On Thursday, April 3, 2008, law enforcement raided the Eldorado Texas compound of the Mormon-based FLDS, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Eighteen minor girls were taken into state protective custody. By the following Monday, 401 children had been taken away, along with 133 adult women. The Texas compound was a secondary location set up in recent years by the FLDS leader and convicted criminal Warren Jeffs. This secondary location was intended as a way for their rogue sect to retreat from mounting legal pressures for so many authoritarian abuses and underaged marriages at their primary location on the Utah/Arizona border. Child Protective Services in Texas alleged that a 16-year-old girl from inside the Eldorado compound called in crisis. They asserted that she had told them that she was being abused, had been forced to marry a 50 year-old-man, and had given birth to his child when she was 15. With that as justification, a court order for the raid was issued. According to news reports, the raid occurred without resistance, and the unknown 16 year old caller was not yet found.
While untainted polygamy itself simply can not possibly be a real crime for free consenting-adults, any actual real crimes of abuse should absolutely be legally dealt with where they occur. For that reason, the national polygamy rights movement has been "shouting from the rooftops" to the media that neither Warren Jeffs nor the members of the FLDS have anything to do with the polygamy rights movement for normal consenting-adult citizens. While there are real concerns about the heavy-handed tactics of the raid itself with the "mere lambs" of FLDS-manipulated children and women, it is still a fact that the national movement still opposes - and has always opposed - the FLDS.
Accordingly, as the news of this raid goes forward, all reporting media have a journalistic ethical obligation to report this fact of the national movement's opposition to the FLDS. To assist such media, numerous examples are herewith provided, below, of quotes from recent past media reports regarding the national polygamy rights movement. All of the media are invited to use any of the quotes, below, in finally reporting the truth of this fact.
From press releases, to reports and broadcasts from CNS News, the Associated Press, and Court TV (later re-named as TruTV), the following quotes comprise just a small sample of the national polygamy rights movement’s repeatedly stated opposition to the FLDS and the crimes associated with that rogue Mormon sect.
August 29, 2006
The TruthBearer.org organization issued a press release, declaring, "Most pro-polygamists around the country are very glad that fugitive Warren Jeffs has been apprehended today. Jeffs is the reported leader of a specific brand of Mormon Polygamy called the 'FLDS,' the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints. But contrary to the misinformed stereotype which combines the definition of all polygamy according to one specific brand of Mormon Polygamy, the actual fact is that many other forms of polygamy exist - from secular polygamy to Muslim Polygamy and now even to Christian Polygamy. … Accordingly, all normal pro-polygamists … from around the country are very, very glad that Jeffs has been caught."
August 31, 2006
CNS news service picked up the release and reported, "Henkel noted that ‘most non-Mormon polygamists have openly opposed Jeffs' alleged crimes - and all of the underage issues - as much as any non-polygamist,' and 'many Mormon polygamists have opposed his alleged crimes, too.'"
September 5, 2006
A few days later, Mark Henkel was an on-air guest for the Sirius 110 radio program, "Court TV Morning with Vinnie Politan." (This occurred prior to Court TV re-naming itself to TruTV.) Mark Henkel differentiated the forms of polygamy around the country from that of the FLDS, saying, "You have to know what your adjective is that modifies the noun. Mormon Polygamy has a Mormon reason for it. Christian Polygamy has a Christian reason for it. Muslim Polygamy has a Muslim reason for it. And how they go about it. For example, in Christian Polygamy, very often you'll find, it's an abandoned single mom joining an existing family. And so, you're talking about consenting adults. You're helping children thrive. You're helping women have options that they wouldn't have otherwise. And we're talking about really caring about women. So, you can't lump the word, polygamy, into all these various forms, because they're all separate and different. And just because you have one example of that FLDS - committing crimes - doesn't mean normal, consenting-adult pro-polygamists with other applications, such as Christian Polygamy, are associated with that. In fact, we're glad he's caught. We're glad Jeffs has been caught.” Later in the interview, Henkel added, "What you have here is not the issue of polygamy, but - now, I don't know, I haven't investigated personally into the level of ‘cult-hood,’ if you will, of this group [the FLDS] - but if you've got 'cult' issues, then that's what you've got to go after. Not after - polygamy's not the issue. Polygamy is a neutral word. It's how it's being applied. And abuse is abuse and needs to be prosecuted."
