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Rulon Jeffs LDS & FLDS Background (Part 6 of 8)

FLD prophet Rulon Jeffs was raised LDS and even went to high school with Gordon B. Hinckley, who went on to become prophet of the LDS Church.

Lindsay:  Rulon Jeffs is a nice LDS boy. He went by Rulon Jennings as a little boy because he was a polygamist. He didn’t know his father was a polygamist until he was eight years old. That’s when he learns his name isn’t actually Jennings. It’s Jeffs.  His dad was David Jeffs. When he finds out, he’s embarrassed by it.  His dad’s a polygamist. That’s embarrassing. That’s not cool anymore. You don’t want to have a polygamist dad. You want to be like the cool monogamists.

Rulon Jeff’s really tries hard to join the church hierarchy. He’s in a prominent accountant. He’s hanging out with all the prominent families.  He marries Hugh B. Brown’s daughter. This is why I bring this up because I think that his generation is an interesting time period. Rulon Jeffs went to school with Gordon B. Hinckley. They went to the same high school together. He served his mission with Cleon Skousen in England. He was running with these people. He was one of them. He was on the track. He married Zola Brown. He got a little disaffected on his mission. He had a bad experience with his mission president in England.

Lindsay:  Rulon and goes down to Short Creek, and he joins what’s called the Council of Friends. Now, it’s just a bunch of dudes with some authority from the LDS Church who try to instruct members of the community and people that live around them and come to them for advice on matters of this.  Well, Rulon decides this isn’t good enough. We need to be more organized. We need to be like them [LDS Church.] There’s actually a prominent fundamentalist theory right now, which is really sad in the FLDS because they see their community as righteous until the Jeffs show up.  One of the conspiracies is that–this is bananas conspiracy. J. Reuben Clark calls Rulon Jeffs to go disrupt the priesthood, and it’s his goal to break it up. Of course, there’s no there’s no way to back that up. Rulon Jeff’s goes there.

Lindsay:  Now all of a sudden you have a Jeffs show up. He’s a prominent guy, married to Hugh B. Brown’s daughter. He’s kind of a big deal. So he carries the weight of institutional legitimacy. So he’s trying to streamline it and so it causes a split in the Council of Friends.  Because what he’s really asking is a radical thing.  He’s down there with them for a long time and he’s on this council and he’s gaining a lot of status. Now all of a sudden, he’s saying, “Listen, the church isn’t just out of order, they’re off their rocker. We need to start our own thing. We keep waiting for them to be put in order. It’s never going to happen. Let’s do it this way.” So there’s a break off. That happens much later.  I’m getting ahead of myself. So Rulon Jeff’s joins the council. He’s part of it for a long time.

GT:  [He’s part of] the Council of Friends, which holds this sealing power.

Lindsay:  Yeah, and so before Rulon Jeffs [becomes] one of the leaders of the Council of Friends, over the course of a few decades, the Council of Friends becomes more and more and more organized.  That’s what Mormon men do when they get together. They’re talking about priesthood. Who’s going to do this? Who’s doing land? Who’s the bishop? They start to organize slowly over time.

rom this council, you have a bunch of schisms and we could get into this, but it’s super complicated. You can listen to the podcast for this. Basically, the council breaks off into the Allred group where we have Rulon Allred who is a different Rulon, not Rulon Jeffs.  Rulon Allred is over the AUB[1] which is the Sister Wives show on TLC.  The Sister Wives, they’re from AUB. I call them Pinterest Polygamists because they look like LDS people. They have the blonde hair and the cute blonde kids and the matchy outfits and the vinyl walls and the chevron Maxi skirts.  Those are the AUB.  They followed Rulon Allred who broke off from the council. He was down in the Mexican colonies. That’s where the Lebarons break off of him. The Petersons broke off of him and the FLDS. The Centennial Park breaks off of them. The Nielson/Naylor group breaks off of them.  They just start fracturing and schism.

