Friday, May 16, 2008

Mormons III: A Concise History of Joseph Smith

Harold Bloom aptly describes Joseph Smith as a religious genius. Through force of personality and spiritual intellect, Smith converted enough followers to found what would become the first indigenous religion in the United States of America. To understand the Latter-Day Saints, and polygamy in America, one must understand the life and times of Joseph Smith.

Smith was born into a poor farming family living a hardscrabble existence in the Green Mountains of Vermont. When Joseph was a boy they resettling to Palmyra, a small New York town near the banks of the Eerie Canal.

Smith came of age in a period known to historians as the Second Great Awakening, when revivalists roamed the American countryside preaching myriad strains of the Protestant faith. Smith’s region was so visited by these itinerant preachers that came to be known as the Burned-over district. Young Smith struggled over which of these rival Christian faiths he should join, and one afternoon while praying in a grove near his parents’ house, he received a vision through a blinding shaft of light he feared would set the woods on fire. The human forms of God and his son Jesus Christ appeared side by side in the beam dressed in flowing white robes. Joseph asked them which among the competing faiths he should join, and God replied that he should not join any of them, that he should await a higher calling. He later received a series of visitations by the angel Moroni, who directed the young Smith to a rock that harbored gold plates covered in hieroglyphics.

After waiting several years for the appropriate time announced by the angel, Smith dug up the plates and began the translation of the ancient text. Over the course of eight weeks Smith, with the aid of a seer stone, deciphered the glyphs line by line and read aloud to a scribe who sat on the other side of a blanket that hung between himself and the prophet. After the original translation was lost, many think at the hands of the of the jealous and disbelieving wife of Joseph’s assistant, Smith for a second time translated line by line the 275,000 words that were to become the Book of Mormon.

The book revealed a fantastic explanation for the original settling of the Americas. The golden plates that preserved the text had been buried over a thousand years before Smith’s time by the same Moroni who had been the last descendant of the Nephites, a group who claimed to descend from the lost tribe of Israel. These ancient prophets turned mariners escaped Babylon and sailed to the Americas six hundred years before the birth of Christ. In the New World the tribe splintered into brotherly factions and warred for centuries. Moroni was the last of the Nephites, and the group who defeated his people, the Lamanites, were cursed with dark skin and descended into savagery. (The LDS considers the Native Americans to be descended from this cursed tribe of Laman) This is a concise history of the New World according to the Book of Mormon. Mormons still believe that this new testament of the Lord Jesus Christ and his father gives them a unique position as new chosen people of our time. All pre-existing faiths have lost their mandates, since over time links to their respective prophets have been severed. The Latter-Day Saints, on the other hand, can trace directly back to Joseph Smith through their Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. For this reason the Book Of Mormon refers to all non-believers, even the Jews, as Gentiles.

The anti-Mormons of Smith’s day, doubting his revelation and the existence of the gold plates, put forth a secular explanation for the source of the Mormon testament. Eight relatives and colleagues of the Reverend Solomon Spaulding claim that the Book of Mormon was actually a forgery of the professor’s Manuscript Lost, a novel about a man who unearths the hieroglyphic record of an ancient people who sailed from Biblical lands to ancient America. They were fueled in this conviction by the disappearance of a copy of Spaulding’s work from a house next door to a work site where young Joseph had been a day laborer prior to meeting his (first) wife Emma.

Others challenged the text as nothing more than a verbose imitation of the Old Testament. Mark Twain described the Book of Mormon as “chloroform in print.” He wrote, “If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle—keeping awake while he did was, at any rate.”

Real or fictional—none of world’s religions can be ‘explained’ with empirical evidence—Smith’s final product was a fantastic revelation, one Smith felt compelled to share. He confided only in his family at first. Then with the first publication of the Book of Mormon coupled with the outdoor revivals typical of the day, Smith began to accrue a growing flock of believers.

By all accounts, Smith was a more compelling preacher than prose writer. Repeated testimonies from his contemporaries speak of the prophet’s incredible magnetism, of his “air of majesty”, “luminous pallor”, and the blue oceans of his eyes. Though highly charismatic, Smith was an unusual prophet of the Lord. Smith was a notorious drinker, gambler and womanizer, according to the governor of Illinois he, “cursed like a pirate.” Before he discovered the gold plates under a rock on Hill Cumorah, Smith had been a treasure hunter who had been taken to court for the fraud of peddling his skills as a diviner. And that was the first in a series of fraud case involving the Prophet.

