U.S. & World

Texas seizes FLDS Church's secluded ranch


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  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    April 23, 2014 12:20 a.m.

    The FLDS used to foreclose on the property of young men and other people kicked out in Southern Utah. The public sale at the Courthouse used to be full of notices of communal foreclosures.

  • Bored to the point of THIS! Ogden, UT
    April 22, 2014 9:10 a.m.

    Where are all my 'right-wing' buddies?

    I thought we'd have hundred of comments on here about the 'big, bad government'.

    I'm disappointed... maybe their too busy grazing in Nevada for free.

  • whistle219 princeton, IN
    April 22, 2014 6:08 a.m.

    The Edmunds-Tucker act was fine, it was when the act was made retroactive that it created the problems with those who were already married to more than one woman. The law made the men push out the other women and kids to fend for themselves

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    April 21, 2014 8:25 a.m.

    2 Bits. Already happened to the Mormon Church. It was called the Edmunds-Tucker act which was upheld in the courts back in the 1880-1890's. All church property over a certain dollar amount was forfeit to the gubment. As far as I know, these laws are still on the books, but not enforced after the 1890 Manifesto.

  • Robert F. Smith Provo, UT
    April 20, 2014 3:45 p.m.

    The FLDS Church is a criminal syndicate dedicated to illegally acquiring power, money, and access to young women for its aging leaders. Just another organized crime problem among many here and abroad. Also there is no private ownership of property among them.

    Had the FLDS leadership practiced high ethical and moral behavior (as for example among the Amish), that leadership would never have been targeted by government. Moreover, the government (whether local, state, or federal) is our government, elected by us, paid for by us, and responsible to us. We rightly expect prosecution and property seizures whenever we are confronted by rampant abuse of the law by drug cartels, mafiosi, terrorists, or Wall Street financiers. The FLDS Church has become just another mafia organization, and it needs to be disassembled.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    April 19, 2014 7:54 p.m.

    What happened to all the people living there? Why were only a few living there still? They are not inhibited from worshiping God by losing the ranch. The ranch is the place their children were sent to live without them. Or they were went to live without their children. They took money from members and then took their families and threw them out penniless reassigning as they desired. That doesn't sound like religion. Deciding who and what to think about God is religion. The places they reside is not a church or rectory. You can't just build a religious building wherever you want. The FLDS can worship God. Or not worship God. Further local officials must be able to enter any structure and provide permission for structures to be habitable. They need to be safe for people. To avoid a tragedy and to respond to a tragedy like a fire.

  • rhappahannock Washington, DC
    April 19, 2014 6:05 p.m.

    It is vitally important that religious liberty be protected. By bringing the case, the Texas government showed bad faith. Many more underage pregnancies happened in Texas public high schools than happened on the FLDS ranch. Additionally, it was shown that rumors of baby grave yards, welfare abuse, and many other spectacular rumors were all false. Finally, Rozita Swinton, who made the fraudulent phone call, was never charged with a crime or brought to justice, and Dan Fischer has never been brought to justice despite admitting to child abuse, identity theft, and fraud.

    There were all kinds of activities going on at the ranch that had nothing to do with any illegal activity. These were hardworking people that just wanted to be left alone.

    There were a number of kangaroo courts involving the FLDS. One of the best was where the the judge condoned the officers of not accepting valid Texas drivers licenses as proof of being over 18. Shouldn't the state have to prove it's fraudulent? Losing religious liberty rights affects everyone, as seen by the photographer who stuck to her conscience and turned down the gay wedding.

  • hilary nottingham, 00
    April 19, 2014 1:49 a.m.

    many young girls physical development these days is out of sync. to propose its ok to impregnate them because theyre menstruating is ignorent in the extreme. Hips are narrow and boyish and mental prep. is almost non existent. They are being severely abused. 'Oh well, if they bear babies and die or the babies do - theyve got their physical bodies....' So thats all right then, is it? State slavery is alive and kicking and going on right under the lot of your noses.

  • Lilsquirt Casper, WY
    April 19, 2014 12:30 a.m.

    If anybody has paid attention to what has been stated by the FLDS church, than they would know that it was okay to seize the property. The FLDS church itself owned the property. The people living there are only stewards of the property.

  • jrgl CEDAR CITY, UT
    April 18, 2014 9:14 p.m.

    Good job Texas! Way to show those Warren Jeff loving Texas compound folks. Too bad Utah and Arizona don't have Texas Rangers, judges and courts to take over Colorado City and Hilldale. It's especially frustrating to have the police and leaders of those towns carrying out Warren Jeffs orders while he is in prison. The FLDS "God Squads" are Nazi like and have robbed many of their freedom. Enough is enough and all FLDS Warren Jeffs associated communities and communes need to be shut down Texas style.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 18, 2014 4:56 p.m.

