Pharyngula

Mormons love children

The love just drips off the page in this story about how they handle irreligious teenagers. And look, Senator Chris Buttars is the concentration camp executive director!

Comments

  1. #1 Matthew
    January 28, 2009

    I live in SLC, and from all of us atheists and skeptics here, we’re sorry. Especially fro Buttars, he is an embarrassment to us all. Most mormons are pretty friendly folk otherwise, but it is one crazy religion.

  2. #2 Glen Davidson
    January 28, 2009

    I like the reading of the Book of Mormon to cause grief.

    The punishment should equal the crime. I just doubt any of them did anything bad enough to merit something that horrible.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  3. #3 Marion Delgado
    January 28, 2009

    Glen D what you gentiles don’t understand is that reading the book of Mormon is the anesthesia so the real punishment doesn’t hurt as much.

    Mark Twain even called it chloroform in print!

  4. #4 PZ Myers
    January 28, 2009

    I know. I lived in SLC for a while, and it really was the most family friendly town around…but the religion is insane and instigates some of the most family-hateful behavior.

  5. #5 Sastra
    January 28, 2009

    One of the values Mormons seek to instill in their children is that of obedience and humility. Like many authoritarian religions, they’re very concerned with the “rebellious” or “strong-willed” child.

    It is one thing to want your children to be kind, helpful, and respectful. It is another thing to view the family and church as microcosms of how we learn to relate to a God which requires absolute faith, worship, and the giving over of self. That sort of world view gives earthly authorities too much power over those who are in their “care.”

    I don’t think this work camp represents Mormonism at its best. It helps to represent Mormonism at its worse. And it makes a certain amount of sense within a system which believes that Man’s original sin was pride, and we need to “break” people of that. That is why God sent our souls to earth, to learn the lesson of Obedience.

  6. #6 gypsytag
    January 28, 2009

    i think a civil lawsuit is in order and we can only hope a criminal investigation.

  7. #8 LordLeckie
    January 28, 2009

    Stories like that have a habit of enraging me and making me full of hate for those involved, the fact that they got abused is bad enough but the complete lack of justice makes me feel enraged for hours. Fucking Mormons.

  8. #9 asteranx
    January 28, 2009

    @5: It may not represent Mormonism at its best, but especially with the Senator’s involvement it represents the state of Mormonism which is dominant.

    It simply doesn’t matter if a majority of Mormons are nice people – if the nasty ones are in charge, it’s because the nice ones are allowing an extremist minority to speak and act on their behalf. And just stepping up and saying ‘Most of us don’t agree’ is a rather impotent response while the ones you don’t agree with (after being elected by majority vote) are beating children in your name.

  9. #10 Somerobert
    January 28, 2009

    I thought slavery was abolished.

  10. #11 Zeno
    January 28, 2009

    I’m really quite a wimp. I thought I was in a concentration camp when I was in Catholic school with a pastor/principal who was a psychopath. Naw. Compared to the Mormon gulag, Monsignor was a pussy cat and Catholic school was a relaxation spa. (Still don’t miss it, though.)

    Although I am grateful to “Citizen Correspondent Eric” for exposing these religiously motivated crimes of child abuse, I’m afraid that I know the “perfect answer” that true believers will offer as an excuse: Eric brought it on himself, you see, by being recalcitrant. It’s why humans suffer in the world: resisting the word of God. When children refuse to cooperate with adults, only they are to blame for the consequences. (As the adults might say, “Look what you made me do.”) Rational people understand that this is no excuse for child abuse, but religious people are seriously lacking in rationality in at least one key aspect of their lives.

  11. #12 Twin-Skies
    January 28, 2009

    Anybody else here remember Jesus Camp after reading the article?

  12. #13 DrBadger
    January 28, 2009

    It’s amazing that abuse of this magnitude is tolerated. I agree with asteranx (#9) and his comment:

    It simply doesn’t matter if a majority of Mormons are nice people – if the nasty ones are in charge, it’s because the nice ones are allowing an extremist minority to speak and act on their behalf. And just stepping up and saying ‘Most of us don’t agree’ is a rather impotent response while the ones you don’t agree with (after being elected by majority vote) are beating children in your name.

    How that ass keeps on getting reelected is sickening and a testament of how “nice” religious people are just as guilty as the bad ones.

  13. #14 raven
    January 28, 2009

    Harrowing for sure. And typical of cult youth facilities.

    These summer concentration camps usually get found out when a few kids die. If you read the article, that can happen any number of ways.

    They get beaten to death.
    They commit suicide.
    They get sick and don’t receive medical care. There were no medical personnel on staff.

    In any state on the West Coast, they would be shut down for child abuse and any number of illegal activities. I guess Utah is so used to abusive cults running things that they just don’t care.

    How many of these abused, tortured, kids are going to have a positive view of the LDS church after they inevitably turn 18? Hard to believe any would want to stay in such a vicious religion.

  14. #15 Marcus Ranum
    January 28, 2009

    Yeah??? BUT – the atheists had STALIN and HITLER and.. uh.
    That twang you heard was my irony meter failing. :(

  15. #16 raven
    January 28, 2009

    Mormons like to claim they are a fast growing religion with millions of members.

