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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book Review: The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice

***Quick Note - Review: Tell all is open below to discuss all things "Sister Wives" and the post is open to discuss the new shows, thank you.
                                              **This summary contains spoilers**         



Rebecca Musser was born into the FLDS, first led by Rulon Jeffs and then ultimately run by Warren Jeffs. Rebecca was born to a second wife. Rebecca was taught at a very early age that life was full of sacrifices. This line from the book sums it all up “We had to endure life, we had to suffer pain and sacrifice; eternity was all that mattered”. In fact, they were taught that if you knew ‘the truth’ of the religion (FLDS) and then left, you were an apostate, destined to burn in eternal darkness. Starting at the very youngest age, she was taught that outsiders (“Gentiles”) were evil and never to be trusted. Gentile doctors were not to be trusted, nor were the police or government. They were taught that Gentiles wanted to take children from their parents and throw their fathers in jail. They were frequently reminded of the Short Creek raid where families were separated, sometimes never to see each other again.

Rebecca’s childhood was heartbreaking. Her father’s first wife, Irene, was cruel and mean to both Rebecca’s mom and Rebecca’s mom’s children. Frequent beatings took place, sometimes to the point of blood and broken bones. Rebecca’s father deferred to Irene and looked the other way when Rebecca’s siblings or her mom were abused. Rebecca attended the Alta Academy, founded by Rulon Jeffs. The principal of the school was Warren Jeffs. Rebecca found that she had skills at playing the violin and playing that music was a refuge to her from her disturbing home life. At the Alta Academy, the children were frequently lectured by Warren Jeffs to obey and keep sweet, never be displeasing. Warren taught them that polygamists were persecuted just as the Jews were by the Nazis. Rebecca assisted with the school and helped put musicals together.

Shortly after she turned 18, Rebecca was told she would be marrying the prophet, Rulon Jeffs. She would be the 19th wife of the 85 year old prophet. Rebecca was devastated. After her wedding, she learned that being Rulon’s wife meant she had to be ‘on duty’ for 24 hour shifts, helping him to use the bathroom and undress. Unfortunately, despite his relative frailty, Rulon still expected his wives to ‘satisfy’ him and perform sexual acts with him. Due to his age and inability to sexually function adequately (although they had to try) most of the newer wives did not get pregnant with Rulon’s children. Less than a week after their marriage, Rulon announced that he was marrying two more young wives. Despite not loving her husband or being attracted to him, Rebecca was nonetheless devastated that her new husband didn’t find her to be ‘enough’ and this led to jealousy and feelings of inadequacy. There were 46 wives after Rebecca for Rulon Jeffs. Being married to a prophet was considered to be an honor for a girl and her family so to complain would be displeasing and blasphemous.

Rebecca was now fully immersed in being part of the Jeffs’s family. Warren was Rulon’s right hand man and was involved in the daily life of Rulon and all of his wives. When Rulon asked Rebecca to be ‘on duty’ a little sooner than she felt was reasonable, she said “no”. Warren then called her into his office where he told her that she could never again tell her husband ‘no’. If she were to say no again, she would be destroyed in the flesh. Rebecca did the best she could to stay busy with activities that would be acceptable to Rulon, thus not having to be on duty as often. Rebecca threw herself into the teaching and music that she enjoyed.

A few years after they married, Rulon had a stroke. Rulon had claimed to his followers that he was going to live forever, he was their last prophet and would be there personally when Christ came back to Earth. He simply could not die, that would be a devastating blow to all the people of their faith. Therefore, the people were kept in the dark about the true extent of Rulon’s health. The wives were even more restricted to their activities as they had to be on site, fasting and praying. When Rulon had a rough night, Warren would tell the wives that they had not been faithful enough or praying enough. Warren started determining who could see Rulon and stopped allowing Rulon’s close contacts to see him anymore. Rulon hung in for quite a long time in his feeble condition but Warren started running most of the day to day operations of the FLDS. When the world didn’t end on December 31, 1999 as they were told would happen, Warren said it was because the followers were too wicked to be brought up and God was giving them more time. This become a constant event, doomsday dates were picked and then when they didn’t happen, Warren would say they were too wicked and it was their fault.

As Rulon continued deteriorating, Warren went on a marriage spree, performing hundreds of marriages and the girls were getting younger and younger. Warren told girls who were 12 that since Mary, mother of Jesus, got pregnant at the age of 12, then it should be considered an honor to get married young and start birthing children. Rebellious girls (those who questioned some of the principles or who didn’t keep sweet), were married off so they could be ‘broken’ and start having children. Young girls with children were more likely to stay within the FLDS because they had nowhere else to go.

Rebecca’s sister, Elissa Wall, was told she had to marry her first cousin. She was only 13. She begged and pleaded to be given a few more years to marry. Rebecca was successful at getting Elissa a little more time but eventually Rulon agreed to let Elissa’s father place her in marriage. This led to years of physical and sexual abuse of Elissa. When she complained, she was told to go home and submit to her priesthood head (her husband). (note: Elissa Wall has written a book about her experiences “Stolen Innocence”)

Eventually Rulon died and his followers were in shock. They were told he would be the last prophet. Thousands of followers came to his funeral. They believed, like Jesus, that Rulon would arise from the dead. When he didn’t, it the wives were at fault for being too wicked. When Rulon died, Warren stepped in and said that Rulon has given him the title of Prophet. Warren then set strict rules in place, no music, no toys, no laughter and and no one could wear the color red, it signified evil. After initially promising that he would not force Rulon’s wives to marry him, Rulon’s younger wives started having ‘revelations’ that God wanted them to marry Warren. Rebecca started worrying that she would become another one of Warren’s many wives. Rebecca started a friendship with a young man named Ben. She eventually was caught kissing him and Warren gave her an ultimatum, she had to choose a suitable husband (i.e. Warren) or she would be damned for all eternity. Rebecca decided enough was enough and with Ben’s help, she left the community.

