60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2009
I came to this book knowing only the basics about polygamy. I'd never heard of Flora Jessop. To some extent I agree with one of the earlier reviews comparing the language used to that of a Jerry Springer show. Like that reviewer, I also keep the rating at five.
I've already typed in (and erased) three reviews but found it difficult to do justice to the power contained in the book. Let me try once more...
This story is raw. The words, cruelty and horror, are far to cliche. On a number of occasions I came close to getting sick. Rape of little kids, prearranged marriages of kids fourteen and under (often to men 2 or 3 times their age), incest and inbreeding, the occasional exchanging of wives (and kids). Kids were taught that this, and much more, was actually required of them to escape damnation to hell. No rods were spared in the teaching either. Further, these type of actions, at least as described in the book, were overwelmingly normal within the sect, as opposed to isolated cases.
Even more powerful reading developed from the author's attempts to save her family after her own escape. This was made difficult by family members' fear of eternal damnation. This wall and others frustrated the author to no end. She kept pushing, hard.
Lastly, the complicity of state/local agencies was evident throughout. I'm left wondering where members of Congress came down on the issue of polygamy.
Read the book...
70 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2009
As indicated, I rate this 5 stars, though the language style dips somewhat into the Jerry Springer range (because it's written by a pro copy writer who punches up the wording to make it "catchy"). Consequently, some of the "trailer trash" language ostensibly coming from Flora Jessop, the escaped Mormon fundamentalist, lacks the ring of linguistic genuineness. Other than the tabloid language style, though, the account is too important to slight by rating it lower than 5 stars.
Flora is an outstanding example of determination and persistence, overcoming years of destructive mental programming by indoctrination, and years of mental and physical abuse that would be very difficult for a less valiant woman to surmount. Overall, this is an inspiring and very instructive story, true in most of its features.
57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2009
What a book this is! Cannot put it down, even if you try. I waited so long for Flora to write a book and she didn't let me down. With the life she had, I'm surprised she's not in the loony bin. I have read many, many, many books on Polygamy and this one is on top, right behind "Escape". No wonder she's a crusader. And a good one at that. If you've ever wanted a true story on polygamy, don't turn this one down. After reading this, you'll see why she's always on the forefront and why she fights so hard. Good work, Flora!
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2010
Flora Jessop's odyssey from polygamist daughter / plural wife of the FLDS (fundamentalist sect of mormons) to grassroots activist to save FLDS-abused children is not only a page turner, but a rich portrait of middle America and its people. Jessop attempts to escape since her childhood days, assisted by a courageous underground network between Colorado City and Las Vegas. It's not until she is married to her first cousin- an understanding and open-minded partner - that she makes headway. Once out, she manages to travel cross country, meeting a broad range of people from strip clubs, troubled bikers, and junkies to former FLDS couples, truckers, compassionate working class folk, mafia gangsters, law enforcers, and corrupt bureaucrats. If Carolyn Jessop's Escape is the Beatles version, then Flora's is surely the Rolling Stones.
If you've heard of the Yearning for Zion ranch in Texas and the arrest of Warren Jeffs, the sect's current prophet, then you will vaguely know the setting for her story. The FLDS, not to be confused with regular Mormons, have leaders who are involved in seedy activities such as welfare fraud, tax evasion, property deed manipulation, underaged arranged marriages, molestation (both of boys and girls), and domestic abuse - all in the name of god. The problem here is that even after the FLDS members attempt to get out, the mentality that has been indoctrinated into them since birth, the distrust of outsiders after the Raid of Short Creek in '53, combined with the lack of stateside infrastructure to support their livelihood and education, all work to create a harrowing situation. That's what the second part of Church of Lies is about: how Flora establishes a skeletal system, and makes it work by prevailing over the uphill odds through sheer persistence, toughness, and dedication to a cause. There's a picture in the book that shows Flora inventing her image of rebellion. In the same way, she had to create the support infrastructure out of nothing. I think in the years to come, many who will be liberated will be indebt to Flora's efforts through her continual insistence that the focus remain on our "backyard Taliban." It should be noted that while defenders insist that attacks on the FLDS violate the Constitution by persecuting religious freedom, it is - for those at the very top, as it is with many institutionalized religion - really all about profit and power.