    I’ve also heard that they are misleading with their numbers like most religions.

    They also have a high dropout rate. People just stop going to church or join another sect or lose interest.

    The percentage of Mormons in Utah is going down steadily. SLC itself is majority nonLDS. It is around 60 or 70% now and is projected that they will be below 50% in a few decades.

  16. #17 The Atheist Missionary
    January 28, 2009

    I’ve never been to a Mormon gulag but I was reared schooled by the Christian Brothers. Different religion but the same crazy sick shit.

  17. #18 DrBadger
    January 28, 2009

    correction on #13… it’s testament to, not of.

  18. #19 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 28, 2009

    Oh shit.

    Sorry I thought you said, CATHOLICS love children.

    my bad.

    Damn, sorry.

  19. #20 Nathan
    January 28, 2009

    this makes my battles to remove my name from the church records even more important, and I mean battles. Yesterday I received their response to my resignation, they refused it and are sending the local Bishop to proselytize me.

    If any of you were in Calgary for PZ’s lecture you may remember me speaking out about leaving the church, as I said before we need to speak up against these abuses or nothing will change.

  20. #21 Bryant
    January 28, 2009

    Am I the only one that desperately wants to lead a raid against this place?

  21. #22 pcarini
    January 28, 2009

    As if I needed more reasons to despise Buttars, or to stay the hell away from West Jordan (where the camp is).

    I’ve also heard that they are misleading with their numbers like most religions.

    I’m sure they count all the names on their records, and most former mormons don’t bother to get their names removed from them.

  22. #23 SteveL
    January 28, 2009

    Nathan @#20:
    Just get a second wife :) They’ll throw you out as fast as they can.

  23. #24 Patricia, OM
    January 28, 2009

    No Bryant @21 – You aren’t the only one. This is heartbreaking.

  24. #25 RN Lee
    January 28, 2009

    I had a friend who got taken to one of those, and he was nineteen years old. His parents had him kidnapped at like five in the morning by football players. Jesus.

  25. #26 Keanus
    January 28, 2009

    Anyone notice the striking similarity between this “boys’ ranch” and a Taliban madrassa?

  26. #27 Nathan
    January 28, 2009

    @SteveL

    hehe, I’m actually descended from a mormon polygamist ;)

  27. #28 Patricia, OM
    January 28, 2009

    #20 – Nathan, nice link on clicking your name. I’m a reject from the snake kissing clan, being shunned is so much easier than what you’re getting. My sympathies.

  28. #29 Bride of Shrek OM
    January 28, 2009

    The sad thing is there are a couple of shitbags actually defending this establishment and its tactics in the comments section after that awful story. What a totally fucked up place that can treat children like that.

  29. #30 chris j
    January 28, 2009

    @21 no you’re not. And while it would probably be a good idea, this coming from a person who abhors violence, all that would happen is the brainwashed would defend the masters.

    While Citizen Correspondent Eric did a great job getting it out there, we need to get it out there further. Get enough people mad about it and things will happen.

  30. #31 Lilian Nattel
    January 28, 2009

    The gulag is one thing. Another thing is dropping off surplus boys outside the compounds.

  31. #32 matt
    January 28, 2009

    As a Mormon teenager living in the heart of Utah trying to assert my own beliefs (atheism & liberalism *gasp*), I can at least be grateful I never got sent to that kind of hellhole. My parents did want me to withdraw from college for a while so I could go live with my grandparents and study the scriptures until I was convinced enough to serve a two-year Mormon proselytizing mission, though.

    Let me tell you: leaving the Church is social suicide. Shunned, rejected, and pitied by most of the people you’ve ever known. And they say you have a choice…

  32. #33 Hank Fox
    January 28, 2009

    Steven King’s “The Talisman” has several chapters on “Sunlight Gardener’s Home for Wayward Boys” (or something like that) and it was even more horrible than this place.

    But that was FICTION.

    The really amazing thing about all of this is that there actually are psychopaths — people who can’t absorb the fact that other people are real and have feelings — in positions of authority.

    Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona is one of the most notable of the breed, but this Senator Chris Buttars seems like another.

    Strange to think there are places in the world deliberately made to be the natural environment of psychopaths.

    Man, if you liked beating and tormenting children, hearing their screams, seeing their blood, and yet needed a veil of rationalization so that even their parents would approve, this place would be a paradise.

  33. #34 Barry
    January 28, 2009

    Is there any way I can forward this link to Glenn Beck?

  34. #35 Elvismorte
    January 28, 2009

    Wow. I haven’t been able to read the whole article because I am still at work. But I want to and then I need to talk to my best friend and respond. Because my friend used to “kidnap” kids and she would often transport them to Utah. But, before everyone starts ranting about how evil my friend is….most of these kids were FUCKED up. Often they had runaway from home and were prostituting themselves. Or were taking serious drugs. Or were cutting themselves. Or worse. It was a really hard job because she genuinely cared about these kids. I used to ask her how often she thought that the parents were the problem. She said that most of the time they seemed like good people that were at the end of their rope and didn’t know where to turn (most had tried therapy and rehab). Now, there are different companies involved in transports, some probably better than others, but my friend NEVER knowingly took a kid just because they weren’t following their parents religious dogma. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen…obviously it does. I’m just saying that although this case is pretty horrific…this issue is very complex with a lot of different angles. Just like the issue of psychiatric hospitals. Complex.

  35. #36 Patricia, OM
    January 28, 2009

    #32 – Matt – You will be OK. It’s hard, I know. There is an up side to being shunned, they avoid you like the plague. That is much better than them beating the shit out of you, rape, or being locked away.

    It is social suicide, and it hurts like hell. You may loose everything else, but you gain freedom. My heart aches for you, that as a teen you are trapped. I know what that feels like.

  36. #37 Barry
    January 28, 2009

    Is there any way I can forward this link to Glenn Beck?

  37. #38 Robin
    January 28, 2009

    Hey Matt @32,
    Though I can only imagine, hang in there. It’s a big world our here, full of interesting accepting people. You’ll find a place in it.

  38. #39 Barry
    January 28, 2009

    Sorry about the double post. I’m not attention whoring. My first attempt was reported as unsuccessful.

  39. #40 Timebender13
    January 28, 2009

    Its funny, but for once I saw a group of bigots hating the right people! Let me explain:

    I was in DC for the inauguration, and there were a few people out protesting. They were spewing Fundamentalist christian crap of course, anti gay and such. There was an odd sign listing groups of sinners. Most of the usual prejudices were there, but there were a few odd ones, including mormons and sports fans. I mean, of all the rival religions, they singled out Mormons? Weird. Other than the mormon thing, they were racist bastards. My friends and I just refer to them as The Bigots.

    OK, story over.

  40. #41 Twin-Skies
    January 29, 2009

    @matt

    From my experience, friends who suddenly abandon you because of a sudden change in your world views are not genuine friends at all. Rather, they probably hung around with you simply because it was convenient.

    A true friend would have been willing to sit it out and hear your side of the story, probably still disagree, but would realize to suddenly sever a decades-long bond over over something as fickle as faith would be shallow and stupid.

  41. #42 DrBadger
    January 29, 2009

    @#35…

    But, before everyone starts ranting about how evil my friend is….most of these kids were FUCKED up. Often they had runaway from home and were prostituting themselves. Or were taking serious drugs. Or were cutting themselves. Or worse.

    You think it’s ok to send these disturbed children to be enslaved by crazy, religious nuts? There are more “humane” ways to deal with emotionally disturbed children.

  42. #43 David Utidjian
    January 29, 2009

    Bryant @ 21:

    Am I the only one that desperately wants to lead a raid against this place?

    OK this time you lead and I will follow. We can do a classic assault if you like… leapfrogging. Or I can just cover your rear. (or something)

    Next time I get to be the leader though, OK?

    -DU-

  43. #44 PixelFish
    January 29, 2009

    Nathan: I got the same materials you did when I sent my resignation into SLC. But they did handily include the name of the local bishop and the ward they thought I should be in. So as soon as I got them, I called up the local ward, asked for their mailing address, and sent in the exact same resignation and mentioned that if they tried to contact me or re-activate me, I would consider that a violation of the no-contact request. (I lived in SF at the time, but had never been to a ward there.) The bishop was chill and processed the resignation right away. Two weeks later I was officially an ex-Mormon. Heretics of the world unite!

    If it helps, reference the Church of Christ case and the LDS cases that went to court–both of those establish precedent for resignation in the US, which allows for freedom of association. (You can choose to NOT be associated with the church, and therefore not subject to their punitive measures.) I’ve posted about these cases previously on Pharyngula here: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/01/sins_so_heinous_that_only_the.php#comment-1317243

  44. #45 Twin-Skies
    January 29, 2009

    I’m just saying that although this case is pretty horrific…this issue is very complex with a lot of different angles. Just like the issue of psychiatric hospitals. Complex.

    If their cases are so complex, then why not send these kids to said psychiactric hospitals, where they can get professional help instead of further indosctrination?

  45. #46 currie jean
    January 29, 2009

    All I could think when reading this was “why the hell didn’t you run away? Run away!” but by the time I finished it, it was scary enough that I understood.

    I’m so angered by this that I don’t know what to do with myself. Start a “battered ex-theist” shelter?

    – CJ
    http://www.helium.com/users/show_articles/165611

  46. #47 currie jean
    January 29, 2009

    Fuck it, a “battered theist” shelter. No one deserves this shit no matter what they believe, and I don’t want to imply otherwise. I just assumed that after something like this, ex-theism is the natural conclusion.

  47. #48 Hugh M.
    January 29, 2009

    ^^ I could be wrong. But, won’t they just convert you after you die?

  48. #49 Elvismorte
    January 29, 2009

    Nope. I’m not saying it’s OK to send anyone to a situation like the one described in this story. I’m saying that sometimes one side of a story isn’t all there is to it. This camp sounds criminal. But I don’t think all of them are. Even some of the ones run by Mormons. I’ve also read many memoirs and stories from psychiatric hospitals where horrible things happened. So would I want to send children there? Maybe. It depends on the situation. I just happen to have some real world experience with this issue. It reminds me that when I read stories about something I don’t have experience with…even when I agree with them…I try and think about all of the possible angles and that maybe I’m not getting the full view. That’s all I’m saying. And what I’m going to do in this situation is talk to my friend and maybe try and talk to some of the kids she transported (she keeps in contact with some of them) and find out their takes on their experiences. But once again they weren’t sent to wilderness camp for religious indoctrination…so this kids experience is different.

  49. #50 Gary F
    January 29, 2009

    This school should be shut down:

    http://www.mormongulag.com

  50. #51 Gary F
    January 29, 2009

    This school should be shut down:

    http://www.mormongulag.com

  51. #52 Patricia, OM
    January 29, 2009

    You will survive. I did.
    I’m old enough to be your mom, or your grandmother. You’ll be OK.
    FUCK! This just about kills me.

  52. #53 Craig
    January 29, 2009

    FWIW, Nathan, that’s pretty much the Church’s boilerplate response; however, you may still want to engage an attorney if they try to drag this out – as they might, given that you’re outside the US. If you ever get on the ex-Mormon message board, I’d recommend talking with Bob McCue who might have Canada-specific information about leaving the LDS Church.

  53. #54 Jeff
    January 29, 2009

    And these are the people running our government.

  54. #55 kingjoebob
    January 29, 2009

    That was sobering. I thought the southern baptists were nuts, I send my thoughts to those poor young people and hope that there is enough outrage to shut that place down, and all others like it.

    An assault on such a place while a good thought would most likely just increase collateral damage. The youth trapped there are being damaged and brainwashed, some of them would surly help fight against the liberation and thusly be harmed further. On a side note, if such an assault could be pulled off it would surly be Eddie Izzard’s Transvestite Brigade Airborne Division. (Eddie Izzard, Dressed to Kill)

    Laughter is the best medicine. May all those youth have a very Happy and Joyful liberation and may the rest of their lives be filled with laughter and joy so as to offset the pure evil they have been forced to endure.

  55. #56 Jadehawk
    January 29, 2009

    Elvismorte: NONE of these camps are good. not even the “good” ones! not even the ones they have TV shows about!

    I’m sorry, but boot-camps of any sort are child-abuse. Parents willing to do that to their children are most likely the root of whatever the problem is. This shit is inexcusable

  56. #57 Katkinkate
    January 29, 2009

    Posted by: Hugh M. @ 48
    “^^ I could be wrong. But, won’t they just convert you after you die?”

    So what! You’ll be dead. They can’t hurt you any more, no matter what they think is happening to your soul.

  57. #58 Elvismorte
    January 29, 2009

    Jadehawk: Maybe not. Haven’t been to one of the camps myself. Have you? I’ve seen some of the television shows…and working in television I take them with a grain of salt. I do, however, know people who have worked at some of these camps…and the ones I know were non-religious, liberal, social worker types who were genuinely trying to change kids lives. They were wilderness camps. They weren’t boot camps. They took kids out on extended camping trips and taught then life and survival skills trying to build self-confidence. I’ve asked what they think their success rate (all very non scientific) for getting the kids off drugs or out of prostitution etc. and they weren’t optimistic….they thought maybe 30 percent. But it’s something. Are these camps the same as the one in the story. Don’t think so. But I’m not willing to say they are all are bad. Not yet. I’m also not going to accuse all desperate parents of child abuse. I refuse to be that knee-jerk. Skepticism is incompatible with forming conclusions before having all the facts. It’s hard to do when dealing with emotional issues but it’s still important.

  58. #59 Elvismorte
    January 29, 2009

    I guess what I’m saying is that after watching One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest I thought all psychiatric hospitals should be shut. Then after dealing with some tragically mentally ill friends, I realized that maybe that wasn’t the solution either. Should the horrors that this kid was subjected to be allowed to stand? No. Never. And should anyone be sent away because of their belief or lack of it. No. Never. However, there are good people, trying to do good things out there with difficult situations and I refuse to lump them all into one. It’s rarely black and white.

  59. #60 Hugh M.
    January 29, 2009

    Katkinkate

    No argument there. But that would not stop me from feeling outrage, now, about my future co-option. I’m irrational like that. It’s one of my many flaws.

  60. #61 raven
    January 29, 2009

    do, however, know people who have worked at some of these camps…and the ones I know were non-religious, liberal, social worker types who were genuinely trying to change kids lives. They were wilderness camps. They weren’t boot camps.

    That is true. Not all residential treatment camps are created equal…equally dysfunctional.

    Even in Utah. The properly run ones have staff trained in treating alienated and abused kids, medical facilities, and a high staff to client ratio. They aren’t cheap.

    I know one kid who credits such a program for saving his life. He ended up locked in a conflict with his parents for various complicated reasons and was spiralling out of control. Nine months of intensive counseling in the wilds of Utah let him put his life back together enough to move on. He still has only tenuous contact with his parents but is at least a functioning member of society.

    This LDS torture camp is an accident waiting to happen. If they haven’t killed some kids already, they will sooner or later. Happens all the time in such facilities.

