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Posts Tagged ‘Mormonism’

The final installment in a longer-than-I-intended series on Mormon fundamentalism. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 to get some background, otherwise, forge ahead!

True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days

Flock: 300-500

Locale: Manti, Utah

Extracurricular Beliefs: Wow, this is going to be long. First there’s polygamy, Adam-God Doctrine and the Law of Consecration, which are basically standard at this point, but there’s more here. They believe in “multiple mortal probations,” which is like reincarnation, but one keeps one’s gender and personality as one gets closer to godhood. They also believe in “rescuing” women: since women cannot hold the priesthood themselves, their place in heaven depends on the man they’re married to. If a woman is married to a man of low stature within the church, she can be “rescued,” by a man of more church authority. Essentially, more important men can take women away from less important men at will.

Two more. The TLC church believes that if the Temple rite is done correctly, one can “pierce the veil,” and talk to the dead. This is important, because then you can ask whether they would like to be baptised postmortem. It would seem that the dead usually say “Yes.” Finally, the leader, Jim Harmston, prophesied that the end times would come in 1999 and everyone but their church would be swept from the earth.

Mannerisms: Women are usually educated adults when married; they also own the Red Brick Store in Manti, UT.

Trivia: The church pursued adoption by the Sioux Indian tribe, since the tribe is not obligated to the US government. They failed.

Centennial Park

Flock: about 1500

Locale: South of Colorado City, AZ

Extracurricular Beliefs: mainly polygamy. Split from the FLDS church in 1986 when the FLDS went from government by council to government by individual; Centennial Park is still governed by council.

Mannerisms: wear modern dress, don’t marry off teenagers, and though they practice a form of arranged marriage, actually seem like they live in the same world as the rest of the country. They’re the main group raising polygamy “awareness” and trying to make it legal-so, they’re pretty public about it and the normal lives they claim to lead.

Trivia: are trying to piggyback the “polygamy equality” movement on the back of the gay rights movement. I’m not quite sure what I think about that.

Nielsen / Naylor Group

Flock: 200-ish

Locale: Salt Lake valley, UT

Extracurricular Beliefs: Polygamy, and what else I have no idea. Apparently they splintered from Centennial Park in 1990 because of “disagreements.”

Mannerisms: similar to Centennial Park, I think.

Trivia: the internet knows nothing about these people.

The United Latter-day Church of Jesus Christ

Flock: 100-200

Locale: Mostly David County, UT but also some in CA, AZ and WY.

Extracurricular Beliefs: Polygamy; Law of Consecration; Excludes black men from the priesthood. They split from the FLDS group during while Leroy S. Jenkins was prophet. They still accepted that priesthoods conferred by the FLDS were valid until Warren Jeffs took over.

Mannerisms: Men and women usually wear conservative, homemade clothing. Marriages are arranged, and if a man does something “bad” his wives can be taken away and given to someone else. Their webpage says they also turn off the electricity one weekend a month to live more simply and spend quality time together.

Trivia: the original leaders both converted from Anabaptism.

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To really get the most out of this, you should probably read Part 1 of the Handy Dandy guide, where I explained the doctrines that set these groups apart from mainstream Mormonism. Yeah, you know what polygamy is, but what’s the Adam-God theory?

Today’s post outlines the groups themselves. This was going to be all one post, but it turned out to be too big, so I split it into more. Possibly three. Look forward to it!

Apostolic United Brethren

Flock: between 5,000 and 8,000

Locale: most in several towns in Utah and Ozumba, Mexico, where they have a temple; Pinesdale, MT; Lovell, WY; Mesa, AZ, Humansville, MO.

Extracurricular beliefs: the Adam-God doctrine, Law of Consecration, and Plural Marriage. The last was the main reason they split from the mainstream LDS church in 1886.

Mannerisms: church leaders do not organize marriages, people under 18 do not marry, and no one marries close relatives. One of the more liberal groups.

Trivia: in 1977 the leader, Rulon C. Allred, was shot by Rena Chynoweth , a follower of another Mormon splinter group.

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church)

Flock: between 6,000 and 8,000

Locale: Hildale, UT and Colorado City, AZ (formerly both known as Short Creek); recently built a temple in Eldorado, TX at the Yearning For Zion ranch. You may have read about it in the news.

Extracurricular Beliefs: Blood Atonement, the Law of Consecration, and Plural Marriage.

Mannerisms: girls are assigned to men based on a revelation by the prophet, Warren Jeffs, when they reach marriageable age. Jeffs’ definition of “marriageable age” has gotten him a ten-to-life jail sentence. Wives are required to be subordinate to their husbands, and everyone is subject to a strict dress code, which apparently derives inspiration from the stylite monks of yore: the higher the hair, the closer to God.

Trivia: Hilade / Colorado City has a gobsmackingly high occurrence of the rare genetic defect fumarase deficiency-about 60% of the world’s cases (about 20 out of 33) have occurred there. Variety in your sexual partners, folks. Don’t date people who look like you.

