Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Polygamous group exists in a different world
I said it often on the air Tuesday night, but I find it hard to believe that a religious sect like the one led by fugitive "prophet" Warren Jeffs has existed in the United States for so long.

We live in an age of information, where it's easy to believe everyone is connected by technology. But the longtime existence of Jeffs' organization, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shows that not everyone is part of the same world.

There are plenty of religious orders in this country that choose to live in isolation. That's not why Jeffs is of interest to legal authorities. They are after him because he stands accused of heinous acts against minors, and essentially, running an organized crime outfit. His organization, which broke away from the Mormon Church decades ago, teaches polygamy as a way of life.

I keep staring at those pictures of women in long skirts turning away from the camera, the few grainy, telephoto images that we have of Warren Jeffs' thousands of followers. What must life be like in those communities?

I'm in Utah now, and am spending the day talking with people who once followed Jeffs' teachings. Other CNN correspondents have fanned out across this region to cover the story from different angles.

Gary Tuchman is in Arizona looking at a relatively content polygamous household. Randi Kaye is exploring the tax and welfare implications of polygamy. And Rick Sanchez is taking a closer look at "Yearning for Zion," a Texas compound where many of Jeffs' followers live.

We're broadcasting live from Utah tonight on this fascinating story. I hope you tune in.
Posted By Anderson Cooper: 6:33 PM ET
I personally could never see myself sharing a husband with anyone and it is very hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea that people can live like this. But I suppose if you knew nothing else from the time you are born that it would seem normal. I truly hope they catch him soon and stop him from destroying more lives than he already has!
Posted By Anonymous Vicki Pittsburgh, PA : 6:59 PM ET
Read John Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven" to really see details of the real lives of fundamentalist Mormons. Although the book is mostly about the Lafferty brothers murdering their sister in law because "God told them to do it," it also explores the basic tenets of the FLDS (fundamentalist Mormon, as distinct from mainstream Mormon) faith.

I think I feel bad for mainstream Mormons the same way I feel bad for mainstream Muslims. There are a lot of people who participate in the Mormon religion without harming anyone else. They get a bad name from the extremists who murder, rape, and commit child abuse in the name of their faith.
Posted By Anonymous Eve, Hunter, NY : 6:59 PM ET
Mr. Cooper,
you ought to contact author John Krakauer, of Into Thin Air, who is not Mormon but has lived among Mormons and associated with them. He's also the author of Under the Banner of Heaven, about the fundamentalist Mormons and their place in LDS church history. I think he could help provide you with even more historical perspective about the fundamentalist Mormon churches. Something you, and other reporters seem to be missing in this is that although the LDS church outlawed and excommunicates the fundamentalist sects, they still acknowledge the dictates in church law that espouse polygamy. Don't take the LDS at its word; I don't believe they completely condemn polygamy and may even be helping to hide it in the general LDS community.

Thanks for all the good work you do!
Posted By Anonymous Sue Hayter, San Pedro Calif. : 7:01 PM ET
As a member of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I appreciate the effort being made by CNN to let the world know that this is a cult that broke away years ago and now has no relation whatsoever with the current LDS church as it is organized. Thank you
Posted By Anonymous Matt, Provo, UT : 7:01 PM ET
I think it's amazing that many of the things that happen in the world seemingly go unnoticed. It shocked me that the genocide in Darfur took three years for the international community to take notice. I suppose it is even more surprising that something like this could happen in America where almost everything is televised or reported on-line. I understand that this man is dangerous and has committed some rather heinous acts on children, but I'm not sure I understand why he made it onto the FBI's 10 Mosr Wanted List-- I assume that there must be someone who is more dangerous or violent in the world. This is an important story and I'm glad you are continuing to cover it. I hope that Jeffs will soon be caught and brought to justice. I'l be certain to tune it.
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly Miller, Lancaster, PA : 7:05 PM ET
Hi Anderson,
Glad to see you back on the blog, we missed you. To the subject, if the adults what to live like this, it is their business. But it is the children I fell sorry for. Making girls get married at the age of 12 or 13 to a man that is old enough to be her father, is awful. Hope this sick man is caught very soon.
Posted By Anonymous Sandy Richmond,Va : 7:07 PM ET
Hi Anderson,
Hopefully, when this man is apprehended he will be brought to justice. I pray it will end peacefully..We as a nation, do not need another Waco..You ask what life must be like for them? Well, whether we agree with them or not it is probably the ONLY life they have ever known, and most likely feel very threatened that their lives are unraveling..I hope the media uses some restraint and tries hard to just report the news and not try to make it..I get a little uneasy when I hear of the media with telephoto lenses, renting planes to fly over the compound..Sounds too much like the paparazzi..I look forward to your program..Keep us informed but don't forget the other news of the day..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 7:23 PM ET
How is it that in this country governed by laws and a constitution, we allow the rape of children under the flag of religion? Have we gotten to the point where we allow people to perform heinous acts as long as they claim its part of their religion? I find our lack of law enforcement action against these criminals to be reprehensable. They are destroying the lives of children and yet we stand back and let it happen. Its time for our government to take action and quit worrying about offending someone.
Posted By Anonymous Dave, Orlando FL : 7:30 PM ET
As citizens of the United States, Warren Jeffs and his followers are subject first to the laws governing the United States. If they break those laws, they should be arrested and prosecuted just as any other criminal would be.

