There’s rising concern in Idaho about a religious cult that packed up and moved out of Utah earlier this summer. Neighbors in Idaho are upset about the group’s plan for a massive new residence, Utah’s KSL TV reports.
‘Holy Ghost’ cult stirs Idaho debate after move from Utah
The group is called the Church of the Firstborn and the General Assembly of Heaven.
In June, KSL News followed a caravan as the cult consolidated its members and moved to Idaho. They left Utah for greener pastures in Idaho, but their new neighbors worry that the pasture is getting too crowded.
Before they moved to Idaho, the group stirred law enforcement interest in Utah. Leader Terrill Dalton purports to be the Holy Ghost and the Father of Jesus, but a former follower accused him of sexual improprieties and assassination plots.
The Secret Service raided the duplex and questioned cult members. However, there was no evidence to justify charges.
Earlier this year KSL TV reported:
Church of ‘Holy Ghost’ rocked by sex and assassination allegations
Six weeks ago, officers surrounded and searched the Church of the Firstborn and the General Assembly of Heaven’s headquarters in Magna, interrogating members for hours. According to the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, they found nothing.
If the charges are lies, they reveal a most unusual church, torn apart by bitter personal and religious feuds.
Two weeks ago, KSL News trailed the church’s members as they left Utah in a convoy of vehicles.
It was a long-planned move at the direction of their prophet, Terrill Dalton, who says it’s been revealed he’s the Holy Ghost and the father of Jesus.
For years, he and numerous followers lived in a duplex in Magna. A former apostle in Dalton’s church, Michael Stevenson, has now unleashed a blizzard of allegations, including fondling of children and exhibitionist sex acts at church meetings.
In the group’s 500 pages of scripture, Dalton and church member Geody Harman are called the “Two Witnesses.” Stevenson claims they’ve repeatedly threatened assassination of President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush and others.
“And they claim that one of their duties as the ‘Two Witnesses’ is to go up to President [Thomas S.] Monson of the LDS Church, and that they’re required to kill him when it comes time. They claim that he’s the man of sin,” Stevenson said.
“False!” Dalton responded. “False, false, false, false, false. I mean, all the way down that list.”
The raid on the duplex apparently produced no evidence of assassination plots; the Secret Service closed its case, according to the sheriff’s office.
But Dalton’s scripture does label LDS President Thomas S. Monson a “culprit.” And it accuses “the Bush” and “his father, the old Bush” of masterminding the 9/11 terror attacks to boost oil profits.
Dalton says much of the scripture was actually written by his accuser, Michael Stevenson, who Dalton says is now trying to start his own church, the Restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Stevenson denies it, saying it is someone else with the same name.
Sect stirs debate
Some of the controversy surrounding The Church of the Firstborn and General Assembly of Heaven stems from uncertainty as to just what this group’s practices and beliefs are.
The group has yet to make any formal statement about its intentions in Southeast Idaho, but it does have a Web site, thefirstborn.org, dating back to its days in Magna, Utah.
According to the site, Terrill Dalton, president and founder of the church, was told by God around 2000 that he was one of the “Two Witnesses,” written about in the Bible. He wrote on the Web site that he then began to question some of the things he was taught during his upbringing in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Now God in his great understanding of things had already caused me to start a church called the Church of the Firstborn. So when the LDS leaders decided to excommunicate me from the church, things had already progressed to the point that it really did not matter, for the Lord himself came down and laid His hands upon my head and blessed me with all the keys, priesthoods, and gifts, and ordained me as the first elder in the Church of the Firstborn,” Dalton writes on the Web site.
Dalton’s church is also mentioned on www.ldsmovement.pbworks.com, a Web site run by Latter Day Saint Movement, a group that devotes itself to chronicling the schisms within the Latter Day Saint Movement.
According to that site, the church practices polygamy and the law of consecration.