The Polygamist's Daughter

Stories, Reflections and Conclusions of Life on the Inside


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Big Willie and Oprah Winfrey Part One

Several days ago on Oprah’s show “Where Are They Now?”  Oprah sat down in a lengthy on-camera conversation with Willie Jessop.  Big Willie, as he is un-affectionately known by those who knew and feared him as Warren Jeff’s henchman, was given an opportunity to redeem himself in Oprah’s eyes, and in the eyes of her millions of viewers.

In 2009, following the government raid on the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint (F.L.D.S.) Yearning for Zion (Y.F.Z.) Ranch in Texas, Oprah and her film crew were given carte blanche access to the ranch, with Big Willie as Oprah’s personal tour guide.

Oprah and Big Willie

During Oprah’s visit, Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the F.L.D.S. sat in a Utah prison, serving a sentence for sex crimes against children after being on the F.B.I.’s 10 Most Wanted list. The government raid on the F.L.D.S., Y.F.Z. Ranch was in response to a call from an anonymous caller who claimed she had been the victim of a sex crime at Y.F.Z Ranch.

During the raid on Y.F.Z. the government seized boxes of records containing mounting evidence of Warren having what most many of us would consider orgy rapes of underage girls.

To his own demise, he kept audio recordings of those orgies as what he called, “Heavenly Sessions.”  Photographs were taken of the bed and private chamber in the temple that he used for his group sessions, and the audio recordings were seized as evidence that would eventually put Warren Jeffs in a Texas prison for the remainder of his life, and then some. The results of the investigation were still underway when Oprah paid her visit to the Y.F.Z. Ranch.

Back to Big Willie, aka Willie Jessop and his visits with Oprah. Okay, I admit I am a little jealous, not of Willie, heavens no. I am a little envious of the quality time he was able to spend with a woman I deeply admire as one of the great change makers and voices for global transformation.

From the moment Oprah stepped into the back seat of the automobile with Big Willie at her side, I knew she was in for the ride of her life and a deception like she had never or probably has ever experienced.

Oprah and Willie Jessops

Willie wasn’t only Warren Jeff’s henchman, he was Warren’s personal body guard, protector of Warren’s assets and secrets and the F.L.D.S. spokesperson. He was the man who delivered girls, ousted young boys, kicked out old men and ensured the reassignments of women and children. He was Warren’s right hand-man, and for good reason, Willie was large, bold, wickedly smart, an excellent business man and a smooth talker. That in itself would come back to haunt Warren later.

One of the first questions Oprah asked in her 2009 interview with Willie was how the F.L.D.S. people would feel about her. His reply was an outright lie when he told her the people would have no issue with her. Oprah represents everything the people are taught to despise, or more precisely, taught to fear. As a strong, successful, unmarried, childless, black woman of the world, she would be considered an abomination in every possible way. But, I’m sure the children were taught to keep their mouths shut, play along, and pretend they weren’t afraid. Then immediately wash everything down with bleach, have everything re-consecrated and Jesus called upon by a man with the Melchizedek to clear away the evil spirits after she left.

When Oprah asked various individuals about the underage marriages, everyone just smiled as they lied through their sickeningly sweet smiles, insisting they knew of no such thing.

This of course is completely ridiculous. Underage marriages have been a mainstay in that belief system for the past 100+ years. The people see nothing wrong with these young marriages because the legal marriage age, which not so long ago was only 14, and is still only 16 with parental consent. Even younger marriages are legal with a court consent. And, since a court of God holds more weight than a court of law, underage marriage can easily be justified by religion in their eyes. And, because God’s laws are superior to men’s, even though, “thou shalt not lie” is one of the ten commandments, when you lie for God and religion that makes lying perfectly okay.

Polygamy was blatantly obvious so Oprah didn’t even bother asking about it.

The kicker of the entire visit with Oprah was her wanting to understand about the bed in the temple. Rumor had it that there was a bed in the temple that Warren used for his sexual rituals. When Oprah asked Willie about the bed, Willie replied that any bed in the temple belonged to the groundskeeper. Right. A small, bed with side rails in a hidden chamber of the Holy of Holys on the third floor of the temple – that belonged to a groundskeeper?

Inside the Polygamist Retreat

I’m not 100% positive, because there is no way I would ever be allowed inside, (and if anyone told me the full truth about what happens in a temple they would have their tongue cut out – at least that’s what my parents told me) but I’m pretty sure that there is no regular Mormon temple with a bed like the one in Warren Jeff’s temple. Not even for the groundskeeper.

Aside from being completely snowed by barrage of lies that Oprah endured at the F.L.D.S., what she did see was an example of how communal living can look in the appearance of perfect harmony. Albeit, that perfect harmony came at the expense of no personal time for anyone and continual sacrifice to “the order”.  

