Cultural Revolutions

Ten Most Wanted List

The FBI’s most recent Ten Most Wanted List was published on May 6.  In this, the fifth year of our Global War on Terror, it may come as a surprise to some that the latest addition to the list isn’t a terrorist or even a murderer, but Warren Jeffs, the leader of a bizarre sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), whose members have lived more or less peacefully in obscure corners of Utah and Arizona since the 1930’s, practicing the polygamy abandoned by the Mormons in 1890.  Jeffs’ alleged crimes?  “[A]rranging a marriage in 2002 between a 28-year old man and a 16-year old girl” and “unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.”

Americans might wonder how this desperado ended up on the Ten Most Wanted List, but they probably know more about Jeffs than about any other outlaw on that list—except Osama bin Laden.  Jeffs has since been the subject of an episode of Larry King Live, another prime-time CNN special by Anderson Cooper, a breathless report on NPR, and over 600 additional reports in other media outlets.

The reason Jeffs is on the FBI’s list has little to do with his alleged crimes—even serial child molesters never receive the national publicity Jeffs has—but with his views.  Jeffs had been targeted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which named the FLDS a “hate group” in...

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