Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Warren Jeffs, Polygamist and Sex Offender

Warren Jeffs is back in the news. Jeffs is the former Prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). Last month he was convicted of child sex abuse for arranging marriages between underage girls and older men. His own child bride has been put in foster care.

A 14-year-old girl allegedly married to jailed polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs with her parents' blessing at age 12 was ordered back into foster care Tuesday by a Texas judge.

I posted about this before here and here.

I'm still somewhat ambivalent about this case. On the one hand, government intervention in the lives of citizens concerns me. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. These folks claim to be living their lives according to their understanding of what's right and wrong. Their religious and cultural beliefs allow for arranged marriages with very young girls, not unlike many societies throughout history.

On the other hand, we're living in the 21st century. Treating adolescent girls as nothing more than breeding machines and assigning them to middle-aged men as rewards, which I'm guessing is the way it works, is shabby behaviour to say the least. I think the tendency to be lustful, which many men deal with, would run riot in a society like that. Perhaps this has always been the case throughout history in any culture where these attitudes prevailed. Today there are laws against polygamy and having relations with underage girls.


Top story today is there are more indictments coming.


  1. Mike,

    I'm with you on the mixed feelings on this.

    One of my biggest problems is the double standard displayed by many liberals. It's perfectly okay for 12 years to have sex, get abortions without notifying their parents, etc but it's not okay for young girls in this religious group to get married and have sex?

    I pass by a high school on the way to work, its in a "bad section" of town. What strikes me every time I see the school is the day care facility on the grounds. That's care for the young moms, some 9th graders, provided free so they can continue their education. Isn't that condoning the behavior?

    Now I don't think it is acceptable to force anyone into marriages at all.

  2. "On the other hand, we're living in the 21st century. Treating adolescent girls as nothing more than breeding machines and assigning them to middle-aged men as rewards, which I'm guessing is the way it works, is shabby behaviour to say the least. "

    It is shabby behavior, certainly, and kept to a minimum in most of what we call the "Western World" still, its hardly the majority practice when you look at all the people in the world.

    Somthing needs to be done, and that somthing is a damn big one!

  3. bob, the point of having daycare on a high school campus is that the alternative would be worse.

    screw "condoning the behavior". take away that daycare, and the teenage parents will just drop out of high school to take care of their kids instead --- they'll effectively have to. that would not help anyone.

    taking a principled, moral stance is fine and good, but when doing so ends up leaving teenagers as not only parents but uneducated ones at that, your moral stance would be making life worse for real people. real people's lives and welfare trump abstract principles.

    the question, concerning warren jeffs, is whether the rule of law is an abstract principle or something more concrete, and whether or not the lives of his followers could even be improved by some good old selective law enforcement. that seems to have been what they tried to do in Texas, but got slapped down by the court. i'm just as conflicted as Mike, on this point.

  4. Thanks for the comments, guys. I agree with Nomen that "real people's lives and welfare trump abstract principles."

    My mixed feelings about this Warren Jeffs character are getting sorted out. I'm leaning towards considering him a sinister hypocrite who uses religion to justify sexual license. I don't claim to know that, I'm just leaning that way.

  5. Nomen,

    I agree with you that not having the day care would be worse.

    I didn't do a good job of pointing out that as a society we condone and accept kids having kids.

    I think that society has gone too far in accepting irresponsibility. Prior generations had the same issues, teens getting pregnant but it wasn't acceptable behavior.
    That is what we have to change, the behavior that leads to needing a day care on campus.

    I found it ironic that the FLDS had married teens, some pregnant and that's bad but at least there was a family and social structure supporting it. Not condoning it mind you, just pointing out the situation.
    On the other hand, we have an inner city school that uses tax payer money, yours and mine, to pay for teens doing the same thing without the family structure.

    That was what I was trying to point out. My folks grew up knowing if a girl got pregnant, they either married or she was shipped for for the year to some auntie...but now days girls are trying to get pregnant. Research the trend of "prom babies".

    I want kids to get an education, but some way we have to break the cycle of kids having kids.

  6. "...assigning them to middle-aged men as rewards, which I'm guessing is the way it works."

    Yup, that's the way it works. Often, the younger men (the ones the young girls actually would WANT to marry, so long as they're being pressured into marrying young--and they are pressured, by their families and leaders like Jeffs) are driven out--either sent off on prolonged missions to faraway places or they're excommunicated for one bogus reason or another so the old men can snap up all the young, pretty girls.

    Polygamist Mormons are a hobby of mine--mostly for feminist reasons. I think anyone who reads any of the numerous accounts of younger (and older) women who've left polygamous sects will realize there's not a whole lot of "choice" where women are concerned--only the illusion thereof.

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