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The authorities would then redistribute to each family what they needed, according to the judgment of those same authorities. If someone brought in two flashlights, for example, they might get only one back, and not necessarily one of those they gave away. And then it got worse. Black, talking to me in his shop in Junesays church leaders called him to the meetinghouse in Hildale, Utah, in June He walked down a dark hallway toward the one illuminated room.
They made him wait outside for 30 minutes, with only a hymnal for company. Yes, I sustain you as prophet. Yes, I will marry the girl you chose for me. So, after some hesitation, he agreed to the false accusation, too. And to the subsequent excommunication. He would not be allowed to speak to or see any of them. Along with every other FLDS member, he had ly ed custody of his kids over to the church, a state of affairs detailed in numerous court cases and confirmed in interviews with ex-FLDS members and their legal representatives. Parents are to care for their families, but when the prophet decides to transpose family members — a wife swapped to a new husband, kids sent to a different caretaker — the people say yes.
They walk away from their marriages and watch their children move into different houses. They turn their backs on their town. Black went home, knowing that Cindy would soon get a phone call, telling her about the miscarriage she had not had. The leaders would send her away. As Black tells me this story, Cindy sits next to him, silent and nodding.
He thought of her alone in the world, an alien place. He imagined her dying out there and wondered what would happen to their. He pictured himself, alone. He and Cindy agreed to leave together, and take the children with them. And so in secret, in the middle of the night, they all left in their van. When the Blacks entered the world outside of their polygamous enclave — the twin towns of Hildale and Colorado City, Arizona, collectively called Short Creek — the children were horrified. Soon enough, their children stopped shielding their eyes. They even watched their first movie.
They just stood up and looked closer at the screen, trying to decipher this technological magic. Black soon heard that back in Short Creek, his first wife, Angela, had also been sent away. Her kids — his kids — were living alone with his adult son, Sheldon Jr. Black is not alone in asking that question. He represents a growing demographic: former FLDS parents who have returned to Short Creek to try to wrest their children away from the church, often with the help of lawyer Roger Hoole, who prepares and serves the legal documents and contacts helpful law enforcement.
The prophet who giveth may take away. With its leaders in legal trouble, population booming in the nearby metro area, and former exiles returning, Short Creek is secularizing, and the FLDS hold over the town is loosening at last. The mainline Mormon Church officially espoused polygamy in Adult wants real sex Short Creek Its founder, Joseph Smith, married as many as 40 wives, according to Mormon leaders.
His successor, Brigham Young, took 55 wives. But their fellow citizens in the American East and Midwest had strong objections to their polygamous and quasi-theocratic communities — towns like Nauvoo, Illinois, a place not all that dissimilar to Short Creek. It was the perfect spot: bounded on Adult wants real sex Short Creek east by the wall of Wasatch Mountains, sitting next to the huge but useless Great Salt Lake — and, at that time, beyond the reach of United States law.
Polygamy went unpunished until the Utah Territory was acquired from Mexico in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in For a while, polygamy survived, and church leaders dispatched the faithful to set up polygamous outposts across the West, including in Short Creek.
But then came the Edmunds-Tucker Act ofwhich prohibited polygamy, disincorporated the LDS church, and allowed the government to confiscate its assets. Three years later, citing nothing less than the will of the Lord, then-prophet Wilford Woodruff declared that the LDS church would abandon the practice.
Many Latter-day Saints saw this declaration as terrestrially, not celestially, motivated. And in the far-flung settlements across the West, men continued to marry multiple women. Like Salt Lake City, it had both natural and manmade protections. It straddled the Utah-Arizona state line, complicating law enforcement. The Vermillion Cliffs rose on one side, and the Grand Canyon fell 40 miles away on the other. No one would bother them here. And for a long time, life was, if not idyllic, at least less Orwellian than it is now.
I spoke to former members who remember their childhoods fondly, and think of Short Creek past as a pleasant place. In those days, church members could watch movies, ride bicycles and hold public festivals, without the constant threat of excommunication.
Problems existed, of course, especially for women, who were still married off at young ages and had little control over their lives. Children worked long days to support the church and its businesses. For the most part, until the past decade or so, the federal government let the FLDS live undisturbed in the Arizona Triangle. But there have been notable exceptions. Infor example, the Arizona National Guard raided Short Creek, arresting 36 men and taking 86 women and children into state custody.
It took up to two years for some of the men to be released on probation, after they promised to give up polygamy — a promise they swiftly reneged on. In local Cottonwood Park this June, I came across a rock memorial to the event.
Now it comes from insiders — some of them among the innermost. A girl in modern clothes walks past three others in traditional long dresses after school at El Capitan High School in Colorado City, Arizona. A woman with bare legs and modern clothes holds the door of the U. While Velvet Adult wants real sex Short Creek to wear modern clothes, Kayrence continues to wear the traditional prairie dress and hairstyle of the FLDS. Trouble truly began when a prophet named Rulon Jeffs began to age, in the late s.
Inwhen his father died, Warren Jeffs assumed the presidency. Children and women were church-owned property, to move around whenever he wanted. That had always been true to some extent, but Warren Jeffs was the first to fully flex the muscles just beneath the skin of the hierarchy. He began marrying adult men to underage girls. The authorities caught him in and jailed him for 10 years to life inbut the Utah Supreme Court overturned the conviction in The next year, though, he was sentenced to life plus 20 years for two counts of sexual assault on minors.
During his tenure, Jeffs, with the help of on-the-ground leadership, banned toys and pets; televisions and internet access; any interaction with outsiders. Dishrags sat on shelves in the communal storehouse. The Jeffs brothers could pluck a woman from her husband and force her into another relationship, seemingly at random.
They could send the children to a different house entirely. They could excommunicate either or both parents, and send the kids to a caretaker. They exiled boys who might be marital competition and sent away business-owners to minimize their influence. Hoole estimates that the Jeffses have excommunicated hundreds of people. While census-style data are not available, local organizer Terrill Musser estimates that between 1, and 1, FLDS members remain — way down from the heyday of 10, Many have left or been forced out, while others have moved to a new headquarters in Texas. Musser says between and of the excommunicated people have returned to Short Creek.
He issues decrees, but so does Lyle Jeffs. Members of the church — and people who are excommunicated but still faithful — may hear about the crimes of those in charge and feel the leadership vacuum. Warren Jeffs has said he was never a prophet; he has also said he is absolutely in charge. And now Lyle Jeffs is on the lam, and Nephi Jeffs is the new bishop. The Short Creek residents I spoke to said they did not know how to reach church leaders, who are largely jailed or in hiding and who are, in any case, forbidden to speak to infidels from outside like me.
The FLDS faithful are also now surrounded by former members, who are now considered apostates. Inthe state-run trust began returning houses to the exiles that had built them, but that they had been evicted from.Adult wants real sex Short Creek
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