Texas, Utah, Canada -- the Shadows Spread, Blackly
Best I can tell, it's the sex, stupid -- or more accurately, the rape; because these men are all about the power. They claim the power not merely to arrange marriages to women forty years younger, but to damn those women's souls, and the souls of those women's children. Read what this "prophet" wrote to a woman who refused him the sex he expected her to provide as the newest and youngest of his 18 wives:
Manti, USA - James Harmston's letters to his youngest bride threaten fire and brimstone for her refusal to sleep with him.
Not only would Rachael, 43 years his junior, have "a lonely miserable life" in this world for not going to his bed, but it would be far worse in the next.
"Rachael, the facts are, whether you want to believe or not, the end is coming and judgment will be executed in severity, especially for those who have broken their covenants," Mr Harmston wrote, adding: "For certain I will deal with you in the future eternity."
He signed himself "Your Husband, King and Priest", and sent copies of his letters to five of his 18 wives, one of whom was Rachael's mother, Pauline.
Talk about an ego -- this guy's is huge. It's clear to me that he's on a power trip. Factor in the isolation, add on the acculturation to be obedient, top it off with enough incest to magnify the effects of recessive genes, and ... behold:
Rachael Strong is now 21 and has broken free of Mr Harmston and the sect. Since she and her mother walked out some nine months ago, they have been living scarcely 100 metres away from the True and Living Church (known here as TLC) in the small town of Manti, and her former husband continues to cast a long shadow. "I wasn't going to argue with him. He was the prophet," Ms Strong said, cradling her two-year-old daughter Kirsten, the offspring of an earlier polygamous marriage within the sect.
"Nobody would help me. Everyone was scared of Jim. He got up in church and said if any wife disobeyed him, he would send her to hell for a thousand years.
"Jim also said that because of my actions Kirsten would have to die by some natural causes or accident to save her soul."
Contacted by telephone in his office, Mr Harmston refused to discuss Ms Strong. "I don't talk about people who are mentally ill," he said.
In person, Ms Strong appeared articulate, calm and determined. But the TLC prophet added: "I don't care what she's accused me of. Reality is something she makes up from moment to moment."
Mr Harmston conceded he had been married to her. In the vocabulary of his church, he said: "I was sealed to her for a while", and then he hung up.
Where is the Biblical charity in behavior like Harmston's?
Harmston (what an apt moniker) isn't alone, of course, and the particular offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to which he belongs is not the only church to claim polygamy as a right, as the FLDS in our own Schleicher County proved.
I don't have figures for the number of FLDS families in Texas also receiving AFDC, but as noted earlier, many other members of the church were contributing heavily to the building of the compound outside Eldorado. It's possible some of those contributions came from families who did receive tax-funded assistance
Maybe even in Colorado Springs, Colorado.