Rumors of apocalypse ahead of FLDS leader’s detention hearing

Posted at 11:24 AM, Apr 05, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY -- Ahead of a federal court hearing for Fundamentalist LDS Church bishop Lyle Jeffs, some ex-members of the Utah-based polygamous sect have claimed they are hearing rumors that his brother has prophesied the end of the world -- again.

It is not the first time Warren Jeffs has proclaimed the end of days. In his writings, he repeatedly makes reference to the end of days.

"The day of the judgments of God have begun," Jeffs said in a 2005 dictation. "That day is upon us. And the judgments of God have begun with the House of God. And that means this is the day of his choosing."

In a 2012 dictation obtained by FOX 13, Jeffs declares that God has demanded he be freed from prison -- or else face His wrath.

"Now let my holy servant go free, lest I allow nation to feel my judgments," Jeffs wrote.

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs in a 2014 deposition from the Texas prison where he is serving a life sentence.

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs in a 2014 deposition from the Texas prison where he is serving a life sentence.

Tonia Tewell, the director of the non-profit group Holding Out Help, which works with people leaving polygamous communities, said she has heard similar rumors from ex-members with family ties in Hildale and Colorado City.

"April 6 is supposed to be the end of the world and only the most righteous will be saved. I've also heard that's when the prison walls are supposed to crumble and only Warren and Lyle will be let go," she told FOX 13.

Substantiating the rumors is difficult. Some FOX 13 spoke with in the communities said they had not heard of any "end of the world" prophecies within the FLDS Church. The British newspaper The Guardian first reported on the end of the world rumors, citing ex-FLDS member Elissa Wall. Wall declined to comment when contacted by FOX 13.

Tewell said she had a teenage boy her group was helping who wanted to get back into the church recently because he wanted to get to heaven before the end of the world.

Of course, when the apocalypse comes and goes, Tewell said, followers are told it's another test -- and they must do more to stay worthy.

"They put this enormous pressure on the people that this is the end. When they say it's not the end, then they have more pressure saying they're not righteous enough and they have to clean and cleanse their community so the apocalypse can actually happen. It puts more of a burden on people I love and care about," she said.

Tewell said her group continues to offer resources to people inside the polygamous communities. (LINK: Holding Out Help website)

Lyle Jeffs - Davis County Jail

Lyle Jeffs - Davis County Jail

The timing coincides with a scheduled court hearing for Lyle Jeffs. The U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah is urging a federal judge to keep Lyle Jeffs in jail pending trial on charges of food stamp fraud and money laundering. Federal prosecutors allege taxpayers were bilked out of more than $12 million by FLDS leaders, who demanded members hand over their food stamp benefits to the church to do with as they pleased.

April 6 has some significance in Mormon history -- it is the day in 1830 that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded by Joseph Smith. Some LDS leaders have also claimed it is Christ's true birthday. (The FLDS Church, a fundamentalist Mormon sect, is a breakaway religion from the mainstream LDS Church. Indeed, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not practice polygamy and excommunicates those who do.)

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors asked for a one-week delay of Lyle Jeffs' hearing to present rebuttal evidence to a defense motion to release him. The defense points out that he has complied with court orders in other cases and denied that he was a flight risk.

"Taken at face value and assuming this is true, the Court must consider that these allegations occurred eight to ten years ago at the height of Warren Jeffs' criminal matters," defense attorney Kristen Angelos wrote. "Furthermore, there is no suggestion that Lyle Jeffs himself was ever subject to arrest. Therefore, there is no evidence that he was attempting to evade arrest by authorities."

U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart denied the feds' motion to continue the hearing without comment.