(Repost) “A Harrowing Story” – Escape Chapter 20: Warren’s Rise to Power

It’s 1995, and Warren Jeffs is seizing more and more control within the FLDS. The cult was hideous before; it’s about to get exponentially worse.

Content Note for racism, spiritual abuse, physical abuse, miscarriage due to injury

Warren Jeffs is one of those people who knows how to use those around him for his own gain. He knows how to manipulate his elderly father, the current prophet, and get him to proclaim that Warren speaks for him. He knows how to push the fear buttons. And he knows that making something scarce and exclusive can increase desire for it. This is how he gets his awful recorded racist rants to spread. He tapes his sermons talking about how “the black race had been put on earth to preserve evil,” and how God’s gonna destroy everyone in North and South America except those who do this huge list of stuff, and then he releases a limited number of those tapes. Well, of course, not being able to have them means everybody wants a set.

Carolyn manages to find a set to listen to. She’s not so impressed.

Warren tells everyone they must have a burning in their chests or they’ll be destroyed along with all the sinners. The Ladies Who Latte have a good laugh over that. They frequently have a burning in their chests due to mastitis. As Carolyn’s cousin Jayne says, “Well, if I have to have a breast infection to be lifted up, then no thank you! I’d rather die with the wicked!”

I imagine people with angina are good to go, too.

Warren suddenly decides that the color red is only for Jesus, who’s coming back any day now wearing a red robe, so he completely bans red in the FLDS. It’s a clever way to see who gives a shit about his shit. Some very devout people immediately destroy all of their red stuff, even if it means their kids lose their coat or shoes. Keep in mind: many of these families are already impoverished. They can’t afford this shit. The more practical folk just wait for their red stuff to wear out before they replace it. One complete heathen of a teacher tells her class there’s nothing wrong with red, but incensed parents make her remove all of the red stuff from her classroom.

Meanwhile, Carolyn’s watching a blazing red and orange sunset and wondering why God’s splashing all that red around the sky if it’s only supposed to be seen on his son.

Excellent damn question.

Carolyn’s coffee klatch is getting worried about the extremism. One of the women tells the others that one of their police officers, a devout FLDS guy, took his wife out to the Steeds ranch for a lesson in obedience. This poor pregnant lady was supposed to control an untamed bull that her husband tied a rope to.

Image shows a black bull with intact hornsgalloping over reddish-brown soil.
Running bull. Image courtesy AlexTriceratops123 (CC)

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever worked around bulls out west. I’ve met plenty, and they are nasty bastards. They’re technically domesticated animals, but unless they have a doting owner who’s worked with them since calfhood, they’re brutal, wild big shits who are not going to consent to being tugged around on a rope. They can easily kill you even when you’re not trying to yank them around. Interfere with one, and you’d better be damned sure you have an escape planned.

This woman was lucky. The bull didn’t try to gore her. Instead, it took off running. She got dragged along behind it until she wisely let go of the rope.

Her husband the officer got pissed. At her, mind you, not himself, as he properly should for hatching such a reckless and inane scheme. He was pissed that his pregnant homemaker wife couldn’t control a mostly-wild and certainly untamed 1000+lb bull with a fucking leash.

Look, asshole, trained cowboys can’t manage that shit. The fuck are you doing, expecting your wife to do what professionals can’t?

But just because he said so, she was supposed to magically be able to do this thing. He made her try again, and, when she inevitably failed, this complete waste of nutrients fucking tied her to the fucking bull.

She was dragged around the ring again and so badly injured she lost the baby – which then became her fault because she was so disobedient.

Excuse me. I need to go have a rage aneurysm.

Carolyn and her friends want to kill this guy – a police officer, may I remind you. I agree. I think he should be tied to a pissed-off bull and left to his fate. After all, if he can’t control it, it’s because of his own disobedience, right?

But absolutely nothing serious happens to him. His stepmother hates his ass and the women of the community want to murder his face, but that is the sum total of the consequences he gets for killing his wife’s fetus and nearly killing her.

Meanwhile, Warren’s busy saying husbands like this should be completely in charge of their wives. Women aren’t supposed to work outside the home, no matter whether that further impoverishes the family or forces her to remain financially dependent on an abuser. He also thinks a husband should have absolute control over whether his wife can even leave the house. Women are supposed to have male permission before they set foot outside their door. In fact, they’re really supposed to have a male escort. And women are supposed to be so worshipful of their abusive-ass husbands that they shouldn’t even enter a room where he is without saying a little prayer for her to have the same spirit as him.

Carolyn figures that if she had Merril’s spirit, one of them might end up physically damaged, so she ignores that rule. But she can’t voice her fears or her displeasure of Warren’s asinine rules. It’s not safe to. Doubters like her can only keep their heads down and try to evade notice.

As for others…

The changes Warren Jeffs mandated were obeyed because it was believed he was the voice of the prophet, Uncle Rulon. People did not resist the more oppressive policies he advocated. Instead, it was widely believed that we were being called to a higher way of living the gospel. This wasn’t oppression, this was grace. God was giving us a new and better way of being more faithful to him via the prophet and his mouthpiece, Warren Jeffs.

And that is all it takes for a tyrant to rise to power. Belief, and fear.

Before you atheists sigh in relief that this will never be you, remember: you may be resistant, but you are not immune. It doesn’t take religion to make a dictator. It doesn’t take faith in a god to cause you to follow someone you want to believe.

Image is the cover of Escape, which is photo of Carolyn Jessop on a black background. She cradles a framed picture of herself as an FLDS teenager in her hands. She is a woman in her thirties with chestnut hair and blue eyes.
I’m reviewing Escape chapter-by-chapter. Pick yourself up a copy if you’d like to follow along. The full list of reviews to date can be found here. Need a chaser? Pick up a copy of Really Terrible Bible Stories Volume 1: Genesis, Volume 2: Exodus, and Volume 3: Leviticus today!


(Repost) “A Harrowing Story” – Escape Chapter 20: Warren’s Rise to Power