  61. #62 Elvismorte
    January 29, 2009

    Raven: Yes. Thanks for saying it better. I’m still learning to use my words.

  62. #63 Michael X
    January 29, 2009

    Matt @32

    To just add to the list of those who share your experiences, both my wife and I experienced shunning from our previous social circles and family even, when we left our religions.

    For what it’s worth, we couldn’t be happier; recently married, professionally and intellectually fulfilled and surrounded by stimulating friends who care about us for who we are, and not what they wish us to be.

    I encourage you to continue standing up for yourself and to reach out to those of like mind.

  63. #64 Whatevermachine
    January 29, 2009

    There are these kinds of facilities all over the place, they’re hideous. ‘Boot camps’ and ‘behavior modification facilities’ run by religious nuts who basically abuse children. http://www.teenliberty.org/

  64. #65 Vidar
    January 29, 2009

    Time to add my European opinion on this:

    What.

    The.

    FUCK?

    What kind of parents think it’s a good idea to have their own children kidnapped and put into concentration camps?
    What kind of government allows this kind of bullshit in their country?
    Why has the mormon church not been branded “a dangerous Waco-like cult” or a “criminal organisation” yet?
    Seriously, what the fuck is something like that doing in a first-world country?

  65. #66 Vidar
    January 29, 2009

    Time to add my European opinion on this:

    What.

    The.

    FUCK?

    What kind of parents think it’s a good idea to have their own children kidnapped and put into concentration camps?
    What kind of government allows this kind of bullshit in their country?
    Why has the mormon church not been branded “a dangerous Waco-like cult” or a “criminal organisation” yet?
    Seriously, what the fuck is something like that doing in a first-world country?

  66. #67 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 29, 2009

    The Doctor should have this place’s reactor go critical and replace it with a banana grove after it blows.

  67. #68 MH
    January 29, 2009

    #55 “On a side note, if such an assault could be pulled off it would surly be Eddie Izzard’s Transvestite Brigade Airborne Division.”

    I was thinking along the lines of a team of ninjas led by the immortal ghost of Bruce Lee, but on further consideration, I like your idea better.

    All these abusive camps, whether they be Mormon, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Scientologist, Islamic, or secular, would cease to exist if there was proper oversight and publication of their crimes against humanity. The best disinfectant is sunlight.

  68. #69 Vidar
    January 29, 2009

    Sorry about the multipost. It wasn’t intentional. Impatiently pressing the post button multiple times when the browser doesn’t seem to respond for over a minute is apparently a bad idea on this blog.

  69. #70 Zeno
    January 29, 2009

    Vidar: “What i tell you three times is true.”

    As the Bellman said while stalking the Snark.

  70. #71 sjburnt
    January 29, 2009

    Wow! Makes me realize how lucky I was that John Birch Camp was only for three weeks. And we only had to profess a love for god and country and hate those ‘evil communists’. We did not have to read the book of morman, just “None Dare Call it Treason”.

    Is there a manual somewhere for these bastards to learn how to abuse kids? The whole ‘wall’ scenario is way too familiar.

    Damn. I thought I had repressed all this shit.

  71. #72 Tess
    January 29, 2009

    Is Utah a theocracy? And if not, how can they get away with stuff like this?

  72. #73 Hank Fox
    January 29, 2009

    Matt @ #32:

    Matt, there are more people elsewhere in the world than there are in the Mormon Church. You’ll find lots of friends outside the church. You’ll find loved ones, even family, outside. You just have to get through the transition of separation. And yeah, it can be painful.

    (On the other hand, there are dangers in the world that your people are currently protecting you from, whether you know it or not — so I don’t advise making any sudden jumps in your teen years.)

    But bear in mind that it’s not you leaving them. It’s them leaving you. Any sort of one-sided social contract, where you have to give up being your own unique self in order to fit in with THEIR society, like that looks a lot like slavery, don’t you think? Certainly it’s a form of emotional blackmail. “Be who we command you to be, or you can’t live here, none of us will talk to you!” Damn. Anybody who offered me that kind of choice, I’d say they were AUTOMATICALLY ineligible to receive my respect and love.

    Look at what the outside world offers, over the next few years, and decide for yourself which road you want to take.

  73. #74 Tenebras
    January 29, 2009

    Almost makes me wish there was a Hell. Although, knowing the Christian God, these bastards would probably be in Heaven.

    Fuck the extremists that do it, fuck the moderates that let it happen, fuck the government that doesn’t stomp it out, and fuck the religion that convinces them it’s right.

  74. #75 Joel
    January 29, 2009

    If there was a thing such as Satan, Sen. Chris Buttars would be it. At least that’s the first thing I thought of when I saw his picture on the second page of the article. Ironic.

    What an evil bastard.

  75. #76 Bill Dauphin
    January 29, 2009

    It simply doesn’t matter if a majority of Mormons are nice people – if the nasty ones are in charge

    I’ll go a step further and say it simply doesn’t matter if a majority of Mormons (or other theists) are nice people even if the nice ones are in charge: Whenever the people “in charge” believe in a single inviolable will that controls the universe, the dictates of which are mandatory on all, including those who don’t believe, you have absolute-monarchy-by-proxy… in a word, dictatorship. Even when “the nice ones” are in charge, the best we can hope for is a so-called benevolent dictatorship… and experience suggests they never stay benevolent for long, even leaving aside the inherent philosophical obnoxiousness of dictatorship.

