BLUFFDALE — A leader of one of Utah’s largest polygamous groups has died at his home. Owen Allred was 91.
Allred led the Apostolic United Brethren, based in the Salt Lake City suburb of Bluffdale and believed to have about 6,000 members. He died Monday night.
Allred’s son, Carl, said he would like his father to be remembered as a “God-fearing man who loved his fellow men. His whole life was basically devoted to serving God and his fellow men.”
There was no immediate word on services.
When allegations of impropriety surfaced within the Kingston church in 1998, Allred offered to meet with state officials, pointing out the Brethren opposed arranged marriages or intermarriage between relatives. He never apologized for the church’s practice of plural marriage, however.
“We believe in free agency,” he said at the time. “If my daughter doesn’t want to stay in the group, she has free will. She has the right to do what she chooses.”
Allred had faulted The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for abandoning polygamy to appease the federal government to get statehood but in 2000 said he supported the state’s ban on polygamy.
“I’m really in favor of it being against the law, because if it wasn’t against the law, there wouldn’t be anything sacred about it at all,” he said. “If you really believe in it, you’ll fight for it.”
Polygamy was abandoned by the Mormon church more than a century ago, and it excommunicates members who advocate it, but it is estimated that tens of thousands in Utah and about 30,000 people across the West continue the practice.
In March 2003, a judge ruled in a civil suit that leaders and members of Brethren bilked a woman out of $1.54 million in a 1989 real estate deal. Virginia Hill was awarded the $1.54 million plus more than $1.8 million in interest.
The judge also held that Allred laundered thousands of dollars and conspired to steal more. The judge ordered Allred to pay damages of $30,000 to Hill.