But as abhorent as I find their religion to be, as long as they abide by U.S. laws, there isn't much anyone can do for those "adults" who willingly choose to live in this way.

As long as there are organized religions, there are going to be people who blindly follow the men, many of whom are corrupt, who lead these religious groups.

Personally, I think the world would be a much better place if all spirituality was individual instead of group based. There isn't a religion out there which could get me to give up my free thoughts, including my spiritual thoughts.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 7:32 PM ET
Anderson and other readers,
I am in the Air Force in Utah. I am LDS. The FLDS is not apart of our church because the president of the church Wolford Woodruff told the members that polygamy is banned and after it was banned, the government took action so it would never happen or the polygamist would be charged. Warren Jeffs is a coward, if he says he is a prophet then he should know the laws of heavenly father. I don't like polygamist because the men are dogs really. People have broken away because of the life style and how they were abused. My view is that Warren Jeffs should just surrender because he is a coward for running. Well that is my view.
Posted By Anonymous Adam Syracuse, UT : 7:39 PM ET
Let's not forget that polygamy in itself is nothing more than a lifestyle, and that if you choose to live by it, it is okay. What this church did is perform forced marriages using teachings outside the mainstream. They married minors to older men, and committed statutory rape and sexual assault. That is wrong. That should be addressed, not polygamy itself.
Posted By Anonymous Brian Brazier, San Diego, CA : 7:41 PM ET
I, too, recently finished listening to "Under The Banner Of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith," by Jon Krakauer as a book-on-tape.
The full history of the Mormon Church is flat out shocking and how parts of it have morphed into FLDS and what they believe in will make your skin crawl.
To me, as the Mom of a teenaged boy, the most astounding thing FLDS is getting away with is the banishment of 200+ young men ANNUALLY, just so the "good-ole-boys" won't have competition for the young girls! These boys are literally thrown out of town, homeless and alone.
There are many, many frightening people in FLDS and putting Jeffs on the 10 Most Wanted is no surprise to me after reading this book.
Posted By Anonymous Ann, Indpls, IN : 7:44 PM ET
Mr. Cooper, it is a very important topic and i am glad somebody took the courage to start covering this story. I would also like to add that i dont agree with Kimberly Miller's observation that everything in US is televised and reported online. Our Heros, our Saviours, our Soldiers die every day in Iraq. How many times you see their deadbodies shown on TV or interviews of the friends and families of the soldiers lost their lives in Iraq?
Posted By Anonymous Tom, Los Angeles, California : 7:48 PM ET
Committing child abuse and sex acts involving minors is one thing. But, when it comes to polygamist relationships between consenting adults, I don't think it's any of the government's business. People should be free to live their lives the way they choose, as long as they are not hurting anyone else.
Posted By Anonymous Derrick Miller, Hagerstown, MD : 7:51 PM ET
Let's all keep in mind that this isn't about religion, but about control, the desire of one man to control the minds of thousands of followers. If it weren't with religion, he would be trying to exert control in some other form.

Religion is just one of the easiest tools at hand to control the behavior of others, as recent history clearly shows.
Posted By Anonymous Arachnae, Sterling VA : 7:56 PM ET
Anderson, I'll be watching. It's an interesting, but upsetting story. I Can't believe he has been allowed to abuse people for so long. I hope they catch him soon, that he doesn't hole up in Texas or somewhere, and it turns into another Waco standoff.

I enjoyed your interview with John Krakauer the other night. I wish you would stop by Boulder on your way back East, interview Krakauer again, and visit me!