Though he and his converts would face years of religious persecution in the midwestern states, the first and last times Smith was run out of town were due to his worldly pursuits. In mid-1835, Smith established the Banking Company of Kirtland Ohio, legally incorporated as an “anti-banking” venture in an attempt to avoid regulation. He raised initial capital from his followers and began issuing notes signed with his name and with the implication they were as good as specie. The notes soon spread beyond the Mormon community. After the agent of a Pittsburgh financier arrived to inquire about the bank’s reserves, the currency collapsed. Saints and Gentiles alike lost their life savings in the scandal. A mob of non-believers drug Smith from his home where he was tarred and feathered.

Indeed, the Mormons under Smith also faced religious persecution. After Joseph and his flock were run out of Ohio, they would come to face trouble in Missouri. Though antebellum Missouri is better remembered for its conflicts between slavery advocates and abolitions, the late 1830’s a series of raids and retaliations flared into what became known as the Mormon War. Slavery was an issue in the conflict. Most Mormons, coming from the northeast, were abolitionists. Most of their neighbors had settled in Missouri from the south and were pro-slavery. But the Missourians also came to resent the new settlers' claims that all of the surrounding land was the Zion of a new chosen people. The Saints were equally distrusting of the Gentiles and a series of raids and counter raids escalated into standing conflict. The war climaxed with Governor Lilburn Boggs executive order of October 1838 calling for the extermination or forced removal of all Mormons from the state. Three days after the order was issued, 17 Mormon men, women, and children were murdered by a Missouri militia at the Haun’s Mill Masacre. Smith realized that unless they fled, he and his followers faced extinction in Missouri.

Smith was determined to avoid another debacle, and with his next settlement sought to build institutions that would make his followers a force to reckon with. Smith and his Saints resettled in Illinois on a bluff above the Mississippi, vacant since it was flanked by malarial marshland. They drained the swamps, and within five years Smith and his followers had built up a town he called Nauvoo that rivaled Chicago in population. Smith made it known that his sizable voting bloc was available to the highest bidder. The Illinois Whig Party was willing to do anything for the votes, and Smith negotiated with them for a town charter that gave Nauvoo unprecedented autonomy and local control. The city of Nauvoo had the right to make and enforce its own laws, establish a court, and field a city militia. The latest incorporation of Zion possessed a legal status that made it a virtual enclave within the state. And Smith acted the part of founding father. He declared himself Lieutenant-General of the 6,000 strong Nauvoo Militia, a rank that hadn’t been held by any officer in the United States since George Washington.

It was in Nauvoo where Smith set about perpetuating his biggest fraud of all. That, or the Prophet received the most startling revelation of Mormonism—that church leaders should follow the example of the Old Testament prophets and take a number of wives. In 1843 he began to circulate this revelation on “celestial marriage” among the highest-ranking members of the church. Almost without exception they were horrified. Surely even the most ardent believers would question a faith that explicitly condoned polygamy, they reasoned. But Smith was adamant on the point, and continued to beseech church elders to live the new principle, as he had been doing in secret for some time. Smith anticipated his own revelation by nearly a decade when he seduced a favorite house servant in Kirtland.

In 1842, one year before Smith’s revelation, his former right hand man, Illinois power broker, and first mayor of Nauvoo, John Bennett, published the 341 page A History of the Saints. This work was a scathing critique of Mormonism that included an expose on the practice of polygamy as secretly practiced by the Mormon elite. Vigorous character assassination of Bennett—he was in all senses an opportunist and a one-time physician who had made a living performing abortions—limited the book’s fallout among the rank and file Mormons. Still, hundreds of people left the church. The work convinced many more non-Saints in Illinois of the dangers of Mormonism. The more outspoken Protestant denominations now railed against the unsavory cult resident on their western border.

