Episode 120: FLDS and Faithful, Part Two

Written by Lindsay Hansen Park on . Posted in year of polygamy

  Join Lindsay as she interviews Christine Katas and Irene about the politics in the town, being FLDS, and religious discrimination. Links mentioned in this podcast:

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Comments (5)

  • courtney

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    Disclaimer: I am a nevermo who has a fascination and side hobby of learning about Mormonism and Mormon polygamy. I understand that in order to gain access to certain interviewees, you must not push too hard or risk alienating the person. That being said, this was a fairly softball interview that didn’t address any of the more serious questions about the FLDS. Also, I realize that in order to make headway into the community for whatever reason, you have to swallow quite a bit to maintain relations and keep the peace, and perhaps that is part of the reason why this interview frustrated me. As an historian with a background in oral history, I know the importance of hearing the narratives of diverse groups of (marginalized) people and allowing them to express their viewpoints free of shame. However, you had a duty to press this woman, who clearly was seen as an agreeable, dutiful, and nonthreatening face of the group to be presented to the public. Irene skirted the issue of Warren Jeffs several times. She claims to not pay attention to the media, but she clearly knew to not dare bring up that topic or address any of the numerous alarming issues perpetuated by members of the community, regardless whether or not you want to argue that it’s systemic or an isolated problem. The fact remains that abuse in its many forms is a big enough problem to brandish the entire community culpable. The many people who have left, who yes some might have vendettas, have documented atrocious behavior, and all of them can’t be lying. We know most are not.
    In the first part, the issue of the Lost Boys is one that was not pressed on despite everyone knowing how awful the situation is in the area.
    While the picture is always, always, always more complicated than the dominant narrative, some stereotypes exist for a reason, and the dominant view is not to be discredited either. Irene’s story complicates matters, but only slightly. Christine’s comments likewise.
    Meeting one person shouldn’t change your view entirely; it’s one person of a massive community with a multitude of beliefs and attitudes, yet to keep inside the community, you must obey the norms and go along with the party line. Do I blame her for her ideas, not entirely. I do think this could have been a more aggressive interview. They can live their religion all they want as long as the members realize that religious power does not give a green light to abuse power and people, and it takes a community to stand against such stereotypes by not reinforcing this insular us versus them mentality.

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  • Damaris

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    So much love to the three of you. Thank you for doing this.

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  • Ashley

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    Oh my heart. This was a really tough listen for me. My heart goes out to the FLDS families that are hurting so deeply. Mother Irene is seriously so so awesome for putting herself out there. I can’t even imagine the courage it took for her to do this. I appreciate the perspective. But Oh MY HEART! I wish there was an answer that could satisfy both members and non-members but as a ex-mormon myself, I know it is so much more complicated than that. Thank you for putting this together and Christine I love your openness and love. I’d love to borrow those rose colored glasses of yours. ­čśë

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  • Andy

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    Many thanks to Lindsay, Christine and Irene for this interview! Y’all have done some really important work to humanize the FLDS faithful in the face of so many negative stereotypes.

    It’s clear that, regardless of whether we agree with the FLDS leaders or the UEP, the FLDS faithful are literally between a rock and a hard place with regards to the evictions, and I share Christine’s hope that charitable changes can happen on both sides to prevent further harm to children and to families.

    It was also great to get some reality-checks on the idea that education stopped, or that women were being starved. A false understanding of the FLDS reality only divides everyone more.

    Strangely, the hardest part of these two episodes, for me, was the lack of validation given by Irene to those who left. It seemed to me that both Lindsay and Christine made tremendous efforts to validate Irene’s experience and perspective. They prefaced any difficult or potentially insulting questions with caveats and apologies or explanations. They also deferred to Irene’s own authority on her lived experience.

    So when Irene kept insisting that those who left did so of their own choice, or that they were money-grubbing toddlers, I struggled to remain sympathetic to her plight. That kind of invalidation of the former-FLDS made me question the validity of other parts of her story.

    It was especially hard to swallow when she spoke at the end about how the FLDS love all people of all races. I have a high standard for what I consider ‘love’ to be. We’ve heard the FLDS leadership’s preachings about black people. Spreading lies and hurtful stereotypes about an entire race is not a loving thing to do. I felt like I had to go back and question Irene’s reports of other things when I heard that.

    I think I understand part of why Christine gets criticism for being ‘snowed’ by the FLDS. She *says* that she understands both sides, but she didn’t show us, the listeners, that she really does. She didn’t show us, the listeners, that she was willing to ask Irene to grant the ex-FLDS the same validation that Christine is granting Irene.

    I understand that *outside* of the FLDS, the former-FLDS narratives dominate, and this is an opportunity to highlight the true, lived experience of the FLDS faithful. I understand that maybe Irene isn’t in a place where she can even hear challenges to her narrative.

    But to not even challange her scope of knowledge rubbed me the wrong way.

    It’s one thing to allow Irene to give her perspective (and it’s an important one!) but when she says ‘They CHOSE to turn away and leave, and we offered assistance.’ why not at least challenge her and ask “Did you personally offer that assistance? Can you give us examples that you saw, or are you just telling us what you were told after someone disappeared?”

    Still, it was a beautiful pair of podcasts. Thank you so much for putting these together.

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  • Merope

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    I’m about twenty minutes into this and I can’t stand the sound of “Mother Irene” blowing smoke up your ass. Maybe the only way to stop the FLDS is to be friendly enough to gain their trust but this is absolutely disgusting to listen to.

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