Lindsay  1:35:59  The FLDS gets the most traction because they’re a consolidated group and Rulon really consolidates power in the year 2000. He predicts that when the Olympics come to Salt Lake that the end of the world is coming. You have to understand at this time, it’s the Y2K scare.[2] Remember, everybody, everyone, Mormons or non-Mormons, it didn’t matter. People thought the world was going to end. So, he really uses that momentum to sort of say we need to gather. You have stories of fundamentalists who’d been living for generations in Salt Lake City, millionaires, owning companies, just like the LDS Church has a lot of prominent businessmen.  Fundamentalism and has the same thing. They’re selling their businesses overnight. Rulon says the end is coming.  Rack up your credit cards. Give it all to the church because it doesn’t matter anymore. They all meet at this park, waiting for Jesus to come.

[1] AUB stands for Apostolic United Brethren.

[2] Y2K stands for Year 2000.  Due to a flaw in computer code, the year was coded as just 2 digits.  Experts predicted that when the year changed from 1999 to 2000, computers would malfunction worldwide.  Many efforts were made in 1999 to patch computers and the problems were very minor compared with predictions of chaos.

We’ll learn more about Rulon’s background with polygamy expert Lindsay Hansen Park.  Check out our conversation….

Rulon Jeffs LDS & FLDS Background (Part 6 of 8)
Lindsay Hansen Park describes how the Rulon Jeffs helped organize the FLDS Church.

Don’t miss our other episodes with Lindsay.

393: 2nd Manifesto Polygamy 1904-1925

392: 20th Century Polygamy/Reed Smoot Hearings

391: Mormon Fundamentalist Theology

390: John Taylor’s 1886 Revelation

389: “More Than One Way to Mormon”

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2nd Manifesto Polygamy (Part 5 of 8)

Since the 1890 Manifesto didn’t totally end polygamy, the LDS Church issued a 2nd Manifesto.  It turns out that still didn’t end the secret practice either.  Lindsay Hansen Park, host of Year of Polygamy podcast, will tell us more about things that happened between 1904-1925 and beyond.

Lindsay:  Joseph F. Smith issued marriages after the Manifesto. So we know it’s not a doctrine.

GT:  After the 1904 Manifesto? Is that what you’re talking about? Or after the 1890 Manifesto?

Lindsay: As far as I can tell, Joseph F. Smith turned a blind eye. I don’t know, and maybe Mike Quinn’s book will talk about if Joseph F. Smith actually solemnized marriages himself, but certainly after 1890 these guys were doing it, and definitely up until 1925 the apostles were doing it.

GT:  Up until 1925, because I know that it was 1904, following the Reed Smoot hearings where Matthias Cowley and John W. Taylor, one of them, I think, got disfellowshipped, the other one got excommunicated, right?

Lindsay:  Yup.

GT:   I know that David O. McKay was called in 1904 as a replacement for one of those two.

Lindsay:  This is what I’m talking about.   Yeah, so you have a lot of modern LDS leaders who are now replacements as a reaction to this.  This is why I’m saying polygamy is everywhere because even the guys that shaped the modern Mormon church are there filling the spot of a polygamist that got booted.

GT:  Right?

Lindsay:  That’s an important thing, too.  Even up into the 1940s, you have Amy Brown Lyman, she was the Relief Society president, Amy Brown Lyman, she’s amazing. Her husband was an apostle for the church, Richard Lyman.  One morning. It’s a sad, sad day in Kimball’s diary.  He writes about this.

GT:  This is the 1940s, right?

Lindsay:  Yes.

GT:  We’ve jumped up to the 1940s.

Lindsay:  Yeah, we’ll go back, but the apostles burst into Lyman’s bedroom, and they’re he’s lying in bed with someone that’s not Amy Brown Lyman. It’s a spiritual plural wife that he was fellowshipping 20 years earlier, and had kept her as a plural wife for 20 years. Some would call her a mistress. That’s how Amy Brown Lyman saw it.

Check out our conversation….

2nd Manifesto Polygamy (Part 5 of 8)
Lindsay Hansen Park tells more about polygamist marriages after the First and Second Manifestos were issued by the LDS Church.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Lindsay!

