Anonymous letter decries FLDS leader

Deseret Morning News/January 15, 2004
By Nancy Perkins

Colorado City, Ariz. -- The writer of an anonymous letter, sent to 460 households in the twin cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, says he was told in a dream by God that a false prophet is leading the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The single-spaced, typed letter, folded in thirds and addressed by hand to selected post office boxes, was mailed Tuesday. The Deseret Morning News obtained one of the letters from a Colorado City resident Wednesday afternoon.

The person who sent the letter has a Colorado City postal permit number and paid 16.2 cents per letter, or $74.52, in postage, said the local postmaster.

Kevin Crawford, who has been postmaster for 17 years at the Hildale/Colorado City post office, would not reveal the name of the person who holds the postal permit or who paid for the postage, saying he did not think he could legally release the information. A few of the taped-closed letters were seen tossed in the trash, but the majority of them were apparently taken home with the rest of the mail. One woman, who didn't want her name used, said she tore up her copy of the letter and thinks the author just wants to stir up trouble

"We get these letters every once in a while," she said. "Most of the time they call us crazy or want to help us escape. It's probably from some loony guy who wants to sound like he belongs to our church."

Rod Parker, who represents the FLDS church, said letters like these circulate every once in a while and "they don't mean much." Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith said he has assigned a deputy to patrol that part of the county, although the area appears to be quiet.

"They aren't asking me for anything, and it's quiet out there," Smith said. "Everything's fine and going well; that's their pat line. It's a religious issue."

Most residents of the two cities are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is led by 47-year-old Warren Jeffs. The FLDS church teaches polygamy as a central tenet essential to one's salvation, and many men have more than one wife and numerous children. The FLDS church, under the banner of the United Effort Plan, owns much of the property in the two cities, and members hold top positions in government and business.

The unsigned letter comes on the heels of a decision by Jeffs to tell more than a dozen men Saturday, one a mayor and the other a city council member, that they were no longer welcome in church. The men were stripped of their priesthood and could lose the right to live in FLDS-owned homes, and even their wives and children.

"They know what they have to do. They could have their jobs back tomorrow, if they wanted to," said one man, who also didn't want his name published.

Since the church meeting, Colorado City Mayor Dan Barlow, 71, has resigned and so has his older brother, Hildale Councilman Joseph I. Barlow Sr. Both men were targets of Jeffs' disciplinary action. Also disfellowshipped at the meeting was another brother, 80-year-old Louis Barlow.

According to the letter's author, Louis Barlow should be leading the FLDS church, not Jeffs.

"I beheld John Y. Barlow command unto his son to step up to his calling and to forsake his birthright no more, that his time of remaining quiet has passed, that he was chosen before the world was created to do an important work and that the time for his calling had come" the letter states.

None of the Barlow brothers could be reached for comment. Several sources said they have heard the brothers are renting an apartment in a St. George motel.

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