Polygamy-Practicing

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Polygamy-Practicing

Apostolic United Brethren

Christ’s Church

Church of Jesus Christ of the Saints in Zion

Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times

Church of the Lamb of God

Church of the New Covenant in Christ

Confederate Nations of Israel

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Millennial Church of Jesus Christ

Order of Nazorean Essenes (Sons Ahman Israel)

The Watchmen on the Towers of Latter Day Israel

Apostolic United Brethren

3139 W 14700 S, No. A, Bluffsdale, UT 84065

HISTORY

The Apostolic United Brethren has its roots in a major split in the largest of the polygamy-practicing groups, generally referred to as the United Order Effort. In 1951 leadership of the group had passed to Joseph White Musser (1872–1954), who became president upon the death of John Y. Barlow (1874–1949). Musser had become a polygamist in the early twentieth century and was among the original leaders who had organized around Lorin C. Woolley (1856–1934). Over the years Musser had arisen as a major apologist for polygamy. He ran Truth Publishing Company in Salt Lake City, Utah, from which he published a number of books and a periodical, The Truth.

Musser began almost immediately to encounter trouble with the other elected leaders of the group, most of whom resided in Short Creek (now Colorado City), Arizona. They mistrusted his leadership, while he felt they were changing doctrines and ordinances from the original fact and intent as taught by Joseph Smith Jr. (1805–1844), the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The tensions were heightened following Musser’s stroke in 1953, which left him incapacitated. He appointed two new members to the ruling elite, Margarito Bautista and Rulon C. Allred (1906–1977). As resistance to Musser’s decisions increased, he dismissed the leadership and appointed a new set of leaders, consisting entirely of his supporters. At this point, most of the members followed the leadership at Short Creek, but several thousand followed him. Allred, his chief assistant, became the presiding elder of Musser’s followers in 1954. The group considered itself the continuation of the church founded by Joseph Smith Jr. It finally incorporated in 1975 as “the Corporation of the Presiding Elder of the Apostolic United Brethren,” to assist in its working with and conforming to the tax laws. The group is generally known as the Apostolic United Brethren.

During the period of Rulon Allred’s leadership, the Apostolic United Brethren grew several times over. A respected naturopathic physician in the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray and a polygamist since the 1930s, Allred moved quickly to consolidate membership in the Apostolic United Brethren among polygamists, particularly in Mexico. He led in the establishment of a colony in Pinesdale, Montana, where a large meeting hall was dedicated in 1970. His leadership came to an abrupt end on May 10, 1977, when members of another polygamist group, the Church of the Lamb of God, led by Ervil Morrell LeBaron (1925–1981), assassinated him. He was succeeded by his brother, Owen Arthur Allred (1914–2005).

BELIEFS

The Apostolic United Brethren believes that the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this century have in a very real sense disqualified the leadership of Joseph Smith Jr., Brigham Young (1801–1877), John Taylor (1808–1887), and the other early leaders of the church by their rejection of their teachings. The more recent leaders of the church have implied that Smith and his associates made serious errors that they can now correct as they see fit. The Brethren cannot accept recent instructions to disregard the teachings of the church’s founding prophet. It cites as one major error the giving of the priesthood to black men, believing that since ancient times admission to the priesthood has been denied to the descendents of Cain (black people). The Brethren has also criticized the church for changes in both the temple service and the garments worn during temple services. It is opposed to granting the priesthood to women, though women have many other leadership functions with the Brethren.

Membership

In 1992 the Brethren reported approximately 7,000 members in five centers in the United States and foreign membership in England and Mexico.

Sources

Allred, Rulon C. Treasures of Knowledge. 2 vols. Hamilton, MT: Bitteroot Publishing Co., 1982.

Bradlee, Ben, Jr., and Dale Van Atta. Prophet of Blood. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981.

The Most Holy Principle. 4 vols. Murray, UT: Gems Publishing Co., 1970–1975.

Musser, Joseph W. Celestial or Plural Marriage. Salt Lake City, UT: Truth Publishing Co., 1944.

———. Michael Our Father and Our God. Salt Lake City, UT: Truth Publishing Company, 1963.

