The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints is one of the largest religious groups in the United States. Despite the size and prevalence of their congregation, many misconceptions about Mormons persist, in part because many people confuse the larger church with its smaller fundamentalist offshoots. Many of the most outlandish stories that circulate about Mormonism only apply to the small splinter group, the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS. Led in absentia by their president and prophet Warren Jeffs, it remains an often secretive organization.
These stories, as recounted by people claiming to be former members of the fundamentalist Mormon community, may help illuminate some details of the FLDS lifestyle, the sometimes difficult lives of FLDS women, and the steps they took to get out of the church.
'My Sister And Her Husband Came To Me And Said I Should Marry Her Husband'
One former FLDS member recalls how, after her first marriage inside the church, she was asked to marry her brother-in-law:
So, after a tough few months, my sister and her husband came to me and said I should marry her husband and be part of their family. This isn't unusual: Her husband had a brother married to three sisters. They call us sister-wives, which is supposed to symbolize how tight the relationship between plural wives should be. In reality, men use the term as an excuse.
'I Have 40+ Siblings'
Redditor /u/used2bflds explains the chaos and challenges of raising dozens of children in the same home:
I have 40+ siblings. I do know the exact number (more than some people from the FLDS can say, sadly). Mealtimes were served youngest first, then second helpings were a buffet style. Boys and girls were in separate bedrooms, but not much more than that.
'A Couple Of My Brothers Were Told They Were No Longer Welcome'
Young men (and occasionally married men) would be asked to leave the church. We were usually told they were being "called to repentance," but there was never any plan for them to come back. Sometimes people would, but it was few and far between. A couple of my brothers were told they were no longer welcome. But they were told they wouldn't have a chance to return. When I was in the church, I believed there was a reason for it, (they both had... records) but both have since turned their lives around and become awesome individuals. They were told by religious leaders that they would never amount to anything.
'The Fights Ended Up With My Dad Kneeling On Top Of Me'
While discussing his early childhood in the church, a former Redditor details a confrontation with his father:
So he comes at me again trying to grab my face, and I block him. Then we start fist fighting. I've been fighting my dad like this since I was about 7, so I'm really good at blocking his punches. I never attacked first - as a general rule I may have pissed him off on purpose, but I ALWAYS made sure he threw the first punch. I wasn't the type to rage at my dad. I raged a lot, but I wouldn't be aggressive like him.
Needless to say, most of the time the fights ended up with my dad kneeling on top of me, punching my face while I'm yelling trying to block it. My only other option was to get around him and run out of the house.
I've slept outside over 50 times between about 9 and 18 years old when I ran away.