Wednesday, September 19, 2007

AP & “the Romney effect”

The other day the AP carried a story that began:

A former follower of a polygamous-sect leader sobbed on the witness stand Friday as she described the terror and despair she felt on the eve of her wedding at age 14, and said she became intensely depressed after having sex. "I kept thinking I felt like I was getting ready for death," she testified on the second day of the trial of Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Jeffs is charged with two felony counts of rape as an accomplice. Prosecutors contend he used his religious authority to coerce the ceremonial marriage and pressure the teen bride to have sex with her 19-year-old cousin against her objections.

In her testimony Friday, the woman, now 21, said she was shocked when she learned she had been selected for the marriage by Rulon Jeffs, Warren Jeffs' father, the church prophet at the time who is now dead. The woman said she pleaded with Rulon Jeffs to delay the marriage until she turned 16 or to be given to another man.

Her efforts to avoid the union failed, said the woman, who is not being identified by The Associated Press because she is alleging sexual assault. She testified that Warren Jeffs told her: "Your heart is in the wrong place; this is what the prophet wants you to do."

The marriage took place on April 23, 2001, in a motel in Caliente, Nev., owned by FLDS members. Describing her emotions during the wedding ceremony, the woman said: "Trapped. Extremely overwhelmed. Immense pressure."

She said she hung her head and cried in despair when pressed by Jeffs to say "I do" and had to be coaxed to kiss her new husband.

Jeffs then commanded the new couple to "go forth and multiply and replenish the Earth with good priesthood children," she testified.

In the FLDS community, marriage and motherhood are considered the highest achievements for women, who pray to be prepared to marry and follow a worthy man from a young age. But girls receive no information about their bodies, sexual relations or procreation, the woman testified, and she said she didn't even know sex was the means by which women had babies.

Married for at least a month before they had intercourse, the woman said her husband told her it was "time for you to be a wife and do your duty."

"My entire body was shaking. I was so scared," she testified. "He just laid me on the bed and had sex."

Afterward, she slipped into the bathroom, where she downed two bottles of over-the-counter pain reliever and curled up on the floor, she said.

"The only thing I wanted to do was die. I just wanted to die," she said. She did not elaborate, but said she later threw up the medicine. […]
There are people who question a good deal of what the woman is reported as testifying to.

Independent of what the court determines to be the facts of this case, I strongly object to child marriage and forced marriage anywhere and polygamy in this country (many Muslims believe polygamy is fundamental to their religion. If they live in a Muslim theocracy, I’m not going to object unless Muslims in polygamous marriages come to America. At that point my position is: leave all the wives home but one and don’t stay too long).

But I didn’t cite this story to talk about marriage or polygamy.

I cited it because the AP and other news organizations have given it so much attention. Yahoo had it prominently featured on its main news page. The story included photos of Jeffs alone and Jeffs with his attorney. There was also a link to a video clip.

For as long as I can remember I’ve read stories from time-to-time of cults in America engaging in the practices reported here. But it’s unusual one gets so much attention and is filled with so much heart-wrenching, graphic detail.

And why do you think the AP mentioned in the first paragraph that Jeffs was leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and then referred throughout the rest of the lengthy 19-paragraph article to “the FLDS,” and only said the following in the last two sentences of its story:
Members of FLDS, which broke away from the Mormon church, believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.The Mormon church disavowed polygamy in 1890 and excommunicates members found to be practicing plural marriage.?
My answer is “the Romney effect.”

The Democrats who control news reporting at the AP work hard for their party. The entire story is here.

I’ll be interested to hear what you think of my take on it.


Anonymous said...

John - As long as I can remember, these cults have always involved child abuse and no rights for woman or children. The old geezers are in the courtroom - I hope they do testify and get whallapped. BTW, take a look at the black, female ADA in the Novack case. She is terrific -

Anonymous said...

There are many people who think all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are polygamous child molesters. Mitt Romney is right now the lightning rod of these ill-informed people. The Democrats (a faction, that is) are trying to paint Mitt as one of the offshoot fundie Mormon sects. I assume this is what you meant by the "Romney effect."

Anonymous said...

This is the USA and under no circumstances should our courts condone the forced marriage of an underage girl. No civilized nation or religion for that matter forces underage girl into marriage, and therefore the sex that is part of marriage. I hope the jury finds Warren Jeffs guilty.

Anonymous said...

I like the one about "leave all the wives but one at home and don't stay too long."

And I also appreciated the placement of this story next to the "religion unknown" of the kid converting people to Islam story above.


Anonymous said...

A lot of people talk about the girls and the women but what about the boys?

According to what I've read, they teach the children that a man can't go to heaven unless he has 3 wives. What they are really telling these boys is that a minimum of 70% of them are going to hell.

That's beyond sick. Imagine being one of the 70% or more of men in this cult that are forced to live a life of celibacy, only to believe they are never going to be able to get into heaven. What kind of lives do they have?