A few points. I always read anything with a bit of skepticism. I went to pro-FLDS sites to listen to what they have to say. The discrepancy is that while Flora admits to all her "shortcomings" in this book (her experience with the seedy underbelly of our world, drug use, alcohol, partying) that the pro-FLDS people accuse her of, they patently deny any accounts that not only she, but many other former members, as well as Jeffs's "unique" sermons, and testimonies from Canadian FLDS point to otherwise. To be fair, I also believe there are many FLDS adults who probably live contentedly in the community based on their version of reality, as opposed to us, who live contentedly in ours. I pity those people who live the only way they know, but have come under intense scrutiny during the YFZ raid of '08. Having said that, you can't ignore the Lost Boys (hundreds of FLDS boys who got booted out for fear they'd be competition to the young unwed women), the welfare fraud, the tax exemption, Jeffs reading his sermons in his own recorded voice?
I see reviewers complaining about the "white tr**h" language in this book, which is a classist adjective that's always irritated me. There's been many beautifully written books with florid, purple prose that are utterly vacuous in what they have to say. Don't be a bourgeois snob, enjoy the language and treat it for it is, an American voice with a kick and a whole lot of soul to it. And someone complained about her seeing the vision of an Indian healer? Give me a break. She stayed out the whole night after getting molested and she was twelve!!!!!
I suspect some people may object to the title of the book and some heated proclamations against god within its pages, but look at the passages when she finally goes to a regular church with her mother-in-law. It's a gorgeous celebration of rediscovery in religion. The passages about Jessop and her own mother is as mesmerizing as it is heartbreaking. It really drove home the point of a lost childhood in a real polygamist situation. Someone else mentioned it elsewhere on amazon, google "help child brides" and "childpro org" as supplementary reading. Pay attention to this situation before it becomes a headline tragedy.
Don't give up Flora!
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2009
I have met this amazing woman and cannot believe anyone could have the courage and determination over such a long period of time to challenge the powerful forces in FLDS, along with apathy and outright opposition from the very government agencies that whose charter is to help her and the victims of abuse.
This entire country should forget about lecturing other countries about "human rights" as long as we look the other way on such travesties.
Where are all the organizations who have rightfully fought for women's rights and yet seemingly have ignored this horrible situation?
I have yet to know any Arizona politician who has taken on this issue and rallied others around it. If it has happened, I have not been aware of it. Could it be that the public just doesn't really care and the politicians don't believe the issue is important enough to help them at election time? Could it be that Arizona's LDS voting population makes it difficult for politicians to speak out?
Is this too sensitive an issue for the state of Utah and the LDS church to really do something about it to minimize the spillover bad image resulting from allowing this to occur for so long?
Have we become so self-centered that this issue is not on our radar screen, even after becoming aware of it?
I, for one, am angry about such apathy and will be challenging everyone I know to read this book and, along with myself, find a way to be part of the solution.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2009
This is a very informative narrative written by a victim of polygamy who has chosen to fight back by spreading the truth about the pernicious practice of polygamy. A survivor who has dedicated her life to helping other victims caught in the trap of polygamy, she is candid about the kinds and severity of the abuses suffered by herself and others.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2010
Flora Jessop was born into an off-shoot of the Mormon Church called the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints or FLDS.
Her mother was the first wife of her father, but was treated very rudely by him after he married Flora's 16 year old Aunt Elizabeth (the sister of her mother.) Flora's mother gave birth to 17 children, but only got to raise 10 of them. Because Flora's Uncle Fred was barren Flora's father gave 7 of his children to Fred and his wife Lynda to raise.
From the time Flora was 8 her father would sexually abuse her, eventually raping her at 12. Sometime after the first rape Flora started to feel sick, so her mother took her to Aunt Lynda, who was an unofficial nurse. Flora had no idea what was going on when Lynda stuck a hanger in her-it was not until Lynda made a comment about Flora being pregnant that Flora knew what was going on.
