AN HONORABLE MAN

I ran across an article of a man doing a good thing. He is someone who has helped countless of individuals. He has taken on many young men and helped them find their way. I don’t think that I could have done this as well as he has. It takes a great of strength and perserverance.

I hope that Texas can make something stick to the FLDS folks here in Texas. I do know that there is a continuing investigation going on. Hopefully they will move on.

Here is the story. Here is the link.

The polygamist sect preached that Dan Fischer was a heretic who had turned his back on God’s chosen children.

But for Enos Deloy Steed, who was banished at age 17 for kissing a girl, Fischer was like a guardian angel, the kindest man he had ever met.

Steed’s father disowned him and left him wandering southern Utah. Fischer gave him a place to live – and volunteered to put him through college.

“He gives us a fair shot in the world, a chance to have a life, because he can relate,” said Steed, now 22 and set to graduate in November. “It’s really great that someone is willing.”

It can take a long time to unlearn the tenets of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a Mormon splinter group that has been disavowed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FLDS forbids the color red, claims man never landed on the moon and allegedly has forced pubescent girls to marry old men.

But former FLDS members can count on loving support from Fischer, a onetime polygamist who invented a popular tooth whitening formula in his barn and now uses his fortune to fight the sect and help fellow outcasts.

“This society has become the Taliban of America,” Fischer said of the 10,000-member FLDS, which attracted national attention after Texas authorities raided a compound in April and seized more than 400 children after allegedly finding pregnant child brides.

A court last month ruled that Texas overreached in taking the children, and most have been returned to their parents while a criminal probe continues. A Texas grand jury is set to hear evidence of adults marrying girls. That could lead to indictments against sect elders.

Fischer, 59, secretly practiced big love for years in the Salt Lake City suburbs, marrying three women at once and fathering 16 children. But he chafed under a church leadership that he considered increasingly authoritarian and “goofy,” and he broke free in 1995 with his second spouse, Leenie, the one he truly adored.

Worldly and well off, thanks to his dental company, Ultradent Products Inc., Fischer could have distanced himself from his polygamist past. Yet he felt that someone had to stand up to FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs – and after the church disgraced Fischer’s father, he realized it had to be him.

Fischer learned in 1999 that his 72-year-old father was stripped of his three wives by sect leaders for supposed disloyalty. FLDS foes estimate that 250 plural families have been similarly torn apart, with wives redistributed like heads of cattle and children told to call strange men father.

“In the annihilation of my family, Warren Jeffs called the shots,” Fischer said, the rage still evident in his trembling voice.

Like many who leave the FLDS, Fischer is shunned as a traitor; even his mother refuses to talk to him. But like a long-lost uncle who offers a hand in a time of need, other outcasts have discovered they can always call “Dr. Dan.”

Through his charity, the Diversity Foundation, Fischer has provided shelter and counseling to hundreds of lost boys, teens such as Steed who are expelled from polygamist enclaves for moral violations. Critics say the real reason is polygamy’s brutal math: For a few men to have many wives, the rest have to be removed from competition.

“He’s a remarkable man,” said Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. “He has done more for the lost boys than everyone else combined. I know he doesn’t like to brag about it, but he has spent millions.”

Fischer has also aided women who left the FLDS with their children – most notably Carolyn Jessop, whose memoir, “Escape,” about her abuse-filled life became a best-seller.

“Without him, I would not have survived,” Jessop said, recalling that Fischer harbored her and her eight children, even as the FLDS elder she had been forced to marry when she was 18 – and he was 50 – hunted her.

It is by paying private investigators and attorneys to expose his former religion’s seamier side that Fischer has made the biggest effect.

With testimony from a child bride that a Fischer sleuth tracked down and persuaded to go public, Jeffs was convicted in Utah last year of being an accomplice to rape for arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old cousin.

Spurred by a lawsuit that Fischer funded, Utah persuaded a court in 2005 to seize the sect’s financial purse strings by taking over an FLDS-run trust that owned nearly all the land on which sect members built houses along the Utah-Arizona border.

Fischer was raised in a secluded farming community outside Salt Lake City. When he turned 17, he drove a pickup to the home of then-prophet Leroy Johnson to begin a life of hard labor, the sole career choice for most FLDS boys. He was in for a shock.

“Young man, we need a dentist,” Johnson decreed. Fischer would be allowed to attend college, a rare privilege in the sect.

Fischer became a dentist to polygamist groups. Wives drove hours to visit him, with dozens of children in tow.

Fischer began tinkering with dental products at night and developed one that stopped bleeding faster than anything he had seen. When no company wanted it, he launched his own and began testing a tooth whitener and other inventions.

Although Fischer’s fortunes soared, he was unhappy. The drama-filled family dynamic of having three wives – two of them sisters – was becoming more than he could bear.

After feuding with FLDS elders, Fischer was summoned to a meeting with then-prophet Rulon Jeffs in 1995. He survived the showdown but saw that son Warren Jeffs was in control. So Fischer told his immediate family that he was breaking from the FLDS – though he understood it meant leaving his larger family forever.

“You come to a crossroads where you have to decide who are you more loyal to? Is it the people that brought you into this Earth, or those you brought in?” Fischer explained. “I chose to break the cycle.”

Some FLDS members now view Fischer as a Judas-like figure who is hurting the people he formerly embraced by punishing their prophet.

“It’s sad that he decided to become vengeful and use his money against a group of people he once loved,” said Fischer’s brother, Samuel.

Fischer still hurts when he thinks of those he left behind but says he has never regretted his decision. His custom home at the base of the Wasatch Mountains is still filled with family – only now it is the broader family of outcasts he has adopted.

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One Response to “AN HONORABLE MAN”

  1. Chrissy Says:

    I found this blog post very interesting!!
    It reminds me of a book I just finished What Peace There May Be, by Susanna Barlow an ex-polygamist. She tells her story from her young self which is original and I really liked.

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