In the FLDS high school I attended, our history curriculum consisted of studying the earth’s creation as told in the book of Genesis (and the rest of the bible up through the crucifixion of Christ). From there, our teacher, Mr. Warren Jeffs, would terrify us with stories of saints being tortured during the Dark Ages, and then promptly move into Christopher Columbus discovering America for the express purpose of having a land where God could restore the “Priesthood” on the earth through Joseph Smith. After stories about Columbus, Warren briefly skimmed through the American Revolution and Civil War. According to Mr. Jeffs, Abraham Lincoln’s skin turned black after he was killed, as evidence of God’s curse on him for “freeing the black man”.
Then came the day Mr. Jeffs finally talked about something I took special delight in…..a picture in the textbook showing The Woman’s Rights Movement in the early 1900’s.
Class began and Mr. Jeffs opened his book to check the day’s subject. As he looked up, Mr. Jeffs had a smile on his face and asked, “Who in here thinks that women should have the right to vote?” My hand shot up before he even finished the question. It took me a moment to realize that out of 25 sophomore students, I was the only one who raised my hand. I felt my face flush when I heard Warren say in a sarcastic, yet serious tone, “Ahhh…..Rebecca. So you think that women should have the right to vote?” I responded, “Yes, I do.” Mr. Jeffs said, “Oh, you do do you. Do you think that women should have the right to own property too?” Again, I answered, “Yes, I do.” Warren replied, “Well, I will tell you what you do have the right to do. You have the right to do what your Priesthood head tells you to do. Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t receive revelation for who was the right candidate to vote for, because you don’t hold the priesthood. You would only have the right to vote the way your husband told you to vote. And, since you belong to your husband, anything and everything that you would ever own would belong to your husband anyway. So NO, you do not have the right to vote or own property by yourself.”
My face was hot, but I continued to look Mr. Jeffs straight in the eye. Giggles and snickers echoed around the classroom, and I knew he was making an example out of me. The public correction was embarrassing, but I did not regret raising my hand.
The French poet, Anatole France once wrote, “Irony is the gaiety of reflection and the joy of wisdom.”
Now, as the final hours count down to election day, I can’t help but smile with great delight. I am soon to be headed to the polls to cast my vote, while Warren Jeffs is sitting in a Texas prison…where voting is not an option.