This page lists research resources on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS).
- FLDS continues abusive polygamist practices in Utah and Arizona Debra Wyermann, High Country News, June 11, 2012. An excellent overview of the way the FLDS is aided by authorities unwilling or unable to act against crimes committed by the cult’s members. Weyermann is the author of Answer Them Nothing: Bringing Down the Polygamous Empire of Warren Jeffs
- The Rescue of Children from the FLDS Compound in Texas: Why the Arguments Claiming Due Process Violations and Religious Freedom Infringement Have No Merit by Marci Hamilton, Visiting Professor of Public Affairs and the Crane Senior Research Fellow at the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Posted at FindLaw.com
This raid was about child abuse, and as I explain above, it is not really any different than authorities entering a drug den or a private home where there are credible accounts of abuse. The child protective services universe is sufficiently stable by now that whoever is sexually abusing a child can be made to stop. It is the best interest of the child that determines government action. That is obviously what is happening in this case, and the attempts to misleadingly shift the focus to the religious identity of the perpetrators is not justified by either law or basic decency. There is simply no religious defense to criminal behavior. That this behavior was so heinous makes using the cover of religion for it all the more appalling.
- The Strange Legal Trip of Polygamist Warren Jeffs by Hillary Hylton, TIME, June 12, 2010
Five years ago, Warren Jeffs was charged with sex crimes resulting from the polygamous marriages he arranged for his followers in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). Jeffs then began a circular journey through the jailhouses and courtrooms of the west. This week, the self-styled prophet awoke to the promise of a change of scenery — but not a change of fortune. An Arizona judge dismissed the original charges against Jeffs, the very charges that had catapulted him into national headlines. But the dismissal has only cleared the way for Texas authorities to get their hands on him to face even more serious charges. “Extradition proceedings against Warren Jeffs have commenced,” Lauri Saathoff, a spokesperson for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told TIME.
- Answer Them Nothing: Bringing Down the Polygamous Empire of Warren Jeffs [Kindle] [Amazon UK] By Debra Weyermann
When police raided the Short Creek compound of the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1953, it soon became a political and publicity nightmare and eventually cost the governor of Arizona his job. From that point on, skittish public officials allowed the polygamist sect to practice its tenants unmolested for the next 50 years and turned a blind eye to child abandonment, kidnapping, statutory rape, incest, and massive tax and welfare fraud.
But then Warren Jeffs, a new FLDS prophet, escalated the sect’s crimes to near madness. Activists watched in horror as he used his limitless authority and the resources of a tax-supported community—in essence, a feudal empire on the Utah/Arizona border—to devastate thousands of lives on cruel whims, marrying girls as young as 11 to 60-year-old men and driving off teenage “lost boys” who Jeffs felt threatened his authority.
Answer Them Nothing is the chilling story of the victims, activists, prosecutors, judges, cops, and attorneys who in 2001 began the struggle to dismantle the FLDS empire and bring Jeffs and his henchmen to justice. It is a mesmerizing journey into one of America’s darkest corners, a story that stretches over three states and deep into history of the powerful Mormon Church.
– Source: Publisher’s book description as listed at Amazon.com
- Church of Lies by Flora Jessop and Paul T. Brown
It is difficult for any person not affiliated with a group like the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) to imagine the motivation for living in such a system.
Jessop grew up within the strictures of the FLDS cult, subjected to its forced marriages and rampant sexual abuse. Her story is a harrowing but inspiring account of one womans determination to break free. She relates in rather stark terms the horror of growing up in the polygamous community, the many pleasures she was denied as a child as her elders pursued a pseudo-holiness, forbidding the joys of childhood but engaging in horrible acts of pedophilia.
Following her own liberation, she has worked tirelessly and fearlessly to liberate those who want out of the group. Readers will be repelled at some of what Jessop has to say, but in the end, they will be heartened by her efforts to free others in the grip of the FLDS leadership.
