Faith vs. Self-preservation with a side of South Park

Yesterday turned out to be a lazy, yet quietly productive day. It was a mix of South Park (I’m watching the whole thing for the first time) and admin type work for the blog and a group I belong to. It was pleasant, in a way, ticking things off my to do list, while also making some impressive progress on my South Park quest. A quest which I’m enjoying immensely, I have no idea why it took me so long to watch this show. I’m currently on season 9 and it’s still going strong. I can almost imitate Cartman, so I feel accomplished.

Want to know what else I made progress with? My reading. I spent a few hours today curled up on my couch, just me and an indecent number of Mormons. Which, mind you, isn’t too far away from the truth. The author is chronicling different situations that take place within the Fundamentalist Mormon religion through different people. He speaks of one such woman’s family tree and describes it as something that looks like a complex engineering blueprint. She married her stepmother’s father and became, not only her stepmom’s stepmom, but also her own step-grandmother. That’s pretty crazy, right?

I don’t have issues with polygamy, in general. I believe in the idea that adults should be able to have multiple partners, whether in an open relationship or a plural relationship between 3 or more people, if they so desire. However, reading these accounts of Mormon polygamy was bothering me and I finally understood why when I read this line: ” Girls are led to believe that such a relationship is the one way to salvation”. These girls, because some of them are as young as 13 and 14 years old, are brought up to believe that the only way to make it into Heaven is by entering into plural marriages and being fully obedient to these men.  It’s either polygamy or damnation.

The motto for the Bountiful community in Canada, a Fundamentalist Mormon town, is “Keep sweet, no matter what”. It sounds innocent enough, but when you take into consideration that this is a community where disobedience is discouraged and severely punished, it takes on a more sinister meaning. It stops being just cute a saying to keep posted on fridge doors and it becomes something much more threatening. Keep sweet, no matter what….or else.

The same woman who became her own step-grandmother is quoted as trying to “unravel where God stops and man begins”. That’s a question believers of every religion ask themselves at some point. People often forget that members of the clergy and church leaders are just men, even if their intent is to speak in god’s name, sharing what they believe god would want. However, they don’t have a direct line to heaven, they’re just working off History and scriptures written by men like themselves. This becomes especially problematic in the Mormon religion because they believe their leaders are actually prophets who speak for god. It means these men are given a divine license to do as they wish and place it all under god’s name.

I had the good fortune of being raised by a family that taught me that I had a right to speak for myself. They taught me how to identify abuse and what healthy relationships looked like, even if they didn’t have perfect relationships themselves. Reading this book I’m surprised by what these women go through for their religion and I can’t help but wonder how they cope. I don’t doubt that there are good times the author doesn’t show because it goes against the point he’s trying to make, but some of the accounts he shares are really baffling, in a way. He tells of women raped, men who marry both mother and daughter, young girls pulled out of school only to be married off and impregnated, it’s intense. I understand these women strongly believe that is the only true path to salvation, but I wonder where their sense of self preservation is? Is their faith so strong that it completely overpowers it?

What do you think, readers? Does faith trump self preservation? Let me know what you think. Until next time, stay classy!

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