‘Breaking In’ the Baby

Some Mormon Fundamentalists have been instilling the “fear of authority” into babies through the use of water torture.

“It’s quite common,” Carolyn Blackmore Jessop said. She was a witness for the B.C. government in the constitutional reference case to determine whether Canada’s polygamy law is valid.

“They spank the baby and when it cries, they hold the baby face up under the tap with running water. When they stop crying, they spank it again and the cycle is repeated until they are exhausted.”

It’s typically done by fathers and it’s called “breaking in.”

Her assertions about water torture were not challenged by FLDS lawyer Robert Wickett during cross-examination.

… She said her ex-husband, Merril Jessop, used it on “a lot” of his 54 children, including her own.

What the hell…

What sick mind even comes up with this idea? And how are they getting away with this?

This is they type of thing that happens when religion goes awry and a group of abusive parents go unchecked.

(The video below, featuring an interview with Jessop, is safe to watch:)

Obviously, most religious people would never do this or support this — we’re only talking about a tiny fraction of Mormons here and they’re not even affiliated with the mainstream Mormon Church — but is anyone really surprised that this sort of thing is happening in a religious context?

It’s the sort of mentality that must have led Hindu extremists to stick babies in front of cobras for some bizarre rite of passage (oh, but the cobra’s fangs were removed and it’s mouth was stitched up, so it was ok…).

Even if the water torture wasn’t an issue here, we should also be condemning this idea that a child should be taught to fear authority or offer unequivocal obedience to parents. Not all parents deserve respect and not everything they say should be followed.

Daddy doesn’t always know what’s best. In this case, he’s not only wrong, he’s a criminal.

  • Denise

    Geez, we only eat the babies, we don’t torture them.

  • Anonymous

    we’re only talking about a tiny fraction of Mormons here

    Wikipedia gives a number of ~6-10,000 FLDS in the US (hard to verify due to closed nature of the community); that’s still a big population.

  • Lol mahmood

    Wow! Waterboarding babies for Jesus!

  • http://www.youtube.com/aajoeyjo Joe Zamecki

    Many religious people have a morbid fascination with babies, and controlling them. They overproduce and collect them in groups like artistic creations they made, they baptize them, they circumcize them, some of them clean the wound with their f’n mouth, they…waterboard babies… I’d say “What’s next?” but that’s a scary thought.

    Reason #147b to avoid religion.

  • Rowena F

    Huh, avoiding religion does not do a damn thing about this. I am a social worker and I’ve seen MUCH worse… even by people who haven’t set foot in a church in their lives.

    Right now I have a case of a retarded 9 year old girl, born perfectly normal. Her father raped and sodomized her when she was 1 month old, so badly that her spine was damaged, and the ensuing spinal infection gave her brain damage. He only got 5 years prison and has the nerve to sue for custody of the girl right now. He is an atheist — violence against children exists in every sphere, both religious, atheist, and agnostic, so I trust NO ONE.

  • cat

    Yes, FLDS sucks, but I wonder wtf the Canadian government thinks that has to do with polygamy specifically. Because monogamous or not legally married fundies wouldn’t be abusing their kids? It is a bullshit distraction in a world where the vast majority of polyamorus people are neither fundies nor child abusers.

  • Claudia

    I’ve heard these allegations before. Though certainly horrific, it relies on the testimony of one woman, a woman who has as her singular goal the defeat of the FLDS cult and the liberation of its women and children. That’s not to say these allegations aren’t worth investigating, they are, but they should be taken with a grain of salt. Just because the FLDS is a horrific cult doesn’t mean every allegation against it is true.

    What IS pretty much universally stated by survivors is that physical abuse more generally was common, and child brides as well. As for not showing emotion, this actually was corroborated to me personally by a male survivor in an interview I did with him in the middle of the Texas CPS mess. He’s one of the forgotten “lost boys”, males banished from the FLDS so that the male to female proportion can be lopsided enough to accomodate many wives for each male.

  • Daniel H

    Your complaint rings a bit hollow, you being pro-choice and all.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    I’m not even surprised that religious people can be this fucked up. As Joe Zamecki says “Reason #147b to avoid religion.” Every time something like this gets reported it makes all religious people look bad. As bigoted as that may sound I don’t mean it to be. Clearly not all religious people are wicked child abusers with no sense of right and wrong. I’m sure that for every loony there’s a sane religious person trying to do some good. we just don’t hear about them very often.

    Also what have the practices of a religious cult got to do with polygamy?

