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Facts About the Polygamist Sect FLDS

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY —  Some facts about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the polygamous sect whose Eldorado, Texas, compound was raided by authorities:

_ Since the early 20th century the traditional home base of the church has been the twin border towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah. The church also has enclaves in Colorado, South Dakota, Texas and British Columbia.

_ Members believe plural marriage brings exaltation in heaven. The religious doctrine is tied to the early teachings of Joseph Smith, who founded the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830.

_ Smith began teaching polygamy in 1843 and reportedly married more than 30 women.

_ The Mormon church abandoned polygamy as a condition of Utah statehood in 1890.

_ There are an estimated 40,000 fundamentalists practicing polygamy across the Intermountain West. Some are part of organized churches and others are independents.

_ The FLDS is the largest-known polygamous sect. Membership is not published, but is estimated at roughly 6,000 based on U.S. Census numbers.

_ Members are discouraged from contact with outsiders.

_ The FLDS incorporated as a church in the 1940s.

_ FLDS members appear caught between two centuries. The women wear prairie-style clothing and the men dress conservatively, covered from ankle to wrist, but FLDS families also have minivans and cell phones.

_ The FLDS practice polygamy in marriages arranged by the church president, who is also described as a prophet. Some marriages have partnered teenage girls with older men.

_ Warren Jeffs, 52, is the current FLDS prophet. He's had the job since 2002.

_ Last year Jeffs was convicted in Utah of two felony counts of accomplice to rape for his part in the 2001 marriage of a 14-year-old follower to her 19-year-old cousin. He was sentenced to two consecutive prison terms of five years to life.

_ Jeffs is currently in a Kingman, Ariz., jail, awaiting trial on similar charges related to two other child-bride marriages.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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