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God's Brothel: The Extortion of Sex for Salvation
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God's Brothel: The Extortion of Sex for Salvation

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  244 ratings  ·  42 reviews
A chilling indictment of contemporary Mormon and Christian fundamentalist polygamy, God's Brothel reveals gruesome facts about Bible-based polygamy through the brave voices of 18 women who escaped from 10 of the 11 main religious groups as well as independent families. Their stories include rape, incest, orgies, and violence, making this form of polygamy more akin to sexua...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Pince-Nez Press
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Wife Number Seven by Melissa  BrownEscape by Carolyn JessopStolen Innocence by Elissa WallShattered Dreams by Irene SpencerChurch of Lies by Flora Jessop
43rd out of 61 books — 33 voters
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon KrakauerEscape by Carolyn JessopStolen Innocence by Elissa WallThe Secret Lives of Saints by Daphne BramhamThe Blood Doctrine by Ross Poore
Fundamentalist Mormons (FLDS)
13th out of 17 books — 5 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 936)
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Lacey Louwagie
Polygamy seems to be a theme in my life all of a sudden. Recently my dad picked up the book Escape! by Carolyn Jessop (a former polygamist wife) and Laura Palmer and hasn't been able to stop talking about it. At the same time, a coworker at the library told me about his fascination with TLC's new reality show, Sister Wives (I've since gotten hooked, too, which is a challenge because I don't even have TLC). Sister Wives paints a rather rosy picture of polygamy, but I knew God's brothel would depi...more
this book was incredible. It's hard to give it five stars because it was so very, very hard to read. The first section is all about polygamy, facts about it and its history. Then there are the memoirs – the stories of 18 women who were in polygamous relationships and then escaped. Their stories were horrific – it was almost impossible to believe that such things could happen in the United States. They talked about rape, child abuse, forced child marriage, child molestation, kidnapping, and emoti...more
The accounts of 18 women who escaped polygamy are devastating. Incest, rape, sexual assault , violence, verbal and physical abuse--these women experienced it all. The women lived in 10 of the 11 main polygamous groups in the United States, and all the women lived very similar lives--which demonstrates that there is not a polygamous community that is not harmful to women and girls. It is amazing to read of the leaders' reasoning for the abuse (especially the one explaining why it is okay that he...more
Jul 13, 2013 Cindy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cindy by: Annika Peter
A raw and fascinating look into the lives of women who were or are involved in religious polygamy. Most the women featured have escaped the life.

I was a bit dismayed that other reviewers here have giving this book low ratings because either the subject matter is really difficult, or that the (mostly) un-educated women are telling the story in their own words. To me, this makes the book all that more powerful.

The stories are jaw-dropping, painful, and very sad. Yet these women are resilient and...more
Sometimes it is just amazing what humans can do to each other. Especially those atrocities done in the name of religion in this case. Moore-Emmett is not unfamiliar to polygamy. Growing up in a Mormon household there always flirted the disaster of a polygamous marriage for her. Luckily, she was able to get out of it and has spent a good portion of her life helping Mormon women escape polygamy and running programs to help them in the transition. This book is about her telling some of their storie...more
Eva Leger
Feb 28, 2009 Eva Leger rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Jeannie
Recommended to Eva by: Kirsty in the U.K.
This would be rated a 3.5 if possible for me. I expected it to be written differently - I expected it to be more in memoir form and it's not. It's really a bunch os short - very short - stories. There are 18 different stories from 18 different women who among them, have lived in 10 of the 12 main polygamist groups that have been established for at least five years.
The stories of what these women and their children endured are no less than horrific. I got interested in polygamy after reading Esc...more
Eleanor Linden
I've read quite widely on polygamy, from realistic fiction, to the works that the Mormon Church base themselves on, to survival stories from women who have escaped and gone on to try to educate the world about the horrors they suffered. I've also read about religious cults. This book is the best I've read.

The author herself was brought up and raised in the Mormon Church, she expected to enter a plural marriage as she grew older, and so did her friends. This personal experience, I feel, makes her...more
"God's Brothel" is an insider's view of Bible-based polygamy in the United States, Canada and Mexico. While many of the organizations are fundamentalist LDS offshoots, some of them are not. The 18 women whose stories are told in this book come from 10 of the 11 known polygamist organizations in the US. There are doubtless many others.

Andrea Moore-Emmett interviewed hundreds of women and chose these stories as representative of the whole. All speak out under their real names. They tell stories of...more
Jul 10, 2009 Leslie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Leslie by: eva
This book is very interesting and informative. The first section gives a simple but thorough history of polygamy in the Mormon church, its repudiation and the many splinter groups that left the church because of that. The author then traces the efforts and lack of effort to enforce anti-polygamy laws and the recent developments involving polygamy.
In the end there is a glossary that really helps, because like all groups, especially closed off ones, these "churches" have their own special jargon....more
This author does not pretend to be objective. I believe it would be very difficult to approach this topic and be objective. The situations of women and children of the polygamous lifestyle seem too negative to be defended. The lack of education opportunities eliminates the options for anyone living in a polygamous community, and to me that is significant. Why provide poor or no education to your community—ever? How is that a good strategy for the individuals, or the community as a whole?

