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December 14, 2010 1:47 PM   Subscribe

From June until August they hid out in their camp in the scrub oak up in the foothills, avoiding the search parties. Then they began coming down into the city by day, passing within a quarter-mile of Elizabeth's home. They walked the streets dressed as religious pilgrims from the New Testament. Mitchell had a long beard and a walking stick. Elizabeth and Wanda covered everything but their eyes. And no one figured it out. This American Life contributor Scott Carrier profiles the Messianic cult of Brian David Mitchell, the abductor of 2002 media icon Elizabeth Smart.
posted by l33tpolicywonk (60 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
The best part of that article is when Mitchell showed up at a house party with his child bride and started pounding beers and screaming about Satan, and the host just thought it was a little weird and blamed his failure to contact authorities on a "black magic psychic fence."
posted by theodolite at 1:51 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Printer friendly.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:52 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really interesting, thanks for posting.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:54 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Scott Carrier is great.
posted by MarshallPoe at 1:59 PM on December 14, 2010


Fascinating piece. And this photo - of Mitchell and a veiled Smart together - is just chilling.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:06 PM on December 14, 2010


I kind of see what you're getting at what with the media frenzy that surrounded the story, but I don't think 'media icon' is the most sensitive descriptor to refer to Elizabeth Smart.
posted by Space Kitty at 2:07 PM on December 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


[Joe Beese, I don't know how else to say "stop throwing fight-starting zingers into threads". Stop throwing fight-starting zingers into threads. It's shitty behavior, you do it too much, and you need to stop.]
posted by cortex at 2:07 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


In reading the Wikipedia article, as well as the main and others, is it reasonable is it to ask if a teenage girl raised in a household and religion where women were expected to be compliant and quiet might have something to do with the overall reasons that Mitchell got away with this for as long as he did?
posted by docpops at 2:08 PM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


In reading the Wikipedia article, as well as the main and others, is it reasonable is it to ask if a teenage girl raised in a household and religion where women were expected to be compliant and quiet might have something to do with the overall reasons that Mitchell got away with this for as long as he did?

Yes. Why wouldn't it be?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:11 PM on December 14, 2010


Because it's borderline victim-blamey?
posted by Space Kitty at 2:12 PM on December 14, 2010


If you find this article interestin — I know I did — I highly recommend Under the Banner of Heaven.
posted by cccorlew at 2:14 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's also sort of part of the article that people may or may not be reading you know not calling anybody out but it's a good article maybe save the rhetorical questions until you've had a chance to peruse the content of the post.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:14 PM on December 14, 2010


I heart Scott Carrier. After reading "The Test," I want to know: did things ever get better between him and his wife?
posted by infinitewindow at 2:18 PM on December 14, 2010


Folie à deux does not a cult make. Forgive me for being cynical, but does anyone else get the feeling that TAL is catering to the prurient here?
posted by clarknova at 2:19 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Totally guilty on the 'not done RTFA (yet)'- but if the question is 'is it reasonable to ask...on Metafilter' my opinion still stands.

/goes back to reading article
posted by Space Kitty at 2:20 PM on December 14, 2010


Not blaming the victim as much as questioning whether the environment she was raised in had everything to do with the bizarre compliance she exhibited. And the small matter of a community that is so inured to this sort of epic cesspool of religious idiocy that a teenager in a veil being led through town by a Manson clone registers as routine.
posted by docpops at 2:24 PM on December 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


Folie à deux does not a cult make.

It wasn't Jonestown. It was Joel Steinberg and Hedda Nussbaum.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:25 PM on December 14, 2010


Forgive me for being cynical, but does anyone else get the feeling that TAL is catering to the prurient here?

0 for 2. Not TAL, and not catering to the prurient.
posted by kmz at 2:26 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because it's borderline victim-blamey?

Hmmm... I don't think it is, any more than examining the causes of, say, religious terrorism mean we are blaming the victims of terrorism. And, as AHaWO points out, it actually forms a large part of the post's main link.

