On the EDge: Talk is cheap, polygamy isn’t

OPINION – We can shake our heads in disgust all we wish, and complain about the travesty that is going on along the state line we share with Arizona, but until we actually do something to make people aware of the abuses – physically, mentally, and financially – out in the area they call Short Creek (Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.), we must share the blame.

We tune in to watch the abomination that TLC airs every Sunday night called “Sister Wives” and follow the soap opera that it has created as we follow Kody Brown, and his family, and wonder how they get away with it all, but does it go any farther than that?

Buster Johnson, who is in his fifth term as a Mohave County Supervisor, recently released some figures accumulated by the Arizona Department of Economic Security that reveal that millions of taxpayer dollars continue to pour into Colorado City for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance and Medicaid.

We have written about this abuse before, here and in my book ‘plygs,’ describing how the fundamentalist Mormon polygamists practice not only The Principle – the practice of plural marriage – but also something they call “bleeding the beast,” which translates into welfare fraud.

“When I first took office, what drew my attention to the small town were the figures on how much state aid the folks in Colorado City were collecting,” Johnson said in a recent press release. “Over the past 17 years, they have continued to ‘bleed the beast’; an expression used by the FLDS prophets to justify the taking of taxpayer dollars. Over $400,000 a month in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance alone is being paid out for a town with a population of only 4,821, and the women and children are still not the ones receiving the benefit.”

The DES figures shockingly reveal that more than $8 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance was paid out from July of 2011 to February of 2013. Johnson said that those who have escaped from the community have revealed that imprisoned sect leader, Warren Jeffs, is giving orders that women and children are only allowed meals consisting of beans and water.

“Why are taxpayers shelling out over $8 million for women and children to eat just beans? Where is this money really going?” an outraged Johnson asked. “Warren believes they deserve to suffer, because his philosophy is that if his followers’ faith in him was stronger he wouldn’t be there.”

The DES figures, Johnson said, also show that during the same 20-month period, 95,057 visits to a doctor were made and paid for through taxpayer dollars. According to a report entitled, News and Numbers, from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, most people pay about $199 for an average visit to the doctor’s office.

“No numbers were released from DES on the amount paid out for medical assistance. If we use the average cost of a doctor’s visit to be $199, then over that same 20-month period, taxpayers would have shelled out a little under $19 million in medical assistance to folks in Colorado City,” Johnson said. “You would expect to see these figures from a large city, not from a small town with a population not even exceeding 5,000.”

This is the real face of polygamy, folks, not the sanitized, glamorized nonsense you see on “Sister Wives” or any of the other pro-polygamy shows the people at TLC are foisting off on the public as “entertainment.”

There is nothing entertaining in these numbers.

There is nothing entertaining in the religious coercion that drives these women into a life of subservience.

There is nothing entertaining about young girls being forced into marriage with older men.

No, this is the other face of polygamy, the one that continues to go unchallenged by elected officials who have decided that it is better to turn a blind eye to the problem than enforce the existing laws on the books relating to bigamy/polygamy.

Yes, there are also laws that make it illegal to obstruct another human being’s civil rights; and, yes, there are laws against defrauding the welfare system; and, most assuredly, there are laws against forcing underage girls into marriage. But, are they being enforced on the Utah side of Short Creek? Is the state even looking at these kinds of figures?

We are told it is “difficult” to investigate these crimes, that it is “difficult” to find witnesses to step forward; that it is “difficult” to enforce what is errantly referred to as a “lifestyle” choice, a matter of “rights.”

But, we must remember that my civil rights end when they infringe upon the rights of others, and by bleeding the welfare system, by removing the inherent rights of women, by sexually abusing young girls, the rights of others have been violated.

And, we must also remember that the people the electorate has placed into office, have taken the following oath: “I do solemnly swear that I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this State, and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity.”

It is reassuring to see that at least one public official, elected by the people, takes that oath seriously. Even if he works across the state line.

Thanks Buster Johnson for doing something, even if your words fall upon deaf ears.

No bad days!


Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.



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  • Kristin Schwiermann September 24, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Sorry Ed you have the Brown family all wrong. I have been like a mother to Robyn since she was in the 7th grade. She grew up with my daughter, I was the only one that knew that she was polygamist, until this show aired. The Browns do NOT live off the system, unlike those other polygamy groups. They make their own money, and pay their own bills. I have been in their new homes and they do pay for those. Yes they have struggles to make ends meet. And their kids earn scholarships into college. So don’t bring THAT family into this BAD, IGNORANT, ABUSIVE, WELFARE SCAMMING, Group!

    • Leeloo September 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      You weren’t paying attention to the article AT ALL. He isn’t talking about the Browns, the author made that very clear. He is taking abut the abuse under Warren Jeffs FLDS cult, though there are many others out there like his. Goodness!

      • AL September 26, 2013 at 9:20 pm

        Why isnt anyone raising hell about all the illegal aliens that milk the system? they havent paid a dime in yet bleed it dry. Get off the FLDS and stop making them look like they are all bad peope and steal from the taxpayers. What about the Muslims robbing us blind? You people are so full of hate for polygamists you can nit see the truth. Get the hell out of our bedrooms.

    • Starbug September 24, 2013 at 11:30 pm

      You don’t even have to look very hard to find proof of the Brown’s abuse of the system, of their “Bleeding the Beast”, it is all public record! They are more like the FLDS in MANY ways than they are not!
      Would love to hear who Robbin and the gals blame all of this on because it couldn’t possibly be their lifestyle, polygamy has nothing to do with all of this abuse of the system, of their walking from debts and collecting welfare. Since it’s the Brown’s and they are so different from the dirty men of all the other plyg groups their identical behavior must be blamed on something else, maybe Sobbin Robbin’s husband can be blamed for all of the Brown bankruptcies and abuse of the welfare system too, why not!

