[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/15/art.polygamy.jpg caption="Law enforcement vehicles seen around the main temple on the grounds of the Yearning For Zion Ranch, home of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Eldorado, Texas"]
For 50 years I lived in a polygamist group that my father led in Salt Lake City, called the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB). With more than 7500 members, it's the second-largest polygamist sect, after the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, from which it broke off half a century ago.
Like many Bible believers, we were taught to live by God's commandments so we could have our families in Heaven - in the hereafter. We were taught we'd never get into heaven on the coattails of our leaders.
But for more than 50 years, just like kamikaze pilots, the FLDS fundamentalists have been taught very differently - instructed to follow their Prophet's commands "no matter what he tells you to do; for the Lord will not allow your prophet to deceive you."
It's always been this way - but when Warren Jeffs assumed leadership, things fell apart worse than ever before. Among his long list of unprecedented new rules, he declared children should not be educated outside of their homes and closed city schools.
Women were to stop wearing brightly colored or patterned clothing, and told that pastels reflect the submissive behavior they must always show. He expelled many adult men and hundreds of teenage boys, some as young as 13, who could be considered a threat to his control.
Warren Jeffs scattered and mixed up hundreds of women and children - taking more than 20 of the younger girls for himself. He advised his followers they were not to talk to any family members who had ever left the compound.
Not long after that, they were not to speak or listen to any "gentile," the word they use for non-FLDS members, other than for business purposes. In 2000 he demanded that anyone who wanted to be part of the "rapture," as he called the coming end of the earth, must sell their homes and move to Colorado City. The list of harsh new rules goes on and on.
Last night on the FLDS compound, I heard young childlike girls claim, "We have a choice. Yes, this is my choice. I'm happy here. This is where I want to be." These women and children in the FLDS have no authentic choice or civil rights - other than blind, innocent obedience. Like the devout believers of Jimmy Jones' 1978 and David Koresh's 1993 mass suicides, they too, under this constant pattern may take cyanide after they feed it to their children.
I've watched this pattern in the FLDS throughout my whole life.
"For Jesus" sake," my nephew told me yesterday, "God is testing us to see if we'll endure to the end - no matter what we are required to do."
Editor's note: Kristyn Decker says she is at the FLDS ranch in Texas looking for her sister, who married an FLDS member. She left the AUB six years ago.
Filed under: Polygamy
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