Broken Ties

Seth Doane Reports On The Boys And Young Men Who Leave The FLDS

They aren't all that far from home, but Frankie Johnson and Caleb Barlow couldn't be farther from their roots. They were born into and grew up in the FLDS, until the need to escape pressed so hard there was nothing to do but leave everything behind.

Frankie, who grew up in Colorado City, left four years ago when he was 18 years old. At the time, he says he was the oldest of 18.

Like Frankie, 18-year-old Caleb started to resent the endless regulations of the religion, like losing everyday freedoms as basic as being able to date girls. The belief was that the outside world was evil, and that joining it brought punishment.

"Yeah, it was a fear," Caleb tells correspondent Seth Doene. "I wondered if I was really going to go to hell."

Frankie and Caleb-and hundreds of other boys like them-ended up out of FLDS and in limbo, in places like Utah. They've left home or been kicked out when they were barely teenagers. Their refusal to conform to their religion's unbending social rules pushes them and their families to the edge.

Those that go are known as "The Lost Boys." Their future and very survival are uncertain, and the only sure thing is that most of them can never go back to that secretive world.


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When Caleb decided to leave, his father made it clear he'd never be welcomed back. "He grabbed my littlest brother and he just like shaking in my face, he's like 'You'll never see him again,'" Caleb remembers. "He said we were better off dead than to leave."

A kind of communal safe house has been home to Caleb and Frankie, where they and other boys, like brothers Hyrum and Simon, learn a new kind of "normal."

"Didn't have very good social skills, 'cause I never went to high school or anything," Simon explains.

Simon and Hyrum also left the FLDS because they simply couldn't live without freedom of choice.

"The benefit of them coming into our home is that they have the time to be in a quiet place without expectation," says Michelle Benward, a Utah social worker who came up with the idea for the home.

Donations and government grants make Michelle's work possible.

The boys came to the home because they couldn't tolerate the strict changes made by Warren Jeffs. "We were taught to listen to Warren, do whatever he says," Caleb explains.

"We are taught to never ask 'Why?'" Frankie adds. "Don't question nothing. Perfect obedience."

"Don't talk to girls. Don't talk to people outside the community. Don't play video games. Don't watch TV, listen to music," Caleb says.