Men Behaving Badly, Part II
Previously I wrote about the Josef Fritzl case in Austria. This was the case where a man built a dungeon and imprisoned his daughter, and fathered children with her which he also imprisoned. The case has a morbid fascination, as the extremes of human evil often does. However, his behaviour is not as beyond the pale as one might suppose. There is a case in Texas now where a group of men built a dungeon in plain sight, and imprisoned their women and children in it. I am talking about the FLDS case (Fundamentalist Later Day Saints) in Deseret County, Texas. Hundreds of women and children have been removed from the church’s ranch compound amid allegations of underage sex and forced marriages.
The media is making a big deal about this, but unfortunately they are treating these people with kid gloves. The woman and children in this compound were just as much prisoners as Mr Fritzl’s daughter and children. They were raised and held in isolation from the outside world, heck, even Mr Fritzl’s prisoners had a TV, the FLDS people didn’t even have books (aside from the Bible.) Let me be more specific, the media and the authorities are treating the men in this church with kid gloves. The media is playing this as some sort of weird but otherwise mainstream religious group, when in reality the women and children in this groups are slaves.
From the moment they are born every aspect of their lives is rigidly controlled by the men running the church. How they wear their hair, what clothes they wear, what colours they can use (red is not allowed,) every aspect of their lives is controlled. If they show the slightest resistence their living situations, their parents, their husbands, their children can and are taken from them until they are “sweet.” This is not social conditioning, this is brainwashing, coercion, and slavery. And the women at an early age are forced to marry much older men, in fact the leader of this group is in jail for raping his 13 year old “wife.” And the men not only lord it over their wives and kids, they also pay no attention to even the dictates of the state. There are no birth records kept, and few if any of the children get much education. The girls especially, since they are forced to marry and start having kids at an early age. There are also hints of torture and child abuse.
In other words, a group of men is using religion to justify their own private little slave society. Yet few if any of the men have been charged with anything. The media and the authorities don’t seem to take this situation with nearly the gravity it deserves. If this was a Muslim cult Americans would be screaming bloody murder about this and the right wing blogosphere would be boiling about charges about how these people want to take over the USA and force us all to live under their religious law. Why shouldn’t extremist Christians be held to the same standard?
I’m also troubled by the lack of comment by mainstream religions. Now maybe I’ve missed something, but I don’t recall seeing any headlines about the FLDS being condemned by Christian and Mormon leaders for their sick interpretations of our saviour’s teachings. I’m not a biblical scholar, but I don’t recall Jesus saying anything about forcing teenage girls to marry older men in polygamous incestuous relationships (inbreeding is a serious problem with this group, I kid you not.) And I’m pretty sure he never said anything about having a bed in the church so that marriages can be consummated right after the ceremony. And where did he say women must keep their hair long, wear ridiculous 19th century clothing or not use the colour red? And I know he didn’t say anything about men keeping their wives and children as slaves.
I don’t know what the solution to this problem is, I do know that it’s not OK to use “freedom of religion” to keep women and children as slaves. And I do know that Americans who are eager to criticize Islam for for its supposed failings might want to pay a little more attention to what’s going on in their own back yard.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Part III is here: Men Behaving Badly, Part III.
(The above image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, as clearly indicated here. And if one looks at the full resolution image, don’t those look like bars on the first floor of the church?
Since it’s a gated and walled community I can’t imagine they have a problem with people breaking into the church, so why are the windows barred? I rest my case.)