Last night, the FBI searched a Denver home, believing that Jetts may be staying in a home there, as a safe house. It has been reported that he has also purchased land here in Colorado, in the south west part of the state.

I love your show.
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 7:57 PM ET
I am glad you are addressing the problem of polygamy. The underlying real issue is child sexual abuse and control of women. It is unbelievable that this is occurring, yet what about the states where this happens? Isn't it the responsibility of society, i.e. the state to protect children and abuse people when they are being abused? Also, why do the states allow these women to file for and obtain welfare funds? It seems that the states involved need to really investigate what is going on.
It is just unbearable that these children live in conditions that are as bad as those in third world countries. We don't have any business going to other countries, telling them how to run their governments, when this is happening in our own. We need to clean up our own backyard first.
Posted By Anonymous Trudy, Claremore, Ok : 8:01 PM ET
Hey Anderson, Women, including me, have been fighting for their rights since about 1850 and I find it appalling that these women blindly follow this man and don't seem to have the inner sense that this is not what God intended for them.
I get the programming/brain-washing aspect of this whole picture but I don't get the idea of women not protecting their children from this very dangerous man.
Posted By Anonymous Judy Stage Brooklyn Michigan : 8:01 PM ET
Anderson, make sure CNN does the homework properly when broadcasting about this issue. When the segment (�Sect Leader Is Hunted,� 9 May 2006)was broadcasted during a report about law enforcement�s crackdown and hunt for Warren Jeffs, leader of a polygamist group, CNN superimposed the face of Jeffs over an image of the Salt Lake Temple. Again, this implies a connection between the two. This is not just careless editing, but highly offensive to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Warren Jeffs is not and never has been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you wanted to check about the Jewish religion, would you check this out with a Lutheran Minister?
Posted By Anonymous Eric Spanbauer, Fredericksburg, VA : 8:03 PM ET
I find it facinating, and not all together good, what people will do in the name of religion. How can anyone justify victimizing children as he apparently has done for too long now? And how can his "followers" continue to allow themselves and others to be victimized? Warren Jeffs obviously uses the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ to wield power over others. We can only hope he will be caught and that power will be extinguished.
Posted By Anonymous Cathy, Fairfax, VA : 8:04 PM ET
Dear Anderson,
I still keep up with your show through the net eventhough CNN International has taken you off the air. What's up with that? Anyway, my comment is why spend so much time and energy on Warren Jeff when there are so many other neglected issues around?

I work with a volunteer group to help kids who are orphaned by the tsunami. Now here's a story that's still need to be told; kids who got nothing left, no family, no home, trying to live one day at a time. I know much has been covered about the tsunami and its survivors and it's not 'news' anymore, but if you see the plight of these children, it just breaks your heart.
Posted By Anonymous Che, Penang, Malaysia : 8:11 PM ET
In response to Mrs. Hayter from San Pedro, Calif:

I have also lived among and associated with Mormons my whole life and I can tell you from my perspective that the general LDS community DOES completely condemn polygamy and DOES NOT help to hide it. If someone practices polygamy, they are excommunicated. The LDS church is very clear on this matter. Please consult more sources than the opinion of one author.
Posted By Anonymous Melissa, Blackfoot, ID : 8:13 PM ET
Cooper,I hope you don't limit your investigation of polygamy to southern Utah and the FLDS. Check out SLC or Bountiful (north of SLC) and you will find many families living polygamy lifestyles. Large polygamy families are headed by major businessmen and prominent community members.
Posted By Anonymous ann, bozeman, mt : 8:14 PM ET
Why is polygamy suddenly considered bad? Scriptures, the holy book, has mentions of polygamy over centuries. Agreed, if the poligamist abuses children in the name of religion, its a crime; but then one is not always a polygamist who commits such a crime!!