What gets me is how little attention has been paid to Wanda Barzee. She was convicted long before Mitchell because she was much more obviously sane enough to stand trial. She was absolutely complicit in everything that happened and I don't see any reason for the disparity in attention save for some sort of sexism.

It reminds me of the Holmolka/Bernardo situation in Toronto when I was living there. Except, thankfully, not nearly as much of a fiasco. In that case she received a hugely favorable deal from prosecutors because she was a woman... and then it turned out she was an equal participant in the torture, rape, and murder of several young women. Which we know because they videotaped it.
posted by Justinian at 2:29 PM on December 14, 2010


What does "TAL" mean?
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:41 PM on December 14, 2010


I had an interesting talk the other day with my roommate regarding the difference between a cult and a religion. (He had called me a cult leader. In jest.)
I said, simply put (in my opinion), a religion seeks to actively and broadly disseminate its information, like a virus. It seeks no secrets for itself, rather, it seeks to explain all of its internal workings to the uninitiated. In my evangelical zeal, I want to tell everyone I know everything I know about Jesus / church / ritual / liberation theology / nontransient soteriology / whatever. A cult, on the other hand, typically keeps its cards close to its chest. The "secret knowledge" is only for those who have been initiated or bought in or otherwise proven themselves worthy. A cult seeks privacy, secrecy, shadows.
He asked a couple of pointed questions. First, he said, "well then what about Catholic priests? Not everyone is allowed to be a Catholic priest." I think, perhaps, you could frame an argument that makes a case for the priesthood being a male-dominated cult. However, even though priests are often the only ones permitted to perform certain sacraments, every priest I've ever known has been perfectly happy to explain the meaning behind the sacraments. Furthermore, they perform the rituals in public and publish long books explaining their history and meaning. In other words, though access to the role of priest is restricted, information about the priesthood is not.

And then he asked me, "What about Mormonism?" And to tell you the truth I'm not sure.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:41 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mars Saxman: This American Life.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:42 PM on December 14, 2010


I'm with docpops here in thinking the Mormon culture may have played some role in inducing such compliance by diminishing independent thought and emotional maturity.

But consider that this fourteen-year-old girl (for that's what she was at the time) was kidnapped from her home (obviously under some threat to herself or her family), held in seclusion for months, and repeatedly raped. I don't think anyone - no matter their emotional maturity or lack thereof - would come through that experience undamaged.

At first, compliance might have seemed the most likely means of survival and escape, until it eventually became... routine, for lack of a better term.
posted by The Confessor at 2:43 PM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Mars Saxman - TAL=This American Life
posted by docpops at 2:48 PM on December 14, 2010


Because it's borderline victim-blamey?

Not at all. There were many, many occasions where Smart could have walked away and didn't. It is extremely useful to try to ask "Why?" if only to avoid creating more 14-year-olds who choose compliance over self-protection.
posted by coolguymichael at 3:00 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


The same sick environment that teaches women like Elizabeth to be compliant and quiet is also responsible for teaching people like this appalling Mitchell creature that it's his right to treat women and children like property.

It's completely fucking barbaric. But if we're going to look at how the community was complicit in what happened, the first stop ought to be Mitchell's actions, not that of his victims.
posted by Space Kitty at 3:06 PM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Stockholm Syndrome is at least as likely the cause. In the recent fpp about sex trafficking, we talked a lot about this. The girls and women who are forced into prostitution don't often run away at the first or fifth opportunity, and as far as I know, none of them are Mormon. They are beaten, threatened, lied to, raped, they're told their families will be harmed, etc.
posted by rtha at 3:07 PM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


choose compliance over self-protection

Compliance is likely perceived as self-protection in these kinds of situations. If the abductor/perpetrator/captor is bigger, stronger, etc. you do what you can to get by and not get hurt in that moment. And that can morph into Stockholm syndrome pretty quickly I suppose.

