What Comes Next for the FLDS Church?

John Hamerhistory, Mormon, Mormons, politics, polygamy, temple 88 Comments

FLDS Temple 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.

FLDS Zion in Texas

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?

Comments 88

  1. Odd about the ramps – the only thing I can gather is that Jeff’s (Warren) used a wheelchair according to various reports during his run from the police (presumably as a disguise). His father (Rulon) was wheelchair bound do to a series of strokes. Maybe its cheeper to build ramps than elevators?

  2. I don’t understand why the government has gone through all the effort to apprehend Jeffs and the church’s funds but yet must know what they are doing and continues to let them grow.

    Thanks for the post John. It really does seem like history repeating. I cant remember where I saw it but someone said, “Who is more like the prophet Joseph Smith out of all the groups he fathered? Warren Jeffs.” And I could see some truth in that. I have a love/hate relationship for their movement as I do for our early church history. I am sympathetic to them as I am to the Mormon’s of 1830 but as somewhat of a secularist I find it a bit odd.

    I wonder…do most Mormons find the FLDS movement nefarious? I was gonig to ask if orthodox Mormons find it nefarious….but then I realized that, in this case, orthodoxy would probably be with the FLDS movement.

  3. Just a note on the ramps. If it is true that Warren Jeffs and his father both used wheelchairs, there are actually length to rise requirements for wheelchair ramps. Typically it is not an issue because the height of the entrance door isn’t too high but in the case of the temple and church in this picture, they both seem comparatively high. This would acccount for what seems like a ridiculously long ramp. It also appears that the ramps alleviate the need for inside elevators since they go to the 2nd floor of the buildings (with the first floor entrance being a level entrance). So take into account the relative inexpensiveness of building a ramp instead of adding an elevator inside the building (both expensive and more importantly time consuming if you are trying to expedite construction) then it all makes very good sense. Hope this clear up the ramp anomaly

  4. Post

    Stephen W (re #2) — Whereas I agree with Harold Bloom that Joseph Smith wouldn’t find much familiar in the staid LDS church of the 21st century, I also don’t think that Joseph Smith would find common ground in the FLDS church (or frankly any Latter Day Saint denomination today).

    I’ve argued elsewhere, that “not changing” as time and reality change around you, is actually a big change. With that idea in mind, whether or not 21st-century FLDS members have succeeded in immitating the practices of late 1840s and early 1850s Brighamite Mormons, is actually not a true gauge of whether they are actually like those forebearers in a relative sense. The vastly different historical contexts make them alien to each other. How would Joseph Smith’s vision play out in the vastly different environment today? Vastly differently than it did in the 1830s.

    The early Saints thought they were restoring and imitating the church of the New Testament apostles; they were actually creating something very original. Likewise, while Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints believe they are preserving and imitating the practices of early Mormons, they are actually doing something new.

  5. Post

    Jeremy N (#4) and Jeff (#1) — that makes a certain sense. The very large size of the windows on the temple and church give an optical illusion that both are smaller than they actually are. The main floor (2nd floor) of both is relatively high and this requires long ramps if you want to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). What’s a little surprising to me is that a church that is relatively contemptuous of Federal law would be so (almost ridiculously) zealous in its compliance with the ADA.

    The size of the ramps will allow for an army of members confined to wheelchairs to access the buildings. They seem sufficient to allow the entire congregation to enter the buildings by ramp, instead of by the already vast, wedding cake like stairs on the front of the temple. I’m sure you’re right, but the solution seems like overkill to me.

    Stephen M (#3) — Ha! true. 🙂

  6. I think the FLDS to be successful need to:

    1: Denounce and excommunicate Warren Jeffs (and the policy/practice of arranged/forced underage marriage).
    2: Practice Plural Marriage as voluntary and only allowed between consenting (all parties) adults.
    3: Become less controlling of the general membership and stop the ridiculous practice of running off teenage boys.
    4: Start a public relations and missionary effort.
    5: Join in a political alliance with other Mormon Fundamentalists and polygamists in pushing for decriminalization of polygany.
    Also the “Fundamentalists” would be much more affective if they could somehow form a unified church.

    Lastly, all that being said, I don’t believe the “Fundamentalists” are really that. Honestly I don’t know much about their preaching, but it doesn’t seem to me to be the “fundamentals” of what Mormonism has always been. They seem to emphasis peripheral doctrines (Plural Marriage, United Order, etc.), at the expense of what have always been “fundamental”. I think that the LDS are the real “Fundamentalists” while at the same time adapting to present world realities.

    Think about it…if Joseph Smith where here today what group do you think Joseph Smith would say is fulfilling his vision of “This Church with fill North and South America…it will fill the world” What group do you really think he would say is carrying forward the vision of the church he founded?

    This stuff about Warren Jeffs being like Joseph Smith is just garbage. If Joseph were alive and working today…I would be willing to bet my life he would not have operated in the same manner as Warren Jeffs.

  7. Paul W (#7). I think that it is a common misconception or at least misrepresented to say that Joseph Smith founded a church. Joseph Smith was an instrument in God’s hands to restore what was founded by Christ approximately 1805 years before he was born. I think the phrase “Joseph Smith founded”, even though well used inside and outside of latter day saint circles, clouds the real idea of the restoration and what occured during that time period. The true church restored came through God to Joseph Smith and the principles were based upon the restoration of the Church founded by Christ in the New Testament.

    John H. (#5). I think you are correct that church not changing is indeed a large change, but that can be taken two ways. A church must change according to the whole around it, whether is seperates itself from a world that is full of sin and evil or it embraces a world that is moving toward righteousness. What should not change with the world is the doctrines of the church. God stated that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If this is so then how could his doctrines change? It would be blasphemy to think it is possible.

  8. Jeremy N (#). Agreed. So then, how would you react to the rest of my statement if it was restated thus: “Think about it…if Joseph Smith where here today, what group do you think he would say is fulfilling the vision of “This Church with fill North and South America…it will fill the world!”…what group do you really think Joseph would say is carrying forward the mission of the church God restored through him?”

  9. Jeremy N (#8). Actually, that depends on what you consider doctrine, I think. Most of the Jews would consider the Christian teachings regarding the abolishment of many Old Testament practices to be doctrinal changes, especially regarding anything to do with those things in the Torah, but we don’t seem to have much of a problem with that. Or how about Polygamy, The United Order, or any other host of things that at one point were considered doctrinal? If you want to say that the doctrine doesn’t change, then you have to define doctrine very narrowly (probably just down to faith, repentence, baptism, Holy Ghost and Priesthood) or extremely broadly (and I’m not sure how to go about that). You certainly can’t include much in the way of church structure, organization or anything to do with rules about polygamy, health, or a lot of other issues. You might be able to squeeze in certain commandments about sanctity of life, defined rather broadly, but you’d have to be very careful. What is the scripture in 3 Nephi 11? Oh yes, here it is:

    32. And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
    33. And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
    34. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
    35. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
    36. And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are bone.
    37. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
    38. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
    39. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
    40. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

    I’d say that’s the doctrine that doesn’t change. Otherwise, it becomes a matter of following the living prophets in my mind.

  10. Paul W (#9). Well I am going to dig deeper than what JS said and go to the 28th Chapter of Matthew and the 6th Chapter of 2 Nephi. Christ had a vision for his church for the apostles to teach ALL nations and Nephi had a vision of Christ’s church in the hands of the gentiles aiding the lost tribes of Israel and being nursing mothers and fathers to them. Of course this is directly in line with what Christ and Nephi taught, but I think it’s important to understand why the Gospel must go out, and that is to bring Israel in. God scattered Ephraim and Manasseh (herafter refered to Joseph) to America and ten other tribes to three other places (see Jacob 5). The work was to start with the gentiles then to Joseph and continue from Joseph to the rest of the house of Israel through the choice seer (see 2 Nephi 3, Jacob 5, Ephraim 37, Isaiah 59, etc.) So even though JS had a vision, God laid out a very concise structure and flow for the fulfillment of the full restoration which when applied to what JS envisioned fits in fairly well with the scriptures. I can answer from my biased opinion what church is moving forward with this plan, my church (The Church of Jesus Christ), but I think the more important question to answer is which church hasn’t followed that plan. Here are a couple points to ponder

    1. Lehi states in 2 Nephi 3 that the Choice Seer is to come from “the loins of Joseph”, i.e. his seed or what we know as the Native Americans left on the continent. Thus the Choice Seer is to be Native American.

