The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) is a radical sect that branched off from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They initially splintered off when the Mormon Church renounced polygamy. The FLDS believes polygamy is an integral part of its religion. Women who want to leave the Church have been held against their will, leading some to call the sect a cult.
The FLDS has been a controversial topic for quite some time now. Their former leader, Warren Jeffs, is currently serving life in prison after being convicted of two counts of felony child sexual assault. The FLDS is very close-knit and only marries within their community. Jeffs even promoted and arranged marriages within families, including a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old first cousin. Jeffs considers himself a prophet and is still leading the church from prison.
The FLDS is so secretive that it can be difficult to learn about. But several former followers who escaped have opened up about FLDS practices and what it's like living in a strict religious community that does everything in its power to keep outsiders at bay and followers from leaving. Here are some of the beliefs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Their Leader Is the President of the United States
According to the Daily Mail, "Children in the local schoolhouse are also taught that Jeffs was the president of the United States and that God led Neil Armstrong away from the moon during the Apollo 11." Members of the FLDS live in very insular communities with little influence from the world outside their borders. Children are homeschooled and girls rarely receive more than a ninth-grade education, which is how the church, under the direction of Jeffs, is able to perpetuate lies.
The Public School System Is Evil
Most members of the FLDS live in a remote community they refer to as "the Creek," which lies on the border of Colorado City, AZ and Hilldale, UT. The church essentially runs the towns, to the point where Warren Jeffs managed to close down their only public school for 13 years. He believed it was an evil influence. For members of the church, homeschooling and lessons directly from FLDS leaders are the only acceptable options for education.
Prayer Will Help Warren Jeffs Escape from Prison
Former FLDS member Joe Broadbent told ABC News that members have to drop whatever they are doing every hour on the hour and pray for Warren Jeffs’s escape from prison. According to Broadbent, Jeffs puts a lot of pressure on his followers and makes them feel guilty with statements like, “the only way that I’m not out is because you’re not faithful enough.” Followers go days without eating, hoping that fasting and prayers will help Jeffs escape from prison.
Blood Atonement Is the Only Way to Repent for Grievous Sins
Warren Jeffs preaches the beliefs of one of the first presidents of the Mormon church, Brigham Young. Young preached that certain sins (like murder and adultery) were so heinous they required a blood sacrifice before any forgiveness could be considered. Ideally, the sinner would agree to be killed so their blood could be spilled on the ground and they could be forgiven in the afterlife, but the sacrifice could be carried out without the sinner's consent if necessary.
This policy of "blood atonement" was disavowed by the mainstream Mormon church, but the FLDS still believes in it. An excommunicated member of the church, Ross Chatwin, said, “Warren says that the reason we don’t live the doctrine is that the United States government won’t allow it. But, when God returns then his followers can carry it out.”