New York Times, via the Arizona Republic, Sep. 15, 2002
COLORADO CITY – In their Sunday best, men in black, women in pastels, they came by the thousands last week to honor their leader, a man they considered a prophet.
Outstanding he was, by some measure. President Rulon T. Jeffs, of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was 93 when he died last Sunday after a long illness. He is survived by 19 or 20 wives – no one could say for sure – and about 60 children and hundreds of grandchildren. At least 33 sons were pallbearers, including two of his namesakes, Rulon F. and Rulon H.
His death leaves a void in church leadership that could take years to fill. Fundamentalists warm to their prophets rather slowly, and for now two church members are in the running: Fred M. Jessop, 92, a longtime bishop, and one of Jeffs’ sons, Warren S. Jeffs, 45.
“It could take months, even years,” said Raymond Scott Berry, a Salt Lake lawyer who represents the church but is not a member. “It’s not a political decision. It’s based on a subtly growing consensus that evolves from their faith and prayerful attitude.”
About 10,000 people in the United States and Canada belong to the Fundamentalist Church; the largest concentration of them, 4,000, live in the adjoining border towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.
Dan Barlow, 70, an elder of the church and mayor of Colorado City for the past 17 years, said the church owns about 85 percent of the land in the two towns.
“Our biggest threat is the liberal world,” Barlow said. “It changes our young people, turning them away from holy and good principle. They are free to go out into the outside world. That’s one of the very principles of our gospel, a person is free to do something different.”
We appreciate your support
One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at Amazon.com.
Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission — at no additional cost to you — for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this service free of charge.