Warren Jeffs’ polygamous sect, FLDS, in ‘sacred land’ standoff

Would you give up your home for your
religion? We’ve always had a place here. We’ve always called it home. The community has mostly been evicted. Short Creek. Technically, two towns:
Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona. The community straddles the state line
just south of Zion National Park, not called Zion by chance. These are sacred
lands to the FLDS or Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints.
The FLDS split from the mainstream Mormon Church a century ago, and settled
in Short Creek, isolated in the desert, where they could practice polygamy and
follow their fundamentalist faith, undisturbed. Their lifestyle is specific
and strict. Men marry multiple wives. Everyone obeys the authority of the
church, and the world is kept out. This is the only way of life I’ve ever known.
Because everyone around you was like you. Most of them are related in one way or
another. It was like a great big family here. Evictions are like the ultimate
spoiling of your goods. They would rather give up a $500,000 house
than sign a piece of paper that symbolized that they were violating what
they believed in. That piece of paper, it’s an agreement with a land trust that
owns almost all land in Short Creek. The FLDS Church used to control the trust,
but now the trust is in the hands of those who’ve left the church.
In 1942, members of the FLDS donated their houses and all their property to that land trust,
called the United Effort Plan or the UEP. It was land for their children, and their
children’s children, and their children’s children to grow up safe and secure in a
place to live. If they didn’t want to live our way of life,
everybody knew you could go, if you wanted to, but you couldn’t have land—
it belonged to the Lord and to the church. The UEP trust still owns most of the
land in Short Creek. It controls the town, it controls the property, controls the
fields, it controls the cemeteries and the parks. But the church no longer
controls the trust. That’s because of Warren Jeffs. Warren Jeffs is the prophet
and leader of the FLDS. He’s in prison for life for sexual abuse of minors, many
young girls who were his child brides. In 2005, when Warren Jeffs landed on
the FBI’s most wanted list and vanished on the run, the state took over the land trust. That was a direct attack on our faith.
The FLDS became even more closed off and distrustful of the outside world.
Well, Uncle Warren’s in prison on false charges. Inside the church, information is kept
limited. They’re taught not to trust the government or believe the news, so the
faithful are in fierce denial about Warren Jeffs being a convicted pedophile
and still believe he is their prophet who speaks the word of God. From prison,
he continues to control the church. Under Warren Jeffs’ leadership, rules became
stricter, and many left the faith, whether by choice or excommunication. Those still
in the church aren’t allowed to interact with former members, known to them as
apostates. We don’t talk to apostates. We feel like they’ve made their choice.
Go ahead, go live your life, don’t bother us. The ones that came back after they
already left, and came back to grab land, they should leave. Many of these
so-called apostates stay in Short Creek, living side-by-side but totally cut off
from their neighbors still in the faith. For me, I didn’t believe in the exact
same things as everyone around me. If I didn’t go to the same church that I was
gonna be ostracized. I made the decision to leave. I had no intention of ever
moving back to this place. Jeff Barlow moved back to Short Creek to
work for the UEP. He oversees the evictions. In order to stay in houses
owned by the trust, occupants have to sign that agreement with them — sort of
like a lease. But that’s a problem for the faithful because the trust is now
managed entirely by former members of the church, and the FLDS won’t interact
with them or sit on the trust’s board alongside them. Religious homes won’t
communicate at all with the trust, pay property taxes, or sign their agreement.
It’s not anything specific in the agreement, just that it means dealing
with apostates which is forbidden. So FLDS families are being evicted by the
trust. Is there anybody still inside the house? This is what they want us to sign. To sign this is like saying, “I acknowledge you own our sacred
land and therefore I no longer am part of the FLDS.” When taxes get to be five
years delinquent, the trust loses that property to the county. We’re gonna have
to take action to protect the property and give them an exact list of the
things that they need to do to stay in the home. Then we got a 10-day pay-or-vacate notice.
At that point we started packing up. I always come back to you. Always come
back to me. For the FLDS, their narrative is one of religious persecution. But from
the outside, it’s a bit like they’re opting into their plight, acting on
seemingly arbitrary restrictions. But to them, it’s real, regardless of the right
or wrongness of their ideology or the crimes of their leader. It’s what they’ve