Life outside the FLDS was difficult. Having been told about how evil the Gentiles were , Rebecca was happy to find that others were willing to help her. She and Ben moved to Oregon where Rebecca’s brother, Cole, lived. They worked in various wait staff jobs and did their best to get their lives together. Rebecca eventually become pregnant and Cole kicked them out of his house for being dishonest about their relationship. Eventually, Ben and Rebecca married and had another child, Natalie, who had some congenital abnormalities. Much of Rebecca’s story, however, depicts how her life was impacted by the FLDS even after she left and her endless determination to see that Warren Jeffs paid for the pain and suffering he caused.

Although Rebecca left the FLDS, she was very aware of what was happening within the community. There were stories of her sisters being married off and boys being dropped off at the side of the road. Rebecca said she they aren’t really ‘lost’ boys, they are ‘abandoned’ boys. Soon Warren’s bad behavior caught up with him and he was being accused of many offenses by various states including Utah, Arizona and Texas. Warren then went on the run. His followers became even more devout as they now considered him a martyr. Rebecca contacted law enforcement in order to check on some of her family members that had gone missing. After a lot of investigation and communications with her contacts in the police department, some of her relatives were found in Texas at the “Yearning for Zion” ranch. The YFZ ranch was in Eldorado, Texas and ultimately became the beginning of the end for Warren. There was a phone call from “Sarah Jessop” to the State of Texas claiming she was being abused and pregnant. This was enough for the State to go into the YFZ and search for the victim. The State eventually had to enter the temple to search for Sarah. Although Sarah was never found, there was disturbing evidence about the abuses of the FLDS and specifically Warren Jeffs.

Warren was eventually located and arrested. He was captured in, of all things, a Red Escalade. Law enforcement needed someone who knew the FLDS, knew the terminology and the people and someone who could decipher all the records that were found in the YFZ temple. For the trial, the State needed to get the truth about the FLDS and most specifically about Warren Jeffs, who had harmed so many families.

Rebecca stepped up to the challenge. She sacrificed time with her family and her jobs in order to see that Warren paid for his gross transgressions. There were several months of trials in several states. Rebecca was called to testify in many of the cases. The most significant case was the YFZ case in Texas and Rebecca was key in helping the legal system and jurors understand exactly what was happening within the FLDS. When Rebecca testified against Warren, she wore red. The color that was forbidden by the false prophet was now her signature color and personal statement. Warren was found guilty and is in jail for the remainder of his life. Rebecca remains an advocate for people seeking to leave the FLDS and remains a voice for the previously voiceless.

This book was excellent and I highly recommend that it be a part of everyone’s library, especially anyone interested in polygamy or human trafficking. Rebecca’s story is important and should be read and discussed. *Written by CPA Carol* 

Here's our post about Rebecca Musser on Dateline CLICK HERE

Have you read a good book you'd like to write about? If so, send us an email!
I'd like to see "Prophet's Prey" by Sam Brower, "Church of Lies" by Flora Jessop, "It's not about the Sex, my ass" any listed on the right of the blog, or any others! I know we have one coming in on "Plygs", so that's taken care of.  Thanks!

91 comments:

  1. Also, good read article - http://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2013/09/24/on-the-edge-talk-is-cheap-polygamy-isnt/

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  2. I saw Rebecca's story on Dateline. I LOVED the fact that when she went to Warren's trial, she wore red everytime! It was just her way to let him know she was free from the life she was forced to live. I was very impressed with her. I definitely read the book~~

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    1. I also loved that

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    2. I loved that she did that too! LOL

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  3. some of the lanquage from this story sounds like christine..not safe..outsiders..browns are closer to this thing then they let on

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    1. Agree! The longer the show goes on, the more cracks appear in the facade! Certain words have been coming up a lot lately!

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    2. Yes, like when Kody told Mariah to be "sweet" at Christmas time. Creepy

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  4. Sounds like a great book, can't wait to get it!

    I have a question and maybe someone can answer it. How many kids did Rulon have all together and how many wives? And how was Warren able to rise to the top with all the competition? Did he have a favorite wife?

    Thank you to the brave lady who wrote this book.

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    1. Now others please answer, for i don't know for sure. I remember reading he had 75-85 wives and at least 66 children?

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    2. The 75 number was quoted in the media sometimes, but he had 64 wives. While both numbers sound positively insane, one needs to remember that the vast majority of these he married in his final years (remember how Rebecca Musser was 'only' his 19th wife when he was 85).
      There are two competing stories as to who was Rulon Jeffs' favorite wife. I'd say both are true (they were his favorite in different periods of his life). One of these was Merilyn Steed (sometimes spelled Marilyn), Warren Jeffs' mother and Rulon Jeffs' 4th wife. The other was Naomi Jessop, who later (like most of Rulon Jeffs' younger wives) went on to marry Warren Jeffs... and since she became Warren's favorite wife as well, had the distinction of being the favorite of both father and son. Rulon married Naomi when she was only 17 years old (he was 83). You're right, Rulon is said to have had about 66 children, which would be a pretty low number, considering that if you only look at e.g. 10 wives (assuming that he was too old to have working sperm after the 10th wife and that some wives might not be able to conceive), that would mean 'only' (in FLDS terms) 6 or 7 children per wife.
      Warren Jeffs was Rulon's 14th child overall, although only 12 of these were born within what would become the FLDS. The other two children (sons) were born to Rulon's monogamous wife, Zola Brown, who divorced him when he embraced polygamy. Their relationship AFTER their divorce and her subsequent remarriage, is what I find most interesting. They remained in close contact throughout his entire (lucid) life. Some of the names of Warren's FLDS or xFLDS (cause Warren kicked several out) siblings of the top of my head: Lyle, Seth, Leroy, Nephi, Ward, John, Elaine, Valerie, Nat. Warren Jeffs sexually abused Valerie and Ward's sons.
      How was he able to rise to the top with all the competition? In part Merilyn's position as favorite, in part cause it was an oddly 'sneaky' legalistic process (I'd recommend Benjamin Bistline's "The Polygamists" for Warren's take over story).