392: 20th Century Polygamy/Reed Smoot Hearings

391: Mormon Fundamentalist Theology

390: John Taylor’s 1886 Revelation

389: “More Than One Way to Mormon”

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Early 20th Century Polygamy & Reed Smoot (Part 4 of 8)

The 1890 Manifesto was issued saying the LDS Church no longer practiced polygamy.  However, it was practiced secretly.  LDS Apostle Reed Smoot was elected as a US Senator from Utah in 1902, causing Congress to investigate whether the LDS Church had continued to practice polygamy.  Lindsay Hansen Park, host of the Year of Polygamy podcast, will give us more details into early 20th century practices and we will talk more about the apostle/senator Reed Smoot.

Lindsay:  Reed Smoot was a Mormon senator, of course, because he was the representative from Utah.

GT:  He was an apostle also.

Lindsay:  He was an apostle, and he was basically the scapegoat. He took a lot of heat for Mormon polygamy, because he’s over in Washington D.C., just trying to do what he does.

GT: Reed Smoot was elected as Utah senator. Even though Reed was an apostle, he was also a monogamist. But Congress refused to seat him. So we have these Reed Smoot hearings that lasted for like two years.

Lindsay:  Yeah, In the Reed Smoot hearings–so basically, he is brought in front of the government.  They ask him all kinds of questions. They ask him all kinds of questions about Mormonism, Mormon theology.  Actually, if you read the transcripts, it’s fascinating look at Mormon theology.

GT:  They go through the temple ceremony as well.  It’s in the Congressional Record.

Lindsay:  They do and they asked him all kinds of questions about polygamy. He is forced to answer. I think he answers dishonestly, sometimes, but again, you’re looking at this idea of, we have…

GT:  But it’s not just Reed because they pulled in the prophet who by then I’m not sure. Was that…

Lindsay:  So Joseph F. Smith was forced to [testify.]


Lindsay:  This is still at the time when we’re not sure if Mormons are allowed to vote, or if they are even considered citizens of the United States, or if they have the rights of United States citizens. So when Reed Smoot is elected, it’s about a four year struggle where people are saying, “Does he even get to do this? Is he even legitimate?  Does he need to be here?”

One of the things that they focused on in his hearings were Mormon oaths. We talked about the temple ceremony earlier, but there were oaths in the temple, [such as] the oath of vengeance that fundamentalists still adhere to. Basically [they] have to promise that they would avenge the murder of Joseph Smith, until the third and fourth generation. After Joseph Smith was killed, this was added into the temple, where there was this oath that you would take where you would avenge the deaths of the Prophet from those who had murdered him. [This] is you know why Mountain Meadows Massacre and all these other things are justified under these oaths that ends justify the means and we can do anything outsiders.  So the federal government was like, “Why are we going to let Mormons in when we’ve heard for years about these oaths.  You want to kill us.”  What should we do? Polygamy becomes the battering ram for that. So they’re in this conflict.

Joseph F. Smith is the prophet now at the time. He encourages Reed Smoot in these hearings.  This is why I brought up Joseph F. Smith because the important thing that you have to understand is Joseph Smith, III is Joseph Smith, Jr.’s son. Emma Smith rejects polygamy. Her church stays in Nauvoo, the RLDS [Church]. She believes her son, Joseph, III, has the most credentials to take on the church. There’s a good argument for that case. So she backs him. All the saints come West who are practicing polygamy in the Brighamite tradition. You have Joseph F. Smith and his cousin, Joseph Smith, III.  Hyrum’s son [leads the LDS Church], Joseph’s son [leads the RLDS Church.]  They have about a 20-year battle and I have an episode where we talk about this because I think it’s fascinating. We call it Dueling Cousins, where Joseph III is really trying to understand why people would call his father a polygamist. His mother is denying it. He doesn’t understand. He just wants to know the truth. By most accounts, all accounts, he’s a good guy. He’s an honest guy.  He’s just trying to understand.

Were you aware of the Reed Smoot Hearings?  Did you know the temple ceremonies are in the Congressional Record?  Check out our conversation….

Early 20th Century Polygamy & Reed Smoot (Part 4 of 8)
Congress tried to prevent the seating of Utah Senator Reed Smoot over polygamy in 1903, despite the fact Reed was a monogamist.


Don’t miss our previous conversations with Lindsay!

391: Mormon Fundamentalist Theology

390: John Taylor’s 1886 Revelation

389: “More Than One Way to Mormon”