been taught all their lives. To them, not only does going against the church mean
being ostracized by their community, it’s literally a matter of being banished
from heaven in the afterlife — that to them is worse than eviction. Pretty much
everyone in town is either in the religion or used to be — except for
Christine. Christine moved to Short Creek last year. Though never FLDS, she once
practiced polygamy herself with a man she believed to be a prophet. The
experience was extremely traumatizing for her. This is the famous crick. So now
she’s motivated to be an advocate for women in similar polygamist situations.
She runs a charity called Voices for Dignity. I just love it here. She’s taken
on the role of acting as a go-between for the FLDS in the UEP. By doing this,
she hopes to bring a stop to the evictions. And there are people that are
in desperate need of housing. They’re not just losing their home, they’re losing
their community, they’re losing their, their sacred places, they’re losing their
social support system, they’re losing everything they’ve ever known.
An FLDS food processing plant was evicted. The FLDS meetinghouse was evicted. Then, the storehouse was evicted.
Everything the storehouse had was donated or consecrated, and the
storehouse would distribute it to the needy. This was the storehouse, surrounded by
huge walls. The church built lots of walls around town. These walls are being
torn down by the trust for new tenants. This is really emotional for everyone in
town, both in and out of the religion. People stopped to watch. Gelene was kicked
out of the religion four years ago. She built these walls with everyone in the
church, so it’s weird for her seeing the walls finally come down. We’d go without food,
we’d go without clothing, we’d go without everything we could to help build those
walls. To see it all just be knocked down in minutes…
It meant liberation, but it’s hard, it’s emotional.
Overnight I was cut off. My husband was an apostate, and he had tainted me.
Although she stayed in Short Creek, she hasn’t had any contact with her friends
and family in the faith ever since. I was afraid to even get out of the car ’cause I didn’t
know if they would accept me or even talk to me here. Not everyone is sad
about the walls falling. No, I left the religion. These dear folks just don’t get
it, they think their holy prophet is a perfect priest and man, but he’s nothing
but a pedophile. I am really glad the walls are coming down. There’s a
deep and literal symbolism in these walls coming down. Norma’s home was also
posted for eviction, but she came up with a plan to keep her house, despite the
fact that she won’t sign the trust’s agreement. And I wrote up a letter of
intent. Says, “I intend to live here at this address, to pay the taxes yearly.” It
was not addressed to the reformed UEP because I don’t acknowledge that they
have any right to do it. And then Christine brings the letter to the UEP
for her. This means Norma herself isn’t violating her faith. This might seem a
bit roundabout, but it’s a huge step in bridging the chasm between those
in and out of the church. We were able to bypass this violation of their religion
through this agreement. These evictions were stopped. They have paid delinquent taxes and going forward they’ve also agreed to meet some of the minimum requirements for
occupancy. We would just ask the court to dismiss without prejudice. Once we get
that letter, we’ll update our records to show, and that the tax, they’re paid and we can avoid any evictions altogether. Helping people feel safe enough here that they dare
come back. We’ve been able to stop the eviction of four houses already with
this new method. You know, OK, when the next batch will come? We’re supposed to
be doing 20 every two weeks. What I’d rather do is give you time to talk to
him first. As long as we can find out that a letter is coming, then he can delay it
more. Does that mean they are gonna be off the posting list? Yeah, if they’re doing taxes, and
the lenders tell me it won’t take that long. Can we get the letter today? You think
you know who you are, and you’re set and stable in your life, and your religion,
and where you’re going, and then all of a sudden one day,
you have to relearn who you are, and I started looking and searching into the
Warren Jeffs files. And until that moment, I had no idea. It’s a hard road. Some people
love the changes, some people love the diversity, other people look back at the
60s and the 70s, and they long for those times where the whole town all belonged to
the same religion, and it was more homogenous, but we live where we live, we
live in the time we live, and that’s right now and right here. We’re all
family, we’re all part of the same community, we’re gonna have to find a way to coexist. I want my grandchildren to live here, and
to love it, and to be safe. We love our fences because it keeps our children in
and other people out. It’s still our sacred land. If you’re interested in more land rights issues in Utah, Bears Ears National Monument was just opened to
mining prospectors. Now anyone can stake a claim on the land, so NBC tried to.
Check out the video here.

