Imprisoned polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs continues to increase the pressure on his people as the year winds down.
He's set Saturday, Dec. 31, as the deadline for Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints people to be "re-baptized" by meeting an increasingly restrictive set of requirements, including donating $5,000 to the church, giving up children's toys, signing over all possessions to the bishop and refraining from sex, said private investigator and author Sam Brower. Read my story on the new rules here.
Everyone has to undergo a rigorous interview session, and those who don't earn the approval of Colorado City-Hildale bishop Lyle Jeffs (Warren's brother) by the end of the year are out.
(Some reports have said Jeffs is threatening those who aren't approved would be "destroyed," but former sect spokesman Willie Jessop, now opposed to Jeffs, says it's more of a warning: if you aren't among the chosen people, you're going to suffer the earthquakes and melting predicted in Jeffs' apocalyptic "revelations from God" along with everyone else.)
Jeffs is said to have driven the point home with an address to a priesthood meeting (aka all FLDS men) Christmas weekend.
Texas prisons spokesman Michelle Lyons confirmed Jeffs made two calls to a relative on Dec. 25. The Office of the Inspector General is now investigating those calls. Though there is no specific prohibition on speaking to large groups, authorities suspect he may have recorded a message to the congregation during that time, Lyons said.
If the call was recorded or his voice was broadcast to the congregation, he may have violated the prison phone call rules because he wasn't actually talking to the person on his approved call list (each inmate gets a 10-person list of vetted people who they can call and are allowed to visit.)
"If it's determined that Jeffs circumvented or otherwise disregarded TDCJ's telephone policies, he could face losing his telephone privileges altogether," she said.