Lets face it, some such traits of a society, and in this case human race, are time dependant. Of course, there are very good scientific reasons to follow monogamy, but one can also come up with good reasons for polygamy as well, scientific, social, or economic. If suddenly an epidemic wipes out 50% of the world's male population (possibilities exist with very low probability), we as human race may have to revert back to polygamy and it will be considered okay then!!!! Only legality of such behaviour makes it the issue, not morality!
Posted By Anonymous Sam, Houston, TX : 8:18 PM ET
I also must recommend Jon Krakauer's book "Under the Banner of Heaven: a story of Violent Faith." Krakauer offers a chilling picture of a polygamous compound; life without television, radio, contact with the outside world, where young girls must marry men much older than them, where neighbors troll for outsiders, and psychological strongholds placed on inhabitants by people like Jeffs. These people also steal thousands upon thouands of welfare dollars every year by claiming that all of the mothers in polygamous relationships are single mothers. Whatever sentence Jeffs gets will not be sufficient enough.
Posted By Anonymous Nicole, Seattle, WA : 8:18 PM ET
Anderson, I am glad that you mentioned Jeffs being under investigation for organized crime. For the last couple of nights I have been wondering how these people finance such large families. It's hard enough for a family of four to live comfortably, so how can one man support multiple wives and children? Hummm? Drugs and money laundering were on my mind, so I hope you can get some information about the ecomomics of polygamy. If law enforcement is not concerned enough about the freedoms of women and minor children to enforce the laws, then maybe they may be more interested in other crimes.
Posted By Anonymous Paige B., Austin, TX : 8:20 PM ET
"They are after him because he stands accused of heinous acts against minors, and essentially, running an organized crime outfit."
I don't think you have to go to Utah to find a religion that meets these requirements. Many religions have a character such as Jeffs, I am more concernced about mainstream religions that have an actual history, or dare I say, tradition, of abuse.
Posted By Anonymous Ray McClure, San Francisco, CA : 8:25 PM ET
The reason poligamy groups go bad is because of their isolation. If there is a non-religious reason to outlaw plural marriage, someone please inform me. If you remove the illegality from poligamy, these groups would have no reason to separate themselves from the rest of society; and action against those who take underage spouses would be viewed in those communities as criminal behaviour; not as an affront on their choice of lifestyle...
Posted By Anonymous Robert, Winterset, Iowa : 8:26 PM ET
I guess Jeffs is being very selective in the original doctrines he chooses to live as revealed by LDS founder Joseph Smith. One of our 13 Articles of Faith states, "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law." Jeffs conveniently assumes this one doctrinal point does not apply to him and his fundamentalist followers.
Posted By Anonymous Robert Williams, Portland, OR : 8:27 PM ET
This story fascinates me. I'm not exactly sure why, but Warren Jeffs' total creepiness draws me in, and I want him to be caught so we can find out more about him, and so what he's doing can, maybe, be decreased or stopped.
Posted By Anonymous Molly, Coleville, CA : 8:27 PM ET
I've been mystified by American's shock and outrage at how women are treated in the Middle East when we have women being treated even worse in Utah/Colorado in towns where women and children are not allowed any outside media (TV, Computers, magazines...etc)and girls are married off to men twice/three times their age. Read Under The Banner of Heaven!
Posted By Anonymous s.maguire Exeter, NH : 8:30 PM ET
I am not a polygamist.

A good family is one that can keep everyone healthy, happy and free to make their own choice. Heterosexual, Homo sexual, Ploygamist, Divorced single parent families in their own right provide a social structure.

But I fail to see the attraction to Polygamy. Philosophically ...In my eyes, Polygamy is no diffrent then going through 7 wives or husbands in once lifetime or to have a wife/husband and many girl friends/boy friends at the same time.... in essence to cheat.

But if crime is being commited in any family ....... to anyone ... adults or monors then we as a society need to step up ... educate and protect.

So AC please make sure we hear 360 degrees of the story ... and about families ... and about the faith(s).
Posted By Anonymous Chan Parker, Bay Area, Ca : 8:32 PM ET
The only reason why the LDS church does not endorse polygamy anymore is because the had a "revelation". This revelation took place around the same time that the U.S. government declared that they would not induct Utah as a state if polygamy were still legal.
Posted By Anonymous Dave, Pasadena, CA : 8:38 PM ET
Why all the negetive rant about polygamy. Some y'all need to read the statement you are writing for a second and think about what it is that truly bothers you. Polygamy or Abuse. Skillfully the media is trying to connect these two concepts together and I think we should clearly differentiate between the two. I don't see any problem in teaching about polygamy, practicing it is another issue. And Vicki from Pittsburgh, you are right, if you knew nothing else from the time you are born than the idea of polygamy would certainly be shocking, even while we see high rates of divorces, premarital affairs and extra-marital affairs, all of which have become accepted norm.
Posted By Anonymous Jason, Birmingham, Alabama : 8:40 PM ET
Sue Hayter, John Krakauer was on AC360 last night. Ol' Coop is up to snuff on this one (but I doubt he'll be able to keep . . .eh, get Jeffs honest).
Posted By Anonymous Gypsy, an American in Mexico : 8:41 PM ET
Mr. Cooper

