Polygamous Prophet: Outsider or Criminal?

Warren Jeffs Remains at Large and Now on FBI Ten Most Wanted List

May 8, 2006 — – To his followers Warren Jeffs is a prophet. To the Mormon Church he’s an outsider, and to the FBI he is a criminal.

Jeffs leads an estimated 10,000 church members who broke off from mainstream Mormons decades ago, calling themselves the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They practice polygamy with girls as young as age 12, authorities say.

Jess is now wanted for alleged sexual conduct with a minor and for forcing teenage girls to marry older men against their will. He was added to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list over the weekend.

“I would consider those to be very heinous [acts],” said FBI special agent Tim Furhman of the Salt Lake City bureau. “And for that reason we have placed him on the top 10 list.”

In his church and in recent audio recordings, Jeffs, 50, has preached that women should obey men. In one recording obtained by the Eldorado Success newspaper, Jeffs said if woman are not careful they will be overbearing and they should always ask permission for what they want. He also said ladies should “build up your husband by being submissive.” The tapes also reveal racist views. In one recording, Jeffs says that anyone who “mingles their seed with the seed of Cain, the Negro, they also would lose all rights to priesthood blessings.”


The FLDS is also considered to be a cult of Christianity. Sociologically,the group is a high-control cult.

“It’s a mind control cult, it’s an oppressive cult,” said polygamy expert John Llewellyn. “Women are oppressed in this group more than any other cult.”

One of the young girls forced into a marriage, somewhere between ages 14 and 18, told law enforcement that Jeffs told her God instructed her to marry the older man.

Despite her pleas that she was too young, Jeffs ordered her to be taken to Nevada where he married the couple, telling them, according to an affidavit reported in the Salt Lake City Tribune, to “multiply and replenish the earth and raise children in the priesthood.”

Weeks later, trying desperately to avoid having sex with her new husband, the girl returned to Jeffs.

“Go back and repent,” Jeffs told her, the affidavit said. “You go give yourself mind, body and soul to your husband like you’re supposed to. He will take you into the heavenly kingdom. Go back and do what he tells you to do.”

‘Will Not Be Taken Alive’

Law enforcement officials say they have no idea where Jeffs is but he has access to hundreds of thousands of dollars and is surrounded by zealous armed bodyguards.

The church and its followers have compounds and land in British Columbia and several western states including Arizona, Utah, South Dakota, Texas, Colorado and Nevada.

“He will not be taken alive,” said author John Krakauer, who wrote about the group in “Under the Banner of Heaven.”

“He answers to the laws of God. He doesn’t answer to American law or state law,” Krakauer said.

Llewellyn says many FLDS members would be more than willing to end it all in a bloody confrontation. “They will use whatever violence is necessary to protect him. These men are as dedicated as some of these young Muslim guys that turn themselves into human bombs,” he said.

When “Primetime” previously reported on this group, visiting one of their compounds, residents asked for their privacy. One female resident, Ruth Cooke, said, “I have a right to worship any damn thing I want and wear any damn clothes I want and I’m sick of hearing how stupid and retarded we are.”

But Utah’s attorney general says law enforcement has looked the other way for too long.

“We should be embarrassed, both Utah and Arizona, for allowing these things to go on for decades,” said Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

And the rest of the Mormon community wants to make it clear they have no relation to this group.

Michael Von Rosen of the Church of Latter Day Sains stated in an e-mail that he appreciated ABC News’ “sensitivity regarding our faith and the confusion with those who call themselves the FLDS Church and are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, nor in most cases, ever have been.

“As you can imagine we often receive calls from reporters asking the Church for interviews regarding this issue. However, we have found that participating in such interviews ties the Church even more to modern-day polygamy.” The Church of Latter Day Saints also referred ABC News to a statement on its Web site stating: “Polygamist groups in Utah, Arizona or Texas have nothing whatsoever to do with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. To refer to them as ‘Mormon’ is inaccurate. The Church discontinued polygamy more than a century ago. No members of the Church today can enter into polygamy without being excommunicated.”

John Quinones and Dennis Powell contributed to this report.

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May 8, 2006
Jake Tapper and Jack Date

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday May 9, 2006.
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