I'm trying to understand why I felt the "victim-blamey" thing too, even when my brain is telling me that there's a kind of logic that can explain her behaviour. Why do I have this impulse to believe that she ended up wanting it? Or liking it? I'm not happy about this. My daughter was sexually assaulted a few years back, and I swear I still struggle with doubts about motive. I hate that. It seems to me there's not only religious bull-shit (cults or what-the-fuck-ever), but also a social structure that enables the "man" as dominator role some kind of license.
posted by kneecapped at 3:19 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Space Kitty: "I kind of see what you're getting at what with the media frenzy that surrounded the story, but I don't think 'media icon' is the most sensitive descriptor to refer to Elizabeth Smart."

Yeah, I felt / feel shitty about this and struggled to come up with the right thing to say. Genuine apologies to anyone who's offended by the descriptor.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 3:23 PM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Prophesy and polygamy often go together. When God speaks to a man and tells him he is the new prophet and must now take charge of the only true church, the next thing He often tells the man is to become a polygamist. This is because one of the responsibilities of being the new prophet is to spread "the seed of David" and produce the new chosen people.
Yeah, um, I'm guessing that's not why.
posted by Flunkie at 3:26 PM on December 14, 2010


rtha: "Stockholm Syndrome is at least as likely the cause. In the recent fpp about sex trafficking, we talked a lot about this. The girls and women who are forced into prostitution don't often run away at the first or fifth opportunity, and as far as I know, none of them are Mormon. They are beaten, threatened, lied to, raped, they're told their families will be harmed, etc"

I was just going to point this out. Not to mention the fact that she was 14 years old. I don't know about you guys, but at 14 years, I was pretty susceptible to cowing under to older people in general, school teachers and cops in particular. A crazy religious nut who kidnapped me and raped me for months? Yeah, I think I'd be pretty paralyzed with fear, and don't think I'd feel that running would do me much good, seeing how he literally snuck into my home and took me from my bed.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:27 PM on December 14, 2010 [15 favorites]


Bub told me he felt kind of dumb when he realized the girl he was trying to protect was Elizabeth Smart, thereby missing the $250,000 reward.
Wow, that's... cold.
posted by Flunkie at 3:40 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


if we're going to look at how the community was complicit in what happened, the first stop ought to be Mitchell's actions, not that of his victims.

What's most interesting to me about (and the main thrust of) the article is how the culture of Mormonism in Salt Lake City led to Mitchell being considered legally sane.

I can't fathom that mindset. Do you think he really knew that what he was doing was wrong?
posted by mrgrimm at 3:45 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's most interesting to me about (and the main thrust of) the article is how the culture of Mormonism in Salt Lake City led to Mitchell being considered legally sane.
Yeah, I was taken aback by the following quote:
The defense lawyers, public defenders, brought in psychiatrists who had examined Mitchell and concluded he was a delusional schizophrenic, an insane man who believed he was talking to God. The prosecution countered this by calling experts in religion who argued that talking to God is common among Mormons, and therefore not insane.
posted by Flunkie at 3:47 PM on December 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


Do you think he really knew that what he was doing was wrong?

IIRC, there was testimony to the effect that he knew he would go to prison if he was caught.

And my legal understanding is that this suffices to destroy an insanity defense. If you know there's a law against what you're doing, it's irrelevant how delusional might be the beliefs that lead you to break that law.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:49 PM on December 14, 2010


I'm just as areligious as the next mefite, but all sorts of perfectly normal religious individuals talk to god.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:12 PM on December 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


From the article, Mitchell sounds crazy, sure, but he also sounds unnervingly smart.

He had possibly delusional beliefs, what with being an anointed one of God who's supposed to go forth and acquire fifty virgins. He kidnapped a girl, kept her silent and hostage with implied or obvious threats, abused her every way a person can. And he thought he had the right to do it. That would put him pretty firmly into hopeless psycho whack-a-doo territory, except -- he knew that people in general would think it was wrong, so he took great care to cover his tracks.

He knew the people he interacted with, and he knew when to turn the inner prophet on and when to shut it off, for great effect. When he went to that party, he knew the best way to get out without anyone unveiling the girl was to turn on the old time bible hour act. It worked obviously, because the guy blames his inaction on psychic fences.

