Polygamy Archive

You'll find articles about this subject in each of the items listed, even if the term does not necessarily occur within the headlines or descriptive text.

Is ‘Breaking the Faith’ real or fake? The FLDS cult under scrutiny

bullet The TLC show Breaking the Faith follows several men and women who escape the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).

Theologically a sect of the Mormon Church1, sociologically the FLDS — controlled with an iron fist by its jailed ‘prophet’, along with his brothers — is a high-demand, high-control, destructive cult.
breaking the faith
Following criticism of its Breaking Amish reality series, the TLC television network has been careful not to refer to Breaking the Faith as a ‘documentary’, a ‘true story’ or a ‘reality show’. And with good reason.

But as pop culture blog Starcasm.net points out, while the storyline is “apparently fake’ and scripted, the show’s cast members are actual former FLDS men and women.

“[T]here’s no reason to think producers won’t try to be accurate in their portrayal of the lives of young men and women before and after leaving the FLDS.”

If anything, those who watch the show will likely learn a lot about the polygamous cult.

Those who are unfamiliar with the FLDS will be shocked to discover what has been taking place — and is still going on — under the cover of ‘religious freedom.’

Meanwhile, the Tumblr blog, The principle- politics r us, provides some inside details about the show’s characters.

bullet In December, TLC premieres a second series that focuses on the FLDS. Escaping the Prophet “follows ex-FLDS member Flora Jessop on her mission to take down one of the most reportedly dangerous polygamist cults in America.”

Jessop, the author of Church of Lies, is a social activist who works closely with law enforcement to help rescue runaways and other FLDS victims.

In her book she recounts how she was held captive and was abused before being able to flee the cult.

She also writes about how in 2001 her sister Ruby Jessop was married, at the age of 14, against her will to her second cousin and step-brother who was then in his mid-20s.

Three weeks after the wedding, officiated by Warren Jeffs — the cult’s now-jailed ‘prophet’, Ruby escaped but was soon tricked back into the cult.

But early this year, Ruby again escaped — this time with her children:

bullet One more FLDS item: Rebecca Musser is a widow of the late FLDS ‘prophet’ Rulon Jeffs. She was 19 years old when she was forced to marry the then 85-year old FLDS leader — who eventually ended up with some 60 wives.

Rulon Jeffs died in September, 2002, and was succeeded — after a power struggle — by his son Warren Jeffs, the sick-minded dictator who changed the polygamous sect into an even more destructive cult by introducing increasingly restrictive doctrines, and by ruling his followers with an iron fist.

Once, when Musser resisted Rulon’s sexual advances, Warren Jeffs threatened that she would be ‘destroyed in the flesh‘ if she ever turned his father down again.

Upon his installment as the sect’s president, Warren told Musser that he would marry her off within a week. But had other plans, and fled Jeff’s walled and guarded compound.

After her escape she went on to speak out about the abuses she and others suffered within the cult.

Jeffs eventually forced Musser’s younger sister, Elissa Wall, to marry her first cousin at the age of 14.

He was indicted for doing so, but he went into hiding and became a fugitive.

The FBI joined the search and placed Jeffs on the Top 10 Most Wanted list.

Jeffs was arrested in August, 2006 during a traffic stop. He was travelling in the back seat of a red Cadillac, wearing cargo shorts and a short-sleeved cotton T-shirt. According the Jeff’s own rules — which he claims were dictated to him by Jesus Christ — FLDS members were forbidden from wearing short, short-sleeved T-shirts, or having anything with the color red (which was deemed ‘too sensual’.

In September, 2007, Jeffs was found guilty of two counts of being an accomplice to rape.

He was sentenced two consecutive terms of five years to life in prison. But his conviction was overturned on a technicality.

Jeffs was subsequently extradited to Texas, where he had been charged with sexual assault of one child and aggravated sexual assault of another.

When he went on trial, in July, 2011, Rebeca Musser ended up testifying against him a total of 20 times, helping prosecutors to win 11 convictions against him.

Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years.

During one of her appearances on the witness stand, Rebecca Musser wore a red, sleeveless dress.

Read Musser’s full story in The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice.

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This post was written by Anton Hein, who has been studying religious cults and sect for 40+ years.