Shortly afterward Flora and one of her friends decided to run away from the FLDS. After it was known they ran away a lot of people in the community went looking for them. They were on the lamb for a while before Flora called her Uncle Fred. He picked her up and took her back to his house and for the next two years she was treated like a slave. One day she escaped, and was found by her cousin Phillip. They talked for a while before the "God Squad" came looking for her and she ran off. Soon she returned home and her father told her that she could either marry Phillip or be instatutionalized. She decided to marry Phillip.
Flora and Phillip only lived together for a short time before Flora left him. This led to years of drinking and drug abuse. After several years Flora cleaned up and met a man with a young son whom she fell in love with. After she became pregnant with her baby though she found out he was cheating on her and left her daughters father, but remained in contact with his son.
Several years after the birth of her daughter Flora met Tim, a man who had a daughter 2 years older than her daughter. They soon moved in together and married in 2001. During this time Flora was a stay at home mom raising her daughter and step-daughter. This changed when she got a call saying that there was a girl trying to escape the FLDS who needed some were to stay. This led Flora on a crusade to help other woman and children trying to escape. During this time she also tried to help her younger sister Ruby.
During the years that Flora was raising her children her father had been kicked out of the FLDS, and her mother given to Flora's Uncle Fred. By this time Fred was the step-father to about 100 children and one day in early 2001 he told the family that three daughters of the family were going to get married. One was Elissa Wall (whose mother had married Fred the year before) and one was Ruby. All three were married on the same day (Late April 2001.) Ruby did not want to get married to their step-brother (and cousin) and was in love with another boy. Shortly afterward she tried to escape, but was pulled back in and later tried to kill herself. (Some info came from Elissa Walls book)
Because of this Flora has devoted her self to helping people try to escape the FLDS. To date she has helped over 400 people (mostly young women) escape.
All in all a very interesting book
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2009
Everyone should read this book! The author is on a mission to expose and eradicate the horrible sexual (and physical) abuse of females and children in the FLDS cult. The book is a real page-turner, and I was hardly able to put it down. Jessop was finally able to escape the FLDS, but many more are still in a living hell. You won't believe the brainwashing that goes on! In addition, the FLDS brag about their ability to commit welfare fraud, calling it "bleeding the beast."
For far too long, we, as Americans, have turned a blind eye to the abuse endemic in the FLDS. We are failing these children by permitting the FLDS to cover up what really goes on in their communities and fortified compounds. FLDS males say they are only "living out their religion," but what they are doing has nothing to do with freedom of religion. It has to do with power and the abuse of women and children. As Linda Binder is quoted in the book, "Polygamy is the biggest con game going. The men up there are fat and happy, smiling. They've got all the women they want, all the sex, and the government pays for their children."
Do yourself a favor and READ THIS BOOK!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
....this is what is really happening right here in America.
Flora Jessop was born into the FLDS sect. Her parents practiced plural marriage just like the charming families depicted in BIG LOVE or SISTER WIVES but unlike those seemingly happy families Flora's life was one of poverty, fear and degradation. She tells of often going hungry as a child, of living in filthy, crowded houses that were little more than shacks, of knowing that the inadequate instruction that passed for an education in her community would end far too early and of dreading the day when she would be married. Flora also tells of being molested by her father, a situation that she discovered was not so unusual in her community. She also discovered that when the molestation was revealed that it would not be the man who was punished. When Flora and a friend could take no more they fled, only to be caught and returned, because the state Child Protective Services as well as the local police would not protect them from the FLDS.
Eventually Flora did finally escape and make a life for herself in the outside world, appearing on 60 MINUTES and other programs speaking out against the polygamous cult. She was haunted though by thoughts of those women and children still trapped, women who included her mother and youngest sister. Gradually Jessop began to help those who had managed to escape, some who successfully made the transition into mainstream society and others who did not. Also coming out of the community were disturbing stories of what was happening within the FLDS communities, news of a stockpile of weapons, talk of living in the last days, of younger and younger girls being married off. These changes increased after a new leader had taken charge. Flora remembered Warren Jeffs as a creepy kid who had become worse after he was placed in positions of authority. When Texas authorities got phone calls from a young girl trapped in the Yearning for Zion ranch Flora was among those brought in to help the police and social service agencies deal with the problem.