  • Maggie September 24, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Are you kidding me? They are not eating beans and drinking water. Have you followed them through a Costco or grocery store line?
    This is welfare fraud of the highest degree. They actually know how they are going to pay for their children.
    I have referred to these two cities as “desert ghettos” since I have lived here.
    This is planned poverty and it is wrong on so many levels.

  • Starbug September 24, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Kristen you may have a positive opinion of Robyn Brown but it is utterly false to say that the Brown’s have never taken advantage of the welfare system. One of Kody Brown’s wives in particular was on assistance when they lived in Utah. They have all filed bankruptcy several times. Sure they are making some money by selling out their family and story to TLC but that gravy train won’t be around forever. The Brown’s are a sanitized version of a disgusting lifestyle and an antiquated practice. They claim to be “Mormon Fundamentalists” but the truth is their religion is polygamy. Robbin is the worst of the bunch, she moved in on their husband and messed with their family dynamic,. She conveniently arrived and joined in when they were getting a reality show. She never lived with them. She throws her children’s father under the bus and disparages him on National TV, she is a pathetic excuse for a human. She comes off as emotionally unstable breaking into tears constantly about everything. The Brown’s may not be just like Warren Jeffs but they aren’t so far off. They even wrote in their book how they courted a teen aged girl before they brought the second wife into their family, two adults who are married to each other courting a teen ager! How is that so different from the rest of the dirty men in Colorado City? The Brown’s are frauds!

  • Josh Dalton September 24, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    The folks from the “Creek”/”Crick” are not the only one commiting welfare fraud. I know a few StGizzanites that are on welfare and don’t need it. Some of who are recieving food stamps just to fund thier deer hunt. If the plygs had a true voice this whole thing would be a civil rights issue. Just like the LBGT. I think neither has to do with civil rights,but a sexual fetish. The plygs use religion the LGBT use civil rights. MLK is rolling over in his grave!

    • Craig September 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      Why are you lumping in the LBGT community in with a bunch of known welfare cheats?
      And yes, giving the LBGT community the EXACT same rights as the heterosexual community IS a civil rights issue. Why they are being DENIED rights is ridiculous. As ridiculous as the cult that believes in talking stones.

      • Jason September 25, 2013 at 4:54 pm

        On the inverse, why are polygamists being denied the same civil rights? Because there’s more than two adults in the marriage? If the US is doing M+F, M+M, F+F, logically the next step is M+F+F // F+M+M // M+F+F+F+F+F // F+M+M+M+M // F+M+F+M+F+M and then after that M+child // W+child then M+dog and so forth. I’m no proponent of this by any means but it is what I fear a looser defining of marriage will boil down to. It all involves people and they will demand civil rights. I hope it doesn’t come to this but since the LBGT are composed of PEOPLE who demanded civil rights and recognition, what is to stop the above combinations of PEOPLE from demanding civil rights and recognition?

        • Craig September 26, 2013 at 7:20 am

          Your line of reasoning is ridiculous. Giving consenting adults the right to marry is far different from your scenario of marrying children and animals. This is always the line of attack used by the ignorant.
          Does it hurt to have a screw loose?

  • Mike R. September 24, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    The FLDS sect is only a small part of the hundreds of Mormon split off groups still closely following the teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. They might be the worst. The things they do appall other polygamists almost as much as it does us.

  • Bree September 24, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    The whole disgusting practice of polygamy is in complete darkness. Ed Kociela and others who try to bring light upon the problem should not be condemned. It’s a problem the LDS Church needs to face and spend money on making things right as the fundamental teachings come from Joseph Smith. It’s a mess and the LDS Church doesn’t want to see the reality or depth of the problem in Utah, Arizona, & Canada. If the LDS Church would acknowledge the problem and make amends they could do so much good in cleaning up their dirty secrets. It’s not going away anytime soon if the topic is taboo with neighboring communities like this one.
    Frankly, the whole subject makes me nauseous and to the outside world this is what Utah is known for. It’s time to bring outside attention to the situation and call things as they really are: Illegal.

    • Jillian September 24, 2013 at 7:20 pm

      @Bree- This has nothing to do with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Aka LDS/Mormons) since the practice of plural marriage was 1890 (123 years ago). This issues lies with the government and not with the LDS church.

      Here is the official stance of the LDS Church in regards to polygamy

      “President Gordon B. Hinckley, prior president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made the following statement in 1998 about the Church’s position on plural marriage:

      “This Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church…. If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church.”
      At various times, the Lord has commanded His people to practice plural marriage. For example, He gave this command to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon (Doctrine and Covenants 132:1). At other times the Lord has given other instructions. In the Book of Mormon, the Lord told the prophet Jacob “for there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife: and concubines he shall have none… for if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things (Jacob 2:27-30).

      In this dispensation, the Lord commanded some of the early Saints to practice plural marriage. The Prophet Joseph Smith and those closest to him, including Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, were challenged by this command, but they obeyed it. Church leaders regulated the practice. Those entering into it had to be authorized to do so, and the marriages had to be performed through the sealing power of the priesthood. In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff received a revelation that the leaders of the Church should cease teaching the practice of plural marriage (Official Declaration 1).

      The Lord’s law of marriage is monogamy unless he commands otherwise to help establish the House of Israel (see Encyclopedia of Mormonism Vol. 3, pp. 1091-1095).