    2. Moroni stated in his intro to the BOM that the BOM was “to come forth in due time by way of the Gentiles”. It came forth through JS (gentile) and the church in the early restoration (gentile).

    So my question is has the Choice Seer come yet? I don’t think so according to The BOM, but what do you think? So then you would have to look at see who is taking the gospel to the Native Americans (Joseph), since that is apparently step 1 in God’s plan for the restoration.

  11. John, thanks for this. This is my first time seeing these photos, although I’ve known about the compound and temple for some time now.

    I do wonder if, with the increase in population, there will be a repeat in history (by which I assume you mean that the non-Mormons will drive the FLDS from the county)? I also wonder if the FLDS are actively involved in county politics, which, combined with achieving a majority in the area, struck so much fear in the Missourians of the 1830s. I do suspect that the FLDS do draw on and diverty county economic resources, which will likely be a source of contention. I also suspect that the non-FLDS construct the FLDS through the same lens of fanaticism that the Missourians used in the 1830s. There will certainly be contention between FLDS and non-FLDS, but what will be the result?

    I’m not confident that the scale of vigilantism is possible today that was used in the 1830s. I envision a possible repeat of Mount Carmel, meaning a confrontation between the compound authorities and the feds, more readily than I envision non-Mormon vigilantes convincing Gov. Perry that the FLDS need to be driven from Texas.

  12. Benjamin (#10). First to clarify my point of view I am not a member of the LDS church but am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ (www.thechurchofjesuschrist.org) so my opinions on doctrine are quite different than yours. Christ says he came not to change the law but to fulfill it (the sacrifices and such) so I would disagree with the Jews, but again that is an issue of point of view. I believe that polygamy was a false doctrine and did not come from God. I believe the Bible and Book of Mormon to contain all the doctrines of Christ and his church, therefore the D&C doesn’t apply to my thinking of doctrine. Interestingly it was David Whitmer (I believe) who told JS that printing the D&C was against God’s will and if he were to do so the towns people would burn the print house down to the ground. Which is exactly what happened. Anyway I think if you base doctrine off the Bible and BOM and not the D&C you would find amazingly that Christ doctrines haven’t changed through either book, so it would be the impetus of a church to be “Called by his name and founded upon his principles” to follow his doctrines contained in those 2 books. Now as far as the living prophet, I would again say it is blasphemy to change a doctrine of the church even if a prophet declared it because it would go against the scripture I quoted before. To me scripture supercedes anything a man could say and if a man says something contrary to scripture (i.e. polygamy, united order and such) then I believe it to be a false revelation and not of God. Does this make sense and clarify my point of view for you?

  13. Minor little nit (irrelevant, but kind of relevant): I believe Jeffs was arrested by state police in Nevada, and he was tried and convicted in a Utah state court, and is not being tried in an Arizona state court. I don’t know where the feds stand on this (he was on the FBI’s most wanted list), and I don’t know if they have any intention to prosecute him federally (or if, for that matter, he has been accused of a federal crime).
    I know this doesn’t matter so much, but the procedural aspects are relevant. (That may, to some extent, respond to Stephen (2): Utah authorities don’t have any authority over what happens in Texas, so even if Utah wanted to quash the FLDS church, Texas is largely safe from their authority,)

  14. Post

    PaulW (#7): I’d argue that my g-g-g-great grandparents didn’t give Joseph Smith their young daughter as a plural wife because they thought the doctrine was “peripheral.” They did it in order to have our family and lineage sealed to the Prophet for all eternity. My ancestors didn’t endure persecution for their own polygamous marriages because they thought it would be a lark to practice an optional, peripheral doctrine. They did it because they believed the doctrine was essential to their exaltation.

    As I’ve said above, I don’t think much of the comparisons between Warren Jeffs and Joseph Smith. In part because of context and in part because of what I’ve seen of Warren’s personality (contrasted with what I know of Joseph’s), I think the comparison only works at the surface level.

    That said, I don’t see much if anything that Thomas S. Monson has in common with Joseph Smith.

    In terms of the numbers game, I’d ask: What church, which according to Mormon doctrine was founded by Christ, is taking its message to all the world and is growing faster than any other in real numbers? Why the Holy Universal Catholic Church with headquarters in Rome, of course. With over 1.1 billion members, it is the clear winner in the numbers game. The only problem is that according to traditional Mormon doctrine, it’s in a state of apostasy. It’s not a stretch for some Mormons (such as FLDS members) to employ the same Mormon conception of Restoration and Apostasy to argue that if the Catholic church’s absolute numerical superiority is meaningless, so too is the LDS church’s relative numerical superiority within Mormonism.

  15. John,

    Great pictures.

    I wonder what form the temple ceremonies will take in the FLDS church. Will they be circa 1890 endowment house type or have their ceremonies changed through the years too?

    Also, what impact will the temple have on the FLDS in general? Will it make them more stable, less millenarian over time as the Second Coming is delayed yet again? Give them a new focus for their worship? Will they engage in baptism for the dead and baptize each other vicariously for their apostate LDS kin? All kinds of interesting things can come out of this…

  16. Great post John H.

    Re the ramp at the FLDS temple, T&S’s Julie said “Sheesh, john f., they might be outlaws but they aren’t going to flout the Americans with Disabilities Act!” in response to a post I did at BT back in 2006 about the FLDS and the way their Texas neighbors view them.

  17. #7:
    Lastly, all that being said, I don’t believe the “Fundamentalists” are really that. Honestly I don’t know much about their preaching, but it doesn’t seem to me to be the “fundamentals” of what Mormonism has always been. They seem to emphasis peripheral doctrines (Plural Marriage, United Order, etc.), at the expense of what have always been “fundamental”.

    It seems to me that the latest CES ploy is to classify any and every abandoned LDS doctrine (as well as those CES wants abandoned) as “peripheral” or “speculation.” By the time you get down to what these types think are “fundamental” points, you have virtually nothing that you wouldn’t find in any church on the street. The only real distinction ends up being the claim to exclusive priesthood authority—a claim that is vital to the current social structure of the LDS organization.

    I think that the LDS are the real “Fundamentalists” while at the same time adapting to present world realities.

    Well, the late Gordon Hinckley said there was no such thing as “Mormon Fundamentalists.” One must naturally assume he included his own church when he made that blanket declaration. Ergo, I’m curious how any orthodox LDS can consider themselves “the real Fundamentalists.”

    Think about it…if Joseph Smith where [sic] here today what group do you think Joseph Smith would say is fulfilling his vision of “This Church with fill North and South America…it will fill the world” What group do you really think he would say is carrying forward the vision of the church he founded?

    NONE. If Joseph Smith were here today, he would declare that deity told him that all the churches claiming descent from Joseph now “teach the doctrines of men;” that “they come near to [deity] with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Joseph would declare that deity had told him to “join none of them.” Besides, if Joseph Smith united with the modern LDS church, he’d be excommunicated within a very short time.

    This stuff about Warren Jeffs being like Joseph Smith is just garbage. If Joseph were alive and working today…I would be willing to bet my life he would not have operated in the same manner as Warren Jeffs.

    No, Joseph would not have operated in the same manner as Warren Jeffs on many points. Similarly, Joseph would not have operated in the same manner as Gordon Hinckley or Thomas Monson (or, for that matter, any of their predecessors in office, going right back to Brigham Young). Your point?