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Reader Comments

  1. Athena griego

    White men in power brain washing these simple folks. Using religion to brain wash and control these women These disgusting men get to have multiple wives as young as 12 or 14 years young and they get to do whatever they want. Woman are still oppressed.

  2. Rain

    I don't understand how those people justify in their mind, that letting a old men rape their daughters and turn their sons into slaves is holy.

  3. dylis mills

    If its something they believe in u cant take that away, its not fair to them, that's their home and land. all of u that are saying mean things are just so rude!

  4. Diana Garduno

    "We started packing up"
    You mean the children ?
    The same ones that are raped deprived from education and force into labor?
    Prosecute all those adults that aren't smart enough to realize the pedophile in prison isn't their God.

  5. V Lightning

    Regardless as to what lands Mormons deem sacred to them, they are not theirs. The native Americans have all rights to all land first. Mormons drove them out. It’s time the indigenous takes it back. I don’t feel sorry for people who commit indecent acts of pedophilia , abuse, and forced marriages. This is what they believe in. The FLDS. It’s an abomination to God and an embarrassment to the people of the United States.

  6. Kathy Cavin

    Would not need a fence if you don't have illegal stuff happening ! They don't want there girl s to see out because they might see a decent man one that doesn't want 15 wives and the same age what young girl wants a dead dick old nasty man the woman are just as bad wanting there daughter s to be raped by the nasty old men geez and all in the name of God it's disgusting!

  7. Kathy Cavin

    They don't deserve to live in the safety of the USA if they don't pay taxes we have men that died for our freedom so leave if u don't want to honor our system and laws that protect the children !

  8. Seattle Solar Supply

    Being in a cult can be very devastating. False religion will subject you to abuse and deception. Brainwashed by doctrine of devils.

  9. May Walsh

    Ok so all I see is the women trying to keep the homes, were the fuck are their husbands? Oh yeah the all run away when the tough gets going, So that leave me to ask these women what the fuck is wrong with you? And you really think a Warren Jeffs a prophet .When you give everything you have and sign it over,including make your children work to make money to give to Warren Jeffs . Yes then I guess you can call him the Prophet of money ,and taken your little girls an raping them on top of stealing all you have, My god, get out and learn to think for your selves, And leave the children to be children, Warren Jeff is nothing but a mare man the has shitted on everyone of you !

  10. Angel Eyes

    The word of god is a lie in the words of mortal men like this guy why is this? It gives him a justifiable reason to do the horrible atrocities he like so many others have committed because they know what they did was wrong but in vain tries to tell themselves its ok. Fuck these religious practices if u wanna believe in god then do it but this form of religion is hypocritical bull shit for the masses who are afraid to walk there own path and create there own destiny.

  11. Guess Who

    I say TEAR DOWN THE ENTIRE CULT! TEAR DOWN THEIR WALLS! EVICT THE PEOPLE! Take their children and adopt them out to NORMAL families who WON'T rape them.

  12. Deena Nelson

    maybe if they paid their property taxes and did what they were supposed to do according to the law, they wouldn't be having the problems that they are dealing with now. I'm sorry, but I have very little patience for people who hide behind a 'faith' that limits their compassion and interaction. The Amish and Mennonites have managed to maintain their faith's structure within the law of the USA….so we know it can be done.

  13. lilsophia79

    Not only is their leader of pedophile he's a tax evader he owned several businesses and is extremely wealthy man. All of the polygamous wives are sent to WIC and other public assistance programs. They rob the system when they can definitely pay for everything that they need because they're extremely extremely wealthy "religion".