      • Jillian September 24, 2013 at 7:26 pm

        **the practice of polygamy ended in the LDS church back in 1890 (123 years ago)… **

      • Jax September 25, 2013 at 8:16 am

        BS!!! It has everything to do with the LDS church. Your religious corporation was founded on these very principles. Joseph Smith was the first in LDS history to bring polygamy to your practices. The LDS doctrines & covenants change with the winds. Just because it is something the LDS community looks shamefully on now does not mean they haven’t practiced it in the past & won’t again in their heavenly future. Once the LDS church stops lying about their history and their oh so secret afterlife maybe just maybe the rest of the truly Christian world can clean up the mess Joseph Smith created.

        • Calm Down September 25, 2013 at 4:48 pm

          Wow Jax, I didn’t think Jillian or her church was lying. She said the LDS church stopped the practice 123 years ago but that it continued in a splinter group in the FLDS. I wonder what someone did to make someone (presumably Christian) so angry at a religion that seems to do good, and a dead Joseph Smith?

          • Jax September 25, 2013 at 5:52 pm

            @Calm Down, I’m angry because the LDS church is essentially built on lies. Lies about Christ, lies about theological history, lies about church practices & beliefs, the list of lies goes on & on. Many people who are wonderful believe in these lies and as a Christian I suppose I get angry because I care about people being lied to in the name of Jesus. Joesph Smith may be dead but his lying somehow has grown into a full fledged multi million if not billion dollar religious empire. I have a huge issue with people blindly following a path in life and refusing to use the awesome brain God gave them. Maybe angry is the wrong descriptive word to use, passionate might be close to it. I’m extremely passionate for people to seek truth in their walk with Christ.

    • AL September 26, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      Why is it disgusting? Because you do not agree with Polygamy? I find it disgusting all these women out there with kids by several different men. I find it disgusting all the teens that get pregnant and all the ones who kill an innocent child by having an abortion. Get off your moral high horse. If you dont like polygamy dont live it. But do not tell me what consenting adults have the right to do or not to do.

  • Levi Williams September 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    So what if you legalized polygamy, let them live the life they want to, prosecuted the abuses of legitimate laws such as child abuse and fraud, called all of their marriages common law or let them take the legal path, and quit forcing them to identify themselves as single mothers or even allowing it. This would make unraveling the issues a lot easier and keep them from getting the maximum benefits allowed. Or just get rid of the welfare state altogether and let everyone buck up and take care of themselves like our country used to be.

  • Coffeelarge September 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    I find it appalling that the polygamists think The Outsiders are a dispicable society living in evil sin with all of our make up, clothing, schools, media and one-husband families, but they are more than happy to collect a portion of my paycheck as “citizens”.

  • Coffeelarge September 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that they don’t pay property taxes or income taxes. At least not to the same Government that is putting food on their table and paying for their medical treatment so they can push out babies every 10 months. Their income is going to their pedophile prophet and not back into our community…well, besides Wal Mart.

    • Melissa Norris September 24, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      All of the practicing FLDS DO NOT follow Warren Jeffs, his father Rulon Jeffs split the community years ago. Try and keep up with the facts. Ps. they do pay taxes.

  • Ayla September 24, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Mr. Kociela,

    I shake my head in disgust at journalists who write pieces like this one. If you replace the word “plyg” here with any other minority term such as “black”, “Latino”, or “Muslim” this little ditty wouldn’t have made it past the news desk and would have ended up in the rubbage bin where bigoted stuff like this belongs.

    The FLDS are hardly the first or only group of people to “bleed the beast.” Welfare dollars are spent in the inner cities, the country, and the trailer parks. The biggest user by far is Wall Street with their numerous bail outs and government subsidies.

    You threw out some figures, let me throw out a few. The biggest user of Welfare, by far, is California – not Utah nor Arizona. The top states receiving the highest percentage of food stamps based on their populations are Mississippi, Oregon and Tennessee. Arizona nor Utah crack the top 10.

    Your opinion piece is so full of lies by omission I scarcely know where to start. First, you can’t very well use a national average for health care and then “add” up how much health care money you think the FLDS are receiving. Cost vary wildly from state to state. I use IHC and my average doctors visit is $95, half of the figure you use. I often see FLDS women and children at my clinic so I can assume they are getting a comparable rate. If they are not, that is hardly their fault. At that point the hospital is the one bilking the system by charging Medicaid patients more, not the FLDS. Don’t inflate your assumed statistics on them to “prove” your point.

    You claim the women and children are forced to eat beans and water yet you give no citation for such claims, merely hearsay. As a citizen of Southern Utah I can say that I have often seen the FLDS at Costco, Walmart and Natural Grocers. Their carts are piled high with foods normally given to children such as sugary breakfast cereal, mac and cheese and peanut butter and jelly. They *could* be giving all this food to the men and sneaking back into town late at night to stock up on the obscene amounts of beans it would take to feed the vast majority of their population but I highly doubt it.

    I’ll throw out some hearsay of my own. Midwives in this area 10 years ago use to call Colorado City “mac and cheese country.” So my hearsay contradicts yours.

    Mr. Kociela, if you knew beans (pardon the pun) about the FLDS you would know that fasting and prayer are a large part of their faith. During times of fasting women who are pregnant or nursing, or growing children might often go a day or two eating just beans or just oatmeal as a way of participating in the fast, showing their willingness to give up luxuries, while still attaining the needed calories to sustain them.

    You didn’t think about that. You just made up crazy accusations.

    Mr. Kociela, there is nothing entertaining about a sportswriter, rock critic, news reporter, columnist, and essayist who passes judgment on an entire population of women calling them “subservient” like it was a dirty word. Merriam-Webster tells us that being subservient is being willing to obey. The word “willing” is the tip off there Mr. Kociela.

