Starting today, several members of the FLDS will appear before a Texas Grand Jury to determine the validity of claims regarding child abuse and underage marriage. Discord prevails as attorneys and clients accuse each other and the judge of conflicting interests and prejudice. Sixteen-year old Teresa Jeffs wants to fire her attorney, who has petitioned the court to prevent her from seeing her father, Warren Jeffs (now serving time in the Utah State prison) and FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop, fearing that the FLDS men have put undue pressure on the girl. Other women want to tell their story, of being mislabeled as child brides into polygamous marriage by Child Protective Services, and may or may not be heard. Generally, the FLDS seem to be holding a united front against any who would try to disrupt their community for any reason.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported, "the women's testimony is expected to be key—if they give it." FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop said the women called as witnesses are being asked to choose between their children and their husbands, their freedom and their faith. The first part of this statement illuminates a theme that runs like a river through "herstory" (the history of women)—all too often women are forced to choose between their children and their husbands, which is one of the leading causes of divorce, especially in blended families. And the strong alliance of faith and freedom—having the freedom to exercise faith—is the primary reason the Pilgrims settled America. What Willie Jessop probably means is that the women called as witnesses are being forced to choose between freedom and obedience to the patriarchy. And this, I concede, is true. But I believe it is a good choice, valid and empowering when freedom prevails.
Any observations on Willie's statement and related matters are welcome.