The Polygamy Blog

A more in-depth look at Thursday’s FLDS trial testimony

First Published      Last Updated Jan 30 2014 12:31 pm

Patrick Barlow's testimony Thursday in the Cooke civil rights trial was both lengthy and emotional.

Here are a few of the things that were interesting but didn't make it into the final story:

A purge of the FLDS Church • Barlow, the son of a church leader and the grandson of a church prophet, choked up when he talked about his father's excommunication. He said that in January 2004, he was at a meeting with as many as 2,000 other people. Warren Jeffs was at the meeting and from a stage announced the excommunication of eight men — Barlow's father and three uncles, as well as four members of the Jeffs family.

The men left to repent, but Barlow was clearly upset.

"It wasn't really clear what was going on," he testified. "It broke our hearts as a community. It was very real."

Barlow himself has since left the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but his difficulty in recounting this and other stories seemed to indicate the deep and complex emotional wounds members of the community have experienced.

The definition of a religion • Barlow also was asked what his religion was Thursday. He responded that today he is a "conservative Christian" with "a Mormon heritage." Moreover, his father was a "Seventies apostle" — a position that sounds similar at least in name to roles in the mainstream The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And perhaps most interestingly of all, Barlow said that before the FLDS Church became what it is today — something that happened in the 1980s and 1990s — it was known simply as the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." So, at least in Barlow's mind, the name of the polygamous church and the mainstream church were the same.

This won't come as a surprise to close observers of polygamy, but it does emphasize the often surprisingly complex tension over the definition of the term "Mormon."

— Jim Dalrymple II

Twitter: @jimmycdii