    Unless you can show me the room where they keep the adult women locked up, those women are grown adults who are free to make their own choices and that choice includes walking away. What do you think Mr. Kociela? Despite the numerous resources offered them if they should choose to leave, despite the many women who HAVE left because they decided it was not for them, you think these women who stay are merely too stupid to make a different choice? YOU need to make that choice for them Mr. Kociela?

    It couldn’t be that they stay because they actually LOVE their faith, their family, and their friends. Despite the fact that nearly every baby girl from the time she can move her body loves to cuddle baby dolls, those grown women couldn’t possibly LOVE being wives and mommies. They couldn’t actually WANT to love and cherish their babies? No, of course not. They need an ivory tower, feminist, elitists, liberal, MAN to TELL them what they need to do. Those grown women aren’t capable of making their own choices. They just aren’t as smart as a sportswriter, rock critic, news reporter, columnist, and essayist I guess.

    As far as underage girls being married off – prove it. When the FLDS Yearning for Zion Camp in Texas was raided a few years back (on a FASLE tip by the way) they found the teen pregnancy rate was LOWER than that of the general population of Texas. Unless you have some evidence for your wild accusations, stop inflaming people with made up boogie man stories so these outraged Utahans will buy more of your books.

    The FLDS are NOT committing welfare fraud. Unless you can show me that they
    are lying about the number of children they have or concealing income in order to qualify for more programs. All the FLDS are doing is using a public system which is available to everyone whether they are an FLDS mother of thirteen or a secular mother of one.

    The FLDS are NOT infringing on your civil rights Mr. Kociela and YOU have no right to call for an end to theirs. Unless they are coming to your home and robbing you at gun point they have done NOTHING to you.

    Your problem is with the government. If you do not like taxes or how they are spent you can make different choices when you vote, or stop paying your taxes. YOU need to take personal responsibility, not sit around and write up essays which blame others.

    You sir are a bully. The FLDS DO have a RIGHT to their lifestyle so long as they remain within the current laws. They are no different than the Amish, observant Jews, Muslims, commune living hippies, beach bums or any other lifestyle choice in our country.

    It is a sad day in America when a journalist is calling for the denial of civil liberties for a population simply because their lifestyle isn’t politically correct. While using false, misleading or blatantly untrue statements.

    I hope you at least apply your standards equally and are just as outraged at the single urban city mother of four, and the Wall Street crooks who are also on the government dime.

    I will say it again, if you don’t like the fact that they LEGALLY receive welfare VOTE DIFFERENTLY otherwise stay out of other people’s business.

    • Melissa Norris September 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm

      Thank you for standing up for some of the most honest people I have ever met.
      Have an awesome day.

    • ladybugavenger September 24, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      You are comparing California to Utah but California has approximately 40 million people and Utah has approximately 3 million…so saying has a higher welfare participation than Utah is an invalid point, if you were trying to make a point. However the. amount of welfare paid out, as the article states. if true, for a population of not more than 5000 people is outrageous. I

    • Leeloo September 24, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      There are plenty of research and sources for the beans and rice report, pretty easy to uncover it from a quick google search and watching a few well researched documentaries. You stated your friends “mac and cheese” comments were over 10 years ago, well this is a relatively new “commandment” of Warren Jeffs, so obviously your source’s experience is outdated.

    • Jillian September 24, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      Since when is polygamy legal? Last time i checked it was illegal and therefore the government needs to be involved to stop it from happening. He might not be able to prove the claims for the polygamist as a whole, but you can’t say that those claims aren’t unfounded for a lot of the families living in Colorado City. Have you spoken to anyone who is an ex “plyg”? Guess what I have and the abuse, rape, molestation, hatred, women being scared and yes subservient is true, maybe not for every family but it happens enough that the government needs to stop the behavior. When I see so many families struggling to make ends meat with both parents working, and they have 4 kids and can barely afford food and then next to them I see a polygamist family with 3 carts full of food- hell yes that is going to make me mad when i know they pay for that food with the tax payers money without contributing anything in return to society. The fact of the matter is this… POLYGAMY IS ILLEGAL!!! case and point- it is against the law regardless of what you think they should be able to do or not. I don’t care if they like it, if they think it is great etc.. IT IS ILLEGAL… Get a job, pay for your multiple children and stop being a parasite on the government programs– ** that comment is for all people who use and abuse government programs. You’re right- we should get officials who have the guts to do something about it too- but try finding someone in the government with a backbone to tackle these kind of issues.

      • Levi Williams September 24, 2013 at 9:37 pm

        Jillian, you keep saying that polygamy is illegal, and that is true, but should you really have the right to make a person’s faith illegal when we are talking about consenting adults? There was a time when it was legal to own a black person but the laws were changed to remove a bigoted and biased way of life. I hate reading all of these posts by people screaming human rights while trying to repress those of others based on stereotypes. Child brides are already illegal, welfare fraud is already illegal, child abuse is already illegal, and those are issues that need to be dealt with. The choice between consenting adults to form a household differently than your own is in no way any of your business, and should be recognized as a constitutionally protected freedom. And trust me, most of them have a job and they work their tails off to support those kids. They buy in bulk and take all manner of measures to make sure they can support their kids. Not only that but you would be surprised at the money managing abilities of these families.
        And by the way, I am a very proud “ex Plyg” and I wouldn’t have changed a damn thing about the way I was raised. Now grow up and try to see people as individuals instead of as the group they are a part of. That goes for race, religion, country of origin, etc.
        If there is a legitimate form of abuse let’s deal with it appropriately, but don’t assume that every Plyg family is rampant with abuse, child brides, incest, and welfare fraud. It is no different than assuming that every black man you see is a drugged out rapist or that every Muslim you see is a terrorist.

