Sep 5, 2014

Kindness could loosen FLDS grip

Idaho State Journal
August 30, 2014

The newspaper headlines and TV news reports this week about the FLDS church’s presence in Southeast Idaho caught everyone’s attention.
A man named Nathan Jessop and nine boys were apparently exiled to our part of the state (and at one point Wyoming) so they could repent for their alleged sins. It’s safe to say imprisoned FLDS church leader Warren Jeffs sent them away and it’s really anyone’s guess as to why. 
Perhaps they got caught drinking milk or eating corn — two no-nos as far as Jeffs is concerned.
Jessop and the boys eventually found lodging in the Gate City area — staying at homes in Chubbuck, Downey and Power County before taking up residence in a house off Pocatello Creek Road in Pocatello.
When one of the boys escaped and blew the whistle on how Jessop was treating them, the Bannock County Sheriff’s Department and Prosecutor’s Office began to investigate.
What authorities found is that Jessop was hitting the boys with boards and brooms, placing some of them in solitary confinement, exiling them outside in freezing conditions and barely providing them with enough food to survive.
Neighbors said the boys were constantly trying to find food. They had apparently been taken away from their mothers’ in the middle of the night so they and Jessop could be sent on this misguided journey of repentance. We say “misguided” because the utter nonsense spewed by the FLDS church is widely known. 
Jeffs is currently in prison in Texas for having sex with underage FLDS girls. 
What’s truly tragic about the FLDS church is the grip that Jeffs and other church leaders have on FLDS members.
It’s tough for the rest of us to believe anyone would be part of this religious cult but for those who’ve grown up in it — whose entire family is wrapped up in it — parting ways with Jeffs and the rest of the congregation is extremely difficult.    
Departing from the flock typically means leaving your entire support network of friends and family behind.
How many of us could turn our back on everyone we know? Doing so is an incredibly painful process — made worse by FLDS leaders telling the disgruntled that they’ll burn in hell for leaving.
Then there are the “Lost Boys,” those young male members of the FLDS church who many believe are sent packing because of the competition they’ll provide older male FLDS members for the faith’s female population.
Members of the Mormon church and a growing number of organizations have thankfully stepped up to help the Lost Boys and others trying to leave the FLDS assimilate into society.
But even with this outside help, it still takes a tremendous amount of courage to walk out on this weird and perverted faith.
There are apparently still several FLDS people in Pocatello. Who knows exactly why they’re here.
These folks might be on repentance missions or maybe they’re just hoping Southeast Idaho has greener pastures than Carson City, Ariz., or Hildale, Utah — the towns known for being the home of the FLDS faith. These FLDS people here in the Gate City have probably been told some pretty horrible things about those of us outside their religion.
The best we can all do is prove Jeffs and company wrong about all of us alleged heathens. 
Everything we can do to show them that people outside their faith are not a bunch of monsters could help give them the necessary encouragement to distance themselves from a religion that looks favorably on some pretty outrageous things (while the FLDS church might see a middle aged man hooking up with an adolescent girl as love, the rest of us call it child sexual abuse).
Let’s hope the FLDS in our midst learn from living in Pocatello that there is a good life waiting for them outside their church. That should be our goal every time we encounter these folks.