Since news first broke that the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or FLDS church) was building a new Zionic city in western Texas, I’ve been excited to watch history unfold (and perhaps repeat?) At first there was little more on the site than three large dormitories masquerading as “hunting lodges.” However, it didn’t take long before aerial photos began to show an expanding grid of roads. The grid reminded me instantly of Joseph Smith’s “Plat of Zion,” after which so many 19th-century Mormon towns were patterned.
My excitement peaked when a massive foundation was laid for what ultimately proved to be a temple. The temple walls rose quickly and were faced with stone quarried nearly. Initially it looked like it might be modelled on the Nauvoo temple, but ultimately it took its own unique form (somewhat reminiscent of the St. George temple).
In the meantime the FLDS church has come under increasing pressure. The church’s Prophet (Warren Jeffs) was apprehended, tried and convicted by government* authorities. Control of the church’s traditional financial trust (the UEP) was taken over by the courts. And yet nothing has stopped the new Zion from growing. (*corrected by SamB, see his response #14.)
The first three dorms have been joined by a dozen more. In addition, there are five or six massive homes and countless trailers. There are a number of warehouses, a dairy/cheese factory, cement mixers, a powdercoat shop, barns, silos, orchards, a stoneworks and a quarry.
In addition to the temple, a new stone structure with similar walls has just been built — apparently a church. Both the temple and the chruch have massive ramps. Why are they necessary? (Compare the size of the ramps with the pickup trucks in the foreground of the picture above.)
Apparently, the growing town’s water system is now capable of supporting a population of 3,000. Interestingly enough, the entire non-Mormon population of the surrounding county is only 2,935.
What will the FLDS church do next? Still unanswered is the question I’ve had from the very beginning: what happens this time when the Mormons outnumber the “original settlers”?
What do folks think will happen next?