    • Michelle September 24, 2013 at 8:29 pm

      You are so right. I don’t agree with or support polygamy, but I do support good, accurate and fair journalism and this wasn’t it.

    • Steve September 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      Mr. Kociela, I’m afraid Ayla is quite right to criticize your article, which included a lot of misleading and uninformed statements. And yes, it is quite impolite to refer to polygamists as “plygs.”

      Oh, and Ayla is wrong in her assertion that minor girls have not been married off in polygamist groups. Warren Jeffs is incarcerated for the rest of his life because of clear evidence that he had sex with 12-year-old girls.

    • Faith September 25, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      Thanks you for your comments Ayla. I grew up there, and very little of what is said is true for many. We are a peculiar people, there is no doubt. I was loved and adored by my family and i still am. I am very grateful for all that i was given and for the way i was raised. No one can take that away from me, no matter what the claims. Also, be advised that there are people who live there who DO NOT use govt funded programs, who raise their families by the sweat of their brow. Even though i chose not to stay, i believe that the people who do LOVE their religion, and it is beautiful to see them live it 🙂

    • Philip Reilly January 4, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      Excellent rebuttal. You have been precisely on every point. Thank you. And this comes from someone who is NOT a polygamist.

  • DoubleTap September 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    As much as I disagree with Ed on most of his political ideals, this is one issue I will agree with him on. I really don’t care about the plygs lifestyle, if they so choose to live in that manner. I personally don’t care how many wives a man has. The problem I have is with the “stealing” of millions of tax dollars through their “bleed the beast”/fraud system. “beans and water”???? Really??? like Maggie comments, I have seen them with 2-3 flat bed carts at Costco with MORE than beans and water. And that 2-3 carts is per female. Then I watch as they load all of what they have purchased into brand new Cadillac Escalade SUVs, or the big brand new Ford Excursions, or the big Chevy Suburbans, and in one case, a really nice brand new Range Rover. And I have to try to get past all the kids who sit in the TV section and watch the movies while their moms shop. I hope Buster Johnson will have the fortitude to pursue this fraud and have the fraudsters prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

  • tom September 24, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    I have a question. I am not asking this with an attitude or with any judgement. It is simply something I have never heard an answer to…… If people who practice polygamy are viewed as such “abominations”, how do Mormons (and non-mormons) percieve Brigham Young and Joseph Smith?

    • Leeloo September 24, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      As a former Mormon, they simply ignore the bad things they did and pretend like it was a “misunderstanding” or things they did were “taken out of context” and that Gd decided to not enforce polygamy any more, (yet they still believe it will be practiced in heaven.) . It’s a huge issue that people like me have uncovered and are now leaving the church. The church greatly discourages research into it’s rocky past and forces people to repent if they discover it. It’s called brainwashing.

    • Mike R. September 25, 2013 at 8:42 am

      Joseph Smith called the practice immutable. Mainstream Mormons still practice it by proxy. They are not allowed to talk about it.

    • NO_SIX September 26, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      Smith and Young were prophets, seers and revalators. Still regarded as such by the faithful.
      After the passing of Young, LDS leadership had the vision to realize Utah would never become a state without renouncing polygamy, so President Wilford Woodruff had another vision.

  • Kristin Schwiermann September 24, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Wow Starbug you really don’t know what you are talking about. I have been on welfare…with three kids and no husband….I have also declared bankruptcy….only because my husbands were drug seeking alcoholics …which I didn’t want to be apart of. Robyn’s marriage was a hard abusive one and has never thrown him under the bus…he threw her. She worked and paid her own rent and groceries just before she dated Kody. She met Kody way before the show started.Their kids can and will do whatever they want to do when they start dating and looking at marriage. Kody never dated a teenager…..The Browns have problems like any other marriage. Like my daughter she is very emotional and shows it. All the children are loved and well taken care of by all. They do side jobs other then the TLC program., they just don’t show that. And Levi ditto!

  • Bree September 24, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    In response to Ayla:
    The word Cult: “A small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous.”
    Did you read the word dangerous? It’s dangerous.
    There is no such thing as Free Will in your community and you know it. Don’t continue the lies and misinformation in order to please your fallen prophet who has admitted he is not a prophet. You belong to a sick and twisted Cult and the sooner you research this word and know how dangerous it is the better off you and your family will be. Once you blinded obey your leaders it’s the beginning of the end.
    There is no light found in this religion because it is based on falsehoods and lies.

  • LG September 24, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Might as well compare this FLDS group to the women of poor societies in India, Cambodia, Thailand, Africa, Yemen and other countries where horney old man use religion and their system to take advantage of young children and women.Wake up and Get Real!!!!!

  • ladybugavenger September 24, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Polygamy is illegal, but then its okay to get welfare and stuff?..and so many people defending it. The basic is its illegal, the law manipulated again. lawlessness.

