’t believe in makes little sense.

              In Stalin’s case, it was what he actually did believe in — power, mostly — that caused him to behave as he did. So, please, lump him in not with those who share his disbeliefs — atheists — but with those who shared his beliefs — the other megalomaniacal despots throughout history.

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Mark Joseph
                Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

                Good points, especially your second paragraph. I will have to mull them over. I try to be fair, but one can bend over a bit too far backwards.

                In your fourth paragraph, did you mean to say “You can hopefully see how attributing a person’s *actions* to what he doesn’t believe in makes little sense.”?

              • Posted December 6, 2013 at 7:07 am | Permalink

                Actions and beliefs both.

                If I tell you that I don’t believe in Santa, you might guess that I probably also don’t believe in the Easter Bunny, but I could — and I might even actually believe in Santa’s Workshop and the Elves and what-not but not Santa himself.

                If I tell you why I don’t believe in Santa — lack of supporting evidence, overwhelming amounts of contradictory evidence, the incoherent nature of the claims, the fact that it doesn’t at all comport with modern understanding of theory, and so on…well, then I’ve told you what I do believe, and from that you can begin to understand why I almost certainly also don’t believe in the Easter Bunny.

                And that’s not at all a contrived example. An Hindu, for example, will not believe in Jesus. Aha! A rationalist atheist! But not so fast…he doesn’t believe in Jesus because he does believe in Krishna….

                Cheers,

                b&

    • Kevin
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Point taken. These people quintessential fringe.

      A better TV drama would be normal Mormons/Baptists/Catholics leaving their faith and leading by example so that the rest will follow with a sense of courageous empathy.

    • Frank
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Odiousness is in the eye of the beholder, as is what does or does not qualify under the umbrella name of a particular religion (it is a little reminiscent of Muslims saying that religiously inspired terrorism can’t be considered “true” Islam). One does have to admit that the FLDS church, like the LDS church, are a direct legacy of the same con man, Joseph Smith, even if their modern practices diverge in some respects.

      • Tulse
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        the FLDS church, like the LDS church, are a direct legacy of the same con man

        Sure, but Quakers and Christian White Supremacists share a legacy as well.

    • JBlilie
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Aye! Only a TRUE SCOTSMAN™ …

  14. Richard C
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    FLDS cult issues aside, I don’t see how anyone could be prevented from practicing consensual adult polygamy. They can’t be legally married, but why wouldn’t non-binding religious “marriages” be allowed when, legally, they wouldn’t amount to anything more than cohabitation with multiple partners that’s being worthlessly endorsed by some church?

    It’s not like they’re trying to file 50-partner joint tax returns or get legal marriage licenses.

    Of course, when it involves underage girls, that’s all kinds of illegal. (The FLDS parents are basically handing their daughter over to a non-legal-guardian with a harem — and that’s before he even tries to sleep with her.) Making women stay against their will seems like illegal imprisonment, and the cultish childhood indoctrination should be a form of psychological abuse.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      I agree on consensual adult polygamy but it’s almost always a cult thing and only men can have multiple spouses, not women. And how consensual can it really be if a woman starts to age and the man wants to bring in an 18-year-old or… divorce? I think I’d choose divorce but what of women who devoted their lives to the housewife ideal?

      • Posted December 5, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        I am all for consensual polyandry – take for example seven husbands for one wife. That means seven salaries being brought home, a different husband every night, a team of men to do all the housework and all the upkeep, repairs, etc., a team of men to share childcare duties… a woman’s dream come true!

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted December 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          You don’t want to be around that much competing testosterone. They all have to live apart! :)

          • Posted December 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

            Of course, you need to pick them carefully. There’s a country in the Himalayas where polyandry was the rule, possibly because for some reason they tended to give birth to considerably more males than females, so women would marry a group of brothers. Land was inherited by the daughters, not by the sons. There are several sound reasons for polyandry, including limiting population.
            See Multiple Husbands

        • Posted December 5, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

          As far as I’m concerned, consenting adults should be left to their own devices. I’d get the State entirely out of the marriage business.

