The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which splintered off from the Mormon Church, saw a shakeup in the leadership with Warren Jeffs taking over in 2002 after his father’s death. But in the years that followed, the authorities discovered that Warren was taking child brides and sexually assaulting them. Peacock’s ‘Preaching Evil: A Wife on the Run With Warren Jeffs’ focuses on the religious sect’s history and recent developments, with Warren’s eventual conviction being a part of it. So, if you’re wondering how many FLDS members are still there and who leads them, we’ve got you covered.
Who is The Current Prophet of the FLDS? Did Lyle Jeffs Replace Warren Jeffs?
By May 2006, the FBI had placed Warren Jeffs on the Most Wanted list after being indicted for performing the marriage of an underage girl. He was arrested just months later during a traffic stop in Nevada. While Warren started what turned out to be a lengthy prison stint, the question of who led the FLDS had become critical. Initially, his brother, Lyle Jeffs, took over the day-to-day activities, making him the de-facto leader.
At this point, Warren remained the prophet, enforcing his rule through his brother. Lyle was then named the bishop of Short Creek, the area straddling Arizona and Utah, where the FLDS members had settled a long time ago. During that time, Lyle enforced many rigid rules that included banning certain foods, sex between spouses, and secular media. The members were forbidden from viewing any evidence collected by the authorities against Warren.
But by 2016, even Lyle went on the run after the authorities believed he and the leadership were part of a food stamp scam that amounted to about $12 million. He was arrested in June 2017 and later sentenced to almost five years in prison. Before that, it was reported that Lyle and Warren had a falling out, and the former was removed as the bishop of Short Creek, being replaced by another sibling, Nephi. Warren still had control while in prison and ordered the followers to renew their commitment to the FLDS.
While Nephi was the new bishop, he still received instructions from Warren. The authorities stated there was evidence that Warren, who still remains the prophet, runs the day-to-day operations from behind bars. He continued to handle things like exiling members and deciding which caretaker the women would be placed with. The authorities further suspected that Warren’s brothers used secret devices to record their weekly meetings with him. Earlier, Warren had also made conference calls from prison to preach.
Are There Still FLDS Members?
Recent reports have estimated that around 6,000 to 10,000 members are still a part of FLDS. However, an exact figure is difficult to obtain since the community has remained cut off from the outside world. Many members still believe that Warren is serving time in prison as a way to atone for their sins. As per the show, since procreation was banned in 2011, it seems that there have been no children since then. Some FLDS members remain in Short Creek, Texas, South Dakota, British Columbia, and Mexico.