Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tom Green's side of the story

Tom Green can no longer speak up for himself. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, an unelected and accountable body of former prosecutors, who's decisions cannot be appealed, has warned him that in order to remain a free man, he'd better keep his mouth shut. Five years in prison has a way of beating all the fight out of a man, who once stood before television cameras, pleading with America for the civil rights he and his family were being denied.

While he was in prison, his wives were circulating the following document. Because a google search cannot find anywhere else that this is posted, I am sharing it here.

No one has asked me to do this. I am putting this up on my own because it is a story that needs to be told.

Welfare Fraud?

Message to Mr. Tom Green by "A-Taxpayer-in-Alpine" Friday, July 13 [year unspecified]

Be a big boy. Take responsibility for yourself and your family, and quit crying foul. You got yourself into this mess. Maybe you are right and the persecutor has ulterior motives. What difference does it make to me?

As a taxpayer, I personally do not want my tax dollars to go to having to take care of all these children you continue to have. HOW MANY OF YOUR CHILDREN DO I HAVE TO SUPPORT WITH MY TAX DOLLARS?

You are entitled to your faith, and your beliefs on having children and however many wives - but should MY TAX DOLLARS be having to support your religious beliefs or the consequences of them? I THINK NOT.

Yes, taking you to trial cost a bundle. But hopefully, when faced with these bills, you will realize that YOU NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELVES AND YOUR CHILDREN,,,AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR BELIEFS --- JUST LIKE THE REST OF US.

A Taxpayer in Alpine, Utah

Mr. Taxpayer in Alpine, Utah,

I agree with you that a man should support his own family. I was doing exactly that. We were living comfortingly and enjoying life and our family, We lived in a mobile home park in Sandy. But the neighbors and the managers thought they ought to "rescue" my wife, LeeAnn. When I advised them to stay out of our family, they filed a notice of eviction. We fought it in courts for several years. I had to do my own legal work, which cut into our family business. the courts ignored the prejudicial nature of our eviction and forced us to move our homes.

Since our homes were older than 8 years (they were actually 20 years old, but nice) there was no place on the Wasatch front (where we worked) to put them. So we were forced to go 200 miles out into the West Desert.

While putting our main house out there the Juab County Fire Marshall, driving drunk, passed out, swerved into the home and demolished it. His insurance company didn't want to fix he home so that we could put the halves together.

Six months later, while wrangling with the insurance company, a violent windstorm came and demolished both halves of the home (you cannot insure a home 'til it's set up).

I had to take more time away from our business to get my family a place to live. I began to renovate the 50 year old homestead cabin that was on our property, includig rebuilding the roof.

By that time, our family was scattered around with relatives, and some of the wives applied for welface (we were not about to let our children starve while I worked to get them a place to live). Ultimately we moved into the the old cabin while we developed our raw land by installing water and sewer ($20,000 total). Because of old wiring, the old cabin burned to the ground one night. We lost all our possessions and a three year old son.

State welfare representatives came to us the next day and and offered aid to those of us who were not receiving any. They said since I had no marriage license with my wives (they only let you hav one) I would be considered an "absentee parent" and would have to pay it all back once we were on our feet again. They assured me I would be able to make payments. I agreed to that.

Two years later we terminated assistance, as we were adequately housed and had our business operating again. I went to the state, via my attorney, to settle. Rather than negotiating a reduced amount to pay, I volunteered to repay every penny we had received (now retired Assistant Attorney General, Ray Gammon of Provo/Orem, will verify this. Call him1 He said in his entire career collecting money for the state he never had such a cooperative client as myself!) I told Mr. Gammon that we were very grateful for the assistance of the people of this state, and we were (are) happy to pay it back. I didn't try to negotiate an amount to be repaid, I told Mr. Gammon to determine it. He did and I signed a stipulation judgment to pay it all back.

I asked Mr. Gammon how much the payments would be. He said I would be contacted by the Richfield Office of Recovery services to determine my ability to repay and and they would set me up on the payments. Four months later, rather than being set up on payments, I was prosecuted.

I went down to Richfeld accompanied by a friend (who can attest to this) and asked why they had never set me up on payments, as promised. They said, "Oh, David Leavitt got special permission from the Attorney General's office to take over your case."

