(This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)
-- Dave Barry --
The green quote above is very true. The current object of my affections is not only polite to all service people, but downright friendly. The previous guy was unnecessarily, and it turns out prophetically, nasty.
TV is on in the background. PBS. Discussion of a report on mammogram effectiveness for various age groups. I just heard a statement that strikes me as stupid. The expert said that treatment for stage 1 and 2 breast cancer has become so effective that early detection is no longer a goal.
I translate that as, "We do such a good job with stage 1 and 2, let's wait until it's stage 3 before we bother trying to detect it."
There's something very wrong with that conclusion. I did not misunderstand. It was so startling when I heard it that I turned and paid attention. Please tell me I'm wrong.
I just finished reading Escape, by Caroline Jessop, who was one of the several wives of Merril Jessop, a leader of the polygamous Fundamental LDS sect. She escaped the sect with her eight children, and wrote of her life in the cult.
I figure one has to take some of what she says with some salt. It's her view, her experiences, from her viewpoint, and is probably colored by her own emotions - just like blog posts and all personal stories. As one learns in mediation training, you might get three different and conflicting versions of a story, but each version is absolutely true to the teller. It is often our own prejudices that lead us to believe one story over another. (Keep that in mind next time you're inclined to believe some juicy bit of gossip. What you believe says more about you than about the subject of the gossip.)
However, I absolutely believed the background of her story, the beliefs that lead to the control of the people in the sect. I don't know enough about mainstream LDS to know how much the FLDS beliefs differ, beyond the polygamy thing, but the degree of isolation, brain-washing, and mind control in the FLDS was amazing. That things were accepted as "right" with no thought or question was amazing to me.
Men in the after life become gods. They are given a kingdom in Heaven. A woman gets to Heaven only by being taken there by her husband. If he chooses not to take her, she will go to eternal torment in Hell. So she must please him at all times or suffer the consequences.
A woman is assigned as wife to a man. She has no choice. Who she is assigned to is determined by the Prophet, from a revelation from God, so who is she to question it? She can be taken from him and assigned to another man on the whim of, oops, on "revelation" to, the Prophet. She is a commodity.
The duty of a woman is to obey her husband, to be in "harmony" with him without question, and to have babies. She has no right to refuse her husband anything. What others might consider submission to rape is merely expected of her.
When there are multiple wives in this situation (and of course there always are), and the husband has absolute control over a wife's fate in this life and in the afterlife, competition and jealousy is inevitable. The favorites are assured. A wife at the bottom of the totem pole is in danger, both in this life and the next. Women higher up on the pole could not only punish her, but her children, so she needed to please them, too. (I have seen in my own family what can happen when there's competition to be the favorite to escape punishment or curry favor. To escape my father's violence, my siblings would gleefully throw each other under my father's fists. If he's beating up on someone else, he's not beating up on them.)
The women had cars, but the cars had no plates, so if they left the community, the police would stop them, and they'd be returned to their husbands. Inside the community, the police were members of the sect, so there was no point in a wife reporting beatings of herself or the children. But it wouldn't occur to them to report anything anyway. That's the way things were supposed to be. A woman who so much as questioned her husband was seen as being "in rebellion", not being "in harmony", and she deserved punishment and correction which it was her husband's duty to provide. If it didn't suit a husband to believe anything a wife told him, truth or not, she would be punished for telling lies. A sick child or a difficult birth is God's punishment and proof that she is out of harmony.
Teenage boys may be kicked out, totally unprepared for the outside world, when women got scarce. Very young women were "assigned" as the tenth, twentieth, or thirtieth wife of very old men.
I've used the past tense here, but it's not past. It's now. Remember a few years ago, when a polygamous sect was raided by the Texas CPS? The women with the 40s hairstyles, and pastel pioneer dresses, and soft high voices that insisted everything was just wonderful? That's the group. The husband of Carolyn, the author of the book, is now the (disputable) leader of that group.
It strikes me that the women are nothing more than slaves, property, and brood mares. Some people might read the book and think, "Well, it's their own fault. *I*'d never stand for that! Seems like if a man mistreated 10 wives, he'd be likely to wake up dead some morning."
That's where the mind control, brainwashing, indoctrination comes in. Girl children are taught from birth that the ONLY way to Heaven is through the approval of their husbands or fathers. The only alternative is eternal Hell. Children are taught that the outside world is filled with sin, that everyone is infected by the devil, that there will be a time of war between themselves and the sin-filled world, but if they are faithful, God will save them. That all the outside world hates them, the righteous, and wants to destroy them. Periodic CPS raids only reinforce this.
I read the book filled with anger and despair. CPS takes the children, and then returns them because they want to go back, because they are deathly afraid of the evil outside, cannot trust anyone. The devil can be very sneaky. The women say everything is just fine, because they don't know any better, and to say otherwise risks the lives of themselves and their children in this life, and their own salvation later.
Now, is this a religion? I don't know what the technical definition of religion is. How does a religion differ from a system of philosophy, ethics, morality? It's not the existence of a god. There are generally recognized religions, particularly eastern religions, without gods.
It seems to me that many if not most religions have been perverted by men, for the purpose of acquisition of personal power, and the subjugation and control of others. (Of course, dear reader, I'm not referring to your particular choice of belief. Yours is fine. So no blasts, please.) I think Jesus would take one look at what passes for religion these days, and kick them all out.