          Couples or trios or communes or whatever could form corporations or otherwise make use of contract law to ensure property and visitation and power-of-attorney and other rights. If the people involved still want to slap the “marriage” label on it, or have some official person do it for them, great — go ahead and do so in however much or little style and with as many or as few people celebrating and in whatever manner best fits.

          But the State should never have had anything at all to do with deciding who is and who isn’t eligible to form what type of relationship with somebody else. Bad Juju all the way ’round.

          b&

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

            Yeah my dad says that too. Take the state right out of it. You’d have to modify property laws first so breakups didn’t clog up the courts with people fighting over their stuff. Wouldn’t be too hard to do (I say as someone with little to no knowledge about law procedures).

          • gbjames
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

            “I’d get the State entirely out of the marriage business.”

            And leave it to the churches? No thanks.

    • steve oberski
      Posted December 6, 2013 at 2:04 am | Permalink

      While I agree with you in theory that consenting adults should be free to form any sort of relationship I think that polygamy falls under the same umbrella as the issue of the burqa and niqab, namely these are practices being forced upon women by patriarchal societies such that in general there is no actual consent.

      And by the term “forced” I include the childhood conditioning that turns many of the victims of these practices into apparently willing participants.

      That combined with peer and social pressures to conform make it very difficult to assess the degree of consent in these situations.

  15. jakc
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    As to the relationship between FLDS and historical LDS. Certainly differs from Joe Smith in that Joe was not public about polygamy, and Mrs Joe, after his death, broke with Brigham Young. It was theoretically about succession (BY orJoe Smith Jr) but as much about polygamy . The RLDS who stayed in Mizzou and environs were not polygamous. Guess Mrs Joe didn’t like multiple wives. (The RLDS are now the Community of Christ). Brigham and the elders had multiple wives by then and so went west, away from established states. One of the things that drove polygamy in those days was the higher conversion rate of women to the church. Since growth was more conversion and less birth rates in the earlier days, polygamy served what would have been seen as a valuable function – every woman has a husband. I’m not saying that there weren’t 13 year old forced to marry old guy, but it’s not like the modern FLDS church where most marriages are in that mode. Of course, the problem for the FLDS is that it relies on birth rates. In other words, young men get kicked out in large numbers so that the leaders can have many wives (the lost boys of St George Utah).

    The FLDS requires both an excess of women/teen girls and control (say, compounds in remote areas, coupled with a lack of support systems in those areas for women who wish to flee). The modern LDS church has lots of problems (that’s what happens when old white guys to decide all the doctrine like it’s still 1913), but it’s easy to leave the church (jack Mormon is the equivalent of ex-catholic).

    As for the Amish show. I saw an episode. Looks more like one of those MTV reality shows than the real experiences of young Amish leaving the church.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      IIRC Amish kids are allowed to spend some time out in the world so they can make an informed decision about their commitment to the lifestyle/religion. I thought that was what teh show was about

    • Brett
      Posted December 5, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Actually getting your name taken off the rolls is a bit of a pain in the ass, but just leaving it is definitely easy (fellow Jack Mormon here). Plus, why burn the bridges if you still have a lot of practicing Mormon family members?

  16. Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    The second anniversary of Mr Hitchens’ death comes forth just after next week.

    In honor of him and as re “How sad for young lives to be completely ruined simply by an accident of birth. I wish there were a way to make it illegal to indoctrinate your child in any religion before the age of, say, 18,” the most favored and loved TRUTH of so, so many statements from Mr Hitchens throughout his life, for me, has been this one !

    “Religious education .IS. child ABUSE.”

    Blue

  17. boggy
    Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Some years ago in the UK I employed a Mormon girl. She was quite normal and drank tea and coffee, so I wonder if there are different grades of Mormonism reaching up to the excesses we read of here. The USA is the pinnacle of religious zealotism so I assume so.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Yes there are all kinds of Mormons. I worked with a fellow I would more describe as a liberal xian who was Mormon and he drank tea.

      • gbjames
        Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        The most interesting ones are the Formons. Like Brian Dalton.