Latter Day Church of Christ, aka the Kingston Clan

Flock: 2,000

Locale: Salt Lake City and surrounding areas

Extraccurricular Beliefs: Polygamy is the only one I can find for sure (some of the important men have 30+ wives), but the Law of Consecration seems likely.

Mannerisms: Owns at least $70 million worth of gaming equipment throughout the Southwest, selling tp casinos, bars, etc. via the Davis County Cooperative; most members live in abject poverty. Routinely marry off underage girls.

Trivia: They specialize in incest, since the second leader of the group, John Ortell Kingston, believed he had to keep the bloodlines pure. Marrying first cousins, nieces or nephews, or half-siblings is pretty common.

Righteous Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Flock: 100-200

Locale: Modena, UT.

Extracurricular Beliefs: Mainly polygamy, but since they’re an offshoot of the AUB (outline above), I assume they also believe in the Law of Consecration and the Adam-God doctrine. The former leader, Gerald Peterson Sr., claimed that Rulon Allred’s ghost visited him after Allred was murdered and handed leadership to him.

Mannerisms: dress modernly, and claim to not marry off underage women. However, in 2001 there was a big court case in which Tom Green, a member of the church, was convicted of marrying (and having sex with) a 13-year-old, and they had a child. They are still married. Therefore, draw your own conclusions.

Trivia: Finding info on this group is pretty tricky. The best I have for this section is that, surprise, they’re secretive, but have a pyramid-shaped temple in Utah. One webpage claimed that the temple had something to do with the mainstream LDS church allowing black men to take the priesthood, but it didn’t really clarify.

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I’ve been lying awake nights the past two weeks, worrying over the fact that I am leaving all fifteen readers of this blog bereft of information on the recent fundie Mormon polygamy busts in Texas. The problem is, not only have I been crazy busy with the deadly combo of a college class, full time job and writing I’m actually getting paid for, it’s not like I have anything above and beyond a blog like The Plural Life. She’s been living in a hotel in Texas, going to court every day. I only have the internet!

Therefore, I present you with an excellent quick guide to Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints. Keep it in your wallet, and next time your business acquaintance is all, “Well, I have three wives,” you can act like you know what you’re talking about.

Today will be an amusing and diverting explanation of doctrine that differs from regular Mormon doctrine. Tomorrow will be groups. Let the oversimplification begin.

FYI: The proper name for the Mormon Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The cool kids just call it the LDS church.

The Law of Consecration. This stems from an 1831 revelation that Joseph Smith had; basically, all families deed their property to the church, which then gives the family and any successive families “stewardship” over it, with the understanding that any excess be tithed back to the church. The whole thing is run by the United Order, but fizzled in the main church by about 1877 when Brigham Young died. Don’t call it communism, because this is voluntary. You know, the special kind where there’s not that much of a choice.

The Adam-God Theory. Not for the theologically faint of heart. This idea comes from an 1852 speech made by Brigham Young, who elaborated on it once and refused to talk about it after 1854. It says that Adam was God, possibly a God besides the regular God, and possibly a God who came to earth from a different celestial kingdom. (Basic Mormon doctrine: if you live righteously, you get a celestial kingdom with planets and wives and stuff.) Adam was also the father of Jesus via the Virgin Mary. The mainstream Mormon church rejected this pretty much out of hand.

Plural Marriage. Yeah, you probably already know about the polygamy one, though more correctly it’s polygyny-multiple wives. Many women can be sealed-married for eternity, into the next kingdom-to one man. Joseph Smith started doing it in secret around 1833, and speculation on why ranges from “It was a divine revelation” to “He couldn’t keep it in his pants.” It ended when the Mormon church was at odds with the US government over statehood: polygamy was illegal in territories, and in order for Utah to become a state, the mainstream Mormon church had to renounce it and outlaw it in the state constitution.

Blood Atonement. According to this idea, some sins (namely murder and adultery) are so serious that they cannot be given unless the sinner willingly sheds his or her blood and dies. In the original Mormon doctrine in the 1850s, it was stipulated that the atonement had to be voluntary, therefore no “blood atonement” killings, but it was tricky nonetheless. The mainstream Mormon church used it to justify capital punishment in Utah, but finally did away with it in 1978.

The Exclusion of Black Men from the Priesthood. I feel like this is kind of self-explanatory, but have some history. According to Genesis, after Cain killed Abel God punished him in a lively variety of ways, including putting some sort of mark on him. The early Mormon church claimed that black people had the “mark of Cain” and were therefore excluded from the priesthood, many temple rites, and also “celestial marriage.” It was all repealed in 1978, and the LDS church now loves black people.

Check back tomorrow for part 2: which Mormon splinter groups believe what.

(UPDATE: Part 2 and Part 3 are both live.)

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