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  5. I read "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer. Sam Brower worked with Krakauer to write the book. Krakauer also wrote "Into Thin Air" about Mt. Everest and "Into The Wild" about Christopher McCandless.

    "Under the Banner of Heaven" is well detailed and very informative. It can be emotionally difficult at times. There are many stories of abuse within FLDS.

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  6. I want to thank CPA Carol for writing an interesting review and sharing with all of us at SWB!

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    1. CPA Carol,

      Thank you......Outstanding review !!
      You did a wonderful job !

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    2. I agree!! CPA Carol, thanks!!!

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    3. Thanks for the review CPA Carol! I have the book here, just waiting for me to get to it. I just finished with Prophet's Prey and needed something lighter to break up the heaviness before starting this one. Definitely after reading your review, The Witness Wore Red is next up!

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  7. I'm posting this to Rebecca in hopes she reads here.
    Dear Rebecca, I just finished your very moving and powerful book. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Please let us know how we can support you in your quest to end this type of abuse.

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  8. I want to thank CPA for the book review. I would love to read more but work all the time. Thank you. I hope to see many more on here. Boy, this does sound creepy. I am a liberal, but to think of those kids. wow. Then reading and thinking that even the Browns used welfare up until the show, makes we wonder how many are we funding?

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    1. Anderson Cooper of CNN blogged about what polygamy is costing us taxpayers in 2006. This was before Jeffs was arrested, convicted and put in prison.

      "How polygamy affects your wallet: You may or may not agree with polygamist Warren Jeffs' lifestyle, and you may or may not think he is indeed the dangerous criminal the FBI says he is, but would you believe Jeffs and his followers are costing you money?

      "Their religious belief is that they'll bleed the beast, meaning the government," said Mark Shurtleff, Utah's attorney general. "They hate the government, so they'll bleed it for everything they can through welfare, tax evasion and fraud."

      It makes some sense. Polygamists have multiple wives and dozens of children, but the state only recognizes one marriage. That leaves the rest of the wives to claim themselves as single moms with armies of children to support. Doing that means they can apply for welfare, which they do. And it's all legal.

      "More than 65 percent of the people are on welfare ... compared with 6 percent of the people of the general population," Shurtleff said.

      Shurtleff hasn't filed charges against Jeffs or his organization, but he's investigating Jeffs for "cooking the books," avoiding taxes, and even setting up offshore accounts.

      One thing we do know is that Jeffs and his followers have not been paying their fair share of property taxes.

      A judge appointed accountant Bruce Wisan to take control of the group's $110 million trust. Wisan's biggest challenge: Collecting more than $1 million in overdue property taxes from polygamist property owners living in Colorado City, Arizona, where Jeffs' church is based.

      "They've received benefits of living on trust land for free," Wisan said. "They didn't pay for the land. In many cases it was community efforts that built the house. So all they have to pay are utilities and property taxes and I don't think that's unreasonable.""


      http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/anderson.cooper.360/blog/2006/05/how-polygamy-affects-your-wallet.html

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    2. I resent no one living and trying and on welfare, period. BUT to assume and keep having children, like the Browns did up to 13 bothers me. Once they have them though, I do think all children should be fed and have medical care, I can say that.
      How else can they afford all the kids in polygamy?
      Someone we heard from told me that in the FLDS, the food card pin #'s are actually known by the church! That saddens me that these women may be giving up their only source of food for the children by giving the food cards to higher ups, or letting them use them, or buying the products and donating to the church. Whatever method used. I do not have any word on if any other church does this. Sad thing is there are many more religious groups in the FM community that are so close knit, no one really knows.

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    3. Mister Sister, I believe these women do give their food cards to the church. I will need to dig around on the Tube but I remember watching a video where the FLDS members were ordered to bring all their food and supplies to a warehouse. The church then decides who gets what and how much of it. If I remember correctly, the video might be the interview with Willy Steed.

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    4. I actually read about it somewhere and can't think where. The women take their EBT cards, when they get loaded, to the church warehouse/store/whatever it's called there in Colorado City. Then they are GIVEN what "they" (whomever is the higher up that decides these things) feel each person should get that month.

      So during the bean diet, they would go in, turn in a fully loaded card and walk out with their beans, milk and whatever else they are allowed. From there I wouldn't doubt if the loaded cards are sold by the FLDS or taken to a regular grocery store to get what the highers up in the community want to eat.

      I know from Colorado City there were routine trips taken to the Phoenix area to stock up on things from Sam's Clubs but obviously they can't go in there with 100 EBT cards. So Sam's was probably not paid for with the EBT cards, but they got money or food for the from somewhere.

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    5. Willy Steed told me himself that one reason his mother got kicked out of the FLDS was for not providing the Bishop or other higher up the pin # to her food card.

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    6. It makes me wonder if the "higher ups" in FLDS eat steak and gourmet meals while the rest of the FLDS followers eat the bean diet. I highly doubt Jeffs was eating beans and cornbread at a meal. I suspect he was eating quite nicely with his favorite wives/followers.

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  9. I have read Elissa's book many times, and find the Wall family's story to be so interesting. I'm a little confused however, reading this and seeing Rebecca's Dateline episode. Was Elissa using changed names in her book, or is Rebecca using the changed names? Their father's first wife is called Audrey in Elissa's book, and I don't remember a sister called Rebecca. Maybe Rachel is supposed to be Rebecca? Please help clarify for me!

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    1. Yes, Elissa's book had changed names.

