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The Polygamy Blog
Nate Carlisle
Reporter Nate Carlisle and photographer Trent Nelson cover polygamy for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow the Polygamy Blog on Twitter at @tribunepolygamy. Follow Nate Carlisle on Twitter at @natecarlisle. Follow Trent Nelson on Twitter at @trenthead.

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Only 15 fathers in the FLDS?

I've turned up some conflicting information as I look into rumors that imprisoned polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs has handed down an edict saying all children in the community will now be fathered by just 15 men — if true, marking a new, extreme level of control over every. single. aspect of his followers' lives.

With a few TV news stories out on this issue (here and here) I thought I'd present for you what I've found so far.

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— Private investigator Sam Brower said he's spent more than a month looking into the rumor, and is leaning toward believing it.

"I'm still saying it's hearsay and rumor, but the information I have, it's pretty solid," he said.

Brower said when the concept was announced at the church meeting for Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints people who are not yet part of the new United Order, the people were told to stand up and leave if they had a problem with the "revelation." Two to three hundred stood up and walked out, which may have been a risk for them in regard to their standing in the church or could just mean they need more "training."

— But Wallace Jeffs, one of Warren's brothers who was kicked out and is now fighting for custody of his kids, says the rumors are bogus.

Citing a close relative who witnessed the original announcement to the new United Order, he says the "revelation" was much more tame. Leaders said just 15 men are qualified to be called father, "nothing to do with breeding or bring forth children," he said.

"I'm not saying they're not capable, but I've never heard it said they would do that," he said. "I think if they did, 90 percent of the women in the group would leave. That goes against everything we've been taught."

— On the other hand, Isaac Wyler, a former member of the FLDS who still lives in the community and works there, says he believes it's likely true and the people (who have already been forbidden from sex with their spouses) have been given until the end of the year to accept it. The motivation, he said, might be to fulfill the 1886 John Taylor revelation that not a year should go by where a child isn't born into polygamy.

— Willie Jessop, the former spokesman for the sect turned sharp critic, says he's turned up no evidence that it's true.

"We've not been able to confirm any such thing," he said. "There's absolutely nothing out there that can substantiate it."

There you are. With all the conflicting info, I'm not writing a story for print just yet, but I'll keep you up to date as it develops.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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