This is our archive of news items tagged United Effort Plan.

 memo You'll find articles about that subject in each of the items listed, even if the term does not necessarily occur within the headlines or descriptive text.

24 candidates for board to oversee polygamous sect’s property trust

bullet A judge in Utah is preparing to select five to seven people for a board that will oversee the redistribution of homes and other property within the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).

Most of the property in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona belong to the United Effort Plan (UEP) — a property trust created in 1942.

FLDS members consider communal living — a principle known as the Law of Consecration and the United Order — an integral part of their religion. The property trust, currently worth an estimated $118 million — was set up to allow followers to followers to share in its assets.

This is a scene from the documentary film, Sons of Perdition. The documentary deals with the so-called ‘Lost Boys’ — young men kicked out of the FLDS by cult leader Warren Jeffs. This segment talks about Warren Jeff’s control over the FLDS community via the United Effort Plan trust.

Utah courts seized control of the trust in 2005 amid allegations by state attorneys that FLDS leader Warren Jeffs and other church leaders had mismanaged its assets.

The state also feared the property trust was put at risk when Jeffs failed to respond to a lawsuit filed in 2004 by six boys who had been kicked out of the church.

Theologically the FLDS is a cult of the Mormon Church — one of dozens of fundamentalist Mormon offshoots. Sociologically it is cult as well.

Warren Jeffs rules his followers, who consider him to be a prophet sent by God, with an iron fist, even while he is behind bars — sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting two underage followers he took as brides in what his church refers to as “spiritual marriages.”

Ex-FLDS members say Jeffs abused the United Effort Plan by using it as one way to control his followers:

Ever since it was seized the UEP has remained the subject of ongoing legal battles, but the state’s intention has always been to return control of the trust to the community’s members.

The creation a board that will oversee the property trust is an important step.

The Associated Press says, “Third District Court Judge Denise Lindberg will review the applications in search of people who can make decisions independently of any outside influence.”

Board members do not have to be FLDS followers — and in fact Jeffs has forbidden his followers to apply for the position.

There is no set date by which the judge has to make here decision. If she can not find at least five qualified people among the 24 candidates, the application process will start over again.

If and when a board has been formed, its members will have their work cut out for them.

While many of the 7,500 people living in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, still follow Warren Jeffs, hundreds of others have either been kicked out of the FLDS — or have left on their own accord.

Both current and former members feel they have a rightful claim to their homes even while the properties are still part of the trust.

Further complicating the issues is the fact that whenever Jeffs excommunicated married members from his polygamous cult, their wives, children and properties were assigned to other FLDS men.

Hijab Outcry * Interfaith Movement’s Status * Pastor or Cop?

bullet Having been handed a anti-social behaviour order (Asbo), David Camp, of Cambridge, England, has been banned from going near Islamic buildings in east London for a period of 12 months after posting racist messages on Twitter.

bullet Using the hashtag #hijabuppropet (hijab outcry) a number of women across Sweden published pictures of themselves on Twitter and other social media websites on Monday wearing headscarves.

They did so in solidarity with a pregnant woman wearing a headscarf who was harassed and assaulted in a Stockholm suburb last weekend. The woman believes her faith was the reason for the assault, during which her headscarf was pulled off. The attacker also shouted racist taunts.

Why Muslim women wear veils

Instragram screenshot

Instagram screenshot

bullet America’s interfaith movement is facing some challenges.

Well-known interfaith organizations such as the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, the National Council of Churches, and the Parliament of the World’s Religions have been laying off staff members as revenues shrink.

But some experts see positive developments as well:

  • Over the past three decades religious minorities have grown significantly in size and stature
  • Nowadays Americans interact more easily with people of other faiths, and
  • nationwide there currently are twice as many interfaith groups as a decade ago

bullet Authorities have issues an arrest warrant for Matt Pitt, Founder and Pastor of The Basement Ministry — a youth outreach in Birmingham, Alabama.

Pitt faces jail time after being arrested a second time on charges of trying to impersonate a police officer.

The Basement is one of the largest youth ministries in the USA.

bullet Remember this story? Second Woman Claims Clinic Gave Her ‘False Memories’ of Satanic Rituals (February 16, 2012).

We just saw this tweet from the Castlewood Victims Twitter account:

By now, three more women have filed lawsuits against Castlewood Treatment Center in St. Louis, MO, and against the center’s founder, psychologist Mark Schwartz.

The women allege that Schwartz brainwashed them into believing they were members of satanic cults.

Schwartz stepped down last May from his position as the Center’s Director.

The lawsuits: Case 1, Case 2, Case 3, Case 4
Research resources on brainwashing

bullet According to a local NBC affiliate, exorcisms are gaining popularity in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The station doesn’t really offer any proof, but it did “take a look at two Bay Area Exorcists.” One of them is Father Gary Thomas, the official exorcist for the Diocese of San Jose.

Thomas is one of about 14 Vatican-certified exorcists working in the U.S. and the real-life counterpart to the character played by Colin O’Donoghue (not, as NBC says, Anthony Hopkins) in the 2011 thriller “The Rite.”

The station quotes Thomas as saying that the number of exorcists has quadrupled since the movie came out.

Curious about exorcism? Check these research resources

bullet A court in Iran has sentenced a Christian convert to 10 years in prison for “endangering state security” and “conspiracy.”

His crime? Mohammad Hadi Bordba distributed copies of the bible in the Islamic Republic after he converted to Christianity from Islam.

bullet A Utah judge has extended the deadline to apply for a board of trustees being formed to take over the United Effort Plan — a state-run trust that once belonged to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), polygamous sect of Mormonism.

bullet An increasing number of young converts to Islam are traveling from France on a mission to engage in ‘holy war in Syria.

Like other European countries France is threatening to jail those who do so (and/or those who recruit them).

The father or two converts has given an exclusive interview to the BBC claiming his sons were brainwashed.

bullet How do people forgive a crime like murder? In May, 1985, Bill Pelke’s 78-year-old grandmother was stabbed to death by four teenage girls who then ransacked her house.

Ringleader Paula Cooper was sentenced to death on 11 July 1986, and Pelke thought that was an appropriate sentence. But 18 months after his grandmother’s death he started to reconsider.

He became increasingly convinced that his grandmother – a devout Christianwould have felt love and compassion for Cooper and would have wanted someone in the family to feel the same.

Though his family members struggled to accept it, he says his decision to forgive brought him “tremendous healing”. [See: The Healing Power of Forgiveness]

Cooper was released in June, her sentence having been set aside due to her good behavior in prison. Not only had Pelke actively campaigned for her release, but he now wants to help her adjust to life outside.

Court rules Utah keeps control of religious cult’s property trust

United Effort Plan A communal land trust once run by jailed U.S. polygamist cult leader Warren Jeffs should not be turned back to leaders of his breakaway Mormon sect because they were too late filing a legal challenge against Utah’s takeover of the assets, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday.

We provide background to the case, as well as an overview of other controversies surrounding the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. [Read more...]