This week I picked up this book Illegitimate How a Loving God Rescued a Son of Polygamy by Brian Mackert with Susan Martins Miller. It’s Brian’s own story of growing up in the Fundamental Latter Day Saints Church. He grew up in a family with one father, four mothers and 31 children. He grew up in the same sect that later became infamous when their leader Warren Jeff was arrested on charges of rape by accomplice for arranging the marriages of young teenage girls to older men in their community.
Brian’s story is both shocking and heartbreaking while at the same time being full of hope because as an adult after hitting rock bottom he encounters the Living God and surrenders his life to Jesus who loves him and died for his sins.
The book takes the reader beyond “all is well in Zion” and reveals the hidden abuse and neglect behind the smiling faces and modest clothing.
Even though painful to stomach I think it’s important for us to hear stories like this because we then can better learn to identify abuse and cults when we see it. I think it’s also important to listen to the stories of these people coming out of the FLDS and LDS church who are telling us- “look, this is a cult and people are still being hurt.”
Brians story shows vividly how satan uses fear to control people and kept them in bondage.
Something that stood out to me in his story was how the parents would continually lie to authorities and people around them and from a young age taught all the children to be liars to “protect the saints of God”. If you’re ever in a situation where you feel you have to lie, it’s a bad situation! Lying is not of God.
I recently finished reading through the life of David in the Old Testament so the destructiveness of polygamy is fresh on my mind. Reading about Brian’s burning hatred towards his father, leading him to want to kill his father gave me a new perspective on Absalom. In Rena’s video below she says that every polygamist family she knew had some sort of sexual abuse in it and that was true of King David’s family in the story of his daughter Tamar. (Also David killing a man in an attempt to cover his own sexual immorality).
One of the really heart wrenching things that the Mackert children talk about in the FLDS church is how the young men are driven from the community by the older men because the birth rate is about 50-50 so there are not enough women for each man to have at least 3 wives. (The number they believe is required to reach godhood). They tell about how mother’s at the commandment of the prophet would drive somewhere and abandon their own sons. It’s so sick and twisted and so many of these guys ended up drug addicted and not knowing how to function in the world.
Every part of the world of the FLDS is so incredible vile and evil I can’t adequately express it in a summary like this.
The first video below is a shortened version of Brian’s testimony. The other video is an interview with his sister Rena who is not a believer in Jesus. As a disclaimer for a viewer who may be sensitive, she shares details of the sexual abuse by her father.
Another note is, I think Brian really misunderstood the story of Pharaoh in the OT and he doesn’t ever mention if his view on the subject changed so I’m not sure.
“…before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be any after me.” Isaiah 43:10. This is the scripture that Brian’s wife read to him that shocked him so completely because it dismantled every doctrine of the FLDS church that he had grown up believing.