When you mix religion and government as they have in Colorado City it causes nothing but problems.
I think Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is wrong here.
We don't need to reduce the power of religion, but we simply
need to stop allowing the state of Arizona to mix government and religion.
Horne pushes bill to reduce FLDS power
By Dennis Wagner The Republic | azcentral.com
Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:25 PM
A young mother with six children who fled the polygamist community of Colorado City has told state authorities she was forced into a marriage at age 14 and held against her will for 12 years before escaping in December.
Ruby Jessop Barlow appeared with her children at an emotional Phoenix news conference Tuesday, as Attorney General Tom Horne and others described her ordeal and denounced the practices of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan and Barlow’s sister, Flora Jessop, who escaped from Colorado City in 1986, appeared with Horne and said Barlow’s ordeal illustrates the cultish control exercised by self-proclaimed prophet Warren Jeffs, who continues to lead the church from behind bars.
They also announced plans for new legislation to strip the Colorado City Town Marshal’s Office of its law-enforcement powers, which they believe would reduce the church’s clout. The bill, which is similar to legislation introduced last session, would also provide money for Sheahan’s deputies to patrol Colorado City.
“As long as that Marshal’s Office is in place, the FLDS and Warren Jeffs have the power to control and manipulate ... and keep children trapped inside the cult,” Jessop said.
Horne denounced Colorado City’s culture as “the biggest injustice that I know of in the state of Arizona.”
The FLDS church advocates plural marriages, often with underage girls, as a key to salvation. Numerous sect leaders, including Jeffs, have been prosecuted in Arizona, Utah and Texas for crimes against minors. Jeffs is serving a life sentence for his Texas conviction on a charge of sexual assault of a child.
Jessop, who lives in Phoenix, said she finally fulfilled a vow to help Barlow break free. “It was pure joy to have my sister back,” Jessop said, her voice breaking. “I thought the day would never come.”
Jessop and Barlow were among 27 siblings in an extended family with multiple mothers.
Jessop said Barlow pleaded for help as she was being forced into marriage as a teen but was whisked to a secret ceremony in Nevada, then moved to other locations over the years.
Jessop said her sister finally found the courage to run away five months ago as Jeffs, from behind bars, used his purported divine authority to impose austere rules on his followers. “In the last six months, Warren Jeffs has taken every dietary product away except beans and water,” she said. “They are to suffer as much as he is in prison.”
Jessop said her sister returned to the community after running away because her children were being kept from her by their father, John H. Barlow. But she fled a second time in December and filed for divorce.
According to Mohave County Superior Court records, she was granted temporary custody during a hearing, but the children remained hidden in the Arizona-Utah border towns of Colorado City and Hildale, Utah. Horne and Sheahan said marshals resisted a judicial order to produce the children but finally relented.
Jessop said her sister was reunited with the children, ages 2 through 10, last week. She said the children had been indoctrinated to believe that their mother was “wicked,” but they’ve already embraced the food, clothing and freedoms of an outside world.
“They came out of Colorado City with only the long skirts on their backs,” she added, referring to old-fashioned dresses worn by women in FLDS society. “It’s been interesting and amazing to watch them change from little soldiers to children ... who laugh and play.”
John Barlow did not return a phone call Tuesday.
The town government of Colorado City is controlled by the sect, which is not affiliated with the mainstream Mormon church. Authorities in Arizona and Utah have struggled for decades to deal with alleged underage marriages, fraud, banishment of young males and other FLDS practices.
Last year, Horne asked state lawmakers to adopt legislation voiding the Colorado City marshal’s authority while providing funds for sheriff’s deputies to patrol the community. The measure failed in part because lawmakers from Mohave County opposed it. Horne then provided $420,000 from his budget to pay for sheriff’s patrols.
Sheahan and Jessop described an atmosphere of fear, psychological manipulation and surveillance that form a virtual prison for disaffected church members. “There are more people like Ruby in Colorado City,” Sheahan said.
Besides criminal charges against sect members, authorities have taken over local schools and an FLDS trust that owns most of the town’s homes and businesses. The Justice Department sued Colorado City and Hildale last year, alleging two decades of civil-rights violations in connection with policing, housing and public facilities. The complaint accuses town leaders of religious discrimination against non-FLDS residents.
Jeff Matura, a Phoenix attorney who represents the town, said the portion concerning parks and other public facilities has been dismissed, but the remainder of the case is pending.