Pedagogy of the Oppressed: Think Religious Fundamentalism

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Pedagogy of the Oppressed: Think Religious Fundamentalism

by Rose Monroe | “Don’t you call me a victim!” Robin Brown screamed on a recent episode of “Sister Wives”. But some believe she is oppressed, even if she doesn’t currently recognize it as such.

Often, women in polygamy refuse to even dialogue with those women who have defected from such oppression. Are they afraid to learn facts that confirm a secret truth they already know? The public doesn’t see this because they have been influenced by what they have seen on camera.

I believe the public has been intentionally misled by profit-driven executives that have all delivered sanitized and dramatically altered media as “fact,” misrepresenting oppression & abuse as the choice of consenting adults.

In 2009, Oprah Winfrey went inside the YFZ Ranch being run by the now-convicted pedophile and polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs. She had dinner with a polygamist family and painted a sympathetic picture of a group of people who were lying through their teeth.

On Monday’s show, Oprah goes inside the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, to talk with children, teens and parents directly affected by last year’s infamous raid. During this special hour, viewers will get an unprecedented look at what life is like behind the gates of the YFZ Ranch, including extraordinary access to the inner workings of the ranch, which until now has been completely off-limits to outsiders. Members of the Yearning for Zion community share a homemade dinner with Oprah and speak openly about their polygamist lifestyle and their imprisoned prophet, Warren Jeffs.

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FLDS member Willie Jessops is on record too.

One of the most controversial claims made after the raid was that authorities found beds in the temple that were supposedly used for men to have sex with young women who had just married in the church. Willie says this is absolutely not true. “If they found it, would they have returned the children? What they found was a facility for a groundskeeper or for worship,” he says. “There is no religious ceremony that involves sex in any temple that I’m aware of or affiliated with.”

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Below is an audio tape played for the jury during Warren Jeff’s last trial in Texas – explaining how there were 8 ladies that were to share in the “heavenly sessions” (group intimacy) that took place in the very bed in the temple that Willie Jessops said was not used for sex.

“Betty says she never heard talk that she might be married at 14, and she says she doesn’t know anyone who was forced to marry at a young age. ” Oprah furthered the misconception by saying, “The message that I’m getting is there’s individual choice and every family is different.”

Now watch the video below, start at 1:20, and listen to Mike Watkiss bust Oprah for perpetrating a lie.

If you watched any of these TV shows that portray the smiling women in polygamy as simply “a matter of consenting adults,” then you will doubt that these people are oppressed. After all, Robin Brown went ballistic when Kristyn Decker – who came from the same polygamist sect and knows the inside story, started a sentence that Robin thought would end in the accusation that she is a victim of oppression or injustice.


4:50 Not that I’m aware of.

Not that I have ever seen.

Not that I have ever seen.

Not to our knowledge.


This is what much of America does not realize: People who are oppressed often do not even know it.


“It is better for the victims of injustice not to recognize themselves as such.” ~Paulo Freiro


If they could tell the outside world anything, they say they want people to know they’re happy. “We don’t get forced into anything,” one girl says.

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The Brown family, like most polygamist families, are separatists – evidenced by their refusal to associate with ex-plygs. To break bread or commune or dialogue with people who left their belief system was not even an option. It’s too dangerous, too “unsafe,” as Christine Brown put it on the show. Of course.

“The man or woman who proclaims devotion to the cause of liberation yet is unable to enter into communion with the people, whom he or she continues to regard as totally ignorant, is grievously self-deceived.” ~ Paulo Freire

Friere calls it sectarianism. This is my new favorite word. Polygamy sympathizers justify decriminalizing polygamy with the rationale that abuse is less likely to happen if people could live out in the open – is nothing more than oft-repeated propaganda that has never born fruit in the real world. These groups, like the AUB sect that the Brown’s are part of, separate themselves from “the world” anyway. They are sectarians.

By avoiding dialogue with “apostates” like me, or with others who have left their world for the real world, their minds remain blocked, uneducated, ignorant of their own oppression.

Here is another thought-provoking quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

Fear of freedom, of which its possessor is not necessarily aware, makes him see ghosts. Such an individual is actually taking refuge in an attempt to achieve security, which he or she prefers to the risks of liberty.

[ sek térree ən ]
  • of religious group: relating to or involving relations between religious groups or denominations
  • of single religious group: relating to, involved with, or devoted to a single religious group or denomination
  • dogmatic and intolerant: rigidly adhering to a set of doctrines and intolerant of other views

“Sectarianism, fed by fanaticism, is always castrating. Radicalization, nourished by a critical spirit, is always creative. Sectarianism mythicizes and thereby alienates; radicalization criticizes and thereby liberates. Radicalization involves increased commitment to the position one has chosen, and thus ever greater engagement in the effort to transform concrete, objective reality. Conversely, sectar­ianism, because it is mythicizing and irrational, turns reality into a false (and therefore unchangeable) “reality. (P. 37)

Sectarianism in any quarter is an obstacle to the emancipation of mankind. The rightist version thereof does not always, unfortu­nately, call forth its natural counterpart: radicalization of the revolu­tionary. Not infrequently, revolutionaries themselves become reactionary by falling into sectarianism in the process of responding to the sectarianism of the Right. This possibility, however, should not lead the radical to become a docile pawn of the elites. Engaged in the process of liberation, he or she cannot remain passive in the face of the oppressors violence.

