Don’t fear the end of the world. Embrace it. You’ll have good company in your fellow Americans.
Evangelical Christians who steer our country’s voting booths and foreign policy cite the Bible’s Book of Revelation in direful tones. According to their scripture, the modern state of Israel will battle the entire world in an all-out battle resulting in lots of dead Jews'if they’re not first damned to hell, of course. The sole consolation in all this death is the Second Coming. So much for the “culture of life.”
Somewhere along the Utah-Arizona border in Short Creek, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) “prophet” Warren Jeffs first dreamt of his Yearning For Zion (YFZ) Ranch, along with repeated predictions of the end of the world. Today that ranch is reality: a 30,000-square-foot compound in Eldorado, Texas, replete with large chicken coops and grain silos, commissary, limestone temple and'natch!'plenty of residential buildings in which to incubate young brides for older men with a few back problems. But such are the requirements of godhood in the afterlife, which calls for at least three wives during this life. Women are pawns. African-Americans are, according to Jeffs, “the people through which the devil has always been able to bring evil unto the earth.” We can safely guess what Jeffs thinks about gay men and lesbians.
Funding this enterprise is something called the United Effort Plan (UEP), a pool of personal financial and property resources some 10,000 FLDS members willingly sign over to Prophet Jeffs, who’s supposed to manage that fund in the best interest of all contributors. The problem with polygamy on a communitywide level, however, is that sooner or later you don’t have quite enough women to go around. So it is, ostensibly, that Jeffs thought it necessary to personally put the kibosh on loads of teenage boys and more than 200 family men, who left to see their property seized and their wives “reassigned.”
Problem is, 3rd District Judge Robert Adkins didn’t see much “best interest” going on when he suspended UEP trustees, Jeffs included, from the fund. Nor does Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, for that matter. Seems there’s evidence to allege that Jeffs has moved some of the plan’s assets around, without any benefit to members. Building your own Texas compound takes plenty of dough and not a few followers. Just ask David Koresh, who failed in the sort of precautionary measures Jeffs might well be studying even now.
The brutal math of polygamy and doctrinal racism aside, this brewing confrontation between “religious freedom” and “government thugs” is eerily reminiscent of the opposing ideologies that fed the passions of right-wing militia members and Timothy McVeigh. Remember them? Back then there was little distinction between political alarmism and religious extremism, and a well-stocked ammo cabinet seemed the best answer to Hillary Clinton’s threats of universal health care.
If Judge Adkins decides to extend Jeffs’ suspension from UEP funds, the stage could be set for another potential disaster. Lately, Jeffs hasn’t so much as shown his face in answer to the legal challenges surrounding him. Perhaps he’s busy sanding the walls of his new limestone temple, or moving his church’s rumored stock of assault rifles down from Short Creek.
It seems unfair that Texas should play possible host to another religion-beats-government showdown, especially when it bears that peculiar Utah stamp.