Flora Jessop, born in Hildale, Utah
I am also working on getting Abuse Education brought to our public schools. We teach our children about sex but not about abuse. American’s must wake up and address an issue many find hard
to face because right now one in every four females in America are raped or molested before she turns eighteen. Education about abuse is mandatory in stopping this epidemic from continuing to spread.
Every child deserves freedom. Freedom of going to sleep without fear. Freedom of education. Freedom from abuse. Free to be…. A child.
Child Protection Project is dedicated to raising awareness about issues of institutionalized child abuse. I am particularly interested in how institutions, especially churches, ignore child abuse reporting requirements; and thus cause unnecessary suffering and pain to children and families. Our religious institutions must be good corporate citizens because their mandate as tax-exempt beneficial, charitable organizations requires that children entrusted to their care be safe.
I started looking at the record within one church the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) for several reasons:
First, I hail from the background. And Mormons claim to be in the forefront, the vanguard, more dedicated to preserving family values than anyone else. Therefore, it is legitimate to look at the actual record.
Second, they spend an exorbitant amount of money on public relations campaigns that claim Mormons care for and properly provide for its children and family members. Why is this necessary? Do they have something to hide? It seems so. The earlier practice of polygamy encouraged child abuse and incest. A tenet of Mormonism still in effect is that "any man can espouse ten virgins…." (Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants).
Now as horrifying as the past record was it seems this earlier system continues to feed ideas in the modern Mormon community. This is an institution rife with child abuse including ritual abuse, incest, and hidden polygamy, a church unable to reconcile its past with its present, a church out of step with the values Americans hold dear. No other church in America suffers from this criminal background.
Third, this is a very wealthy organization, is politically active controlling an entire state, Utah, with extensive interests in other states. Gradually, I became aware that this institution uses its political and economic power to work against most of the goals I have worked for as a concerned citizen over the decades.
This started with their admonition that they wanted no conscientious objectors in their flock during the Vietnam War. I worked to stop that war. During the civil rights movement in the early 1960's this church was absent and maintained the racist doctrine that "blacks were not eligible to hold their priesthood". They changed that policy in 1974, long after citizens embraced civil rights. All through the sixties and beyond they were organizing John Birch Society cells at church sponsored Fireside meetings. The John Birch Society is an extremist group according to law enforcement. Mormons also fueled the survivalist groups and the revival of dangerous militias in the 1980's.
Fourth, as a descendant of early Mormon polygamy, I am shocked and dismayed by the racist, misogynist doctrine and the extensive human and civil rights abuses modern day polygamy foists upon its captive members and on society. I often think how close I came to a life in polygamy since my grandmother was born into it in 1901, long after a wise federal government had outlawed it. Taught as a child to be proud of the fact that my great grandfather was in Utah State Prison for continuing to practice his religious rights, polygamy; as an adult, I questioned these teachings and decided I am not proud of this ancestral extremism and current legacy.
Fifth, my kindred suffered from a fatal genetic disease and I realized that the practices inherent in polygamy possibly contributed to the suffering of my kinship group. I studied other polygamous family lines. Gradually, I became convinced that there is a substantial deleterious genetic load carried by kindred's who adopted this unsound marriage system. One man cannot take many wives from within a small group of families and not be engaged in consanguineous marriages. Modern polygamy is rife with catastrophic inherited illness.
Currently, a slick public relations campaign claims polygamy is just another lifestyle choice. The national press appears hoodwinked and ignorant of the facts as they continue to run "ain't this quaint stories." Reed Richards, Utah Deputy Attorney General, claims that if they prosecute polygamists they will have to prosecute adulterers and same sex relationships. This is false reasoning and his mandate is to uphold the law even if he disagrees with it. The fact that he hails from polygamy may have something to do with his cognitive dissonance on the subject.
Child Protection Project intends to start a national campaign called NO MORE AMNESTY. Time after time forgiving federal officials have given amnesty to practicing polygamists asking only that they start to obey the law in return. Repeatedly, they have taken this amnesty and continued the dangerous practice of polygamy. This now represents a human and civil rights nightmare. A nightmare the press has finally woken up to over the last five years because polygamy activists demanded they tell the true story. Taxpayers repeatedly pick up the costs of those ignoring the laws. Children suffer from poverty, abuse and disease, all a result of governmental inaction and apathy.
Generations of endogamous (breeding within the group) polygamy have caused a genetic disaster. Children are suffering a boatload of serious and life threatening illness as a result.
Most people have never thought about polygamy because they think they are unaffected by its practice and know nothing about it. It is common to snicker when the subject is mentioned. However, the record shows that this is not a benign institution. Incest is epidemic. Child and spousal abuse are not only tolerated, but often taught as part of the 'religious' doctrine.
It is my hope that you will visit this site as it grows and expands. It is not an easy site to view. These are complicated social problems, yet the public needs to demand that Utah start coping with them and finally free these religious indentured servants. If born into this system, there is virtually no escape from their isolated desert or mountain encampments. I thank my parents for leaving Utah and seeking a better life.