Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church) is one of the largest Mormon fundamentalist denominations and one of United States' largest practitioners of polygamy where a man has more than one wife. The FLDS Church emerged in the early twentieth century when its founding members left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The split occurred largely because of the LDS Church's renunciation of polygamy and its decision to excommunicate practitioners of plural marriage, who would not discontinue the practice.


The FLDS Church is estimated to have 10,000 members residing in the sister cities of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona; Eldorado, Texas; Westcliffe, Colorado; Mancos, Colorado; Creston and Bountiful, British Columbia; and Pringle, South Dakota.


The FLDS Church headquarters were originally located in what was then known as Short Creek, Arizona, on the southern border of Utah. The settlement eventually expanded into Utah and became incorporated as the twin municipalities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona. Since 2004, however, news reports have suggested a possible shift of the church's headquarters to Eldorado, Texas, where a temple has been built by FLDS Church members.

The leader of the FLDS Church is currently unclear. On November 20, 2007, after the conviction of Warren Jeffs, attorneys for Jeffs released the following statement: "Mr. Jeffs resigned as President of the Corporation of the President of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Inc." This statement does not address his position as prophet of the church, but merely addressed his resignation from his fiduciary post as president of the corporation belonging to the FLDS Church. According to a Salt Lake Tribune telephone transcript, there is evidence that, when incarcerated, Warren Jeffs made statements naming William E. Jessop, a former first counselor, as his successor or, alternately, that Jeffs had told Jessop on January 24, 2007 that he had never been the rightful leader of the FLDS. Many press accounts have suggested that Merril Jessop, who has been leading the Eldorado, Texas compound, is the de facto leader of the church. Additionally on January 9, 2010 documents filed with the Utah Department of Commerce name Wendell L. Nielsen as the president of the sect. The FLDS incorporation charter does not require the church president to be its Prophet. However, traditionally the President of the FLDS church was also the religious head. FLDS leaders have refused to clarify who is considered the Prophet of the FLDS church.

Prior to November 20, 2007, the church was being led by Warren Jeffs, who succeeded his father, Rulon Jeffs, in 2002. For nearly two years, Warren Jeffs had been wanted on sex-crimes charges. From May 2006 until his arrest in August 2006, he was on the FBI's Ten Most-Wanted List. On September 25, 2007, Jeffs was found guilty of two counts of being an accomplice to rape and was sentenced to ten years to life in prison.

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