One thing that I did not see in your article that I am very curious (and concerned) about is how such sects handle the inherent paradox of their system. The ration of women to men in this world is not 10 to 1, nor is it even 2 to 1. In this family of 30 children, how many were male? What is the expectation of these male children? Are they all expected to grow and have 10, or even 2 wives and, if so, where do these additional women come from? I think many have heard the horror stories but I would be interested in what this sect has to about it.
Posted By Anonymous Steve. Chaska, MN : 8:45 PM ET
Mr. Cooper,

It's nice to know that the FBI is finally placing folks on the 10 most wanted list that they can actually catch, unlike a certain Muslim....

With that barb aside, I must ask why members of the media are choosing to focus on polygamy so heavily? Is polygamy not a religious practice protected by the first amendment? I'm well aware that this gentleman is wanted for crimes against children and agree that he should be prosecuted for it. However, freedom of religion means all religions, not just ones that are deemed appropriate by the establishment.

Just my two cents - take it for what you paid for it.
Posted By Anonymous Bobby, Warrenton, Va : 8:48 PM ET
Thank you so much for presenting these stories on Warren Jeffs and his sect. Although other programs have been presented on other news shows 360 has been the only one to cover it in such depth. Fron your reports we have seen a more sinister side of this sect and what it has done to the people that leave.
True the people who leave are able to start a new and better life, but there are still the emotional scars that they have to deal with - not being able to see your mother or brothers and sisters and always wondering if they are surviving, that must seem like a fate worse than death.

As for those left behind I feel sad that they will never know what real freedom is, freedom to be the real you and not what someone else says you have to be. If God truly wanted the world to be like this he would have made all civilizations just like Warren Jeffs world, but he did not.

360 is the one show that keeps us informed about relevant news stories and keeps reporting them long after other shows have shoved them into the archives. Keep up the great work and again thaks for keeping this story alive.
Posted By Anonymous Marcia, Warren MI : 8:49 PM ET
I'm sure this comment might annoy some folks, but I intend it to raise a serious question -

Why is it that folks get so excited about poligamy and label it evil etc - while at the same time not expressing anywhere near the same outrage about sexually promiscuous people? I'm sure that there are examples of abuse in poligamy - but aren't there abuse examples in every other type of relationship too? Why does our government even get involved in marriage questions anyway?
Posted By Anonymous Andrew, Jamaica Plain, MA : 8:50 PM ET
I am Mormon, a member of the "mainstream" Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am also originally from Utah. I know that the LDS people do not take ANY part in "helping to hide [polygamy] in the general LDS community" as stated in the above comment. The FLDS church, as said in the blog, broke off from our church so that they could have polygamous marraiges.

It surprises me to no end how mainstream Mormons are persecuted by some people. I consider myself a pretty normal, hard working person with high standards. I participate in my community, and look out for my neighbors. I volunteer at my kids school, obey the law, pay my taxes, and do everything I can to be as Christlike as I can be. What's wrong with that?

Let's prosecute Warren Jeffs and shut him down so that people will stop blurring the line between these people and Mormons.
Posted By Anonymous Melanie, Watertown, New York : 9:02 PM ET
I think the tone of the blog is simply killed by one simple fact. Most all denominations of Christianity have pathetic records w/ sexual crimes. Not just the Catholic church. This group isn't much worse.
Posted By Anonymous Joshua Johnson, Sherman Oaks, CA : 9:16 PM ET
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I find Warren Jeffs' actions as dispicable and deplorable as anyone else. He must be stopped and brought to justice. We as a church do not condone in any way his ideas, nor do we try to hide what is going on in that sect. They are a completely separate religious entity. It has absolutely nothing to do with mainstream Mormonism.
Futhermore, we believe all people must have their free agency to choose for themselves. Jeffs' teachings are the exact opposite.
Thank you Mr. Cooper and CNN for doing what you are doing to help find this man who has inflicted so much unhappiness and pain on far too many human beings.
Posted By Anonymous MarLou, Provo, Utah : 9:18 PM ET
Warren Jeffs is horrendous! I'm grateful for the people who had the courage to get away and I pray for help for the ones who still want to. I hope authorities nab him before he has time to take his 'poison pill'. He's a coward who has hurt and devastated so many lives. Law enforcement needs to win this one!
Posted By Anonymous Lisa V., Des Plaines, IL : 9:37 AM ET
As a former LDS member, born and raised, I'm always interested in the tidbits of LDS information that rise to the surface of main-stream society. The current interest in polygamy is fascinating and titilating because of the inherent curiosity most people have in regards to many wives, one husband.

