Polygamy in Arizona: The Wages of Sin

Arizona polygamist leaders are using public funds to support religious schools and line their own pockets. The state's done nothing to stop them.

Deloy Bateman begins each school day long before dawn.

He rousts five of his teenage children from bed at 2 a.m. An hour later, the clan arrives at the Colorado City public school. Soon, a few other kids join the group in Bateman's well-stocked science laboratory.

After two hours of preparation and studying, Bateman begins lectures on the first of a dozen classes he will conduct during the long day. They include pre-calculus, chemistry, earth science, electronics, plastics, physiology, physics and physical education.

Bateman doesn't work 16 hours a day for the money. After 20 years of teaching at the Colorado City Unified School District, his salary has risen to only $33,500 a year.

"We are dedicated to helping, plain and simple," he says. "That little statement pretty much explains my personality."

Ironically, as far as the fanatic polygamist Mormons who control this isolated northern Arizona community are concerned, Bateman may as well be teaching Satanism.

Colorado City, which hugs the Utah border north of the Grand Canyon, is a town where most of the residents don't believe in evolution, dinosaurs or that America sent men to the moon. It is a place where education beyond the eighth grade is deemed unnecessary by many – particularly for teenage girls who frequently are coerced into polygamous marriages to older men by the time they reach 16.

Bateman and a handful of other dedicated educators fight an astounding array of obstacles to fulfill their duties as public school teachers – chief among them hostile religious discrimination.

Despite the fact that most of the people living in the area practice a fundamental brand of Mormonism and embrace polygamy, a chasm deeper than that giant hole in the ground 60 miles to the south divides the community.

The dominant religious faction is controlled by the Prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) based in Colorado City. Clustered in the unincorporated community of Centennial Park a few miles to the southeast is a smaller group of fundamentalists known as 2nd Warders.

The FLDS considers residents of the 2nd Ward traitors to God, derisively branding them "heathens" and "apostates." An uneasy tension has stalked the two sects for 20 years – often spilling over into acrimonious exchanges revolving around the operation of the Colorado City Unified School District.

In July 2000, FLDS leaders exacerbated tensions when they ordered their followers to sever all unnecessary contact with apostates.

The FLDS directive triggered a massive withdrawal of fundamentalist students and teachers from the school district, leaving it populated primarily with 2nd Ward teachers and students.

But the FLDS didn't relinquish control of the schools. The district board, administrators and principals all kept their positions, as did most of the support staff of janitors, bus drivers and secretaries. But the FLDS ordered these faithful officials and employees to have little, if any, contact with the apostate teachers and students.

Unlike most teachers who fear losing their jobs, Bateman has openly criticized the FLDS-controlled school board and administrators for remaining in control of millions of dollars of public school funds after withdrawing their own children from classes.

"There can't be any ethics in this," Bateman says.

The clash between the two fundamentalist Mormon factions in the area is only the most obvious scar on the Colorado City public school system. The Mormon polygamists – as they have done with other taxpayer-financed programs, including food stamps and subsidized health-care – have tapped the public school system to help subsidize the cost of raising their very large families.

A six-month New Times investigation of polygamy in Arizona has uncovered an array of illegal and unethical actions by the FLDS-controlled school board, district administrators and school principals.

The investigation included an extensive review of thousands of pages of school district credit card records, travel vouchers, board minutes, district lease agreements and correspondence, all obtained under the Arizona Public Records Law.

New Times discovered that the Colorado City public school district – which receives more than $4 million a year in state and federal aid – is operated primarily for the financial benefit of the FLDS church and for the personal enrichment of FLDS school district leaders. At the same time, FLDS district leaders have taken actions that are detrimental to students and teachers who are not members of the dominant religious sect.

"Their priorities are not to go figure out how to best educate their students," says Kenneth Knudson, who ran for the school board last November as a non-FLDS member and was soundly defeated. "Their goal is to spend federal and state dollars locally."

Other findings include:

• The district maintains an illegal slush fund that allows FLDS board members, administrators and principals to charge personal expenses on district-issued credit cards. The unpaid credit card balance exceeded $23,000 on the November 2002 statement.

• Key FLDS personnel are issued expensive district-owned vehicles – including Ford Excursions, F-350 pickups and Chevy Suburbans – for personal use, a violation of state law.

• The district disposed of valuable assets, including supplies, phone systems and classroom buildings for the benefit of private, FLDS-operated schools.

• Religious discrimination has resulted in a serious breach in communication between 2nd Ward teachers and students and FLDS-controlled school board members and administrators.

