A war of secession in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints between church bishop William E. Jessop and jailed current leader Warren Jeffs may go to court.
Monday marks the deadline set by commerce officials for both parties to resolve the dispute or a legal showdown might be set in motion since, if no agreement is reached, the state says power will revert back to Jeffs.
“The last thing a judge wants to do in a nation committed to the separation of church and state is to become the arbiter of questions of faith,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said.
Regardless of who becomes the leaders (and Utah rightfully does not want to get involved) a split seems likely, with the two factions going their separate ways.
Here in southern Utah, polygamists tend to live way out in the country or in small towns like Hildale, where they are the mayor and police. You sometimes see polygamist women in Wal-Mart. They are easy to spot due to their full length old-timey dresses and hair in a bun. Polygamist communities tend to be highly suspicious of outsiders and are heavily armed. You don’t want to go hiking in areas around where they live. Seriously. Someone who drives a garbage truck here says when he goes way out in the country to a polygamist area, the men drag the trash out to the entrance and stand there with rifles when he picks it up to make sure he doesn’t enter.
The Mormon Church has zero tolerance for polygamy. Members who are found to be polygamist are excommunicated and members of polygamist sects are by definition not Mormon.