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    2. My guess, from reading this post above, is that Rebecca is "Kassandra" from Elissa Wall's book.

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  10. I read Elissa's book as well, and I was confused also by the interchanging of the names. I thought the same thing?? Is Rachel Rebecca?? I hope somebody can clarify for myself and MBLE.

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    1. It was stated in the book that some names were changed to help hide identities and also out of fear of reprisal.

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  11. Thanks for the book review CPA Carol!I too never read, I watch the shows, etc. and enjoyed it very much.
    Like all the contributors its fun

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  12. @MBLE and @happagurl, I have not read Elissa's book but we are pretty sure that she would have changed names. She was such a shy, scared young woman when all of this happened and from our understanding there was a lot of concern that she was going to back out of testifying. Another thing to remember, in the FLDS there are not a lot of names used. the girls usually end up with an family name like their grandmothers name and so on. So, when Elissa wrote her book it is likely that she really did not have a lot of names in her head to chose from so, even though the names were "changed" they are still names that are used a lot in the FLDS. Rebecca does not care at this point so I am sure her names are all correct. Hope this helps.

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  13. Thank you CPA Carol. It is on my list!

    When I listen to the expert polygamy spoke person aka: Kody Brown, I am left with a question - maybe some one more enlightened can help me here?

    Is Kody saying to decriminalize polygamy it will make the FLDS safer for the children that are born into it...or...just safer for the molesters, rapists, lost boys, patriarchs and abusive, jealous sister wives?

    Scratching my head......too big of a concept, cause what they show now is building up walls and retreating away from each other.

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  14. Hello, Darlene...
    Good question.

    Kody is very self-absorbed, very self-serving. I have seen some statements about condemning underage marriage, etc., but, he comes from an AUB (Apostolic United Brethren) background, which is a splinter group of the FLDS, with same doctrine and beliefs. The AUB has always been active in 'bleeding the beast' and I have had a number of former AUB members tell me about child sexual abuse and underage marriage.

    That said, I think Kody is simply looking to CYA and, quite frankly, I think his lawsuit was a good way to generate publicity for the show. I don't think they ever dreamed it would get as far as it did in the courts or that the AG's office would tank defense of Utah's polygamy/bigamy laws as badly as they did. A real travesty.

    Legalization or decriminalization would be horrible because it would remove ALL oversight out in the polygamist communities, which are, as we speak, pretty much left alone as it is. Imagine if there was nothing on the books.

    Hope this helps. It IS a complex issue, with a lot more than what lies on the surface.

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    1. It is frightening that our progressive society would even consider that polygamy is a good way of life for women and children. My husband is a huge comfort and support to me. He is careful of my feelings and needs. He is a great, present father...a protector that is aware of his 1st and only family needs...not divided up in chaos and confusion.

      You are very kind to answer my question. I was so curious when the Browns started out with the show, thinking openly about the pros of polygamy. They made me think I was missing out on a well kept secret. So now, as a few years have come and gone and the Brown sister wive's sadness and jealousy are clear...I have a sentence for their mission statement: "Keep Sweet as You Polish the Turd"

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  15. Thank you CPA Carol for the very wonderful review! I will read the book for sure.

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  16. Many thanks to CPA Carol for such a thorough review of this book. I have not read it yet, but I plan to, particularly after this review.

    Question for Cara: I remember that Ed mentioned (perhaps on Doris Hanson's program?) how much money is actually floating around Colorado City, AZ b/c of the monthly welfare for the single mothers. The money then goes directly to the leadership to dole out as they see fit. How much $$$ do you think pours into Colorado City on a monthly basis from the "evil government" for all the combined families? Thanks!

    Last question: the judge in Utah who heard the case about decriminalization earlier this year is supposed to make a decision about it. Thus far, I have not heard any follow-up to this case. Does anyone know what happened?

    Kody is a nauseating, narcissistic, beady-eyed, flighty, materialistic, highly emotional manipulator. 3 of his 4 women are emotionally damaged by this "life style" and it is visible. (As for Sobbyn, there are lots of cookie crumbs in her bed. Until there's a #5, she's got K right where she wants him: writing sweet nothings in lipstick on her bathroom mirror after a big cookie binge.) Karmic boomerang: where are you?

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    1. Ed has discussed this in many forums but I will give you the most recent numbers from Buster Johnson Mohave CO, AZ.. If you have had lunch you might want to wait a while before you read any further (if you get my drift) ... The Arizona Department of Economic Security latest reveal had shocking numbers going into Colorado City...

      Keep in mind that CC has 4,821 residents....

      There is over $400,000 a month in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (Food Stamps & Supplement food ie: cheese, milk bread for schools & day care) that all adds up to $8 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance was paid out from July of 2011 to February of 2013.

      For the same 20 month period there were 95,057 visits to a doctor ... for the same 4,821 people, thats 19 visits per person to a Dr in 20 months time (REALLY???? ) ... at an average of $199 per visit that is $19 MILLION in medical bills being paid by tax payers... in only 20 months...

      For a GRAND TOTAL of... ready... wait for it.... 4,821 people cost the tax payers TWENTY SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS in only 20 months...

      hope you still have your lunch....

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    2. Oh, Cara...I do feel sickened by this: 20 months=$27 million. Staggering.

      Make no mistake, I want the women and children who need help to receive proper nutrition and medical care. However, what's most infuriating is the complete graft @ the hands of the leaders, and the realization that it's doubtful that the neediest people are receiving the care they deserve. Thank-you for passing this important information on to all of us on this blog.

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    3. My husband and I pay out of the a#! in taxes. Last year he was in the hospital for a week due to blood clots in his lung and leg. It has taken an entire year for us to get the hospital paid. And that's on top of what our insurance paid for. With high taxes, high medical insurance and high cost of living it's difficult to make ends meet. So when I read about the amount of assistance going into Colorado City is sickens me. Sour grapes? You bet! I DO understand that these women and children need help. But... why isn't anything being done about the tax and welfare fraud being perpetrated by the church leaders? I just can't understand how this "bleeding the beast" can continue to go on. What are government officials doing about it?

