My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am not sure why I am so interested in books on this subject, but I keep hoping that somehow I can make sense of it. It is inconceivable to me that men, especially men who supposedly believe in God can do things as despicable as were done by these leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS). It is also incredible that women would allow themselves, and their children to be abused in this way. I am always searching for something that will help me understand and the best I can come up with is the old saying that "power corrupts and the absolute power corrupts absolutely" colliding with church leaders who are also sociopaths.
In this book, Rebecca Mussler gives a glimpse of what life is like for women in the FLDS. Men cannot get into Celestial Heaven unless they have at least three wives. It is the inner circle of this cult that has the power. The Prophet decides which women are given to which men especially after the first wife. Men try to win favor with the Prophet by paying their tithes, turning over ownership of their houses and land, and their daughters for plural marriages. Women are taught that it is their highest duty to obey their husbands and their prophet in absolutely everything. Their lives are centered on their husbands and their children. From birth, they are made slaves of men. They are taught to “be sweet” no matter what their men do or tell them. They welcome in new wives without complaint. They give their daughters to the prophet to take for themselves (especially if their daughter is pretty) or to give to the inner circle.
Rebecca Musser was very pretty and caught the eye of the Prophet Rulon Jeffs. She was 19 and he was 84. She was his 19th wife. He went on to have nearly 50 more wives all after the age of 84. His wives kept getting younger and younger until many of them were underage. When he died, his son, Warren began marrying his father’s wives, technically his “mothers.” When Rebecca was told that she had a week to submit to his will and marry again, she gathered the courage to escape and go to her older brother who had been pushed out of the church. (With prophets and their inner circle taking 50+ wives, there were not enough left for the young men so it didn't take much to be expelled.)
She had a better life, but she grieved for her sisters, especially one who was given to her violent first cousin. She grieved for so many young girls, as young as 12 who were being given to men well beyond age 50. She grieved for underage girls married two at a time to men older than their fathers and she grieved for her mothers who were made to submit to anything their husbands or the Prophet asked.
When questioned by law enforcement, Rebecca began to see that she could help the states of Arizona, Utah and Texas bring the corrupt leadership down and free these helpless women and their young girls. She was able to help them build a case against Warren Jeffs, who was not only marrying young girls, but living a luxurious life filled with vices while he preached strict obedience and sacrifice to his congregation. This book is an example of the power of one person can effect much change.
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