In the summer of 1993, I spent 3 weeks working on an Anasazi archaeological dig site that was in downtown Colorado City. I mean we were working 5 days a week literally across the street from the church. The folks running the dig through the U of Arizona had been working in that location for at least 5 years, and had a good relationship with the FLDS leadership. One day a middle aged man came strolling through the dig site and chatted with the leaders, followed deferentially by a girl who looked about 14. Otherwise we were ignored, but not in a particularly unfriendly way. We were allowed to go buy things at their one and only grocery store, and every day we would stop at the local gas station on our way out of town to use the bathroom and get snacks. I remember that as the cleanest gas station I've ever encountered, and they only played instrumental show tunes. It was one of the most surreal experiences I've had, with the isolation, the wide empty streets, the women in long dresses ( although at that time they were more colorful), the men in long sleeved shirts buttoned all the way up in the Arizona heat, and the occasional car stuffed full of tow headed children, none of who were in car seats or wearing seatbelts. I don't remember feeling fearful or hated, or anything like the God Squad. It was just like visiting another planet.
I've only read Carolyn Jessop's book and the one by the woman who was key to Warren Jeff's conviction. I believe Carolyn and I are similar in age. I don't really know the timeline, but I'm thinking I was there either just before or at the beginning of everything going off the rails with the FLDS. I remember some mention of a splinter group from the main church having happened not long before we were there. I would bet that archaeological dig was ended shortly thereafter, as I can't imagine the current FLDS tolerating the presence of outsiders to that extent.
What I find so striking is how differently the FLDS seem to be operating now vs when Carolyn Jessop was part of it. 10-15 years ago it was all about marrying off the girls, getting and keeping them pregnant, and making a great effort to prevent them from leaving, usually by using their children and other family ties to keep them, but sometimes by forcible kidnapping. Now, with the development of the United Order and Warren Jeffs' commandments to have no physical contact, they seem to be less focused on any pretense of family, instead creating individual autobot zealots. And they don't seem to want the women who leave to come back. During the episode in which Rachel snuck into the family compound to look for her sister, she didn't seem at all concerned that she might be kidnapped and forced back in. Instead it was more that her sister wouldn't or couldn't speak to her, and she didn't want to get the sister in trouble. It seems the fear control is all emotional/mental rather than physical at this point
And the whole no touching- which means no breeding - thing goes completely against one of the fundamental things about any type of Mormonism, which is the importance of having lots of kids to bring souls down to earth. I wonder if this is truly just blind following Warren Jeffs who is unstable, contradictory, and as someone said, imposing upon his followers the life he has now. Or if there is an underlying realization that they can't continue to support all of these children even though "bleeding the beast", or that they are too inbred. I'm quite certain it's not because they fear the wrath of the law over underage marriages, since they showed everyone who's boss after the raid in Texas.
I'm loving the inclusion of the FLDS this season, even as it has shown us (see Lizzie and Julie) that these Kingston women are woefully unprepared to deal with the level of brainwashing going on in the FLDS. They certainly know about brainwashing, but this is a whole new level, from birth in total isolation. They seem to think they can just drive into this insular community and pick up these people. They sorely need an FLDS advisor, including an expert on deprogramming members, starting with showing them the video footage of Warren Jeffs confessing that he's not the prophet and it's all a lie. I really hope that if there's another season we will see that included in their much bigger budget.
Finally, I wonder which head FLDS likes that wacko hairstyle they must all have now. It's fugly.