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Texas Doomsday Prophet Faces Bigamy Charges

ABC News, USA
June 6, 2008
Brian Ross and Vic Walter
www.abcnews.go.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Saturday June 7, 2008

If nuclear war doesn’t begin next Thursday, June 12, as he has predicted, self-proclaimed Texas prophet Yisrayl “Buffalo Bill” Hawkins will be left to face a widening investigation of his activities, including several felony counts of bigamy.

“When you’re violating the law, then you can’t hide behind that religious shield and you’re gonna be held accountable,” said Shane Deel, the district attorney in Callahan County, Texas, who has filed the criminal counts against Hawkins.

Hawkins, 73, the founder of the House of Yahweh religion, located on a 44-acre tract outside Abilene, has been charged with helping others become bigamists, and bigamy himself.

There are allegations he has as many as 30 wives, according to Deel.

“I’ve got a wife, one wife,” Hawkins said in an interview broadcast on “20/20″ Friday.

District Attorney Deel said, “I’d like to have him say that under oath and confront him with our evidence.”

In a book entitled “The Laws of Slavery and Marriage,” Hawkins wrote in 1994 that in the idea Yahweh marriage, “three (wives) are better than two, and two are better than one.”

“In a situation where a family is made up of several women married to one man, EVERYONE in that family COULD BENEFIT in various ways,” he wrote.

Hawkins’s ex-wife Kay says he added that to the sect’s preaching after she caught him having an affair in 1993 with his then-secretary at the church.

“He had the power to re-write the Bible and he did,” she told “20/20.”

“I wanted him to say, ‘Yes, I have sinned’, but instead he had the biggest proud look on his face,” she said.

Hawkins says his ex-wife is a traitor “like a hog who’s been washed that turns back to mud.”

“I don’t know what she’s talking about,” Hawkins said of his ex-wife’s allegations.

He acknowledges he wrote that the law of Yahweh allows multiple wives, but says that until doomsday comes, he and his followers observe the law of the land.

“When the kingdom of Yahweh takes over, those that want to marry, you know, have an extended family of some kind, the bible doesn’t forbid it. But the laws of the land forbids it now, so we say we don’t do it,” he said in the “20/20″ interview.

Several members, selected by Yahweh Hawkins to be interviewed by 20/20, denied that polygamy was practiced by the sect.

But other former members say they are not telling the truth, because to do so would be to break a vow and face “the lake of fire” in the kingdom of Yahweh.

“He’s a liar, a con man, a false prophet,” former member Miriam Martin told “20/20″ of Hawkins.

She says Hawkins gave her husband approval to take a second wife.

“He said you take her to a hotel, put your talit around her, which is a man’s prayer shawl, say a vow and then ‘F’ her, and that’s exactly the instruction that he told him to do, and how he told him to perform this marriage,” she said.

Martin, who left the sect in 2000, says she was jealous and outraged over her husband’s actions but was told she had to allow it under the laws of Yahweh.

“He told me years later that he married her because I did not give him enough sex,” she said of her ex-husband.

“That is not a righteous reason for a man to claim that you’re going to take another wife, because she doesn’t give you enough sex,” Martin said.

Her ex-husband denies taking a second wife. He says he helped raise the children of another woman but did not marry her.

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