Without having a personal conversation with Oprah, I can’t say how she felt by the time she left. In my personal perception she was impressed by the people, unimpressed by Willie, and not fully convinced that everything was as it appeared. Although rumor has it that Willie conned Oprah out of a nice sum of money; supposedly on behalf of the children, which the children never saw. But since I can’t substantiate that, I will chalk it up to hearsay.

Fast forward to the present day. Warren Jeffs still calls the shots for the F.L.D.S. from behind prison walls as the undisputed prophet for thousands of people. His followers believe that he is in prison for religious persecution and that Hollywood magic was used to manipulate any incriminating audio and video footage. They aren’t allowed to watch television or have internet access, so any evidence to the contrary is inaccessible.

They are, in every sense of the word, blinded by their beliefs.

Because I am obviously long-winded and highly passionate about this particular subject. I am writing a second post about Oprah’s recent interview with Big Willie, as he spills the beans about what really happened, why he lied, and where he is heading with his life.  Stay tuned for part two.

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Inside Polygamist Culture Discussions

Several months ago I had the opportunity to spend almost a week with Rebecca Kimbel discussing polygamy, religious abuse and the healing process that comes with leaving a fear-based belief system, or what I like to call BS.

While what I experienced and was taught as a child is very serious and painful, I have come to a point in my life where I see the ridiculousness and irrationality in all of it.

Rebecca and I have a series of very serious (and sometimes funny) conversations about the beliefs and experiences of growing up in a polygamist belief system where women and children exist to serve the desires of men and their man-made religion.

Below is a – series of conversations as we touched on many of the topics we were raised and attempt to explain many of the misperceptions surrounding polygamy.


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What I Think about Polygamy Now

What do I really think about polygamy? Well that has changed over the years from thinking it was something God expected of me, to seeing it as a religious abuse and a human rights abuse against women and everything in between.

Having multiple sex partners and making lots of love sounds fabulous in theory, yet in reality I believe it is sadly missing the most crucial elements for genuine joy. It is important to understand that joy and happiness are two different things. Happiness is an emotion that can be generated in the belief that we are happy. It is generated by the perception of our choices and actions. Some people are perfectly happy in their misery, not realizing that joy is accessible. Joy is a state of being and occurs when we are fulfilled within ourselves and we no longer live our lives by the beliefs and expectations of anyone or anything else outside of ourselves. It is the result of our heart working to its full potential in alignment with our own inner truth.

Back to polygamy. Polygamy stems from a time in our human history when women were owned and collected by men and traded along with other livestock to build the kingdoms of men. King Solomon had hundreds of wives because he was a king with a very wealthy kingdom. Men gave him their daughters to earn favor with the king and in the hopes that their daughters would have a better life.

What does that have to do with today’s polygamy? Polygamy, now (except where polyamory is practiced – the newest hip term for open relationships, and a few ancient cultures where polyandry is practiced) only exists in cultures and belief systems where women are still recognized as being worth less than men and is justified by religion, otherwise recognized as religiously coerced polygyny. Some argue that it should be a person’s choice and yet any choice based in coercion, when there is a proverbial gun held at your head, isn’t really a free-will choice. It is a choice based in fear and is among the fear-based beliefs I often speak of.

Taking it a step further and assuming it is a choice based in freedom, there are still other issues to consider. It is nearly impossible to have a relationship that is balanced in the masculine and feminine when the numbers are lopsided. In a world where we are attempting to create balance and equality, polygamy simply does not make sense. The more women in the relationship the more masculine and authoritarian the man in the relationship is. That is why extremely authoritarian men are drawn to this form of relationship. The practice of polygyny also causes an imbalance among men. Men who are the most desirable attract the most women, leaving ordinary men without partners. Studies have shown that this imbalance increases violence in men and more hatred toward women. Precisely the opposite of the masculine/feminine balance and mutual respect so many of us are working to create.

And one more thought for consideration. Polygamy is heart breaking, or at the very least prevents the heart from working to its full potential. Women must guard their heart and cannot allow themselves to fully and completely love and connect with their husbands, simply because it hurts too much, and lovemaking lacks the creation of love. It also prevents men from opening up their heart and giving to their full ability out of the fear propagating jealousy and resentment between their wives. And yet, this is sold as love and beauty. What kind of love is it when we intentionally block our hearts from loving and creating to their greatest capacity?

In all honesty I don’t think polygamy can work until the world finally recognizes, once and for all, that men and women are equal. That if men can have more than one wife, women should be allowed the same courtesy, and that love can and should be given openly and freely without fear, coercion or jealousy.  It is certainly not my cup of tea, but in a perfect world it just might work. In a perfect world!