  18. Post

    John F (#17): Thanks for the link, I hadn’t seen that before. I’m going to have to chalk it up to the ol’ “great minds” adage…! 🙂

    That reminded me of experiences I’ve had with the ADA. Complying can be a little complex. I’ve designed and built two office buildings for my old company. Besides ramps and bathrooms, another thing you have to watch is kitchens. All of the dishwashers and microwaves, etc., had to be elevated to a certain height in order to be operated from a wheelchair. Unfortunately that height is too low to be on top of a counter and too high to be below one. The resulting use of space was a little odd.

  19. John H: Thanks for the post; very intriguing stuff. I have to say that I am very impressed with the FLDS’s organizational skills. Preparing a community for 3,000 people is no slouch job.

  20. I appreciated the way you introduced this topic, John H. I caught the vision of trying to build a Zion society from scratch by reading your descriptions of the compound. I can see that people would have great satisfaction in being a part of such an all-encompassing project. I wonder whether this Zion-building vision is most achievable in smaller homogeneous communities where everyone really is interested in the common cause. This was the case in the Latter-day Saint efforts, both during Joseph Smith’s day and in the Utah period. It appears to be the case with the FLDS too, from everything I have read and seen.

  21. Fascinating post, John. As I read it, I was marveling at just how kooky this all seems. And then I realized I was viewing the FLDS just as the rest of the country viewed the LDS back in Joseph Smith’s day.

  22. Post

    David G. (#12): Actually, I hadn’t thought ahead to the Gentiles driving them out. I was thinking of the FLDS church gaining a voting majority and taking control of elected county offices.

    I very much agree with you that it would be hard or impossible these days for the Texans to drive the Fundamentalist Mormons from the county. Also the FLDS church seems to have learned from the mistakes of the early church. The Saints were driven from Far West, Missouri, because they wildly over-played their hand by expanding before they’d set down roots. The FLDS church has already finished its temple and has a more solidly grounded infrastructure than Joseph Smith in Nauvoo at the time of the martyrdom — and yet, to date, there has not been a peep or a vote out of them. If they plan to take over in the future, their plan is long-term and includes preparing a solid foundation to fall back on when conflicts occurs.

  23. Jeremy N. I’d interpret the scripture to men Joseph Smith himself…as he claimed that he was of the line of Joseph through Ephraim. In my opinion Joseph Smith is the Choice Seer. I’m not arguing with you just stating how I read it. I respect your reading of it.

    Somehow I seemed to come off argumentative or something as it seems several people are picking my statements apart. I was just stating how I view things.

    John Hamer (#15) I wasn’t saying that it was “peripheral” to your or my ancestors. For them the direction come from a Prophet of God and to them it may have been essential to their exaltation. However, I believe that a strong argument can be made scripturally that plural marriage is not always commanded or required for exaltation. It becomes a “peripheral” doctrine if not commanded or approved of by God through his prophets. I believe that plural marriage at times has been commanded by God and may be again at some point. I acknowledge that plural marriage is part off our doctrine and yet not currently an approved practice.

    Nick Literski (#18) I wasn’t trying to sound like a “CES” type. I don’t want to abandon uniquely Mormon doctrines. For me the only plausible model for deity is that put forth in the King Follett Discourse generally. As I’ve said above I believe in the doctrine of plural marriage…though not that it is necessarily required of everyone for exaltation, for some it may be. I fantasize about living in a United Order/City of Enoch type society, and wonder if I could be the type of person to help it succeed. In short I embrace and love Mormonism at it’s core. I hope we haven’t completely “abandoned” these concepts and I don’t think we have.

    I think your nitpicking a bit about the word “fundamentalist”…my point was this…(the way I see it) 1. “The Restoration” was about the restoration of the Gospel and Church of Jesus Christ…his authority, doctrine, and the Apostleship and about the gathering and restoring of the House of Israel. 2. We are to spread the restoration message and The Church throughout the world. 3. We are to redeem our dead and link all generations of time in the covenant of Christ with the Priesthood. This is what I see form and happen throwout the life and ministry of Joseph Smith. These are the “Fundamentals” of the Restoration and Gospel.

    I think it’s a stretch for you to claim that Joseph would “declare that deity told him that all the churches …etc”. 1. Neither you or I would know that. 2. What we do know is that he believed that the organization of the Church would grow and succeed.

    Lastly, you made my point. No two people act or conduct and organization the same way as another would. I was merely stating that. I don’t believe that Joseph was in any way a perfect man, but I think it’s a fallacy to apply our time and modern thinking to his thoughts and actions.

    I personally have concluded through my studies it was correct that the Quorum of Twelve Apostles took leadership of the Church at Joseph’s death. That being said, the Apostles, like Joseph are imperfect men, and lead the church imperfectly, but I generally think they do a good job (In general terms for the general church) :). I think it’s up to each of us to determine with the LORD how to apply general council personally.

    Wow that’s a long post…again I’m not trying to argue with anyone…just state things how I see them. I enjoy reading all of your opinions.

  24. Post

    John F. (#21) and Andrew (#22): Whether we’re LDS like you guys, Church of Jesus Christ (like Jeremy N), FLDS or anything else, I think that all of us with Mormon roots can’t help have a warm spot in our hearts for constructing a version of Zion.

    I can say that designing and constructing ideal communities stands out among the aspects of my Mormon heritage that I value the most. That’s why I love to spend time in Nauvoo, in Kirtland, in Independence, in Salt Lake, in St. George, in Lamoni, in Voree, in Manti (IA), in Manti (UT), in Logan and in Mesa (AZ). (There’s plenty more settlements that I’ve been to, and countless others that I haven’t yet.)

    I agree with Ben (#20), that this example shows the FLDS church has impressive organizational skills and tenacity.

    Their Zion is built on land which they named the YFZ Ranch, where “YFZ” stands for “Yearning for Zion.” Although we may not admire Warren Jeffs for all that he’s said to have done, and none of us may agree with FLDS practice or interpretation of doctrine (if we did, I presume we’d have joined up), I think we can at least admit on some level to sharing a sense of yearning for Zion.

  25. Post

    Re: John Nilsson (#14)

    Great pictures.

    Here are some more:

    The town
    The scope of the town.

    Note that what looks like “smaller” buildings from afar are actually not that small (cf. the car).

    I wonder what form the temple ceremonies will take in the FLDS church. Will they be circa 1890 endowment house type or have their ceremonies changed through the years too?

    This much I don’t know. I’ve never participated in anyone’s temple endowment ceremonies. Because they are viewed as sacred and private, I have generally avoided looking too closely into the details. I do know the basics and about the evolution of the LDS version, but I don’t know how the FLDS version compares. I presume their practice would not include any changes that occurred in living memory. Likewise, it would be incredible to be able to compare the Cutlerite endowment, if we knew the details.

    Also, what impact will the temple have on the FLDS in general? Will it make them more stable, less millenarian over time as the Second Coming is delayed yet again? Give them a new focus for their worship? Will they engage in baptism for the dead and baptize each other vicariously for their apostate LDS kin? All kinds of interesting things can come out of this…

    These are very interesting questions. I feel like this solid infrastructure in Texas assures that there is going to be at Fundamentalist Mormon presence at this site from now on. I would imagine that the fact that there is this large, impressive temple has got to affect other fundamentalist Mormons. Wouldn’t you want a temple too? If you had those leanings, might you not be drawn to join with a group that is so organized and that is building such an impressive Zion?

    The Temple

    I hate to criticize temples, because they are holy to the believing members and I do want people to build them. But I have to admit that I was very disappointed with how this one turned out architecturally.

    This thread has got me to thinking that the AUB (the largest fundamentalist group) may decide to build a temple of their own. On the off chance that they or the Kingstons will, I think I’m going to work on some concept designs for a fundamentalist temple with a little more grounding in architectural principles.