The boo...more
Sandra Strange
Well, did you think I could like this one? The accounts of the women who escaped contemporary polygamy are dark and informative about this horrendous lifestyle, but the author's introductory remarks show her bias. She is careless about acknowledging the distance between mainstream Mormons and polygamists, and downplays the disapproval and sadness that the abuse in this practice gives members of the mainstream church. She also implicitly condemns religion in general. Her reasoning: much modern po...more
I find the subject of polygamy fascinating. This is a very quick read, each chapter is another woman's story. Each woman leaves polygamy in the end. It pounds in the fact that polygamy breeds sexual predators, monsters really. It has convinced me that it has very little to do with religion, and everything to do with keeping women passive, submissive and fearful. What is scary is how, very much like battered women, they go back for more. I've found myself in a violent relationship before, and I'm...more
Ana Mardoll
God's Brothel / 978-1-930074-13-2

For anyone seeking a swift introduction into the heartbreaking world of polygamous cults, "God's Brothel" is the perfect choice. Well-written, with a necessary light touch given the intensity of the subject matter, this collection of mini-biographies follows the trials and sorrows of 18 women who have lived and escaped polygamy.

Unlike the usual polygamy biographies, these individual stories are deliberately kept short and condensed in order to provide the broades...more
Emily Wiersma
I'm really glad I finally got a chance to read to this book. I wouldn't say I enjoyed it because it's not that kind of book. This book was a smattering of stories from different women in various religious sects who lived a life of polygamy. In none of this women's lives did polygamy turn out to be the happy life that polygamist claim it to be. Instead these women told tales of physical abuse, sexual abuse, incest and other crimes. What I liked was that it didn't just stick with one particular gr...more
This is a great quick read but very much to the point. I starts off by explaining to the reader about polygamy, Mormonism, FLDS etc. What its about and how the religion started. It has the story of 18 woman that have escaped/released themselves from living in that world. It is interesting to read the different ways they ended up in it. Some born and raised, some chose the religion and went into it by marriage and one was even given in adoption as a baby to these people. So many different stories...more
This is a heartbreaking account of eighteen women who escaped polygamy in various places around the US. It's quite horrifying to read how many times these women contacted police and authorities for help and were ignored. As the book explains, a lot of these polygamist compounds have police officers that are part of the faith, so they don't take any of the threats (almost always from the women/girls) seriously. It's encouraging to hear that the women who tell their stories in this book were able...more
Terri Beal
Sad, but unfortunately true.
religious cultism is sickening. and i am also left to wonder what in the hell is wrong with our culture that provides *this* as such an enticing situation for women. "heaven" aside.....i just dont get it. i grew up mormon and veeeeeery conservative and pretty fundamentalist-this would have never flown with nearly anyone i knew.

having said that i strongly support any adult choosing their own path.....its the children that are the biggest victims. they never had a choice to live polygamy.
Suzie Quint
This is a collection of the stories of women who have escaped from polygamous marriages. It's so depressing that this isn't pursued and prosecuted more vigorously in this country. It's slavery with brainwashing thrown in to convince the victim that this is what they have to endure to please God. I've read other books on the subject, but reading about all these women makes it feel more wide-spread than it does when it's just one woman's story.
Leslie North
I'm not sure how I would rate this. It was a R or pg-13 type of book, but interesting. Sad and interesting. It gives a little glimpse of why it is a disaster to take a celestial principle and see it lived out in telestial hearts. Tyranny, abuse, violence, etc all a part of the family dynamics. So in my opinion, it is not the nature of polygamy, but the nature of man that makes these situations what they are; ghastly and awful for everyone!
Horrible. Was written terribly...I thought it would be more like a memoir but it was actually written like a science term paper.

Also, it was WAY too violent. I couldn't finish the whole book b/c the stories of abuse were just so violent it literally made my stomach sick.

I knew that the FLDS had issues, and I knew that some of that would be exposed when I read that. I just had NO idea it was going to be that violent.
If there had been fewer women profiled in this book, it would have been more interesting -- Moore-Emmett rarely went into much detail about each woman's story, giving each of them only a few pages. Had there only been five or six women profiled, versus eighteen, she would have been able to go into more detail and discuss the deep scars and effects of each fundamentalist sects of the LDS and Christian church on each woman.
The author tries to detail the lives of 18 women, give a brief history on the Mormon church, gloss over the beliefs of a dozen or so sects of Fundamentalist Mormonism, and argue why polygamy is never a good idea. This is way too much to cram into a 200-page book, and it shows in the choppy, hard-to-read writing style. If nothing else, it's a quick read, but I think she tried unsuccessfully to cover too much.
I thought this book was poorly written, but I also think the stories told need to be heard. The author obviously holds a prejudice against the LDS Church. Some of her claims are extreme. For example, she claims that Elizabeth Smart acquiesced to her captures because of her LDS upbringing. Nevertheless, I found the individual experiences compelling and horrifying. In all its forms, polygamy is degrading.
Alison Coe
this book is heartbreaking and enraging at the same time. the 18 personal reflections say the same thing over and over: emotional and sexual abuse of young children who grow up and some run away and see the 'cult' for what it really is, and some never leave. the extreme poverty and birth defects their communities experience is staggering. a good read if you are at all interested in the topic.
Rachel K
I may be biased toward this book,.as I respect Andrea Moore-Emmett, and all that she's faced as an activist for the rights of women in Utah, and for taking a stand against Mormon Fundamentalism. Andrea and I met at a National NOW Conference, at which time, she was staying strong in the face of being blackballed in her career for, among other things, writing this book.
Lynette Massey
just didn't live up to the standards of other well written books on the flds. too short. perhaps a good intro if you've never looked into the subject but for the well versed, not much insight. still saddened to read the unique cases of these individuals i've never heard of before.
This was a compilation of stories told by women and children who have escaped a polygamous lifestyle. It was similar to other memoirs I've read but I liked that it was many stories put together and the proceeds of the book help the organization TAPESTRY AGAINST POLYGAMY
Jill Crosby
It was all right; Lots of personal narratives from a minor fraction of the victims of polygamy in the US today. Lacked some depth----I wanted to know more about how the women were faring AFTER being free from the polygamous lifestyle for several years.
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