The Secret Lives of Saints and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Vous voulez voir cette page en français ? Cliquez ici.

Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Start reading The Secret Lives of Saints on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in a Polygamous Mormon Sect [Hardcover]

Daphne Bramham
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 32.95
Price: CDN$ 26.36 & FREE Shipping. Details
You Save: CDN$ 6.59 (20%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Usually ships within 9 to 13 days.
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition --  
Hardcover CDN $26.36  
Paperback CDN $15.16  

Book Description

March 25 2008
The Secret Lives of Saints paints a troubling portrait of an extreme religious sect. These zealous believers impose severe and often violent restrictions on women, deprive children of education and opt instead to school them in the tenets of their faith, defy the law and move freely and secretly over international borders. They punish dissent with violence and even death. No, this sect is not the Taliban, but North America's fundamentalist Mormons.

From its very beginning, the Mormon church, an offshoot of Christianity, found itself on the margins of both convention and the law. In addition to their unorthodox interpretation of the more mainstream Christian denominations, the Mormons embraced one tenet in particular that others found hard to accept: the idea that only by engaging in polygamous marriage could a man enter the highest realms of the kingdom of heaven.

In 1890, under immense pressure from the federal government in the United States, the Mormons agreed to renounce polygamy in return for the right to the status of statehood in Utah, where they had settled. Since then, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has officially taken the position that plural marriage is unlawful and is not to be pursued.

However, colonies of renegade fundamentalist Mormons have continued to practise polygamy and thrive to this day in Canada and the United States, despite the fact that they are flouting the law. In the U.S., the "prophet" Warren Jeffs made headlines when, having been placed on the list of America's Most Wanted, he was apprehended in 2006 and was convicted as an accomplice to rape. While his acolytes and subjects lived in poverty, Jeffs was driving around in a luxury SUV when state troopers pulled him over.

The story is much the same here in Canada, where the "bishop" of a fundamentalist sect in Bountiful, B.C., Winston Blackmore, heads up a multi-million dollar group of companies and flies on private jets while his supporters and employees live hard-scrabble lives and tithe their meager earnings to the church.

Daphne Bramham explores the history and ideas of this surprisingly resilient and insular society, asking the questions that surround its continued existence and telling the stories of the men and women whose lives are so entwined with it — both the leaders and the victims.

How can it be that a group can live in open defiance of the law for over 100 years, when its leaders appear on the Phil Donohue Show and CNN and boast of their practices, which include marriage to girls well below the legal age of consent? How do their schools receive government funding when they teach racism and indoctrinate pupils into the belief that women are naturally subordinate to men? How do fundamentalist Mormon businesses escape prosecution for their regular violations of child labour laws? How does the sect manage to straddle the Canada—U.S. border so effortlessly, with American girls living as plural wives in Canada without actually immigrating and Canadian girls shipped off to the U.S. the same way?

These are pointed questions, and a great deal depends on the answers. By delving into the life stories of the men and women who make up the ranks of the fundamentalist Mormons — or "Saints" as they call themselves — Bramham makes it clear that the arguments swirling around the legality of what goes on in Bountiful are anything but abstract. She tells the stories of young girls forced into "marriages" with men old enough to be their grandfathers and installed in households more like motels than homes, with each wife quartered separately and rigorously scheduled to have regular intercourse with her husband. She takes us into the life of a young girl forced into a "marriage" with such complex genealogical implications that she became her own step-grandmother.

And it is not just the girls who suffer under the religious regime of the fundamentalist patriarchs. As Bramham shows, simple math is enough to tell you that boys must suffer as well. And they do. Because the Saints believe they are compelled to marry more than one wife, it is inevitable that while some men — invariably the most powerful — have more than one wife (or indeed dozens), others are doomed to have none. These young men work doggedly for the businesses run by their leaders, at a fraction of the wage they should be earning, in the hope of one day being rewarded with a bride and, therefore, a ticket to heaven. But there will never be enough girls, and so some of the boys — those less compliant — are cast off and become "Lost Boys," uneducated and unprepared for the outside world, but cut off all the same from the only community they have ever known.

But for all the power wielded by the fundamentalist Mormon leaders, they are far from invincible. The Secret Lives of Saints also tells the stories of the men and women who have escaped the sect and challenged the Saints. Although, as Bramham argues forcefully, the government has often been asleep at the wheel when it comes to enforcing the law in the fundamentalist communes, the survivors and the fighters do have the law on their side and Bramham give a detailed and dramatic account of the prosecutors and police crusading to rein in the excesses of the Saints.

Finally, Bramham makes it clear that questions of justice and freedom, of religious and cultural difference, don't only apply to marginal sects like the Saints, but to every group. Balancing what is good for the individual with what is good for the group, or weighing the entitlement of any group against the laws and priorities of the whole country, is not easy. Our constitution allows us to pursue faith as we choose, and that is not a right anyone would challenge lightly. And yet, as the fundamentalist Mormons show, this freedom can become a source of oppression. In the end The Secret Lives of Saints is about what is required for any tolerant society.