Christ’s Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

Christ’s Church, also known as the “Branch” Church, was formed in 1978 at Provo, Utah by Gerald W. Peterson, Sr. (d. 1981). In founding the group, Peterson, a former leader with the Apostolic United Brethren, acted in accord with a revelation he had received. He had come to believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had become apostate and no longer taught the true principles of Christ’s church. The alleged decline into apostacy began with the presidency of Heber J. Grant, when the keys of priesthood authority were removed, culminating with the acceptance of a black man into the priesthood.

Peterson did not see his new organization as a replacement of the Mormon Church. Rather, the purpose of Christ’s Church is to provide a righteous branch so those who choose to follow the Lord completely can find the correct organization, experience the gifts of the spirit, and be served by the fullness of the ordinances. In establishing the church, Peterson is fulfilling the prophecy from Mormon scripture concerning ‘setting God’s house in order’ under Joseph Smith, Jr. The beliefs and practices are similar to those of the Apostolic United Order, except for the belief that Peterson had been given the keys to the priesthood and is President Prophet of it. At the time of Peterson’s death, his son, Gerald W. Peterson, Jr., received the keys to the priesthood. He currently leads the church.

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

The Branch. Send orders to Box 1329, St. George, UT 84770.

Church of Jesus Christ of the Saints in Zion

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Church of Jesus Christ of the Saints in Zion emerged in 1984 from a group of Mormons headed by Roger Billings, who had moved from Utah to Blue Springs, Missouri, in 1979. They had planned to build a community, but the process was disrupted by the introduction of teachings on polygamy and other beliefs that disagreed with those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a result of his teaching activity, Billings and his supporters were excommunicated from the church. They organized independently.

It is the position of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Saints in Zion that polygamy was condoned by God, though it is not practiced by the group. However, new relationships based upon the addition of multiple “spiritual wives” (women who will be married for all eternity to their spiritual husbands), have been created. Billings, as head of the church, performs spiritual marriage ceremonies.

Membership

At the time of publication, there was only one congregation, with less than 20 members.

Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times

5854 Mira Serana, El Paso, TX 79912

The Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times arose out of the participation in Mormon fundamentalist groups of the LeBaron family—Alma Dayer LeBaron (1886–1951), his sons Floren LeBaron, Benjamin F. LeBaron, Alma LeBaron Jr., Ross Wesley LeBaron, Ervil Morrell LeBaron (1925–1981), Joel LeBaron (d. 1972), and Verlan M. LeBaron, and a cousin, Owen LeBaron. Alma Dayer LeBaron, who, with his family, was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was affiliated with polygamist leader Joseph White Musser as early as 1936. In 1934 Benjamin LeBaron claimed to be “the One Mighty and Strong,” the prophetic figure mentioned in the Mormon writings (Doctrines and Covenants 85), and he convinced several members of the family to substantiate his claims as a prophet. In 1944 the LeBaron family was excommunicated. From then until 1955, most of the family associated themselves with the “fundamentalist” colony in Mexico directed by Rulon C. Allred (1906–1977), leader of the Apostolic United Brethren. The LeBaron family members were in the process of setting up a united order (an economically communal style of living) when, in 1955, they decided to leave Allred’s Mexican colony.

Joel, Ross Wesley, and Floren worked out the basic order of their own church and incorporated on September 1, 1955, under the name of the Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times. Joel claimed to have been selected for the “patriarchal priesthood” and had a revelation directing Allred to become his councilor. Allred rejected the invitation. Both Benjamin and Ross Wesley also rejected his claims.

Joel claimed a line of priesthood succession through his father, Alma Sr., to Alma’s grandfather, Benjamin F. Johnson (1818–1905), who was secretly ordained by Joseph Smith. (Mormon authorities point out that Johnson accepted the Manifesto of 1890 abolishing polygamy.) Joel claimed that the priesthood was superior to the presidency of the church, the apostles, and the Seventies.

Joel LeBaron led the Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times until he was murdered in 1972. He was succeeded by his brother Verlan, who was killed in an automobile accident in 1981. The current leader of the Church is Siegfried Widmar. For a number of years the Church issued a magazine, Ensign, in which most of its doctrinal and polemical works were published.

