So now, on the heels of the news that John Karr is (surprise!) not linked to the Ramsey débâcle, we learn Warren Jeffs has been caught.
Jeffs faces charges in Mohave County including being an accessory to rape and child abuse; he’s the “leader” of the fLDS cult in the part of Arizona north of the Grand Canyon known as “the strip”. The strip is to Arizona what the upper peninsula of Michigan is to Michigan — a nominally attached and very hard to patrol sliver of state that should probably be given away to the territory it actually borders (in this case, Utah).
Apparently he was pulled over Monday in a routine traffic stop north of Vegas. The trooper hauled him in.
(I know what you’re thinking, but the “f” in fLDS is for fundamentalist. Which is almost the same thing, only more vicious, stupid and inbred.)
It’s not the polygamy that I have trouble with, per se — actually I’d like to see more polyandry in general. However, the fLDS flavor of polygamy is closer to harem-keeping than it is to anything that might be of benefit to the women involved. (Or, obviously, the kids — particularly the girls.)
Polygamy was repealed in mainstream Mormonism quite a while back, after it was declared illegal by the US Fed. (To be fair, the Fed made it illegal in an attempt to persecute Mormons.) The practice was excused by the church as being good for families — but since Mormon women are essentially chattel, this is obviously a load of bullshit.
We’re talking about a church that wouldn’t even let black members have symbolic power until the 1970s, when it was forced to do so (again by the Fed). Women are still not allowed to hold the “priesthood”, an allegedly holy power that only the empenised can bear. Since women can’t hold the priesthood, they cannot ascend to church leadership. It’s a little like how the Catholics run things, with less fondling of the altar boys.
The differrence between Mormonism and fLDS is really one of degree. Both cults want their girls married off ASAP. Both have histories of polygamy. Both present a public face that is radically at variance from the internal issues they have (the only child rapist I’ve ever personally known was a Mormon; he was having sex with his own teenaged daughter). Both believe they have a “living prophet” heading the cult who speaks directly to Iasus himself.
(Actually the differences between Mormonism and right-wing Islam are really matters of degree too, though of course Muslims don’t believe in the divinity of Iasus, only that he was a prophet.)
This means a couple of things.
- The fLDS cult isn’t going to vanish; they’ll just pick another prophet; and
- Anyone who believes any of this piffle is clearly deranged.
More parochially from my point of view, this also means Kingman is going to become a minor media disaster area for a while, since it’s the Mohave County seat. I have to wonder how this will affect traffic, particularly during my morning bike commute to work.
But what galls me about mainstream Mormonism is how quickly its members are ready to disavow fLDS and similar splinter groups. There was always, in my experience, a sense of “Yeah, well, those guys are crazy; we’re the ones with The Truth.” Internally, this is sensible to Mormons. From the outside, of course, it’s abundantly clear both groups are messed up. (And I’m sure there’s a lot of schadenfreude floating around Mormon groups right now.)
Mormons (and fLDS), like all fundamentalist loony cults, believe they’ve found The Truth — never mind the facts — and that they’re the only ones so privileged. This is similar to drawing the conclusion that English is The Perfect Language and everyone who doesn’t speak it is somehow inferior.
The fact of English usage is really an accident of birth, just as are other aspects of one’s social context. Religion is one such accident. The big difference is that religious chauvinism is self-creating and –sustaining; cult adherents are encouraged to believe in The Truth they claim to know. There’s considerably less outright arrogance in most other social mechanisms.
But there’s no way to make this clear fact sensible to anyone who’s convinced of his Truth, and that’s unfortunate. If more minds could be inoculated against toxic memes such as religion, we’d be living on a more peaceful — and possibly more sensible — planet.
Now if you’ll ‘scuse me, I have to get my hip boots on. I fear the bullshit forecast is calling for unprecedented local flooding…
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