  14. Chrissy USA

    Banished from Heaven?? They follow a child molester and believe every single thing that comes out of his mouth! They are already banished from Heaven for that and for following a False God
    I can’t believe more people are not doing something to break up this cult. The child labor and lack of proper education alone is disgusting and needs to be stopped immediately and for good!

  15. Ralph Edward Leigh

    Get the fuck out you bunch of pedophile POS,giving your kids up for a man who will fuck a 9 year old,you are all sickos

  16. darren marchant

    When a person has more than one spouse, the word is polygamy. If the spouses are wives, polygyny is a more specific term. If the spouses are husbands, the appropriate word is polyandry. Thus, polygyny and polyandry are two forms of polygamy.

  17. darren marchant

    Utah is among the few U.S. states that have separate ages of consent for women and men. For women, the age of consent in Utah is 16 years old. While for men, it is 18 years old. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_North_America

  18. babsfocker

    well if those bitches ever get off of their fat t asses and get real jobs then they can buy their own stuff like a normal person, that fat bitch in the purple dress could kill me just by sitting on me. no more sex for these fucked up people

  19. Mike Smith

    What Jeffs did is what the new islamic refugees will do if you let them into your America. They then we tell you that you are wrong and if offend them they will kill you as instructed by their imam as you are infidels, children of satan.

  20. Steve Jeffries

    Warren Jeffs should NOT be allowed period to have any form of contact with others except to obey the workers at the prison where he is being kept and where he should NEVER be realised from
    As he is very toxic person a problem to those around him

  21. mackay10

    Could the prison just cut off Warren Jeffs from communications with the outside world? He is still abusing people from his phone ability. I’m never in favor of this, but he needs to be on death row.

  22. Dominic DiRicci

    I feel sorry for the kids who don’t know any better and the women who are brainwashed, but Fuck Jeffs and the rest of the asshole cocksuckers who hide behind this stupid cult so they can diddle kids and possess and control women.
    Damn this shit pisses me off and I’m not even religious. Ok, I’m done. Sorry everybody for ranting. Idk, maybe I’m wrong. Who am I to say, but how can this be allowed. Freedom of religion or not. This is not what they had in mind when they wrote that….I don’t think 🤷🏻‍♂️

    P.s. now I’m done. Sorry for lying


  23. Momo Konn

    Why are they allowed to do this still?! Stop helping them. Strait Child labour, strait child abuse, literally why is this woman helping them. Let them be evicted. Force a chasm in this toxic “religion”

  24. vianjelos

    These people would rather live in hell on earth so they can get into heaven to potentially lead the same hellish lives? Id rather live my life the way I see fit and go to hell if heaven is anything like those communes. The way I see it, live your life like you only have one, like when you die you fade into nothingness. But be a good person, dont hurt others, dont scam or take advantage and work hard..if there is a god and his is forgiving he will accept you into heaven because you were a good person reguardless if you followed some arbitrary rules or not, if he isnt then is it really a heaven worth being in with a god that is so petty and unforgiving like these people believe in?

  25. ellie m

    Ive seen alot of these documentaries and its super scary how many Barlows there are and how many of them that are still in the church hold positions of power in the community. I saw a town hall meeting and they were all barlows and refused to talk to the people.

  26. Crusty Bunny

    Yea sorry Im not gonna pitty these people remember their little girls will be in arranged marriages by sixteen PAY YOUR TAXES and don't complain yall already get away with enough fraudulent activities.

  27. Shanan Alexander

    Women are totally submissive to their husband. Women in the FLDS love their husbands and obey their laws, but these are not the men they think they are. These men are sick, disgusting creatures. Not men of God. They are men who hide behind the name of God. If that’s not blasphemy then what is?

  28. alfredo gonzalez

    I ask: Because if the authorities already know before those churches, and most of them, are perverse, false, practicing abuses, Crime and crimes, they don’t take responsibility in preventing what we all know is happening, Prohibiting or regulating them systematically and efficiently?