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    4. Cara,

      As stomach churning as these statistics are, and thank you for providing them......
      We all need to read them and digest just how impacting that figure is...
      $.27,000,000 dollars in less than ONE year !!! Perpetrated EVERY year !!

      This HAS to stop !! These Plyg demagogues HAVE to be held accountable.
      All this blatant abuse of the system and on the taxpayers.....!
      While they continue to sadistically inflict abuse on those very souls they use to steal from the rest of us.
      Despicable !!

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    5. Oh wow, those are staggering figures!

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    6. Clearly their is a Medicaid fraud going on...someone is sleeping on the job!

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  17. Cara Curfew-Kociela,

    Thanks so much for your reply. Your assessment makes sense.

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  18. Thank you so much CPA Carol. Very well written. I enjoy the book reviews also. Gives me a sense if I want to buy the book or not. Wasn't a fan of the kindle but the new version is easier to read, and you can buy the books so cheap. Also like books to the page to think about. I'm not good enough to write one, but hope others will follow. Thanks.

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  19. Guys, go over to the "Review: Tell All" After commenting and finishing here, Plural Ants In My Pants has posted a funny comment.

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  20. Yes thank you CPA Carol. I am sure Rebecca Musser would be pleased as well. Maybe the administration here could let her know about the review?
    Her story was heartbreaking. I watched the Dateline. This is just my opinion, not that it matters. My parents always wanted what was best for me, no matter if it wasn't the route they would take. Foremost, my health life, morals and happiness. I know if my mother was living this principle, and had serious doubts, she would want me to leave. Even if she never saw me again. She would want me to have a better life. I have a really hard time thinking their aren't more women that just don't care enough or are too emotionally damaged in this group to say that to their children. This makes me very sad. I would tell my kids to run. Save my pennies if I had to.

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  21. thank you CPA Carol. I will have to get this book :)

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  22. The Mormon church is different from the fundamentalists only in degree. We were taught you must eventually live in polygamy to reach the celestial kingdom; we were taught that apostates were worse than the lowest criminal because they deny the ONE TRUE CHURCH on the face of the Earth; and we were taught to be obedient and never question church authority. The FLDS and splinter groups live more like the way Joseph Smith did, and most of us have polygamy in our family tree. I married in the temple and did my best to live that life, but I am a curious sort, and studying the true facts of the religion made me have to leave in order to live authentically. I lost my marriage, and went through years of hell, but I could not live a lie. I can see why it is so hard to think for yourself and leave when you are conditioned from birth not to ever question. Eternal damnation is the apostate's fate. The great thing for me, finally, is that I am such a love bug that my family and friends in the church have said that they can't believe I will be in outer darkness. They know I am truthful, so they do not want to know what I found out, but a seed has been planted for them to at least sense that there may be other roads to travel. I hope so.

    I am so proud of the brave voices who are telling their truth, and the sturdy legs that carried them away from lies.

    My name is Debbie, and I am a recovering mormoholic...

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    1. Debbie,
      So many good wishes go to you! Continue to stay strong and know that being "a curious sort" is one of your greatest gifts. I have a feeling that many other commenters on this blog feel the same about this.

      So glad that you posted this.

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    2. Debbie, I'm sorry you had such a negative experience. I do have to disagree with you though (on religious facts, not on your experience or feelings, those are yours) as an active LDS woman I can say that the Browns, the Aubs, or any other fundamentalists are nothing like us! I started watching this show to try and understand why anyone would choose polygamy these days and it saddens me that people associate them with Mormons. Sometimes that is the hardest part of reading this blog for me, I'm all for educated conversation but there are some harsh comments about LDS beliefs and people that really ARE NOT the Browns. And no sorry, being exalted to the celestial kingdom does not mean living polygamy

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    3. @Anon 2:07am I hate to disagree with you but I have been raised in the LDS church and YES they do believe that you have to live polygamy. If fact they believe that they will live it in the afterlife. Hence marrying the dead.. Oops am I not allowed to talk about that. The men are sealing unsealed dead women to themselves as their plural wives!! How do I know this?? First I was raised in the church and second as a single divorced unsealed mother of several children I as a adult asked in sunday school what was to happen to me if I wasn't able to find a husband and sealed to him? That's when I was told I wasn't to worry about that because I would more than likely be lucky enough to be married and sealed when I am dead and I will be placed with my husband in heaven. That brought on more questions and that's whenI found out about becoming a plural wife in the kingdom of God!! If I wasn't sealed then I would become a angel to serve those that were living polygamy. So please don't say that it's not true! I'm sorry but those in the mainstream LDS or Mormon church IMO are the pretenders! You claim JS to be your profit and read his books but pick and choose what to follow here on earth. You are so right the real followers of JS are NOTHING like you!! We follow what our profit asked us to do! We didn't turn our backs on his teachings and we DON"T sell out the way the mainstream do! We all know if you put a little pressure on the LDS they will do as they are asked. And another thing, You are crazy if you believe that the LDS will still reuse polygamy if it's legal or decriminalized.. They claim they won't because they are fearful of the law of the land and what's been done to them in the past but I assure you that the moment it's no longer illegal it will be started up again! And I also know for a fact that there's members in the church that practice plural marriage. The rule of thumb is as long as other members don't catch on then no big deal! Oh how blind people are!

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  23. I am currently reading "favorite wife" and will read Rebecca Mussers book next. Thank u CPA Carol for the review. This is a must read for me.

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  24. Thank you Debbie for your post. I am proud of you and happy you chose to follow truth. Blessings to you!

