Over recent years, the FLDS have been in the spotlight mainly for their practice of polygamy – when a man marries multiple women at once. With Television shows being aired, and books being launched about this religious group, it’s time to get to know them a little better.
Here are 15 fascinating facts about the FLDS.
- The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, or FLDS as they are also known as, is a part of the Latter Day Saint movement, started by Joseph Smith in 1830. Joseph Smith is known as the first prophet of the more well-known Mormon / LDS Church. All Latter Day Saint movements can trace their history back to this man.
- Are the FLDS Mormon? It’s been quite a heavily debated topic for some time now. A common misconception is that the name “Mormon” is only given to those of the LDS Church. This, however, is incorrect. The name “Mormon” was a commonly used nickname directed towards those who followed Brigham Young, one of a handful of people who claimed to be next in the line for Prophet after Joseph Smith’s after his death. This means that any Latter Day Saint movement that can trace their apostolic lineage back to Joseph Smith via Brigham Young are classed as being Mormon.
- The FLDS is the largest fundamentalist groups of the Latter Day Saint movement. To be classed as a fundamentalist group, the group has to actively believe and practice in one of the fundamental aspects of Mormonism as taught by the first two prophets, Brigham Young and Joseph Smith. The FLDS still believe and practice in a number of these fundamental aspects such as plural marriage, and something called the United Order, which is often described as a form of Egalitarian Communalism.
- In recent years there have been many popular television series made about the FLDS, including Breaking the Faith and Escaping the Prophet.
- Their current Prophet, Warren Jeffs, was placed on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list after he fled from his charges relating to child marriage. He is currently serving a life sentence plus 20 years in prison for charges relating to bigamy, and child marriage.
- Due to the Church’s beliefs regarding plural marriage, and the requirements required to enter the top Kingdom of Glory in Heaven (Where God Himself lives), the Prophet Warren Jeffs has 84 wives.
- Since the arrest of the Prophet in 2009, a new doctrine was formed. This new practice states that the only men who are able to father children are a group of 15 men, or “seed bearers” as they are known as. A Seed Barer is a man who comes from a worthy bloodline chosen by their leaders.
- Due to their practice of plural marriage, a big problem for them has arisen in the past couple of decades where the ratio between FLDS men and women has remained the same. As the men must marry multiple women to make it into heaven, there are not enough women to fulfill this idea. This issue has led to a large number of young boys and men being abandoned for breaking rules. Once they have been removed from the Church and its communities, they are no longer allowed to maintain contact with any friends or family members within the church.
- Over the years, a number of members have left the Church and their communities behind for freedom, and have shared their stories. Some of these stories have made it into books such as Escape, Stolen Innocence, Lost Boy & Under the Banner of Heaven.
- In 2015 the membership of the FLDS was estimated to be around 10,000, with between 500 & 1,000 members leaving between 2013 and 2015.
- The majority of the FLDS membership live in one of a handful of ranches in America: Short Creek in Arizona, Hildale Utah, Colorado Utah, and Eldorado Texas. There’s also a large colony in Bountiful in British Columbia, Canada.
- Women within the church are often notifiable by their pastel colored clothing that fully covers their legs, arms, body, and shoulders. The idea is to remove any personal traits and to mimic the FLDS’s idea of what a perfect woman should be like. The different pastel colored dresses show which women are married to which husband. The colors red and black are forbidden to be worn amongst the members. The reasoning behind this is that when Jesus returns, he will be the one to wear red, and black is believed to be the color of Satan.
- In 1984 after the death of the 3rd Prophet Leroy S. Johnson, a small group of FLDS members broke away from their Church and became known as the Centennial Park Group, who took up residence in Centennial Park, Arizona. They call themselves “The Work”, and broke away from the FLDS over their Doctrine of the “One Man Rule” – That only one man on earth may hold all of the Priesthood keys and power of God.
- Due to the ratio of men to women as mentioned before, intermarriage is a common practice among the FLDS members, often marrying their first or second cousins. This has had a dramatic effect on many of the member’s lives, and as such their communities are ramped with a condition known as fumarase deficiency. This conditions causes server mental issues, and problems that affect the nervous system. Outside of the FLDS ranches, this condition is very rare, having only 13 known cases worldwide up to 1990. After 1990, 20 cases were discovered within one of the FLDS communities based in Arizona.
- The current and future leadership of the FLDS is currently unknown. The next in succession to Warren Jeffs was a man called Lyle Jeffs, who is Warren’s brother. However, it has been reported that in 2012, Warren removed Lyle from office in 2012. The church has two leadership roles, the President, and the Prophet. The President is not required to be the Prophet, although traditionally this normally is the case. On the 4th December 2010, Warren Jeffs officially resigned as the President of the FLDS church. His status of Prophet is currently unknown.