Yes, before I shoot off Handmaid’s Tale references and rules, I’m going to be real. I had a serious conversation with some folks on social media, and I think we all forgot something relevant to the discussion of theocratic rule in the United States. This … actually … happened. Remember the Warren Jeffs crew? They’re all gone, arrested for committing atrocities against young girls like Elissa Wall and Rebecca Musser and so many others. If you want to read some of their stories, go check out your libraries and Kindle if you dare. Elissa’s story Stolen Innocence is a bit out of date, but well worth a read. Elissa is not the only one who was made to feel inferior because of a theocratic ruler. So many other girls and women have been denied basic human choice, all because of religion. Rebecca Musser’s book, The Witness Wore Red, tells that story too. Musser wrote in this book about various atrocities committed by the men in charge, from Rulon Jeffs to Warren Jeffs and beyond. This woman is the witness and the former nineteenth wife of Rulon Jeffs who put all those leaders in jail, and for what it’s worth, they did indeed commit Gilead-like atrocities against these defenseless girls. How is the Handmaid’s Tale irrelevant fiction? It’s not irrelevant fiction so much as it is a warning. The Hunger Games series might be considered a thought provoking question of a book series, but it is what I’d call irrelevant fiction because there is really no basis for the distopian world of Panam.
As for book number two in the handmaid’s series, the Testaments, it’s a great story, and I’m not gonna lie, a super awesome book, but there’s something in there that jumps out at me a lot. Imagine you’re a child stolen from your mother on the way to a better life. You end up in the care of a white family, and in this example, you’re a black or brown child. So think about it. The Latino immigrants who are being detained are also being parceled out to Bethany Christian Services, what I call the real Gilead Adoption Agency in the United States. Yes, you can bet that these kids want to be with their real moms and dads, but they’re being brainwashed.
A theocracy in the U.S. has indeed been shuttered for good, and for the reasons I’m about to specify however. When the Bible or Qur’an or Torah is used to hurt someone or a whole group of people, the religion becomes invalid and a danger to itself and others, much like when a person starts cutting themselves with a knife and writing funny lettering on themselves and their dog. So why did the FLDS fall? Well, here’s why.
1. The FLDS split from the Mormon church with guys like the Barlows and Jessops in charge, and this is all archived and documented in all the books I’ve read on the subject. John Y. Barlow was one of the founding guys in the church. Next, you had Leroy Johnston, or Uncle Roy, who was prophet for a long long long time, but the person you gotta watch out for in this line of rule was Rulon Jeffs. Rulon was every bit as atrocious as the next guy in line, but he was too old for more than half his wives, and Musser’s writing confirms that she wanted love, not forceful procreative unity with a man who she would have to share. Polygamy is not for everybody, and there should be strict limits on it. But the church fell because Rulon and later his son Warren did some pretty nasty things to young women and girls, all documented, and there was a bunch of sexual abuse of young brides and brides-to-be at the hands of family or relatives. Carolyn Jessop’s kids might have been victims of sex abuse by other kids in the Jessop family, as documented in her second book, Triumph. She mentioned Danny Jessop, who later married Louisa Bradshaw and was living in the now defunct YFZ Ranch, of course. When his name came up, some of Carolyn’s kids had to have mentioned that Danny hurt them in some way. There were other Jessops who played a role in hurting Carolyn and her children, and all this is documented in her book. Check it out. It’s waiting for you to crack it open.
2. The church threw out too many young men so that the old perverts could have access to as many wives as possible. You had sisters sharing a husband, mothers and daughters sharing men, it was twisted and atrocious and could have lent itself to more biological defects. You’ve got the Barlows and Jessops and their bloodlines responsible for fumarase deficiency because of this weird and twisted way of allowing nieces and daughters and sisters that share the same husband. Ugh. Rulon had sisters in his harem, God if I ever thought that was possible, I’d literally faint.
3. God and the belief in Him was used to steal money from the working people. You had guys like Rebecca Musser’s dad, Douglas or Donald Wall, whoever he was, who worked in earnest with a lot of effort on geological stuff, had companies and all kinds of money he could have spent on his girls and kids and stuff, and the FLDS stole all his money. They expected him to let them have all the money, give credit to them, and always praise them. Women were also taught not to ever have credit for themselves, just say, “Oh, it’s just my priesthood head.” Oh really, it was pretty financially telling which families were there and which ones needed more. Even though this wasn’t a Jim Jones situation, this church really needed to change its policy on this and other things.
4. The belief in an almighty God and the celestial kingdom was used to allow many things we should have considered to be child abuse. Even Carolyn Jessop’s book said clearly, and this would be her first one, titled Escape, but she talked a bit about the women with dark sunglasses hiding mottled bruises and the frequency of child and wife/spousal abuse among her people. This church had it coming before the fall of Warren and the purge of so many followers out of its ranks.
So what happened? What I gather on the Internet is that Rulon Jeffs’ old house is now a battered wife shelter, and Warren’s and Rulon’s assets are going to the girls. Good, I say. Same thing will happen if someone tries to bully the entire government into believing in a God that can’t possibly administer justice fairly according to a book that hurts more than helps. Theocracy can still be felt and seen in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a seat of Islam, but their theocratic rules allow men to control women, much the same way as Colorado City and Hildale did. What I am seeing is a pattern of distrust in the U.S. for governing officials who want to press religion on others, which is a good thing because in Hildale, Utah, a female was elected mayor, Dannia Jessop of all people, and she was amazing. Well, I think she still is serving her time there, but she certainly had the police force debadged and demoted, and replaced with real police. That’s a big step in the right direction. With all the big compounds turned into battered women’s shelters, I’m hoping that the missing women in Musser’s story come out of hiding. The YFZ Ranch, the site of a 2008 raid, is thank God defunct. It would not, however, make a good Defunctland video spot, as this is much more serious than just a defunct company.
So how is the U.S. any thing like Gilead? In the handmaid’s Tale, we learn that OfFred’s daughter is adopted by a Gilead family, no different than what Bethany Christian Services is doing to these poor Mexican children, who are raised to believe that family is important. Mexican families are close, so are Cubans, Costa Ricans, any kind of Latin American family is awesome. I’ve seen it all occur in my own very backyard. So why rip these families apart? Trump is not supposed to do this, and I hope Biden will at least fix this problem, and get the United States back in a united state of freedom and back on track. Of course, we will need to make sure that theocratic rules like we saw in Utah and Arizona don’t ever happen again.
For Further Reading:
If you want to read a book about the lost boys, there are two points of entry here. Lost Boy by Brent W. Jeffs is an amazing read. Plus you can also read Destroying Their God by Wallace Jeffs, Warren’s brother. Both are available as Kindle e-books and audio books may be coming as I speak.
Escape and Triumph both by Carolyn Jessop are amazing reads, so read both.
Breaking Free by Rachel Jeffs is a more recent book, but do check it out for yourself. It popped up in my Kindle recommendations.
Church of Lies by Flora Jessop is amazing, and tells the story of one woman who had to fall to rock bottom to get to where she is now. I love how Flora tells her story.
Stolen Innocence and The Witness Wore Red, written by Elissa Wall and her sister, Rebecca Musser respectively, both books are amazing, but Musser’s is more up to date, and she has written amazing testimony of her work. Thank you all for reading, and to find these books, I’d recommend using Kindle or Audible, as not all are available on Bard.