  • ladybugavenger September 24, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    I almost forgot that a person doesn’t have to be legal to get welfare in the country What was I thinking, bringing up the law in this….I should have stuck to my gut and skipped this article :/ my apologies

  • Starbug September 24, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Ayla must be a sister wife, maybe she is one that is allowed access to a computer. Sorry Ayla but you are mistaken, there are many people who have left the FLDS community that have verified that what Mr. Kociela is saying is true and based in fact. You say the the little FLDS girls cuddle their dolls, where are you getting this information from? The family of Suzette Steed fled that community and were featured on Dateline I believe, could be another program, but it was Nationally broadcast and even her little six year old stated that they were all ordered to give away all of their toys and weren’t allowed to have toys anymore. Others who have fled have stated that Jeffs ordered that the community only eat beans and water. This stuff isn’t just made up, people who have suffered under this weird regime have stated these things. So you attack the messenger, attack the reporter who is merely reporting on something terrible that is happening. Your even wrong about the Yearning for Zion issue, there were several convictions not just Warren Jeffs, several men were convicted of sexually assaulting under aged girls, one in every four pubescent girls there were already in some kind of a marriage! You can be a plyg apologist all you want, they are committing crimes. You complain about welfare fraud that happens in other places as if that justifies the abuse happening in “the Creek”, its all bad. I don’t even see what your point is other than to attack the author of this piece and make up excuses for the FLDS. Just so you know there is help available, there are people who can help you escape…

  • Melissa Norris September 24, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Please keep in mind these families have suffered from the current economic state. Many families were in construction. I know the wives work, many of them. I can’t speak for all of them, but, I know enough families to say they work very hard, when there is work. I am appalled to see them characterized in such a manner. As far as the Browns go, I don’t watch the show and I have seen them on a couple of occasions, suffice it to say, I am not impressed. I do respect the FLDS for staying faithful to their beliefs, in spite of public opinion.

  • Starbug September 24, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Kristin, read the Brown’s book, they state in their book that they dated a girl before they brought the second wife into the family. They wrote the book and put it our there! No matter what you want to say about Sobbin Robbin many people, maybe not all, maybe not you, see her as nothing more than an emotionally unstable divorcee who moved in on someone else’s husband and screwed up a families dynamic. Yeah one of those sleezy women who go after married men, they and you can try to justify it with polygamy all you want. If they were really “Mormons” and really followed J Smith or even B Young then they would know that they would say to follow the Prophet above all else, not cherry pick one thing and run with it. They already talked on their show how strapped they were financially yet the husband can somehow afford trips to see her? They claim that they don’t even kiss before marriage yet they were clearly doing so and probably more while his other wife was in labor of all things! Sick sick sick people Its so easy for Robbin to disparage her ex when he can’t speak to defend himself, and the father of her children no less! IF she had any self respect or respect for her children then she wouldn’t do that, regardless of her version of events. Oh and by the way I have no clue if the Brown’s are drug seeking alcoholics like you say your husband was, no their bankruptcies and welfare use likely is tied to the fact that they are Plygs and have way more than they can handle and do nothing to be responsible about making their family bigger and bigger. So the tax payers have to foot the bill for their lifestyle choice, essentially you proved Mr. Kociela;s point. Your just a Brown apologist, you poor thing, bless you…

  • Ed Kociela September 24, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Just a few facts:
    The rescue of young girls from the Yearning For Zion compound in Eldorado, Texas, resulted in 12 indictments. Texas Department of Family and Protective Services investigators found that 12 of the 43 girls between the ages of 12 and 17 who had been taken from the ranch during the raid were placed into “spiritual” marriages between the ages of 12 and 15. Seven of them had already given birth to children of their own. I would hardly call the report to police that spurred the investigation a “false tip.” Not with 12 convictions. And, I might add, those convictions of child rape? I think they are ample proof of child marriage taking place.

    As far as women being held against their will, ask Flora or Ruby Jessop. The Town Marshals in Short Creek have always been looked upon as the private security team of Waren Jeffs. In fact, The Salt Lake Tribune obtained a letter written by the Marshal Fred Barlow. (From The Trib: “While Warren Jeffs was a federal fugitive sought on sex crimes charges, the town marshal of Hildale and Colorado City wrote to the polygamous leader, pledging his allegiance and asking for directives for the community’s police force. The marshal, Fred Barlow, updated Jeffs on the department and his own family, according to the seized letter.’I do not know exactly what we have ahead of us but I do know that I and all of the other officers have expressed our desire to stand with you and the priesthood,’ Barlow wrote. ‘I fill [sic] that without the priesthood I am nothing.’)

    The State of Arizona is working to decertify the Town Marshals in Short Creek. The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training (AZPOST) board has decertified five Colorado City town marshals since 2005 and eight marshals since 1990.

    The numbers quoted are from the Arizona Department of Economic Security and are a matter of public record.

  • Maggie September 24, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    I have tried to watch the Brown family and can never get through an entire program. I am guessing the combined IQ for this entire bunch is 100,and the maturity level leads me to believe that Sat am is their favorite time to watch TV..
    Yet Kristin, you are correct they are indeed smarter than the twin cities group, Not much ,but a little bit smarter.

  • Brenda Norris September 24, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Ayla, you are so far wrong on so many points, it is ridiculous. First of all, the numbers quoted regarding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance and health care are not numbers made up by Mr Kociela. These are figures quoted by Buster Johnson, Mohave County Supervisor, who is definitely qualified to quote these figures.

    Secondly, regarding the beans and water diet. This is a fact, as supplied by people who have recently left the group. Your ‘hearsay’ regarding the ‘mac and cheese’ is 10 years old. The beans and water edict was handed down by Warren Jeffs earlier this year.

    You question that the women are staying because they are subservient to their men folk. Read some of the books written by women and men who have been able to escape. Read “The Witness Wore Red” by Rebecca Musser, who was forced, yes FORCED to marry the then 85 year old Rulan Jeffs when she was barely 19 years old. Then read “Lost Boy” by Brent Jeffs, who was repeatedly sodomized by his Uncle Warren when he was 5 or 6 years old. Follow that up with the books written by Elissa Wall, Carolyn Jessop, Flora Jessop, and a few other individuals who have suffered more atrocities at the hands of FLDS men than you can imagine. These women do not even know they have a choice. They have no knowledge of their rights.