Membership

The group is small, containing several hundred members at most. Most of the membership is located in Mexico.

Sources

LeBaron, Verlan M. Economic Democracy under Eternal Law. El Paso, TX: Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times, 1963.

———. The LeBaron Story. Lubbock, TX: Author, 1981.

Priesthood Expounded. Mexican Mission of the Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times, 1956.

Richards, Henry W. A Reply to “The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times.” Salt Lake City, UT: Author, 1965.

Silver, Stephen M. “Priesthood and Presidency: An Answer to Henry W. Richards.” Ensign 2, no. 11 (January 1963): 1–127.

Widmar, Siegfried J. The Political Kingdom of God. El Paso, TX: Author, 1975.

Church of the Lamb of God

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Church of the Lamb of God was formed in 1970 by Ervil Morrell LeBaron (1925–1981), who had held the second-highest office in the Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times, founded by his brother, Joel LeBaron (d. 1972). In that year Ervil was dismissed from the Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times. As the leader of his new church, he claimed full authority over all of the polygamy-practicing groups, and asserted an authority to execute anyone who refused to accept him as the representative of God.

Beginning at the time of the establishment of the Church of the Lamb of God, a string of murders and felonious attacks plagued the polygamy-practicing Mormons. On August 20, 1972, Joel LeBaron was shot to death in Ensenada, Mexico. On June 16, 1975, Dean Vest, an associate of Joel LeBaron, was killed near San Diego. On May 10, 1977, Dr. Rulon C. Allred (1906–1977), leader of the Apostolic United Brethren, a rival polygamy group, was brutally murdered in his chiropractic office in Salt Lake City while attending to patients. On May 14, 1977, Merlin Kingston, another polygamy leader, narrowly survived an attempt on his life. At least 13 other polygamy-practicing Mormons were killed before Ervil was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced in 1980 for the death of Allred. He died in prison the following year of natural causes.

After Ervil LeBaron’s death, his son Aaron LeBaron emerged as the new leader of the group. Deaths associated with the group continued, mostly prominently the 1988 slayings of Ed Marston, Mark and Duane Chynoweth, and Duane’s eight-year-old daughter, Jenny. In 1997 Aaron LeBaron was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering in connection with these deaths. Reportedly, these former members were killed because of the church’s belief that anyone who left the group had to be killed before the members could inherit God’s kingdom on Earth.

Membership

Not reported. Since the death of Ervil LeBaron, there have been conflicting reports of the disbanding of the Church. Its present status is unknown.

Sources

Fessier, Michael, Jr. “Ervil LeBaron, the Man Who Would Be God.” New West (January 1981): 80–84, 112–117.

LeBaron, Ervil. An Open Letter to a Former Presiding Bishop. San Diego, CA: Author, 1972.

———. Priesthood Expounded. Buenaventurea, Mexico: Mexican Mission of the Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times, 1956.

Church of the New Covenant in Christ

Box 3910, Salem, OR 97302

The Evangelical Church of Christ was founded in 1975 as the Church of Christ Patriarchal by John W. Bryant (b. 1946), a former member of the Apostolic United Brethren. Bryant was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1964 and became a missionary to Japan a short time later. However, in the early 1970s he became convinced of the virtue of polygamy practice and joined the polygamy-practicing order headed by Rulon C. Allred.

In 1974 Bryant began to receive new revelations (he had received periodic revelations since childhood). In one revelation, he was visited by John the Beloved Disciple (one of Jesus’ original twelve disciples), who instructed him to form an “Order of the Ancients” among those who would be led of the Holy Spirit. In 1975 he was taken to the City of Enoch where, in the presence of Joseph White Musser, founder of the Apostolic United Order, and Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he received the fullness of keys to the Kingdom of God (i.e., the priesthood, patriarchy, and presidency of the church). Bryant received some immediate support from other fundamentalist Mormons, and in 1979 the group moved to the Fair Haven Ranch near Las Vegas, Nevada, to establish a communal life together. The ranch was lost when they were unable to keep up payments, and in 1981 Bryant, five of his six wives, and a number of members moved to a farm near Salem, Oregon.