    "SAN ANGELO, Texas — The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints failed to file a response by the Friday deadline to the state's threat to seize its 1,600-acre ranch in Schleicher County."

    Looks like the FLDS lost by default. Their attorney could not be

    Also, from the San Angelo article

    "evidence taken in the raid formed the basis for a protracted series of prosecutions that eventually resulted in the imprisonment of a dozen men from the sect, including its leader Warren Jeffs."

    Looks like many had their day in court and lost. Sorry, but I have no sympathy for this group, FLDS or not, Religious or not.

    And no, I did not mean to suggest that you blamed Obama. I was making the clarification for others who demonize the Federal Government regardless of a connection or not.

    FYI, I always enjoy our banter. You make generally cogent arguments based on logic and information without the inflammatory rhetoric. Always appreciated and often lacking in many posts on this board.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 18, 2014 2:28 p.m.

    Were any money laundering charges PROVEN?

    So the State can take property without proving their case? Not under the Constitution I know.

    I don't remember any money laundering trial OR verdict...


    Again... I'm trying to get you to put aside that it's the FLDS. If the Government can do THIS to them... they can do it to you...

    I know the FLDS are bad... but IF it were another group... does this seem constitutional?

    Taking all their homes, because SOME had bad marriages. Heck.. these marriages could be LEGAL soon (if the Court decides a State has no right to limit who can marry)...


    I don't know if it's common place. I know ZERO of the people they took on the original raid turned out to be under age.

    They did find a picture though.. and something in a diary. And that was it.

    I don't know if it was commonplace or if that matters (doesn't void your constitutional right to property).

    What law says you can take the property of people who didn't have underage marriages... because SOME in the group did...


    PS... didn't blame Obama... just Texas...

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 18, 2014 1:39 p.m.

    I realize that you did not make this distinction, but I will point it out just to be sure it is not blamed on Obama.

    "The state asked a judge to allow the forfeiture, alleging that FLDS leaders financed a $1.1 million purchase of the land in 2003 through money laundering. It also cited sexual assaults committed on the property. Under Texas law, authorities can seize property that was used to commit or facilitate certain criminal conduct. A judge granted the state's request in January."

    While it was "the government" it was the State of Texas government.

    "They eventually did save face and find something "

    Are suggesting that it is was not commonplace in the FLDS community, that young girls, sometimes underage, are forced to marry against their will?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 18, 2014 12:29 p.m.

    How does the government ceasing their homes protect minors?


    Do you think they won't move somewhere else?

    IF they are breaking the law... prove it and put them all in jail. Don't just cease their homes and their temple (because you're the Texas government, they aren't your kind, and you can).


    Remember... the whole premise for the original raid was a fake phone call from somebody pretending they were an under age girl, but in reality it was somebody in Colorado who had nothing to do with the FLDS.

    They eventually did save face and find something. But is what they found justification for ceasing every person in the community's homes??

    Again, pretend it's not the FLDS.

    If some people in YOUR faith were accused of child abuse... would that justify the government ceasing every home of every person of your faith??

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 18, 2014 11:11 a.m.

    2 bits. You make it sound as if one guy married an underage girl and the whole group was penalized for it.

    Don't you think that this was a culture in this group?
    Weren't non minor girls "forced" to marry people they may not have chosen?
    Were those who didn't want to marry old codgers, free to leave? Or was there intimidation?
    And even if a 15 year old was technically free to leave, was it really a viable option?

    I really don't have an issue with what adults do, as long as they are free make their own choices.

    Minors are a completely different matter.

    And from what I can tell, this whole thing was about protecting minors who were being abused under the guise of Religion.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 18, 2014 10:23 a.m.

    Put aside that this is the vilified FLDS church and look at it in general terms...

    Is THIS what we want our government doing? Seizing private property of people/groups who are different, or groups they don't understand, or groups they don't like?


    It's OK as long as it's just happening to those weird FLDS people. But what about when it happens to you? Many in America think you're pretty weird you know.

    For instance this quote from the article... "men in largely identical, long sleeve shirts flooded national TV airwaves"...

    The same images and quotes could have been about the General Priesthood Session of conference a few weeks ago!

    Would you be outraged IF the government seized the Conference Center... or the Temple???

    I don't see why people are OK with the way our government is treating these people (partly because they are different). They are a different religion, a different culture, have different styles, customs and traditions. But that doesn't justify how they are being treated.

    Their leader broke the law... that doesn't mean they ALL deserve to be treated like sub-human non-citizens, by our government.

  • Hey It's Me Salt Lake City, UT
    April 18, 2014 9:48 a.m.