    Women are, from birth, programmed to believe that they must ALWAYS obey their Priesthood head, and that the Prophet is NEVER wrong. Girls, who ran away to avoid being married off to yet another dirty old man, are tracked down and returned to the families who force them to go through with the marriages. If you want proof of these underage or forced marriages, Rebecca Wall Musser, Elissa Wall, Carolyn Jessop, Merilee Jessop to Warren Jeffs when she was TWELVE years old. It was the recording of the consummation of this marriage which was, to a large part, responsible for Warren Jells’ long prison sentence. Obviously you have not researched this, or you would know how wrong you are.

    Child abuse is rampant, as is interbreeding. The very rare condition known as fumerase deficiency – a genetic condition that causes physiological deformities such as an incomplete brain – is very much alive and well in Short Creek. In fact, there are more cases of this tragic condition in Short Creek than there are in the remainder of the world. There are also many reported cases of sexual and/or incestuous abuses inflicted on the girl children.

    I have been studying polygamy and the FLDS for over five years now, so I do have more than an average knowledge of this subject. Before you condemn Ed Kociela for a well written, and well researched article, I would suggest that you educate yourself. Contact Buster Johnson. Watch Mike Watkiss’s interviews (available on YouTube), talk to Doris Hanson. Better still, as I suggested, read the literature.

    You say that the FLDS is not infringing on Ed Kociela’s rights. Of course they are. Any tax payer has a right to be angry at a whole community who is living courtesy of the very people who pay taxes. Are you aware that the majority of buildings in Short Creek are permanently in an unfinished state? In this way the community avoids paying land taxes. Furthermore, the FLDS as a whole is infringing on the rights of its women members. Think about it, then go and start your research. After that, you may be able to voice an educated opinion, and not a ridiculous one as you have already done.

  • Brenda Norris September 24, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    One important issue that I overlooked. The FLDS do NOT have a right to their style on many levels, not the least of which is that polygamy is AGAINST the law in every one of the fifty states, and also in all ten provinces and three territories of Canada. Comparing the FLDS, or any other polygamist for that matter with ‘Amish, observant Jews’, and hippy communes is comparing apples to oranges. As for comparing them to Muslims, well there are many shared behaviours there, I’ll give you that. However, the Muslim community also infringes on the rights of women. I rest my case.

  • Dan Lester September 24, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Yes, some/many of these people are living on welfare. However, if you want to see large scale “use of the system” for living expenses, go to Chicago or other large cities where you will see ten times as many cranking out babies every year so that they collect more welfare money. And they often don’t know or care who the “baby daddy” is.

    Of course if you go after them you may be accused of being racist…..

    The real problem is the system and it’s rules…..and good luck fixing it.

    • Brenda Norris September 24, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      I agree with you Dan, but the issue is somewhat different. With the FLDS, there are simply thousands, if not millions of dollars being held by the upper echelon of the priesthood. The church members are required to tithe 10% of their income, and many are way below the poverty line. The food that ‘Ayla’ mentioned seeing in the shopping carts of the women at Costco does not go to those purchasing it. It goes to the Bishop’s Warehouse. All the largess enjoyed by the favoured few is supplied by the tax payers of Utah and Arizona. Most of the men are driving big, expensive vehicles. The money is there, but well hidden, and ‘bleeding the beast’ is almost a requirement. There is industry in the FLDS, legitimate government contracts which business owners are able to obtain by underbidding the competition. The reason for this is because they rely on the unpaid or underpaid labour provided by the young men. This also occurs within the Canadian branch in British Columbia.

      • Dan Lester September 24, 2013 at 9:53 pm

        Understand that, Brenda, but in the cities the money doesn’t go to feed the kids either. It goes to mommy’s dealer who’s living rich and fat. The kids are on the street starving and learning to be gang bangers by the time they’re eight. And the kids will be dead by the time they are adults.

        Now it might help, at least a bit, if we had work-fare instead of welfare. If you had to work for the money as long as you were physically able…..

  • pete September 24, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    I agree Ed, although, why only go after the border communities? Why not go after mainstream mormonism as well? I see very little difference between FLDS and LDS, and think the mainstream mormon church currently abuses its “followers” as well. I think we seem to forget that fact becuse mormons “fit in” more or less. Lets uncover all the abuses by mainstream mormonism as well. Both FLDS and LDS are cults.
    To the LDS readers – google cult, and tell me you dont fit in there!

  • Jerry Black September 24, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    SO…how do those numbers compare to any other community of the same size? You seem to be offended that these people are using these services, instead of living off beans and water. Buster Johnson has shown he is on a vendetta against any one who is FLDS. So, he is your only source and all facts come just from him? Why don’t you do some investigation before you help the state take services from people who really need it?

  • Real Life September 24, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    My biggest problem with the FLDS isn’t the welfare fraud. It’s not the fear mongering of the outside world, or even the tax evasion. IT’S THE RAPE OF CHILDREN. That’s the worst thing they do, if you ask me.

  • Dan Lester September 24, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    So, Ed, are you living in Baja full time? If so, why are you worrying so much about the issues back here in the good old USA? Or are you just commuting back and forth like other snowbirds, or sunbirds, or whatever? These are serious questions.


  • Lacie l September 25, 2013 at 12:42 am

    I don’t see any LDS piping in here about polygamy, so let me…polygamy…the only reason it started was because missionaries were going out in the field and never came home, due to sickness and death …Joseph received revolution that the brethren take in the wives and children of the dead. In 1890 polygamy ended as there was no need for it. They took in more woman and children to help provide for them. The FLDS was started by a group that broke away and chose to continue the practice, they are not the same religion nor do they practice the same things. People need to educate themselves be for they discriminate

    • Craig September 25, 2013 at 7:05 am

      Oh, is that the official line? How does that explain Joe Smith taking wives who were already married?
      It’s a nasty part of LDS history that many would like swept into the Virgin River never to be seen again.
      The fact is, your “prophet” was nothing more than a dirty old man and a pedophile.


