Thursday, 9 July 2015

Debra Weyermann, "Answer Them Nothing" (2011)

Subtitle: "Bringing Down the Polygamous Empire of Warren Jeffs."

Comments to come soon.

If you are interested in this book, you might also be interested in reading my comments on:
Alex Beam, American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith (2014),
Matthew Bowman, The Mormon People: The Making of an American Religion (2012).


Prologue: The Raid
"...the worst fallout came from the ocean of depressing photographs epitomized by Life magazine’s September 14, 1953, pictorial essay of the raid and its aftermath. In the article entitled “The Lonely Men of Short Creek,” Life photographers flexed their renowned artistry with photo after photo of Short Creek’s remaining damaged yet stoic men, determined to do their level best to keep life normal for their motherless children."

"With a few notable exceptions, American media continue to fail the public comprehension of what, exactly, FLDS is by modeling its coverage of the sect on a half-century-old Life article."

2: Section 132
"The energy LDS has spent on polygamy seems almost tragic given the fact that the practice was not even part of the movement’s original theology. Even when the charming and dynamic prophet Joseph Smith wedged polygamy into his doctrine years after starting the church, most of his followers were aghast and repulsed."

"Only about 15 percent of Americans were card-carrying members in any denomination at the time…"

"As a young man, Smith, along with his father and other male family members, made a sideline of 'money digging.' A digger utilized magical “peep stones” to inform his client of the location of buried treasures."

"LDS goes apoplectic when Smith’s money-digging career is broached, even blindly denying Smith’s 1826 misdemeanor conviction as 'a disorderly person' after his only unsatisfied customer complained."

"Smith realized he could translate the reformed Egyptian with his money-digging peep stones. To accomplish the translation, Smith sometimes placed the stones in the bottom of a tall hat placed on a table upon which also rested the gold tablets, which were covered by a sheet. Burying his face in the hat, Smith’s peep stones would transform the reformed Egyptian into a form of English that sounded suspiciously like the King James version of the Bible. A 'scribe' physically separated from Smith by a sheet hung from the ceiling would then write down what Smith saw in the stones for what would become The Book of Mormon."

- Yale professor Harold Bloom - his book The American Religion

"Mormon polygamy came to widespread public attention in the 1840s…"

"Smith allowed publication of a polygamy-advocating pamphlet called The Peace Maker in 1842."

"Some historians speculate that Smith may have started 'marrying' outside women as early as 1831, telling a few intensely close associates at the time, but he told his mostly utterly horrified inner circle about God’s mandate for 'plural marriage' around 1841."

"In March 1832, when the Saints were headquartered in Ohio, Smith was dragged from his bed to be tarred, feathered, and beaten senseless by a mob led by the brother of a teenage girl Smith was suspected of seducing. Smith was not permanently injured, but only because the surgeon enlisted to castrate him lost his enthusiasm for the job."

"After Smith’s death, Emma and her sons eventually joined the Reformed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which denied the church had ever sanctioned plural marriage."

- "groundbreaking biography of Joseph Smith, the late excommunicated-Mormon historian Fawn Brodie" (No Man Knows My History)

"Having made the historical case for polygamy, Smith was able to fuse it onto his original premise. There couldn’t be monogamy, he argued, because the kingdoms men would rule as Gods after their deaths were to be populated by that man’s children. The more children, the greater the riches of the world. Obviously, one woman could not produce enough children for a respectable kingdom. Anyone demanding monogamy was trying to trick you out of a decent afterlife."

"Joseph Smith had already concluded the Saints would have to set up their own country after Smith’s 1844 bid to become president of the United States failed in a big way."

"Young’s plans for an independent country hit another snag when the United States acquired all of the prophet’s target territories in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the Mexican American War."

"In 1856, a catastrophic drought and a series of crop-devastating grasshopper scourges pushed the Saints to the brink of starvation, and Young decided they all needed to recommit to the religion. The Mormon Reformation of 1856–58 was an unbridled festival of fire and brimstone, stoked by fanatical Smith devotees."

"Young also used the Reformation to push polygamy hard. Declaring that 'any man who denied plural marriage was damned'...”

"Young’s demonization of new settlers, combined with his zealous revivalism, culminated in the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857, the execution-style murders of 120 men, women, and children on their way from Arkansas to California, traveling in the richest wagon train to ever pass through economically disadvantaged Salt Lake City…"

"Before the [U.S. Civil] war became a total distraction, the antipolygamy Morrill Act passed in 1862. After the war, the Edmonds Act again outlawing polygamy passed in 1882, followed by the merciless 1887 Edmonds-Tucker Act, a furious wrecking ball aimed directly at Brigham Young’s Mormons. Edmonds-Tucker allowed for the seizure of church property valued at more than $50,000 and disincorporated the LDS Church and its Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company critical for bringing thousands of European converts to Utah on the grounds that both entities promoted illegal polygamy."