And, of course, David Leavitt had more to gain by painting me as a welfare mooch than to allow me to make payments. I was never set up on payments like the state promised me. I got prosecuted instead. I'm still waiting to make my payments to the state.

Mr. Taxpayer in Alpine, I never had any intention to live off your tax dollars.

I'm very sorry we ever did.

I'm very sorry that we were ever in needy circumstances.

I'm very sorry that we were forced out f our comfortable homes in Sandy into the desert.

I'm very sorry that we were forced to live in a dangerous home that took the life of my very beautiful baby boy.

I'm very sorry that the state did not let us keep our promise to make payments.

I'm very sorry that a politician, who told us that we could get a lot of publicity if he prosecuted us, thought that this would help anyone, including society.

I'm very sorry that he was successful i getting the public (like yourself) to believe that we were trying to take advantage of you.

Society set up the safety net to help people who have setbacks like ours to get back on their feet. We took advantage of the aid that was offered (and needed) and were, and are, fully willing to pay it back.

Mr. Taxpayer in Alpine (and any of the rest of you), if you will calculate ow much the $54,435 we owe the state us your share ($0.06), I'll bring it right to your home and pay you back directly.

Please email me at and let me know the amount and your address and I WILL pay you back.

And I DO thank you for your kind assistance (no sarcasm here - I'm serious).

Sincerely, Tom Green

Friday, November 13, 2009

Polygamy, hatred, and the "True Believer"

"All lies and jest, still the man hears what he wants to hear and he disregards the rest"
- The Boxer, Simon And Garfunkel

On the Salt Lake Tribune website, polygamy stories draw a group of commenters who generally don't participate on any other topic.

The majority believe that the issues of taking multiple wives, and taking underage wives, are inseparably intertwined.

A few people posting in these comment threads question just how widespread the "child bride" problem is, or whether it is legal and appropriate for the government to act against an entire community as a "criminal class". One lady I have a great deal of admiration for is Deb Lee. She's asks the hard questions, and she's become a popular target for insults and vitriol. The class she shows in the face of it all should be an example to us all.

The Tribune's reporter specifically assigned to polygamy stories is not a rabid polygamy hater, and for it, she is regularly accused of practically aiding and abetting.

What I see in play is some kind of morbid curiosity. For some reason, that eludes me, some people in this country are eager, desperate even, to believe lurid tales of organized abuse rings, masquerading under the guise of religion, holding children hostage as sex slaves today, right here within the boarders of the good 'ol USA.

This is by no means an intellectual exercise for this group of "true believers", they believe it with their hearts, and any skeptic will quickly be accused of being either a child abuser or a child abuse enabler.

This "true believer" phenomenon certainly did not begin with this particular group. In the 1980's, a book called "Michelle Remembers" was released. In it's aftermath, a large number of apparently unconnected individuals, across both North America and Europe, began coming forward with accounts "recovered memories" of satanic ritual abuse. Evangelical Christian traveling speakers Bob Larson and Jerry Johnston were drawing huge audiences, then Geraldo Rivera fanned the flames even more with a primetime special, treating it all as real. But was there any evidence?

Girls, whose bodies showed no sign of childbirth, claimed that they had been held as "breeders", producing baby after baby to be sacrificed on some hidden alter by people living perfectly normal and respectable lives by day. In the height of the craze, the owners of the McMartin Preschool were jailed, and the building was razed to look for underground tunnels where the children claimed they were taken for abuse. In the end, all the frantic digging could not make up for the fact that the tunnels simply did not exist.

We can go back even further, to a town called Salem, where some accusations from a few little girls caused more than a little commotion in the community.

Back to the present. As someone who has gotten to know these people over a prolonged period of time, ultimately coming to agree with with Gordon B. Hinckley when he stated on Larry King Live that plural marriage is not doctrinal, nevertheless coming away with a great respect and admiration for them, I know that enough marriages to underage girls have taken place that law enforcement interest comes at no surprise. Courts of Law have held those individuals responsible for it accountable.

It should also be noted that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who is in no way a synthesizer, and in fact admits that his office considered raiding a Kingston church meeting to forcibly collect DNA samples, stated in an interview on 1 Aug 2010 (Take 2, KUTV) that he was satisfied from the reports of his network of inside informants that no underage marriages had been performed by the FLDS since 2004.