September 6, 2006
The next day, the Associated Press reported, "There is also a growing number of Christian polygamists throughout the U.S. who have no connection to early Mormonism, said Mark Henkel of TruthBearer.org... Henkel said the allegations against Jeffs and his high-profile arrest are damaging to other polygamists because it blurs the line between adults trying to practice their beliefs and those committing crimes against children. '(We) have openly opposed Jeff's alleged crimes and all the underage issues as much as any non-polygamist,' said Henkel. 'Now that he has been caught, Jeffs will rightly face trial in a real court of justice.'"
November 22, 2006
In the day following a preliminary hearing in the trial of FLDS' leader, Warren Jeffs, the Sirius 110 radio program, "Court TV Morning with Vinnie Politan," had Mark Henkel on-air as a guest again. Henkel said, “So, really the issues of criminality are the underage issue and the forced arranged marriage of an underaged girl. That's something that us normal pro-polygamists around the country - not associated with FLDS - completely are against and don't support... What you have is the criminality of underaged, arranged marriage. And all the rest of us, we oppose that. So, so we're on the same page, if you will, with the FBI regarding those crimes. The problem is, is that it's being associated with polygamy."
November 24, 2006
Two days later, the Associated Press reported, "Henkel said polygamists without Mormon roots disavow Jeffs and the crimes he's accused of."
September 8, 2007
The next year, just as the Utah case against Warren Jeffs was going to trial, the TruthBearer.org organization issued another press release. Repeating the national movement’s position yet again, the release reported, "'Connecting all polygamists to Warren Jeffs is as offensive and as slanderous as connecting all teachers to Mary Kay Letourneau,' Henkel declared. Indeed, the national polygamy rights movement for freely consenting adults has always opposed Jeffs."
September 20, 2007
As the first trial of Warren Jeffs was underway in Utah, the Court TV’s television program, "Jami Floyd: Best Defense," brought Mark Henkel on-air for an appearance. The host, Jami Floyd, requested, "Tell us why Warren Jeffs, in your view, is not the face of polygamy." Mark Henkel replied, again saying, "To connect all polygamists outside of the Mormonland bubble… to connect all polygamists around America to Warren Jeffs is as slanderous and as offensive as comparing all teachers to Mary Kay Letourneau."
September 24, 2007
A few days later, Mark Henkel was a special official guest for an online chat at CourtTV. He declared, "Jeffs is not a leader of polygamy in general - and certainly NOT a leader of anything in the polygamy rights movement. He is only the leader of his own specific MORMON-based sect that includes polygamy in its paradigm." Later in that same chat transcript, Henkel also stated, "Jeffs and the FLDS do NOT represent polygamy or pro-polygamists around the country. Just because the FLDS involve underage girls, that does NOT mean the rest of normal pro-polygamists outside of the "Mormonland bubble"… would ever condone such things. So, the idea of girls being married off young... is ONLY representative of the FLDS and other specific MORMON polygamy sects. Christian polygamists, secular polygamists, etc. do NOT support underage marriage."
September 26, 2007
As Warren Jeffs was found guilty in the Utah trial, Court TV’s show, "Jami Floyd: Best Defense," brought Mark Henkel on-air again. When the host differentiated, "a confusion out there about Warren Jeffs and the folks you represent," Mark Henkel replied with another sound-bite analogy, "To compare Warren Jeffs to normal consenting-adult polygamists outside of the Mormon paradigm is like using Karen Carpenter - she was the singer in the '70s who basically died of anorexia - and it's like holding Karen Carpenter up as an example to criminalize all dieters."