When they were stopped at a library by a police officer, he knew the best thing to do was to calmly request special consideration due to religion -- and he knew that would work because in SLC that sort of thing does fly. The cop was also used to people being like that, and knew not to cause a furor over it.

Then once he's caught, he goes marching into the courthouse singing at the top of his lungs, because at that point he's got nothing to lose, and if he turns his crazy back on he can gain lesser sentences and hide behind an insanity defense.

I have no idea what the particulars were between him and the girl, but if he could play a whole city that easily, I'm sure he had her convinced that it was in her best interests to quietly comply.

The guy's unhinged, I grant that easily. What he did to Smart is proof enough. At the same time though, he was enough of a, I guess social engineer, to do what he did right under the noses of the people who were trying to find the girl. I wouldn't call that disablingly insane. He lined it all up to work the way he wanted, and it did, for a very long time. I can't believe that he did not know what he was doing every step of the way.
posted by cmyk at 4:13 PM on December 14, 2010 [14 favorites]


I'm just as areligious as the next mefite, but all sorts of perfectly normal religious individuals talk to god.
That's not the point; in context, it's not as if the defense was arguing he was insane because he prayed. They were arguing that he was insane because he believed he had actual two-way conversations with god, and not in some vague metaphorical sense.
posted by Flunkie at 4:19 PM on December 14, 2010


They were arguing that he was insane because he believed he had actual two-way conversations with god, and not in some vague metaphorical sense.

To put it another way; Mitchell isn't crazy because he talks to god, he's crazy because god talks back.
posted by Justinian at 4:23 PM on December 14, 2010


Then once he's caught, he goes marching into the courthouse singing at the top of his lungs, because at that point he's got nothing to lose

The irony being that, IIRC, he was going to end up incarcerated in the same facility either way.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:32 PM on December 14, 2010


He sounds like a predatory asshole who likes sexually assaulting kids and hides behind the god stuff to justify his actions.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:44 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


He sounds like a predatory asshole who likes sexually assaulting kids and hides behind the god stuff to justify his actions.
He's obviously a predatory asshole who likes sexually assaulting kids, and he obviously attempts to justify it using his religion, but that does not imply that he does not believe that it is justified because of his religion.

I find it somewhat difficult to believe that he wandered the streets of Salt Lake City for years as a crazy-seeming street prophet, and went across America to preach his religion to the masses, in a massive and long-planned cover story preparation, so that he could one day abduct a teenage girl.
posted by Flunkie at 5:08 PM on December 14, 2010


As a father, this sort of thing can keep you up at night.

While I can't really do much about a random kidnapping, I'm not sure what more I can do to prevent "brainwashing" other than to just repeat over and over the idea that, no matter what has happened, you can always come home again.

It seems a lot of these cults and "messiah" types rely on separating the victim from their support network.
posted by madajb at 6:05 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


madajb: Teach them that they are the only ones who can claim ownership of their bodies, their thoughts, their time. Make sure they understand that consent is not a thing which is only given once, but re-given every time, and that it's not just about sex - there is consent to go for rides, to be embraced, to share meals, to discuss difficult things. If it's withdrawn that is an ironclad rule: when someone pressures you, it is not because there is something wrong with you, but because there is something wrong with them. And, just as important, you can always come home, and no matter what kind of trouble you've got yourself into, you can ask for and expect to get help for it.

if I'd known all that stuff when I was sixteen... things would have been very different.
posted by cmyk at 6:27 PM on December 14, 2010 [19 favorites]


They called Mitchell's stepdaughter from his marriage with Wanda, and she testified how, when she was 14, Mitchell cooked her pet rabbit for dinner and fed it to her saying it was chicken.

