For the past few years, I have had an obsession with reading about the polygamous sect of the Mormon Church, known as the FLDS. My collection of this book genre includes: Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall with Lisa Pulitzer, Escape and Triumph, both by Carolyn Jessop. These books describe the harrowing tale of women and girls who grow up in a culture detached from the modern world, with little to no access to legal protection.
In The Witness Wore Red, Rebecca Musser describes her life within the FLDS, her marriage to the Prophet (she was his 19th wife), and her eventual escape from the only home she ever knew. Musser, with the help of legal authorities in many states and other witnesses, helped to put the FLDS leader, Warren Jeffs, behind bars for many crimes, including child molestation.
As I read these books, I almost feel as if I am reading about the culture of a different country..a country in which women have no rights or freedoms, and are totally subjected to their husbands. I’m also reminded of a time in American history, when women had no legal protection or rights.
A constant theme throughout all of the books I’ve read about this topic is that of the role of the father as the “Priesthood Head.” According to Musser, fathers sometimes offer their daughters in marriage to much older men who happen to be prominent figures within the sect. Their daughters, many times middle school or high school aged, have virtually no say in who they are given to in marriage, being forced to become a “mother” or “grandmother” (especially in Musser’s situation) to people their own age.
Very little information is available about the FLDS, information of course that isn’t riddled with the trials of Warren Jeffs!
FLDS in the News