Later testimonies corroborate Bennett’s most scandalous claims—that Smith kept an office above his grocery store in Nauvoo where he and other church leaders (including Brigham Young) conducted their plural courtships. Smith, according to Bennett, would invite women he had selected to be future wives to his office and then lead them to an adjoining bedroom. There he would tell his young woman, or sometimes girl, that she was sworn to secrecy about what was to follow. Then he’d tell her that he had long wanted her, that he asked the Lord for her, and that the Lord had said that He wanted Joseph to have her. Then Joseph would try to kiss her, which would invariably induce his subject to faint. Upon revival she would furiously protest on behalf of her chastity. Smith would then explain the benefits of a celestial marriage, that it was not “till death do us part” but a union where she would be “sealed” to the Lord’s Prophet in this world and for eternity beyond. If she still did not consent, Smith’s final argument was the powerful of all. He would remind his future wife that punishment for refusing God’s command was ex-communication and damnation in the afterlife.

Joseph’s apostles continued to fear the repercussions should their polygamy become public knowledge within Nauvoo, and some were slow to participate in the new commandment. The resisters seem to have been moderately successful in containing their prophet. Eliza Smith’s father, Chauncey Webb, who was an influential Mormon due to his entrepreneurial successes despite the frequent forced relocations, was approached by Smith and encouraged to pray on the matter of taking another wife. Chauncey did not act on the request.

Smith’s revelation of 1843 came long after the start of his foray into polygamy. It seems his motive for writing out the new doctrine was to placate his wife Emma. After circulating a copy among select elders, Smith presented the revelation to Emma. The first wife was not amused. Emma pulled the tract from the Smith’s hands, placed a candle in the fireplace, and set the paper alight.

Smith’s will to power matched his insatiable libido. In 1844 he declared himself a candidate for President of the United States and dispersed his Saints throughout the country on a mission to campaign on his behalf. This ambition further intensified scrutiny on Smith. A former counselor to Smith, William Law, who had become Smith’s enemy after the prophet tried to seduce his wife, started a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor. The Expositor narrated in graphic detail Smith’s appetite for new female converts. Smith could not countenance an attack from within his own fiefdom. He personally led the mob that attacked the office of the Expositor. Smith and his henchmen mangled the press works and destroyed every copy of the paper they could get their hands on. The prophet miscalculated the reaction to his violent censure. Citizens of Illinois were outraged. Within days the governor issued a order for his arrest.

Joseph Smith’s first response was to flee across the river to Iowa. His wife among others counseled him to return, that he would appear to be a coward before his people if he abandoned them. He agreed. He re-crossed the river and submitted to state authorities. Within days a mob descended on the jail-house where Smith and his deputies were being housed in an upstairs cell. The skeleton crew militia guarding the jail was loath to fire upon fellow citizens and was powerless to stop the mob. As they pounded down his door, Smith unloaded a six-shooter into the mob and then turned to leap out of a second story window. By most accounts his bullet ridden body was dead on impact. So instead of being tried an adulterous charlatan before a court of law, Smith died a martyr. The timing couldn’t have been better since the issue of polygamy was threatening to rip apart the community of Saints in Nauvoo. Smith’s murder gave the troubled Saints a rallying point, and Brigham Young returned from a mission to become the Moses and Paul of Joseph’s new religion. Young delivered the Saints west to Zion and built up the institutions of what is now the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The facts in the colorful history of Joseph Smith paint him a charismatic rascal. But who is to say whether or not he was a vessel of God’s will? Religious belief does not reside in the rational or the realm of earthly deeds. Had there been printing presses in the days of antiquity, we might have similar evidence of mortal weaknesses of the Biblical prophets. True or false, Smith's religious contribution is unparalleled in the history of the United States, and he may one day be remembered as the most significant religious figure since Martin Luther. As the architect of the only religion indigenous to the United States, he is surely an underappreciated figure. Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mormons Part Two: The 27th Mrs. Young

This is four part series. Scroll down or click the link to the right for the previous entry.

In 1873, Anna Leonowens, of Anna and the King fame, wrote a now forgotten second book, The Romance of the Harem. The work focused on the role of polygamy in the Siamese court where she had been governess to King Mongut’s sixty odd children. She documented experiences from among the 9,000 wives and concubines of the king and pulled no punches when sharing her opinions on the practice.

“Polygamy—or properly speaking, concubinage—and slavery are the curses of the country,” wrote Mrs. Leonowens, “The number of concubines is limited only by the means of the man. As king is source of all wealth and influence, dependent kings, princes and nobles, and all who seek the royal favor, vie with each other in bringing their most beautiful and accomplished daughters to the royal harem... in Siam, woman is the slave of man.”

