Good morning, y’all. I like to look at the “this day in history” segments of the news, just as a lark. I was stunned to see that today is the fiftieth anniversary of the Texas tower shootings. I’m sure very few people remember the details, but the essence is that a fellow that had been trained by the Marines as a sniper, climbed up into the bell tower of the University of Texas and opened up fire on the innocents below. Nineteen people were killed, and I guess the question can be asked, ‘what if he had had access to the weaponry that is available today?’. Texas has now voted for open carry on campus, so I’m guessing it won’t take long before my rhetorical question is answered. Heaven help us.
Well speaking of innocents brings us back around to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. The Wednesday morning “breakfast club” members were feeling quite full of themselves that day. Not “full enough” to not order breakfast as evidenced by Elder Diggum’s order of steak and eggs, stack of pancakes, and side of french toast with extra bacon.
As Elder Cheatum took a bite of his toast, he said, “He’s back”.
“Who’s back”, asked Elder Wiley.
“The religion, comedy, social media opinion about everything columnist”, responded Elder Cheatum, “he’s decided to rip our new landlords this week.”
Elder Cheatum handed that week’s copy of the North Georgia Gazette to Elder Wiley who promptly folded the paper so that only the column by Howard Doohan was revealed. It read:
I don’t sleep well when there’s bad storms, so I look for diversions to take my mind off of the weather. Last night I took the opportunity of the massive thunderstorms to watch a documentary that starred award winning author Jon Krakhauer. The movie that I chose was “Prophet’s Prey”. I admit, I went into viewing the movie as a mildly interested party. Well, I can’t say I’m not interested now. In fact, I may have to figure out how to charge the producers and directors of the movie for the counseling I’m going to need after watching the show. Disturbing kind of scratches the surface of how to describe the movie.
The “Prophet” in question is Warren Jeffs, the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The “Prey“, were everybody Jeffs came in contact with, but most especially children. The setup with these folks is so convoluted and entangled that it would take an army of accountants years to figure out their land holdings and internal structure, which is not to say somebody shouldn’t do it. Jeffs put hundreds of people in slavery by confiscating all of their belongings and then taking their paychecks from them. Jeffs controlled every aspect of the followers daily lives. The initiates were powerless to move away from the church, emotionally and financially. Once Jeffs held all of the purse strings, he tightened down on the congregation until the aberration that resulted was way more cult than church.
Now, I’m familiar with a wide range of religions, and I feel like I’m fairly tolerant of folk’s belief systems. I never suspected that anyone could go to the depths of perversion like Jeffs and his followers have. Especially those who claim they were doing the “Lord’s work”. We’ve all heard about the Mormons prolictivity for multiple marriage, there’s even a “T”ouching “L”ittle “C”hildren network show called “Sister Wives“. While I’ve made fun of the idea of having more than one woman to “put up with”, Jeffs is recorded to have more than sixty wives. Now these are not wives in the traditional sense. Most of the “marriages” were not done in the church in front of the congregation, like we do. These “marriages” took place by bringing the bride to the husband’s room. Thereafter the bride was called upon when it was the husband’s desire.
As open minded as I am, I can’t see the pretense of a marriage to have sex with multiple partners as anything but hypocrisy. But it gets worse. Most of the “wives” were below the age of consent, some as young as twelve. Jeffs would reward a follower with a wife for the male’s undying devotion to the Jeffs’ program. Having a wife put the follower in line to have children of his own, who would then be used as chattel to improve the husband’s standing. This goes beyond the old “arranged marriage” concept of wedding families together for the benefit of both families. This is wholesale child sex slavery. Carried out right here in the U.S.A., in multiple states, in full view of the law.
One of the saddest stories in the movie was from Jeffs’ wife number 66, I believe. She was fifteen when brought to Jeffs, and within a year had his baby. Her life was over at fifteen. She told the story about how the cult believed that wearing red was a sin because Jesus is supposed to be wearing a red robe when He comes back. She related that she would purposefully wear red to tempt God to destroy her for heresy. She was so miserable that she truly wanted an angel to strike her dead.
Finally, the state of Utah issued a warrant for Jeffs’ arrest on felony charges of accomplice rape of a teenage girl between 14 and 18 years old. He then used his many compounds and followers to avoid arrest. Jeffs even made the FBI’s ten most wanted list at one point. Jeffs was eventually arrested and convicted on two counts of sexual assault of a child. He was given life in prison.
Unfortunately his followers remain, and the patterns of child abuse still remain. Whether under Jeffs direction from jail, or vying for their own leadership, Jeffs’ brothers and sons continue the horror. These folks make Pentecostals look like Unitarians. Please put me down as a secular humanist, albeit a fundamental secular humanist.
“Well, I was riding right along there with him up until that little zinger at the end”, said Elder Wiley, “what’s the source of his major malfunction when it comes down to Pentecostals?”
“I don’t know”, replied Elder Cheatum, “it does concern me about our move.” “We’d like to be able to invite the press to our ‘grand opening’, but I don’t know about inviting anyone from the paper.” “Certainly not this kid”. “Oh well”, Elder Cheatum took a sip of his coffee and continued, “What’s the story from the trades people”, he asked.
“Well, there’s not a piece of copper pipe left in the place”, said Elder Diggum between forkfuls, “No one can speculate when it was taken, it could have been the Mormons for all we know, but the plumbers are going to have to re-pipe the place.”
“The HVAC had no compressor, just the outer cover”, said Elder Wiley, “they did leave us the duct work though.” “The electrician is going to have run new service from the street to bring us up to code.” “Looks like our copper thieves didn’t pull out the wiring, but I’m sure there will need to be some upgrades.”
“Well, at least we don’t have to worry about a roof”, grinned Elder Cheatum, “or painters.”
“No, but we should probably all buy stock in Windex”, said Elder Wiley as he placed his napkin in his plate indicating he was finished. “I’ve got a line on some Hispanic high rise window cleaners who are supposed to be fearless.” “I think I’m going to invite them to Sunday’s service to see if they might give up their Papist ways in favor of a more satisfying Ecclesiastical experience.”
The three friends walked to the parking lot together.
“See you in church”, they said in unison before getting in their cars to head about their business.