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Warren Jeffs erupts at his sexual assault trial

by Brad A. Greenberg

July 30, 2011 | 5:29 pm

A little more than a week into the sexual assault trial of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, Jeffs has dismissed his legal team and decided he will represent himself. A move that almost always backfires. And certainly appears to in this case.

Howard Friedman at the Religion Clause relays that Jeffs stared off into space as the prosecution gave its opening remarks, then declined to give his own, and had sat mute as the prosecution presented its case this past week. Then Friday, Jeffs broke his silence with a 55-minute tirade, which, according to the AP, included this tidbit:

We cannot surrender these principles based on the laws of man trying to convince us that our religion is not necessary in practice… [T]his must stop in a land of freedom if all others are to receive a similar guarantee against their freedom of religion being trampled…. We are not a fly-by-night religious society ... We are a community of faith and principles and those principles are so sacred…. [Polygamy] is not of a sudden happening, it is of a tradition in our lives. And how can we just throw it away and say “God has not spoken?”

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