Content Note for graphic animal abuse, brutal animal killing, spiritual abuse, ritual murder discussion, elder abuse, medical neglect.
Carolyn learns from Merril’s daughter Merrilyn that Warren has been running a series of survival classes at the FLDS’s private school in Salt Lake City. They mostly consist of Dee Jessop killing various animals in a variety of horrifying ways in front of the children. This includes ripping the heart out of a living pig as it screams in agony.
And no one says anything against it.
The more Warren gets away with without opposition, the stronger his hold on the community becomes. I wonder if these brutal “survivalist” classes were to see just how far people would go to comply with his orders. Was he using them to desensitize people? If you can get people to start doing more and more outrageous things, you can walk them into ideas that would’ve had them running away screaming if you’d thrown them straight in.
His father, the prophet Rulon Jeffs, begins having strokes in 1996, and Warren uses them to usurp his power. The community is told that Rulon’s mind is intact, but no one’s allowed to see him. This allows Warren to pretend his father is still mentally competent enough to perform his duties. He acts as Rulon’s mouthpiece. He gives the orders. And, with the community firmly in his grasp, he begins to squeeze. He tells the community that immoral men must be banished. And then he goes further: Continue reading “(Repost) “Blood Atonement” – Escape Chapter 23: Ruth’s Nose”→
Like many cult leaders, Warren Jeffs is busy gradually cementing his hold over everyone in the community by fucking with their health care. His father has already convinced everyone that vaccines are a government plot to make children sterile. Considering previously-vaccinated FLDS women are pumping out children at a brisk pace, it’s amazing anyone believes him. But he’s their leader, the man in charge of their eternal salvation, so they trust him. Warren then comes along to see the ground his father has plowed, telling everyone that the only reason they’d ever need medical treatment is a lack of faith. If they’re truly in harmony with God, he says, they’ll be healed by prayer and fasting.
Content note: medical neglect, spiritual abuse, maiming, physical abuse of a mentally ill person.
Carolyn watches many people in the FLDS end up nearly dead from Warren’s claims. Thankfully, most people are still resorting to the hospital when faith doesn’t heal them. But some have faith in Warren. Ruth, her mentally unstable sister wife, develops skin cancer on her nose, and Carolyn gets to experience the consequences of Warren’s nonsense quite closely.
Merril apparently hasn’t yet fallen for Warren’s crap, because he sends Ruth to the clinic when a sore on her nose won’t heal. It’s cancerous, but very treatable, her doctor says. But Ruth wants to do it Warren’s way. She won’t entertain Carolyn’s idea that maybe GOd was healing her by placing her in the hands of a competent dermatologist. She wants to go the faith route. In addition to fasting and praying, faith also apparently includes questionable caustic chemicals from the health food store. God has revealed a new way of healing her cancer to her! It’s herbal, so it must be safe, despite the fact the caustic part of her concoction is illegal to sell! And while she’s been told to only use a pinhead-sized amount, she slathers it on, turning the entire end of her nose green in the process. God said to go for it. Continue reading “(Repost) “A Person of Little Faith” – Escape Chapter 23: Ruth’s Nose”→
What’s worse than having an utter shitstain of a husband in the FLDS? Potentially not having him. When Merril has a massive heart attack, Carolyn has to face the fact that while she doesn’t love him, she needs him.
Content note for emetophobia, forced marriage, child abuse, medical stuff
Warren Jeffs is gaining more control over the FLDS daily. In this chapter, we’ll see just how badly his teachings affect women and children, while giving men the freedom to be as terrible as they want to be. And we’ll see why Merril dying would be worse than Merril living. There’s a horrific thought…
Content note for spousal abuse, spiritual abuse, medical neglect, casual ableism
After leaving her teaching job due to Rulon and Warren fucking up the educational system, Carolyn starts a web design business and sells health food online. She’s soon pregnant with her sixth child, which means unremitting sickness. And Uncle Rulon and his horrid son are squeezing the life out of the community.Movies and television are forbidden. The internet is to be used only for business. Various clothing styles and fabric patterns are outlawed, reducing people to only a few types of solid pastels. Long underwear is required at all times for everyone, including toddlers.
One of the best ways to control people is to control how and what they think. Warren Jeffs, like many cult leaders before him, knows this well. Seems he may have learned it from his father, who forbade higher education after he became prophet. This allowed him to keep dangerous things like reading and critical thinking in check.
Now, as Angie Jackson often points out, you can be highly educated and still fall for cult nonsense. But it’s far easier to maintain a hold on people if they’re not exposed to outside information.
Forbidding any higher education within the community means there’s soon a shortage of teachers for the elementary and high schools. They’ll need to start recruiting from outside the FLDS community, but the salaries are too low to attract anyone. Even with some families homeschooling, the existing teachers are flooded with far too many students. Something has to give – and Carolyn thinks she has the solution when Arizona starts funding charter schools. After some research, Carolyn figures that with the state funding they would get per student, they could easily afford to hire good teachers. So she and some of her fellow teachers begin working on a proposal. Surprisingly, she gets support from Merril, who tells her she’s got a good idea and that he’ll talk to the prophet about it.
Meanwhile, to relieve the pressure on the existing teachers, Carolyn suggests using computers for students to do reading and math drills. She could even do the necessary software development. The school superintendent thinks this is awesome and jumps aboard the charter school train.
Their proposal makes it past the first hurdles, and so Carolyn and her fellow teachers end up in Phoenix to present it. They’re up against a hundred other potential charter schools, most developed by high-ranking educational professionals. Competition is fierce, and almost all of the presenters before them get turned down. But they sail through to approval: the board is extremely impressed by their assessment plan and innovative ideas. All they have to do is build the school building in time, and the FLDS folks are old hands at putting buildings up fast. Carolyn and her team are elated. Even Merril’s impressed. He goes to tell Uncle Rulon about their victory.
But then Warren gets wind of it. And he doesn’t like it.
It will be a school run by professionals, with professional teachers, unlike his school, where only two teachers have actual degrees and some don’t even have a high school diploma.
Kids won’t have “learning” beaten into them with yardsticks, the way he does it.
The charter school will make liberal use of computers. Warren has banned computers.
The children will be well-educated, which means they can read things he doesn’t want them to read, and think things he doesn’t want them to think.
Needless to say, he’s not a fan. And because by now he’s pretty much in control of his father, Uncle Rulon is also not a fan. As far as Carolyn knows, Merril doesn’t even attempt to change Rulon’s mind. He just accepts the verdict and forbids Carolyn from having anything more to do with it.
I was furious. My anger touched a core in me that burst into flame. For the first time, I began to see how religion could suppress something positive and life-giving. Failure to educate our children was unconscionable.
Carolyn is so distraught that she can’t continue her teaching career – she quits at the end of the school year. She can’t be a teacher while Warren is prophet in all but name. Still.
I didn’t think about what might happen after his father died. No one really expected Warren to become the next prophet. I certainly didn’t. He was too much of a nobody.
When you’re dealing with a “nobody” who’s as cunning and power-hungry as Warren Jeffs, though, you can’t take their failure for granted. That’s a lesson we should all endeavor to remember.