    • jakc
      Posted December 5, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      It’s like any long established religion. There are people who are nominally Mormon because it’s how they were raised. Often, for family reasons, they don’t want to break with the church, but they don’t particularly follow the rules. The Huntsman family seems that way (Jon Huntsman former governor of Utah and candidate for Republican presidential nomination). People noticed that he sounded saner and more liberal than most of the GOP despite being Mormon. “Huntsman” is an old and well established LDS family; I suspect that many in the current family are Mormon in the way that the Kennedys are Catholic

  18. Brett
    Posted December 5, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    If you live in the Salt Lake Metro Area, you might occasionally see some polygamists walking around. I grew up in Sandy, and there was a compound of them living near a park a couple miles from my house. You could tell because they had the dress code, that weird hair thing they do, and so forth.

    I think that’s only the rich ones, though, who tend to live in the Valley. Most of them live down in their communities and tend to be relatively poor (they draw heavily upon welfare).

  19. lisa parker
    Posted December 5, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    After doing some research about world religions and their American sects, I found, in my opinion that the LDS is one of the most pernicious in America. And I am referring to the actual ‘mainstream’ churches, not the weird cults that often pop up for a while and that are slowly (or sometimes not slowly) destroyed by the lack of young brainless followers. (Which I more than agree need to be stopped, but very difficult to legislate in a country that supposedly allows religious freedom.) Except Utah. Deciding which doctrine is really religious faith motivated by reasonable and long standing communities and histories. The line in this sand is so easily obscured by the slightest of breezes. But a well established church with strong financial roots is pervasive, and whenever possible, I do my best to UN-indoctrinate those that have ties to my family and friends. This is really not easy. But recently my son moved back home with his wife, who is Mormon, after 8 years in Utah. I had hoped that once she was away from these people, it would easier to accomplish. But because we happen to live very close to a strong presence in this area of Houston, which I hadn’t known about until my son moved back home. They even have one of the few temples outside of Utah. (I must say that whatever nonsense this church babbles about their beliefs, their temples is really lovely. It can’t hold a candle to the Hindu (I’m not sure wich Aspect they worship there) recently built way in the southwest part of town. That one is breathtaking; made of pure white marble chased by real gold, all very sculpted and adorned with very many intricate carvings. It is just beautiful!) When my son and daughter moved here (under a quite messy and unpleasant cloud), they moved in with us (which I was informed of when they were already on the road), without jobs, any kind of certification or savings. But it seems the Church was not willing to so easily loose one of its flock. So her religious leader (I don’t remember what they call them, but I think the term was ‘bishop’) in Utah called the ‘bishop’ here, so they were even more indoctrinated than ever. Thankfully my son has not joined the congregation, but does defend it and believes that is making his wife’s transition much easier. Once or sometimes twice a week we get a visit with the ‘missionaries’ assigned to my son and his wife, they might read scripture and pray together. I did make some effort to defuse these lessons, first by repeating a Lewis Black routine when they were reading and studying Exodus, mostly about them wandering around the desert for 40 years. That didn’t do much good, so I tried bringing gambling into the dialogue, but that got them deciding to have a bimonthly poker games. Now they have joined the weekly Donjons and Dragons game (that is a weird bunch made up of 2 atheists, one ‘born again’ Christian two staunch Catholics and our few Mormon missionaries.) so none of that worked to help me rescue my daughter. Even more difficult still is that the Church has insisted on giving them funds for living expenses, paid some of their debts and medical expenses and has opened their ‘warehouse’ which is totally packed with food and similarly necessities of life. (They even have their own label!) And they left a basket and insulated container at our door that held a combination of things to make a big Thanksgiving dinner.
    Their open arms and open pockets have made my daughter-in-law even more entangled in their snare. The LDS has made quite a headway with that. Maybe it’s my son’s attitude that distresses me most. Whenever I try to talk to him privately, his rebuttals these kind of things have happened in the past, but that they are not still happening. And anyway what had been held as truth in the past are not seen as true now and no one really believe that blacks are godless or that women are not equal with men, just that men and women are best suited to certain and different work. My son is becoming ensconced and blinded by these offers of ‘love and help’ that the Mormons hold with and helping out all of their LDS community, and the money and other stuff they have given is a show of their love and support.
    I should let you know that her Mormon upbringing has brought their ‘much loved daughter’ all kinds’ baggage to carry around. She thinks that she is just this side monster ugly (she is a lovely girl, a bit overweight now, but very far from repulsive. When I first met her I thought she bore a marked resemblance Glenn Close – when she was young.) She believes herself to be ugly, stupid and lacking any credible resources. She has every eating disorder I have heard about, extreme panic attacks, severe depression occasionally cuts herself and is at times suicidal to the point that when depressed, it is necessary to never leave her alone for even a brief time. If any of you have any ideas about how to counter this, I could really use some help.