In this regard it's about the sex- and the power to procreate for that one man. The power to be like Abraham and have as many seeds cast as the sands on the shore...

The religion, both fringe and regular, have had to create "celestial-laws" to hide behind and condone their patriarchal fear of women's sexual power.

Most western religions have this same view to different extents, and some eastern religions- especially the fundamentalist ones: They view a woman's body as a place for competition for sperm- and thereby a factory- not as an equal partner with rights, privileges and independant knowledge, but as a way to prove man's power and prowess. Thus the practice of young wives... the older ones can no longer give birth and must be marginalized.

It's the reason abortion, birth-control, polygamy, even same-sex marriages are so hotly contested and passionately viewed across the nation. Sex is only allowed if it equals pregnancy in a patriarchal society- any other sex is immoral and sinful and needs to be outlawed.

if woman were allowed true equality and choice, whether through Man's law or within the religious society, they might choose to withhold sex or worse deny the man's offspring. That would give an inordinate amount of power to the woman...

So, especially in this specific religious situation, meaning both fundamental LDS and regular LDS, they teach the woman that it is her sacred right to have a man, who holds the priesthood (understand women can hold NO position within the Church ministerially) as head of the house- as the mouth piece of God, to bear as many children for her Heavenly Father as He blesses her with, to bring up "her" children in the truth of the church at her knee, and then to make sure that if she questions ANY of that process she is threatened with complete and eternal darkness at death. (Of course the boys are taught this too... patriarch to patriarch.)

Whew... Not much choice there! Of course the women (and men) who are interviewed are happy with their "choices" of relationships within their families. Happy because they've been raised to believe ANY other choice would bring complete unhappiness.

Are they really free to choose... I wonder.
Posted By Anonymous Kestrel, Orlando Florida : 9:42 AM ET
The idea that in our technically advanced society no one realized what was going on with Warren Jeffs is rubbish. I believe that some state officials in Utah knew years ago exactly what was going on and were reluctant to investigate him due to what I term a "soft policy" on polygamy. It is only now they are stepping forward to acknowledge what a threat he is to innocent men, women and children. Let us hope that the attention that your organization is bringing to Jeffs and his system will result in his being brought to justice.
Posted By Anonymous Carol Hart New York, NY : 9:47 AM ET
As a person who chose the polygamist lifestyle at the age of 26, I can assure you that not all polygamists are bad. Are all Catholic Priests pedophiles? Of course not.

Not all polygamist groups are the same. We do not all believe in underage marriages, nor do we believe in forced marriages. If someone decides that this is not the life for them, they are free to leave.

We believe in plural marriage as a sacred tenet of our holy religion. We love it, and wouldn't want to live any other way. As long as we're not hurting anyone else, we should be allowed to live in peace.

The group in Centennial Park was never part of the Warren Jeffs group. We left before Rulon Jeffs took over in Colorado City.

