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Where's Mitt Romney on the Jeffs Case?

05/25/2011 12:00 pm ET
  • Taylor Marsh Political writer and cultural voyeur, author and speaker.

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Nowhere.

That's the answer to that question.

If you don't know about the case against Warren Jeffs it's time you learned. It's got everything: child sex brides, alleged rape, polygamy, slavery, religion, cultism, an ongoing battle to separate a fundamentalism sect from the father church, hypocrisy, crimes and ruined lives, and even politics.

Former Massachusetts Governor Willard Milton Romney didn't want to talk about "Big Love" when it debuted either. Talking about polygamy and plural marriages while running for president is such a political buzz killer.

The next question is why doesn't the corporate press think this is important?

Mitt Romney, the man I've been saying for months is the real threat to Democrats in 2008, doesn't like to talk about his faith, which is odd, especially considering he is in the "100 most influential Latter-day Saints of all time." In fact, he jokes about polygamy whenever he's asked about it. Romney is LDS, a Mormon and a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints, as is Senate majority leader Harry Reid, by the way. LDS has nothing whatsoever to do with FLDS, the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-day Saints, which not only condones plural marriages, but insists upon them. However, when you've got child slaves and child brides throughout the southwest, including Bush's Texas, Reid's Nevada, Colorado and Utah, it seems to me that powerful politicians who also happen to be LDS are in a place to actually change what happens or at least show a little outrage and put pressure on local communities that look the other way. They should, at the very least, be asked about it. Or maybe people think that's just too impolite? Tough.

Unfortunately, Warren Jeffs preliminary hearing yesterday is only being covered on "Larry King Live," cable news shows, but no one in Washington is paying any attention. The heroine and only witness in the case, Jane Doe, is standing up courageously, which is a rarity and why so many of these situations get swept under the rug. However, Mitt Romney, the Mormon who wants to be our next president, isn't commenting either. Why is that, I wonder?

The simple fact is that Romney's Mormon ties are said to be an obstacle to his presidential hopes. Evangelicals are reportedly uncomfortable with Romney's Mormon faith, thus he de-emphasizes that part of his resume. Frankly, I find this ridiculous. I've met many Mormons, married a recovering Mormon who won't have anything to do with that church anymore (as I've shared before on my blog and radio show); finding some Mormons absolutely wonderful, while others are the biggest hypocrites and as misogynistic as Rev. Land, a man who believes wives should genuflect to their husband. It proves that no matter the religion, the reviled live among the faithful.

Mormons are usually culturally conservative, though many are very pro embryonic stem cell research (Senator Reid and some of my friends), with home schooling big, which is terrific if the job gets done. One family I'm aware of has one daughter at Brigham Young. However, I've also seen first hand evidence of what happens when home schooling goes south, which usually is the fault of the mother. To say that girls suffer when home schooling isn't done is a colossal understatement. Somehow, the boys in some negligent Mormon home schooling households always get what they need.

Enter Mark Shurtleff, Utah's attorney general, who is going after Warren Jeffs, aka "the Prophet," with gusto. It's not an easy case, according to the multitude of attorneys weighing in on the case. No doubt, Shurtleff could use some help. Romney won't go near it. But to be totally even handed about this, neither will Senate majority leader Harry Reid. But the real fact is that Harry Reid is not setting his sights on the presidency, which would have Romney representing ALL Americans, including those girls and women held against their will out here in the West. Romney likely sees Jeffs legal battles as beyond his sphere of interest because FLDS is no longer related in any way whatsoever to LDS, so the best thing to do is just ignore it right?

Politically, that is correct. But if you are truly a Christian, it matters that somewhere in the United States, which Romney wants to lead as president, there is a cult like religious group hiding behind religious persecution in order to continue their forced sexual slavery and marriage of young girls and women.

FLDS is tantamount to the American Taliban.

This should matter to us all.

One aspect of the Jeffs case actually hinges on the word "submit" and whether Jeffs can be prosecuted as a rape accomplice, because he actually set up the marriage between a 14 year old girl and her 19 year old cousin. Potentially, Jeffs could spend the rest of his miserable life in jail. However, the defense is to be rigorous. Religious prosecution is the facade by which a promoter of child molestation, rape and underage marriages will hide. They are also going to bring up the fact that the victim first went to a civil attorney to try to get damages for the alleged rape and abuse she suffered through the hands of "The Prophet," aka Warren Jeffs.

I mean, really, how dare a young girl ask to be compensated for the treatment leveled on her against her will, as the threat of homelessness and destitution lay outside her rape room.

Here's a short version of how this all starts. When a girl is ready for child bridehood, my interpretation, she is taken to "the Prophet" and registered in something called a "joy book." What a title. Like there is any joy in being readied for marriage at 14, against your will, which is consumated in nothing short of rape. Then she simply waits for "the Prophet," aka Warren Jeffs, to find a husband for her, to whom she is forced to submit. It is a girl's destiny to hand over her personhood and her womb to the man she's assigned. It is a girl's duty, her destiny. No free will. No say in what happens. No one cares about the girl, her age, her life.

The question remains, why are Americans allowing this practice to continue?

A young woman who says polygamist leader Warren Jeffs forced her to marry -- and have sex -- at age 14 offered dramatic testimony Tuesday in a courtroom in St. George, Utah.

Jeffs is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS Church. He's charged in Utah with two counts of "rape as an accomplice."

Tuesday's hearing was to determine whether the case will go to trial. It was the first time that Jeffs faced his accuser, the young woman who is the primary witness against him. NPR does not name alleged victims of sexual assaults.

She was 14, she told the court, when Jeffs ordered her into a "spiritual marriage" with her first cousin, a 19-year-old at the time, and then forced her to have sex with him. Such marriages are not legally recognized. Jeffs allegedly told the woman her salvation depended on her compliance.

In court, the young woman sobbed, cried and dabbed at tears as Jess watched her dispassionately. She described learning of her spiritual marriage, and said she was horrified and resisted. She also described the horror of her husband trying to consummate their marriage, which eventually he did.
The defense cross-examined Jess' accuser, showing photos of the couple smiling together. Defense lawyers also read from love notes her husband is said to have sent to the accuser. They also said that Jeffs gave the young woman religious advice and direction consistent with the tenets of his faith.

The hearing took place about 40 miles from the twin communities Jeffs and his group dominate. About 6,000 followers live in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. Jeffs and some of his followers also face charges in Arizona.

Woman Testifies Against Polygamist Jeffs in Court Hearing (NPR also has tape recordings of the girl's testimony yesterday.)

Some enterprising journalist needs to press Mitt Romney on the Jeffs case.

It's ironic to me that Warren Jeffs' preliminary hearing was held the week of Thanksgiving when families gather together. But as long as the collective American family has the blight of FLDS on the cultural landscape we are condoning the sexual slavery of young girls and women, ignoring the existence of our very own American Taliban represented by FLDS.

Yo, Mitt. If you become president, what are you going to do about it? Is this your America?

- Taylor Marsh LIVE! airs Mon-Thur from 6-7 pm eastern - 3-4 pm pacific, with podcasts also available.