    People still living on the ranch did know that Warren Jeffs took child brides,they knew that he could tell who to marry who, they knew what was going on. They just looked the other way. I don't know where they will all go, maybe they have another compound somewhere. Maybe some of the kids will leave this cult while they have the chance during the move.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    April 18, 2014 9:16 a.m.

    I believe the article stated that the property was seized because the funds used to purchase it were money laundered and obtained illegally. I don't believe the seizure was due to sexual crimes that had been committed by Jeffs or others. The penalty for those crimes is imprisonment, not seizure of property.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    April 18, 2014 8:59 a.m.

    This is what happens to you if your religion is not government approved! Your religion is in constant danger too!

  • Dante Salt Lake City, UT
    April 18, 2014 8:45 a.m.

    I suppose that when an organization--church or otherwise--is set up to engage in behavior which is criminal, the entire organization can be treated as a criminal enterprise which the authorities can shut down, then and seize its property.

    We could argue about whether the FLDS's principal aim, as the religion was practiced under Jeffs, was the practice of taking underage girls as polygamist wives. It seems obvious that the Catholic church is organized for aims other than to have pedophile priests preying on young boys or girls. That practice was not promoted by the Catholic church, but discouraged or outlawed. By contrast, clearly Jeffs and his cohorts promoted the taking of underage wives and the oppression of women and other underlings (e.g., teenage boys being driven out) as a key component of the practice of their religion. Shut 'em down Danno.

  • Serenity Manti, UT
    April 18, 2014 8:22 a.m.

    I don't believe that Texas had the right to seize that ranch. It was private property and the people still living there were not criminals. Warren Jeffs is in jail and so are the other officials who were guilty of child abuse. But the ranch didn't belong to Texas. The law under which they seized it doesn't seem to apply to the people still living there simply because they weren't the ones who broke it. I think Texas went over and above in enforcing this specific law on seemingly innocent people and displacing them from their homes. This seems to be a case of pure vendetta and witch hunting.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    April 18, 2014 7:16 a.m.

    rhappahannock is correct.
    From the story: It also cited sexual assaults committed on the property. Under Texas law, authorities can seize property that was used to commit or facilitate certain criminal conduct. A judge granted the state's request in January."

    If this was about equal application of the law, then Catholic churches should also be seized if misconduct of their priest has been established. Not everyone of these FLDS are married to children or criminals. This case was handled with a drag net instead of as individuals breaking different laws.

    "Forcing underage girls into marriage is not okay; period."
    I have no love for religion in general, but fair is fair.
    Go after the criminals, not the group, many being victims themselves so long, they don't know any differently.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 18, 2014 5:41 a.m.


    So, you believe that "religious liberty" includes sex with teen and preteen girls?

    Thankfully, we don't get to write our own rulebook under the guise of "religious liberty".

    It is scary to know that you actually feel that way (and that 3 others "liked" your post).

  • GreatExpectations Provo, UT
    April 18, 2014 5:04 a.m.

    I don't think preventing or prosecuting sexual abuse is violating religious freedom. Being forced to perform a gay marriage by law when it violates a person's belief is different than child abuse. Comparing sexual abuse to personal belief is a stretch for me. I'm not surprised the state at least wanted to go back and make sure it wasn't happening again, especially since DNA testing had already proved abuse had happened there. Whether or not the ranch should have been totally seized is very debatable, but certainly not to be compared to a gay rights debate.

  • aceroinox Farmington, UT
    April 18, 2014 3:37 a.m.

    @rhappahannock--Seriously? So you believe it's OK to victimize pre-teen and early teen girls for one's sexual pleasure under the guise of religious liberty? If that is allowed it then becomes the blueprint for any pedophile to create his or her own "religion" so they can have a hedonistic heyday with no consequences. Sounds great for the perpetrator, but what about the young girls? Perhaps you'd feel differently were they your children?

  • Two For Flinching Salt Lake City, UT
    April 18, 2014 12:15 a.m.

    @ rhappahannock

    I hope your comment was meant to be sarcastic. Religious liberty ends when it infringes upon another's rights. Forcing underage girls into marriage is not okay; period. Using your logic, we trample religious liberty every single time we stop a terrorist plot that would be carried out by religious extremists.

  • LovelyDeseret Gilbert, AZ
    April 17, 2014 9:21 p.m.

    I would like to see them sell the land and give the money to the victims.

  • rhappahannock Washington, DC
    April 17, 2014 8:46 p.m.

    This is a trampling of religious liberty. If you are not standing up for the rights of the FLDS, you are not standing up for freedom of religion. This is a miscarriage of justice, and people sitting on their hands who then complain about religious liberty being trampled by the gays are hypocrites.