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For week ended December 19, 1999 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

Is Time Up for Utah Polygamous Sect?
Salt Lake Tribune 19Dec99 N5
By Ray Rivera and Greg Burton: Salt Lake Tribune

MANTI, UTAH -- Authorities are carefully watching Jim Harmston's True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days (TLC), a polygamous offshoot of the LDS Church, because the group's apocalyptic statements lead some to fear violence. The group is one of a number of fringe groups that law enforcement officials are watching.

Harmston's group recently said that it had been told by God not to make any further statements to the public. "The day has now arrived," said the church in an Internet message, "God has shut the mouths of his servants and will begin to do His own work of rendering judgment and calamity upon the wicked and ungodly." Harmston's statements indicate that in the apocalypse, his Church will seize power over the Manti valley and establish a new Zion. The group will also then take over the LDS Church's Salt Lake Temple, according to Harmston's prophecies.

But inspire of the Internet message, Harmston's group isn't stockpiling weapons or digging bunkers. One Church member, Dan Simmons, broke the silence and told the Salt Lake Tribune, "It [the end of the millennium] is certainly a date of great significance. But we don't think it's the end of the world."

Former TLC Apostle Rodney Clowdus says that the group does believe that their Church will have a significant role in the apocalypse. "He teaches the first thing that will happen is he will get the power. Then he and his apostles -- he calls them his warriors -- will go out and destroy people."

Sanpete County Sheriff Claude Pickett isn't worried about Harmston, however. He is more worried that one of Harmston's disciples will act, "My concern is that someone in his [congregation] will take what he's saying literally and try to act on it. But until they actually march on the temple, I'm not going to arrest them."

The Utah Public Safety Department has identified 63 groups in Utah that it will watch during the millennium changes, but hasn't yet found any reason for alarm with any of them. "Our feeling is these groups tend to pull into themselves, they tend to be more focused on internal issues," says Public Safety spokesman Christopher Kramer.


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