    In another thread recently, someone recalled the truism that it takes religion to make good people do evil; when theists are in authority as representatives of god — even if they’re good people — ultimately (IMHO) no good can come of it. (Note that I don’t mean to be saying personal religious beliefs disqualify anyone from public office; only that rule in the name of god is always wrong, even in the face of the best of intentions.)

  76. #77 Sheesh
    January 29, 2009

    This camp isn’t even affiliated with the LDS Church. It’s run by people who happen to be Mormon and believe it is their right to ram religion down these kids’ throats, but it’s not an LDS Church camp. It should be shut down.

    And Chris Buttars is a complete idiot and an embarrassment to Utah and the LDS Church.

    Oh yeah, and I’m a Mormon.

  77. #78 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 29, 2009

    …crasez l’inf‚me.

    Sue their asses, and then sue the rest of them.

    In the hardly believable case that this gulag doesn’t violate any laws of Utah, there’s got to be something federal against it.

    Impatiently pressing the post button multiple times when the browser doesn’t seem to respond for over a minute is apparently a bad idea on this blog.

    Windows may not react immediately, but it never forgets that you have clicked. Never.

  78. #79 Randy
    January 29, 2009

    Oh… the first three pages of the story have made me queasy.

  79. #80 Mu
    January 29, 2009

    These people just live off the fact that child abuse is a state crime, to be enforced by the local DA. So if you’re in rural Utah where 80% Mormons vote in a stout Mormon DA, you’re safe. So in cases of interstate transportation you might be able to get a federal case if the statute of limitation hasn’t expired.
    PS: I love how Firefox’s spell checker gives you two options to spell mormon right: Mormon and moron. Tough choice.

  80. #81 llewelly
    January 29, 2009

    Posted by: Timebender13 | January 28, 2009 11:41 PM, #40

    Its funny, but for once I saw a group of bigots hating the right people! Let me explain:

    I was in DC for the inauguration, and there were a few people out protesting. They were spewing Fundamentalist christian crap of course, anti gay and such. There was an odd sign listing groups of sinners. Most of the usual prejudices were there, but there were a few odd ones, including mormons and sports fans.

    Don’t forget. Good people were also on their list of sinners.

  81. #82 DominEditrix
    January 29, 2009

    My mother [an Episcopalian] became a social worker in Salt Lake City after seeing the abuse my siblings’ LDS friends endured – like the ones who were tossed onto the streets because they dared to question religious dogma, or the girls who were required to leave school at 16 so that their parents could marry them off. [She often had runaways or kids who’d been rendered homeless living in her house.] She discovered that those “stout Mormon DA” sorts in SLC would frequently refuse to prosecute abuse, especially sexual abuse, especially by church elders, and that juries would frequently ignore cold, hard evidence and acquit the bastards if they were prosecuted.

    My mother is a tenacious seeker of justice. The average time a social worker spends in the sexual abuse section before burning out is 18 months; she spent years there, and only retired completely at 75. She is a short, plump, grandmotherly woman, but woe to anyone who doesn’t grasp that her ancestors went a-viking…

  82. #83 raven
    January 29, 2009

    or the girls who were required to leave school at 16 so that their parents could marry them off.

    Not unusual. Some of my relatives live in Utah. One girl from a nearby LDS family was married off as a teen ager to some high LDS official who was much older. He abused her physcially and mentally quite badly right from the beginning.

    She managed to get a divorce with difficulty and excommunicated from the church quite easily. The guy just made up some charges and they just said, “Oh, OK”. Her family disowned her reasoning that LDS church officials couldn’t be corrupt sociopaths.

    She eventually recovered and is managing to live a normal life. The stint in a mental hospital helped a lot. I even met her a few times, just a normal average girl who went through hell too young.

    This isn’t even the only case like this. My friend is married to an ex-mormon who went through a similar but less vicious short marriage to a middle aged LDS surgeon.

    Absolute power corrupts. It’s too easy to say that the entire LDS church in Utah, which they own, is all that way, but there are definitely pockets of such within the heirarchy.

  83. #84 Bill Dauphin
    January 29, 2009

    Timebender13 (@40):

    I missed this until llewelly replied (@83)…

    I was in DC for the inauguration, and there were a few people out protesting. They were spewing Fundamentalist christian crap of course, anti gay and such.

    Was that by any chance the people protesting near the MSNBC broadcast booth? I saw them there on Monday (1/19); perhaps you and I were part of the same bemused crowd?

    I continue to be surprised by the number of Pharyngularians I may have been within spitting distance of during the inaugural festivities, if only I’d known. It may not really be a “small world,” but ~2 million is a big chunk of it, eh?

  84. #85 George Atkinson
    January 29, 2009

    Buttars just has to be a made-up name, like Bat Guano or Pussy Galore or Biggus Dickus.