"President James Buchanan had already removed Brigham Young as territorial governor in 1857…"

"In a landmark 1878 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that religion did not trump U.S. law, period."

"...president James Buchanan dispatched 2,500 troops to bring the Mormons to heel as early as 1857. That effort fizzled, becoming something of a joke."

"Brigham Young might never have acknowledged it, but his death in 1877 left Mormon leaders free to realistically contemplate their chances…"

"May 1890 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints v. United States, upholding the Edmonds-Tucker provision allowing the government to seize LDS property."

"Just three months later, in August 1890, a besieged Wilford Woodruff delivered the Manifesto ending plural marriage."

"Smith, and certainly Young, had inexorably established polygamy as a requirement—not an option—for admittance to the celestial kingdom, which was the whole point of being Mormon. From the instant the Manifesto left Woodruff’s lips, Mormon polygamists argued the explanation was an insultingly transparent political capitulation to a secular entity with no authority to override God’s laws."

"LDS officials are squeamishly evasive about the multistory, fifteen-barrel silo outside Salt Lake City stuffed with four hundred thousand pounds of grain, the food is there to sustain Mormons during the worldwide chaos that will precede the Second Coming…"

"Despite two manifestos from separate prophets who were also talking to God, LDS has not removed the plural marriage revelation. To the contrary, LDS has not restored Smith’s 1835 revelation condemning polygamy — a revelation LDS deleted from the Doctrines and Covenants in 1876 because it conflicted with the revelation ordering polygamy."

"The visit was singed with controversy when it came to light that LDS had baptized Obama’s late mother into the church with its dubious practice of using proxies to stand in for the dead at the ceremony without alerting the deceased’s living family members. Mormon leaders were obliged to walk back the Obama baptism quietly, but outraged Jewish leaders forced a public retraction of LDS postmortem baptisms of Jews murdered in the Holocaust."

"LDS published a training manual in 1998 that portrayed Brigham Young as a monogamous husband. Polygamy is mentioned nowhere in the manual. Among the work’s significant omissions is Mormon doctrine holding that God is himself a polygamist, as is Jesus Christ, whose wives included Mary Magdalene. When questioned by reporters, LDS officials Ronald L. Knighton and Craig Manscill staunchly defended the omissions, saying the manual was not intended as a historical document, only a broad introduction to the Mormon faith. The officials insisted the failure to mention polygamy was legitimate because the practice had been stopped in 1890."

"American Indians, called Lamanites, also carry the blood of ancient Israel but, like many Gentiles who have not yet been converted, don’t realize it. The Book of Mormon teaches that ancient Hebrews traveled to the New World around 600 B.C. in a submarine-like boat, creating an advanced civilization with a number of nineteenth-century amenities. This population eventually split into the “good” tribe of Nephites and the “bad” tribe of Lamanites, who became embroiled in a centuries-long war. After Christ’s crucifixion, he visited the New World and was able to remind the Lamanites of their roots, but they soon forgot and eventually wiped out the Nephites. God cursed the Lamanites with dark skin for their wickedness, but Mormon prophets taught they would again become a 'white and delightsome' people when their memories were restored after the apocalypse."

"Smith’s career as a money digger is fairly well known, but in his book Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, excommunicated Mormon historian D. Michael Quinn discusses at good length the Smith family’s dabbling in other areas of magic and the occult, including necromancy, in which spirits of the dead are conjured up to reveal the future."

"Only the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod equivocates its position on whether Mormonism is a Christian faith. All other major Christian denominations, including Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and so on, have position statements advising that, among other things, the Mormon belief that there are many gods, that God was a man, that men may become gods, that God and Jesus Christ were polygamists (a detail Smith added after he’d introduced polygamy years later), and that God and Jesus Christ are separate entities, not part of the holy trinity, are inconsistent with Christianity."

"Until 1978, only white males could attain the end goal of deification."

"Explaining that the 1835 revelation was inconsistent with church dogma, LDS leaders removed it from the Doctrines and Covenants in 1876. Despite the fact that it would now appear to be consistent with church dogma, it has not been reinstated..."

3: Bill Walker and the First Case
"...a dogma true for both LDS and FLDS to this day. Only men have the power to elevate their wives into heaven."