The radical, committed to human liberation, does not become the prisoner of a “circle of certainty’ within which reality is also imprisoned. On the contrary, the more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can better transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into dialogue with them. (P. 6)

Compare those of us discussing polygamy on the panel to the Brown family.

We wanted to hug and love and have a dialogue.

They were afraid.

“Men and women rarely admit their fear of freedom openly, however, tending rather to camouflage it—sometimes unconsciously—by pre- senting themselves as defenders of freedom. They give their doubts and misgivings an air of profound sobriety, as befitting custodians of freedom. But they confuse freedom with the maintenance of the status quo; so that if (awakening) threatens to place that status quo in question, it thereby seems to constitute a threat to freedom itself.” ~ Paulo Friero, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Who Was Paulo Friero

Dr. Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educator and philosopher who was a leading advocate of “liberation theory” and critical pedagogy which attempts to help students question and challenge posited “domination,” and to undermine the beliefs and practices that are alleged to dominate. SOURCE.

He is best known for his influential work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which is considered one of the foundational texts of the critical pedagogy movement.

Wikipedia: Freire is best known for his attack on what he called the “banking” concept of education, in which the student was viewed as an empty account to be filled by the teacher. He notes that “it transforms students into receiving objects. It attempts to control thinking and action, leads men and women to adjust to the world, and inhibits their creative power” (Freire, 1970, p. 77).


“To enter into dialogue presupposes equality amongst participants. Each must trust the others; there must be mutual respect and love (care and commitment). Each one must question what he or she knows and realize that through dialogue existing thoughts will change and new knowledge will be created.”

Culture of Silence

According to Freire, the system of dominant social relations creates a culture of silence that instills a negative, silenced and suppressed self-image into the oppressed. The learner must develop a critical consciousness in order to recognize that this culture of silence is created to oppress. Also, a culture of silence can cause the “dominated individuals [to] lose the means by which to critically respond to the culture that is forced on them by a dominant culture.”

The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom. Freedom would require them to eject this image and replace it with autonomy and responsibility. Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human com­pletion.

Reality which becomes oppressive results in the contradistinction of men as oppressors and oppressed. The latter, whose task it is to struggle for their liberation together with those who show true solidarity, must acquire a critical awareness of oppression through the praxis of this struggle. One of the gravest obstacles to the achievement of liberation is that oppressive reality absorbs those within it and thereby acts to submerge human beings consciousness. Functionally, oppression is domesticating. To no longer be prey to its force, one must emerge from it and turn upon it. This can be done only by means of the praxis: reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it.

No pedagogy which is truly liberating can remain distant from the oppressed by treating them as unfortunates and by presenting for their emulation models from among the oppressors. The oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption. (p. 54)


It could not be otherwise. If the humanization of the oppressed signifies subversion, so also does their freedom; hence the necessity for constant control. And the more the oppressors control the op­ pressed, the more they change them into apparently inanimate “things.” This tendency of the oppressor consciousness to “in-ani­ mate” everything and everyone it encounters, in its eagerness to possess, unquestionably corresponds with a tendency to sadism.

The pleasure in complete domination over another person (or other animate creature) is the very essence of the sadistic drive. Another way of formulating the same thought is to say that the aim of sadism is to transform a man into a thing, something animate into something inanimate, since by complete and abso­ lute control the living loses one essential quality of life— freedom. (P.59)

The peasant begins to get courage to overcome his dependence when he realizes that he is dependent. Until then, he goes along with the boss and says “What can I do? I’m only a peasant.” (P. 14)

Critical Pedagogy

Critical pedagogy is not only a theory and a philosophy of education but also praxis-oriented social movement first described by Paulo Freire and after him developed by many others such as Henry Giroux as an “educational movement, guided by passion and principle, to help students develop consciousness of freedom, recognize authoritarian tendencies, and connect knowledge to power and the ability to take constructive action.”


As long as their ambiguity persists, the oppressed are reluctant to resist, and totally lack confidence in themselves. They have a diffuse, magical belief in the invulnerability and power of the oppressor. (p. 21) The magical force of the landowners power holds particular sway in the rural areas. A sociologist friend of mine tells of a group of armed peasants in a Latin American country who recently took over a latifundium. For tactical reasons, they planned to hold the landowner as a hostage. But not one peasant had the courage to guard him; his very presence was terrifying. It is also possible that the act of opposing the boss provoked guilt feelings. In truth, the boss was “inside” them.