The book was a sensation in America. It was a success not because of its exotic content, however, but because of a familiar chord it struck with the American reading public. Polygamy was the source of national scandal in 1873, and because of this Mrs. Leonowens’ book was perfectly timed. Her work was confirmation that polygamy linked our country with the least progressive places on earth, the harems of Arabia and the calcifying empires of the Far East. Romance of the Harem fueled ire and humiliation at a peculiar institution practiced openly within US territory.

Americans in the second half 19th century did not equivocate on the issue of polygamy. Polygamy was considered akin to another peculiar institution, recently abolished African slavery. In the penultimate election before the Civil War, Republican John Fremont’s presidential platform of 1856 directly tied the two institutions with the denunciation of, “those twin relics of barbarism—polygamy and slavery.”

Many of the same reformers who led the fight against slavery took up cause against polygamy. Famed author Harriet Beecher Stowe compared the anti-polygamy crusade to the abolitionist movement, “we must loose the bonds of a cruel slavery whose chains have cut into the very hearts of thousands of our sisters,” she wrote, “a slavery which debases and degrades womanhood, and the family.”

President Lincoln signed the first federal anti-polygamy laws in 1861, and for three decades each successive administration stepped up the pressure for the Mormons to conform to the law. Not until the government threatened the seizure of all church held land did the Mormons drop their practice of plural marriage. This capitulation paved the way for Utah’s statehood in 1890.

1873 saw a national flowering of anti-polygamist sentiment, and the person most responsible for the information on the practice was Ann Eliza Young, the 27th wife of Brigham Young, the second prophet of the LDS and leader of the Mormon exodus to Utah. That was the year Mrs. Young brought her personal reflections and the grievances of Utah’s plural wives to a national audience.

Under threat of violence and ensuing excommunication from the LDS, Eliza escaped from Utah and abandoned her marriage to the Prophet.

Eliza then toured the country lecturing on the evils of polygamy in the Utah territory. Audiences were captivated by her tale. It was a tale of neglect, of a parsimonious husband who, as controller of LDS tithing revenue, was considered to be one of the wealthiest men in the Western United States. Most touching were the pains that she claimed infected the hearts of all plural lives, a desperate competition for the divided attention of a distant husband (who in Young’s case barely knew the names of his hundred odd sons and daughters). She spoke of the shock her mother faced when, just after the death of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, Brigham Young first revealed to her and her husband the secret of celestial marriage. In a pattern that must have been repeated in many early Mormon households, the shock gave way to sadness, then bitterness as she was compelled to share her husband with women half her age. Eliza’s escape from Utah was itself a gripping tale, for when she left her husband the Prophet she became the enemy of every Saint in the Utah territory and beyond.

“Imagine, if you can, my feelings,” Eliza later wrote, “on being alone with my little child, in a strange place, under such peculiar circumstances. I had abandoned my religion, my father, mother, home, and friends—deliberately turned away from them all, knowing that the step I was taking could never be retraced. My heart cried out for my mother, who I knew would be more sorely stricken with my action than anyone else in the world. I would have spared her if I could, but I was powerless to act in any other manner.”

She gave her lectures to packed halls in Denver, St. Louis, Chicago, Boston, and hundreds of smaller towns across the country. On April 14th 1874 she addressed a lecture to a packed house in Washington D.C. that included many members of Congress as well as Julia and President Ulysses S. Grant. Her speech is credited with the passage of the Poland Law which tightened the prohibitions on polygamy in the US and its territories.

Eliza Young was a second generation Saint. She did not chose the new religion of Joseph Smith, rather she was born into a Mormon household. As a young child she remembers the wagon train she and her family rode to Utah. Those earliest memories also include her “second” mother, and the heartache her real mother endured each time her father took another of his five wives.

Eliza’s parents had been among the earliest converts to this new religion. They both fell under the spell of Joseph Smith, a man who claimed to be the living Prophet of Jesus Christ. It was an audacious claim, one that Eliza’s father initially considered with a great deal of skepticism. Yet Smith converted him. This prophet was imbued with a rare charisma even in an era rampant with revival.

