In recent years, the Fundamental Church of Latter Day Saints have been exposed by the media for their gross abuse of male power, sexual abuse on minors, and destruction of female equality in their communities. In a society that already embodies an ample amount of given patriarchal power, this religious cult furthers drives these concepts upon it’s followers. Men are given all power, not only by their leader, but also by their God. Women are simply expected to obey, because disagreeing with the power of God is highly condemnable in their religion. They are expected to submit to whatever their male counterpart expects, even polygamy and child marriage. Fundamental Mormonism is an extreme version of the traditional Church of Latter Day Saints that uses it’s proposed patriarchal power to breakdown not only the equality of men and women, but even a women’s ability to recognize flaw in the system. It sucks these women in, and refuses to release them, regardless of the pain it inflicts. The intersection of this God-given patriarchal power and gross abuse of women creates an environment overrun with abuse and neglect, but covered under a blanket labeled as “religious practice”.
The sector itself of Fundamental Mormonism is highly flawed. After taking over the Utah-based church from his father, Warren Jeffs, their leader, took the church to an extreme where he severed all ties between the followers and the outside world, and sexually abused young children. He boasted having over 80 wives, 17 of which he received from his father after his passing (Bess). This belief in polygamy originated from the prophesy of Joseph Smith that a man would one day inherit his own planet to populate, so he must be fruitful on this earth and repopulate as much as possible. He is currently in prison for life for the sexual abuse of young children, including his own children and siblings (Bess).
Even from prison, he continues to lead his church, giving weekly sermons to be relayed to his congregation. Jeffs’ daughter came forward in recent years to speak on the abuse she faced as a young woman in the Mormon Church. She told of how her father began molesting her at age 8. By age 10, she was tired of it and found the courage to tell her mother. Her mother confronted her father, but the abuse continued after her mother was told to “keep sweet” (Kim). Women are taught that in order for the holy spirit’s demeanor to linger in their community they must be “sweet and submissive”, this prevents any anger, or power to stand up to the men in their community (Kim). The male leaders pushed this upon the women in order to continue to do what they pleased, in the case of Jeffs’ that was sexually assaulting his young daughter. Women who find themselves in the cult are sexually and mentally abused by the patriarchal power that overlooks them. The Fundamental Mormons teach patriarchal power to help men like Jeffs continue to practice a religion covered in the filth of rape and psychological abuse of women.
Some scholars even dare to label their abuse as human trafficking. In one study, researchers compared the definition of human trafficking from the international law, 2000 Palermo Protocol, with that of the fundamentalists’ practices. They found that women in FLDS (Fundamental Latter Day Saints) are “moved from one place to another, through coercive means, for the purposes of exploitation in marriage”, matching entirely with the definition (Quek). The goal of this research was to put a serious emphasis on helping women who find themselves in this cult. These women often feel that there is no way out, should they even have the will to leave. They are threatened with the loss of their children and families.
Jeffs’ daughter was exiled for having sex with her husband while pregnant after her father commanded no sexual relationships. She was sent away to live in solitude without her children or husband. After assistance, she was able to take her children and leave the FLDS (Kim). Many women do not have the ability or the will power to do this. Unfortunately, they are held captive by their male counterparts to endure a life where they have no say. The patriarchal power once more demeans women and takes away their belief that there is another option for them. We often see the same circumstances among victims of physical or sexual abuse in traditional society. Many times, women are brainwashed into believing there is no way out; this also reigns true in the FLDS community.
In this patriarchal world, men are given the ultimate responsibility of the leadership of the family and control of the household. They are in charge of their spiritual salvation of their kingdoms, or potential worlds, in the afterlife. Young men are taught in order to achieve this they must “adopt the patrilineal pathway to heaven that runs through them to God” (Bennion). Women are simply pawns in their game; they are used and disposed of as needed. Their bodies are abused for sexual gratification and production of children, who they are responsible for raising. Their minds are brainwashed into believing their treatment is fair and there is no other option for them. The Fundamental Church of Latter Day Saints glorifies itself in the oppression of women in a world where women are already seen as lesser. The Fundamental Mormon teaching of patriarchal power belittles women and contributes to their oppression, resulting in an intersection of their religious cults purposefully designed male utopia and the exploitation of women.