A small town that has been under the control of an extreme polygamous sect of Mormonism for more than 100 years is experiencing some changes.
The vast majority of the town’s workers resigned on the same day after citizens elected a mayor who happens to be a female and a non-member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a Mormon cult associated with polygamy and child brides. Hildale, Utah only has seven employees on the town payroll, but six of them quit en masse because they wouldn’t work for a woman.
The resignations took place in January, but now the reasons for them have been confirmed via a letter from utility board chairman Jacob N. Jessop. He said his religion wouldn’t allow him to work for a woman, Mayor Donia Jessop.
Jacob Jessop said his religious beliefs prevented him from working for a woman and with people who are not sect members, according to resignation letters obtained Thursday by The Associated Press through a public records request. The mayor’s husband is distantly related to Jessop in the town of about 3,000 people where many have that last name.
“It has come to a point where I have to choose between my religion and participation in city government, and I choose my religion,” he wrote in his letter dated Jan. 25. “My religion teaches me that I should not follow a woman for a leader in a public or family capacity.”
He cited sermons from the 1860s from Brigham Young, the second president of the mainstream Mormon church who led pioneers west to settle in Utah…
He added in the letter that his religion teaches him “to leave apostates alone severely and not have anything to do with them.” Apostates refer to people who renounce their religion’s teachings.
Donia Jessop laughed at the letter from Jacob Jessop because it finally acknowledged what sect members had been hiding the whole time: sexism is their reason for not working with her.
“I knew that that was out there, but for it to be so blatant, spelled out so perfectly, it was quite a shock,” Donia Jessop said in a phone interview. “If you cannot work with me, then it’s good that you are moving on because this is the future of Hildale and I’m not going anywhere.”
Yes, this is a small town that has been controlled by the FLDS sect for some time, but that time is finally, thankfully coming to an end. And Hildale isn’t alone. Its sister city, Colorado City, Arizona, is experiencing similar demographic changes.
The victory by Donia Jessop and wins by three other non-sect members for city council seats marked the latest sign of the polygamous group’s waning control of the community surrounded by striking red cliffs near Zion National Park.
The new town leadership is the latest sign that the community’s demographics are shifting as it begins to resemble a typical town in the U.S. West, not a cloistered religious community.
The FLDS members in these cities are going to have to get used to the fact that they are no longer in control, and that reasonable non-extremists are going to decide their government’s direction from now on. It’s about time. There’s no reason sexist cults that don’t follow the laws governing the rest of our society should be making decisions for everyone else.
(Screenshot via YouTube)