  • Chas

    what have the practices of a religious cult got to do with polygamy

    The article said “‘Polygamy is not pretty to look at. It is nice that it is tucked away in a dark corner where nobody has to see its realities because it’s creepy’,…
    Jessop favours decriminalization, but only if it means that abuses will be investigated and prosecuted,”

    Is the suggestion that if polygamy was legal the polygamists would not have to hide in their own communities and the abuse would be easier to detect? Problem with that is these cults would still self-segregate.

  • http://chandays.blogspot.com Larry Meredith

    Clearly not all religious people are wicked child abusers

    most of the ones with children are, if you count instilling a child with religion to be child abuse… which I do.

    I say “most” because amazingly not all religious people raise their children with religion. I know this as a fact since my very fundi Christian mother raised me completely secular.

  • Claudia

    So far as I can tell the problem is not that they practice polygamy per se. The problem is that they practice forced marriages of young girls to older men. I think we can all agree that the problem arises from the lack of ability to consent of these children, not their sheer number. One child bride or five, the real issue is child brides.

    I don’t think polygamy should be criminalized, and so far as I can tell it isn’t. You can have as many partners as you want, but the state will only recognize one as your spouse (assuming they are of a gender opposite to yours). What should be patently criminal is all manner of child and domestic abuse as well as any marriage, state recognized or not, that happens against the will of one of the people involved. A non-consensual marriage will lead to non-consensual sex, which is what we call rape.

  • Miko

    What sick mind even comes up with this idea?

    Well, since they’re Canadian, I can kind of see it. But I can’t imagine someone who lives in the United States (whose government would NEVER, NEVER do something like that) possibly getting the idea to do that.

    And how are they getting away with this?

    Yeah, it’s too bad that they live in Canada where you can get away with that kind of thing, because I’m sure that someone who lives in the United States (whose government would NEVER, NEVER do something like that) must live in constant fear of the law setting a precedent by punishing them for something like that.

    Some Mormon Fundamentalists have been instilling the “fear of authority” into babies through the use of water torture.

    Incidentally, “fear of authority” is exactly the proper phrase here. If you try to justify authority on rational or moral grounds, it falls like the house of cards it is: torture is designed to make the subjected populations so afraid that they are unwilling to think rationally or morally about authoritarianism. (That’s why governments keep doing it despite the ample evidence that it doesn’t work as an information gathering technique.)

  • Claudia

    Well, since they’re Canadian, I can kind of see it. But I can’t imagine someone who lives in the United States (whose government would NEVER, NEVER do something like that) possibly getting the idea to do that.

    Snark FAIL. Carolyn Blackmore Jessop is American, as is her ex-Husband. So is was Rulon Jeffs, the former leader of the FLDS. Warren Jeffs was the next leader. Also American, and currently in an American jail as an accomplice to the rape of a minor. The majority of the FLDS is in the US, though a smaller splinter group does exist in Canada. I’m betting that the VAST majority of Americans have no idea the group exists out the US.

    More importantly however is how you managed to read about waterboarding babies and make the amazing jump to “they must be blaming Canada!” when Canada was not mentioned anywhere in the post and has literally no involvement in the story at all. Did you read the post at all or are you merely not interested in the subject and want to hijack the thread to talk about Bush-era torture policies?

  • Two Cents

    Stories like this shouldn’t make people angry at all religious people. However, it does make me angry at religion as a whole. Yes, these things would happen even if religion wasn’t around. What I hate is people justifying their actions based on their holy book or the teachings of their church. it infuriates me when churches back these people up and support them. Or when governments / other people overlook crimes because of religion is often treated with kid gloves.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    @Daniel H,
    “Your complaint rings a bit hollow, you being pro-choice and all.”
    Only to those who consider unrecognizable microscopic blobs that couldn’t survive on their own outside the womb to be human beings.

  • Bob

    How does a BABY process the pain of a spanking and discomfort of immersion with ‘respect authority’?

    To construct spanking > crying > immersion > shut up, respect daddy is really messed up. They don’t think the kid will develop ‘daddy is a sick and mercurial SOB’ instead?

    It seems to me this is a tip-of-the-iceberg thing with FLDS, a worldview that is reflected in more than child rearing.

  • Robert W.

    The Godless Monster,

    Only to those who consider unrecognizable microscopic blobs that couldn’t survive on their own outside the womb to be human beings.

    Do you support a woman’s right to a partial birth abortion if it isn’t done to save her life?

  • Claudia

    To everyone (especially Robert) a personal plea:

    We have abortion threads. Debate the subject there. I’ve seen too many threads hijacked by this subject. Don’t make this one of them. Pretty please?

