ReligionNewsBlog.com — Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned cult leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, may be preparing another purge among the members of his sect.
Citing non-profit groups that work with people inside the sect’s insular communities, Ben Winslow at KSTU FOX 13 in Utah says Jeffs has reportedly set a new deadline to purge more people he has declared to be “unfaithful.”
In the most recent purge, just after last Christmas, Jeffs ousted between 1,000 and 1,500 people.
That ouster came soon after Jeffs issued a flurry of new rules.
At the time Jeffs ordered his followers to be questioned by FLDS leaders — including his brother, Lyle Jeffs — in order to determine whether they were “worthy.”
FLDS members were asked a number of questions, which had to be answered while holding the hand of one of the interviewers:
1. Do you think only pure thoughts?
2. Are your desires in pleasures of unrighteousness?
3. Do you dwell in wickedness of evil dross of this generation?
4. Is there in your heart the seeking for Babylon?
5. Are you saying your prayers in all that you do?
6. Are you dwelling in the spirit of your calling as an emissary of
7. Have you received the gift of the witness of My approval in your
8. Are you abiding the law of purity and righteous obedience in My
Those who are ousted — men, for the most part — are considered ‘apostates,’ and must leave their wives and children, who are then ‘re-assigned’ by the sect’s leaders to other men within the polygamous sect.
DESPERATION AMONG THE SECT’S LEADERS
There have been ousters in the FLDS before, but the most recent ones show a level of desperation among the church’s leaders that’s not been previously seen by the FLDS community.
Observers believe the purges are meant to scare the sect’s followers into toeing the line.
Regarding rumors of another ouster, FOX 13 quotes Nicole Nystrom, who works with the group Holding Out Help:
“There was a proclamation made last week asking that any non-believing parties need to be removed from the community by February 29. I don’t know what the magic number is about February 29, but I assume it’s just the end of the month and they’re trying to clean out.”
“It’s just coming to a head like that where it’s just going to make a definite split now of the people who are kind of ‘wishy-washy’ followers, they’re going to be out,” said Nystrom. “And the ones that are to it, with it to a T, they’re going to be the ones that are sticking with it.”
Ex-FLDS members told the station the community is being destroyed from within.
FEDERAL AUTHORITIES INVESTIGATING?
Ben Winslow reports
Meanwhile, sources tell FOX 13 that federal authorities have renewed scrutiny of the activities of Jeffs and other FLDS leaders. Investigators have been talking to recently excommunicated members about what may be happening within the church. But when asked directly whether or not they had been questioned, many ex-members refused to say.
“I can’t say one way or the other, but I think it would be a great idea,” said Sam Brower, a private investigator who has pursued the FLDS Church for years and recently authored the book, “Prophet’s Prey.”
An FBI spokeswoman could not confirm or deny whether any investigation was under way.
In August last year Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for sexually assaulting two underage followers he took as brides in what his church deemed “spiritual marriages.”
He had continued ruling the sect with an iron fist. He has also been issuing a near-constant barrage of so-called ‘prophecies’ — none of which have come to pass.