During the early 1980s, Bryant continued his religious development. He began to question what he saw to be problems in fundamentalism: focus upon polygamy and male dominance, rather than Christ. That questioning led to what he termed a “born-again” relationship with Christ, a change reflected in the change of the church’s name. Not wanting to split up the family, Bryant remained a polygamist, but reoriented family life away from its patriarchal structure. He has also vowed to take no more wives and ceased promoting the idea.

By the mid-1980s, over 100 church members moved into the Salem area. Attempts to convert the large barn on the Bryant farm into a church have been blocked by neighborhood action. In the wake of problems both internal and external, Bryant left the church and it soon disintegrated. However, he reorganized many of the former members into the Church of the New Covenant in Christ, which continues many of Bryant’s teachings and utilizes many of his writings that were issued by the former Evangelical Church of Christ.

Membership

In 1985 there were approximately 120 families and one congregation.

Sources

King, Marsha. “Changing Beliefs Led Family to Rearrange Plural Union.” The Seattle Times (October 13, 1985).

Confederate Nations of Israel

Long Haul, Box 151, Big Water, UT 84741

Alexander Joseph, ex-Marine and ex-California policeman, was a member of the Apostolic United Brethren in Montana, withdrawing in 1972. In 1975 he lead a group of 13 families in homesteading land for a colony in Cottonwood Canyon, Kane County, Utah, which led to a fight with the Federal Government over homesteading law. This resulted in the eviction of the colony and the passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. Some have called Joseph the “Father of the FLPMA” because of this action; the movement later became known as the Sagebrush Rebellion in America. The colony moved to Glen Canyon City, now Big Water, Utah, where Joseph founded the Church of Jesus Christ in Solemn Assembly, which was simply a “tax dodge.” In 1978, Joseph founded the Confederate Nations of Israel, which eventually superseded the former organization.

Joseph envisioned the Nations as having an operational government of 144 seats, each to be filled by a current king of the particular nation (family) that owns the seat. All presented propositions for group action are unanimous, each seat having a veto vote. In the ensuing 27 years, three propositions were passed. The nations were divided into three quorums: Judges (24 seats), Senate (70), and the Council of Fifty (50). The king was to act as an independent sovereign upon his own patriarchal authority. The theme of this vision was self-government with little dependence on any other.

The Confederacy convenes twice per year for public businesses, usually at Long Haul in Big Water. Joseph issued a brief statement of belief governing his family known as “Alexander’s Creed,” which espouses belief in posterity, reality, freedom, responsibility, justice, grace, and patriarchal government. Two independent organizations were eventually founded: the Rainbow Order, originally a men’s order that later included women; and a young women’s order known as the Daughters of Diana. No doctrines are codified in the community. Religious faith and adherence are the sole business of each family, though some have espoused and practiced polygamy. Locally administered marriage is by celestial contact, for eternity. Further, the group deems baptism to be an acceptable form of ritual.

Joseph and his family have stated that the kingdom of God is fully comprehended in the marriage relationship and cannot be fully comprehended apart from it. Joseph himself married more than 20 times and sired or adopted 22 children. When he died from cancer in 1998, at age 62, he had seven wives. Joseph was careful to discourage his personal religious beliefs from being touted as the consensus spiritual doctrines of the group, though his personality led many to espouse principles he taught in lectures as their own. Joseph’s sense of appropriate behavior was summarized in his simple expression, “Demonstrate before conversation,” his brand of “actions speak louder than words.” He invited debate and exhortation of other spiritual views and set no requirement of belief, except for the respect of others’freedom, and for inclusion into his circle of friends and associates.

Membership

Not reported.

Educational Facilities

University of the Great Spirit, Big Water, Utah.

Periodicals

The Laws That Govern the Confederate Nations of Israel.

Sources

Fulton, Gilbert A., Jr. That Manifesto. Kearns, UT: Deseret Publishing Co., 1974.

Joseph, Alexander. Dry Bones. Big Water, UT: University of the Great Spirit Press, 1979.

Kraut, Odgen. Polygamy in the Bible. Salt Lake City, UT: Kraut’s Pioneer Press, 1983.