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  25. P.S. Loved the term "recovering mormoholic" :)

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  26. Thanks CPA Carol for an interesting summary. Please, can we have more of these?

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  27. Thank you SWB for posting this review. I admit I was watching Sister Wives all along, thinking they are crazy but nice. After reading many of the posts here everything is clearer and I see what the Browns are doing is truly evil and wrong, however much I like the kids. I am looking forward to the plyg documentarys coming on tlc and to reading some of the books talked about here. It's really about saving these kids and women and the Browns are deceiving many into thinking this lifestyle is ok.

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    1. We are NOT here to sway you to think anyone is evil and wrong. We just try to show all sides of the issue and let viewers decide for themselves. Thanks

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    2. You might not be here for that reason, but as you let more and more of the truth see the light, people are starting to see right through the Browns and this religion from Hell that abuses women.

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    3. I am just finding things and and sharing with all of you, my friends here. I learn as I go.
      Folks that are pro Brown no matter what, are saying we are a hate blog, and we are not at all.
      We are a blog of thinkers (the commenters) and can see for themselves the truth. Sigh...I guess they equate realistic points and honesty as hate.
      Do folks dislike injustice, sexual abuse, welfare abuse, you BET.
      I don't think that or intelligence equates with hate at all.

      Just MORE propaganda they throw out to confuse folks.

      That's what I see. I knew nothing about polygamy when I started this. But I am sure glad I am learning. knowledge is power!

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    4. God bless you Mister Sister for being willing to share truth and do good.

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    5. Mister Sister, it has always been clear to me that this blog has consistently put out information in a straightforward way, allowing readers to independently interpret its content. Of course there's snark on here, but when individuals (Browns) put themselves on display, they are foolish if they believe that viewers are going to mindlessly accept everything w/o question.

      The past several weeks have been particularly illuminating on this blog b/c of the Dateline program, the books that have been mentioned, and excellent investigators/reporters like the Kocielas. How much we've all gained from the terrific guest appearances on this blog featuring people who have been born into polygamy, steeped in its dogma, suffered malnourishment (thus compelling them to dumpster-dive to obtain food), abused in all sorts of odious ways, and pressured into marriages at young ages. These people found the strength to escape, and that is huge. If the Browns cannot understand that countless people have experienced true horror in polygamy and DESERVE a place to share their experiences, well, K and his groupies can all go toot in their respective hats. (Kody will need an jumbo-sized sombrero to handle his toot explosion b/c he's a massive bag of foul wind.) Why should the Browns be the only ones to have the opportunity to share their "life style" and not Kollene, Kristyn, Flora, Willy, Christine Marie, Rebecca, and others?

      This blog has rules which are protective of the Brown children. There are boundaries in place, and that's a good thing. You have been so careful about this, MS, and I respect you for it.

      I have seen comments from a whole range of people on this blog from different religious faiths. We're also spread out throughout the U.S. and in other countries, too. I have learned a huge amount from this blog from both the threads and the comments, and continue to return here each day.

      Our daughter surprised us w/ a visit a few nights ago. My husband was watching the news, and I was posting something on the SW blog. She saw the name of the blog on the computer and immediately assumed that it was the Brown family blog. "Oh, no, Mom! Are you kidding me? Do you actually buy into all that b.s. from those people? I just watched an episode with Janet (roommate) a few nights ago, and the man is a disgusting little tyrant. And, you're reading this garbage? DAD!! I think we need to do an intervention w/ Mom!" (She went on and on b/f I could get a word in edge-wise.) Her comments were pretty funny, and I wish I could remember them all to share as a snark salad on this blog, but my Swiss cheese brain couldn't hold it all. :/ Finally, I had the opportunity to inform her about what the blog is about and the important information that I have gleaned from it. My husband piped in and commented, "I keep worrying that Mom's going to head up to Colorado City w/ a full head of steam, and one of the God Squad SUVs is going to try to run her over." Our daughter's mouth dropped open in shock, fully believing I would do exactly what her father suggested. I assured her that I thought the best thing for me to do is to financially contribute to the established organizations who tirelessly aid people fleeing from polygamy. Also, it's time for me to start a letter-writing campaign, particularly to the AZ state officials b/c I live in this state. I was able to provide some good info to my family about what's going on in the AUB, FLDS, the TLC (True Living Church, I think), and other alphabet soup organizations of polygamy. So, you see, the education from this blog continues on as its readers disseminate info as I did to family members. :D I also told my daughter that the Browns are still part of the AUB and doing their best to put a shiny topcoat on polygamy for the cameras. However, they never get into the nitty gritty religious parts regarding the Celestial Kingdom and the only way you can get there.

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    6. I thank you for your kind words toward us! I, too have kids wondering about all this polygamy. Isn't great that we can talk and discuss and have empathy for those that have endured? My son went from zero knowledge on the subject to probably being able to give a report. It's great that we talk to our children about different subjects and broaden their knowledge base!

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    7. * a jumbo-sized sombrero (not "an")

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  28. I seriously think if I read another book on polygamy or the FLDS, my family is going to think I am planning to convert! So far I've read Kristyn Decker's, Flora Jessop's, Rebecca Musser's, and Elissa Wall's. suggestions for any other books I should read?

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    1. Oh JJ, I hear ya. My husband looked at our computer browser history and asked me if I REALLY spent all day reading this blog. When I go to Amazon now and it suggests books I'd like to read - they're all plyg related.

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    2. Under the Banner of Heaven. It is a must read.

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    3. I liked Irene Spencer's book, Shattered Dreams. It was really a touching story about her life as a second wife. She also wrote Cult Insanity about Erville LeBaron, her brother in law.

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    4. I found that I had my daughter quite worried. She didn't know what to think. We had quite a discussion and I releived her mind a great deal. She now knows that researching a subject does not mean agreeing with it.