  1. While the FLDS is, theologically, a sect of the Mormon Church, the latter — formally known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) — in turn is a cult of Christianity. Here’s what the FLDS and the LDS think about each other.

Scientologists almost ready to ‘build a new world’; Actors in cults

bullet Michelle Pfeiffer (Dangerous Liaisons, Batman Returns) has revealed that she was once part of a cult after becoming involved with a “very controlling” couple who believed in breatharianism – the alleged ability to live without food and water.
Michelle Pfeiffer
Meeting her first husband, Peter Horton, saved her. Horton had been cast in a movie about the Moonies — as followers of the late Sun Myung Moon used to refer to themselves. While helping Horton research that cult she realize she was in one herself.

“We were talking with an ex-Moonie and he was describing the psychological manipulation and I just clicked,” she said in an interview for The Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine.

Scientists understandable file Breatharianism under the heading of pseudoscience, pointing out that several people who practiced it died from starvation.

One proponent is Jasmuheen, an Australian woman who claims her DNA changed so that she can live on hydrogen. When Australia’s version of 60 minutes challenged her to live under surveillance they ended the test a few days when a doctor warned that Jasmuheen’s health was collapsing. She blamed pollution from a nearby highway.

She also turned down a $30,000 offer from Australian Skeptics if she could prove her DNA claims, saying she could not see the relevance.

bullet Zimbio has a slideshow of actors and actresses who were once involved with cults.

bullet Speaking about actors and actresses in cults:

The Church of Scientology — the destructive cult that actively courts celebrities — is gearing up to — finally — open its ‘Super Power’ building in Clearwater, Florida.

It is designed to deliver what Scientologists refer to as the ‘Super Power Rundown‘ — a high-level training course intended to teach the cult’s followers to use all of their 57 “perceptics” or senses.

If you do not quite get the terminology, don’t worry. It’s all based on the gobbledygook of Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard who, in creating his fantasy religion, came up with the idea that a “rundown” is “a series of steps which are auditing actions and processes designed to handle a specific aspect of a case and which have a known end phenomena.”

Are we losing you? Hubbard explains: “This means that puts Scientologists into a new realm of ability enabling them to create a new world.”

Yes, Scientologists believe they are working toward creating a new world.

Sounds like a good time to point to our research resources on the subject of brainwashing.

Meanwhile, Scientologists — most of whom don’t stand a chance to complete the course — may want to take a look at what their money buys the cult.

And yes, the building comes complete with a token ‘chapel’ — used primarily to pull the wool over the eyes of those who like to think of this destructive organization as a ‘religion.’

bullet The other shoe has finally dropped for jailed evangelist cult leader Tony Alamo. A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Marshal service to sell some of Alamo’s properties in order to satisfy judgments against him on behalf of two of his former victims.

Alamo had ordered his enforcer, the late John Kolbeck, to beat up Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna.

The two men — who were also starved, denied education, and forced to work without pay — successfully sued Alamo, who subsequently tried his best to convince authorities that his properties did not belong to him.

Though he is serving a 175-year prison sentence, Alamo appears to still very much in control of his ‘ministry.’

bullet Just like Tony Alamo, cult leader Warren Jeffs — who is serving life in prison — has continued to rule his followers with an iron fist.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports on a lawsuit that alleges the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) essentially runs the twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah., not the elected leaders, not the civil authorities and not all that subtly.

If true, it means the separation of church and state — a constitutional bedrock of pluralistic America — is nonexistent, replaced by an iron-fisted theocracy in which Jeffs’ edicts are enforced above the law.

And the paper says that hundreds of photos, found on a flash drive someone lost, show the extend of the intense surveillance the FLDS carries out on current and former members, as well as on outsiders.

Jeffs was sent to prison for sexually assaulting two underage followers he took as brides in what his cult viewed as “spiritual marriages.”

The Child-Friendly Faith Project (CFFP) has a November 8 conference in Austin, Texas, to address child abuse that occurs in faith communities:

How do we best handle cases of child abuse and neglect when they occur in faith communities and cultural groups?

Do some faith practices or cultural traditions cross a line into abuse?

How can community leaders better support victims?

Attendees will hear from some of the country’s most renowned experts in faith, child advocacy, and the law, including:

If you cannot attend you can follow the conference via a live feed ($20).

CFFP President Janet Heimlich is an award-winning journalist and the author of Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment