Magazine article Newsweek

The Polygamist's Life; Escaping Warren Jeffs's Controversial Religious Sect

Magazine article Newsweek

The Polygamist's Life; Escaping Warren Jeffs's Controversial Religious Sect

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Murr

Polygamous leader warren Jeffs banished Sam Icke for kissing a girl. Icke, then 17, had been doing his best to follow the rules of Jeffs's insular Mormon sect--listening to the leader's taped sermons, avoiding even G-rated movies and wearing wrist-to-ankle clothes in the desert sun. But after the kiss, Icke was forced to leave his family in Colorado City, Ariz., with only a car and a 10th-grade education in tow. He floundered on his own. "I was lost and scared," he recalls. But last year he got help from a group that assists the "Lost Boys," as many call the estimated 600 to 1,000 young men who've left--or been booted from--the sect in the past decade. Today Icke, 22, is studying accounting and working full time. "I feel completely different," he says.

Jeffs's arrest last week outside Las Vegas after four months on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list sets the stage for trials in Utah and Arizona on charges that he allegedly performed illegal marriages between young girls and older men. With Jeffs behind bars, will more of the prophet's 10,000 followers try to leave? Departed members say it has never been easy to break away from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), which continued to practice polygamy after splitting from the mainstream Mormon Church (which banned polygamy in 1890). But in the last few years, an underground railroad of nonprofit groups and government agencies has emerged to smooth their path. …

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