Culture Shock

Prophet margin: A very strong case can be made that the polygamists of northern Arizona and southern Utah are, at their core, a criminal cult subsidized -- in large part -- by tax dollars ("Dirty Tricks," John Dougherty, July 31). It is a truly shocking and generally underexamined chapter of the American Southwest.

And now to have the story politicized for cheap and cynical electoral gain is not only reprehensible -- it is also heartbreaking.

Like the Taliban, the polygamists of Colorado City are victimizing women and girls. It is victimization that has gone on for generations and it is going on today.

Thanks to some bold reporting -- including the recent work of John Dougherty -- plus some gutsy police investigative work, the states of Arizona and Utah now seem on the verge of doing something positive about this very serious issue.

But the dissemination of silly and fraudulent memos and the playing of political dirty tricks are not going to help the situation -- and they are certainly not going to protect the next little 15-year-old girl from being called before the polygamists' prophet and given as a plural wife to a 45-year-old pedophile.

Mike Watkiss

Excommunication breakdown: I am a 30-year-old member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often referred to as the "Mormons" because of our belief in the Book of Mormon, a companion to the Bible. I simply wanted to ask if you would be cautious of how you connect the fundamentalist polygamists to the "actual" LDS church. These particular people are not acting within the teachings of the Mormon faith, and will have been excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As I have mentioned, I am an acting member of the LDS church, and do not believe, even remotely, the beliefs and practices that these polygamist fundamentalists do. We believe in being married in the temple to one person only, and remaining faithful to that partner for eternity.

Please don't paint a bad picture of the LDS church. FLDS are not at all the same thing as LDS. As fundamentalist terrorists are a break-off of the peaceful religion of Islam, so are the FLDS a sadly misled and confused people, broken off and astray from the true Mormon church. They have taken the true, Christian teachings of the church and twisted them drastically. Again, I ask that you might please be sensitive to us "real" Mormons, who are living a Christian religion whose beliefs include obeying the laws of the land.

Jared Haddock

Article of faith: "Bound by Fear: Polygamy in Arizona" (John Dougherty, March 13) was just an amazing article. I want to thank you for what appears to be a ton of quality research and interviewing. I passed through this town (Colorado City) about a week ago and stopped to have breakfast at an unmarked cafe. Suffice it to say it was one of the most uncomfortable eating experiences I've ever had. I became anxious to learn a little more about this culture before making up my mind about just what I had seen.

I'm a non-Mormon from Salt Lake City who had always looked at the fundamentalist polygamists as the poor unfortunate offspring of the all-controlling Mormon machine. I thought they should be left alone because they aren't hurting anyone or taking anything from anyone. I'm starting to see them as one and the same.

I teach a high school class called Psychology of Prejudice and I plan to use this article for our classwork. Thank you for your excellent work.

Bill Lawrence
Santa Monica, California

Road Warriors

Zen and the art of bicycle maintenance: I just wanted to write New Times and let you all know that it's awesome to see art and function collide in such a great way as these custom bikes ("Road Show," Michele Laudig, July 24). I am from Los Angeles and have just recently moved to Phoenix. I seriously thought I would be ditching my hometown full of art and culture for a giant dust bowl. It's great to see smart, innovative, fairly young men making something of their lives that demand an imagination. See? We need more people doing what they love instead of doing what others demand from them! I find people like this brilliant and sexy and always worth the time to view their art. I want to know about showings!! Educate me on more culture out here!! Let me know where I can see the local underground art scene for myself without having to buy my own art gallery (not that I wouldn't mind owning the cow bike).