    • Chris September 25, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      Joseph received revolution ?

  • DoubleTap September 25, 2013 at 9:19 am

    As much as the FLDS perpetuates the crime of fraud be the “creek” community, it is a wonder that the federal government has not stepped in to stop the competition.

  • Danielle September 25, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I am with Kristin, there was NO reason to bring the Browns into the conversation. Yes, they practice polygamy, and that’s the ONLY similarity, they are an entirely different group that DO NO follow Warren Jeffs. The abuse and child brides are never ok.
    Yes, there are people in the Jeffs group that abuse the system, and that is horrible, and something should be done. But the Browns have NOTHING to do with that.
    The Browns are not involved in any of that. And any time they have used government assistance in the past, it was because it was needed and used legally, not abuse of the system. Just because they have nice homes and money NOW, doesn’t mean they were always as fortunate!
    If any of you with such negative opinions of the Browns even KNEW them on a personal level, you’d know that even TLC “reality” shows the most dramatic scenes. Robyn is NOT emotionally unstable in the least. She is woman with emotions. She is NOT a homewrecker. She was invited fully into the family by everyone, if you knew any of their story, you’d know that much. TLC shows her crying because its the DRAMA they want. They use those scenes…to up their ratings.
    They are consenting adults, and in my humble opinion, that means, GOOD FOR THEM! They’re living their lives, their FAITH, and not hurting ANYONE! No physical abuse, no child brides, no system abuse. They’re living their lives. Not wasting time condemning others that aren’t hurting anyone.

    • Starbug September 25, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      And we have another Brown apologist, probably one of the Brown’s themselves…they are harming people, Sobbin Robbin is harming her three children that she brought with her into her plyg marriage. Disparaging a child’s father and telling the world that their father should have been someone else is causing irreparable damage. Their father is part of who they are, if he wasn’t their Father then they literally would be different people. She is telling the world that she wishes her kids were not who they are. She can try to talk in circles and put her own spin on it, her terrible bad decisions, but in the end that is what she is saying and what she did. That is abuse. I don’t believe for one second that there aren’t other abuses going on in that group. They likely also pay into their bigger plyg group, tithe, which supports abuse. The third wife already talked about how upset Robbin’s presence in their family made her. What kind of a low life goes after a man who is already married? Even if you want to say consenting adults can do what they will, he already had three wives and they couldn’t afford their lifestyle as it was. She IS a homewrecker, she couldn’t find a man of her own? LOOSER!

      • Danielle September 26, 2013 at 1:24 pm

        Wow….Starbug…you must be perfect to throw such judgement around! How amazing that we have a perfect being walking the earth today! WOW!
        I am NOT a polygamist. But yes, I am Robyn’s best friend. Have been for 22 years. Thanks! I beleive I know her pretty darn well, thank you very much. I know her character perfectly, and I KNOW where her loyalties and emotions stand.
        You can say there is abuse ANYWHERE…yes, that is true, because no one is perfect (oh, except you), and unfortunately it happens. And she can say what she wants about her husband because YOU dont know him, YOU dont know his character, but I DO, and I know what he put her through, and HE THREW HIMSELF UNDER THE BUS! By being abusive, and definately appearing to not care for his children or his wife at the time! You can find abuse in Christian groups, Buddhist groups, Catholic, JW…because YES, there are sick people out there. We can’t deny that. SO trying to pin THEIR specific group for allowing abuse to happen, which you have NO KNOWLEDGE of. Is rediculous and presumptuous.
        IF you even know their story or read their book, the all had jealousy issues with EVERY wife added. That’s part of their faith, is to overcome those weaknesses, and get past them. And they were ACCEPTING her as a new wife, so how was she at fault by being INVITED into their family?? IF you KNEW the story, you’d know that it was the third wife, who suggested adding Robyn to their family. Its in the show AND in the book, AND its FACT!
        So…I am so sorry that you are “PERFECT: and OBVIOUSLY “all-knowing”!
        Either way, at least we know that in the end, judgement will fall on us….and you’ll be judged for being so judgemental in an issue you know NOTHING about! HA!

  • Keith Pullman September 26, 2013 at 5:52 am

    If someone is misusing the system, legalizing polygamy could actually reduce instances of that. If the marriages would now be legally recognized, the other spouses would no longer be considered single. There is no good reason to deny that we must keep evolving until an adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, monogamy or polyamory, race, or religion is free to marry any and all consenting adults. The limited same-gender freedom to marry is a great and historic step, but is NOT full marriage equality, because equality “just for some” is not equality. Let’s stand up for EVERY ADULT’S right to marry the person(s) they love. Get on the right side of history!

  • truthseeker September 27, 2013 at 3:47 am

    To Bree and everyone, just like the FLDS is a cult, so is the mainstream LDS a cult. 100% organized religions are false institutions. Fraudulently misleading it’s followers. Brainwashing and indoctrinating them from a young age and using a system of deceitful lies until they die. Wake up everyone! … Utahrds!
    Ed. ellipsis.

  • HUMMYNBYRD May 17, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Have either of these states considered making the clinic in the “creek” community a non-medicaid provider? Perhaps if that clinic wasn’t allowed to participate in the medicaid insurance program there wouldn’t be near so many “trips” to the doctor which just puts that money right back into their own community. And who knows how many of the charges to those state programs are even really legit, they could very well be charging for doctor visits that never even happened just to “bleed the beast” and bring in the $. Just a thought…..

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