Letters From the Issue of Thursday, November 24, 2005


On the run: I fully expect to see a cartoon in New Times soon of staff writer John Dougherty -- white mane flowing and tape recorder in outstretched hand -- chasing tall, skinny polygamist leader Warren Steed Jeffs down that long driveway leading to the polygamists' new temple in Texas. Because, as your latest potboiler on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proves, that's exactly what's happening, at least figuratively ("Wanted: Armed and Dangerous," November 10).

Dougherty has certainly gotten Jeffs on the run, because without his prodding of law enforcement in Arizona and Utah, Prophet Jeffs and the other pedophiles in Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, would still be engaged in their sordid and illegal activities.

Wait a minute, they still are!

Because authorities still haven't brought Jeffs to justice and still haven't prosecuted the other statutory rapists who've been indicted by a grand jury. Hopefully, that will come soon, and others in Polygamyland participating in this horrible activity in the name of religion will fearfully cease and desist. As Dougherty wrote in his story, as sick as the practice of polygamy is, most of us would be prepared to look past a man having 30 to 60 wives if all of them were of legal age at the time of "marriage."

On the subject, when are the indictments of the Colorado City [school] officials, promised by Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, coming about?
Kara McAllister, Tempe

Drawing first blood: Though I appreciated the issues addressed in your feature story "Wanted: Armed and Dangerous," I was perplexed by a quote from an unnamed source claiming that ritualistic human sacrifice, or "blood atonement," was a 19th-century Mormon doctrine.

I've been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 10 years now, and never in all my readings of its historical documents have I ever come across evidence for such a claim. Surely if such an ugly practice really was part of my church's early history, I would benefit from learning about it.

Would you kindly enlighten me on the source of your disturbing find? I look forward to reading whatever literature you might refer me to, if you can find anything remotely credible.
Brian Nyberg, Tempe

John Dougherty responds: While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement in 1978 that ritual sacrifice had never been practiced by the mainstream Mormon church, fundamentalist Mormon polygamists have taken the idea from a September 21, 1856, sermon by Brigham Young in which he was quoted as saying: "There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins; and the smoking incense would atone for their sins, whereas, if such is not the case, they will stick to them and remain upon them in the spirit world. I know, when you hear my brethren telling about cutting people off from the Earth, that you consider it is strong doctrine; but it is to save them, not to destroy them."

Bird Droppings

Breasts and the city: First you come out in favor of Donald Trump, and then you slam ugly women breast-feeding in public ("Gomer, You're Fired!" and "Lactose Intolerants," The Bird, Robrt L. Pela, November 3 and November 10). Well, I'm scandalized!

Really? No, not really. I love it! Finally, somebody has the guts to say what needs to be said.

Anybody living in the 24th Street and Camelback area should wake up! They live in the center of what passes for big-city Phoenix. And, of course, we should allow Trump to have his way, because we need to become a big city, finally! Anybody who says otherwise should join Mayor Phil Gordon and move to Mayberry.

As for the mothers nursing in public, does anybody really need to see this? This strikes me the same way as the issue of crying brats in movie theaters; why does the public have to be subjected to other people's children in public places? Can't these mothers simply shelter themselves somewhere rather than making the rest of us look at their sagging, milk-engorged breasts?

Okay, maybe I didn't get the mommy gene, but why is it in America that if you don't want to tolerate children in every way, shape and form, you are a worthless human being? There's something wrong with this picture, and thanks for saying what many of the rest of us are thinking (though I would even prohibit Jenna Jameson and Britney Spears from popping one out in public; it's just rude!).

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