Group pleads: Not all polygamists are the same

ABC News 4, Utah/May 8, 2008

Mount Pleasant, Sanpete County - The Apostolic United Brethren. Who are they? Few people have ever heard of them - let alone what they believe. The AUB is a polygamist group - and its members are quick to add, they are nothing like Warren Jeffs and the FLDS.

But they claim some folks in Sanpete County are painting them with the same broad brush as the FLDS. The AUB's purchase of 877 acres southeast of Mount Pleasant has triggered rumors of another polygamist compound like the FLDS ranch in Eldorado Texas. At least one former member has claimed the AUB plans to build its own temple on the land.

But Drew Briney, an attorney who is helping the AUB with the land deal, says there will be no compound, no guard towers, no walls and gates and no temple. He says other than the practice of polygamy; the AUB has little in common with the FLDS. In fact, he says the AUB cutoff contact with the FLDS 60-years ago.

Here are the facts on the deal from Briney:

  • Through a real estate development company, Aspen Grove, the AUB completed the purchase of the 877 from a single seller in late January, 2008.

  • The purchase price: 4.25 million dollars.

  • The group originally wanted only the available lots in an existing subdivision on the western end of the land, but the seller refused to divide the property. Briney says they were told it was "all or nothing".

  • In the subdivision there are approximately 7 lots that are owned by others outside of the AUB. Many of those lots already have structures on them.

  • Aspen Grove has yet to make improvements to the property. The company is still in the early stages of planning. It's anticipated those plans will include selling the lots and building homes on them.

  • The groundwork is being set for a water district to handle the water rights sold with the land. Briney says unlike a private water company, the district would be "highly regulated" by the state allowing everything to be done "fairly and above board".

The AUB has clusters of members in Riverton, Bluffdale and Juab County as well as Montana, Wyoming and Mexico. Typically the group does not segregate itself from the rest of the community, nor are AUB members easily identifiable. They do not wear the pioneer dress and distinct hairstyles that have become the hallmark of Warren Jeffs' brand of polygamy. Briney also says the group's beliefs and practices are very different from the FLDS. For one thing, he says the AUB does not practice arranged marriages - members are free to court. And he says the AUB does not condone underage marriage.

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