Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fundamentalist Mormon Polygamist Found Guilty of Sexual Assault

Polygamist Warren Jeffs was found guilty of sexually assaulting two girls, aged 12 and 15, both of whom he joined in "spiritual marriage."  Warren Jeffs is the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), which is a fundamentalist Mormon church that practices polygamy.

Jeffs, who is 55, argued that his religious freedom was being infringed upon.  My question is, what is more important?  The right of an ephebophile to rape 12 and 15 year olds under the guise of religion or the right not to be raped and forced into a marriage with some pervert that is 43 years older than you?  I am glad that, in this case, common sense prevailed.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) is the primary denomination of Mormonism.  Polygamy in the LDS Church was ceased in 1890.  About six years later, Utah was admitted to the United States.  The FLDS Church is not affiliated with the LDS Church.  Even when LDS practiced polygamy, it was practiced differently than as is in the FLDS Church:
The way FLDS currently practice polygamy differs in important ways from the way Mormons practiced polygamy in 19th-century Utah. A) Mormons always discouraged divorce, but Utah nevertheless had fairly liberal divorce laws so women could leave polygamous marriages if they so desired. B) Polygamous wives were encouraged to get a good education, and some early Mormon polygamist women became doctors and political activists. C) Polygamous marriages were not typically arranged or reassigned. Women were free to marry whoever they wished. Brigham Young stated the following in 1853: “I am free, and so are you. My advice to the sisters is, 'Never be [married] to any man unless you wish to be.' I say to you High Priests and Elders, 'Never from this time ask a woman to be [married] to you, unless she wants to be; but let the widows and children alone.'” D) Brigham Young came to detest the marriage of men with very young girls. In 1857, he stated, "I shall not [marry] the people as I have done. Old Father Alread brought three young girls 12 & 13 years old. I would not [marry] them to him. They would not be equally yoked together... this is the way that devils are made." E) Only an estimated 5%-30% of 19th-century Mormons were polygamists. The FLDS Church, on the other hand, has no liberal divorce laws, arranges and reassigns marriages, marries old men to young girls, and believes all members of the community should practice polygamy.
On a related note, Utah was the third state to grant women suffrage (after Wyoming and Colorado), which it did in 1895.  In contrast, Saudi Arabia does not allow women to vote.  

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