As we zig zagged through much of Utah, I became increasingly fascinated and perplexed with the Mormon history, presence, and modern polygamy practices. I know polygamy isn’t a regular practice in most Mormonism today, but every so often we would see a family that looked suspiciously polygamous. I struggle to understand this lifestyle and how and why it can still work. I am further baffled as we traveled through the border towns of Colorado City and Hildale, where almost the entire population of approx 7000 people follow the fundamentalist Mormon sect lead by Warren Jeffs. Jeffs, whom had 87 wives, is currently imprisoned in Texas for child sexual abuse and child brides. Jeffs continues to lead this sect of the church from prison and his followers still feel he is a prophet and he is wrongly imprisoned. From prison, he still makes orders, such as randomly banishing people from the church and forcing them to leave their families. He recently made a rule last July forbidding anyone to have sexual relations with their husbands/wives. If a woman wants to have a baby she must go to one of 15 selectively appointed men… they also must have specifically appointed witnesses watch the sexual acts. Jeffs also made another new rule forcing people to dispose of all children’s toys. I’ve heard about Warren Jeffs and this Fundamentalist sect of Mormonism previously, but it was much more real and disconcerting to see it for myself.
As we drove through Hildale and Colorado City, most of the houses are large, scrappy and unfinished. Very little commerce exists and the streets have an eery desolate feel. Several children in old- fashioned attire, appearing as if back in time over a 100 years, stared at us intensely as we drove past them. Everything about this small cult-like microcosm of American culture is baffling and bizarre to me.