Ted Bundy was arrested after being pulled over for a traffic violation. Timothy McVeigh was arrested after being pulled over for having a busted tail light. Now Warren Jeffs, defacto tyrant of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), is in custody after being pulled over for not having visible registration tags on his car.
Say what you will about polygamy itself, but I’m sure the women of the FLDS and the men who consider them more than cattle have to be breathing a bit easier today. Under Jeffs rule which began in 2002, the sect saw the number of arranged marriages involving underaged girls increase into the hundreds.
Jeffs also arranged for the banishment of younger men to cut down on the competition for wives in addition to banishment of older married men and fathers who dissented with him and his inner circle. The wives and children of these men were routinely ‘assigned’ to other men as though they were pets, not humans.
In addition to this Jeff also severely curtailed the freedom of members to such a degree that laughing became a crime. He also had groups of men referred to as “God Squadss” who inspected households to make sure Jeff’s various and often absurd edicts were being followed.
There is also some suspicion that Jeff used his fathers deteriorating health to remove a more senior leader from power thus ensuring his own rise to power in addition to issueing edicts in his father’s name that helped cut off the members access to the outside world such as the 2000 edict that they had to remove their children from public schools.
And though he is in custody it remains to be seen how much power he will continue to exert over the sect through those who continue to remain loyal to him. His uneventful arrest has surely shaken the beliefs of some members as the group has been taught to believe the Prophet is appointed by the Christian god and is essentially that god’s representative on Earth. However, faith is a funny thing where the stronger the evidence to the contrary the stronger the faith becomes.
Hopefully these people will be able to shake off the mental chains Jeff and his loyalists ensnared them with and eventually become whole again. For now, the wicked bastard is in jail and that seems like a good start.