  29. john harris

    These are weak-minded people, but its not their fault. I want to say" Go get a job or join the military" wouldn't do any good, they can't do it. Only good for producing more children into our overpopulated world.

  30. J Munoz

    This females were as guilty as him..they make me sick to my stomach..they should be in jail too..they could've put a stop to it but they are disgusting like him..😡

  31. Nicholas Hartsock

    I hope that waren Jeff gets beat the fuck up in jail, and that the u.s. government takes over there communities all over the communities

  32. Jennifer Johnson

    You people want nothing to do with the government, yet you have no problems draining the government for welfare payments. "Bleeding the Beast", right? I don't feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for your children who have to suffer because of your stubborn choices.

  33. The Blendillionaire

    She let the apostate help her from keeping of getting an eviction??I guess the outsiders aren't so bad after all..😋🙃

  34. AwkwardPanda

    Left? This is centrist bullshit.

    There is not enough free will and agency in this context to declare this a choice in religion, especially for the young members of the cult.

    Do not spin this as an oppressed group being dispossesed of lawful property. Their oppressor is their cult. Their money was built on child exploitation and rape. Their core principles are founded on the abuse of women and children. These "sacred lands" were taken from societies far older than theirs. The cult held socio-political monopoly on the town government, supposedly agent of the state.

    Greater human rights and laws were violated over their right to practice their religion! What the fuck are you trying to do with this piece? Side with the oppressors? Where is the left in that??

  35. Wanda Ashley

    It is sad the an evil twisted man still controls them. They are so brainwashed.
    I wish the man was put in isolation .

  36. Shifttube

    yea they were a fuck farm to make as many kids as possible so that the kids can go work in the fields to make money for jeffs but they say its for the church but church don't pay tax so they had a shit tone of money but prb. blew it all trying to get that sick fuck out of prison with lawyer payments and paying off the cops and local government to keep there mouth shut and than one day you wake up and relies that yes there is a god but here right now uncle SAM is the person who owns everything and if you don't pay they take you shit with out blinking a fucking eye man going to be so weird like real what was real going on once you grow up

  37. Dulce Ornelas Ortega

    All this people are so weak in the mind that i feel so so sorry for them for letting another human who sleeps and shit like u and me.

  38. Good People Prosper

    If he was a drug lord they would have moved heaven and earth to him from communicating with his followers. When babies r being raped the law tends to do little or pay no attention to the problem

  39. Aiden Tak

    Lol if he was a prophet why can’t he get out God saved the prophets in the Bible and they were right. He claimed the world would end in 2013(citation needed). That old lady is like the rude grandma or old lady who acts like your the rude one while being even more rude. Why are they trying to stop the evictions? I wanna take a trip down there and just annoy them. Maybe if I took some friends(boys and girls) we could make some real noise. It will be fun, like annoying rude old people(just the rude ones)

  40. Jordan Alexander

    Cults like this don’t want their people educated. Education means thinking for yourself and heaven forbid these people think for themselves

  41. Harold Richard

    I worked with a bunch of these mother fuckers in St. George, UT.

    Make no mistake about it. The “Apostates” are still just as bad and strange as the people still in “The Creek”.

    The people who leave will get tons of tattoos, drink, swear etc. but they still have the creek in them. Some of the meanest, weirdest, ego tripping sons of bitches you will ever encounter. Ugly inbred looking fuckers, too lol.

    A lot of people moving into Southern Utah. You’re all in for a rude awakening.. a very eerie place. You better be a follower if you’re gonna make it. If you have any kind of individualism, you’re fucked.

  42. Cheryl Pemberton

    Shocking the GIRLS are allowed to ride horses, and a piano for MUSIC?! Sad these people (nearly all women, as almost all young men are thrown out) who are brainwashed from birth, are left with NOTHING; yet those few at the top have EVERYTHING!!

  43. lenert bonner

    These white people talking about scared land….. HAHA!!! that land has always been scared way before these Jesus loving fools came along…

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