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    5. Hahaha! JJ, I can relate! I have stacks of books that I'm reading all pertaining to polygamy. I spend time on the computer reading this blog, researching, watching the documentaries, and watching "Polygamy-What Love Is This?". My husband hasn't said anything but I wonder if he is thinking I'm converting!
      What started as a mild fascination has turned into a mission to help myself understand, learn and hopefully help others. Support those that escaped. Kind of like this website. It started out as a place to discuss the "Sister Wives" show but has now turned to a place to discuss polygamy in general, polygamy on TV, and now helping those that want to escape.

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    6. I'm a little more than half way through "Escape" by Carolyn Jessop. It's quite haunting, and a few parts are hard to stomach, but it's a great look inside the greed and insanity that is the FLDS relationships before and during the takeover of Warren Jeffs.

      It's a must read for sure! I have Flora Jessops "Church of Lies" on its way.

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  29. I totally think this is great. The public can make up their own mind, just seeing different sides of the story. Really we should be paying attention. This is a tax dollars going to fund this lifestyle. Do they fund yours? Not mine.

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    1. Completely agree w/ you, Anon 11:14. I'm enraged that the FLDS (4,821 people) in Colorado City, AZ received 27 MILLION DOLLARS in 20 months. (Thanks to Cara Curfew-Kociela for supplying these figures above.)

      Here's another shocker: I learned from an episode (aired several months ago but always available online) of Doris Hanson's show "Polygamy: What Love is This?" that Warren Jeffs ordered, from jail, that the FLDS children should be restricted to 2 meals a day consisting of beans and milk. Just think about this! And, the FLDS community in Colorado City received $27 million in gov't. assistance while the poor children are being starved on just beans? I wish Warren Jeffs could be placed in general population for 1 hr. One simple hour to receive a fraction of the torture he's inflicted upon others..... Sadly, in the FLDS, another one very similar to Jeffs will ascend to the leadership role.

      When the police and state officials have dubious connections to these polygamous groups and turn a blind eye, what can average citizens do to help? I hope that Ed, Cara, or others who have kindly shared info w/ us before will weigh in on this question. I want to know the best route to register my complaints about the massive amount of taxpayer $$$ pouring into these compounds when kids are being so abused by horrible malnourishment. Beans twice a day when close to $30million goes to their community? Damn!! I'm so angry!!!

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  30. Thank you CPA Carol. I would like to read the books, but simply don't have the time. This way i feel like i have a glimpse into them. Thank you for all your hard work. Hope to see you do more.

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  31. Bought the book yesterday from audible. Rebecca Musser reads the book herself and the audio flow is pleasant.

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  32. JJ, I am currently reading "My favorite wife" by Susan Ray Schmidt. It's a little different from the other books in my opinion, because Susan wanted to marry Verlan Lebaron. She wasnt forced into the marriage. She was only 15 when she married him. She had a very romanticized vision of polygamy, but quickly realized how difficult and lonely it is. She was actually Irene Spencers sister wife. If you havent read it already, this is a good book.

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    1. Thank you for the suggestion! I will check it out!

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  33. $27 million in 20 months...and we wonder why we have a deficit...!
    This sum is absolutely staggering. My husband works so hard to provide for our 4 children, myself and our animals...he amazes me. He allows me to be at home for them in their formative years and slowly ease my way back into the work force, but I can't imagine taking and not earning...I understand that situations can arise where you might need temporary assistance, but this is an abomination. I have no words to express my anger and frustration. I am so grateful this blog is here, so this information is getting out into the public light. If they can work, we shouldn't have to support them, PERIOD! If they can't support themselves, stop reproducing! Kody and krew...by dodging these questions regarding how you support your large family, you basically admit that you are not supporting them at all, we, the taxpayers, are. If you breed, pay for your brood! It's not our job!!

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    1. "If you breed, pay for your brood! It's not our job!!"

      Only wife,

      YESSSSSSSSS !!!!

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  34. I have read Church of Lies, Flora Jessop, Sister Wife (A Novel) Shelly Hrdlitscka, Favorite Wife, Susan Schmidt, Becoming Sister Wives, The Browns, Shattered Dreams, Irene Spencer, Stolen Innocence, Elissa Wall, Wife #19 (an amazing read) Ann Eliza Young, Escape, Carolyn Jessop, Love x 3 , The Dargers and The Witness Wore Red, Rebecca Musser, It's Not About the Sex My Ass, Joanne Hanks and Plygs, Ed Kociela. I am just starting Section 132 by Helga Zelner. (I believe this is a novel also). The one thing I notice throughout all of these books, other than the belief in the Principle from a religious stance, is that each woman tries to obtain the all consuming, monogamist type of love, from their spouse. While attempting to tell themselves that they like or love their sister wives. Even the Darger ladies talk about their jealousies and that they want love from Joe. But they "Know" that they are supposed to share. I think if your base instincts tell your that it is wrong then it is WRONG! Just as we instinctively know that murder is wrong, that stealing is wrong and that causing pain to someone else is wrong so too is sharing your husband.

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  35. Anyone like to do a book review or summary of what they are reading, just let me know!

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  36. I have read Elissa Wall's book and Krystin Decker's fifty years in polygamy. Both were heartbreaking stories that made me want to do something....anything...to help.

    I found a buried treasure that I wanted to share with all of my friends here and hope its not overstepping boundaries with Mister Sister, the blog, or Ed and Cara Kociela. You can purchase an autographed copy of "Plygs" by emailing Ed or Cara at Plygs@hotmail.com. I am so excited to receive mine and I wanted to share this wonderful news with the world! Thanks again Ed and Cara!
    Pam

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    1. Pam,
      I am so happy that you think of it as a treasure:) That makes us very happy and we hope that you enjoy the read.