  85. #86 John Robie
    January 29, 2009

    @55 – a transvestite assault is a good plan, but I say we dust off and nuke the site from orbit- it’s the only way to be sure.

  86. #87 Vortmax
    January 29, 2009

    Nathan @20 (and others who are trying to get off the rolls of the Mormon church):

    If you send a letter of resignation from the church, they cannot refuse it, and they cannot excommunicate you for it. (I only found out about this recently, after I asked to be removed from the membership and they decided to excommunicate me anyway for being gay. Grr.) Check out http://www.mormonnomore.com/ for more info.

    They do inflate their numbers by counting people who are “inactive” members (ie those who never come to church anymore).

  87. #88 llewelly
    January 29, 2009

    Posted by: Sheesh | January 29, 2009 10:39 AM, #79:

    This camp isn’t even affiliated with the LDS Church. It’s run by people who happen to be Mormon and believe it is their right to ram religion down these kids’ throats, but it’s not an LDS Church camp. It should be shut down.

    Every few years, there is news of some sort of heinous abuse, some death, violence, or rape, which has gone on in one or more of the several ‘camps run by people who happen to be Mormon but aren’t really official representatives of the LDS Church’. But these camps continue to be run, and promoted by members of the LDS Church. The deaths, violence, mental and sexual abuse, sometimes result in name changes, or prosecution of a few ‘bad apples’, but the camps continue. The LDS Church does nothing, because, after all, the organizers of the camps ‘just happen to be Mormon’, and the appearance of their notices on Church bulletin boards has nothing to do with it. Members of the LDS Church look away, and pretend it’s just a few isolated incidents. A few people try to raise hell, but most people don’t want to offend the LDS. Those who don’t want to offend the LDS, and ‘mainstream’ LDS, are being used as cover by extremists. It’s a story I’ve been seeing over and over again, for as long as I’ve lived in Utah (about 33 years). I don’t want to drag everyone into taking a position on this issue, but there is nonetheless a strong connection between ‘mainstream’ LDS and the kooks who run these camps.

  88. #89 onshay
    January 29, 2009

    I would read the entire article and the comments before judging this religion as a whole. Don’t generalize.

  89. #90 raven
    January 29, 2009

    It turns out these camps do kill kids, what I thought. Just hit Google and put in some key words, Mormon dead kids and….

    Utah doctor indicted in therapy camp death – Salt Lake Tribune
    Sep 6, 2008 … Jensen had been sent to the camp by Utah juvenile justice officials. … to Hale’s call for help and pronounced the teen dead at the scene. …

    I would read the entire article and the comments before judging this religion as a whole. Don’t generalize.

    Dead kids are OK with you? Whatever. Hard to believe in this day and age that religions still practice Child Sacrifice. And oh yeah, sacrifice your own kids if you will and stay far, far away from ours.

  90. #91 Will Von Wizzlepig
    January 29, 2009

    [sigh]

    right-wing fanatacism so easily inspires similar behavior in others.

    the desire of these freaks (who are mormon, a coincidence) to control other people… and they’re given an excuse and a bit of slack to exercise their freakish desires…

    it inspires regular old folk like us to want to see their freak faces stomped into the pavement somewhere.

    It’s hard not to feel that way. I try not to be like them, but being human is such a chore- it’s not always so easy to convince yourself not to feel that way.

    And now you know how these freaks ended up where they are. Pity them, their sad lives, and pity the people who have to tolerate them.

  91. #92 Tenebras
    January 29, 2009

    “And now you know how these freaks ended up where they are. Pity them, their sad lives, and pity the people who have to tolerate them.”

    And at what point do you stop and hold them responsible for their own actions? At what point do you stop tolerating and say “In a reasonably secular, pluralistic society, with free sources of information and education, you cannot claim ignorance. You made the conscious choice to abuse these children. You need to be punished and kept away from the rest of society.”

  92. #93 E.V.
    January 29, 2009

    They will know we are christians by our … garments.

  93. #94 raven
    January 29, 2009

    It turns out that kids have died at Utah Boys Ranch. Couldn’t get many details from Google. Most of the web sites were down or blocked that might have details.

    Offhand, I’d say it is 200% certain that someone’s lawyers have been working overtime to intimidate the web site owners. Might be the LDS church or one of any Mormon rat packs.

    Who did this last? Hmmmm, oh yeah, the Catholic church spent decades covering up their pedophile problem. Typical church reaction when kids get raped, abused, or killed. COVER IT UP!!! Bunch of sickos.

    It’s all the kid’s fault really. If they didn’t have cute asses and weren’t so small and weak these things wouldn’t happen.

  94. #95 deang
    January 29, 2009

    Mormonism isn’t the only Christian sect with such cruel attitudes toward childrearing. I come from a Texas family filled with Methodists and Baptists who would definitely approve of the Mormon boys camp described. In addition to the physical and psychological abuse intended to keep children cowering and thus controlled, they increasingly turn to psychiatric drugs to deal with even normal teenage behavior. Some of them claim without irony that their perfectly healthy, normal children have “Oppositional-Defiant Disorder” (“ODD”) and are thus on heavy medication. When medicated children inform their parents that the meds are causing physical pain and mental problems, the kids are said to be displaying additional symptoms of ODD and are punished for “talking back”.