Then there are the more problematic issues, like the "human incinerator" supposedly located next to the Texas FLDS Temple, or the young man who recently published a book claiming to have recovered repressed memories from the age of five, where Warren Jeffs took a him out of class, sodomized him in the bathroom, then returned him to the classroom with no physical injuries.

But the "true believers" scream that a widespread problem exists, and that the authorities are doing practically nothing.

I recently (outdated link removed) challenged a "true believer", who complained that nothing was being done to "eliminate this scourge", on just what she thinks should be done to eradicate polygamy?

Indiscriminately round up children? Raids to capture the lists of every person in membership or in sympathy? GPS tracking for life? Forced sterilizations? Sending out spies to discover if any new groups are forming? Labeling American citizens, convicted of no crime, as part of a "criminal class", and suspending their civil rights solely on the basis of whom they associate with?

Two other "true believers" took their shots at me, neither of them offering anything substantive to counter my reasoning. Afterward the original "true believer" I challenged thanked them "for answering my specious argument", refusing to address me directly.

My question remains unanswered, just what would it take to satisfy these people? Perhaps, operating on such an emotional level, there is no answer. Perhaps they simply perceive evil, want the evil excised from society, and they have not thought it out any further beyond that.

When I actually start publicizing this blog, so that people will actually start reading it, hopefully I can get some insightful comments as to why they so passionately want to believe. Could it just be that some have a pathological need for a scapegoat to hate, or that they find some personal validation in believing the worst of those who seem strange or different from themselves, or could it go even deeper than that? For now, I remain perplexed.

As for myself, I don't want to believe that horrible things are happening in my community, in my country, and in my world, though I will accept that which can be reasonably proven.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What is a Fundamentalist?

A quick google search reveals that this term was coined relatively recently, (within the last hundred years), and that society is still in the process of hammering out what will ultimately be the firm definition for it.

My observations have led me to conclude that a fundamentalist is best described as a person who believes that he is clinging to ancient truth, divinely revealed, that he feels mankind has largely fallen away from. The fundamentalist mentality is very much left-brained, literal, legalistic, and rigid.

Does that make it a strictly religious term, or a strictly derogatory term? I don't think so. In some situations, a no-compromise, let's get back to basics, attitude is appropriate. The American form of government is a prime example of something which should be approached from a fundamentalist perspective. We began with a set of declared principles that were brilliant, inspired even, and through legislation and judicial rulings, we have been screwing them up, getting further and further away from original intent, ever since.

When it comes to religion, fundamentalism was a place where I once found comfort, but ultimately had to concede that a "package deal", all or nothing, mindset; a belief that we originally started out with something that was perfect, completely error free, does not stand up to scrutiny. No reasonable person could believe that the prophet-warrior Joshua literally made the earth stop turning for a day. Having watched the way religious fundamentalists will rationalize away anything they find in scripture or secular history, which stands in contradiction to their pre-conceived notions, as well as they way they have treated me differently after learning that my faction of Christianity is a different one than theirs; while I won't join the voices that blanketly condemn and spout inflammatory rhetoric likening the "Religious Right" to the Taliban, I do conclude that it does foster some attitudes that are not only flawed in their reasoning, but are unhealthy to the person believing them as well.

As someone with a Mormon background, this topic inevitably leads me to the question, is Mormonism a fundamentalist religion?

Mormons believes that their faith represents a restoration of lost truth. There absolutely are fundamentalist aspects to it...but they also believe that communication with God is ongoing, and that this is a special time in history, with truths being revealed in modern times that have heretofore not been given to mankind. To a fundamentalist, his ultimate source of truth is a book of ancient scripture. To a Mormon, his ultimate source of truth is a prophet who lives today, who has the full authority to clarify and expand upon the teachings of any prophet which came before him.

From my studies, I am aware of five unique new teachings introduced by Brigham Young: Adam-God, blood atonement, Jesus being begotten by sexual intercourse between God and Mary, non-polygamists being relegated to a subservient position in heaven, and that the Blacks would not receive the priesthood until after all the other decedents of Adam had the opportunity. None of these are accepted as the authoritative position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today.

If Mormons were truly fundamentalists, they would not feel at liberty to dismiss troubling parts of the discourses of the early brethren as unauthoritative speculation. That is why those who have a fundamentalist mindset when they convert will eventually will eventually make a choice, they will either accept some compromises on the rigidity of their belief system, or they will leave the church to associate with polygamists.