Manifesto focuses on plural wives

Deseret News, Mar. 15, 2003,1249,465033526,00.html
By Jennifer Dobner, Deseret News staff writer

      The rambling prophecies of Brian David Mitchell in a 27-page written manifesto call upon his wife, Wanda Barzee, to take as many as 49 sister-wives — an act that would reward the two with countless blessings.

      “And thou shalt take into thy heart and home seven times, seven sisters to love and care for; forty-nine precious jewels in thy crown, and thou art the jubilee of them all, first and last,” wrote the accused captor of 15-year-old Elizabeth Smart.

The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah

      Mitchell’s belief in plural marriage and his specific charge to his wife seem to form the foundation for a religious sect he claims to have founded in September 1997. The tenets of “The Seven Diamonds Plus One — Testaments of Jesus Christ Study and Fellowship Society” are outlined in the manifesto Mitchell called “The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah.”

      Smart — who was allegedly kidnapped by the couple from her home last June — is believed to have been the first of those additional wives. Smart was returned to her family Wednesday after nine months in captivity. Mitchell and Barzee are now in the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated kidnapping.

      Police and prosecutors seized the manifesto from Mitchell’s family members in Montana on Thursday and are reviewing it as part of their investigation of the couple. A copy of the writings was obtained by the Associated Press.

      Mitchell says the purpose of his writings and of his “society is to truely, worship Him, praise Him, honor Him and glorify His name. . . .”

      In it, he claims to be chosen by God as a prophet along the lines of Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith Jr. He also says his religious name, “Immanuel David Isaiah,” was given to him by God. Barzee is referred to in the writings as Hephzibah.

      The writings follow a pattern typical of fundamentalist religious sects, particularly those founded by former members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said John R. Llewellyn, a retired Salt Lake County sheriff’s deputy and a well-known expert on Utah’s polygamous communities.

      “It’s his own special brand of Mormon fundamentalism,” said Llewellyn, who has written four books on the topic and is working on a fifth about polygamist Tom Green, who was convicted of bigamy in 2000. “I had no idea he was that deeply involved in fundamentalism because of his Islamic dress. I guess he’s improvised to give an Islamic blend to it all.”

      Mitchell, his wife and Elizabeth were seen around Salt Lake City wearing long robes. The women also wore scarves and veiled their faces.

      Many of Mitchell’s writings echo the words and ideas of other fundamentalists, Llewellyn said.

      “Fundamentalists are great copiers. And everything evolves around plural marriage and the women. As you read this, that’s the central focus,” said Llewellyn, who for a time was himself a member of the Apostolic United Brethren, a Wasatch Front polygamous group. “It’s basically how fundamentalists justify their lifestyle.”

      Like other fundamentalists, Mitchell calls for repentance and sacrifice — especially from those in the LDS Church, of which he was once a member.

      Neither Mitchell nor Barzee are current members of the LDS Church, according to a statement released by the church. “Both are former church members who were excommunicated for activity promoting bizarre teachings and lifestyle far afield from the principles and doctrines of the church,” spokesman Michael Purdy said.

      Llewellyn said Mitchell “wants to be a modern prophet. To carry on what Joseph Smith and Brigham Young did. (Fundamentalists) all want to feel like they have holy blood. They all form some kind of delusion along those lines to give them special authority.”

      Each of the seven chapters of Mitchell’s works are named for those writings from which he draws his inspirations.

      In the first three chapters, Mitchell borrows heavily from the King James version of the Bible — particularly the Book of Isaiah — the Book of Mormon and other LDS scripture, including the Doctrine and Covenants.

      In later chapters he draws from Betty J. Eadie, who wrote about life-after-death experiences, and from Avraham Gileadi’s book “The Literary Message of Isaiah.” One chapter is based on the writings of Orem naturopathic physician C. Samuel West. West could not be reached for comment Friday.

      Eerily, the manifesto also seems to hint at what Mitchell perceived as God’s plan for Mitchell and Elizabeth Smart.

      “And I, the Lord God, hid up my true servant Immanuel in the wilderness, and he is in their midst and they knew him not.”

      Mitchell and Barzee apparently lived with Elizabeth Smart in the hills above her parents’ home for several months. They then walked and lived on Salt Lake City’s streets clothed in robes, going unrecognized for months.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday March 16, 2003.
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