Short, Dennis R. For Men Only. Sandy, UT: The Author, 1977.

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Colorado City, AZ 86021

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church), also known as the United Effort Order, is the largest of the polygamy-practicing groups among the Mormons. It began in 1929 when Lorin C. Woolley (1856–1934) organized a council of people dedicated to seeing that no year passed without at least one child being born within a plural marriage. Woolley, who claimed to have been commissioned by Mormon Church President John Taylor (1808–1887) in 1886, acted only after all of the others present at that time were dead. Woolley had been actively publishing and spreading the story of the authority he and others had from the late president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints since 1912 but experienced only modest success until 1929, when Joseph White Musser (1872–1954) compiled the various accounts of the 1886 revelation and published them. Musser also joined Joseph Leslie Broadbent (1891–1935), John Y. Barlow (1874–1949), Charles F. Zitting (d. 1954), LeGrand Woolley (d. 1965), and Louis Alma Kelsch (d. 1974) as a member of the council.

In 1934, following Lorin Woolley’s death, Broadbent assumed leadership, but he died in less than a year. He was succeeded by Barlow, who is most known for his early leadership of the group’s main colony in rural Arizona, Short Creek (presently known as Colorado City). Short Creek had become a haven for polygamists who began gathering there in the late 1920s to escape the problems created by both law enforcement agents and the increased discipline of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Soon after becoming leader of the group, Barlow contacted some of the more vocal advocates of polygamy at Short Creek and worked out an agreement between them and the council. Eventually, he moved to Short Creek with some of his followers, and within a few years the polygamists dominated the settlement. Barlow created the United Trust, incorporated formally in 1942 as the United Effort Plan, but commonly known as the United Effort Order. Meanwhile, Musser, who remained in Salt Lake City, began publication of The Truth, the periodical for the group, and the most influential organ promoting polygamy published by any group.

Under Barlow’s leadership, the colony at Short Creek flourished and the United Effort spread throughout Mormon communities in the West, particularly in Idaho, Montana, and Southern California. Many of the polygamists who had fled to Mexico in previous years also accepted Barlow’s authority. Following a 1935 raid that unsuccessfully attempted to destroy the Short Creek community, the only major trouble for the United Effort came in 1944 when an anti-polygamy crusade swept through Salt Lake City. Musser and other leaders were arrested and spent several months in jail while the crusade lasted.

Barlow’s death in 1951 led to internal crisis and schism within the United Effort. Musser, the new president of the ruling council, was in poor health, and many people rejected his appointments of his physician, Rulon C. Allred (1906–1977), and a Mexican leader, Margarito Bautista, to fill council vacancies. In response, Musser disbanded the entire council and appointed a new one made up of his supporters. That action split the group, the majority of which supported the leadership at Short Creek. The older members of the council elected Zitting as their new president, while Musser reorganized his following as the Apostolic United Brethren.

Zitting died within months of his election and was succeeded by Leroy S. Johnson (1888–1986), who had joined the council during the Barlow years. Johnson was almost immediately plunged into a new crisis. On July 26, 1953, the governor of Arizona conducted a massive raid on Short Creek. Most of the men were arrested and the women and children placed in the state’s custody. Only after several months, when the governor realized the political and financial disaster his actions had caused, were the colonists allowed to return to their homes, where they have lived quietly in recent decades.

Johnson finished his long tenure leading the group and was succeeded in 1986 by Rulon Jeffs (1909–2002), best known for his 1998 prediction that the Olympics in 2002 would launch the destruction of Salt Lake City. It was Jeffs who in 1991 officially incorporated the group as Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Jeffs was succeeded by his son, Warren Steed Jeffs (b. 1955). The younger Jeffs began his leadership by marrying all of his father’s wives. Among his first acts was to purchase land near Eldorado, Texas, as a new church center, known as Yearning for Zion Ranch, where construction was begun on a new temple for the church in 2005.

Jeffs then became the center of media attention as former members accused him of excommunicating many young men and arranging marriages for young women (some still teenage minors) to himself and others older male leaders. These charges culminated in a warrant for his arrest and an FBI manhunt. In May 2006, he was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. He was arrested in August 2006.

