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Splinter Groups FLDS Interview with Brodie Olson Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
August 29, 2020 11:30 am

Splinter Groups FLDS Interview with Brodie Olson Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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August 29, 2020 11:30 am

Many churches (as many as 200) have claimed to be the true restored church of Christ returned to earth through Joseph Smith. This may surprise many Latter-day Saints who complain to Christians about the many denominations. Yet these churches all claim that THEY are the one true church and The Church of Jesus Christ of … Continue reading Splinter Groups FLDS Interview with Brodie Olson Part 1 →

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In their own words, a collection of Mormon quotations compiled by Mormonism Research Ministries Bill McKeever is a valuable resource when wanting to know what Mormon leaders have said on a given topic.

Pick up your copy at the Utah Lighthouse Bookstore or In 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. But as we mentioned in yesterday's show, since we were talking about the fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have with us today Brody Olson, who serves as a missionary in Colorado City, Arizona, one of the strongholds for the FLDS.

Brody, welcome to the show. Glad to have you. Thank you. Glad to be here. First of all, introduce yourself to our listeners. Tell us a little bit about your family, why you made a decision to move to Colorado City, and what life is actually like living down there.

Yeah. Well, my name is Brody Olson. My wife and I were living in Virginia, going to school there. I was finishing up seminary and knowing that I wanted to head back to somewhere in Utah, I enjoyed working with Mormons in the past and hoped to do so after graduation. And the opportunity came up to take a survey trip throughout all of Utah, and one of the places we stopped was Colorado City. And we had worked with Chip Thompson at Tri-Grace Ministries in Ephraim, and he was actually giving us a tour of Colorado City and realized from a few outreaches that he had done that the community was really opening up. When it came time to decide where we would go after graduation, we really felt God calling us to a place where the gospel has never been, according to Romans.

So we decided to take the charge and try out Colorado City. We had one place to live, but we didn't have any income. We had some savings, and we just thought that God would continue to provide as we got here.

And sure enough, he has. And so in about, let's see, it was June 1st of 2012, my wife Elizabeth and I moved to Colorado City. We knew that there was no gospel presence, and we didn't really know how to get that going. And we didn't think starting a church was the best option at that time, so we just knew we wanted to get the gospel out there. We did lots of things. And so after arriving in 2012, we got involved with a health organization that was already doing work with the FLDS people.

They're called Holding Out Health out of Salt Lake or out of Draper. And we worked with them on a few things. I remember one of the first guys we were tasked to work with was a guy, I'll call him Sam, and Sam had some challenges with his marriage after coming out of the FLDS, which they were all arranged marriages. So his wife decided that she really didn't want things to do with him, and we thought we'd step in to try to help the marriage. And one thing led to another, and Sam began coming to a Bible study we started. So that began our actual Bible study. And then we got the opportunity, along with HOH, to lease property right there in the middle of Colorado City to distribute needs like food and clothing, that sort of thing. And that began our ministry location where we've done a lot of different things. Through that, over the years, I think in 2015, we ended up starting a nonprofit organization called Grace Rains, and that is now in operation. And we run a thrift store, a youth center, and a community center. And then eventually our Bible study grew to a point where we actually started church, and the church is called Community of Grace Church.

And that began in 2018, and we've been meeting ever since actually at that same location. I remember first moving in, my wife and I were having a hard time having children, actually, until we moved to Colorado City. And then since moving, we have four children now. And so I guess that's just part and parcel of living in a place like Colorado City is having a lot of kids.

So that's where we're at now. In yesterday's show, Brody, we were talking about the level of suspicion that some of the locals have towards outsiders. Would you agree that that still is a problem there?

And how were you accepted when you first moved into that area? Yeah, I definitely that was a problem and issue when we first got here. It was a different place. And I think now is a bit different.

And I'll go into some of the changes in the community now. But when we first moved to Colorado City, a lot of people viewed us with lots of suspicion, not just the FLDS people, but those who had left the religion or were part of like another religion, which is called Centennial Park. And I remember actually taught at one of the schools here as a job I picked up as a part time substitute teacher. And nobody understood why in the world we moved out here. In fact, some people thought we were running from the law. We were just trying to stay gone. I often equate it with like going to a birthday party. And let's say you're at a birthday party and it just finally dawns on you that you are actually invited.

So the people here won't really cast you out or they won't do anything to physically harm you, but they would rather pretend like you don't even exist. And that's kind of how we felt when we first moved here. Now, when you move down there, Warren Jeffs, who is the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he was already in prison.

Talk a little bit about the kind of hole this individual has on the people in the area in which you live. Okay, when we first moved here, it was the large majority of the people were still part of the FLDS. Now, he controlled the FLDS from his prison cell. And that included all of the government offices, the police department, the city councils. Everything was controlled through the church by Warren Jeffs. And he would give edicts or give requirements. And any time a mayor didn't please him, he would quickly replace him and those sorts of things. So he had a lot of control of the whole community. Just seems like when we got here in 2012, he continued to give all these revelations about different things.

