You've got to hand it to these FLDS folks: when they set their mind to it, they can do some nice construction work. And out in the middle of
nowhere Texas, no less. The LA Times just ran a story giving the latest, entitled Dispatch from Eldorado, Texas (from the Topix feed). The surprise is that they're actually getting along pretty well with the locals. They don't say much to the Texans, but, reading between the lines, the story makes it clear the FLDS are actually getting along fairly nicely.
Now I say "reading between the lines" because mainstream media stories (1) are biased against religion, any religion; (2) generally manage to get any story half wrong; and (3) this is the LA Times (I cancelled my subscription three years ago when they ran a couple of sleaze stories on Arnold like two days before the election, after sitting on the stories for six weeks).
So you have to read a story like this with the understanding that if there was anything bad to say about the FLDS people near Eldorado, it would be said. What "reading between the lines" tells you is: there were NO specific examples showing any misconduct by FLDS in the story. No arrests. No speeding tickets. No domestic dispute calls to the local sheriff. Nada. If the LA Times couldn't come up with a specific example of something nasty to say after talking to a dozen local Texans, there just ain't nothing there. And bravo for the Times for not just making something up; I know they were looking.
I've got some theories to explain this surprising ability of the FLDS to get along with the Texans. (1) They're spending a lot of money at the local hardware stores. This goes a long way in any small town. Hardware stores are the small town equivalent of country clubs. If you know your tools and pay cash, you're a winner, no matter what strange cult you belong to. (2) Mormons can get along with anyone. (3) Having a couple of extra wives on the side has to be worth some macho points in the eyes of every guy but the local Evangelical preacher.
Still, the story uses all the right clichés and hot-button terms: cult, rape, child molestation, concrete bunkers, Waco references, sexual abuse, and "competition for young wives" (makes it sound like Saturday athletic events — winner gets the wife). Plenty of cliches, but no specifics.
Let's just remember that Waco was an EVANGELICAL preacher who went wacko, not a Mormon one. So why don't reporters go with the FACTS and label Evangelical churches "cults"? Jim Jones was a Protestant minister, not a Mormon. David Koresh was a Protestant leader, not a Mormon. The FLDS types aren't going ballistic like those Protestant cults, they're just quietly putting up building after building. Until they start shooting down small planes (which seem to be making daily sorties around the FLDS town, something that would make most gun-toting Texans take a shot by about day three), I think the "cult" label should be reserved for those crazy Evangelicals. For a crazy cult story in the making, reporters might be better off checking out the local Evangelical churches (here's a list to start with) than paying to buzz FLDS-town while pumping the pilot for quotes for a story.
Here's one to reflect on: Who do the locals think is stranger, the FLDS types driving into town in pickup trucks to buy building supplies and groceries, or the big city reporters flying into town, asking a bunch of questions, complaining about the hotel and the food, and leaving two days later? I don't imagine reporters would really pick up on that angle for their story.