Thank you.
Posted By Anonymous Lucy, Centennial Park, AZ : 10:00 AM ET
I can't believe this man has been doing and getting away with these horrible acts for so many years. The sect was very good at keeping their secret since it took the world so long to find out. Thank the good Lord there were some people strong enough to leave and turn this vicious predator in. I am sure there are many eyes searching out Jeffs and he will be brought to justice very soon, unless of course, being the coward he is (molesting children and all), he will just commit suicide.
Posted By Anonymous TAK Detroit, MI : 10:12 AM ET
While we, as Americans, pride ourselves on our country's belief in religious freedom, there comes a time when you just want to say "no". That is the case with these fundamentalist; its not freedom for the women or children, just the men. I don't know how we can combat the problem without causing further emotional or physical harm to those effected. Being from Texas, I remember Waco, my uncle was a Federal Agent at the time and he was sent there. Its weird when it was in your own backyard, but I don't think we here in Texas really learned much about stopping this kind of problem. Its sickening, but what can we do?
Posted By Anonymous Tommi-Michelle Ivey, College Station, Texas : 10:22 AM ET
As a former Mormon I think it is good that CNN is being careful to distinguish the difference between modern Mormons and the FLDS sect. However, if one takes a little time to look into the history of the Mormon church it is easy to see that Warren Jeffs and his group has much more in common with Joseph Smith and his original church than do the current LDS church. Joseph Smith had his wives in secret, had a secret militia, burned a printing press that exposed his lies, and owned all the assets of the church. The modern LDS church looks at Joseph Smith as a prophet and he is revered as God's holy messenger for our times. The truth is he was a lot closer to being the same as Warren Jeffs and David Koresh than being like Jesus.
Posted By Anonymous Geoff, Fresno, CA : 11:03 AM ET
I read a number of years ago that law enforcement in southern Utah/northern Arizona had to leave the polygamist communities alone because prosecution would overwhelm their resources. These are rural areas with a few deputies, a few jail cells, and small county budgets. Now that the Feds are involved, there are enough resources available to do something.
Posted By Anonymous B. Mader, Lombard, Ill. : 12:01 PM ET
This comment is directed towards Kestrel in Orlando, FL. I can see why you are "a former LDS member" because you obviously don't know what you are talking about. If you would do any research before you blurt out your assumptions, you would know that the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are constantly teaching that a married couples (one man and one woman) are equal partners in their marriage. Just go and read the transcripts of any General Conference report of the Church (they are on the internet) and you will see that Gordon B. Hinckley (the president of the Church) and many other church leaders constantly remind all priesthood holders of this. The man is not above the woman and vice versa. Just because the men hold the Priesthood does not make them any better or more powerful than the women. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and also a holder of this Priesthood. My wife is not a baby factory whose only purpose is to procreate, we actually can't have kids so that right there defeats your argument. She is my wife and equal partner in life and I do not consider myself higher or better than her in any way, shape or form and the majority of LDS men share the same views. If there are any LDS men who practice what you report, then their actions are condemned and it a sin upon that man, it's called unrighteous dominion. The only thing worse than bigotry against one's religion is ignorant biogtry in which you, Kestrel, have ample supply.
Posted By Anonymous Dana L, Salt Lake City, UT : 12:04 PM ET
I would llike to thank the media in general, especially CNN, for making the distinction between the LDS church and the FLDS religion. Those who try to maintain or perpetuate a connection between the two are simply ingnorant of the facts about either.
Posted By Anonymous Tim Hackleman, Sidney, Nebraska : 12:29 PM ET
Please keep in mind when writing on this blog, that the women in the LDS faith, are treated as equals to the men. They may not be able to hold the preisthood, but do hold other ranks in the church.

Are women in the LDS faith truly "happy". If one see's the statistics that Utah has one of the highest rates of women on anti-depresents, one may wonder, "Are they truly happy"?
Posted By Anonymous Greg, Riverton Utah : 1:48 PM ET
Anderson, I applaud you and everybody else at CNN for following this story. It is truely fasinating that something like this could and still goes on in this 21st century. Do you really think they will capture this Warren Jeffs creep and what will he get as punishment for his unthinkable crimes? Well, he wouldn't get the death penalty, but being put in prison with no parole for life would be great. Or I would love to take a gun and shoot his nuts off! I feel so sorry for the women who still belive in that outdated system and I am so glad that some of the young men and women escaped. Interesting - keep up the good work!!
Posted By Anonymous Julie, Sacramento, CA : 1:51 PM ET
TO Dana L. Thank you. I didn't have the energy to deal with Kestrel's ignorance.
Posted By Anonymous AJ Peterson, SLC, UT : 2:07 PM ET
I live in the County that Colorado City is in. Yes they have drained the goverment for many years. Our Health Services continue to service these people and cost taxpayers money.
Posted By Anonymous Michelle B, Kingman, AZ : 3:28 PM ET
As a former mormon myself I find the irony very thick that the Mormons who once practiced Polygamy, now have turned 180 on the issue and abhor it. The LDS religion and those who beleive in it can't have it both ways, it either is "gods law" or it isn't. I would have to agree that Joseph Smith is more like the current Warren Jeffs guy than the current man Hinkley who leads the current LDS church
Posted By Anonymous Kalen, Sandy, Utah : 3:47 PM ET
Dana, you stated that in the mormon church:

"The man is not above the woman and vice versa. "

I would disagree, I have been through the temple, (or the International House of Handshakes as I like to call it) and women in the temple swear to be subject to their husband.

