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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Shameful Secrets in Religion

Child sexual predators need to be stopped. Full stop.
Add religion to the mix and child sexual predation becomes a legal nightmare. In my opinion, Warren Jeffs is a child sexual predator. But, because his activities are protected under the umbrella of "religious freedom" he is getting away with his patriarchal abuses…at least thus far.
Childhood is a sacred time. Children deserve to laugh and play and have fun without responsibilities of adults in order to have a well-established foundation for when they DO become adults. Children denied a childhood grow up to be unbalanced adults. Sexual abuse is detrimental to the healthy development of children.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) has much funding. The reason? The flock of "sheeple" herded by their god-prophet gives much of their money to a fund to ensure their individual and composite survival. Among other things, these funds are used to bribe officials, according to Daphne Bramham's book, The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in a Polygamous Mormon Sect. "The 1942 document that Salt Lake City accountant and priesthood councilor Rulon Jeffs drew up establishing the United Effort Plan trust is a bizarre blend of faith and legalese…What this means is that the Saints turn over their money, labour and property to the church in the hope that they'll derive some benefit from the trust—and from its administrators, who also dole out wives."(p. 123).
There is much corruption in the FLDS. In some communities, FLDS members hold political positions. In others, the Sheriff is FLDS. FLDS lobbyists pay officials for "favors" — like turning a blind eye to the suffering of women and children. Some police officers would not help the women who DO TRY to escape. The police return the escapees, instead, to the commune where they receive punishment. It is no wonder that Warren Jeffs is a free man while he owns 59 wives who are NOT free. His wives are slaves. Women and girls are ALWAYS "lowly servants" in religious cults.
The families who sold their underage daughters into servitude did so for a reason, most likely to buy religious favors from their god-prophet. The daughters literally have been "pimped" to gain these favors. There are several laws in Canada against "pimping" young girls, are there not?
In the eyes of the law, Warren Jeffs is a child sexual predator. Just because he "marries" these little girls does not make his conduct acceptable or legal. The girls are underage and I imagine they must be scared to death. Where are the mothers and the other 57 wives in this situation? Certainly absent for their daughters. There is no help — religiously, morally, emotionally, psychologically, or other — in a religious cult. Women are powerless where patriarchs rule. There is no help for these little girls when the entire community has sold them to Warren Jeffs as sexual toys.
Women and children in servitude need to be freed from such abuses. Unfortunately, because they are so conditioned and brainwashed, most of these women and children cannot even recognize that they need freeing. That's how dangerous religious cults are to the freedom and sanity of religious life for women and children. There is no free will and there is no sanity. The result is sexual slavery for church members. Raping of underage girls takes place in the name of God. How can a 21st Century society such as Canada condone activities which enable heinous crimes against women and girls? How can these offenses be labelled "religious freedom"? Shame on Canada.
The law against polygamy stands in spite of the corruption of officials who do not enforce said law. Still, the law against polygamy is the only law that could help the women and girls in Bountiful — if they chose to ask for help — and if corrupt officials did not interfere. These women and children are just as entitled to receive justice as any other Canadian, are they not?
What can anyone do about sheriffs, judges and political officials who are biased because of their FLDS affiliation? Lobbying dollars, political party "donations" and outright bribes can tighten up a lot of lips. Corruption must be rooted out before justice will become the right of all Bountiful's inhabitants. So, first off, we need officials who are honest and who will not accept a pay-off when offered one. Next, officials need to report attempted offerings so that charges could be laid against the FLDS for the attempted bribe-offerings. Those charges would be levied on top of the child sex crimes for which child sexual predators — even religious ones — rightfully are charged.
Update: I have now finished reading "The Secret Lives of Saints" by Daphne Bramham. Warren Jeffs is in jail, serving two consecutive terms of five years to life in prison (less 15 months he already served) on charges from a forced marriage in 2001. In addition to the jail term that could be as little as nine years or as much as two lifetimes, Jeffs was assessed fines amounting to $37,000 (p. 433).
The above issues have not been addressed yet.
The gears of justice turn s-l-o-w-l-y.

Visit website "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2011. Permission is granted to copy and re-distribute this transmission on the condition that it is distributed freely.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Times were Simple

Our family lived on a small mixed farm at Sandy Hook in the Interlake region of Manitoba when I was a child. By “small mixed farm” I mean we had 40 acres in which to produce enough vegetables, grain and hay to feed the family of nine, to feed about 20 head of cattle and to feed 20 chickens plus several dogs and cats.

My father was self-sufficient, in that he grew hay and grain crops. He always saved some seed for the next season’s crop. Some of the wheat we ground into flour at a mill in the nearby township of Teulon, some was ground up for cattle feed, and some was sold to the grain elevator in Winnipeg Beach to pay for our family’s living expenses.

We also grew alfalfa and other hay crops to feed the cattle. My dad liked to harvest alfalfa just at the time when it was in the flowering stage—the stage when alfalfa was its most nutritious, he figured. We were able to harvest two crops of alfalfa a year that way. We filled our barn attic with the newly dried alfalfa and it would last all season until the next harvest.

Additionally, our family grew an organic vegetable garden which barely cost anything. Seeds were pennies a package, in those days. We germinated the seeds well ahead of time so that when the ground was warm enough, usually past the first full moon after the spring equinox, we planted the tiny shoots and nurtured them to fruition.

I never knew another way to farm. It was a day when there was no such thing as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Everything was natural. We had no credit cards and no debts.