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4 comments
CONNIE STARS
CONNIE STARS

I CANNOT BELIEVE THE HUNDREDS OF ARTICLES WRITTEN OVER THE LAST 10 YEARS ABOUT THE CORRUPTION OF COUNTY ATTORNEY ANDREW THOMAS & SHERIF JOE BEING IN A STATE CONTROLED BY THE MORMAN CULT, ALONG WITH THE SAME CULT CONTROL IN COLORADO & TEXAS AND YET THEY REMAIN IN THEIR JOBS. I KNOW IN MY HOME STATE THIS GROSS CONDUCT THEY WOULD BE IN JAIL. WHAT I FIND THE MOST INTERESTING WAS MY CONVERSATIONS I HAD WITH AN FBI AGENT A FEW YEARS AGO. I WAS TOLD THAT THE FBI CAN'T DO ANYTHING BECAUSE THE MORMAN CULT CONTROLS PHOENIX. THEY WOULD HAVE TO LITERALLY CLEAR HOUSE OF THE GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS. AND I AM ASHAMED THAT SOME OF THE SNOW BIRDS ARE FROM MY HOME STATE ALSO HAS THE GUSTOPHO BELIEFS. EVIL RUNS WILD.

connie stars
connie stars

I WAS LIVING IN LEBANON TN. WHERE THE FLDS & THE KKK CONTROLS THE TOWN. MY CUSTODY BATTLE WAS CONSIDERED THE WORST IN TN. HISTORY FOR BEING THE MOST ABUSED BY MY THEN HUSBAND & THE FAMILY COURT JUDGE FOR ABUSE TO ME & MY 2 DAUGHTERS. LAWS GOVERNING FAMILY COURT & OUR CIVIL RIGHTS WERE BROKEN NUMERIOUS TIMES. NOT TO MENTION THIS FLDS JUDGE NERVER FOLLOWED THE JUDICUAL HANDBOOK FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS THAT THE COURTS ARE MANDATED TO FOLLOW. I FOLLOWED THE TRAIL OF MY DAUGHERS TO AZ. WHICH I ARRIVED IN CHRISTMAS 2003. MY EXHUSBAND STALKED ME HERE IN AZ. THEN WAS BRASE ABOUT IT TO MY ALCOHOLIC MOTHER. MY CURRENT HUSBAND IS NOW LIVING LIKE THE FLDS & AMONG OTHERS TOLD ME COUNTY ATTORNEY ANDREW THOMAS CONTINUED THE HARRASSMENT OF ME. GO FIGURE, SEEMS THERES NO DIFFERENCE IN THE EVIL CULT WORLD. IN THE MEANTIME THE MORMANS BEEN CONCEALING WHERE MY DAUGHTERS ARE. THEY CONTINUE TO BE MOLESTED BY THEIR DAD. THE MORMANS BELIEVE DOING THIS TO CHILDREN IN OUR COUNTRY AND WE THE PEOPLE WON'T STOP IT. IF WE DON'T FOLLOW 1 PART OF THE CONSTITION & THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACTS THEN WE SURELY CAN'T FOLLOW ANY OTHER PART OF THEM. IT IS CALLED BRAIN WASHING & THE EVIL PEOPLE IN POWER SUCH AS ANDY THOMAS & HIS TEAM & SHERIF JOE & HIS TEAM ARE THE FORFRONTS FOR THE CULT HERE IN PHOENIX. JUST KEEP THAT IN MIND WHEN YOU WANT TO BE DEFENDED BY THESE SACRED DOCUMENTATIONS AS WELL. EVIL RUNS WILD HERE SOONER OR LATER EVIL WILL RUN WILD IN YOUR LITTLE WORLD.THINK ABOUT IT NEIGHBORS.

$hem
$hem

That is such bull shit what these edotirs are writing. Deloy Bateman is in noway like he is described in this blog. I know deloy bateman. He is a self-centered, egotistical, arrogant, and cowardice man who treats his family like shit. Every SINGLE one of his kids (ranging from age 9 to 40+) hate him with a dynig passion. Those of kids who are of age have moved out of the city as far away from him as possible. In one case, when one of his daughters turned 18, she moved to Chicago and disapeared. Non one knows where she is now. She won't tell anyone where she is. Deloy bateman is the most corrupt, selfish bastard I know. and I know alot. And he says he's against polygamy, but he had two wives. Every time I see one of his kids, I can see how they are and will be forever affected on how their dad screwed up their childhood by getting tehm up at 2AM, not letting me out of the house, etc. He is so mean to them. I hate him.As for the other commentor besides me. You have no idea what it is like in Colorado City. All you people have are the bull shit newpaper stories. I'm not even apart of anything that goes on in Colorado City, but I go there and I nkow what it is like there.

Jim
Jim

It sounds like the Devil has got Colorado City and the school district right in the clutch of his hand. He is the Deceive and he is out to steal, kill and destroy. These sects, fundamental, liberal or in between are being lead astray. Mormons are, simpley put, a cult started by Joseph Smith. Any group who has a founder with his own teachings is a cult. I'm sure Christ is grieving over those who stray from His teachings. If we know God and His Word we would come to the truthes of His Word and the person of Jesus Christ. We would know who to believe and trust than those who are corrupting God's Word. We can't rely on other's teachings but examine them with what God's Word teaches.

 
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