  26. Paul W (#24) I hope I didn’t come across as argumentative, I was merely trying to substatiate my opinion and point of view since I am not LDS. Since you disagree on the interpretation of 2 Nephi (which I respect) how do you respond to Nephi’s introduction that the record would come forth by way of Gentile. Wouldn’t JS’s claim as seed of Joseph then invalidate Moroni’s claim that the BOM would come from the gentiles to Joseph since if JS was Joseph it would have been the other way around? Incidentally is the introduction still printed in the LDS BOM? I have an antique LDS copy printed from ~1905 that still has the introduction by Moroni but I don’t have an later copies.

  27. Jeremy N. Yeah, we have the “Title Page” and an “Introduction” but what I think you are referring to is the title page…am I correct?:





    Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.

    An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared, who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven—Which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.

    First English edition published in 1830

    Well, I’m just coming up with stuff off the top of my head now…but I think one can be a “gentile” and a decedent of the House of Israel at the same time. This has mostly to do with ignorance. We are brought into the house of Israel by covenant and are gentiles no more. Some are adopted in many are (through he scattering of Israel) actual descendants. I believe at some point Joseph Smith realized or learned that he was a literal descendant of Joseph through Ephraim as opposed to Manasseh like the sons of Lehi.

    Can anyone on here be more specific than me in explaining this…?

    1. Anyone outside of the tribe of Judah was considered a gentile–including those in the other houses of Israel. Even in the times of the Old Testament prophets, the Israelites living in the northern Kingdom of Israel were referred to as Gentiles by the Jews of the Kingdom of Judah. Gentile = any non-Jew.

  28. John H., I share your feelings about how the FLDS temple turned out architecturally — but I am excited for them that they have been able to build it and I applaud their efforts. Nothing looks more Mormon than temple building!

    I suspect that how this temple turned out might have been a result of cost. To me it looks like a pre-fab solution for a large temple. If that is the case, then it is impressive what they were able to achieve by combining the plans and materials for large warehouse/barn structures and grain silos into one comprehensive unit to serve as their holiest building.

    And I agree with you on the point of Texas becoming their new center. How could El Dorado/YFZ not be their Nauvoo or SLC if that is where their temple is located? When this temple was being built, I wondered if the long-term plan was to have all FLDS emigrate from Colorado City/Hilldale back east to Texas and resettle there. If that is indeed their plan, they will need a water capacity for much more than 3,000.

  29. John F.,

    They may simply need more space for their members. In which case this means they could maintain a presence in the old Short Creek while many gather to Texas. Resurrecting the old two centers of the church from the Kirtland/Independence period of Church history.

  30. Post

    John H., I share your feelings about how the FLDS temple turned out architecturally — but I am excited for them that they have been able to build it and I applaud their efforts. Nothing looks more Mormon than temple building!

    I suspect that how this temple turned out might have been a result of cost. To me it looks like a pre-fab solution for a large temple. If that is the case, then it is impressive what they were able to achieve by combining the plans and materials for large warehouse/barn structures and grain silos into one comprehensive unit to serve as their holiest building.

    John F (#22): I am excited for them too, of course. Buildings are often built using that pre-fab technique. The replica Nauvoo temple is essentially a reinforced concrete box with the exterior details attached. Starting with a big, pre-fab box, there’s still a lot you can do. The FLDS folks went so far as to quarry stone to clad the temple and it does look like they may have made sunstones and moonstones. However, having done as much work as they did, with some planning and a little more work, they might have come up with something even more impressive.

    Given that they seemed to be going for a romanesque castle style, I played around for a second and clad the same starting box in a more complex way:

    Another possibility for the same building

  31. John, thanks for the pictures. It is an interesting initiative. I would never want to be in a plural marriage in this life or the next, but wonder about some of the unique abilities that those kind of associations can enable. I toured Jesse Smith’s home in Snowflake, Arizona (a town that you could add to your list of places to visit). Jesse Smith was a cousin to Joseph Smith and an early spiritual leader in the pioneer town. One of his wives was a trained midwife and was able to provide midwifery services to the entire community. This struck me as a polygamous wife that was not of the ‘usual mold’. She was one who obtained advanced education and a maintained a “career” of sorts. (I say “of sorts” because I don’t know if she received payment for her work or provided it without regard to reimbursement). If there had not been polygamy at the time, would she have chosen to marry or remain single? Perhaps she wasn’t looking for a marriage in the traditional sense, perhaps she was. From the sensational reporting that television provides of the Hilldale community, it appears that women are not provided basic education and have no opportunity to leave to obtain advanced education. Do FLDS women use midwives within their own community as do the Amish, or do they use hospitals for childbirth? More education and opportunities for advanced education seem like it would help with the community strength.

    From what little I have read, it seems that polygamous wives in the era of ‘Brighamite’ polygamy were relatively free to divorce. Going to certain websites and reading about Brigham’s wives, you read about some that left, and some that came back after leaving. I guess what I am getting at is what PaulW suggested when he says that in order for the FLDS movement to be successful, they need to “become less controlling of the general membership.”

    The other thing that I find interesting is the legal arrangements for the wives and children of the polygamous marriages. I assume that only one marriage is legally recognized by the government and that the others are done in the temple without legal recognition by the government. If property is individually owned, does that leave the second and third families without claim on inheritance or rights to visit their fathers in hospitals? If they are living in a compound where all land and homes are deeded to the church this is less relevant, but if they are to emerge as a growing order, then more people will be living outside of compounded communities. With no legal status, it seems like they would share dilemma that gay couples have with regard to inheritance and medical decision making for their loved ones.

    The last question that comes to mind is if the followers Joseph and Brigham believed that polygamous marriage was essential for salvation, then why wasn’t universal participation by all male members encouraged? Did they feel that those men who didn’t participate in it were destined to have a limited eternal progression? Seems odd to restore a gospel that brings blessings available to all followers but withholds the most important one from men in full fellowship who were only sealed to one wife. Again thanks for posting this and giving me something to think about!

  32. Nick says: “It seems to me that the latest CES ploy is to classify any and every abandoned LDS doctrine (as well as those CES wants abandoned) as “peripheral” or “speculation.” ”

    Seriously, whatever we are commanded to do becomes fundamental, and whatever we are told to leave alone becomes peripheral. What is peripheral and what is fundamental changes all the time. the bottom line is to follow the living prophet so you can know what is “fundamental” at the time for you to follow.

  33. A few things of note:

    Jesus bears little resemblance to Josesph Smith, so if our restorative credentials lead us to look as orthodox to the Joseph Smith time era, then our restorative credentials were null and void as Joseph stepped out of the grove.

    The FLDS temple–I wonder if they’ll have tours.

    I live in southern Utah where great gaggles FLDS walk up and down Walmart. They have absolutely NO missioanry fervor. They multiply by multiplying. I do admire them for their economic and sociological order–the LDS Church culture could take some notes.

  34. @Rigel Hawthorne – “Do FLDS women use midwives within their own community as do the Amish, or do they use hospitals for childbirth?”

    My wife works in labor & delivery in Dixie Regional Medical Center down here in St. George. They have a lot of FLDS women give birth there, and even some who bring a “midwife” or something to that effect with them. She said that most of the time the first wife is there as well as the “husband”, though on some occasions, the ENTIRE family, all the wives (no kids) will come. She said it’s an interesting time when they’re there and they all smell bad.

    On another note. My wife’s best friend is a non-practicing FLDS member. She and her husband were an arranged marriage. They left after they got “married” and ran off their separate ways. They met up about 3 years later and fell in love and got legally married. Warren Jeff’s is her first cousin and she said he is the most evil man she has ever met. She’s a great source of information, though she doesn’t always like to talk about it. It’s a sensitive situation for her because all of her family except 2 sisters are still living the lifestyle. Funny enough, her Dad doesn’t want to practice and has never taken on a second wife, but her Mom doesn’t want to give it up. They refer to Colorado City as “The Crick”. Thought that was funny for some reason.