The decision to practice polygamy was not one the family took lightly. From the earliest days of the Church Joseph Smith had been taking multiple wives, but he did so in secrecy. Only slowly did he expanded the practice among church leaders. Polygamy was never a universal practice among Mormons, but in time affluent Mormons were encouraged to practice "the principle". Ann Eliza recounts that after Smith’s death, when Brigham Young was consolidating his control of the church, he used Smith’s martyrdom to make polygamy explicit Church doctrine. Young visited Ann Eliza’s father and demanded he acknowledge the “revelation of plural marriage” by taking a second wife. Chauncey refused to comply without consulting his wife. He knew that the Mormon church was more important to his wife than to himself as he had been prepared to leave it before when twice defrauded of money by Joseph Smith. So he left the decision to her, that they either leave the church or take another woman into their home. She was horrified that religion she had devoted her life to was now asking her to poison her happy home. But the new prophet made clear that the only alternative was apostasy. So the first Mrs. Webb reluctantly decided that Chauncey should marry their nineteen-year old house girl.

It was not until after their migration west into the Salt Lake Basin that the Church of Latter-Day Saints officially announced their sacrament of plural marriage to the world. It had become an unavoidable admission. There were no hotels in the Utah territory circa 1850, and the forty-niners who had stayed in Mormon households on their way to the California gold fields saw enough to circulate rumors of the concubines of Utah. The California press circulated these stories to the world. Still, the rest of the US was aghast in 1852 when Brigham Young publicly revealed the Mormon practice of celestial marriage. For four decades the issue kept the Mormons as a people set apart from the rest of the country. And there were very few links into this world, especially not into the family of the spiritual leader of Mormonism. Thus the sensation when Ann Eliza began her lecture circuit. From 1873 she would lecture 8 months out of the year for over a decade, one of the top box office hits of her generation. Click Here to Read More..

Mormons Part One: YFZ and Polygamy

“Did you ever feel you were doing something wrong?” Larry King asked.

“No sir, we have a pure life here.”

“What about your husband?”

“The interest here is the children.”

“You have no interest in your husband?”

“Our interest here is the children. We want the children out of that pavilion.”

None of the eight women seated before the camera looked up as they answered King’s questions over the satellite link that connected their Yearning for Zion meeting house to the CNN studios. Perhaps they didn’t know where to look. Given the extremity of their cloistered lives, it is possible they have never seen a television camera before.

Under the lights, the women appeared unsettled and scared. With their homespun prairie dresses and beehive hairdos, the plural wives of Zion were reminiscent of the displaced Okies in Ansel Adams’ WPA photos from the Great Depression—faces filled with agony and hopelessly out of touch with the modern world. And these were the women chosen and prepped by their lawyers to be the public face of their campaign to retain custody of their children.

It is not the first the time and likely not the last that we will be confronted with the bizarre images of American polygamy. According to Mormon scholar Carmen Hardy, about once a decade the American public turns its attention to the ongoing practice of polygamy in the United Sates. We have come to expect these stories out of Utah and remote desert settlements in surrounding states of the mountain west. The focus of the latest media scrutiny falls on the aftermath of a raid on the Yearning for Zion (YFZ) community of Mormon fundamentalists in El Dorado, Texas, a two-hour drive from San Antonio. Neighbors and local officials had long been wary of the group, who from the beginning were less than forthcoming about their settlement. They were obviously more than the hunting lodge they claimed to be. Upon receiving an anonymous call from a young woman who claims she was beaten and raped on the compound, the state had cause to move in on the YFZ. Careful to avoid another Waco, Texas authorities entered YFZ grounds and removed more than 400 children from the group’s custody.

Though the young women who called in the initial allegation has yet to be identified, evidence against the YFZ continues to mount. Initial reports claim more than half of the 52 girls aged 14 to 17 are or have been pregnant and that dozens of children were found to have had broken bones. Some social workers are now expressing concerns that young boys have also been the victims of sexual abuse.
More questions remain. To what extent were the adult women on the YFZ accomplices to the child abuse on the compound, and to what extent are they victims? In a contained community that requires several (young) women for every man, what happens to the teenage boys? And until clear evidence comes to light there remains the possibility that authorities acted on trumped up charges. America has always been susceptible to a good old-fashioned witch hunt.

