Mormon sect adds county governments to mailing lists

Rapid City Journal, South Dakota/January 13, 2012

The Pennington County Commission is turning mailings from Warren Jeffs' fundamentalist Mormon religious sect over to the Pennington County Sheriff's Office as a precaution, according to commission office manager Holli Hennies.

Like many commissions statewide, Pennington County began receiving the mailings in late November, and it got the most recent envelope on Jan. 11, Hennies said.

She opened the initial unidentified letter but later began returning them, unopened, to the sender because they violate Pennington County's no soliciting policy. The mailings typically include religious revelations and predictions from jailed FLDS leader Jeffs, and they include order forms to purchase additional copies.

Pennington County Commission Chairman Ken Davis remembers the first mailing as "kind of a goofy letter."

"I put it in the circle file," Davis said. "Then we started to receive boxes of stuff from them."

Pennington County has received at least eight mailings to date, including a box of printed materials that she returned to sender unopened, Hennies said.

The mailings came from officials with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Colorado City, Ariz., a polygamist Mormon community on the Utah border that is commonly known as Shortcreek. None of the material has been mailed from the FLDS community in South Dakota that is located on 140 acres of remote land in southern Custer County near Pringle.

The Minnehaha County Commission received two mailings of FLDS materials about two months ago, which were "publications along with an order blank to order/pay for other publications," said commission manager Ken McFarland. He has since disposed of a few more sporadic mailings from the FLDS, he said.

"I've simply thrown the material away," McFarland said.

Similar mailings have been received by the Butte County and Custer County commissions. Custer County Planning Director David Green assumes Custer County was one of a long list of U.S. government entities to get the mailings.

The city of Custer has not received any correspondence from FLDS, city officials said.

Hennies said Pennington County has decided to keep the FLDS mailings on file with local law enforcement, on the advice of Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom.

Calls to the Shortcreek church were not returned.

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