      Just so everyone that emails us and wants a signed copy knows... we are currently out of books... we should be receiving a new shipment in about 2 to 3 weeks... go ahead and send us your info, email us so we can insure that we set your aside and get them out to you first then we will place another order as soon as we can. I am very sorry that we do not have on hand right now but we just sent our last few out the other day...

      Thank you again for all of your support. We appreciate you all so very much.

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    2. Thank you,
      Ed, Cara, Mister Sister and all of the contributers to this wonderful blog for opening the eyes of so many people.
      This truly is a heartbreaking life for so many and an evil law breaking and greedy life for the few people at the top. The children that are born into it do not know that it is not normal. It is normal to them.
      I was raised a Mormon but stopped going to church in my teen years. My great grandparents were polygamists but that's where it stopped in my family. WHEW! I am glad it stopped there but that was close. If you have a Mormon legacy, you have polygamist roots. I have leaned over to the more serious side of this subject. I cant tolerate how the Browns are trying to portray polygamy when its so obvious to everyone how much emotional pain they are all in (except Kody and Sobbyn) They both seem to be in it for the money, sex and fame.
      Christine needs to read her Aunts book, she will feel like she wrote it. I wish they would just all fade away from their 15 minutes and get honest with themselves. I wish the very best for all of the Brown children and the Jessop children. I even wish the best for all of the adults, but I do not have very high hopes for any kind of self awareness for Kody and Sobbyn.
      Meri, Chistine, and Janelle have a chance if they would just get real with themselves and I am not a Meri fan, but I do believe she can change.

      Do you know how I found this blog? I typed into my search bar "kody brown is an asshole" and this blog popped up. I have read it every day since. I thought I was the only one who felt that way before that day!

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    3. Such a terrific post, OrangeMeri. (I love what you typed in your search bar!! :D )

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  37. I MORE than appreciate CPA Carol writing this and doing such a nice job!!! I wanted to tell everyone that Rebecca Musser is in People Magazine in this weeks issue!

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  38. Thanks Mister Sister. I will be buying the People Magazine. And I never buy People's Magazine. lol

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  39. I am currently reading Elissa Walls book--great 'ghost' author! The book is an absolute pleasure to read. Flowing, descriptive prose that makes you really feel like you are there and having those experiences (details remembered like what she ate for dinner on a particular night...). I am completely impressed with the inner strength of Elissa Walls and Rebecca Musser for speaking the truth and standing tall against someone who clearly intimidated and instilled fear in many many people--men and women included.
    The kind of inner strength that requires is breathtaking. God bless those two women and all those who stand as a beacon of hope to those with none.

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  40. Maybe its just me and my beliefs but I fully feel that god gave man his inquisitive nature. I remember once years ago wondering why god gave us "free will" or as I like to call it the why question. A close friend at the time answered with something akin to "so we can put what we learn in the context of our faith". That was the thing for me often there is a interchanging of terms using faith and religion to mean the same thing. This I don't necessarily believe. In our house I tell my kids to have faith and examine religion. Faith is the belief in something religion to us is the interpretation of various religious beliefs. While I want my kids to believe in some sort of higher power it doesn't have to be a particular religion. All to often religion is used as a smoke screen for those with nefarious purposes (religious wars and such). But I grew up in a house that allowed us to find the right fit for me and my sisters as individuals.
    So I think this curiosity and questions of faith some might have are natural and only leads us to whatever we happen to come to believe. That being said it is not my place to push those in anyone. I would never insists that one was going to hell or what not if they didn't feel the way I did. I commend women like those who step forward because they see the injustice and abuse and do something about it. To me they are the embodiment of true faith. They believe in something and help their fellow man/woman. What more can one truly ask.

    That all said thanks to this blog and reviews like this I have a book store run in the future to make and a long list. To all those who stand up and fight this abuse and are coming out of it please know this you are lived and respected and there are a lot of people behind you even if you can't always see us.

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  41. I just finished reading The Witness Wore Red last night. It broke my heart. The author is obviously a talented woman. Her musical history is so special. I found it painful to think of her highly educated father falling for polygamy and putting his children into harm’s way. I pray that her life and that of her children and her extended family will be much happier than her early adulthood was. No one should have to suffer in such a way. When she named the crime, sexual trafficking, I was struck by the truth. By cutting through the religious freedom issue, and calling it what it is, more people are likely to pay attention to what is going on. It is indeed sexual trafficking, a horrific crime. These young girls and boys have been harmed in the name of God. That makes me angry. As a minister’s wife, I am all for religious freedom, however, I do not condone misuse of God’s name, which is what has happened in these cults.

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  42. Thank you CPA Carol! My reading consists of coming here. i work long hours so i like hearing what the books are about.

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  43. Thank you for writing the review! I just finished this book the other day, and you did a great job :-)

    A few things struck me about the book- while I've read most of the other memoirs, this was the one that truly brought home to me just how horrible daily life is in the FLDS, even if you're not immediately undergoing the horrific trauma that exists pretty regularly. I kept having to put it down and walk away for a bit, as her position was just so incredibly hopeless, and difficult. I can't imagine being a loving mentor/friend/relative, and knowing that the young women you love are going to be horribly abused and stuck into a life that's so awful for them, and there's nothing at all that you can do about it.

    I also thought that she gave a good overview of some of the issues that people face after they flee. Continuing to walk behind authority figures, in ability to make choices, etc. Those strike me as very similar to those that long-term prisoners face after relief- when you never get the chance to exercise your 'choice' muscle, it just dies.

    But I think that her greatest achievement in writing the book may be re-framing the discussion surrounding the FLDS- from distasteful/despicable religious/monetary/cultural issues, to sex and labor trafficking. Trafficking is so despised at the moment, and so many people are fighting against it- good for her for pointing out that what is going on in the FLDS is trafficking in children and young people. I think that's going to have far-reaching effects, and give more support to legal/child protection agencies in the long run.

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