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Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS)

The "lost boys" & the groomed boys


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Overview:

Life in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) has been likened to living under the Taliban. 1 During 2005, Angie Wagner of the Associated Press wrote:

"Living in the creek, along the Utah-Arizona border, means total submission to the church. [FLDS prophet Warren] Jeffs, whom many former members accuse of brainwashing, directs all parts of his members' lives. The church, through its charitable trust, owns the land its members build homes on, arranges marriages and requires members to wear long underwear at all times. Movies and television are banned. Basketball and football were taken away a few years ago, the boys say. Wives can be assigned to different men if the church orders it. Most members don't attend school past the eighth grade.

"We're taught the only way into heaven is through this church," said Steed [a teen boy expelled by the FLDS]. "If you leave, that's worse than murder."" 2

Most of the concern directed at the children of the FLDS has involved their young teenage girls. They are are allegedly forced to marry whoever is selected for them by their prophet. Along with "sister wives," they are expected to produce babies in quick succession. Their spouses often appear to be much older men -- sometimes they are middle aged; some in their 50s.

However, the practice of forced polygyny impacts young males as well. (Polygyny is the most common form of polygamy in which one man is married to two or more wives.) There appear to be many boys who are abused and a small percentage who are given preferential treatment within the FLDS.


FLDS Logistics:

Approximately equal numbers of boys and girls are born within the community. However, their religious beliefs mandate that adult women vastly outnumber men. This is because the FLDS follows a teaching of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Christ in 1830. From this faith group, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, centered in Salt Lake City, UT), the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS, centered in the twin cities of Colorado City, AZ and Hildale, UT), and about a hundred other Mormon faith groups trace their spiritual origins. One of Smith's teaching was "The Principle:" that a man must have at least three wives and many children in order to attain the highest level of Heaven after his death: the Celestial Kingdom. The man gets to choose which of his wives to take to Heaven with him.

In order to make the system work, it is necessary for the FLDS to get rid of most of their male population before they reach adulthood. It is also necessary to prepare a small percentage of males to take on the role of being a husband for the many women in the community. Although hard data is scarce because of the extreme secrecy of the FLDS, it seems that:

  • The group expels many, if not most, boys from the community after puberty, typically when they are 13 to 17 years of age.
  • Certain well behaved boys are selected by the prophet and groomed to be future husbands to multiple wives.

The "lost boys:"

These are the excess boys that are expelled from the FLDS community. Angie Wagner wrote:

"They are homeless, uneducated, confused and unprepared for a world where they can make their own choices. ... 2

There are reports that about 100 "Lost Boys" each year were driven from the Colorado City/Hildale area between 2001 and 2005.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, has had boys in his office crying to see their mothers. He is quoted as saying in 2005:

"It's a mathematical thing. If you are marrying all these girls to one man, what do you do with all the boys?...People have said to me: 'Why don't you prosecute the parents?' But the kids don't want their parents prosecuted; they want us to get the No. 1 bad guy Warren Jeffs. He is chiefly responsible for kicking out these boys." 2

Warren Jeffs was convicted on 2007-SEP-25 of being an accomplice to rape. He is now serving a five-year term in jail.

One lost boy is Gideon Barlow, 17. The stated reason for his banishing was that he had worn short-sleeved shirts, listened to CDs and had a girlfriend. Others were ejected for going to the movies, watching TV, wanting to go to a public school, or staying out past curfew. Some have allegedly been given only two hours notice before being driven to a nearby town -- like St. George or Hurricane in Utah -- where they are abandoned with few resources. Barlow tried to return and visit his mother on Mother's Day but was told to stay away.  "I am dead to her now," he said. 2

Jeffs is aware of the stress experienced by families whose boys have been expelled. In a sermon delivered on 2000-JUL-16 in Colorado City, he told membership that the "... great challenge among this people is the apostates are our relatives. ...If a mother has apostate children, her emotions won't let her give them up and she invites them into the home, thus desecrating that dedicated home. We want to see them and socialize with them, and every time we do, we weaken our faith and our ability to stand with the prophet." 3

Dan Fischer is a former FLDS member who is now a dentist practicing near Salt Lake City. UT. He helps organize housing and education for the exiled teens. He said:

"There is a virtual Taliban down there. You tell people this stuff happens and they don't believe it. [The exodus of lost boys] has been far more dramatic in the last year." 2

Rodney Parker is a lawyer for the FLDS although he is not a member of the group. He claims that some of the lost boys were delinquents or unable to live up to the group's moral, dress and/or behavioral codes. He said:

''I think many are minimizing their own behavior. These places are very different and very strange. But broad-stroke claims about what goes on down there are exaggerations -- and often fiction."