  35. Not sure many people are familiar with it but there is a also decently sized group of Polygamists in Vancouver, BC on the Bountiful Commune run by Winston Blackmore. This is where my wife’s friend is from and her family. She is not an official citizen of the US as she was born in Canada. Not sure when that branch split off from Colorado City, but it was atleast 25 years ago as my wife’s family has been there for atleast that long.


  36. I filed this paper away years ago with a quote from “Evidences and Reconciliations” by John A. Widtsoe, pp. 306-310.

    “Plural marriage was practiced by between two and four percent of the Church membership from 1843 to 1890 (according to the Utah Commission appointed by congress).” *

    *(footnote) “Before 1890 there are no records showing the number of polygamists in the Church. In 1890 it was found by careful survey that there were in the Church, 2,451 men with more than one wife. At that time the Church membership was apporximately 172,754 individuals. The men living in polygamy in 1890 were therefore 1.4 percent of the total Church population” (Proceedings before the Committee on Priviliges and Elections of the United States Senate in the Matter of the Protests Against the Right of Reed Smoot, a Senator from the State of Utah, to hold his seat, Vol. 1, pp. 38, 320-324.)

    I have typed this from a paper that someone else compiled and handed out to me, so I have not looked at the original sources to verify what was reported. I also have no idea if the “careful survey” was answered honestly and accurately. I always thought,however, that this information provided an interesting perspective to the participation in a doctrine that was considered “central”.

  37. hawthorne (#39) So how do they know if from 1843 to 1890 there were 2-4 percent of plural marriages practiced by mormons if no record existed before 1890. Also what were the parameters of this “careful study”, I know you addressed that question but it is hard to take that as any kind of real study without some sort of description. It does however stand to answer one of 2 questions.

    1. how prevelant was polygamy or
    2. how much did they try to hide it to the general public

    D. Michael Quinn did a great essay on post-manifesto polygamy that you can read here http://www.lds-mormon.com/quinn_polygamy.shtml, and it stands to show that when considering polygamy you still must consider the outliers and not just the central church, as it is apparent that polygamy was practiced in Mexico even after the manifesto. I’m sure that the careful study didn’t even take that into account as it was done by the US Government. Another great resource on polygamy is Ann Eliza Young’s Book “Wife No. 19”. She gives a cold look into polygamy and it’s abounding nature during the early Utah time period. She even addresses the question you posed at the end of (#32) by saying that mormon men were embarrassed and sometimes looked down upon if they didn’t show up in public with 2 or more of their wives. She paints a pretty vivid picture of the influence of polygamy on the different cultural aspects. Great read in my opinion.

  38. Rigel,

    That method of calculating how many men practiced polygamy grossly understates it’s prevalence. 2, 451 men practicing polygamy means twice that many women were practicing polygamy, at the very least, and we know it’s much more. If we consider how many children are involved, you begin to have a figure which looks as though at least 25 percent of the Church membership lived in a polygamous household in 1890. Need I say this would include virtually all of the leadership from bishops upwards. Polygamy was seen as a marker of obedience and worthiness for leadership calls.

    The FLDS are a different story entirely.

  39. #33:
    Seriously, whatever we are commanded to do becomes fundamental, and whatever we are told to leave alone becomes peripheral. What is peripheral and what is fundamental changes all the time. the bottom line is to follow the living prophet so you can know what is “fundamental” at the time for you to follow.

    George, I understand that this is your personal view. I’m sure you also understand that for many, such a view simply encourages individuals to be “blown to and fro” by the personal whims of whoever happens to be president of the LDS church at the time.

    Besides, are you really going to tell me, with a straight face, that it’s now “fundamental” for women to limit themselves to one pair of earrings? If so, you worship a far more trivial deity than I can even imagine.

  40. #39:
    As was pointed out during the Reed Smoot hearings, that “two to four percent” figure takes into account the full membership of the LDS church, including children, who were not of age to marry. It’s not limited to adults, or even to male adults. In other words, it was drastically misleading.

  41. To say that polygamy was not central to 19th century Mormonism because only a minority of the overall membership engaged in the practice is like arguing that the temple is not central to the modern LDS church because only a minority of members hold temple recommends and attend regularly.

    #33, George said: “the bottom line is to follow the living prophet . . . .” The bottom line for me is to follow my conscience regardless of the vain platitudes that may be spouted by Bro. Monson (or Jeffs or Veazey or whomever you are thinking of as the so-called living prophet).

  42. John and Nick,

    Thanks for your comments. I agree that the 2-4 percent figure doesn’t make sense and accept that a figure of 25% could be a more realistic assumption from the data presented by that imperfect study. Do either of you have any statistics that indicate the participation to be higher than 25%? I also see the point in comment #44. If the membership during that age had their temple recommends signed by the first presidency, then being interviewed by the prophet for worthiness to enter plural marriage would not really have been an extra step. As my ancestors left Utah in other colonizing efforts, I think that geographic removal from the church center likely removed them from the center of the plural marriage interest as well. Or maybe their migration from Utah was because of their maverick spirit.

  43. Dear Friends

    I am a convert to the LDS church of the state of UTAH my self from the Church of Christ.
    I personally had a dislikeing to the Mormons and what they stood for till I investigated it as a non believer.
    They teach what I’ve always believed in.
    And they answered why I remember being in heaven before child birth its self.
    As I do believe the FLDS would as well.
    I’d like to see both Church’s be allowed to continued there teachings with out a Government big wig involved in them.
    And believe they are thee true church of Jesus Christ of the later day saints.
    even though one is a break away from the other.
    I also believe in plural marriage although I do not practice it.


  44. The AUB Fundamentalist group has had a temple since the 1980s, the Peterson group since around the same time. So the FLDS is late in the game.

    John Hamer wrote –
    This thread has got me to thinking that the AUB (the largest fundamentalist group) may decide to build a temple of their own.

  45. Two thoughts: first just being a midwife did not require any extra education, TONS of non polygamous Mormon women filled this role (including my grandmother and some great aunts). This has always been the case historically – whether in mormon enclaves or not.

    Second, my niece while visiting my brother in St. George, sang in a sacrament meeting – and was afterwords propositioned by a FLDS mother who was looking for a plural wife for her son. She was uncomfortably persistent too, followed my niece home to my brother’s house and actually tried to force entry, telling my niece God had told her she was destined for her son. Pretty creepy!!! Fact of the matter is – if everyone wants a bunch of wives – there are just not going to be enough women to go around after awhile.

  46. I think the whole of Mormonism, fundamentalist or not is just creepy and wrong. It’s a religion for men by men and women who sign up to this can’t have much of a backbone. I pity the children especially the girls that are indoctrinated from birth and are made to think that there is no other way of looking at the world. They never have a chance to think an original thought. It’s very sad and a loss. Just think of the talented, intelligent, and ambitious girls that may be in your midst but you’ll never know because their purpose, in eyes of the elders, is to procreate and serve.

  47. this is history repeating itself.i see no difference to this group then to the one Joseph Smith started . The actions of warren jeffs is exactly the same as the founder of mormonism joseph smith. I would ask every lds today if they think this type of child abuse and sexual depravity is something they condone ,if they answer yes ,then I would ask them to tell me why it was ok for Joseph smith.

  48. Is anyone else disturbed by recent events?

    I mean the government has never explained what probable cause they are using for the seizure of 400 children from their parents.

    Is it just that they don’t like the FLDS marriage practices?

    I mean if they have evidence or suspicion of abuse in 400 specific cases that is one thing… but some I get the feeling this is all about not agreeing with their religion.