Tried in September 2007, Jeffs was convicted on two counts of “being an accomplice to rape” charges deriving from his arranging the marriage of an unwilling 14-year-old female teenager. He was sentenced to 10 years to life. Toward the end of the trial, Jeffs handed the judge a note that claimed he was not a prophet for the FLDS Church. A short time later, he resigned as president of the church corporation.

On April 3, 2008, while this Encyclopedia was being edited, Texas authorities raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch, arrested some of the adult males, and took all the minors into custody. The raid has created a host of legal issues and it appears that their adjudication will take several years.

Doctrinally, the FLDS is a conservative Latter-Day Saint group that follows the teachings of the Latter-Day Saints as they were prior to the denunciation of polygamy. They have tended to reject most of the changes introduced into the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints throughout the twentieth century. For example, they do not accept the 1978 revelation that allows those of African American descent into the priesthood. They follow some of the communal practices of the nineteenth century and have a strong code of mutual support among church members.

Membership

Not reported. Of the approximately 30,000 polygamists, it is estimated that 7,000 to 10,000 are affiliated with the FLDS. The church has centers at Hilldale, Utah; Colorado City, Arizona; Mancos, Colorado; Pringle, South Dakota; Pioche, Nevada; Eldorado, Texas; and Bountiful, Alberta, Canada.

Remarks

Two practices introduced into the FLDS have emerged as most controversial. First, in recent decades leaders of the FLDS have assumed new prerogatives through what is termed the “The Law of Placing.” This law allows women who have reached marriageable age to be assigned to a specific husband. Over the decades, the leveling out of the ratio of women to men has created problems, as not enough females are members of the group to allow multiple wives for all the males.

Second, as most plural wives are not married according to the laws of the state in which they reside, the state considers them unmarried single mothers. That status allows them to apply for and receive public assistance payments. The practice of encouraging such women to apply for state assistance is informally called “bleeding the beast.”

On June 2, 2008, church leaders announced that they would make official a policy of not allowing underage girls to enter into marriage relationships. While this new policy does not have any impact on government investigations of past incidents, it does create a more positive atmosphere that may help the group move forward in its relationships with various state agencies.

Sources

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. www.fldstruth.com/.

Anderson, Max J. The Polygamy Story: Fiction or Fact. Salt Lake City, UT: Publishers Press, 1979.

Bradlee, Ben, Jr., and Dale Van Alta. Prophet of Blood. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981.

Bradley, Martha Sonntag. Kidnapped from That Land: The Government Raids on the Short Creek Polygamists. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 1993.

Hardy, Carmon, Doing the Works of Abraham: Mormon Polygamy: Its Origin, Practice, and Demise. Norman, OK: Arthur H. Clark Company, 2007.

Musser, Joseph White. Celestial or Plural Marriage. Salt Lake City, UT: Truth Publishing Co., 1944.

Millennial Church of Jesus Christ

Current address not obtained for this edition.

Claiming to be the spiritual successor to Ervil LeBaron, founder of the Church of the Lamb of God, Leo Peter Evoniuk LeBaron organized the Millennial Church of Jesus Christ in the mid-1980s. According to a revelation that came to him in 1984, Ervil LeBaron was delivered by the Lord God from his enemies and now sits on God’s right hand. The group holds that the keys held by Ervil LeBaron have passed to Leo LeBaron. The 1984 revelation asserted the necessity of the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood and the Patriarchal Order, or damnation would follow. LeBaron and his associate Grand Patriarchs, Paul L. Gardunio, Bill Rios, and Raul Rios, have inherited the sealing keys formerly held by Ervil LeBaron. Their task is to seal the 144,000 Grand Patriarchs of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, whom God had, according to their beliefs, previously hidden from the world. The group holds that they are the only persons entrusted with that sealing power.

Evoniuk disappeared suddenly in 1987. It is feared by members of the community that, like others in dissident polygamist groups, he has become the victim of foul play.

Membership

Not reported.

