If you were in Hildale, Utah or Colorado City, Arizona yesterday, it was either because (a) you live there or (b) you were taking the first tour of polygamist country. Former Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints members Richard and Heber Holm, brothers, have launched four-hour tours of the two towns that are controlled by the largest FLDS community in the United States. Of course, don’t expect much interaction from the locals.
These two towns are known for being uncomfortable with outsiders, given their beliefs and the interaction they have with law enforcement officials – which stems from their practice of plural marriage and a history of sexual assault charges (to which the group’s leader, Warren Jeffs, was convicted in 2007). Jeffs’ church has maintained control of the towns’ economies and governments, with the FLDS staffing the police department, schools and public offices with like-minded employees.
Now, you can step into this isolated world, learn about the belief system you’ve seen on HBO’s Big Love and even talk to people who once lived in the towns. Richard Holm was exiled from the community in 2003 by Jeffs, while his brother left the twin towns35 years ago.
It doesn’t come as a shock that the FLDS is not excited about this new development. Its spokesman, Willie Jessop, a member of a prominent family in Hildale and Colorado City, calls it a scam.
Want to know what another member of the Jessop family thinks? Find out after the jump.