The FDLS Cult Appears to Still be Growing in South Dakota After being Shut Down in Texas
The news story written by an author at RelgionNewsBlog “Is the FLDS cult expanding its presence in South Dakota?” ReligionNewsBlog, January 27th 2015(http://bit.ly/1znjfGH) brings some troubling concerns. In the article the religious cult Fundamentalist Church –of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) appears to be regrouping after its Zion Ranch was shut down in Texas last year. In August of 2011, Warren Jeffs, leader of the FLDS was sentenced life in prison after multiple attempts of sexual assault on 12 year old girls he claimed to be wives of his according to his church (http://bit.ly/1CmpxZp). In April of 2014 the State of Texas repossessed the FLDS’s compound. This week Warren’s brother Seth Jeffs requested a permit from the government to triple the amount of water they can take from the well. This request, if granted would allow enough water to flow to serve 4372 residents on the compound. This is a clear sign that the church is once again grouping back up in great numbers. Currently it is estimated only 100-300 people live their but in the sister communities are another 6000 followers plus another 1000 around Colorado and British Columbia. The compound n Texas only held 700 people but in total back in 2013 they were estimated to have over 10,000 members. If this water permit is granted, a huge proportion of them could live there.
What I find troubling is that even though Warren Jeffs is imprisoned, he still holds control over his people. After his imprisonment there was a split between the people loyal to him and the people who went back into society. So he still holds control of 1000’s of followers. This could be due to something discussed in the textbook. What Warren was able to do was to replace peoples faiths with a belief in magic, which is a common strategy used in new age religions (Hexham & Poewe, pg 163). His people saw him as a “a prophet who speaks to God and can do no wrong (http://dailym.ai/1LxKT8N). He did this with his immense personality and charisma as well as through indoctrination at a young age. At this point, we can only hope The Jeffs lose support of the people, but with a request to supply enough water for over 4000 people on one compound it doesn’t look good.