The church's building blocks

Saturday's Globe and Mail, Canada/May 3, 2008

Some of the history and beliefs behind the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

Mormon roots

The FLDS broke with the mainstream Mormon Church over the issue of polygamy or, as they call it, plural marriages. The Mormon Church, founded by Joseph Smith in the early 19th century, openly advocated plural marriages but officially renounced polygamy in 1890.

Registering marriages

The FLDS continue to advocate two or more "celestial wives" as a path of the "fullness of exaltation" in the afterlife. In an effort to sidestep the laws against polygamy, men register one marriage at city hall; the rest are marriages sanctified only according to the religion.

Repopulation program

The church also promotes multiple marriages as part of its program to repopulate the world after it is destroyed. Based on revelations and prophecies of its leaders, the church teaches that FLDS members are the chosen people and others, referred to as gentiles, are corrupt and unclean. The head of the church, called a prophet, has repeatedly prophesized the end of days. FLDS members are directed to gather at a specific location where they would be "lifted up" while the world - and all its evil - would be destroyed. Members could then set about rebuilding the world.


In the past decade, the FLDS prophet has spoken of an impending apocalypse on more than 15 occasions. The failure of the apocalypse to arrive has been interpreted as a failure of the faithful to be ready for task.

Arranged marriages

The process for arranging plural marriages has evolved over the past 50 years. Initially, choosing a marriage partner was up to the men and women. A shift occurred after the prophet had revelations that indicated eternal soulmates. In keeping with his revelations, the prophet assigned women to men they should marry.

Preaching to young women

Young women, many reported to be below the age of consent, were willing partners to the celestial marriages to men in their 50s and older. Their enthusiasm reflected the prophet's numerous revelations of an imminent apocalypse. The intense sermons about the end of the world put fear into FLDS members, especially the young teenage girls who were taught they would not be saved if they did not have a husband. Without a mate, they would be unable to repopulate the world.

Rearranged marriages

The current prophet, Warren Jeffs, introduced another twist to the process in the past decade. Based on revelations, Mr. Jeffs reassigned married women and their children to other men, saying their current husbands were not worthy of their families. In most cases, the women took their children and moved in with their new husbands.

Winston Blackmore

Often the men who lost their families had challenged Mr. Jeffs or had not shown the appropriate degree of deference to his revelations. Winston Blackmore, a religious leader in Bountiful, B.C., is one of those who challenged Mr. Jeffs. Mr. Blackmore had expected to succeed Mr. Jeffs's father, Rulon, when the older man died in 2002. But the younger Mr. Jeffs outmanoeuvred Mr. Blackmore, forcing him to give up control of the Bountiful school and much of its property. As many as 27 FLDS members quit Mr. Blackmore's manufacturing business.

Us versus Them

FLDS children are taught that they are not required to tell the truth to anyone outside of their own group. Persecuted for years, FLDS members believe they are in a fight against the world.

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