An article by David Kelly in the Los Angeles Times stated:

"About half a dozen boys who spoke recently say it is all too real. Tom Sam Steed said he was put on 'religious probation' at 15 for sneaking off to see the film 'Charlie's Angels.' He said he made a personal plea to [the FLDS prophet, Warren] Jeffs, meeting him in a Colorado City print shop. 'He told me I wasn't welcome,' Steed said. 'And on the way out he said: 'Just to let you know, when the final devastation comes, you will be destroyed.' I believed it completely. If you are told your whole life [that] the Earth is flat, what else would you believe?' "

"Once children are expelled, the FLDS forbids parents from visiting them, and violating the rule can result in eviction from their church-owned homes, say state authorities and former town residents. Many parents sever all ties to their sons."

"In some cases, families outside the communities have unofficially adopted the boys. That's what happened to Gideon. A Mormon couple, Stacha and Neil Glauser of St. George, took him in." 2

"NIX" posted a criticism on the Deseret News web site in Salt Lake City. It criticizes the apathy of both the main Mormon denomination, the LDS, and governments. She/he wrote:

"[All] Mormons have an opportunity to step up right now and help integrate these lost women and children, boys that have been cast out, into the real world so that they can survive outside of a system where their world revolves around the sick whims of a bunch of pedophiles. With all the money the [LDS] Mormon church has, they'd do best to clean up the stain that polygamy has left on their religion by taking public and decisive action to stop it."

"There is something seriously wrong with a country that went to war with the Taliban but have allowed a Taliban-esque culture to spring up right under our noses. Crimes that ordinary citizens would serve jail time for are allowed to go unpunished because a group of child molesters claim that forcing young girls into sexual slavery is sanctioned by God. And to top it off, they exist on billions of dollars from a government they call Satanic! You and I pay for this, people!" 5

The use of the term "pedophiles" is not accurate because there appears to be no evidence that any FLDS men are taking pre-pubertal girls as wives. "Hebephiles" would be a more accurate term.


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The "groomed" boys:

There has been some speculation in the media that Warren Jeff has been moving at least some of the teen boys whom he has selected to become the future husbands of multiple wives to the YFZ (Yearning For Zion) ranch near Eldorado TX. In the early days of the raid on the ranch by APR-05, 138 children had been removed from the ranch, consisting of about 98 girls and 40 boys. 4 This imbalance might indicate that the children at the ranch were selected for specific functions: the girls to be multiple sister wives of the boys. Unfortunately, with the high level of secrecy in the FLDS and the willingness of its members to lie even to the police, it is impossible to confirm this speculation.


References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. David Kelly, "Polygamy's 'Lost Boys' expelled from only life they knew. Sect's outcasts are casualties of marriage practice." Los Angeles Times, 2005-JUN-19, at: http://www.boston.com/  
  2. Angie Wagner, "Boys Seek Salvation Outside Church. Excommunicated from a fundamentalist LDS sect for seemingly minor infractions, the teens are largely uneducated and ignorant of the world," Associated Press, 2005-SEP-05, at: http://lists.ibiblio.org/
  3. Brooke Adams, "The so-called Lost Boy wants the FLDS leader to approve a reunion," The Salt Lake Tribune
    http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_4891049 or http://children.safepassagefoundation.org/
  4. "219 children, women taken from sect's ranch," CNN News, 2008-APR-06, at: http://edition.cnn.com/
  5. "Reader comments: MormonTimes.com: Reader asks: What's wrong with calling the FLDS 'Mormon'?" Deseret News, at: http://deseretnews.com/

Site navigation:

 Home > Christianity > Faith groupsFLDS > here

Home > Christianity > Denominational families > LDS RestorationismFLDS > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Marriage > PolygamyFLDS > here

Home > Religious info > Basic info > Religious practices > Marriage > PolygamyFLDS > here


Copyright 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-APR-26
Latest update: 2008-AUG-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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