– Source: Publishers Weekly as quoted by Amazon.com
- Inside the World of Warren Jeffs: The Power of Polygamy by Carole A. Western
INSIDE THE WORLD OF WARREN JEFFS: Is a book written on two different levels. It is a well-researched book covering human trials, humiliation, jealousy, abuse and the ultimate survival of six women, one mother and five daughters, trapped in a life of polygamy. The women s lifestyles acquaint them with several different polygamous groups. This book covers their innermost thoughts and dreams of what it would be like to be free. The second part of the book gives the details, statistics, and mindset of today s polygamist leaders, who consider themselves prophets and even Gods over their people. They rule with an iron fist; decide which children and wife belong to which men, picking the best women for themselves, and their word is absolute law. There is no room in polygamy for dissenters, only a life as apostates, abandonment and even death. The few men and women who manage against great odds to escape, tell tales of deprivation, starvation and beatings, but does anyone really listen? This book is well written and an easy read for those whom want both an in-depth fundamental understanding and comprehensive overview of what makes this lifestyle endure through the millennium. Rating: Excellent
– Source: Albuquerque News Tribune, as posted at Amazon.com
- Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs by Elissa Wall, with Lisa Pulitzer. Warren Jeffs was convicted on the basis of Elissa Wall‘s testimony. See also, Elissa Wall Speaks Out About Her ‘Stolen Innocence’.
In September 2007, a packed courtroom in St. George, Utah, sat hushed as Elissa Wall, the star witness against polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs, gave captivating testimony of how Jeffs forced her to marry her first cousin at age fourteen. This harrowing and vivid account proved to be the most compelling evidence against Jeffs, showing the harsh realities of this closed community and the lengths to which Jeffs went in order to control the sect’s women.
Now, in this courageous memoir, Elissa Wall tells the incredible and inspirational story of how she emerged from the confines of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and helped bring one of America’s most notorious criminals to justice. Offering a child’s perspective on life in the FLDS, Wall discusses her tumultuous youth, explaining how her family’s turbulent past intersected with her strong will and identified her as a girl who needed to be controlled through marriage. Detailing how Warren Jeffs’s influence over the church twisted its already rigid beliefs in dangerous new directions, Wall portrays the inescapable mind-set and unrelenting pressure that forced her to wed despite her repeated protests that she was too young.
Once she was married, Wall’s childhood shattered as she was obligated to follow Jeffs’s directives and submit to her husband in “mind, body, and soul.” With little money and no knowledge of the outside world, she was trapped and forced to endure the pain and abuse of her loveless relationship, which eventually pushed her to spend nights sleeping in her truck rather than face the tormentor in her bed.
Yet even in those bleak times, she retained a sliver of hope that one day she would find a way out, and one snowy night that came in the form of a rugged stranger named Lamont Barlow. Their chance encounter set in motion a friendship and eventual romance that gave her the strength she needed to break free from her past and sever the chains of the church.
But though she was out of the FLDS, Wall would still have to face Jeffs—this time in court. In Stolen Innocence, she delves into the difficult months on the outside that led her to come forward against him, working with prosecutors on one of the biggest criminal cases in Utah’s history, so that other girls still inside the church might be spared her cruel fate.
More than a tale of survival and freedom, Stolen Innocence is the story of one heroic woman who stood up for what was right and reclaimed her life.
– Source: Product description at Amazon.com
- When Men Become Gods: Mormon Polygamist Warren Jeffs, His Cult of Fear, and the Women Who Fought Back by Stephen Singular.
This ripped-from-the-headlines exposé uncovers the rise and fall of polygamist Warren Jeffs, former leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). Based on interviews with ex-members, newspaper stories and trial records, it provides a raw and bracing account of Jeffs’s sex crimes and fugitive years. Unfortunately, Singular’s account is not burdened by nuance or significant attention to history or theology, ignoring important prior research on Mormon fundamentalism and painting all polygamists with the same broad brush. Some of this could be forgiven if Singular’s lapses in understanding Mormon fundamentalism were not exacerbated by his frequent tactic of comparing the FLDS to Islamic extremists, which evokes the intended fear response but remains tenuous. However, the book’s second half, which hews closely to the chronology of Jeffs’s flight from the law and the individuals who helped to bring him to justice, is more balanced than the first. Singular is a strong writer who uses pacing, dialogue and drama to good effect. Readers will find this a troubling and fascinating, if careless, account.
– Source: Publishers Weekly as posted at Amazon.com
- The Young Women of the F.L.D.S., and Inside Their World Photo essays, New York Times. Related article: The Young Women of the FLDS
News & News Archive
- Carolyn Jessop talks about her escape from the FLDS Carolyn was born into the FLDS. She left the cult in 2003, with her eight children. She has written two books on the FLDS: Escape and Triumph: Life After the Cult, a Survivor’s Lessons.