It’s comforting to think that polygamy and the cruel, inhumane treatment of women in the name of God is something that only happens in hardline Muslim countries where female children are married off, often for a high price paid to their fathers, to rich sexual deviants who collect them like playthings for harems.
Yeah, it happens here in the good old United States, too.
The silver lining here, of course, is that sometimes the bad guy gets caught, as in the recent sentencing of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints head Warren Jeffs to life in prison.
Jeffs, who evidently fathered a fifteen-year-old girl’s baby and stood accused of sexually assaulting seemingly countless young girls, argued that he was being persecuted for his religious beliefs.
Hmm, yes, because pedophilia is evidently church-sanctioned in his warped mind (I thought that was just a Vatican thing …).
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism that believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven, has more than 10,000 followers who …
… consider Jeffs to be God’s spokesman on Earth.
You know, not to beat a dead horse, but doesn’t this sound like the whole fifty virgins thing? I kind of get the feeling that Warren Jeffs could really get the whole concept of going to any lengths—including murder—to have higher power-approved sex objects.
And this guy had one hell of a huge following. Scary.
Several former members of the church have testified that Jeffs ruled the group with a heavy and abusive hand. Jeffs also allegedly excommunicated 60 church members he saw as a threat to his leadership, breaking up 300 families while stripping them of property and “reassigning” wives and children.
In an audiotape played during the sentencing phase, Jeffs was heard softly telling five young girls to “set aside all your inhibitions” as he gave them instructions on how to please him sexually. Jeffs is heard telling the girls that what “the five of you are about to do is important.”
Prosecutors suggested that the polygamist leader told the girls they needed to have sex with him — in what Jeffs called “heavenly” or “celestial” sessions — in order to atone for sins in his community. Several times in his journals, Jeffs wrote of God telling him to take more and more young girls as brides “who can be worked with and easily taught.”
FBI agent John Broadway testified that fathers who gave their young daughters to Jeffs were rewarded with young brides of their own. Girls who proved reluctant to have sex with Jeffs were sent away, according to excerpts from Jeffs’ journals that prosecutors showed to the jury.
The whole story is completely horrifying, of course, but there are two things that really stand out to me.
1. A child molester was able to run rampant in the name of God, sounding a lot like Charles Manson in the process.
2. Women and children were able to be so objectified in the 21st century, when a collective “we” should know better.
I know the word “feminism” leaves a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of people, that there’s a knee jerk reaction bringing to mind stereotypical visions of morbidly aggressive women who want not equality but supremacy.
To me, situations like this underscore the need for feminism in the year 2011.
While the world has come a long way, monsters like Warren Jeffs and the fact that he was able to have his way with women at his leisure simply because he could illustrate the need to continue to get the word out there that women are not objects, that we do not need to do what a man says simply because he says it.
And it’s not like Warren Jeffs is the only charismatic bastard to pull this shit off in the name of religion. It is happening even as I write this, even as you’re reading it.
And it makes me sick.