I mean, even down to like only eating beans and water and different things. He had a follow through with all of his edicts. Just kind of illustrated the level of control that he had.

And I remember one in particular story that might help understand the climate at the time. And a friend of mine has an uncle who was kicked out of the FLDS church. And, you know, when you get kicked out, you actually lose your family, you lose your house, you lose your job, lose everything that's meaningful to you.

Somebody asked him one time, Well, how can you get kicked out? And he says, Well, apparently, Warren just had a dream that while I was in the military, I had an affair with another woman. And he says, but I just know I've never had an affair. I wouldn't do that kind of thing. It's not who I am.

And the other weird thing is, I was never even in the military. He actually had that much control that he could convince somebody that they've done something wrong that they had never actually done. And the problem was you couldn't question the prophet because, well, he's the mouthpiece of God.

And if you question him, it's like questioning God and you're out anyway. So we'll get lots of control in the community, particularly when we first moved there. Brody, we heard that many of the people still belonging to the church are preying on the hour for Jeff's to be released. Do you think that's still the case going on?

Yeah, I would not be surprised. I would bet that that still is going on. Prayer has always been really a large part of the community. A friend of mine told me at one time while he was still in the church, everybody was commanded to pray anytime they came to a complete stop. So if you stopped at a stop sign, you were asked to pray for like a full 30 seconds before continuing on. And in some places, it just got too unbearable.

You couldn't. And he remembers recalling situations like that. So prayer has always been a large part of this community. And I would not be surprised if that's still going on.

In fact, if you go and look at the chimney of Warren Jeff's previous compound, the words pray and obey are inscribed in brick on the chimney of this house to remind people that their need to pray and obey the prophet in all areas. And so, yeah, I think that's exactly probably what's going on. They're very devoted to him and they expect and anticipate that he will eventually get out and he will somehow right all of the wrongs that were done in this community. So all the properties that are no longer in their possession will somehow immediately revert back into the church members' possession when he gets out of prison. So I think they're very intent on seeing that happen.

They'll probably pray as long as they have to do it. If you look online, many people are saying the church has between 7,000 to 10,000 members still. But we talked to you earlier off air and you said that perhaps there are fewer than 3,000 members, with only maybe 5% of the Hildale community being made up of FLDS members and 40% in Colorado City.

Why are people leaving these two cities who belong to this church and where are they going? Well, the FLDS church was made up really of various communities residing anywhere from Canada to the north and Mexico all the way down south. And the largest of these groups is, of course, Hildale and Colorado City, which was formerly known as Short Creek.

Now, when Warren James came into power, he not only consolidated all the power, but he also consolidated the people. And so at one point, he asked all the FLDS members in Utah to move to Short Creek. So as a result, the majority of the FLDS population really resided right here in Short Creek, which is Colorado City and Hildale. And so those 7,500 people that were residing here at that time are probably 95% FLDS.

But the reason the numbers have really shifted so drastically to being closer to 20% overall population of this community today are many. In fact, I would say one of which was mass expulsions that started occurring sometime in 2010. It was probably due to constant paranoia that others were jockeying for positions and having a hard time with Warren Jess as the prophet. I don't think that was the case.

I think that was all fabricated in his brain. But along with that, there were all these bizarre prophecies that were kind of like power tactics by the prophet. And it really created a lot of media attention and it brought to light a lot of the illegal and unfair practices of the FLDS leader.

People who may have kind of been questioning those things became proof that they needed to leave the church. And probably the other thing that had a lot of impact on that percentage to where it is today is the UEP Trust, which owns all this property in Colorado City and Hildale, was way behind on taxes. And it was decided by the judge overseeing the trust that those taxes must be paid.

Now, this is a Utah State judge. But Warren's policy at that time, as the trust was going out and making those people who are living in those properties pay those taxes, he strictly prohibited the payment of even taxes to the trust. And as a result, FLDS members chose to rather walk away from these large compounds. In some cases, these were like 10,000 square foot houses and bigger. And then they would just go and bunk with other faithful members of the FLDS sect. At some point, they became evicted and the houses just essentially began running out and the FLDS people had really nowhere to go. So it was natural for the residents here to start looking for other places to live in surrounding regions because they refused to pay those taxes that the trust had to take care of and begin imposing upon people.

So along with the mass expulsions, the media attention that was creating a loss of control in all of the tax situation and people leaving because they refused to pay any taxes, that's what really contributed to the higher rates of attrition that we've seen in recent years. We've been talking to Brody Olson. He serves as a missionary in the town of Colorado City, Arizona, a town that has a lot of people from the fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headed by Lauren Jeffs, who, as we've said, is now serving a prison sentence. Tomorrow we're going to continue this conversation with Brody on this fascinating subject. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism. for questions or to register, call Chris at 801-754-3636. Again, that's 801-754-3636.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-23 11:46:56 / 2024-03-23 11:52:32 / 6

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