September 27, 2007
The next day, the movement distributed an op-ed to the media, titled, "Warren Jeffs was Always Opposed by National Polygamy Movement." The piece declared, "The national polygamy rights movement has repeatedly 'shouted from the rooftops' that it opposes Warren Jeffs. Not only do most pro-polygamists outside of Utah reject Mormon Polygamy’s pre-suppositions, but other FLDS-specific beliefs are opposed, too. For example, the political structure of the FLDS requires the followers to sacrifice their minds up to their leadership’s decision-making - i.e., Warren Jeffs, their 'prophet.' When the FLDS 'prophet' assigned people into under-aged, arranged marriages, the followers followed. Although some Mormon Polygamy subsets disavow such ideas, the FLDS sect embraces them. Nationwide, most other pro-polygamists utterly reject all of that. So strong is that opposition that, when Jeffs was caught in 2006, the TruthBearer.org organization immediately issued a national press release applauding his arrest. Now in 2007, pro-polygamists are glad he was convicted."
November 13, 2007
In the days before convicted criminal Warren Jeffs was to receive his sentence in Utah, Court TV's radio program on Sirius 110, "Court TV Morning with Vinnie Politan," brought Mark Henkel on-air again. Sitting in for the host was Court TV's trial correspondent, Michel Bryant, who stated, "I just want to make sure we aren't connecting you to Warren Jeffs." To that, Mark Henkel replied, "Absolutely. We're talking about consenting-adults. We're a national movement, long before the Tom Green and Warren Jeffs came on the scene and started dominating [news]. And the media tries to manufacture news that suggests all polygamy is defined by them, and they're just local Mormon Polygamy sects out in their little area, but they do not represent the national movement of consenting-adults around the country."
Mr. Bryant, asked, "Let me ask you, Mark. Do you think you're getting some slop-over bad press because polygamy is an aspect of the FLDS?" Henkel responded, "Yes, we do believe that the manufactured news outlets that aren't really - they're not really reporting the news but are actually manufacturing the news, because every time you hear Warren Jeffs referred to as 'polygamist leader' - especially in this particular trial, polygamy wasn't even involved. It was incest, underaged, and arranged marriage. But he wasn't called an 'incest leader.' He wasn't called an 'arranged marriage leader.' He wasn't called an 'underaged marriage leader.' He was called a 'polygamist leader.' And the fact is, he's just a local little guy down in Utah. He has more in common with Mormons, and the LDS leaders, even Mitt Romney, anybody who believes in Mormonism, he has more in common with them than normal pro-polygamists around the country. And yet the media did not establish that we - or report that as often as they should have - we issued national press releases, that the national polygamy rights movement for consenting-adults has always opposed that little guy, in that little tiny area of Utah, and he does not represent the larger world."
Henkel later added, "Just like if you had some little sect you called Jonestown and if you called Jim Jones a 'Christian leader' - though he really wasn't, he was one tiny little sect - the same thing with Warren Jeffs. Frequently, you hear the caveat about how the mainstream LDS has rejected polygamy and all that business. You'll hear that like it's a warning - like on tobacco on cigarettes, or something. You know, the Mormon Warning: 'Mormons do not believe in polygamy' - over and over and over. That same type of caveat should have been established every single time Warren Jeffs was called that [i.e., 'polygamist leader'], it should have also said that 'the National Polygamy Movement has always opposed Warren Jeffs.' That sentence should have been said every single time he was called that."
November 21, 2007
A week later, after the Utah sentencing of Warren Jeffs, the Associated Press reported, "'We're very glad he's going to prison,' said Mark Henkel, founder of the polygamy-advocacy group TruthBearer.org. 'The case was about arranged marriage, underaged marriage and incest. He's going to prison for crimes we all oppose.'"
[Reviewed for publication - Pro-Polygamy.com Review Board.]