Yearning for Zion: What next for the polygamists?
The raid on the Texas ranch of the polygamous FLDS sect has been thouroughly covered in thousands of news articles. Unfortunately, many of those articles got their facts wrong — often when trying to describe the relationship of the FLDS to the Mormon Church it broke off from.
In marked contrasts, The Sunday Times (of London, England) includes a highly readable, well-informed story written by Bryan Appleyard — a reporter who has clearly done his homework.
The entire article should be required reading for anyone interested in the issues surrounding the FLDS.
Here, we quote a segment about the children who, removed from the ranch and placed in foster care, are now back in the custody of their polygamous families. Whatever your position on the raid, clearly there is cause for concern for the children born into this cult:
In care, the YFZ children have been a problem, not just because of the trauma of separation from their families. Life at the ranch was strict. Children seldom, if ever, went outside – women did so, but apparently only when accompanied by their husbands. The children were “home-educated” and they did seem to have mastered basic skills. But outside reading, writing and arithmetic, there were issues. They had been taught some very weird science and had limited experience of play.
“When the children first came into care,” says Debra Brown, who runs the San Angelo court-appointed special advocate (Casa) scheme, “they had never seen crayons. A crayon is a pretty standard, normal deal for an American child. When I went into the ranch, you would not have assumed children even lived there. There were no toys, no stuffed animals, no dolls, no footballs. The concept of play was not in their upbringing: they worked from a very early age.” The children eagerly gardened, made their beds, organised the laundry and washed dishes, exactly what they had done at home. Much of their ranch life was taken up with praying and singing and listening to tapes of the sermons of Warren Jeffs, the leader and prophet of the FLDS. Some, I was told, were still listening on cassette players in foster care.
These sermons are what you and I would call mad. In a gentle, hypnotic, “listen to me carefully” kind of voice that seems to be designed to draw you in closer, making you collude in the insanity – a technique Hitler used in small groups – Jeffs explains that women must be utterly subservient to their men, that black people were put on Earth as Satan’s representatives, that the Beatles – “useless people nobody would hire” – corrupted the world by spreading black music, and so on. The children thoroughly absorbed his messages. Once outside, they pointed and laughed at blacks. He had also taught them that the colour red was forbidden, as it was reserved for Christ’s robe on his return to Earth. They recoiled from the colour. They were convinced that the world outside the sect, especially its laws, was evil and that the “gentiles” – non-members of the FLDS – were damned. “I’m getting used to being called an evil gentile,” says one of the children’s lawyers in court.
– Source: Bryan Appleyard, Yearning for Zion: What next for the polygamists?, The Sunday Times, UK, June 22, 2008
• Children and Cults, by Michael D. Langone, Ph.D. Gary Eisenberg, M,A., posted at FACTnet.
• Children and Cults: A Practical Guide, by Susan Landa, posted at ICSA.
• Children Raised In High Control, Destructive Groups, posted at MeadowHaven
Polygamous sect leader’s daughter wants to ditch her attorney
An FLDS teenager is taking a dispute with her attorney public, claiming the attorney is making her life “harder” and asking the lawyer to “please leave me alone.”
Teresa Jeffs, 16, a daughter of polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs, gave The Salt Lake Tribune on Sunday a copy of an e-mail she sent Natalie Malonis, of Flower Mound, Texas, after seeing news reports about her case. On Friday, Malonis won a court order banning contact between an FLDS spokesman and the girl.
“The most help you will be to me now is for you to step aside and let me get a different lawyer that I feel like can help me,” Jeffs wrote in the e-mail.
She said her attorney ad litem is “trying to restrict me from every person in my life that I want to talk to or have anything to do with.”
In a telephone interview, Jeffs said Malonis is “fighting my own father and made it so I can’t write to him.” She has visited her father once since his arrest and incarceration in 2006.
Warren Jeffs is serving two five-to-life sentences in Utah after being convicted of rape as an accomplice for a marriage he conducted in 2001 between a 14-year-old girl and a 19-year-old man.
She also wants to be able to return to the Yearning for Zion Ranch with her mother and siblings.
Malonis, who represents two other FLDS children, defended her actions on behalf of Jeffs and said she believes the teenager is being pressured by the sect.
“There is no question I am absolutely looking out for her,” Malonis said. “What’s happening is really a shame because people who purport to care about her are really doing her a disservice.”
Malonis said she just wants Jeffs to be free of any outside influence and make her own decisions. “Right now, that’s not happening,” the attorney said.
In court papers filed Friday, Malonis alleged that Jeffs’ push for a new attorney was due to coercion from FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop and asked 51st District Judge Barbara Walther to bar them from having contact. Walther temporarily ordered Annette Jeffs, the girl’s mother, to keep her from Jessop and set a court hearing in the matter for Tuesday in San Angelo.
The action came a day after Jeffs sent the judge a letter asking for a new attorney because she is unhappy with how Malonis is representing her.– Source: Brooke Adams, Polygamous sect leader’s daughter wants to ditch her attorney, The Salt Lake Tribune, June 23, 2008
Jessop, a Utah-based member of the church, denies trying to influence Jeffs and criticized restrictions that prohibit her from visiting the sect’s Yearning For Zion ranch near Eldorado, Texas.
Jeffs said she plans to appear Wednesday before a grand jury opening a criminal investigation into the polygamist group. The state attorney general’s office refuses to confirm anything about the proceeding, saying it’s secret under Texas law.
Jeffs denies allegations from her attorney that she was forced into a spiritual marriage at 15 with an older man and that she has a baby.
“Natalie, quit all your lying about everything,” Jeffs said in one letter she released to the AP. She asked Malonis to “let me get a different lawyer.”
– Source: Jennifer Dobner, Jeffs’ daughter trying to dump court-appointed guardian, AP, via AZStar.net, June 23, 2008
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