FLDS leader’s sermons might be used against him during trial
ST. GEORGE — Captured polygamist leader Warren Jeffs‘ own words could come back to haunt him.
Washington County prosecutors are considering using some of Jeffs’ tape-recorded sermons and written preachings as evidence in any upcoming trial.
“We haven’t made any specific decisions about what’s going to be introduced or not, but certainly it is possible that (the sermons) will be introduced to support that portion of our case,” deputy Washington County Attorney Brian Filter told the Deseret Morning News.
Law enforcement officials investigating the Fundamentalist LDS Church have been listening to tapes of Jeffs’ sermons and reading copies of his writings — including some that deal with arranged marriages.
“You should be praying that you will be prepared and that you will be given to a husband who will prove faithful to the end,” Jeffs said in one recorded sermon obtained by the Deseret Morning News. “It is true you don’t take things into your own hands and date and seek out a husband. That the actions you must take are self-preparation.”
Jeffs, 50, is charged in Washington County with two counts of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony. He is accused of forcing a teenage girl into a polygamous marriage with an older man. When she objected to the union, Jeffs allegedly threatened her “salvation.”
Jeffs will face a preliminary hearing on Nov. 21, where a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to bring him to trial.
Jeffs’ religious teachings themselves may not be relevant to their case, but the intent of the FLDS Church leader’s words may be “to what his knowledge or intent was with relation to the crime,” Filter said.
In the polygamous communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., faithful members of the FLDS Church read and listen to the words of their prophets. Jeffs’ monotone voice has been heard playing inside many homes.
“Ladies, build up your husband by being submissive,” Jeffs said in another recording speaking to women in the FLDS faith.
Jeffs has had influence over many within the FLDS religion since he was a teacher at the Alta Academy, a private school at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon.
In a 1981 newsletter distributed to students at the now-defunct FLDS school, Jeffs urged children to be faithful to the prophet at the time, Leroy S. Johnson. Jeffs later became the prophet of the FLDS Church upon the death of his father, Rulon Jeffs, in 2002.
“Above all other men on earth, follow this Prophet. Trust in this man, not because he is a man, but because God trusts him. Love and obey this man perfectly, not because he is a man, but because of the Heavenly Authority and Keys that he alone is entrusted with,” Jeffs wrote in the 1981 essay titled “Some Admonitions.” The newsletter was obtained by the Deseret Morning News from a source with family members still within the church.
“Through the Keys he bears, we obtain our salvation.”