On the EDge: FLDS funeral more than a family feud

OPINION – Human frailty is never more evident, they say, than on the occasions of marriages, births, and funerals.

We saw a sad example of that just days ago when the cops had to be called in to keep the peace when a local man and his siblings tried to pay their respects to their mother at Heideman Hughes Mortuary in St. George, only to be turned away by other family members.

Read news story here:  FLDS family funeral feud; exiled brothers blocked from seeing mother before burial

This wasn’t, however, your typical family feud. Instead, it was the remnant of a long-standing religious feud within the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

It all began with the passing of Loana Silvester Harker Barlow Broadbent, 81, from complications resulting from a heart attack. Those familiar with the history of the area known as Short Creek – Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona – will recognize the familial names as those who were integral to the migration south of those who became disenfranchised from the mainstream LDS church and came to the area to practice the polygamous lifestyle of the FLDS.

Over the years, there were power struggles within the fledgling sect, the most recent with the passing of Rulon Jeffs, who was the FLDS leader until his death in 2002.

Shortly after his passing, his son, Warren Jeffs, proclaimed himself the prophet of the church and took iron-fisted control over this group of Mormon fundamentalists. There was a power struggle at that time between Warren Jeffs and Louis Barlow, who was also a member of the FLDS hierarchy.

Warren Jeffs was subsequently charged with sex crimes in Utah, Arizona, and Texas and placed behind bars. But, he still held a death-grip on his followers, manipulating them from prisons in Utah and then Texas. His paranoia over losing control ran so deep that his relationships with brothers Lyle and Nephi were in on-again, off-again status. He continued to play such a role in the FLDS culture that he decided who would marry whom; the nutritional requirements for women and children, who were placed on a beans and water diet; the migration of followers from the ranch in Texas to other points in Colorado and South Dakota; and who would and would not retain membership. He even ordered that married couples refrain from sexual activity, that only a select group of men would be allowed to father the next generation of FLDS followers, men of his choosing.

Halso excommunicated a number of followers who displeased him, including, not surprisingly, Jeremiah Barlow and several of his siblings whose only sin was being the offspring of one of Warren Jeffs’ strongest opponents.

This is what happens in cults, when one holds the power over those who are led to believe they are doing God’s will.

This is nothing really new on our societal landscape. We saw it in Jonestown, we saw it in Waco, Texas. We saw it among the followers of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, L. Ron Hubbard, and, yes, that evil coterie in the southern California desert led by Charles Manson.

How these people gain such an upper hand is one for the psychologists to explain, all I know is that it can prove dangerous when a wee segment of the population separates and insulates itself from the rest of society.

But, this, again, should be nothing new for those who study Warren Jeffs and the FLDS culture and the practice/habit of tossing people from the community.

Most of those excommunicated, of course, are young men, removed from the church and community because there are not enough women to sustain the polygamous lifestyle of those who live in Short Creek. Others are tossed because of charges of apostasy. Some, as in the case of Jeremiah Barlow, simply because of their bloodline.

I know a young man who was excommunicated and wound up on the streets of Los Angeles, the victim of numerous abuses as a result of no education and a lifetime of indoctrination. He was so shattered by his childhood in the FLDS community that when the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon took place he believed that one of Warren Jeffs’ prophesies about “blood in the streets” being the sign that the walls of the prison that held him would come tumbling down was coming to fruition. The young man went into full panic mode, terrified that the self-proclaimed prophet, or one of his followers, would track him down for further abuse. The mere mention of some names connected to the FLDS community is enough to send him into hiding in his closet, shaking with fear.

There’s another young man I know living in Las Vegas who is under the care and guidance of a woman who was sexually, physically, and emotionally abused during her years in the polygamous lifestyle. The young man was also removed from the community at a young age simply because there were too many males and not enough females to sustain the polygamous lifestyle.

So, no, this isn’t your ordinary family feud. This is the result of a personal vendetta by a man who claims to talk to God; a man who has soaked his followers’ brains – from cradle to grave – with the belief that only those who follow his instruction will find salvation; a man who, as we have learned, was a sexual predator of children; a man whose lust for power, sex, and money overwhelmed any sense of decency he may have been born with.