    Now I don’t either, but I am very disturbed by the idea that belonging to a specific sect can be used as sufficient justification for taking children away from their children. A justification for prying in and taking a closer look- sure I agree with that- but it seems to me that before the state can seize children that there ought to be some actual evidence of abuse of that specific child- not just statistical evidence that abuse is more common in families belonging to that religious faith.

  49. Seems like a good time to ponder Joseph Smiths reliability . I was lied to as a child . It is not your fault if you are lied to . The Jesus of the new testament is waiting for you to turn to Him .

  50. “I would ask every lds today if they think this type of child abuse and sexual depravity is something they condone ,if they answer yes ,then I would ask them to tell me why it was ok for Joseph smith.”

    Key differences:
    1 – marrying minors was common practice in that era, not unique to polygamists. Today it is illegal, for good reason, and while we may find it grotesque and inexplicable, it was totally normal in the early to mid 1800s. It was also okay to marry your cousin.
    2 – LDS polygamists were not committing welfare fraud (there was no welfare system to defraud)
    3 – abuse is not restricted to any type of relationship. If there is abuse in any relationship, it’s wrong. Polygamy does not equal abuse, but the way the FLDS are practicing it certainly hides abuse that happens.
    4 – JS didn’t teach that wives were subordinate to husbands like Warren Jeffs did. If you try to leave FLDS (according to those who have, which is probably biased), you are told you will lose salvation. This differs from the practices in the early LDS church. I don’t think it was rosy for all, either, but it was not the haven of abuse we hear of in the stories of those who have left FLDS.
    5 – Unless you are FLDS, you don’t believe that Warren Jeffs is a prophet or that they were commanded to practice polygamy by God. Nephi was commanded to cut Laban’s head off, but that doesn’t mean murder is sanctioned by God in general. Polygamy in the LDS church was never practiced by all (just a portion were asked to do so) or enforced as it is in FLDS. It was not involuntary. Even women who participated were asked to pray for revelation to know if they should join.
    6 – Young men were never kicked out of LDS so that the geezers could marry the young brides as they are in FLDS, creating a generation of lost boys.

  51. I hope that they do DNA testing on every child born to an underage mother and convict the adult man that matches. Legally simple to prosecute. I also wonder if there is a loophole to make “spiritual” marriages fall under the federal law against polygamy. If the group as a whole recognizes the marriage as legal and the relationship is treated as a marriage, then it should be no different than a common law marriage. Not so easy to prosecute. The new report of a “wedding bed” in the temple so that newly married underage girls are immediately made victims of statutory rape is news. I don’t know of any precedent for sex going on in a temple during the LDS era of polygamy. (Though some couples can be very creative when trying to break into the mile high club!)

  52. One thing that is so impressive with Compton’s “In Sacred Loneliness” is that you get a sympathetic picture into a woman’s perspective of the day. We usually talk about it from a male perspective. Many of the practicing women/sister-wives were eventually deeply committed, even if a few initially reluctant (and some continually reluctant) to The Principle — but the result was often misery and loneliness. As it were, a marital commitment version of self-flaggelation to deepen the fervency to one’s election in Christ, and one’s Eternal Marriage garment a nineteenth century cilice.

    Smith’s behavior, indeed the LDS nineteenth and early 20th century polygamy system, was hardly normal for its day. It may have some sympathetic aspects, but normal it wasn’t. It’s inaccurate to distill the issue down merely to comparing norms for marital ages of consent between then and now. Furthermore, polyandry happened, both physical real-life polyandry, and the “spiritual polyandrist” practice of an LDS woman being given in temple marriage to another man either out of exalted hero worship or to imply the worldly husband was less-than-spiritually valiant while still staying physically married to her worldly husband. Sometimes, in this system, a woman was encouraged to physically leave, or was merely taken, like property, and given to another man to start a new physical marital arrangement. This still happens today when a Mormon woman is urged, or given spiritual permission, to leave a non-Mormon spouse, or “less-spiritally valiant” spouse in order to shore up blessings for here and eternity. I know it happens, and not in abusive marriages. It happened to me. Happened to my mother-in-law (ironically who gave my wife and I a hard time for leaving The Faith). And happened to my sister. All os us with different bishops, though all in Utah.

  53. “I hope that they do DNA testing on every child born to an underage mother and convict the adult man that matches.” Now there’s a simple solution that works! Hear, hear!

    I doubt there is sex in the FLDS temple. Sounds like urban (or isolated rural) legend.

  54. It all boils down to who holds the Priesthood keys that were restored to Joseph Smith. The are found in the LDS church, not in any of the splinter groups. Once you break that connection with Priesthood keys, you have gone into forbidden paths. That is what Joseph Smith and Brigham Young would teach today.

  55. Unfortunately, the victims are suffering at least as badly or worse than the perpetrators in this raid. 2 bathrooms for 170 people? Children separated from their mothers for 11 days? Mothers’ cell phones confiscated so they can’t tell the world what the CPS is doing?

  56. Did the CPS down there go to the George W Bush action school of acting on one’s prejudice first and create needed evidence later? I’m definitely no fan of polygamy, whether the FLDS’s brand, or early Mormonism’s brand, but the Texan government sure doesn’t seem to be handling this right.

    Meanwhile, troll, go away!

  57. “What Comes Next for the FLDS Church?”

    What an appropriate title for this post! It’s almost as if John Hamer had a premonition that something big would be coming out, and it turned out to be possibly their biggest crisis in 50 years.

  58. #53:
    If you try to leave FLDS (according to those who have, which is probably biased), you are told you will lose salvation. This differs from the practices in the early LDS church.

    In fairness though, would you honestly deny that if you try to leave the modern LDS church, you are told you will lose your salvation?

    I hope that they do DNA testing on every child born to an underage mother and convict the adult man that matches.

    So, are you suggesting that every adult male member of the FLDS should be forced to provide a DNA sample for analysis, so that your proposal can actually be enacted? Rather intrusive, don’t you think? I suspect such a sweep would come under “unreasonable search and seizure” rather quickly.

    I don’t know of any precedent for sex going on in a temple during the LDS era of polygamy.

    There is a possible reference to this in the earliest records of the Nauvoo Temple (“Seventies Book B,” as well as unpublished diary extracts from John D. Lee, which I have in my possession). Brigham Young had to set a good deal of behavior in order as the temple work got underway. It was fairly common at the time for assigned temple workers to sleep in the temple, allowing them to rise early and get busy. There were also occasions, however, where wedding parties and other social gatherings did the same, and some of these got out of hand. There were multiple small side rooms, which along with the larger spaces, were used by these sleeping individuals. As a result, along with dictating several other measures to keep proper reverence and order, Brigham condemned what he referred to as “men toying with their women” in the temple on these occasions. It must be said that this phrasing is unclear, but it’s not a huge leap to suppose Brigham meant that someone “toyed” in an…ahem…”procreative” manner.

  59. Hey, maybe he’s the anonymous tipster! (JK!)

    I have to wonder if this will end up being their last crisis vs. their biggest in 50 years. I’m still amazed at the lack of response from the ACLU. If TX wants to tackle prosecuting polygamy directly (not just abuse or inability for underage girls to consent) which it seems they do, and the government is willing to allow them to do so, then what is the future for the FLDS. There will be no place left for them to practice this lifestyle. I won’t be sad to see an end to polygamy, but I am sorry to see the lack of sympathy for the victims.

  60. Re #62:

    Well Nick, I wasn’t trying to suggest something of THAT level of intrusiveness. I had more of an idea of the DNA being taken from named suspects (depending on the willingness of the victims to name names) or from the marriage lists confiscated during the raid (if they are not coded with some silly names like “Shinehah”. The success of this operation would also depend on the men hanging around to be served a subpoena (good time to head for Canada). And if that one geezer (the one named by the 16 year-old victim who made the phone call) is out on parole already for having been convicted of having underage sex partners, it doesn’t seem like the penalties amount to that much anyway. Do you think that cell phone call was really from a resident of the ranch or was it a prank?