  95. #96 Becky
    January 29, 2009

    This is one of the most atrocious things I’ve ever read. I can’t believe that this shit goes on, and in my own country. I can’t believe that someone who runs something like this could be elected senator. At least, I almost can’t believe it. I felt sick just reading this.

  96. #97 Eric Saveau
    January 29, 2009

    @Naked Bunny with a Whip
    The Doctor should have this place’s reactor go critical and replace it with a banana grove after it blows.

    “I like bananas. Bananas are good.”

    :-)

  97. #98 Nathan
    January 30, 2009

    Thank you again to all the Pharyngulites who gave me advice, I appreciate it all :D

  98. #99 DebinOz
    January 30, 2009

    My ex-husband used to get shipped off to Bible Memory Association Camp in Baton Rouge every summer.

    No physical abuse, but plenty of psychological torture. They played bible games for, get this: plastic Jesus figures that glowed in the dark, and other such crap.

    The camp nazis would say things like: ‘You don’t want fer your sister to marry a n*gger, now would you?’

  99. #100 John C. Randolph
    January 30, 2009

    Some of them claim without irony that their perfectly healthy, normal children have “Oppositional-Defiant Disorder”

    Wow. I guess this country really is going the way of the Soviet Union. They were pretty big on calling people crazy for opposing authority.

    -jcr

  100. #101 rb
    January 30, 2009

    sometimes kids do have ODD, and ODD kids have a real ‘victimization complex’, because one key thing about them, is THEY are always right. They also can get very violent, but like all abusers, the violence is almost always selective and secretive. The outside world thinks they are great kids, they put on a good face. It amazing how good ODD kids are at getting others to thank that they are perfect and it is that their parents are the ones that suck, and if the parents are religious, I’ll guarantee ODD kids will use that in the arguement

    That said, most ‘boot camps’ don’t help them, they usually make the the ODD kids worse. ODD kids need intense structure in life, but physical or mental intimidation doesn’t work.

    Also, Buttars is a nut and unfortunately people have a tendency to let some “greater truth’ offer excuses to do things that they should know are wrong. In the US, it is often religion that is the greater truth, but religion does not have a monopoly on this, nor does religion always lead to such behavior.

    In my case religion has afforded me the ability to continue to love my son (I could care less if he is religious) and while trying to hold him accountable. realizing I can’t “force him” to be a good person, that the only power I can have is in my own behavior, and in trying to guide my son I am guided by these words (unfortunately these appear to be lost to some runner the Utah Boys ranch): “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood [ read authority], only by persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness, by meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness and pure knowledge

  101. #102 Matthew
    January 31, 2009

    I’ll just throw some links out here that relate to this:

    Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse, an organization dedicated to the protection of basic rights and civil liberties of children and youth in all sorts of institutions.

    The National Youth Rights Association, One of the largest general youth rights organizations in the world (which is, unfortunately, not saying much.), with many chapters across the US and moving into Europe. Also has an extensive “related links” section, listing many more organizations with similar aims.

    Teen Advocates USA, a source for general information and legal advice for survivors and sympathizers.

    Internation Survivors Action Committee, a group that focuses primarily on privately owned facilities.

    Fornits Forum, a web forum with a very large section devoted specifically to behavior modification, teen treatment, sexual reformation facilities and the like. frequently posted on by survivors. (Not exactly an authoritative source, but…)

    If any of you are interested in seeing this movement grow, please see about joining groups listed here and at NYRA’s extensive list of links. It’s great to see PZ show this to his readership, and I hope it makes many people more aware of just how serious and unacceptably common a problem it is. Thank you!

    As an atheist teenager in Utah, these camps greatly trouble me. I really can’t bear the thought of my friends (or anyone!) being sent to these places. Luckily, my parents are some of the most reasonable, rational people I know, and wouldn’t think for a moment of using these “services” or referring anyone else to them. It’s so unfortunate that that seems to be so rare of parents here.

  102. #103 NoXion
    January 31, 2009

    “Oppositional Defiant Disorder” – is that what we’re calling teenage rebelliousness nowadays?

  103. #104 Sili
    January 31, 2009

    Howcome those Christians can manage to forget so many bibleverses, but they always rememeber the “Make the little children suffer” one?

  104. #105 rb
    January 31, 2009

    NoXion, you are an idiot.

    Its easy to joke about mental illnesses. But until you are dealing with a child with a severe mental illness that has as one of it phenotypes ODD behavior, why don’t you shut up.

  105. #106 KnockGoats
    January 31, 2009

    And Chris Buttars is a complete idiot and an embarrassment to Utah and the LDS Church.

    Oh yeah, and I’m a Mormon.
    – Sheesh

    Why on earth should a complete idiot be an embarrassment to the LDS? After all, you couldn’t possibly believe all that crap unless you were a complete idiot.

  106. What’s happend? I have to keep Refreshing the page to even be able to view the post can someone fix this issue please?

  107. #108 hery
    January 25, 2010

    What kind of parents think it’s a good idea to have their own children kidnapped and put into concentration camps?

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