I took the opportunity to watch a documentary last night. The Showtime Anytime Network has developed a new menu system that makes it much easier to read titles and descriptions of their offerings than before. I chose to stretch my comfort zone a bit by selecting “Prophet’s Prey“. I went into viewing the movie as a mildly interested party. Well, I can’t say I’m not interested now. In fact, I may have to figure out how to charge Showtime for the counseling I’m going to need after watching the show. “Disturbing” kind of scratches the surface of how to describe the movie.
The “Prophet” in question is Warren Jeffs, the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The “Prey“, were everybody Jeffs came in contact with, but most especially children. The financial/economic setup with these folks is so convoluted and entangled that it would take an army of accountants years to figure out their land holdings and internal structure, which is not to say somebody shouldn’t do it.
Jeffs put hundreds of people in slavery by confiscating all of their belongings and then taking their paychecks from them. Jeffs controlled every aspect of the followers daily lives. The initiates were powerless to move away from the church, emotionally and financially. Once Jeffs held all of the purse strings, he tightened down on the congregation until the aberration that resulted was way more cult than church.
I’m familiar with a wide range of religions, and I feel like I’m fairly tolerant of folk’s belief systems. I never suspected that anyone could go to the depths of perversion like Jeffs and his followers have. Especially those who claim they were doing the “Lord’s work”. We’ve all heard about the Mormons prolictivity for multiple marriage, there’s even a “T”ouching “L”ittle “C”hildren network show called “Sister Wives“.
While I’ve made fun of the idea of having more than one woman to “put up with”, Jeffs is recorded to have more than sixty wives. These are not wives in the traditional sense. Most of the “marriages” were not done in the church in front of the congregation, like we do. These “marriages” took place by bringing the bride to the husband’s room. Thereafter the bride was called upon when it was the husband’s desire.
As open minded as I am, I can’t see the pretense of a marriage to have sex with multiple partners as anything but hypocrisy. But it gets worse. Most of the “wives” were below the age of consent, some as young as twelve. Jeffs would reward a follower with a wife for the male’s undying devotion to the Jeffs’ program. Having a wife put the follower in line to have children of his own, who would then be used as chattel to improve the husband’s standing. This goes beyond the old “arranged marriage” concept of wedding families together for the benefit of both families. This is wholesale child sex slavery; carried out right here in the U.S.A., in multiple states, in full view of the law.
One of the saddest stories in the movie was from Jeffs’ wife number 66, I believe. She was fifteen when brought to Jeffs, and within a year had his baby. Her life was over at fifteen. She told the story about how the cult believed that wearing red was a sin because Jesus is supposed to be wearing a red robe when He comes back. She related that she would purposefully wear red to tempt God to destroy her for heresy. She was so miserable that she truly wanted an angel to strike her dead.
Finally, the state of Utah issued a warrant for Jeffs’ arrest on felony charges of accomplice rape of a teenage girl between 14 and 18 years old. He used his many compounds and followers to avoid arrest for quite a time. Jeffs even made the FBI’s ten most wanted list at one point. Jeffs was eventually arrested and convicted on two counts of sexual assault of a child. He was given life in prison.
Unfortunately his followers remain, and the patterns of child abuse still remain. Whether under Jeffs direction from jail, or vying for their own leadership, Jeffs’ brothers and sons continue the horror.
Please put me down as a secular humanist, albeit a fundamental secular humanist.