I understand Loana Silvester Harker Barlow Broadbent was a kind and decent woman, a longtime teacher in Short Creek, that she touched many lives in a positive manner, and we mourn her passing.

I only wish all of her children would have had an opportunity to say goodbye.

They were separated from her through no fault of their own.

No bad days!

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • S. Carter June 21, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Yet another great article Ed!! Keep ’em coming

  • IQ92 June 21, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    It’s not that simple.

  • Tammy engel June 21, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    My prayers go out to the Barlow family. What Jeff’s did was cruel and not what God would want. We are called to love our enemies not excommunicate them and deny them the right to see there own family . I pray that eyes will be opened to the evil that is in ths man and that his followers would finally be free of his control.

  • Secret Undies June 21, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Mainstream mormons are just as bad in exempting people from their loved ones events. Take marriage in the mormon temple for example. Relatives and friends of either of the couple can’t be audience to the wedding in the mormon temple unless they are in good standing in the mormon church. Odd that the mormons find it more important that the couples feel it is more important to walk down the temple aisle in their secret underwear and exempt loved ones than it is to have all their loved ones present. Of course, this exclusion of family and friends is because of mormon mandates that demand the exclusion of non-mormons. These cults are only centered around the organization. I’m sure God would not say “sorry, non-members are excluded”. However, cults would exclude anyone and everyone, unless they’ve paid their inclusion fees.

    • Frank June 22, 2014 at 12:40 am

      Way to stretch this one from the article’s subject. Sounds like someone was offended at church and likes to whine. I am not allowed in the oval office for secret meetings with the president. Do you think the pope will let me in the Vatican to watch their meetings? Maybe it would offend you if the Taliban won’t let you participate in a planning meeting. I think I will complain if the local basketball teams won’t let me participate in their halftime planning. Quit searching for ways to be offended.

      • SECRET UNDIES July 27, 2014 at 8:06 pm

        Wow! What an extreme comparison you make between the general public excluded from the Presidential Oval Office where National issues are discussed and your cult religion which bans family members from attending family events held inside some mormon temple! You did make a comparison with the Taliban, which I liken the mormon religion too. Both deem non-members as being unworthy gentiles. Both treat women as second class. Both claim religion as their basis of control and dictatorship. You hit the nail on the head with that analogy or mormonism equating to the taliban.

    • proud mormon June 22, 2014 at 2:03 am

      I’ll pray for you and you ignorance of the gospel

  • Toad June 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Whom ever is paying for the funeral should be able to dictate what visitors come in to pay their respect. Of course it’s hard to have respect for a news article that is so un news worthy.

    • Jeremiah June 21, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Of course this wasn’t your mother!

      Just because you pay the invoice or are the executor of the estate or will, gives no right for religious discrimination.

      Yesterday’ s poor conduct on the part of the “Bishops Office” and executor of the fraudulent will was a crime against society as well as dishonorable.

      I am sorry for the loss of moral integrity of our friends. The guilt is shown in every action. We love the people yet must bring resolve the crime.

    • SECRET UNDIES July 27, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      You would think the same of people being married in the temple. The bride and groom should determine who is worthy to attend, not the church itself. Really, how can a religious entity call itself family oriented when it bans family members from attending family events?

  • Anne Coble June 21, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Wonderfully stated! I pray that the women and children remaining in the FLDS cult, and other religious cults throughout the world, come to know the truth and to know God as the loving, forgiving God He is!

  • Jay June 21, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    I was born and raised in the FLDS. We had a lot smaller family circle than a lot of the families there so as a result I grew up very close to my cousins. We never went to public school, even FLDS Schools that they had running at the time. Our Grandma was our school Teacher. She taught my Cousins and I ranging from about 14 years to 6 years. We grew up together with my only friends being my cousins. They were like my Siblings. I stopped going to school when I was 13 and by the time I was 15 I started realizing I didn’t want to live the FLDS way. I left on my 18th Birthday.

    In 2013, 3 years after I had left and had no contact with my Family, my Dad got kicked out, he was told to leave his family behind, he left. A few months later my Mom got kicked out and was told to leave 2 of her children behind as they were worthy. Thankfully my Mom wouldn’t think of it so she left and took all of her children with her. She got back together with my Dad and they are sending my younger siblings to school. I am extremely lucky to have my family back.

