'Stolen Innocence' by Elissa Wall
I had been in the FLDS Church from the moment I was born. It was all I knew and the only way I could imagine living. From my teachings, I knew that the prophet's job was to dictate what was best for us and that the words he spoke came straight from God. I believed that my impending marriage was the will of God and therefore nothing could be done to stop it. But still, I had to try.

I also knew that I was different from other girls in my community. I wanted an education, and maybe even to become a nurse or teacher someday. During my year in public school, I'd come to realize things were possible that I'd never dreamed before. Sure, I knew that I wanted to be a mother of good priesthood children, but not at fourteen. I wanted children and a future, and I dared to think that both were possible.

It took a little while for me to absorb what Uncle Fred had said. As I turned it over in my head, I couldn't digest the idea that the prophet wanted me to marry, and it didn't feel right. Still thinking that perhaps Uncle Fred had confused me with one of the older girls in the house, I decided to speak with him. I climbed the stairs to Uncle Fred's office on the second floor and waited in the hallway for him to notice me. When he saw me standing in the doorway, a kind smile widened across his face and he invited me in to talk. I swallowed my fear and took a seat, eager to tell him how I really felt about the pronouncement. The office appeared much like Uncle Warren's office at Alta Academy, with a big desk, a couch, and a few chairs for those who came to seek counsel. As a respected member of our community, Fred held a lot of clout. He had been appointed the bishop of Short Creek by Leroy Johnson long before Uncle Rulon took over as the prophet, giving him the position of second counselor to the prophet and placing him third in the leadership hierarchy, right behind Warren, who was first counselor.

Taking a seat in one of the brown leather chairs, I held my tongue until I was invited to speak, and when Uncle Fred signaled me to share what was on my mind, the words almost spilled out of my mouth.

"I want to make sure you understand that I'm fourteen," I said, mustering a soft, respectful voice despite my anxiety. "I'm worried that you have me mixed up with someone else." Uncle Fred was well into his seventies, and sometimes he'd forget things, even people's names.

"No, you are going to be married," he replied with certainty.
FROM: Forced to Marry at 14: Lisa Ling's Special Report on Polygamy Continues
Published on June 04, 2008


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