Flora Jessop is a very outspoken woman who is not reluctant to reveal abuses both within the FLDS and within the agencies on the outside who allow these abuses to continue. She exposes the dirty little secrets of polygamy that are hinted at in the mainstream news stories, that are ignored in 'reality' shows like SISTER WIVES, and that are sugar coated in programs like BIG LOVE. Reading CHURCH OF LIES will answer many questions left unanswered by the news coverage of the Yearning for Zion ranch and arrest of Warren Jeffs but it will leave one big question still unanswered - why is this abuse of women and children allowed to continue?
20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2009
For four years I have closely followed all I can about the fundamentalist Joseph Smith-following cults which cause havoc and heartache beneath most "radar" in large portions of the US. I have read several books by Flds survivors, and this one earns the deserved attention of the entire continent for its graphic and astonishing detail of forced misery and unnecessary suffering of thousands of our fellow American citizens. The awesome brainwashing of males to be perpetrators and fellow victims, and of females to submit and agonize no matter what, both hushing up out of terror,about all manner of neglect, abuse, and outrage. It is crimes against both genders in all phases of living. These things MUST come to an end within US borders. Flora Jessop and many others have for years shown tremendous courage and resolve in facing and exposing these travesties of "religious" fundamentalist practice. I am dumbfounded that ANY females living within the US and Canada, able to read and write and observe the wealth and progress of these nations directly year after year, should EVER defend ANY of these awful practices and beliefs. Thank God someone as strong as Flora was born, in spite of her suffering.Because more like her have not escaped the Flds,I have come to truly believe it continues more because the WOMEN in these groups, beaten down mentally though they are,have perpetrated and tolerated all of this nonsense since they have never as a group revolted against it.They are in the majority in polygamy and they have minds and influence too.Their abject submission, real in many cases, fake in others, is their ticket to heaven,but it's also strong pride showing, that they think they are worthy of heaven, allowing their kids and relatives to suffer and be humilited in so many ways.I guess the continual childbirth keeps them too exhausted to think of anything constructive. Women as guilty as any of the men continued the heinous practices and beliefs themselves,many times in their own selfish pride and the inculcated shallow,confusing, and alarming thinking of the Flds. Enough of them have not fled and made outcries, enough have not refused to go along with these astonishing injustices to themselves, their former husbands in some cases, and their numerous children.The Flds and all such cults would wither and die quickly if the women refused to continue. They have chosen to allow crimes against their kids, their extended families, their original husbands, allowed the Flds quagmire of cruelty, backbiting, shunning, extortion, perversion, violence,and hard labor.It's because of the narrow,mindless, robotic, ridiculous rules and dictates, pedophilia,you-name-it, and outright disgusting educational practices with their "schools". Is it possible their seriously incestuous gene pool no longer contains enough intelligence to stop this madness, hence its continuence? I don't know. Anyone differing with Warren Jeffs has been kicked aside but even many Flds "rejects" continue to worship the sallow, clammy pedophile, in all his incredible hypocrisy. Even today, as we speak, late Feb. 2009,it is WOMEN who are crusading in the US West and Canada to DEFEND polygamy once again, so what in the world is going on? For God's sake, what is going on? If WOMEN said NO MORE, and refused to ever condone polygamy in North America, none of this would have happened.The whole US should be stunned and sick,upon reading Flora's account.Her new book should be read by every person involved with any aspect of the law and child protection,throughout North America. All of the US Congress should get Church of Lies, and all state and provincial legal bodies. This is overwhelming, terrifying stuff being documented and reported for the world,(for the umpteenth time,shamefully-because nothing substantial has been done to stop it.)Documented painfully, I am sure, by a living survivor of astonishing abuse and debauchery right here in our own "land of the free." I certainly hope this book wakes up a lot more people to this very long-festering problem. It's an international embarassment.That this goes on so terribly long with impunity in developed countries is beyond comprehension.Church of Lies-an utterly heart-rending book.