Years later, I lived in Saskatoon and did “temp” work to supplement my family’s income. I was called to the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool to type and file. Because of my background in farming, both the employment agency and the Wheat Pool felt I was an ideal candidate for the job. I picked up several binders filled to bursting. My assignment was to convert these into files. Upon opening the binders, I discovered that there was a new way to farm — by Monsanto’s permission. Who the heck was Monsanto, anyway? I had a lot of time to think as I was creating new files for all these contracts. It puzzled me greatly why farmers would desire this way of conducting business; after all, how could a self-sustaining system such as my father’s be improved?

It wasn’t until I got to binder number two that a clear picture began to emerge. That binder was filled with lawsuits against independent farmers.

Monsanto was gaining an edge on the farmers by claiming to “invent” seeds. One might say seeds are natural and cannot be invented. But, what Monsanto was doing in their labs was quietly re-inventing seeds breeding them to resist bugs and disease. Monsanto then applied for a Patent. Via lobbying dollars, a great deal of secrecy and other monetary exchange with government agricultural entities, they were successful in obtaining patents on their magic seeds. All in the name of progressive farming and agriculture.

Initially, farmers might have thought bug- and blight-resistance were desirable qualities in seeds, and I supposed that was Monsanto’s “hook.” Indeed, the way Monsanto presented the concept to the farmers, these qualities were pleasing — no more fear of bug-eaten crops, no more fear of blight and mold. Ah, a savior in the farmers' midst. Yes, Monsanto presented themselves as the savior of farmers. At this point I wondered why the farmers felt they needed to be saved. After all, they had a good thing going, didn’t they?

And another thing puzzled me. Would not these new seeds make "crop insurance" redundant? If so, why were the farmers still obligated to spend money on crop insurance? It was a question for which I had no answer.

In real life, bees, butterflies, flies, bugs and a multitude of other natural winged creatures were beneficial to the crops. As children, we used to play in the hay crops. I loved roaming, jumping and hiding in the sweet-smelling alfalfa growing in our field. I loved chasing butterflies. Once I even stumbled upon a killdeer’s nest near the edge of our field. We marked it and guarded it so as to keep it safe through the early harvest. I observed with great curiosity the honey bees that drifted in from the nearby bee-keeper where we used to buy cheap honey. As the bee-keeper always told us in this Norwegian accent and with such fondness in his voice, “Ah, how can I charge you big money when you let my bees pollinate your crops and make me this bee-ootiful honey…?” Ah, unadulterated, unpasteurized, sweet honey. My dad always slipped him a few extra dollars along with a bottle of home-brew. Indeed, what we had was a self-sustaining community of cooperation and respect.

Somehow, unknown to the small farmers, a corporate entity known as Monsanto was growing into a monster and attacking the independent farmers. “How could a corporation grow into such an ogre?” I asked myself while typing new file labels. Again, because I spent my days looking over the information as I was creating those files, a picture began to form.

It’s all in the presentation, I realized. The farmers who were looking for an easier lifestyle heard the words “bug-resistant” and “blight-resistant” without thinking what the newly patented seeds would do to the winged creatures performing the pollination. Some farmers bought the Monsanto story. This accounted for the contracts.

But where did the lawsuits originate? Sadly, as a direct result of the “resistant” seeds grown by the contracted farmer next door to the independent farmer. Monsanto charged the independent farmers with “contaminating” their contracted farmer’s magic seeds. The “uncooperative” farmers continued to “brown bag” their seeds, remaining independent of Monsanto. Monsanto’s actions had a divisive effect on the neighborhood.

I mulled over Monsanto’s very framing of the natural concept of saving seeds — “brown-bagging.” They made annual natural seed collection for the next year’s crop appear somehow disdainful and undesirable. Monsanto filed lawsuit after lawsuit against the farmers who would not cooperate with their “new improved” way of farming. In other words, if Monsanto could not schmooze the farmers into buying their magic seeds, they would sue to gain control and instill fear. Their lawsuits produced subsequent unsustainability, generally recognized as poverty.

Why do I say magic seeds? The seeds had one other quality to them. Monsanto began producing “terminator” seeds which would in effect “commit suicide” after one harvest and could never be saved for the next season — as the “terminator” seeds would never germinate again. The farmers who were persuaded — via contract — became enslaved to Monsanto and were obligated to buy new seeds each year. The farmers who were coerced by a lawsuit — well, think how it would feel being bullied by a merciless legal corporation enabled by the government.

The contracted farmers were forced to pay Monsanto’s fees along with more “terminator” seeds each year. How could Monsanto lose? Self-sufficiency became a thing of the past, as farmers became slaves to Monsanto’s corporate way of conducting business for dollars. Now it would be all about Monsanto’s bottom line at the expense of the farmers’ independent lifestyle.

My dad retired from farming and was never approached by Monsanto. But, I do know that my father would have been one to have a lawsuit on his hands. He believed in sustainability.

Teulon does not have a mill to produce flour anymore. Winnipeg Beach does not have a grain elevator anymore. Sandy Hook does not have a bee-keeper anymore. The other thing Monsanto never told the farmers was that their “resistant” seeds would interfere with the natural life of the bees and other beneficial insects and winged creatures.  Gone are the days when children could play in a crop of wheat — the field would now be toxic. The children would come home covered in a rash. Or worse, they could suffocate in the field and never arrive home. Birds would fall from the sky and indeed that has already occurred. The reporter read her script declaring the cause of death was unknown. I have my own theory about the rea$on for the media’$ $ilence.

Farmers have to be able to claim back their power and their self-sufficiency. Companies like Monsanto must be given the opportunity to pay back the farmers for their unethical ways of conducting business. The day will come, I believe, that members holding government office will exercise their conscience in an ethical and humane way that will benefit their constituents, instead of bow to the corporate lobbying dollars they receive.

Visit website "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2011.