‘Prophet’s Prey,’ a Documentary About Mormon Fundamentalists

The chief attraction of Colorado City, or so it would seem from the brief entry on the website of the Arizona Office of Tourism, isn’t Colorado City but the “nearby scenic attractions” that include the Vermilion and Shinarump Cliffs. Set at the base of ravishing red cliff mountains, the city and its twin, Hildale, Utah, look straight out of Canaan. To watch “Prophet’s Prey,” Amy Berg’s tough and disturbing documentary about a secretive, polygamous Mormon fundamentalist sect with unsettling roots in the region, is to grasp, perhaps, the unspoken reason the Arizona tourism office seems to be suggesting that visitors drive right on by.

nytimes.com/2015/09/18/movies/review-prophets-prey-a-documentary-about-mormon-fundamentalists.html?_r=0

I’ve never met one of these people. I’ve met folks from the RLDS/CoC, a Bickertonite, and someone from a third splinter faction of Mormonism, but never one of these fundie Jeffs people. Probably because they keep themselves so secluded and off the internet. I’d guess if I ever actually meet one, it would be through my wife’s volunteer work for people escaping from the sex trade.

I have as much in common with mormon fundamentalists, I suppose, as a Catholic would with a group of secretive weirdos calling themselves the Priory of Sion.

I know there is much about the FLDS that modern day Mormons do not have in common.

However, do you think they could be considered “orthodox Mormons” because of their strict adherence to polygamy here on earth?

I have some extended family in some of these groups. I know it’s a very unpopular opinion on CAF, but I firmly believe that the evil practices that accompany Mormon Fundamentalism are mostly due to the seclusion they feel is necessary due to their non-Nuclear Family arraignments. I’ve known actual LDS folk “living the principle” in Utah who are fully integrated members of society and none of their wives were wedded before the age of 18, there was no “prophet” telling them who they were to marry, and sisters weren’t indiscriminately tossed around a group of old men as each passed away. They don’t avail themselves of government welfare, they dress like everyone else, their daughters are educated, etc. I’m not at all advocating for polygamy. I find it to be a horrendous practice. Nonetheless it’s a practice that some adults willingly embrace and the alternative of seedy secrecy I find to be far worse than polygamy by itself.

I have as much in common with mormon fundamentalists, I suppose, as a Catholic would with a group of secretive weirdos calling themselves the Priory of Sion.

I think this analogy is quite unfair when considering historical proximity. While my father was not a polygamist some of my uncles were, and these were pre-Manifesto solemnizations. We’re still alive and we still remember. My uncles weren’t child molesting pieces of scum like many of the top tier Fundamentalists (probably due to their being members of greater society and not being secluded away in deep dark corners of the desert), but we cannot deny that FLDS and all their offshoots are a direct product of Mormondom. This isn’t to say that Mormonism (or the LDS specifically) are responsible for FLDS atrocities, but the phenomenon cannot simply be waved away as if such groups arose in a vacuum.

The only " orthodox Mormons " are the community of Christ , because they accept original sin, and the Trinity.

Did the first Mormons believe in original sin and the trinity?

I am almost positive Joseph Smith did not believe in the trinity, but I am not sure about original sin.

Yeah, my grandmother’s grandmother and her two sisters were married to the same man. Their husband, as family lore goes, drove the wagon that Brigham Young (also a polygamist) was riding in, when he reached the Salt Lake valley. When I was a kid, my family went to a family reunion for all the descendants of this man and his wives. It was held on the old farm where they all lived and ranched cattle for Brigham Young. It isn’t a distant memory in my family, but family history, of which my LDS family have pride in. From the time I went to that reunion, that polygamous family history I have found to be beyond strange. Imagine, married to the same husband as your sisters! There is a definite ick factor there. But claims that the FLDS are doing something different than what the LDS church practiced, is a half truth.

Sure, Warren Jeffs has been a horrendous leader and is a terrible person. When I was a kid, his father Rulon had a compound for his families a few miles from where we lived. We went to school with two of the kids from this compound, for just one year. Then Rulon Jeffs decided his kids should be home schooled, and he opened the “Alta Academy”, inside the compound. There, Rulon’s son Warren was the headmaster, and his niece and nephew have testified in court that their Uncle Warren sexually abused them, in that school.

Rulon Jeffs is who changed the FLDS leadership to that of a single dictator type ruling, rather than a group of brethren as it was, and as the LDS Church is. He set into motion what would come, under his son Warren. No, the mainstream LDS Church has no direct responsibility for this group, or the actions of it’s leaders, but the FLDS belief in polygamy as the type of marriage that is divinely ordered, has its roots in the same leaders and claimed prophets that LDS members revere. Historically speaking, the FLDS claimed leadership was by John Taylor, who was a LDS President and claimed prophet.

The film was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, in Utah, last January. I tried to make it to a screening but it didn’t work out with my schedule. I’m hoping to see it become available on a streaming service.

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