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:
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.