    Great stuff on the Nauvoo temple parties. I had never heard that before.

  61. Best round of information I’ve seen is here:


    Also, from reading the affidavit I count:

    2 reports from FLDS children of a girl who is 16 and married with a baby.

    1 report of a sixteen year old with a new baby (can’t tell if she is the same as identified as the two children)

    1 report of a woman who says she is 18, though the worker thinks she is 16 and was suppressed by the presence of her husband.

    3 reports of women over 18, (18, 19, and 20 respectively) one of whom might have had children as early as age 16 (although at that point in time Texas age of consent w/ parental permission was 14, w/o parental permission was 16- I hope no one is going to argue for ex-post facto laws).

    1 report a girl estimated by the worker to be 16, with a 2 year old child. Attached to this is the statement of an 8 year old that this girl is 16 and has 4 children. (This contradicts some of the girls statements- so I would be so sure about this one).

    All of these are unfortunately double heresy as presented in the affidavit. (Not saying this is false, just saying that because of this it’s harder to tell exactly what the workers learned as it is not the workers reporting, it is another persons summary of the workers report on their interviews.)

    Also, the husbands ages were: 33, 38, 40, and 40- Not the 50 and 60 year olds we keep hearing about.

    I’m not so certain they are going to have any actionable evidence of marriages before age 16 (current Texas law allows marriage at age 16 w/ parental permission).

    There was clear evidence of polygamy, and I can’t help but feel that case they are building is going to go like this:

    1: Polygamous marriages are not legal

    2: Therefor it matters not if the parents gave permission for their 16 year old parent’s gave permission, they are not married.

    3: Therefor, their “husbands” are guilty of statutory rape (and I guess the parents as well).

    Not I’m not sure how I feel about that.

    Essentially… it seems to me the case they are building is not about abuse as much as it is attacking polygamy…

    Maybe there is some more evidence yet to come forward. I sure hope so, cause otherwise this is going to be a mess.

  62. Cicero, I think you are right. This has been pursued completely differently than in UT and AZ where only abuse has been prosecuted. Essentially, the argument against polygamous marriages goes something like this:
    1 – it’s illegal to be faithfully polygamously married, but it’s okay to have sex and children with anyone you want, AS LONG AS you are not married.
    2 – polygamous relationships are inherently abusive, therefore (to destroy the perpetual institution of polygamous marriage), the children must be taken away from them and raised in foster care.

    I am interested how this plays out. I feel for the women who clearly love their children and are being kept from them. I feel for the children who don’t understand why they are being pressured to “tell on” their parents when pretty much everyone they know is polygamous. What happens to the lost women and children of polygamy?

  63. Ugh… now they’ve separated the women from the children.

    It’s 3 days before the hearing, you’d think they’d wait until then and see what the judge decides.

    Also, I heard that the “cyanide poisoning document” was actually a first aid manual. *rolls eyes*

    I’m sorry, I was all ready to believe that there was serious abuse going on at this FLDS ranch, but I can usually tell when somebody is playing me, and right now I get the feeling that the Texas officials have been trying to control the media story so as to push my buttons into supporting their actions based on emotion instead of facts or evidence.

    I don’t like it, and my bias is now moving away from the FLDS being child abusers to wondering why Texas is acting so defensive and secretive. (Granted I still suspect there are major problems in the FLDS community with abuse, but it’s starting to appear to me that it is not as widespread as I had believed.)

    By the way, those pictures of inside the FLDS homes were nothing like what I expected. (Although I don’t know exactly what I expected- I’m starting to realize how biases I was about this group).

    I was particularly interested in the kitchens, as in older, more traditional cultures, the state of the kitchen says a lot about the status of women in a home.

    If a kitchen has the latest stove, and other cooking or housekeeping equipment it usually means a high status (in a traditional sense) for the wife. Historically the stove was the big thing.

    In fact you can see echoes of this in modern culture in mother’s day gifts that tend toward cooking and cleaning appliances.

    I looked at the kitchen and thought it looked surprisingly normal… and was that a coffee maker behind the guy’s shoulder!?!

  64. #64:
    Do you think that cell phone call was really from a resident of the ranch or was it a prank?

    Knowing only what has been made public at this time, my impression is that the phone call was very likely not a resident of the ranch, and not a prank. I suspect it was a deliberate fraud, designed to give Texas authorities an excuse to invade the FLDS, and perhaps drive them away.

  65. I was right:


    In Texas, state Attorney General Greg Abbott wasn’t so concerned about finding the caller named Sarah.

    “It’s irrelevant if the 16-year-old can and will be found,” Abbott told “Good Morning America” today.

    He said Child Protective Services “believe they have significant evidence” that abuse occurred and that the children would be in danger if they were returned to the ranch.

    Abbott hinted that additional charges could be brought against sect members because women who gave television interviews in recent days “basically admitted to living in a state of bigamy… That also would be a ground for legal prosecution here in the state of Texas.”

    The criminal prosecutions are going to be based on polygamy and not abuse.

    I might agree with this tactic as a clever attempt to fork the FLDS, and force them to delay polygamous marriages to age 18:

    Either the men say they are married to the 16 year olds, thus opening them to a charge of bigamy.

    Or the men deny a legal marriage and are charged with statutory rape.

    Clever, but dangerous, particularly since they used abuse as the excuse to enter the compound. If the FLDS men are smart they will own up to marrying these girls and challenge the state of Texas to bring bigamy charges. Then there will be an actual showdown over the legitimacy of the laws against bigamy. (Besides, better to go to jail for bigamy than for rape).

    Now I expect that the bigamy laws will be upheld, but there will be alot of grief about the manner in which the evidence was gathered.

    That is what disturbs me the most about the above quote:

    Abbott hinted that additional charges could be brought against sect members because women who gave television interviews in recent days “basically admitted to living in a state of bigamy… That also would be a ground for legal prosecution here in the state of Texas.”

    This is exactly why the FLDS men and women are so reluctant to talk to the press, and this strikes me as an attempt to intimidate the men and women of the FLDS into silence.

    Even threaten them with not being able to show up in court and challenge the states case because to do so would incriminate themselves under the bigamy statute. This seems a very highhanded way to essentially steal children away from families with a religion people don’t like.

  66. I read there were two cemeteries in Colorado City/Hildale. Anyone know their names? Are they only for the FLDS? Is one considered better than the other? Do the FLDS have any unique burial practices?

  67. I am a member of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. People that are adults should be left alone to choose whatever way they want to believe or live, as long as it does not infringe on anothers right to do the same. That is a constitutional right. The FLDS leader and many of the church members failed to understand that this country is a land of rule governed by the majority. Joseph Smith, when asked by a reporter about the beliefs of the church outlined them in his response. That response became the 13 articles of faith. One of these is that we will be and are subject to Kings, Majestrates, and Rulers in the lands in which we live. In this country we live under the Constitution and the Laws of the land, as passed by the majority of the people. By failing to become subject to those laws we are violating the basic principle Joseph Smith laid out in his response to the reporter. When the people of the Utah territory decided they wanted statehood they were obligated to come into compliance with the laws that governed the United States of America. The then leaders of the LDS church understood this and the proclamation about the discontinuance of the practice of polygamy was issued. Those that wished to be in compliance with the church principles and the Law of the land remained with the LDS church, the outlaws left and they are the ones considered fundementalist today. They had that right, but put themselves on a collision course with the majority of the nation’s people. This is the reason they are such a small group. The leaders of the LDS church understand this. They love all of the people and hope they will change, but, the lord put us here with “Free Agency” and we must choose for our selves whom and what we will serve. Maybee someday the people will come to understand the principles of the church. Until that day the Law will have to deal with those that violate. I just hope that the non-LDS people of the world will understand the differences.