    • Posted December 5, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Oh dear, I don’t know what to say, and I have no idea what resources you could turn to in your area.

      One cannot help people who don’t want to be helped, unfortunately, and that goes for any form of addiction.

      • lisa parker
        Posted December 6, 2013 at 7:07 am | Permalink

        It is hard to watch people you love go through this kind of thing. I am hoping that after she lives here a while and made friends that are NOT LDS that we will be able to slowly help her see how wrong-headed those people can be. First I will try to at least get her under the care of real doctors. You would not believe the medications they’ve had her on (like meds for type 3 I think diabetes though she isn’t diabetic, and three incompatible antidepressants

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 6, 2013 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      Wow, that’s terrible, especially for the young girl with the eating disorder. I felt the same way about myself as a young woman: thought I was stupid, ugly, etc. and I had an eating disorder. There is no easy way out of that and no quick answers.

      • lisa parker
        Posted December 6, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        I suppose I should have mentioned her age, since most teenage girls think they’re ugly, stupid, etc. But Megan is 35.

    • Notagod
      Posted December 28, 2013 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

      Lisa, there are at least a couple of mormon recovery groups that might be of some help. I suppose they would be familiar with the issues. Search terms such as ex-mormon, leaving mormonism, or similar terms will produce many results. Just as an example you could look at this one.

      The psychological damage that you describe isn’t at all uncommon among women in the mormon religon. The mormons have a high rate of prescription drug abuse.

      My best wishes to you.

      • lisa parker
        Posted December 30, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. They have been so loving and kind to her that I am not sure how to even start without sounding like Satan in his/her pj’s. In fact, the weekly visiting missionaries are taking their leave as I type this.
        I hope none of this with my name on it gets around back to her! Hell frozen over would look like Death Valley! (I think there is an unintentional joke in there.)

        • Posted December 31, 2013 at 6:44 am | Permalink

          Man, that’s heartbreaking.

          The Mormons can definitely play the “nice” card very, very well. And, for all the powerful disfunction in that cult, they do do some community-related things right.

          There might not be a whole lot you can do to save your daughter from herself, especially if she doesn’t want to be saved. Don’t give up on her, but don’t beat yourself up for the choices she makes for herself.

          Still, if you think you can do it without chasing her away, it might not be the worst thing to pour your heart out. Let her know that she has to live her life as she sees fit, but that you really wish she wouldn’t live it like this and here’s why. Let her see how scared you are for her.

          …and maybe not. You’re the one on the scene, with the best read on how all the various dynamics are balanced.

          Best of luck. You’ve got a resource of caring people here; don’t be afraid to draw on it.

          b&

          • lisa parker
            Posted December 31, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

            You are very kind. I have decided to wait a little longer until she has more non-Mormon friends. She is just ecstatic about the way both her co-workers and my family has welcomed her during the holiday season, especially since her family apparently does not do well at gathering and/or accepting as they could (I guess the ‘nice card’ isn’t felt to be necessary for those born into and still dependent on the faithful) where mine nearly defines ‘diversity’ and ‘party’ and is always willing to take in another.(Sort of strange how we keep collecting ex-in- laws; apparently divorcing one of my siblings does not involve divorcing the family.) All I can do is wait for a chance. I did ask her to lend me a copy of “The Book of Mormon” (though I have tried to read it all the way through a couple of times) hoping to start a dialogue. We shall see.

  20. marksolock
    Posted December 5, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  21. Posted December 18, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    As Archie Bunker would have said, get a load of this: http://mormonwomenbare.com/


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