FLDS Prepare For End Of World This Sunday

KUTV CBS News, Utah/December 19, 2012

Followers of imprisoned polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs have been told to prepare backpacks of necessities as part of a doomsday prophesy for this Sunday.

"By December 23rd it's going to have ended," said former FLDS member Isaac Wyler of the prediction. "Warren was talking about the Yellowstone Nation Park blowing."

Jeffs, 56, is serving a life sentence in Texas on convictions of sexually assaulting two underage girls. Behind prison bars he still issues edicts and leads the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

This is not the first time Jeffs has predicted the end of the world and this latest prophesy comes on the heels of a series of strict new rules issued this year.

The last published revelation from Warren Jeffs is dated November 12th, it warns followers to "be ready" for a "disastrous cleansing."

"They are all supposed to make these grey or blue backpacks, 2x2x1, pack them with essentials," Wyler said. "Be ready to go at a moment's notice."

Wyler said he's heard it all before: "it's just Warren whipping them up into another frenzy to gather money."

And when the end doesn't come? Wyler said Jeffs will still be right and blame his followers for not having enough faith for it to happen.

Jeffs seeking to tighten control on his followers comes as government officials in Utah and Texas have increased pressure on the FLDS Church.

A recent court ruling cleared the way for Utah to determine the future of the church's immense property trust. And Texas officials last month started the legal process to seize the faith's Yearning for Zion Ranch.

Recent developments in the twin border towns of Colorado City, AZ and Hildale, UT also hint of a community in turmoil.

"You've got a war raging within the community," former FLDS member Willie Jessop said. "They've dismissed all of the doctors. They've dismissed the nurses. They've dismissed people that had public education."

Jessop used to act as a bodyguard for Jeffs but says he left the church once he discovered firsthand evidence of Jeffs' sexually abusing young girls.

The only grocery store and hardware store in town recently closed, which has caused concern about how and to whom the church is distributing food. Those outside the faith can drive 30 minutes to a nearby town to shop.

While Jeff's apocalypse prophesies have passed before, Wyler said there is always a fear that the blind obedience to Jeffs could someday lead to tragedy.

"There's always that fear that warren would see how far he could take them," Wyler said. "I've got a brother-in-law who once told my sister 'if the prophet told me to I'd slit your throat without even thinking about it.'"

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