Friday, September 7, 2007

The Lost Boys of Polygamy

By Shanell Meek

Have you ever heard of the lost boys? No, I’m not talking about the lost boys of Peter Pan. The young men I am referring to are right here in the United States of America, and they face problems that make Captain Hook look like Tinker Bell! They are the Lost Boys of Polygamy.

From 2002 to 2006 more than 400 young men between the ages of 13 and 23 have been banned from the Polygamist colonies of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS the fundamentalist Mormons), when the “prophet” Warren Jeffs ordered them to be excommunicated.

Often these orders stem from such minor transgressions as watching an unapproved movie, wearing short sleeved shirts, listening to music, or even reading books and magazines that are not “approved” by the “prophet”, or a more serious offence of just talking to the girls.

Some of the boys have simply been told to leave their families and the world they have always known. Some fled the overly controlling environment on their own. While others were removed from their home in the middle of the night to be left in the desert with nothing but the clothes on their back and the lasting belief that they are going to hell because they have done something so terrible that they were excommunicated from their community.

Officials of the FLDS religion are quick to defend their actions by saying that they only excommunicate those who violate their “moral code”.

However it is widely believed that the excommunications of these young men stems from the polygamy side of this religion. In my personal opinion this is almost painfully obvious when you look at the cold hard facts.

Over the years men in these communities have been known to have at least two wives, with many men having as many as ten, twenty or even more. In order for the community to continue to exist in their polygamous ways, it is imperative that the ratio of women to men must be much greater. With this obvious fact in mind, it leads one to believe that the misplacement of these young men is no accident, and not simply a disciplinary maneuver. Like a stallion who will chase all the young colts from a herd to eliminate competition. The young boys must be gotten rid of before they become involved with the young girls.

When the boys are cast out, many of them end up on the streets of Las Vegas or St. George, where they turn to drugs, prostitution, suicide or other self destructive actions. They have been told all their lives that if they do not follow the path of “perfection” they will go to hell, so they are left with nothing to care about. Their beliefs are in shreds.

While some take the path of self destruction, others are lucky enough to find organizations developed to assist them, such as the Diversity Foundation which is founded by former polygamist Dr. Dan Fischer. The Foundation helps the young men with obtaining a quality education: high school, GED and an undergraduate college degree. Assistance is also available for medical and dental expenses, psychological counseling and general living expenses. They provide social networks through mentoring programs, life-skills training, and advisory counseling. They also assist the young women who flee from the confines of the cult like religion.

Often, these young girls, usually between the ages of twelve and eighteen are forced into arranged marriages with older men. If they object they are told that they have no right as a woman or as a child to reject the man, and are disciplined, sometimes very harshly. If they try to run away they are found and promptly returned to their cult like existence, where they are often isolated for weeks or months for “re-education in the ways of the community”. Very few young women have been able to successfully free themselves of these communities.

Many of these young girls are mothers several times over by the time they are 18. If By chance their “husband” is excommunicated, the young woman and her children will be “given” to another man. Can you imagine? One day being married to one man… the next day being married to another. If there are female children of “marrying age” aka prepubescent or older they often become the new brides of the husband too. Making them not only the mother and child, but now also sister wives.

There are many success stories of these young men and women who have left the “community”, many of them have excelled scholastically, they receive high marks of achievement in high school and college. They have pursued careers in engineering, medical, business, psychology, law and accounting. Some are married with children.

Despite the success these young people have achieved, they still have a heavy load to bear; some were sexually or physically abused on top of the mental abuse they have suffered at the hands of “the community”. There have been lawsuits filed by some of the lost boys against Warren Jeffs. Here’s hoping these young men get some compensation and relief for the pain they have gone through, and the pain they will live with for the rest of their lives.

A little about the FLDS:

Warren Jeffs, 51 is the most recent “prophet” of the FLDS which practices polygamy and arranged marriage. The FLDS has more than 10,000 members located within the sister cities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah and the surrounding areas.

Warren Jeffs was arrested on August 28, 2006 and is being held in Hurricane, Utah, where he is awaiting trial on two felony counts of rape as an accomplice related to a 2001 arranged marriage between a 14 year old girl who objected to the arranged marriage with her 19 year old cousin. On July 12, 2007 Jeffs was indicted on eight new sex offense counts involving two young women. He's also under federal indictment for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution

I do not know who is currently in Warren Jeffs position while he is on trial.

The original Church of Christ was established by Joseph Smith in 1830. Smith claimed to be the one mighty and strong and that God communicated his commandments through him. On July 12, 1843 he claimed that God revealed to him, the new and everlasting covenant of plural marriage, commonly known as “polygamy”. However this covenant was not immediately revealed to everyone in Joseph Smiths community, due to the negative reactions he feared it would receive, although he did secretly practice polygamy himself.

Joseph Smith was murdered on June 27, 1844, while in jail in Carthage Illinois. He was being charged with destroying the press. He had destroyed a newspaper press after a man dared to stand up against the beliefs of Joseph Smith’s religion.

Between 1843 and 1852, a few of the church members secretly practiced polygamy under the direction of the church president. In 1852, Brigham Young, who had succeeded Joseph Smith, announced the principle of plural marriage to the world. As Joseph Smith had expected, the revealing of this “new” covenant was not immediately met with open arms. However, between 1852 and 1890, plural marriage was openly taught and practiced among the Latter-day Saints.

The FLDS should not be confused with the mainline church The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). The LDS disapproves of the polygamy practice and banned it in 1904. They excommunicate members who practice or preach polygamy.

For more on Polygamy and those involved please visit

For More on Warren Jeffs trial:

For Information on the FLDS please visit:

Suggested Reading List:

Shanell Meek is a working college student studying to be a veterinarian. She lives in Iowa and raises American Quarter Horses and American Paint horses. She loves to read and broaden her horizons. Her Australian Red Heeler dogs Kitty and Jazzy are her favorite people, next to her nieces and nephews. Shanell has done some photography work for Hot Psychology and has won several photography awards.

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