The False Prophet: Warren Jeffs
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or FLDS) is a sect that staunchly believes in the teachings of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, who advocated the practice of polygamy in the mid 19th century. The FLDS eventually broke away from the mainstream Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or LDS church) in 1890 when the Mormons banned polygamy in order for Utah to be admitted as a state, Paul Foy reported for the Associated Press. It was a break that would last indefinitely.
The FLDS polygamist sect eventually moved from Utah to remote areas in Colorado, where sect members could live in secrecy because their way of life was no longer legal or socially accepted. Over the last century, the church has grown to now include around 12,000 followers located in three countries. A vast majority of the communities have settled in states such as Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nevada and Texas, although there are smaller communities outside of the U.S., including those in Bountiful, British Columbia, and in border towns in Mexico.
According to the FLDS doctrine, a man is expected to have at least three wives if they are to reach "the highest realm in heaven" or celestial kingdom, it was reported on CNN's "Larry King Live." Entry into the celestial kingdom offered the promise of salvation and the likelihood of becoming a god in their own spiritual realm. If a woman wanted to reach the highest realm of heaven, she was told she had to be "the obedient wife of a righteous polygamous man" and produce as many offspring as possible. Those who failed to conform to the doctrine suffered a severe backlash from sect members, which often included harassment, alienation and banishment from the community.
Another unique feature of the FLDS church is the belief in an earthly manifestation of God or "prophet." According to Peat Owens-Listen of Time magazine, "FLDS members unquestionably follow the directives" of this single leader. Since the church's formation, there have been numerous "prophets" but by far one of the most controversial of them has been Warren Jeffs.