2014 Book Goal: 52 (mostly non-fiction)
2014 Books Read: 65 (91% non-fiction)
Carolyn Jessop’s book Escape is just the latest in the reading I have done about the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) and the atrocities and crimes of the cult leaders and (sometimes) members. I have a hard time understanding what makes a person think they have the right to manipulate and dominate another person. Like a wreck on the side of the road, I am drawn as a moth to a flame every time I hear of an account.
This book reiterates a lot of what I have read.
- The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice by Rebecca Musser
- God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States by Karen Stollznow
- My Story by Elizabeth Smart
The main theme behind all of them is the oppression of the women and children of the religion. These so-called leaders take advantage of their positions as elders and leaders of the church. They take something that should be positive and useful and turn it into something evil and manipulative.
Jessop’s story is not a whole lot different than accounts of other FLDS women survivors. Her tack is quite a bit different however than Rebecca Musser’s (The Witness Wore Red) While Musser focused on the fight – the battle to expose and hunt down the “prophet” leader and the ensuing legal wranglings, Jessop’s book spent much more time explaining what happened prior to her escape.
The detail she goes into about the emotional and physical abuse by her high-ranking husband is shocking. Her daily abuse as an unloved polygamist wife was hard to read at times. What is more shocking is the involvement of other sister-wives in that degradation, humiliation and manipulation. If you assume that all the women in the FLDS are victims, this book sets that incorrect assumption straight. Just as the power of male hierarchy corrupts, so too the hierarchy of being a favored wife or child leads to abuses.
The less powerful men of the sect are also victimized as young men are kicked out of the group as they grow to an age of being able to compete for the affection of the young men these vultures prey upon. Adult men are also made to give over all they have to the prophet and his cronies in order to assure their place in Heaven. It is sickening.
As a cautionary tale against those type of psychopathic, manipulative predators, this is an excellent read. If the only thing you take from this is a distaste for religion, then you miss the point of the book entirely. Just as the Reverend Jim Jones, the Branch Davidians and the Heaven’s Gate folks were nutjobs, the FLDS is nothing more than a cult.
by Chris Doelle