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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Men of the Cloth: The Vatican Isn't So Far From Fundamentalist Mormonism

Child abuse. Sexual abuse. Women raised to be baby machines controlled by powerful older men in the name of God. These shockers -- and many more -- are flagrantly on offer in the spectacle unfolding around the 139 women and 437 children removed by Texas authorities from the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado. The YFZ is an outpost of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a breakaway Mormon cult presided over by Warren Jeffs, convicted in Utah as an accomplice to rape and awaiting trial in Arizona for incest and conspiracy. The visuals are riveting: women in pastel prairie dresses and identical pompadour-cum-french-braid hairstyles weeping for their children in state custody; skinny-necked middle-aged men insisting they had no idea it was illegal to marry and impregnate multiple 15-year-olds. There's a feminist angle, a child-protection angle and a civil liberties angle -- it isn't clear that the children were in immediate danger, and this drastic and clumsy sweep might well cause cultists to isolate themselves even more. The original impetus for the raid -- a desperate phone call from someone claiming to be a 16-year-old girl raped and abused by her 50-year-old "spiritual husband" -- is looking more and more like a hoax. Men of the Cloth: The Vatican Isn't So Far From Fundamentalist Mormonism By Katha Pollitt,


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