"...children are literally considered FLDS priesthood property. Once born, mothers are understood to have no further claim on their babies, and indeed, Warren Jeffs would soon take up the habit of reassigning children willy-nilly to families of his selection, informing the biological mothers that they would never see their kids again."

4: Judge Shumate
"Certain that LDS was now irredeemably apostated, disgusted polygamists began filtering into what is called the Arizona strip some fifty miles east of St. George, founding a community called The Work. It would evolve into FLDS."

5: The New Sheriff
"Mankind are here because they are the offspring of parents who were first brought here from another planet…"

"In both LDS and FLDS, worldly events must be recorded in this life in order to be acknowledged in the next. Joseph Smith urged all his converts to keep punctilious personal journals…"

"...another of Mormonism’s founding tenets: the condemnation of African Americans as actively evil, unsaveable souls whose black skin was the mark of Cain, a curse of God. Black men could not be admitted to the Mormon priesthood."

"Mormon universities and colleges were excluded from national competitions, including sporting competitions. LDS resisted the pressures until 1978, when the prohibition of blacks from holding the priesthood was reversed…"

"...fundamentalist Mormon groups practicing polygamy do not accept the 1978 change. Groups like FLDS still actively portray dark-skinned people as evil and call African Americans 'niggers'…"

6: Dan Fischer and the Lost Boys
"...the land of refuge, where the ten thousand or so FLDS people would soon be tasked with killing every human being on earth."

9: Warren Jeffs
"Fundamentalists marry for 'time' or for 'time and eternity.' Marrying for 'time' is strictly temporal and not such a big deal. Marrying for “time and eternity” means the woman belongs to her husband in perpetuity by God’s iron will…"

"On October 7, 2002, just a month after Rulon [Jeff]’s death, Warren secretly married his first batch of seven of Rulon’s widows. After taking them all upstairs for a little dancing and nuptials, the women were promptly sequestered in rooms lacking the compound’s intercoms to prevent their blabbing about the marriages to anyone else. Warren knew that marrying his father’s women was going to be a community shocker…"

"The number of wives held by Warren Jeffs remains a matter of speculation, but the estimates of ninety-one are certainly low. Myriad ex-FLDS bloggers put the number between two and three hundred. In his dictations, Warren indicates he had almost eighty wives by the end of 2002, and he was just getting started."

"When a young girl was mauled by a stray dog, Warren ordered all the dogs in Short Creek, a community of nearly ten thousand dog owners, to be killed. No selling them or giving them away."

"The spectacularly scenic Canadian lands, with an estimated value of $300 million, were part of the FLDS United Effort Plan trust."

"...the FLDS community in Bountiful, British Columbia, Canada, was in full revolt under the leadership of Winston Blackmore. Warren had excommunicated Blackmore after he forgave a young girl fleeing Short Creek with the boy she wanted to marry, allowing the couple to settle in Canada as husband and wife."

"Warren’s breathless Canadian spy, Jim Oler, told an infuriated Warren many of the thousand FLDS members in the Canadian branch didn’t accept his prophet claims."

"in 2003, Warren Jeffs declared himself prophet."

10: Texas at Bat
"March 25, 2004, with the headline “Corporate Retreat or Prophet’s Refuge?” Mankin published the first of hundreds of scrupulously researched stories about FLDS…"

"In mid-April, FLDS resurrected the elusive David Allred to make the rounds in Schleicher County [Texas], insisting to incredulous town leaders that no matter what it looked like, the property was indeed a corporate retreat hunting lodge."

"It still took a week after this little PR disaster for FLDS attorney Rod Parker to confirm that the property recorded as owned by YFZ Land LLC, was not, in fact, a hunting lodge but “clearly connected” to FLDS."

"Educated about the 'lying for the Lord' and 'bleeding the beast' FLDS mantras, Mankin learned that when Allred said two hundred folks would be coming, he meant two hundred men. Because these were Warren Jeffs’s favored men, all would have at least three, and some more than twenty, wives kept continuously pregnant. Depending on the number of men Warren Jeffs eventually intended to favor, the actual number of FLDS members Texas could expect to receive over time might number well into the thousands."

11: Arizona at Bat, Again
"March 2003, New Times declared war on the sect and the current Secretary of Homeland Security with a seventeen-thousand-word opus, the result of a five-month investigation into FLDS in Colorado City headlined: 'Bound by Fear: Polygamy in Arizona. For Decades the State Has Let a Feudal Colony of Fundamentalist Mormons Force Underage Girls into Illegal Polygamous Marriages.'

