During the past twenty years, the FLDS leadership introduced a policy of casting out members from their society for various reasons. Some of these people have gone away quietly, still believing in the Church. Others have been deeply hurt, feeling that they have been treated unjustly, losing their homes and families. Still others have left voluntarily or escaped. In the 1952 and 1984, large groups of families have split off from the FLDS because of disputations over leadership and doctrine.
In all cases, these former members are referred to as “apostates.”
Warren Jeffs gave a definition of an apostate. “An apostate is a person that turns against the prophet. They turn away from him at first then they turn to fight him in the end. People who criticize the prophet will eventually turn against him. What brings a person to do this? It is simply losing the spirit of God through disobedience.”
Anyone within the FLDS who starts to criticize or disobey the prophet is viewed as heading down the road to being an apostate. This is another mechanism of control used by the FLDS leaders. FLDS fear greatly being branded as apostates.
Not only are the apostates terribly wicked, but their descendants are too. “Where people have heard the gospel and then turned against it, they usually teach their children to hate the priesthood also, and they put into their own being a hate for priesthood.” (WSJ 11/22/95) “Apostates become more dark in their minds and their ways, than even gentiles are. Those who have heard the gospel and fall away from it - they are all the more darkened. It's like they turn traitor against light and truth. Also, their children and those that follow after their ways, become dark and filthy. (WSJ 4/2/96)
“The Jews were apostate. They knew the gospel was true and hated it. The Lord will not allow apostates to prosper. They must go down. Eventually, they become nothing, as it is with their descendants.” (WSJ 4/27/96)
The FLDS believe that the eternal destination for apostates is worse than hell. “The wicked who were a part of this work (FLDS) and then apostatized - or the wicked who were offered this priesthood and would not live it - when they die, they go and live among the worst, most evil spirits. They become angels to the devil. They become the people that hate us the worst. The apostates are the worst spirits. They are the ones who know how the best, to tempt us - and they're always trying to destroy the priesthood people here.” (WSJ 10/31/95)
“When they come out of the grave and are resurrected, they will not go into any of the degrees of happiness. They will go immediately into eternal punishment that will never die. They are the worst of beings and the terror and pain they will suffer cannot even be described. The worst thing a person could be is an apostate and turn against the prophet. They will suffer even as Lucifer, who fell from the heavens, will.” (WSJ 11/1/95)
As early as 1967, Leroy Johnson taught that some day the disobedient would need to be purged out of the FLDS. “And the time is coming when the Lord is going to ask us to invite men and women out who do not obey and are not worthy of the blessings of eternal life" (LSJ 2/12/67)
That day arrived under the leadership of Warren Jeffs. In recent years, Jeffs has seized on this concept as a core strategy for purifying his followers. Hundreds have been cast out of the FLDS and then shunned as apostates. Sadly, frequently this has been done by Jeffs being the judge, jury, and executioner. A person is accused by Jeffs, that the Lord revealed to him the sins. Often they are told that they have immorality in their heart and have no hope to repent. Others are not told the reason, just told to leave, repent from afar, and while they are away their homes and families are reassigned to others.
Sometimes the FLDS are “kicked” because they are a threat to the leadership. A member wrote: “I was there when
Leaders tell these FLDS members hurtful things on their way out the door such as: “you are not worth the air you breath”, “you are not worth the powder to blow you to hell”, and “you are nothing more than dogs and cats and cows and horses, and they are already dead!"
The families are ordered to have no more contact with the person because they are apostates. “When my father got kicked out, they took all the pictures and burned them. ‘Take the pictures down,’ forget the past acquaintances, and carry on with your life like nothing ever happened. Act like your loved ones never existed.”
The impact to real lives is devastating. One “kicked” member wrote, “One of my children who follows Warren Jeffs has been told to no longer associate with me or my other children. I only see her if I happen to meet her in town shopping or something. If her husband is with her at that time she won't even look at me. If she is alone I might be able to get close enough to give her a hug and let her know I love her. But she doesn't stay for long, just hurries away. I am not allowed to talk to her children--my grandchildren. They won't come near me. They have been taught that I am an apostate, which is absolutely not true. My religion is stronger than ever. I believe as I always have.”
Most former members branded as apostates just bear the pain quietly. “I miss my family out there too. Some days I want to cry, but the tears don't come, because I KNOW that underneath all the stuff that is between us, my family really does love me. I know they are just trying to do what they think is right, and I don't think it is my place to push them to believe what I believe. I only need to understand. And, I keep things. I keep the last birthday present my mother gave me and it's on my dresser every day so I can remember that she loves me and every year that goes by without a phone call, I know she is thinking of me and loving me, and maybe shedding a few tears for me that day. And that is enough.”
The large groups that broke off from the FLDS are also treated as apostates. On July 16, 2000, Jeffs ordered FLDS members to have no contact with "2nd Warders," a group located in