http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/08/03/texas.polygamist.jeffs/index.html?hpt=ju_c1

The jury today heard an audio tape detailing Warren Jeffs having sex with a 12 year old “wife” and instructing other wives and women about sex on a “celestial” level.  They are told in the audio tape that pleasing him pleases “God” and that they must help each other be ready for when he “calls them to service”.  The audio tape disturbed many in the courtroom, including those who were in the gallery.  Jurors looked down, possibly at the transcript of the tape provided by the prosecution, some covered their eyes while others glared at Jeffs.  His jury is comprised of ten women and two men.  The judge, Barbara Walthers, overruled his preachy objections during the tape and it is unlike that the jury heard him object.  Jeffs is accused of the sexual assault of a 12 year old girl and a 14 year old girl who gave birth to his daughter when she was 15 (DNA confirmed).  Jeffs defense team was released by him in order that he could represent himself in the case.  So far all of his objections revolve around the first amendment right to freedom of religion.  He has called himself “God” and threatened the jury and judge with destruction and disease.  The prosecution rested today after the audio tape was played.  The jury wore headphones that clarified the tape along with a transcript in which to follow along.  There have been reports that the girls’ families were honored to give their daughters in “celestial marriage” to Jeffs.

This is a perfect example of how religion can dangerously manipulate people.  Not only was it disgusting what this man did to these two girls, it’s deeply disturbing that he did it because he was raised to believe he is God on earth, his father also married young girls and had sex with them, and that he thinks he has the right to do this in the name of his religious right constitutional and “celestially”.  That he would make an audio tape instructing women how to please their men, but that he was using a 12 year old girl as an example.  In the tape, he asks her if she is alright and a tiny voice says “I feel fine, thank you” in response.  It is so appalling, so terrible, and so disgusting that he is doing this that after hearing about it, I wanted to shower.  The twisting of the law of the land to cover his sexual assault of young girls as being right is a completely alien concept to me.  Then I realize something very telling, there are people who do things that are immoral in the name of religion every day.  Maybe not this immoral, but immoral enough to make disbelievers wonder what the hell people are thinking.

He honestly believes that he is afforded this right to “celestial” unions via The Book of Mormon, as the sect he leads is a sect of the Fundmentalist Latter Day Saints.  Joseph Smith, the author of the book, also took many “celestial” wives and guaranteed them that because they were “married” they would go to heaven.  The tenets of the faith as exampled by Joseph Smith’s habit of “celestially” marrying already married women has been long abandoned by the Latter Day Saints church for about a century.  While I do not have a problem with people that are poly, they should be consenting adults and not young girls who don’t have fully developed brains to handle marriage and child rearing.  It’s sick, wrong, and disgusting to do that to a little girl.  It’s not just happening here in the US, but it also happens in many African, Middle Eastern, and largely fundamentalist Muslim countries for thousands of years.  Where is the disconnect occurring that these people think it’s right to marry young girls?  The Qur’an documents that Mohammad actually married a young girl and when she matured, to the ripe ole age of 8, he had sex with her and produced children with her.  Look it up.  Her name is Aisha.

Drawing the line at what the first amendment affords people in the name of religion can be a tough thing to accomplish, but when it so blatantly breaks laws that protect young girls from sexual abuse; I’m all about drawing that line.  When it infringes upon women to take a “lesser” person role in a relationship, I am all for scribbling that line ten thousand times.  In our minds, it’s wrong.  In the minds of the people who are raised in an insular culture to believe that it’s okay to be married at 12 to a guy six times that age, it’s not only okay but it’s something to celebrate.  I have an issue with that.  I’m seeing that these fundamentalist religions are imposing immoral values onto their children.  They are controlling their women by keeping them powerless to incite change, equal rights, and an opportunity to do what they feel is right; against the better judgement of the men in their lives controlling their every move like puppets.  You can call it “western” thinking all you want, but when you are sexually abusing someone too young who has no rights except to “please” her man, you have taken your religious right way too far.  No one should have to give up their hopes and dreams because they are expected to marry and be a baby factory at 12 years old.  Even at 14.  Even at 16.  Or 17.  It’s called pedophilia and it’s wrong.

It opens up a very real question: where do we draw the line on other religious rights?  Religions manipulate people with fear, tenets, and societal pressure.  Leaders of religions that engage in physical, mental and emotional abuse should be held accountable because that shouldn’t be a religious right either.  Millions listen to preachers on TV or in their church telling them what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right according to an archaic book that is at best obsolete.  Thousands of people will gather on August 6th in Austin for a day of prayer because the governor says he can’t handle all the problems on his own, that “God” has to help.  Thousands more face excommunication if they don’t do what their leader says.  Thousands more are bankrupted paying for church services that should be free, really.  Thousands more will be looking out for “Christ” in October because some leader calculated that as the day he’s going to “return”.  How many more ridiculous abuses are we going to have to witness happening to the religious in the name of religion before we draw the line of religious freedom afforded by the first amendment?  When are we allowed to say enough is enough? After thousands commit suicide because they couldn’t “pray away the gay”?  After someone’s cruelty involves a five year old in a chain locker on a boat?  After someone marries their 12 year old to someone they think is the “Prophet”?  After someone shoots an abortion doctor in the name of “God”?  After people who are physically hurt by the person they revere as their leader punches them in the face and kicks them when they hit the ground?  After another girl is murdered by her father in a “honor killing”?  After so many people who want marriage equality are squeezed out of their rights to marry and benefit from the union legally?  If not then, when?  What is it going to have to take before someone says “Enough!”?

It seems logical to draw the line when it begins to hurt and kill people.  It seems logical to draw the line when it involves abuses.  It seems logical that we draw the line at illegal activities that involve little girls.  Is there more logic to be applied to people who want freedom from religion?  Is there more logic to be applied when the President of that country says “God bless America” after every speech?  I draw the line at religious freedom for all of these things.  There are more and more people agreeing with me daily.  No one should be a slave to religion.  When it becomes slavery, it doesn’t deserve to be protected by the first amendment.  When disgusting in the name of religion happens, the line needs to be drawn.  Ten thousand times.

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