I would have enjoyed the show more if a more in depth account of Brigham Yound and Joe Smiths polygamy and polyandry had been mentioned. These two egomaniacs were no less abusive than Jeffs.
Posted By Anonymous Adam - Salt Lake City, UT : 3:56 PM ET
I am frustrated that people continue to bring up what Joseph Smith or Brigham Young did or didn't do in regards to polygamy. First of all, the aspects of polygamt at that time where nothing like the lifestyle of the followers of Warren Jeffs. Secondly, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believes in modern revelation and that we have moved on from tenants that may have been in place, but removed, over a hundred years ago. We believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet and played a key role in restoring the Gospel, but not that he was perfect or comparable to Jesus Christ (as someone earlier alluded to). We accepts the words of the Prophet today, Gordon B. Hinckley, and move on. So should everyone else.
Posted By Anonymous Chantal T, Detroit, MI : 4:39 PM ET
Obviously if you "used to be a Mormon" you have hostility towards your former religion. This is not a place for you to post your "bite" back at the Mormon religion. We don't care about your personal vendetta against the LDS faith. Your claim to Mormon knowledge is completely ignored by your obvious attempts to prosecute it. The Bible is full of stories of early prophets and their many wives. The LDS religion is not the only religion who believes on the words of the Bible.
Posted By Anonymous AJ Peterson, Salt Lake City, UT : 4:44 PM ET
Kudos to Anderson for his coverage of this story - I would like to know how this was allowed to happen - What about Sen. Orrin Hatch what about shutting down the compounds police and sherrif headquarters since these men are polygamists themselves and therefore have committed crimes. Please gather some ideas about how the women and children of these compounds can have access to information about what is going on and how they can escape - then get the women of the Church of Latter Day Saints to pray for these families and become negotiators with them, Perhaps as each man from the Texas compound goes into the nearby town to buy things they could be informed about what is happening and even arrested. I think that the men from law enforcement who kept talking aoubt Waco - they need to come up with a spiritual solution and to involve strtegies other that firearms and weapons. And let's keep up the TRUTH these women and children are being victimized and abused. Keep up the reporting on this disaster - and I don't want any more stories about how lovey-dovey some of these families are. - it is wrong.Brenda M. Cruikshank, MD
Posted By Anonymous Brenda M. Cruikshank, MD Iowa City Iowa : 4:57 PM ET
My first comment is directed to Dana L. As a male member of the LDS church you may not be able to fully understand the extent of the suppression of women in the church. I was born and raised in Utah in an active LDS family. Women are absolutely taught that the only worthy thing to do is get married and have children and subject themselves to all male preisthood members. If they do not become baby factories they are looked down on and deemed to be unworthy. Some of the reasons that Utah has the highest rate of depression in the US are because women get married young, have more kids than they can handle, and not enough money or support from their husbands to do it.

As for the polygamy issue, the mainstream mormon church may not practice polygamy but they do believe in it and preach it. Mormon's beleive that polygamy will be practiced in the Celestial Kingdom (heaven) and in order to get there you have to practice it.

Mormons also perform religious polygamous marriages in their temples. An example is my grandfather and grandmother were married in a temple and sealed together-meaning they were married in the afterlife (not just until death but forever). My grandmother died a couple years before I was born and my grandfather remarried. He and his new bride was married in the temple and sealed together. In essence, according to mormon doctrine, he is married to two women now.

The fundamentalists are to the LDS church as orthodox Jews are to the Jewish religion or fundamentalist Muslims are to mainstream Muslims.

FLDS and LDS came from the same roots and any LDS person who tells you otherwise is lying.
Posted By Anonymous Diane, Annapolis, Maryland : 5:52 PM ET
To Greg from Riverton, Utah....

Being from Utah you should know that only 15% of Mormons live in Utah and that about 75% of Utah is Mormon. There are too many variables to assume that anti-depressants and Women in Mormonism are somehow linked. That is similar to saying that because Alaska has the highest suicide rate it is because the majority of the population are Protestant and that is BS. What you said is a complete logical fallacy. Get the facts straight dude.
Posted By Anonymous Becca, Boise, ID : 6:46 PM ET
I'm following this story in the evenings on CNN and am amaized that no one is talking about the continuing practice of polygamy in the main Morman church. I have talked to several Morman - on the low pro, and heard that Elders are in such revear that they trade daughters for marriage. They are protected by their status. Maybe I'm fooled by stories or maybe they're still in the shadows - protected by status in the church.
Posted By Anonymous Bobby Belize, Malibu, California : 7:53 PM ET
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