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Product Details

Product Description

From Amazon

Comparing a group to the Taliban is heavy stuff. But in her gripping Secret Lives of Saints, Vancouver Sun journalist Daphne Bramham has plenty of strong words for the polygamous Mormons of Bountiful, B.C.; Hildale, Utah; and Colorado City, Arizona. She characterizes followers of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) as extortionists, misogynists, racists, child abusers, and pedophiles. Not for nothing did American FLDS leader Warren Jeffs occupy a spot opposite Osama bin Laden on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List before his capture outside Las Vegas in 2006: he would eventually be found guilty of two counts of rape as an accomplice. Meanwhile, Winston Blackmore, the so-called Bishop of Bountiful, has publicly admitted to having sex with minors, but has yet to be charged. Bramham demonstrates that only a few watchful reporters, prosecutors, and escaped former-FLDS members seem especially outraged about the questionable practices of the FLDS. "How is it," she asks, "that two nations, so clear-sighted in recognizing human rights atrocities in other countries … have been so blind to the human rights violations committed against their own women and children?"

How, indeed. Bramham provides a brief history of Mormonism, following the divide at the end of the 19th century when "the mainstream church renounced polygamy [and] dissidents splintered off and continued to practice plural marriage." As Bramham shows, the one man/multiple wives equation is enormously problematic, resulting in acute poverty, subjugation, and--most troublingly--teenage brides bequeathed to geriatrics in the name of procreation. Clearly, such practices have to stop. While this story has been told before--notably by Jon Krakauer in Under the Banner of Heaven and in various high-profile TV exposés--Bramham adds new voices and the Canadian perspective to this troubling tale. Moreover, she makes readers angry--and when it comes to prompting change, anger trumps ambivalence every time. --Kim Hughes

About the Author

Daphne Bramham has been a columnist at the Vancouver Sun since 2000 and has won numerous awards for her writing, including a National Newspaper Award. She was named Commentator of the Year by the Jack Webster Foundation in 2005 and was honoured by the non-profit group Beyond Borders for a series of columns on the polygamous community of Bountiful, B.C.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
Search inside this book:

Customer Reviews

4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
5.0 out of 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If the truth be known! Dec 13 2008
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Vancouver Sun journalist, Daphne Bramham, has done a first-rate job in exposing the dark, dirty secrets of the Blackmore polygamist activities at Bountiful over the last half century. Based on her findings, this colony is anything but an innocent experiment in alternative living involving patriarchal leadeship that indulges in the innocent pursuits of love through a harem of vestal virgins. What Bramham describes about the FLDS(Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints)operations both in Bountiful and down in Colorado City is enough to make one wonder why big government has taken so long to intervene and lay charges against Warren Jeff, the present leader of the movement, and Winston Blackmore, its Canadian head. The list of reported sex offences by these two men, as covered of US and Canadian law, are so legion as to cause a public outcry, which is now only being acted on by Texas and Utah officials. Statutory rape, rape of a minor, polygamy, kidnapping and unlawful restraint are just a few charges that Warren Jeffs has just been convicted of while Blackmore continues to thumb his nose at the authorities this side of the border. The book elaborates on the founding 'principle' of the movement - the male calling to honor God's request to liberate the countless disembodied pre-existing spirits - and how it came to set up in both the US and Canada. As the Bountiful Community has expanded over the years, a number of serious problems have set in: rivalries between family lines that included the male patriarchs openly feuding, the enabling wives feeling jealous and oppressed, and whole generations of children invariably losing touch with parents. Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An utterly horrifying read June 17 2008
By Cairo
Well done, Daphne Bramham! Finally, a journalist who gives a damn enough to expose the disgustingly sexist and corrupt system that exists within the polygamous Mormon sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I couldn't agree more with Ms. Bramham's statement that while Canadian troops are currently in Afghanistan, in part to defend that country's women and children's rights, everyone seems to tolerate the tyranny imposed on women and children by the FLDS on North American soil. As a Canadian, I'm furious.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable! April 8 2009
I have just finished reading "Escape", one of the most enlightening books I have read in some time. Before reading, I was aware of this cult, but believed that it was 'welcomed' by all and that everyone lived in harmony. What an eye-opener! My emotions stemmed from anger to pity to frustration as I was reading. Again, unbelievableand a must read!
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! Sept. 30 2010
I can't even describe the feelings this book brought on. I had previously read Jon Krakauer's book on the FLDS called Under the Banner of Heaven and was told I should read this as it dealt with the FLDS in my own back yard. This is a must read if you want to know about what is going on within part of the FLDS community.
Was this review helpful to you?
Want to see more reviews on this item?

Look for similar items by category