Excuse me for saying so, but religious fundamentalism is unhealthy and frequently hurtful. Too often, in the name of tolerance, there is a hesitance to speak out against that which occurs in the name of God (or Allah or any other higher power). However, when a group’s beliefs and practices are so rigid and extreme that actions such as suicide bombing, polygamy, or the maltreatment of children are routinely countenanced, then it is time to dispense with the tolerance and call the devil by his name. Consider the following article from the New York Times:
Boys Cast Out by Polygamists Find Help
ST. GEORGE, Utah â€” Woodrow Johnson was 15, and by the rules of the polygamous sect in which his family lived, he had a vice that could condemn them to hell: He liked to watch movies.
When his parents discovered his secret stash of DVDs, including the â€œDie Hardâ€? series and comedies, they burned them and gave him an ultimatum. Stop watching movies, they said, or leave the family and church for good.
With television and the Internet also banned as wicked, along with short-sleeve shirts â€” a sign of immodesty â€” and staring at girls, let alone dating them, Woodrow made the wrenching decision to go. And so 10 months ago, with only a seventh-grade education and a suitcase of clothes, he was thrown into an unfamiliar world he had been taught to fear.
Over the last six years, hundreds of teenage boys have been expelled or felt compelled to leave the polygamous settlement that straddles Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.
Disobedience is usually the reason given for expulsion, but former sect members and state legal officials say the exodus of males â€” the expulsion of girls is rarer â€” also remedies a huge imbalance in the marriage market. Members of the sect believe that to reach eternal salvation, men are supposed to have at least three wives.
State officials say efforts to help them with shelter, foster care or other services have been frustrated by the boysâ€™ distrust of government and fear of getting their parents into trouble.
But help for the teenagers is improving. In St. George, a nearby city where many of them wind up, two private groups, with state aid, have opened the first residence and center for banished boys. It will offer psychological counseling and advice on things they never learned, like how to write a check or ask a girl out politely, as well as a transitional home for eight who will attend school and work part time.
The polygamous settlement is largely controlled by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and allies of its jailed prophet, Warren S. Jeffs, who is about to stand trial on charges of sexual exploitation. [full text]
One thought on “In the Name of God”
I saw the Robidoux case on the news the other night. That’s the cult that coerced a woman into starving her infant to death. Then there are Mormon mothers and fathers who are persuaded to send their sons out into the world without any support while they are really just children. Beware of any religion that demands unquestioning obedience to a person who claims to have a direct line to god.
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