I'm sure that I'm not doing much to contribute to intelligent discourse on the site with this comment, but HOLY SHIT.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 6:50 PM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's interesting that these psychos' fucked-up ideologies always concern collecting multiple virgin women's vaginas, rather than, say, multiple virgin men's penises. Why might that be, I wonder...
posted by limeonaire at 8:40 PM on December 14, 2010


I laughed when I was reminded that she was a Mormon. I had forgotten that. Her story's horrible, but she's only ping-ponging between two different kinds of slavery. In 6 months she'll be referred to as 'sister-wife Elizabeth Smart'.
posted by CarlRossi at 9:30 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


After all the mass foreskin collecting in the Bible maybe they feel it's too big a commitment to start a collection themselves?
posted by jtron at 10:12 PM on December 14, 2010


CarlRossi: I laughed when I was reminded that she was a Mormon. I had forgotten that. Her story's horrible, but she's only ping-ponging between two different kinds of slavery. In 6 months she'll be referred to as 'sister-wife Elizabeth Smart'.

You laughed because... this is really funny for you? You need professional help. She was a little girl and you obviously know very little about Mormonism.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:28 PM on December 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


when someone pressures you, it is not because there is something wrong with you, but because there is something wrong with them.

An excellent point.
posted by madajb at 10:44 PM on December 14, 2010


And, just as important, you can always come home, and no matter what kind of trouble you've got yourself into, you can ask for and expect to get help for it.

I don't know what she was thinking, but there's a very real possibility she thought she'd be killing her family if she went back. When someone has shown themselves to be as powerful as this guy was, she'd be bringing a world of hurt down on the head of anyone she asked for help, and how could she do that in good conscience? And he really was that powerful; he kidnapped her from her home, where she should be safe, and the authority figures he ran across, like the cop, bought into his schtick. If even they thought his behavior was reasonable, then who was she to think she could get away?

Her behavior makes complete sense to me, unfortunately.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:16 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


And he really was that powerful

If that cop had some 'roids he could have taken him down.
posted by clarknova at 12:07 AM on December 15, 2010


I think that bringing up Stockholm Syndrome is attributing a lot of feelings to Elizabeth Smart that she has explicitly denied having and I think it should be dropped from discussions of why she didn't make more of an attempt to run away at times. She was 14 and a sheltered 14 at that, not a streetsmart kid who might know the ins and outs of cops and how a man could have her family killed or not. She had literally no life experience to draw on to make sense of what was happening to her or to come up with ideas to change things. Not to mention the ongoing assaults and the constant threat of worse physical violence.

its easy to criticize the way other people react to threats but the truth is that most people freeze up and resist minimally. And maybe that's how you survive best, I don't know.
posted by fshgrl at 12:27 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find it somewhat difficult to believe that he wandered the streets of Salt Lake City for years as a crazy-seeming street prophet, and went across America to preach his religion to the masses, in a massive and long-planned cover story preparation, so that he could one day abduct a teenage girl.

True, but he had been accused of molesting girls (and went through a few marriages to women who already had kids) several times before he took the LSD and had his religious 'conversion'. Before then he sometimes claimed he was an atheist. He was a disgusting child-molester first, then got crazy and religion in equal doses, then used other people's wacked-out ideas about religion to hide his most recent victim in plain sight.

It's debateable how sincere his craziness and religosity really were. You could make a case either way. But they provided sufficient cover for rape and abuse, because people in Salt Lake City think that a dude carting around a submissive teen girl and a compliant older wife, and harrassing people in the street, is something you shouldn't interfere with.

I'm not surprised the girl didn't run away. He'd taken her from inside her own home, and she could clearly see that people knew he was crazy and weren't doing anything about it. She would have frequently heard that women must be submissive to men, and have heard of cases where women who left their husbands were strongly urged to return to them. Running is easy enough, but where to? All her trust in grown-ups and safe places was gone.
posted by harriet vane at 2:27 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


He was a disgusting child-molester first, then got crazy and religion in equal doses, then used other people's wacked-out ideas about religion to hide his most recent victim in plain sight.

It's also rather convenient that he "got" a brand of religion that advocated child rape, centered squarely within a tradition of self-professed prophets who include polygamy and child marriage as part of their mission. Oh, and his dad did exactly the same thing before him.

