“Lost boys” is a term used for young men who have been excommunicated or pressured to leave polygamous Mormon fundamentalist groups such as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). They are alleged to be pressured to leave by adult men to reduce competition for wives within such sects, usually when they are between the ages of 13 and 21.
Since birth rates for boys and girls are roughly equal, and women do not enter the community in large numbers, the pool of available women is not sufficient for all men to have multiple wives.
While some boys leave by their own choice, many have been banished for conduct such as watching a movie, watching television, playing football, or talking to a girl. Some boys are told not to return unless they can return with a wife. A 2005 article estimated that between 400 and 1,000 boys and young men had been pressured to leave for such reasons. Many young women also have left or been pressured to leave because they did not want to be part of polygamous marriages.
Boys in these sects are commonly raised not to trust the outside world, and that leaving their communities is a sin worse than murder. With little education or skills applicable to life outside of their community of birth, they must learn to live in a society they inherently distrust yet know little, while dealing with the consequences[vague] of being shunned by their families, and believing they are beyond spiritual redemption. The families of banished boys are told that the boys are now dead to them. Some individuals, such as Dan Fischer, a dentist who left the FLDS church, work to help young men who have left or who have been ejected from polygamist organizations in cities like Hildale, Utah, or Colorado City, Arizona.
In popular culture
In the HBO television series Big Love (2006-2011), the main protagonist is a former lost boy, having grown up challenging the elder who drove him out of their community as a teenager. The series portrays machinations of some senior men within a fundamentalist congregation to “reserve” young unmarried women for themselves.
The documentary film Sons of Perdition (2010) depicts the struggles of three real-life lost boys.
The off-Broadway play Exit 27 (2013) dramatized the story of four lost boys struggling to survive in the desert outside Colorado City. Playwright Aleks Merilo based the script on interviews conducted with lost boys living in Hurricane, Utah.
- Krakauer, Jon. Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith(2003).
- Emmett, Andrea Moore. God’s Brothel: The Extortion of Sex for Salvation in Contemporary Mormon and Christian Fundamentalist Polygamy and the Stories of 18 Women Who Escaped(2004).
- Bistline, Benjamin G. Colorado City Polygamists: An Inside Look for the Outsider(2004). A Colorado City historian presents the beginnings of the group and its original religious doctrine.
- Bistline, Benjamin G. The Polygamists: A History of Colorado City, Arizona(2004)
- Tracy, Kathleen. The Secret Story of Polygamy(2001). Centered on the trial of John Daniel Kingston, who was tried for assault on his 16-year-old daughter.
- Llewellyn, John R. Polygamy Under Attack: From Tom Green to Brian David Mitchell(2004)
- Dan Simon & Amanda Townsend (September 7, 2007). “Warren Jeffs’ ‘lost boys’ find themselves in strange world”. CNN.
- Main Street Church. Lifting the Veil of Polygamy(2007). A documentary film on the history and modern-day expressions of Mormon polygamy, including numerous testimonials.
- Jeffs, Brent & Maia Szalavitz, Lost Boy, Broadway Books, New York, 2009, 241 pp. First person account of life and exile of Brent Jeffs, nephew of “prophet” Warren Jeffs of FLDS Church.