  • Robert W.

    Claudia,

    No problem, but I could not let Godless Monster’s post go unanswered.

  • liz

    Holding my baby boy while I read this and it’s so sad! =[

    I don’t know how anyone would think this would instill fear of authority, i guess it might instill the fear of crying? I can’t understand why anyone would do this to their child.

    on a side note: I’m pro-choice and I’m insulted by people who believe that makes me a heartless baby killer. Although I do only believe in first trimester abortions, or when they’re necessary for the mothers life. STILL, I’m offended that you would even imply that Hemant should apparently be okay with baby torture…?

  • liz

    also @Claudia

    that rant about Canada was kind of pointless, since the article does mention Canada…and the whole discussion is stemming from Canada decided whether polygamy laws are valid. And I don’t think anyone was ‘blaming Canada’

  • http://skepticat.blogspot.com/ Skepticat

    Rowena,

    I can only guess at the awful things you’ve encountered and I’m glad these children have someone like you to advocate on their behalf.

    Unfortunately, it does not surprise me that an atheist would do such a thing. We humans seem to have a problem with child rape and child abuse that we’ve only recently started working on. I think the difference is that we atheists do not institutionalize such abuse and call it “good” or “righteous.” I expect you’d be hard pressed to find a single person here who would defend this man’s actions either legally or morally.

    Thanks again for the work that you do!

  • http://www.youtube.com/aajoeyjo Joe Zamecki

    Yes a lot of parents abuse their kids worse than this. But the news is that this particular form of abuse is organized, planned, and affects more than one or two kids here and there. From what the lady said in the video, it’s probably more like hundreds.

    Something else to consider: When the government moved to shut down their compound in Eldorado, Texas, we didn’t hear about this activity, remember? I think that’s because this activity doesn’t leave any visible evidence. The evidence may spring up later in life, but the water goes down the drain. Even if it didn’t, it wouldn’t help as evidence of a crime. Then they got most of their kids back…

    So it took one of their own people, spilling the beans, in order for us to hear about this. To me, that just says that what we don’t know about yet might also surprise us like this did.

  • walkamungus

    @Claudia — Not defending Miko’s snarkiness, but this trial is indeed happening in British Columbia.

    Note: Utah’s state constitution does specifically forbid “polygamous or plural marriages.” Not that the law gets followed, necessarily.

  • http://religiouscomimcs.net Jeff Pq

    If everyone who performed this practice had mustaches, I wouldn’t blame the mustaches. I don’t blame polygamy for the baby water-boarding practice. The problem is in the desire to gain absolute control over other human beings which is unfortunately a trait common to some of the more fundamentalist religions.

  • Claudia

    I stand duly corrected…mostly. The trial does indeed take place in Canada and on that count I’m entirely wrong, so I had a fail of my own. I do apologize on that count.
    However stating that “they’re Canadians” is still ridiculous. The waterboarding babies allegations supposedly happened in the US, with American families, and the majority of the FLDS is in the US. So yes, the hearings are happening in Canada, but I think this is at most a secondary issue, instead of the apparently central one Miko wished to make it, even if he/she probably just wanted to bring up American torture policies.

  • Silent Service

    Claudia,

    Check your sarcasm meter. I think the battery is dead. The original post twice said;

    … I’m sure that someone who lives in the United States (whose government would NEVER, NEVER do something like that) …

    right after describing something we all know has happened under U.S. government supervision. I’m pretty sure that was meant to highlight American hypocrisy.

  • http://yamipirogoeth.blogspot.com/ Sakura

    …honestly, if I grew up knowing that happened to me, I would disown my parents and move as far away as I possibly could and tell them to essentially “fuck off” if they tried to contact me.

  • http://noadi.etsy.com Noadi

    I don’t think polygamy should be criminalized, and so far as I can tell it isn’t. You can have as many partners as you want, but the state will only recognize one as your spouse (assuming they are of a gender opposite to yours).

    In this you are wrong. In many states simply “purporting” to be married to more than one person even if you haven’t tried to have both marriages legally recognized is illegal. The fact that cohabitation could possibly lead to charges under bigamy laws even without any marriages taking place is a serious concern in the polyamory community.

    Also in some states adultery is still a crime (though almost never enforced) so someone who has a legal spouse could also be tried under those laws.

  • Randi

    In Saskatchewan Canada, married persons are permitted to claim sametime multiple spouses even without their consent! The state there legalizes the whole thing in their family law.


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