    My story is so rare in the FLDS circle. All of my young friends who have left have been totally abandoned by their Parents and Family. Some are having issues getting into school because they dont have the documents and signatures from their parents and their parents refuse to talk to them.

    When a person who has left the FLDS manages to get contact with a family member the person still loyal to the FLDS immediately get their phone taken away and they are moved so we can no longer find them. This has happened to so many of my friends. It is heartbreaking to have to witness this and feel it on my own. The extent of brainwashing that occurs is so that Families abandon each other on a word from Warren Jeffs. Allow me to share an example that happened to me just last year.

    Last year in August a few months after my Parents were reunited we got the news that my FLDS cousin who was 24 had suffered some type of cardiac arrest and was brain dead and had been on life support and they unplugged her that morning. Half of her Brothers had left and her Father had been kicked out. We all live in the Salt Lake area. Her Dad had accepted his fate and didnt associate with my family because we had renounced Warren Jeffs and he planned to spend the remainder of his life “repenting” for his so-called sins. His wife called him before they unplugged her and gave him the chance to come say goodbye to his Daughter but he refused to go stating that “The Lord had given him his family for a short time and he fulfilled his work and the Family no longer belonged to him”

    My cousin wasn’t kicked out, but she was on a type of probation with the FLDS. She had to be separated from her Mom and siblings until she was deemed worthy to be in their presence. She was living alone with her Grandmother who was in the same boat as she was and they suffered in silence trying to support themselves while living in guilt for sins they never committed.

    My Cousin was in this situation because in the course of her life she had seen many Doctors for her many health problems and she was considered “unclean” because she had seen and had been touched by a male Doctor. After being separated from her Family she was devastated and refused to continue her treatments.

    All she ever wanted was to be a good person, get married and have babies. That is literally all she wanted her whole life. She dedicated her whole entire life to the FLDS and in the end this is how they treated her. The decision to take her off life support wasnt even made by her Mother. The Bishop Lyle Jeffs told her to do it, so she did it without question.

    We waited for 2 days to hear about the funeral. I got time off and was ready to drive down there, as was my whole family and her 3 Brothers that were up here with us. We finally got a call from my Aunt. She informed us we were not invited to the Funeral because we did not support “Uncle Warren”

    I was devastated. I informed my family I was going any way and I would be there for her no matter what. They all begged me not to go, saying its not what my cousin would want. That she knew I loved her and leave it at that. I was so torn. I knew I wouldn’t be able to enter and I would probably get arrested by the FLDS police so I made the horrible decision to stay.

    She had so many people who truly loved her and wouldn’t leave her for anything and the right to pay our respects was taken away. I later heard about her funeral. There was only a small group of people there, her siblings weren’t even allowed to go as she was considered a bad person.

    I am sorry for such a long comment but I still feel so strongly about this. It breaks my heart thinking of the pain she had to endure on her own and how she felt like her whole life and everything she lived for was worth nothing because of one evil, disgusting man.

    What is going on down there is not right. So many families are being torn apart.

    • Jen Lindley June 21, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      I’m sorry that your situation happened to you. I’m not a fan of the FLDS church for all the reasons you stated in your comment. I’m happy that you were able to see that something was amiss and left. I know that it must have been one of that hardest decisions that you have had to make in your young life and, to be honest, I admire your courage. I can’t even imagine the kind of pain and indecision that you faced in that trying time, or maybe I just don’t want to. I am not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination but I do hope that your cousin is in a better place and, if there is a God, I hope she is helping him or her end the atrocities perpetuated by the leaders of the FLDS church on their followers.

    • Jeremiah June 21, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      Excellent and accurate reply. Tyranny under the name of Holy Authority. Only one item i would like to clarify. There is documented evidence that Warren is mentally incapacitated or psychologically inconsistent. His brother Lyle is the one who concocted the attack against the previous bishop so he could move up. Lyle Jeffs was trained by the same mother who raised Warren. Lyle wants the glory and cash. Mr. Lyle S. Jeffs makes the revelation and has for some time.
      The main article was good. Thank you.