  68. I feel sorry for those children who are being kept from their mothers. If their mothers are truly being oppressed and controlled then they too are victims. Why are they being punished? The children are never going to overcome the psychological damage that is being inflicted upon them by the fact that they are now in fostercare. The easiest way to prevent this sort of situation from occuring again would be to raise the age of consent for marriage whether there is parental consent or not and legalize polygamy. If that were done then there would be no more secrecy and less chance of forced marriages. I am disturbed that children are being apprehended based on suspicion alone.

  69. If I left my biological daughter (I have never been legally married) in the care of my oldest half sister, her husband and their own children, and their 23 year old married son (my nephew)impregnated (spiritually married) my 16 year old daughter, who would be at fault? I did not conciously consent, but my daughters father did, as he was the brother of my nephews wife, who knew that his sister was sterile, and was longing to have a child. In my daughters father’s eyes, he was giving his daughter to be a surrogate. Am I in trouble because my daughter was left in that environment, was I neglectful? Should my daughters father be prosecuted like Warren Jeffs, should my nephew be prosecuted? What about my sister, she was who I entrusted my daughters care to. Is she guilty of neglect? What is CPS going to do with my pregnant 16 year old daughter, will they let her come home to the ranch with me? Will they terminate her fathers parental rights? How can they enforce any ex-parte I might get against him if he and I both are living communally? My sisters husband is my sole support as I am disabled & unmarried, and he is a church elder who has many responsibilities in the community? My daughter wants to give her baby to my nephew(her uncle by marriage, her half first cousin by blood) and her aunt (and her cousin by marriage, my nephews wife), I am unable to afford this child, and my sister wants her son and daughter in law to raise it. If her son loses his parental rights, she wants to adopt the child. (Afterall, they do all live together in the same house). So, I guess even if he loses his parental rights (my nephew), he can still be a big brother to this child (relationally). How would CPS be able to take the unborn baby away and give it to someone who is NOT in the family? I don’t think they can, because they always prefer to place the child with a family member.

  70. “Do you think that cell phone call was really from a resident of the ranch or was it a prank?”

    Yes, in all likelihood. A woman here in Colorado Springs has been arrested for it. She is well known to authorities here because of the many hoax calls she has made.

    For more on Rozita Swinton, http://www.krdotv.com/

  71. I have been talking to myself the past coupla nights about the lack of American outrage at Texas’s “SOLUTION” of removing all FLDS children from their mothers in order to, well, fulfill what agenda? Yesterday I looked for some outrage on NPR’s Day To Day and heard only a question of relocation logistics as if taking tots from their mothers by the STATE is a given. Say a prayer for the kids. Say a prayer for freedom of religion.

  72. Carolyn Jessop had some interesting comments in an article in the Vancouver Sun newspaper today which I posted on “The End of Polygamy (Again)” (also on this site). Her (ex-FLDS) view is that without serious psychic eval, many of the mothers would not be able to make good judgments to protect their children, although that is not true of all the women. Interestingly enough, due to the practice of moving wives and children around as men rise or fall in favor, many children were either not living with their actual parents or did not know who their parents were.

  73. hawkgrrl, I’d want to err on the side of the mothers’ judgment. It is not a sin to not know who your real mother is but it is an outrage that these kids are being relocated wholesale. I guarantee that every little boy and girl feels abandoned by “family”. Didn’t a psychiatrist testifying on behalf of the state question the mental state of some of the mothers on the grounds that they are participants in FLDS? Whose mental state is questionable here? No, you don’t yank kids out of their families. (I’m getting emotional!). No, I was abandoned as a kid, hence my identifying with the kids, God lov’em.

  74. Very interesting blog.I am not an lds,i am an African Descendent USA citizen with a keen interest in all things ‘Mormon’.I am also a staunch defender of universal human rights,as i understand them & human diversity.I think this current raid & the earlier raids/persecutions of flds & lds as far back as the treatment of the Smith Family in 1820s’ NY state was/ is an unmitigated tradjady.In the name of defending ‘freedom’& saving ‘women’& ‘children’from ‘abuse’Mormon Men,women,& children have been beaten,murdered robed & driven,literaly,from piller to post.The entire panorama of Mormon persecution has been horrific,to say the lest.’Mormonism’ creates among its adherants a mind set that,when exhibited ,to outsiders looks ‘clanish”different’ ‘suspect’ & ‘wierd’.Even the super assimalationist SLC type is seen as “Too Normal”ie the recent treatment of Gov Mit Romney by many in the press,etc.This latest Flds episode,is just more of the blantent historical ‘anti-mormon’ canard,exhibited now in a thinly veiled all out attempt at ‘spiritual genecide/ethnocide’in removing ALL children from YFZ ,to thawrt the ability of the Flds ‘elite’ to continue the group by contaminating the children.It is an act of war againts lds ‘difference’,againts the latter day spiritual descendents of the 19th centrey Smith family & the ‘difference’ they & their followers brought to our common world.They were not succesful at Carthage jail,i for one pray they are not successful now.

  75. Eboni Black :—

    I don’t think it could have been said any better! Bravo!

    You are obviously very intelligent and insightful… I only wish more Mormons had such an enlightened perspective as yours… It seems these days we side with the world in persecution of the saints.

  76. The reason the supposed older men married to some underage girls have not shone face is they probably all left town,because they knew what they were practising on that ranch was wrong. They knew they were going to get arrested if they came forward. As far as I am concerned I think that ranch was a place for men to be child rapists and pediphiles to their hearts content and have the women do welfare fraud. Think about it,having more kids when spiritually married, I bet they bilked the US out of millions. In my state the fathers have to pay child support or go to jail. Mothers that aren’t “MARRIED” have to learn a profession and get a job. They also have to pay welfare back after they get a job. Most of them know what they were doing and the rest were coerced into these so called spiritual marriages out of ignorance and brain-washing. Time will tell after the DNA results

  77. I am very offended with the FLDS because I am Mormon. I am married and my husband does not have more than 1 wife. Everything that the Mormon church has worked hard at getting others to understand is gone. Warren Jeffs is not a prophet he is the devil in disguise trying to make his own religion for his own perverted satisfaction. This is what the devil does. he has brainwashed these poor people into believing it is the right way. Just a little history on the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints– we are normal people that have one spouse, we take our vows seriously. Way back when the husbanfds had to go to war and sometimes died is when the other husbands would take these widows and their children and take care of them. that is in church history.

  78. I am not a mormon. I am however, the niece of several rape aunts. Its said that very few people are calling this what it is. What is even more disheartening is that the governor of the state of Texas, along with all the other elected officials stood by and watched and did nothing. Mormon church or not. These are lives that have been destroyed. Outside world or not. The men and women manipulated their power. Now the children are potientially in a far worse situation than they were. Torn away from their homes and all they have known whether right or wrong; good, bad or indifferent. They deserved a fair chance at life. What 14 or even 16 year old child do you know is capable of making adult decisions. What has this country come to that we care so little about our children? They have been left behind. I am not anger with the mormom church any more than I am with the government.

  79. “I am however, the niece of several rape aunts.”

    Shanna, I have not heard that term. What does it mean?

    Also, are you aware that this is NOT the Mormon Church that is involved?

  80. you guys are crazy heads!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What you are doing is wrong and disgusting. This compound of corruption degrades the teachings of past prophets. You have been brainwashed by some man who wants power and sex.
    What a satanic thing you associate yourselves with. It makes me sick inside to see and read these things. I only write so you may at least feel an inkling of truth becasue obviously you have been either deprived of ignorant to it.

  81. All of you people are in denial of the fact that the FLDS practices what Joseph Smith originally taught as the “alledged” true gospel of Jesus Christ. If it was true then, it’s true now. Wait! Your right, God changed his mind numerous times to accommodate the US government and the political community as a whole.

    These numerous changes validate the Mormon faith?

    Please, read your own history. Put two and two together and stop rationalizing a fantasy faith.

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