One of the strange doctrines introduced by Warren Jeffs to his FLDS followers relates to the status of his father, Rulon Jeffs, the former FLDS prophet. It seems that Warren has elevated his dead father to a status almost on par with a member of the godhead. This strange teaching seemed to make its appearance after Uncle Rulon had his stroke on August 6, 1998. After that event, Warren took the opportunity to start usurping FLDS authority.
Winston Blackmore, one of Rulon’s trusted leaders explained: “Shortly after Uncle Rulon had his stroke, I had on a weekly basis, the happy experience of traveling to Salt Lake City. On one occasion, Warren and I were seated with Uncle Rulon. Warren asked me if I wanted to hear the vision which father had seen in the night. I said sure. He then pulled out a small note pad which he had been using to write down everything that his father had said and commenced reading. He stated that about 2:30 that morning, his father stirred and woke him up. He supposedly told Warren that he had beheld a large and beautiful valley which was literally filled with young women and children, and that he understood that this great posterity was his own. He understood that this event was 300 plus years into the future and he beheld that he was renewed without tasting of death. After Warren read this ‘vision’, Uncle Rulon whispered, ‘Did I say that? I don’t remember a thing of it.’ Very soon Wendell [Nielsen] came and Warren asked him if he wanted to hear the story. Warren read it to him. Uncle Rulon again asked, ‘Did I say that? I don’t remember a thing of it?’ LeRoy [Jeffs] came in and Warren asked him if he wanted to hear the vision that father had in the night. After hearing it again, Uncle Rulon again stated, ‘Did I say that? I don’t remember a thing of it.’ The following week when I went down, Uncle Rulon had Warren read the vision a couple of times and made his same remark that he did not remember it. Very soon it was all that he [Warren] wanted to talk about. We heard it in Church, we heard it in private. There soon became a great fever in supplying Uncle Rulon some of those young women that would live the 320 years into the millennium with him. He privately confided to me that ‘these women are being thrust upon me by their fathers.’”
Warren constantly preached that Uncle Rulon would be “renewed” and lead for the next 320 years. He would be the last prophet. Believing in this strange doctrine became a condition of faith. If it was discovered that you doubted this, you could be called in and questioned by Warren and risk losing your membership, family, and home.
Warren wrote a song about Rulon’s “renewal,” entitled, “He Shall Be Renewed.” The chorus contained, “For he shall run and leap on Zion’s streets of gold. . . . His body will then be renewed, restored as in his youth. His handmaidens shall be increased and great will be his seed. . . . The Lord has worked a miracle. Our prophet has been healed.”
To the skeptical, this was an interesting strategy. Warren used this “renewal” doctrine to gain more control. It became heretical to wonder if Uncle Rulon was getting old and feeble-minded. As extreme commands came through Warren, he presented them as if they all came from Rulon, the prophet who wouldn’t die. You had no reason to question it.
During the summer of 2002 as Rulon’s health failed, his wives would spend hours praying for his renewal and even sewed baby clothes in anticipation for the day that Rulon would be renewed and could father children with them.
But Uncle Rulon died on September 8, 2002. As Warren gained control, he introduced an interesting twist. Rulon may be dead, but he was still with them and in contact. Warren explained that Rulon would be renewed like Jesus Christ was, but he would remain with them. Warren was still his spokesman. At Rulon’s funeral the printed program showed that Rulon was presiding over his own funeral service. Warren explained that Rulon was “in the next room” and could see all that was unfolding from the world of spirits. A song, “He Has Been Renewed” was sung. Warren was a speaker and was listed in the program as “Elder Warren S. Jeffs for President Rulon T. Jeffs.”
The next day, speaking to Rulon’s widows, Warren told them to “live as if father is still alive and in the next room.” Within days, Warren married many of these widows who used to be his mothers.
On December 1, 2002, Warren made a case for his leadership at a general meeting. Naomie, now his wife, implied that Rulon Jeffs had returned to the people in the form of his son, Warren. As Warren firmly took over the leadership he would continually claim that his father, Rulon, was “in the other room” and was giving direction. Warren claimed that his actions were in accordance to his father’s will, and thus God’s will. Somehow Warren elevated the late Rulon into some sort of mediator between the FLDS and God.
In 2004, he said, “Father is here. This is his anniversary today, September 8th and yet he hasn’t been gone. The Lord has corrected me if I started to miss him because he is right here. . . . The previous Prophet becomes the connection with the heavens, he is always close by, or his influence is. Father directs the angels to go check on this family member and that Priesthood person all in oneness with the Priesthood over him.” (Priesthood Record, September 8, 2004)
Warren appeared to pray to Rulon. “Thank the Lord and father . . .” He believed that God sent him guidance through the Lord’s Spirit and “through father.” “I am here to do the will of Heavenly Father through my father.” When Warren gave commands, he would say, “The Lord and father want all of you to…” During his “heavenly sessions” he felt the presence of Rulon.
Warren taught that his followers need to have a oneness with “me and mine father and the Lord” an unusual trinity. He believed that Rulon was near constantly guiding his work every day. He believed that the Lord and Rulon were telling him which men to be expelled from the FLDS. He believed that Rulon instructed him to not cooperate with the government. If they did they would be a “traitor to father.”
Warren had some of his wives sealed to him “in behalf of father.” This was a very strange arrangement. Warren married these women (or girls) but they would be sealed to Rulon. They had never been married to Rulon in life. On one occasion, Warren kicked out a man and intended to marry his wife. Warren recorded “I informed her that she belonged to my father for time and all eternity and a sealing would take place by proxy and the Lord and father directed me that I should receive her for time and this very night we would do it if she was ready.”
Warren taught that Rulon was still having offspring through his widows. One of these widows was remarried to Richard Allred and they had a baby girl. Warren wrote, “So I put on record . . . this girl belonging to my father, President Rulon Jeffs.” When Warren would bless babies that were born by Rulon’s widows, he made a firm point that “the children belong to my father.”
In his relationship with Rulon’s widows who Warren had married, he explained that he was their link with Rulon. In correcting one of Rulon’s widows who Warren was now married to, he recorded, “She needed to be close to me to see father again. . . . She accused me of taking away her closeness to father, saying how she loved him and wanted to die now and go to him.” He told her “that she would never see him if she went in her present condition, she wasn’t prepared.” Warren didn’t like her behavior. “She was accusing me of not loving her. I have not called her since. I haven’t even talked to her.”
With Warren away in prison, he reminded them of this odd trinity. To his children he said, “Live as though the Lord and father and I were right by your side, knowing we are smiling with approval at you.”
In 2008, as Warren sat in the jail in Arizona he prayed to allow Rulon and other of the Prophets to come among the people at the YFZ Ranch and other lands of refuge. He was still seeking his father’s approval in all the he did. He told his family that Rulon wanted them to be with him in heaven. He would always tell his wives and children to “smile father’s (Rulon’s) smile.”