"The tiny Colorado City Fire Department received the third largest Homeland Security grant in the state to stave off terrorists—$350,000. Before the Salt Lake Tribune began defending FLDS, it printed an exposé titled “Polygamy on the Dole,” revealing that Colorado City raked in $1.8 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to pave streets (Hildale got $94,000) and $2.8 million to build an airport used only by the Jeffs, ostensibly to promote tourism in a community that believes outsiders are trying to kill them…"

"More than 80 percent of FLDS members were on some kind of welfare."

"Short Creek raked in approximately $33 million tax dollars a year for around seven thousand residents, including an estimated $15 million to run the combined Short Creek city governments."

"Republican Arizona state representative Sylvia Allen, arguing in favor of “getting the money” by allowing radioactive uranium mining in the state in 2009, enlightened her apprehensive colleagues with the observation that 'the earth has been here for six thousand years, long before anyone had environmental laws, and somehow it hasn’t been done away with.'"

"In 1877, Young dispatched Daniel Webster Jones from St. George to Arizona’s center, founding the town of Mesa, which today boasts more LDS members than Salt Lake City, some 470,000 Saints, all of them reliable voters."

"Napolitano admitted that, in varying degrees, FLDS met or exceeded all standardized law enforcement criteria to categorize it as a potentially violent cult along the lines of the Branch Davidians at Waco or the militia types at Ruby Ridge."

"Napolitano said she didn’t send investigators into Short Creek to look into child abuse and underage sex charges because she feared for their safety. She added that she didn’t send uniformed police because she feared for their safety, too, and she also feared their presence might ignite unsightly, casualty-producing gun battles."

"Mormonism addresses this kind of dating and matters like the fossil record by saying that God mashed and rolled the earth together from pieces of other, much older planets, meaning the fossil record is the remains of extraterrestrials."

14: The End Begins
Brigham Young, Deseret News, 6 Aug. 1862: "this MONOGAMIC ORDER OF MARRIAGE so esteemed by modern Christians as a HOLY SACRAMENT and DIVINE INSTITUTION is nothing but a system established by a SET OF ROBBERS."

15: Fun on the Run
Warren Jeffs, 29 July, 2005: "The Lord directed that I go to the sun tanning salon and get sun tanned more evenly on their sun tanning beds that have lights, so Naomie and I went and did that in the afternoon."

"Jeffs explained that the Lord had “commanded” the couple “to go mingle with the rich where there was a live band.” The Lord also commanded that the evening be topped off with “some dancing bars, lounges, and the saloons.”

16: Cops and Taxes
"...1992, when the Arizona Law Enforcement Officer Advisory Council (ALEOAC) moved to decertify Colorado City deputy marshal Sam Barlow, who’d already been denied peace officer status in Utah because the FLDS member had three wives. Incredibly, Barlow had been an Arizona cop for twenty years before ALEOAC noticed the little illegal polygamy problem…"

"Barlow pursued his religious persecution case for five years before Arizona, in an astonishing display of gutlessness, dismissed its complaint against him…"

17: Satan’s Accountant
"...the Bountiful Elementary-Secondary School Society (BESS) received $650,000 a year from the Canadian government…"
NOTE: Given that education is a provincial jurisdiction in Canada, perhaps Weyermann means the British Columbia government.

18: Nailed
Record of President Warren Jeffs, 22 Apr. 2005: "This afternoon, I wrote Paula Jeffs, my wife, a note of correction, teaching her that she needs to be more fervent in seeking the Lord’s will, and not just judging what she thinks will beautify the Lord’s house, as the Lord has rejected the materials for the upstairs sheers and drapes. I told her the Lord will accept the drapes out of the present materials temporarily, but after the dedication of the temple, we will replace the drapes made out of materials that do not have a grain in it or a pattern in the material…"

21: The Courts
"...the FLDS lawsuits had a few audacious themes in common…"

" embraced a number of troubling themes that would be standard in all the FLDS suits to follow…"

"As FLDS leaders spit and clawed to regain their kingdom, nobody had seen nothin’ yet."

26: The Lives of Others
In 1859, U.S. Army troops erected a monument to the the more than 120 Arkansas men, women, and children killed in the September 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre, a battle between incoming settlers and Utah Mormons. About 1860, Brigham Young's associates dismantled the monument. "...the U.S. Calvary rebuilt the destroyed monument and kept stubbornly rebuilding it over the next seventy years of continued vandalism. In 1932, a monument was left standing."

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