Members of a fundamentalist sect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in Colonia Lebaron, Mexico, are under attack. Earlier this month, a local drug cartel abducted and executed a colony leader, Benjamin (Benji) LeBaron.
Armed men in police uniforms took LeBaron, 31, from his home on 7 July 2009. They beat and fatally shot him minutes later. Colony members believe cartel members killed LeBaron for refusing to pay the $1 million ransom demanded in exchange for his younger brother, Eric, who was kidnapped from the family ranch in May.
Another LeBaron brother, Marco, left college to join approximately 70 FLDS members in a volunteer police force to protect the colony. The Mexican government has given its permission for colony members to arm themselves.
The LeBarons are some of the roughly 1000 members of the FLDS colony founded by their great-grandfather Alma Dayer LeBaron in the 1920s. LeBaron broke with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints so that his community could continue to practice plural marriage.
Read more here.
Secrecy and New Religious Movements: Concealment, Surveillance, and Privacy in a New Age of Information
By Hugh B. Urban, Ohio State University
(Vol. 2, November 2007)
Understanding Contemporary Millenarian Violence
By John Walliss, Liverpool Hope University
(Vol. 1, June 2007)
It is inaccurate to refer to the LeBarons as “FLDS”. The FLDS is the name of an actual Church entity organized in 1996 by fundamentalist Mormons who are descendants of original settlers of Colorado City, AZ & Hildale, UT and who have resided in that area for the past 50 years. Its members have recently moved to other states, including Eldorado, TX, where there was a massive raid last spring and 400+ women and children were removed from the YFZ ranch based on a fake emergency phone call for help.
The LeBarons are a separate break-off of the LDS Church and established their Mexican colony completely separately from any other fundamentalist group, and they have lived apart from either church for over 40 years as well. They do consider themselves to be “Fundamentalist Mormons” which is more a description of what they believe rather than a “name” since there are many kinds of Fundamentalist Mormons. It creates confusion with the LDS Church, because the LDS Church is known as Mormon, but the LDS Church no longer practices polygamy and excommunicates those who do.
The LeBarons are not affiliated with the LDS or the FLDS Church.
Thanks for the correction, Terin. You’re right — the LeBaron sect should be referred to as post-manifesto polygamists. My apologies.