Colorado City mayor quits after FLDS action

Polygamist church strips him, others of their priesthood

Deseret Morning News/January 12, 2004
By Nancy Perkins

Colorado City, Ariz. -- Little more than 24 hours after he was stripped of his priesthood as a member of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Colorado City Mayor Dan Barlow turned in his resignation to the City Council.

Barlow, 71, attended a Saturday morning church meeting where he and more than a dozen other men were notified by FLDS leader Warren Jeffs that they were no longer considered members in good standing.

Barlow could not be reached by phone on Sunday. Several other sources declined to be interviewed on the record for this story, but all said they were surprised and saddened by Jeffs' decision.

"I can confirm that adjustments were made within the church," said FLDS attorney Rod Parker, who said he spoke with FLDS leaders on Sunday. "As far as I know, the people who were involved have accepted what has happened. Any claims about a struggle for control within the church are untrue. There isn't any reason for concern."

Among the actions taken by Jeffs against Barlow, his son Roland, three of Barlow's brothers and a nephew, and four of Jeffs' own brothers, was the loss of any right to live on homes constructed on church property and the right to lead their families.

The reasons behind Saturday's expulsion were not made public, although such actions are typically taken when members are disobedient to the church and its leaders. When such action is taken against a man in the FLDS Church, the wives are generally assigned to another man and his family in order to retain what the church believes is their promise of salvation in the hereafter.

Barlow has never revealed the number of wives and children in his family. His gentle nature and friendly style endeared him to many outsiders, and he often served as a spokesman for the FLDS Church.

Barlow's expulsion from the FLDS Church was preceded by a chastisement from Jeffs over a monument Barlow dedicated on the 50th anniversary of the 1953 raid on Colorado City. Arizona officials raided the town and separated families, jailing the men and sending the children into the state foster care system. Eventually, the families were reunited.

Barlow, who was 21 at the time of the raid and spent months in jail, dedicated a granite monument to the early morning raid, erected on the grounds of a historic schoolhouse in town.

After last year's July 26 ceremony, attended by several hundred residents and others who lived through the raid, the schoolhouse was opened as a museum. Various artifacts, photos and articles were on display to help residents learn about their past. Within weeks, Jeffs ordered the monument destroyed and the museum closed.

"My relationship with Mayor Barlow has been good through the years. He's been able to get people to work together," said Hildale Mayor David K. Zitting, whose 18-year tenure as mayor mirrors Barlow's tenure. "We've worked on many projects together that benefitted both cities."

Hildale, in Utah's Washington County, blends seamlessly with Colorado City and holds many agreements with its sister city. Both towns are populated with members of the FLDS Church, which teaches polygamy as a central tenet essential to one's salvation.

A Colorado City police officer, Rodney Holm, was sentenced last year for bigamy and unlawful sex with a 16- or 17-year-old for taking a 16-year-old girl as his third wife. Holm is serving his sentence in the Washington County jail.

Although Colorado City is in Arizona, Utah officials were watching with interest. Spokesman Paul Murphy told KSL radio's Ben Winslow that the Attorney General's Office wants to make sure the civil liberties of everyone in the community are protected.

"We want to offer any help we can. We want the people to know the law is there to protect them. The services are there to provide for men, women and children," Murphy said. "We just want to help during a time of division."

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