Help vs. rescue, FLDS "social crisis" at Safety Net
Fascinating Safety Net meeting in Colorado City today. If you have time (its a few hours long) watch the webcast for yourself here.
Ann Wright, a member of the Centennial Park polygamous community (background ABC news story here) criticized what she sees as sometimes-paternalistic attitudes at Safety Net. Commenting on the recent Safety Net discussions about how many home-schooled kids from polygamous communities, particularly the FLDS, don't get an adequate education, Wright said many parents work hard and do well at educating their kids.
"To listen to the discussions, you would think that all the homeschools are failures," she said.
She went on:
"I have no patience for the attitude, 'Oh, gosh, is she saying that again?'" Wright said. "The fact is, we love our lives, and you cannot clear that in your mind ... and you guys are in the business of rescuing people from our lives."
Safety Net officials, including Utah Attorney General's Office spokesman Paul Murphy, said that's not what Safety Net is about. (The committee was set up by the AG's office in '03, click here for background)
"We don't want to make decisions about you, without you. We really do not," he said. Addressing a recent downturn in the number of fundamentalists attending the meetings, he said: "I think the whole thing falls apart when you stop coming."
Dan Wayman told his story of being excommunicated from the Warren Jeffs-led FLDS in 2004. (He was once married to one of Jeffs' sisters, and was kicked out after his teenage daughter ran away well, maybe it's best to let him tell it himself; watch the webcast here) Wayman said he's had very young kids coming to his house looking to leave. He's recently gotten his foster care license and is looking for ways to help.
"There is quite a social crisis going on in the community right now," he said.
Pat Merkley gave an overview of her recent therapy sessions with Fundamentalist Mormons, including helping sisterwives communicate with one another and counseling a couple where the husband wanted to take a second wife, but his wife didn't want to. He agreed to slow it down.
The Safety Net has a new website. Check it out here: http://safetynetutah.org/index.html
After a suggestion last month to invite private investigator/author Sam Brower to a Safety Net meeting to talk about his book Prophet's Prey, the group ultimately decided they wouldn't have any presentations promoting books.