It is only when the oppressed find the oppressor out and become involved in the organized struggle for their liberation that they begin to believe in themselves. This discovery cannot be purely intellect­ual but must involve action; nor can it be limited to mere activism, but must include serious reflection: only then will it be a praxis.

(Paulo Freire defines praxis in Pedagogy of the Oppressed as “reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it.” Through praxis, oppressed people can acquire a critical awareness of their own condition, and, with their allies, struggle for liberation.)

Think of this in terms of polygamy. The women, children, and less-favored males are the oppressed.

The polygamous culture is a necrophilous, or death-oriented culture. It revolves around the concepts and doctrines from those who are now dead, and continues to impact the living, manipulating through fear of death – including physical death (i.e the “great destruction,” death due to natural causes from the wrath of God, death due to edicts by religious leaders ), spiritual death (i.e. damnation, loss of relationship with God), or psychological death (i.e. loss of family, loss of hope.) Often spiritual or psychological death leads to self-inflicted physical death. The primary motivation is not to grow and flourish with life, but rather, to obey without questioning so as to avoid death.

Paulo Friere explained “banking education” (or indoctrination) falsely views men, women and children as objects, and therefore it cannot promote the development of “biophily.”

Biophily: when humans subconsciously seeking connection with the rest of life, or the world; when they love life and learning, and seek to think authentically in order to more in touch with the true nature of things. Biophily includes a deep connection to life.

Necrophily: is attracted to death, structure, and turning off the desire to connect with life, explore, and grow.

Indoctrination produces the opposite: “necrophily.” The FLDS educational plan involves a structured “banking education” model of life and learning, where information is deposited into the minds of the children and adults (i.e. priesthood history, listening to the tapes of Warren Jeffs). This promotes a death-oriented or necrophilic attitude.

While life is characterized by growth in a structured, functional manner, the necrophilous person loves all that does not grow, all that is mechanical. The necrophilous person is driven by the desire to transform the organic into the inorganic, to approach life mechanically, as if all living persons were things. . . . Mem­ory, rather than experience; having, rather than being, is what counts. The necrophilous person can relate to an object—a flower or a person—only if he possesses it; hence a threat to his possession is a threat to himself; if he loses possession he loses contact with the world. . . . He loves control, and in the act of controlling he kills life. (P. 4)

Oppression—overwhelming control—is necrophilic; it is nour­ished by love of death, not life. The banking concept of education, which serves the interests of oppression, is also necrophilic. Based on a mechanistic, static, naturalistic, spatialized view of conscious­ ness, it transforms students into receiving objects. It attempts to control thinking and action, leads women and men to adjust to the world, and inhibits their creative power.



This is like an awakening to one’s oppression. It’s a process where people become more conscious of themselves and their lives as structured by the social reality of oppression, they realize that they are pawns being exploited by a system, and they then begin to take action. They experience an inner change as they begin to act on their social circumstances. Until such a thing happens, victims usually cannot comprehend that they are victims.


Oppression is the systematic and pervasive mistreatment of individuals on the basis of their membership in various groups, which are disadvantaged by the institutionalized imbalances in social power in a particular society. Oppression includes both institutionalized or “normalized” mistreatment as well as instances of violence. It includes the invalidation, denial, or the non-recognition of the complete humanness (the goodness, uniqueness, smartness, powerfulness, etc.) of those who are members of the mistreated group.

Each group targeted by oppression inevitably “internalizes” the mistreatment and the misinformation about itself. The target group thus “mis-believes” about itself the same misinformation which pervades the social system. This “mis-believing” expresses itself in behavior and interactions between individual members of the target group which repeat the content of their oppression. Internalized oppression is always an involuntary reaction to the experience of oppression on the part of the target group. To blame the target group in any way for having internalized the consequences of their oppression is itself an act of oppression.



Warren and Lyle Jeffs have mastered the ability to rule through fear and thereby stop people from flourishing in life. Every possible avenue that would allow people to access information outside of their indoctrination has been cut off. No television, Internet, or cell phones for women. No going to public school or communicating with outsiders. No library, no popular magazines, no unapproved music. No movies. No keeping the money earned. No emotions. No questioning. No long-term family stability, no control over the future. No hope. This is not a lifestyle based on free will. This is a life built around the fear of death, and the resulting lack of options. Yet judges continue to make the mistake of assuming that if faithful believers were over 18, they consented. In law, consent is not possible when it is achieved through coercion. What is more coercive than believing that failing to submit, obey or follow orders will result in physical, spiritual, psychological or eternal death?

This is a system of oppression, yet the people held within its clutches do not realize their own victimization. In my opinion, the first steps to an impact such a society include providing an education, chipping away the fear of outsiders through acts of kindness that enhance their lives, and reminding people of their humanity by facilitating their happiness. And that is just the beginning,


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