      • Jay June 22, 2014 at 12:13 am

        You are correct Jeremiah, I didn’t go into detail on that because its a whole different level. If you are familiar with the LDS (Mormon) Faith, the FLDS believe that what is happening to Warren is the equivalent to the religious persecution of Joseph Smith. They are so blinded its incredible. I still remember the day he got arrested everyone was stunned, they believed it was the beginning of the end and all our sacrifices would be tripled. As soon as he went to trial they banned the internet from all places of business, homes and phones. Companies had to hire someone from the outside to do the work that had to be done online.
        The people believed that every negative thing that was used as evidence was made by technology. I came across a video of a conversation Warren had in prison with his Brother Seth. In it he said “I am not the Prophet. I was never the Prophet” It hit me like a punch to my gut. I was terrified because it was his voice, I saw his mouth move and he had admitted it. I struggled with that for weeks and with my doubt in Warren winning over the teachings I had my whole life I talked to my Mom about it. She immediately became flustered and started wringing her hands, saying “honey! you CANNOT think like that! You KNOW that is not what he said. Don’t you think with all the crazy technology out there they couldn’t make that up?? Its made up and you know it.” But it was too late. It was that video that made up my mind. It was 12 months of terrified thinking, knowing I was going to hell because I admitted to myself I didn’t believe in Warren Jeffs.
        I knew from that moment on that every move that Lyle made in the name of advancement to God and his Kingdom of Zion was just a cover up. I knew he had banned internet so the people wouldn’t see the things that I had seen, and come to the conclusion that I came to because no doubt a lot of people would.
        The FLDS people believe that God has made a way for Warren to communicate from prison. They don’t believe that its not possible, because thats how much they believe in him.
        I watch and hear all the things that go on down there in Colorado City and Arizona and it is so obvious that its Lyle Jeffs and he plays those people like they are puppets. They believe he is the mouth piece of Warren. The same way Warren led the people to believe he was speaking for his Father Rulon Jeffs when in reality he had suffered a bad stroke and couldn’t even talk for the last few years of his life. Warren kept it hidden from everyone. Until one of Rulon Jeffs wives left and told the truth. They are made from the same cloth. Warren and Lyle are horrible, corrupt men. They have ruined so many lives.
        Recently one of Lyles sons left and told some of my close friends that Lyle would take his sons to Vegas to gamble, drink and watch sports ( all of those banned for the FLDS) and would get drunk and laugh about the things he was making the people do.
        It sickens me. I wish something would happen to that man. He deserves to rot in jail with his brother.

    • Chris June 21, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      Thank you for the comment, all the better because it was long and full of insight that only a former member could provide.

  • Rainbowmom June 21, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    They should be able to see out the woman that brought them in and yes, it IS that simple. For shame.

  • Mark Heiner June 21, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Great article, Ed. Thanks for sharing.

  • Brett June 21, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    That is so shameful. My heart goes out to the people of Colorado City/Hildale and the way they are controlled by Jeffs.

  • JAR June 21, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    OK,OK I admit, Another excellent article Ed. Keep it up.

  • Mark June 21, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Jay, I admire your courage and wish you luck in your future, I went to short crik today as I had family from CA visiting asking about the place, they could not believe what they saw, houses with crazy walls/fences and not completed, the poor kid’s that have no clue, the women, how can that be happening so close and at the same time so far from civilization? It almost made me cry.

    • My Bet June 22, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      Incredible that so-called civilized communities that exist nearby act as if they are blind to what you described. Why is that?

  • tinker toys June 21, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Ed a piece by you on Heleman Barlow the Marshal who turned to the feds would be a great read.

  • Not Joe June 22, 2014 at 7:05 am

    I see similar behavior with the LDS. For example, family and friends cannot attend ceremonies in the temple if they aren’t mormon. Just because one person might take up the mormon religion doesn’t mean that person’s entire family or circle of friends will join that religion. However, they aren’t allowed in the temple if that one person has some ceremony performed there. I think this can cause major rifts with families and friends and create a degree of animosity toward the mormon religion.

  • IN THE GAME June 27, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Organized crime.

  • Kristyn Decker June 30, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Thanks again for writing such great informing articles Ed! Thanks to all who took time to comment – especially Jay. Way to go women! I’m from the AUB polygamist sect and there are too many human rights violations there, in polygamy also. Anyone who wants more info. should read all the books on this subject: Ed’s, mine and others. There are thousands more like these that haven’t been written.

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