Order of Nazorean Essenes (Sons Ahman Israel)

Chevrah B’Qor Community, HC 65-535, Canebeds, AZ 86022

The Order of the Nazorean Essenes was founded on January 25, 1981, under the name of Sons Ahman Israel (or Suns Aumen Israel), which is a translation of the name of the ancient Essene Nazorean Temple Order called the B’nei-Amin. This order, along with the Anum-II Order and the Manichaean Orthodox Church, make up the Order of Nazorean Essenes, or O:N:E:.

The group believes that its order was reestablished by the heavens, for the purpose of facilitating a full restoration of the primitive Nazorean Christianity of the first century, free of the dross of ages of neglect and corruption. The heavens bequeathed to its members a pure canon of Nazirutha scripture capable of assisting them in their quest for perfection and purification from all that is inferior. The group teaches that the Order of Nazorean Essenes is a modern resurrection of the ancient “Nasaraeans,” a vegetarian sect of Essenes spoken of by the ancient historians. It is a small esoteric school organized into three levels: the Restored Essene and Manichaean Orthodox Church of Yeshua and Miryai, the B’nei Amin Temple Order, and the Anum-II Order. The teachings state that Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah was born into the northern Nazorean branch of Essenes.

The group claims that O:N:E: has also been charged with a full restoration of the purifying Mysteries, or rejuvenating Sacraments, of original Gnostic Christianity. It has also been commissioned with the establishment of Nazorean communities and the building of Nazorean temples and shrines, as interest and resources permit. It works to again make available the natural Essene lifestyle, male-female balance, lunar calendar, coed monasteries, and temple rituals, and the liberating gnosis of original Nazorean and Manichaean Christianity. It claims to have been entrusted with little-known scrolls of Mandaic, Gnostic, and Manichaean origin, and with certain “Heavenly Empowerments” and “Hidden Mysteries” to help accomplish this calling. The Sacred Scrolls consist of edited Aramaic writings of the early vegetarian Nazoreans (preserved by the Mandaeans), the Coptic scrolls of the Nag Hammadhi Library (hidden in antiquity by persecuted Gnostics), and the recovered writings of the vegan Manichaean sect, rediscovered in Medinet Madi in Egypt and Turfan in China. The priest(ess)hood comprises both men and women and the organization worships a male and female form of the deity and messiah.

Among the statements of Nazinrutha, the group’s system of beliefs, are the following:

There is a Perfect, Ever-existent and Primordial Oneness that they call Aumen, meaning Hidden God, and Hiya, meaning Living God. Aumen-Hiya are both male and female, and give continual birth to male and female spirits in their aspect of heavenly parents. Aumen-Hiya, also called the Great Life and Living Ones, allow their imperfect offspring to leave their world and descend to other, inferior realities as a means of evolving them toward perfect godhood. The saving system of Nazirutha includes purifying rituals, sacred scrolls, special diets, service to others, and an inward journey of self discovery, renewal, and reconnectedness with the Great Life.

Membership

In 2002 the order reported 102 official active members.

Sources

The Sacred Scrolls of the Sons Ahman Israel. LaVern, UT: Sons Ahman Israel, n.d.

The Watchmen on the Towers of Latter Day Israel

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Watchmen on the Towers of Latter Day Israel was formed in the early 1970s by Elders Henry Braun, Arno Mittenberg, and others who were excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of their protest of changes in doctrine and practice within the Church, especially on the issue of polygamy. As a result of their problems with the church, the elders of the Watchmen began a study of the position of the church in the nineteenth century as opposed to its present beliefs and practices and have concluded that modern Mormonism is completely apostate.

Membership

Not reported.

Sources

Braun, Henry. Celestial Marriage: For All Time and All Eternity. Salt Lake City, UT: The Author, 1984. 987 pp.

———. Thoughts of a Mormon Convert, Pro and Con. 3 vols. Salt Lake City, UT: Watchmen on the Towers of Latter Day Israel, 1974-76.

Mormon Fundamentalism and the LSD Church. 2 vols. Salt Lake City, UT: Watchmen on the Towers of Latter Day Israel, 1975.

Shields, Steven L. Divergent Paths of the Restoration. Los Angeles: Restoration Research, 1990. 336 pp.