Leader says he’s the Holy Ghost, but neighbors remain suspicious
FROMBERG — A religious group led by a man who claims to be the Holy Ghost has moved to the Fromberg area after a brief stay in a small Idaho town where residents protested the group’s building plans.
Their Fromberg neighbors are wary of the group, and law enforcement officials have been notified of the group’s activities in Utah and Idaho.
Members of the Church of the Firstborn and General Assembly of Heaven had fled to Idaho from Utah last year after their large home in a Salt Lake City suburb was raided by federal officials investigating claims of child sexual abuse and assassination threats against President Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Last September, the group started moving from Idaho into two homes on a lot at 605 Bridger-Fromberg Road. The main home had been rented by Larry Daniels, who was sentenced last week to prison for murdering his adult son in the house.
The church is led by 43-year-old Terrill Dalton, who said group members are peaceful and felt drawn to Montana.
“We all prayed about where to go next, and a lot of people had the same feeling that we ought to go to Montana, somewhere nigh unto Billings, not the city, but nearby,” Dalton said.
Church members are spread among two houses on the property, a 5-acre lot with several sheds, campers, a utility trailer, a large passenger van and numerous cars.
Geody Harman is the church’s co-leader, Dalton’s “first counselor.” Asked how many people live on the property, Harman had to stop and count.
“Fourteen or 15, something like that. No, it’s 16,” Harman said. That number includes the 36-year-old Harman’s wife and their nine children.
In Idaho, the church had closer to 30 members, but “weary of the persecution against them,” many of them left the church and declined to follow the group to Montana, he said.
Dalton said he grew up an active member of the LDS church. Some years ago, he said, he started receiving spiritual promptings from the Lord that Mormon church members had strayed from the church’s founding principles. In 2004, he said, he received a revelation that he should start a new church. At one time, his new church had as many as 50 members, he said.
He described a two-day fast that ended with a vision of Jesus Christ, who visited him several times in the following days. It was during one of these visits that he said he was told he was the Holy Ghost and the father of Jesus Christ.
“I know how that sounds, but I don’t think of myself as anything great,” he said. He later met Harman, who described having revelations of his own.
Dalton said over the years he had been collecting stones he felt produced a “unique energy.” He said he showed the stones to Harman, who found several of them to be especially powerful “seer stones.”
Holding the seer stones, Harman said he has been able to view and translate ancient records that help clarify the new church’s mission. Some of the revelations have been published on the church’s Web site.
Residents in the church’s Fromberg neighborhood have been circulating copies of news accounts published in Utah and Idaho that claim the church has odd sexual practices and that members have practiced doomsday mass suicide rituals.
Dalton acknowledges the church has unconventional views about sex.
“What happens between adults is not my business,” as long as it doesn’t violate the law, he said.
He scoffed at the notion of doomsday rituals.
“Everyone prepares for the future, which is unknown. We don’t preach fear. We’re not violent in any way,” he said.
He also discounted rumors that church members were stockpiling guns.