Dec 8, 2021

CultNEWS101 Articles: 12/8/2021 (Mormonism, Documentaries, FLDS, Clergy Sexual Abuse, Legal, Love Has Won)

Mormonism, Documentaries, FLDS, Clergy Sexual Abuse, Legal, Love Has Won

Religion & Politics: New Documentary "Keep Sweet" Follows Mormon Fundamentalists
" ... [America's] infatuation with these exclusive communities is the new documentary Keep Sweet, directed by Don Argott, which began streaming on Discovery+ in November. The film looks at the twin fundamentalist towns of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, as the fundamentalist Mormon community once led by Warren Jeffs—an offshoot not sanctioned by the global Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church)—disintegrates into factions in the wake of his arrest, imprisonment, and the repossession of the church's land. At the center of the film is a question: Is it possible for society to incorporate people with divergent interests and loyalties? On the one hand, there are those in these towns who still see Jeffs as a God-ordained prophet, and on the other, there are those who see him as a dangerous fraud.

The question is an important one for modern America. And the film is a powerful exploration of one peculiar case study, filled with engaging personalities and twists. For example, the filmmakers do an excellent job in allowing fundamentalist women to speak for themselves rather than remain the silent victims so typical in other media depictions.

But the documentary's own existence and approach raise a similar, and perhaps even more pressing, question: Why do Americans continue to turn to Mormon fundamentalists to answer this widespread cultural question? And in doing so, do they risk perpetuating the same framework that depicts these groups as both fascinating and marginalized in the public imagination?

While LDS leaders announced the end to polygamy in 1890, they covertly continued the marital order for several decades. Church authorities both approved and initiated new plural unions until around 1910, and many continued to secretly practice the principle even after that. It was not until the 1920s and 1930s that they tried to root out new sealings. In response, hundreds of members who believed polygamy to be the core of Mormonism formalized their own organizations. Many of them moved to what was then known as Short Creek on the Arizona/Utah border. And despite excommunications from the LDS church and police raids from state governments, the community continued to grow over the next few decades, and eventually became the hub for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS."

'A former assistant pastor at a Catholic church in Northwest Washington who is serving a prison sentence for sexually abusing children was found guilty Monday in a separate case of sexually abusing an adult parishioner, officials said.

After a one-day trial in D.C. Superior Court and hearing a victim impact statement, Judge Juliet McKenna sentenced Urbano Vazquez, 49, to the maximum sentence of 180 days on one count of misdemeanor sexual abuse, officials said. That term will be served consecutively to a 15-year sentence that was imposed after Vazquez was convicted in 2019 of four felony counts of child sexual abuse, according to a statement by the District's U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves and Police Chief Robert J. Contee III.

The abuse of the woman occurred in April 2017 during a confession at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, the statement said."

Westword: Jenifer Ann Driver Missing Love Has Won Cult Connection Update
"Jenifer Ann Driver, who also goes by the "spiritual name" Mountain Sun, has been missing since mid-October. But the case is receiving renewed attention in part because Driver is believed to have last been seen with a member of Love Has Won, a group frequently described as a cult that made national news earlier this year when the mummified remains of its leader, Amy Carlson, aka "Mother God," were found in Colorado. Carlson's body had been reportedly transported here from California by followers waiting for her "ascension."

The Saguache County Sheriff's Office first publicized word about the search for Driver on October 29. In the release, shared on its Facebook page, the SCSO noted that she "was last seen in the North Crestone Campground area in Crestone, Colorado. It is believed Jenifer might have hiked to the North Crestone Lake. It is believed Jenifer might have her backpack, sleeping bag and blue tent with her. Jenifer is five-foot four-inches, approximately 170 pounds, has brown eyes, gray shaved hair, and is known to wear baggy, comfortable clothing. Jenifer was last seen on October 16, 2021."

The sheriff's office initially made no mention about Love Has Won, but in a November 2 article in the Alamosa News, Sheriff Dan Warwick confirmed that Driver was believed to have been "associating with and was last seen in the company of a member of the Love Has Won group."

"We're looking for both Driver and the person she was last seen with, hoping that person can provide us with information on her whereabouts," Warwick told the paper. "Our only interest is in finding Driver."

Nonetheless, the mention of Love Has Won set off alarm bells nationwide, for reasons made clear by articles such as "A Cult Leader Known As 'Mother God' Was Found Mummified," published by New York magazine on May 5. The piece vividly begins with this: "Last week, a distressed man walked into a police station in rural southern Colorado, alerting officers to a corpse inside his home. There, they came upon a disturbing, unreal scene: Situated in what appeared to be 'some type of shrine,' investigators discovered a decomposing body, mummified and wrapped in a sleeping bag and Christmas lights, with glitter makeup encircling the corpse's seemingly empty eye sockets. The man who notified authorities identified himself as a follower of Love Has Won — which claims to be a spiritual organization but is more often described as a cult — and the body, he continued, belonged to Love Has Won's leader: a woman named Amy Carlson, known within the group as 'Mother God.'"

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