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Fundamentalists and Cutlerites (Part 5 of 8)

In this episode, Steve Shields and I discuss some of the larger and smaller Mormon groups: fundamentalists and Cutlerites. Many of these fundamentalists practice polygamy.

Steve:  The FLDS has 8,000 to 10,000. The Apostolic United Brethren and has 8,000 to 10,000, somewhere in that range. Those are the two largest organized groups, organized structural institutions. I’ve heard numbers of 50 or 60,000 fundamentalist Mormons all told. There’s either some smaller, like the Centennial Park–I don’t want to call them a group because the Centennial Park priesthood affiliation, maybe as a way to talk about those. You’ve got Naylor and Nielsen. You’ve got the guy up in British Columbia, Winston Blackmore. He’s actually incorporated as the Church of Jesus Christ (Original Doctrine). That’s their corporate filing in Canada. He’s got 500 or so. Nielson and Naylor and Blackmore have been kind of doing some, they’ve not merged per se, but some cross affiliation because Nielsen and Naylor’s problem with the Jeffs family was very similar with Winston’s. So frankly, in all of the fundamentalist Mormons, there’s very little doctrinal difference, if any at all. It has to do with priesthood authority. Who has the legitimate line?

GT: I talked with Anne Wilde and one things that she said was really the largest group are what she would call independent or unaffiliated.

Steve: That’s right. Most of them are unaffiliated but they do fellowship with each other. You’ve got a large following: Fred Collier, Tom Green and others who believe in what they called the patriarchal order. Every father is a patriarch over his own family and has full authority to ordain his children, the male children.

We’ll also discuss the only other Mormon group that has an endowment ceremony in the temple.  They are sometimes referred to as the Cutlerites, named after Alpheus Cutler.

Steve: Alpheus Cutler’s church has always been small, and they do not proselytize. They don’t believe in that. Alpheus Cutler is said to have been given a revelation that in the last days there will only be two and from that small branch, God will redeem Zion. So, they don’t worry too much about that. They’re getting older.

GT: They’re the ones who still have a temple ceremony. Is that right?

Steve: Yes, they do. The upper room work is conducted in their building in Independence. I’ll say on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean every day or every week necessarily. I don’t know any more about it than that. Nobody does except them and I respect that. I’m very curious, of course.

How big are they?  Check out our conversation….

Steve Shields discusses Mormon polygamists and Cutlerites, the only other Mormon group with a temple endowment ceremony.
Steve Shields discusses Mormon polygamists and Cutlerites, the only other Mormon group with a temple endowment ceremony.

Check out our other conversations with Steve!

227: Conspiracy Theories:  William Smith, Samuel Smith, James Strang(Shields)

226: Sidney’s Unsung Role in Restoration (Shields)

225: Steve’s Shields Own Divergent Path

224: Who Owns the Temple Lot? (Shields)

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Start of RLDS Church & Mormon Schisms Tour

We’re about ready to finish our conversation with John Hamer and Lachlan MacKay of the Community of Christ and do a Mormon Schisms Tour!  In this next conversation, we’ll talk about how confusing it must have been to live following the death of Joseph Smith.

John:  You might have a branch where at a certain point, you’ve heard Joseph Smith has been killed.  You are very sad.  Brighamite missionaries come through.  They say the Twelve are now in charge and things like that.  Everyone says, “Hey, now we got it.  We’ve read about that in the newspaper and this kind of thing.”  Then, a couple of months later, somebody from Voree comes with the Voree Herald and they explain how the Twelve are in apostasy, and this and that, and why all of the prophetic gifts that prove that Strang is the successor, and they are like, “Oh, we’re Strangites now.”

There isn’t anything in particular that necessarily happens for the branch.  So like I say for the Hedrickites, they are one of five, maybe, of these branches that are in a cluster around Bloomington, Illinois.  I think probably at some point or another, they will have been affiliated with Strang, but at a certain point, maybe when he “affiliated,” whatever it even means.  Strangite missionaries will come through there, and that’s one of the reasons why maybe they didn’t gather and go west.

We’ll talk about the founding of the RLDS Church.

John:  This is the origin of the Reorganization.  So the branches start to pray about it.  They fall back on individual personal revelations for the individual congregations, the pastors.  They start meeting together.  As they are thinking about it, William Smith has a church in the meantime and William Smith has been promoting the idea of lineal succession.  There has been, (I think I mentioned a while ago), there’s the sense that Joseph Smith’s posterity, somebody, one of his sons is going to be the successor or will emerge as the successor.  They start to regather these branches and the form a conference organization, which is a loose structure.  There’s no corporate entity here still.

So they pass resolutions together in conferences where they say they are going to wait for one of Joseph Smith’s sons, probably Joseph Smith III to emerge to receive the prophetic calling and to accept that mantle.  So when that happens in 1860, he comes to a conference of the New Organization, what becomes the Reorganization and what becomes Community of Christ, then that becomes something that all these little branches start to get really excited about.  Fairly quickly, then that Reorganization draws from all the different tradition churches, including people who had gone west who are dissatisfied with what was going on under Brigham Young in Utah.

It turns out that some other Mormon schismatic groups are contemporaries of Joseph Smith III.  John talks briefly about several of these churches, “There’s more –ites; that’s hardly an exhaustive group so I don’t mean to be leaving anybody out.  They are very interesting.”  He’ll briefly discuss founding of the Hedrickites, Williamites, Josephites, Cutlerites, Whitmerites, and their relationship to the RLDS Church.  Lachlan MacKay will also tell when and why the Kirtland Temple changed from a bluish-gray color to the current white color it is today.  It’s going to be a fun conversation. I hope you check out our Mormon Schisms Tour!