Sadly the pattern of child abuse that may be emerging in the El Dorado case is consistent with similar discoveries on polygamist compounds unearthed throughout the mountain west. The YFZ community is an offshoot of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), more commonly known as the UEP, the United Effort Plan. The UEP splintered from mainstream Mormonism after the LDS church gave up the practice of polygamy in 1890. Polygamy, known to Mormonism as celestial marriage, was a revelation received by Joseph Smith that became a central tenant of the religion. The UEP believes that Mormonism cannot be divorced from polygamy, since Smith and early church leaders considered celestial marriage the most important Mormon sacrament.

Anywhere from 30 to 100 thousand people living in the Western US are practicing “fundamentalist” Mormonism—the LDS disputes that there is such a thing as a Mormon fundamentalist—and the doctrine of polygamy. The UEP is the largest religious entity within this population.

UEP leader and prophet Warren Jeffs was convicted in 2007 as an accomplice to the rape of teenage girls whom he had married to himself or to other men in his community. The allegations against the YFZ are eerily similar the charges brought against Jeffs and to the long list of crimes committed by other UEP affiliates as documented in several recent histories of the group. The Prophets, like Jeffs, of the various branches of the FLDS routinely take girls as young as 13 and assign them to be married to the most influential figures in the communities, men who usually several times older than their teenage brides. Cases of rape, violence, and coercion against polygamist wives are so rife as to be the considered the norm in these communities. Still, prosecutors are slow to go after UEP church leaders. Of course polygamy is on the books in Utah and Arizona, where the largest UEP communities reside. Charges of polygamy are rarely pursued unless there is accompanying evidence of more serious criminal activity.

The longstanding reluctance to prosecute polygamy can be traced back to the public backlash against a raid on a polygamist town in the summer of 1953. The site of the raid was Short Creek, Arizona. A small town straddling the Utah border, Short Creek, since renamed Colorado City, (the home of Warren Jeffs) was an ideal location for a polygamist community. Separated from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon, Short Creek was far from the eyes of state officials in Phoenix. More importantly, the community was beyond the jurisdiction of Utah. The LDS dominated government in Salt Lake City loathed polygamists for the bad reputation they lent to the official Mormon Church. So when a hundred odd fundamentalist Mormons founded Short Creek in the early 1920’s, they did so in relative obscurity.

By 1953 Short Creek had doubled and redoubled in population, and both the state of Arizona and LDS leaders became wary of the polygamist enclave. Church and state cooperated to remedy this potential embarrassment. With LDS support and financing, the Arizona police and the National Guard embarked on a pre-dawn raid that netted 122 men and women, the largest mass arrest of polygamists in US history. National headlines, including a front-page story in the NYT, plastered the raid into the American consciousness. The initial public reaction was shock and condemnation of the polygamists. Then as photos circulated, officers dragging apart families, distraught mothers and crying children, the public began to sympathize the with Short Creek, and the raid was cast as religious persecution. The fallout ruined the careers of the principals involved. Arizona Governor John Howard Pyle, who ordered the raid on the Short Creek community, lost his bid for reelection in 1954. Short Creek emerged unscathed. Elected officials have since been reluctant to go after polygamist sects for fear of another backlash.

El Dorado still has the potential to become another Short Creek. Images of mothers in pastel prairie dresses mourning the loss of their children, pleading on CNN to be let alone to lead their simple, wholesome lives, were harrowing. Authorities have not yet identified the caller who phoned in the raid. There are claims emerging that the real caller was not a 16 year old girl but 33 year old Rozita Swinton, a Colorado woman with a history of mental illness and past charges of phoning in false abuse stories. The ACLU contends that if the initial complaint is proven to have been false, the raid was unjustified since, "exposure to a religion's beliefs, however unorthodox, is not itself abuse and may not constitutionally be labeled abuse." Ok, but polygamy is a state and federal crime. Anti-polygamy legislation was passed in Congress at least in part to address the demeaning and abusive relationships documented in polygamist unions of 19th century Utah. Would that alone not be sufficient grounds

As the case against the YFZ unfolds, the allegations may or may not grow more severe. It is unclear whether a live and let live attitude will prevail.

Already the story is fading. As the 24 hour news cycle spins on, the El Dorado story jumps further and further into the back pages. Even if the YFZ is snuffed out, other polygamist communities will remain nestled in their hiding places until the next sensationalist story returns them to the spotlight. And since it can still be political suicide for local officials in Northern Arizona and other remote western locales who pursue polygamist leaders, nothing short of the sensational is likely to bring the next round of scrutiny. Click Here to Read More..