Prophet kicks out about 20 men for disobedience
In a shocking twist to the power struggle between the prophet and Colorado City’s power family, about 20 men — including the city’s mayor of about 20 years — were ousted Saturday from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, stirring speculations as to an uncertain future at the polygamous alcove on the Utah-Arizona border.
Dan Barlow, who was also a longtime spokesman for the increasingly secretive church, was ripped of his priesthood, his wives and children and the right to live in town, according to a source who attended the 7 a.m. meeting along with about 1,500 people at the Leroy S. Johnson Meeting House.
The prophet Warren Jeffs, who surprised the audience by attending the meeting in person, also ordered Dan; his son Roland Barlow; his brothers Joe, Louis and Nephi Barlow; Louis’ son Thomas Barlow; and Jeffs’ four brothers: David, Brian, Hyrum and Blain Jeffs; and about 10 others to stand up in the congregation so others could identify them.
“That hit them really, really, really hard,” said the source, who, for fear of retaliation, insisted his name not be used for this article. “He came to do ‘the Lord’s errand,’ (saying) God has the right to judge his people.”
The split was the most recent in a power struggle that has intensified since last July, when, led by the Barlows, townsfolk dedicated a monument to the 1953 Short Creek Raid, when the Arizona government jailed the men and put women and children in the state welfare system.
Decrying the Barlows for giving him little respect, Jeffs, who took power in September 2001, has tightened his grip on the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., where most of the 6,000 residents belong to the FLDS church, an offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The FLDS church still teaches polygamy as a central tenet.
The monument was soon destroyed. And Jeffs, who had a 8-foot wall built around his compound, also set up new rules, including forbidding members to talk to anyone outside the religion, even their family members.
A week ago, Jeffs announced that Fred Jessop, the FLDS bishop for decades, sided with him and then he surprisingly removed him from the position of bishop. Jessop, who rarely missed a meeting, soon stopped appearing in public.
At Saturday’s meeting, the source said, Jeffs told members to fast for two days and promised that more people will be ousted later. The meeting ended with a 15-minute sermon-like prayer, while Jeffs ordered the audience to kneel down. The 20 men, the prophet said, can repent, become obedient and work with their nose down and turn in money.
Dan Barlow and his brothers could not be reached for comment Saturday.
Benjamin Bistline, who is not a polygamist but has lived in Colorado City most of his life, predicted that the Barlows will fight back and drive Jeffs out.
“Those Barlows won’t leave because Warren asked them to,” he said. “They are not going to honor his request.”
About 20 years ago, the Barlows survived the first big split inside the FLDS church, when Marion Hammon took a group to Centennial to establish the Second Ward.
“The Barlows were smart enough for Marrion Hammon,” Bistline said. “They are smart enough for Warren Jeffs.”