I worked most of a year in Salt Lake City, and many co-workers were LDS members. To a person, they were exemplary individuals, little representative of the founder. An American Fraud is a book by lawyer Kay Burningham, born into the faith, only to leave the church in mid-life. The book lays out the history of the founding of the LDS and the ethical squaller of its early leaders. Under outside pressure the Church morphed to adapt to modern morality, yet still retains tinges of a 19th century oppressive society. This according to Burningham’s observations.
Not detailed in the book are the workings of LDS offshoots that show much evidence of drinking from the tainted well. When circumstances arise the egg is cracked, and the world gets a fresh appreciation of the Church’s criminal underpinnings:
FLDS leader Lyle Jeffs, 10 others charged with benefits fraud, money laundering
SALT LAKE CITY – Several leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are in jail, facing federal charges. On Tuesday, federal prosecutors announced indictments against 11 people on charges related to food stamp fraud.
The unsealed court documents allege FLDS leaders directed members to hand over their SNAP benefit cards to the FLDS storehouse, and that certain individuals laundered money to hide the activity.
Up front it should be noted that the FLDS has no relationship with the founding church. This and numerous branches of similar ilk are soundly repudiated by the Church, headquartered in Salt Lake City.
The recent charges relate to blatant criminal activity, but at a lower level these splinter sects have a long history of banking social preferences—supposedly supported by religious doctrine—off the American taxpayer. Polygamy is a Church practice abandoned and condemned by the LDS over a century ago, but it exists in principle, particularly in the Utah hinterlands and other locales out of the main stream. The easing of legal repercussions against casual immorality allows a man, so inclined, to have multiple wives, provided he files only one marriage with the government. The remaining wives are women of convenience, completely tolerated by modern law. Modern society assists this arrangement by providing welfare benefits to these unwed mothers and their children.
Apparently Lyle Jeffs has gone the step too far. What prosecutors are saying is that people eligible for SNAP (benefit) cards were giving the cards to others, under the direction of local leaders. The people eligible for the benefits were not receiving the benefits, but the cards were being used in stores controlled by the FLDS to make phony purchases. Sales were recorded, and the stores received reimbursement from the government, but no actual purchases were involved. The activity amounted to theft of money from the government.
This and other FLDS shenanigans in the towns of Hilldale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, (actually one community spread across the state line) are not appreciated by others in these communities:
Former members of the FLDS church say they’re not surprised by the by the allegations. Hildale resident Isacc Wyler said he’s glad the federal government is doing something about it.
“We know there are things going on that shouldn’t be going on,” Wyler said. “We’ve reported it. It just seems like it was going really, really slow, and then all of the sudden today it’s going really, really fast. So that’s good.”
The rot is not localized:
Former Police Chief Testifies He Lied Under Oath Due To FLDS Church PressureFebruary 04, 2016
PHOENIX – On Wednesday, Helaman Barlow entered the Phoenix federal courthouse and took an oath to testify truthfully in front of a jury.
There would seem to be nothing exceptional about Barlow taking that oath, since all witnesses do, and Barlow is the former chief of the joint police department serving the twin cities of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, on the state border.
But on Wednesday, Barlow told the jury he had lied previous times he was questioned under oath about the very matter before them — whether his former police department was controlled by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and whether the city government and police discriminated against church outsiders.
It’s hard to come away from this without concluding evidence of a tainted well. Burningham’s book traces the roots to the following and more:
The Kirkland Bank was typical of the criminal enterprise at the foundation of the LDS.
Soon after his translation of the Egyptian papryi, Smith attempted to create an independent financial institution whereby he would profit from the deposits of his faithful followers. Here is where the Prophet’s outright swindling of the Saints caused the first in a long series of disaffections and apostasies.
Burningham, Kay (2011-03-13). An American Fraud. One Lawyer’s Case against Mormonism (Kindle Locations 3681-3683). Amica Veritatis. Kindle Edition.
FLDS leader Warren Jeffs is currently in a Texas slam after being convicted of less than ecclesiastical transgressions. His incarceration did not serve to pull the plug on his criminal enterprise. I am doubting these recent events will, either.