Sound Choices

Is it true that if you don’t stand for something, you don’t stand for anything at all? I was told that quite often during my earlier years. I should stand up for the truth and righteousness. Lately, I’ve wondered if that is why I feel such an urgency to stand up for my own Sound Choices and be an advocate of that for others. But every day I ask myself; “Besides writing my book, am I really brave enough to stand out and publicly speak out for myself and other victims of religious indoctrination?” That alone could guarantee more abandonment, false accusations, and heart-ache. But it’s getting more uncomfortable by the day to sit on the fence while I feel, watch and hear the mayhem. I’ve got to jump off, hang on with one hand to the divine, and offer my other hand and my heart to the oppressed. The toughest part – I already know – is that taking a stand gets pretty lonely at times. Where is everyone else out there who feels the way I do?

I never did get to see or talk with my sister after I went to find her at Fort Concho, during Texas’s attempted rescue of the YFZ children. One late evening eight months ago, one of literally hundreds of my polygamous-believing (non-FLDS) first cousins called to ask me if I was “going to go to the funeral.” She felt terribly uncomfortable, and apologized when I had to ask her, “Who died?” For twelve years, my sister had refused to see or speak with her siblings. Warren Jeffs had forbidden his followers to talk with anyone who wasn’t loyal to him. I learned my sister had been dead for days and the funeral was to be held the next day in Colorado City, Arizona. Needless to say, I was distraught as well as punching livid.

My teaching commitments kept me from driving the 52 miles to see my sister’s aged, diseased body. I chose to remember her as she was the last time I’d seen her at our mother’s house. Besides, I was sure the FLDS mafia wouldn’t let me in their church anyway. If by chance they did, I’d have had to listen to hours on end of their haranguing, threatening, religious propaganda that is considered a necessary aspect of every Fundamentalist Mormon funeral. So I dealt with that loss as I had with so many others my in life.

You may have heard of Brooke Adams, the Salt Lake Tribune, journalist assigned to the so-called polygamy beat. She has written many sympathetic (contrary to my opinion in many cases,) news articles concerning precarious polygamous situations. She’s been super chummy with Joe Darger’s family for a long time; so several people have wondered if she’s quietly been indoctrinated into “the fullness of the gospel. Maybe she’ll be a fourth wife?” Brook wrote Love Times Three, a book about Darger and his three wives who want to sanctify and decriminalize polygamy. Their testament to the world is that their well-adjusted, happy, beautiful, financially secure, polygamous family reflects the normal, and the majority of polygamous families – all of whom contribute to society.

Yet those of us who left that lifestyle, as well as many whom are related and know his family, believe that Joe Darger’s family is a complete anomaly. His family, TLC’s Sister Wives (also a cousin and niece), and HBO’s Big Love (fictitious) families, absolutely do not represent “normal or average” polygamous families as they claim. In most cases, it is completely the opposite. The majority of polygamous families live in dire poverty – not the elaborate, large, beautiful homes you see on television. The western states continue to dole out millions in welfare to polygamous families who are unable to feed and clothe their overgrown families. Still most will continue to take more plural wives and procreate, as they believe they’ve been commanded to do.

Every time the public begins to empathize and support polygamy – believing that these glamorous, depictions represent what the polygamous life-styles are all about – my heart sinks in frustration and sadness – mostly for the women and children. It was and is these kinds of “leave them alone” attitudes (that started in the early 1950s after the Colorado City, Arizona raid on polygamist families), and the nowadays attitudes (“Oh, those polygamous women are so beautiful, so smart… let them be…”) that unwittingly helps perpetuate the phenomenal polygamous population boom.

Most polygamists believe that those of us, who have left are adamantly critical of polygamy because we “have apostatized from the truth,” and have become “miserable and bitter.” (That’s another threat doled out by leaders and heads of house-holds to persuade their children and the disillusioned to tough it out.) The threats that are mingled with LDS apostasy feel like a way to abandon and mock victims of religious war crimes. Yet we “apostates” continue to see and hear the heart-aches – the wretched stories of our pasts, played out in vivid color. They come to us from our daughters, sisters, sons, grandchildren, aunts, relatives and neighbors – from those who’ve been threatened since conception with heaven or hell to “choose” to live polygamy.

Joseph Smith promised they’d be saved in the eternities for living the “New and everlasting covenant of plural marriage.” And for those “who abide not that covenant… ye are damned…” So, suffering women, men and children keep their mouths shut, distort, make excuses for, and/or lie about their feelings. After-all, those “natural feelings” are wicked defects of character that must be overcome. They continue (like I did,) to teach their children that no matter how miserable, lonely, desperate, poor, deprived, or abused they are or feel, they must sacrifice their feelings and lives for the “gospel’s sake;” and endure to the end.

Long before Warrant Jeffs and his henchmen’s crimes became public knowledge, I knew of and wrote a CNN blog about some of Warren’s hideous offenses. It must have been my “apostate, evil, bitter, attitude” that spoke the truth about Jeffs. I was criticized by several outspoken polygamous advocates (who want polygamy decriminalized,) for accusing Warren, and writing “those terrible things about such a good man.”

I wish I could detail all of the things I’ve expressed. I think you’d better understand my plight and the urgency I feel. I’ve got to get my butt off the fence. I want to stand up for Sound Choices. That’s what we’d like to call our coalition of men and women who want to help swing the pendulum of awareness – at least in the minds of those who are being bamboozled by the appearances and well-rehearsed phrases of the (truly) fairytale polygamous lifestyles currently portrayed by mass media. So many people across our nation are out of the loop, and uninformed when it comes to these issues. As long as polygamous lifestyles are doctored up to look so appealing and the harmful issues remain “out of sight and out of mind,” the craziness is condoned and will continue to be propagated.