Brooke Adam's article on the front page of yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune may have been seen as fair and newsworthy by many, but for the FLDS community, it served no purpose save to rip the scab off a wound barely starting to heal, and pour salt directly on it.
While Brooke's note of explanation, and acknowledgement of the feelings of the community, that she posted on her blog is appreciated, it does little to assuage the terrific hurt felt by those who love Warren Jeffs. Perhaps this is the nature of being a reporter in the "big leagues".
Here is Brooke's blog post:
(I don't know why, but I can't get it to show as a link. You'll have to cut and paste. Sorry.)
These words, written in a short note I received early yesterday begins to capture the general sentiment in the community;
"I didn't read the article, just the first couple lines and didn't want to read more. How can someone see such a different man in him than how I see him? He doesn't control me, he never has. He has, however, given me sweet and sound advice from time to time and if I chose to follow it, I do. How do Brooke and others think the flds have stood strong....and true.... lo these many years, but for the teachings and examples of the Prophets?"
I communicate, back and forth, with half a dozen or so women in the FLDS community, and these were the same kinds of words I heard all day, yesterday. As word of the article spread, so did the renewed anger and hurt.
For these people, the steadfast followers of Warren Jeffs the Prophet of the FLDS Faith, there is no need or desire to read his private writings. There is no need or desire to know his private thoughts or his business dealings on their behalf.
Their individual, and group, experiences with Warren Jeffs are the foundation for their abiding faith in his position as their Prophet. From that perspective they have experienced a gentle man. They have experienced a man who has given good, sound, caring advice to them. He is a man who has been humble in his carriage, calm in his approach to crisis and hardships, and giving of his time and belongings to those in need. He has had the capacity to draw people together, convey and teach the messages of God, and model the behavior of the righteous.
Each and every person knows full well Warren Jeffs is human. Each person knows that as a fellow human being he will sometimes falter. He will sometimes make mistakes. He will sometimes experience all of the frailties inherent in the human condition. This is the nature of a Prophet on this earth. To walk amongst us, with us, and be of us, the people. Some will recognize him as a Prophet of God. Some will not. Some will deny him. Some will accept him. And for those who accept him as their Prophet, there is no need to know the mundane or the earthly aspects of his person. There is the need to accept him as their guide to living a life of righteousness that will bring them closer to God, and the rewards of the afterlife.
To see his private thoughts, and the private interactions he had with their friends, family members, and fellow members of the faithful being picked over like the carcass of a jack rabbit who has died in the desert is extraordinarily painful. This picking and pandering does nothing but solidify their faith that this man is the true Prophet in their lives. That he, his life, and his loved ones, would be so subjected is yet another of the many trials that his faithful know God will bring before Zion is achieved. So they will bear this quietly, and with dignity.
But for those of us who have come to know and respect many of the individuals in this community, standing quietly by is not an option.
We each feel the need to speak out and tell you, our fellow gentiles and outsiders, that this salacious picking and devouring and souring of the private words of a respected and loved religious leader is ugly, demeaning , and speaks to our basest inclinations.
Rather than sit in judgment of a people who have made a choice each of us has not, and perhaps would not, make, we each need to understand that the faith of the FLDS community is so strong, and the fundamentals of their teachings so adamant about love and forgiveness as their constant guidance, that we need to respect that. We need to respect the fact that they are intelligent people. They have not been led blindly. They have made a choice to put their lives in the hands of God. If errors or mistakes have been made, they will work to correct them, strong in their faith that God, through the act of inspiring their leaders and Prophet, will show them the way to Him. That if God is paving the way for change in their community, it will be because He has inspired it. Not because anyone in the outside world has demanded it.
Irrespective of the opinions or writings of anyone outside the faithful, the FLDS will continue to love and respect a man that has constantly, and consistently, guided them in their journey toward Him. And irrespective of what any outsider, including Brooke Adams, says about their "intent", the faithful will shun all attempts to take them down a path that is not righteous. And that includes all attempts to demean their faith in, and respect for, Warren Jeffs as their Prophet and guide through their earthly journey.
8 months ago