It must be really confusing to grow up in a religion that puts that kind of focus on direct individual communication with god. To read the article you would think that every third Mormon believes he's the second coming with a direct line to heaven. Which isn't to absolve Mitchell of anything, of course. But damn...
posted by Sara C. at 2:57 AM on December 15, 2010


It must be really confusing to grow up in a religion that puts that kind of focus on direct individual communication with god. To read the article you would think that every third Mormon believes he's the second coming with a direct line to heaven. Which isn't to absolve Mitchell of anything, of course. But damn...

You should spend some time with evangelical Christians. Most people I know really believe that if they pray and wait long enough they will hear the voice of God. Obviously, most of them want to God to tell them what to do about homework and job hunts or something, and not evil things.
posted by pecknpah at 10:01 AM on December 15, 2010


Just to be clear here: Mitchell grew up in a wacky house with a cult-leader type father. His religious upbringing was nothing like Donny Osmond's, Harry Reid's, or Elizabeth Smart's.

Second: Salt Lake City is so tolerant of the wackiness exhibited by Mr. Mitchell in part because of how NON-Mormon it is. Mitchell stayed out of Provo, St. George, and Sandy for a reason. Trust me when I say that, e.g., BYU would not have tolerated this man wandering around on campus, certainly not for very long. Have any of you actually been to SLC?

Third: at fourteen I had spent half my time in a free-thinking Unitarian Universalist family and half my time in a moderately orthodox Mormon family for the previous decade(shared custody, six months here, two weeks there, etc.) And I'm pretty sure being dragged from my bed at knifepoint by a crazy rapist who chained me to a tree and had an accomplice helping out would have put a serious dent in my "I will be better off making a run for it" tendencies. Please remember that this girl convinced him to go back to SLC and was desperately hoping someone would "rescue" her, and it is not her fault she didn't have the ability to get away under her own power. Gah.

(And for the record, Elizabeth is unlikely to join a polygamous marriage in six months. She's going back to France to finish her mission for the church that excommunicated Mitchell years before the kidnapping, which church also, for instance, makes people "living together" both get formal divorces from any earlier spouses and get married to one another before getting baptized.)
posted by SMPA at 10:05 AM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty familiar with Evangelical Christianity. While they believe that they can talk to god, they're talking about stuff like praying (and more "charismatic" stuff like glossolalia and laying on hands and the like, but to an extent that still falls under the category of praying). If you read the article, this goes a little above and beyond that sort of relationship with god.

To me, the connection seems to be that if you have a religion founded on the idea that this dude was kicking it out in the forest in Upstate New York one day, and then some angels came to him and told him he was the Chosen One and should get to rule the world and marry as many teenage virgins as humanly possible, and then you continue the tradition of people having direct (and usually very convenient) revelations over the next 150 years or so, you end up with a religion that facilitates this sort of thing.

As much as the Evangelicals bug me, at least their branch of religion tries to rein in some of this stuff, or at least channel it into totally harmless things like "Jesus told me what sweater to wear today".
posted by Sara C. at 10:17 AM on December 15, 2010


On December 10, the jury found Brian David Mitchell guilty, without reason of insanity, sending him to spend the rest of his life in a federal penitentiary with other kidnappers, rapists, and killers. Let him sing for them.
Wow.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:31 PM on December 15, 2010


Salt Lake City is so tolerant of the wackiness exhibited by Mr. Mitchell in part because of how NON-Mormon it is.

I do think it's worth emphasising that the official Mormon doctrine doesn't currently support polygamy. But it's a much more familiar concept to them than it is to most people. As noted in the article, quite a few Mormons know of people secretly practicing it, and nearly all of the long-term Mormon families have polygamy in their family history, because it used to be a tenet of the religion. The fundamentalist splinter groups living in compounds out in the sticks aren't that far away.

And even though most Mormons don't go around begging outside holy places, yelling at strangers in the street, or making multiple wives wear veils, it's not a virtue they have to themselves. Most non-Mormons don't do those things either, and I refuse to believe that Mormons don't know that. Mitchell truly was behaving freakishly, and no-one there tried to stop him.
posted by harriet vane at 4:15 AM on December 19, 2010


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