By Anna Newman
For a 1,600-acre ranch in the small Texas town of Eldorado, the world isn?t over ? but it should have been according to the congregation gathered there.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, led by their prophet Warren Jeffs, met for a conference at their new temple site amid rumors that they were preparing for the end of the world. Jeffs previously forecast the end of the world for April 6, where the faithful gathered members would be lifted up to heaven, but now it seems a day of prayer and possibly a temple dedication are all that are in store.
Headquartered in the twin cities of Colorado City, Ariz. and Hildale, Utah, the move to Eldorado left the majority of members behind. In anticipation of April 6, both Utah and Arizona authorities watched the polygamist community in fear of a mass exodus. With today?s anti-climactic dawning, however, the fear of a mass reaction is all but gone, said Andrea Esquer, spokeswoman for the Arizona Attorney General?s office.
?Well, the world hasn?t ended,? she said. ?We understand some people have left Colorado City to go to Texas for the dedication of the temple, but we haven?t seen anything that would suggest that there?s been anything like a mass exodus.?
Working together with Utah?s Attorney General, concerns that a mass exodus would leave people stranded behind kept both states on their toes, Esquer said, as those people might require special services.
The FLDS church, which branched off from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dedicated their first temple at the same time as Latter-day Saint members celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Church?s organization. While the FLDS church may find its origins stemming from the LDS church, their belief about the end of the world does not, said religion professor David Whitchurch.
?We believe in the coming of the Savior, that he?ll return and certainly we believe that there will be a millennial reign,? Whitchurch said. ?But as the scriptures say, ?But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven but my Father only? [Matthew 24:36]. So when we talk about the exact time and specifying a day, I?m not aware of anyone that has done anything like that in the church. We usually stay pretty close to the scriptures when it comes to identifying the end of the world and the events that are going to transpire.?
While the doomsday prediction was wrong, ironically the prophecy may actually be a sign of the last days, said BYU junior Julie Evans, an Exercise Science major from American Fork.
?It says over and over in the scriptures that as we get closer to the last days there will be more and more false prophets,? Evans said. ?That is exactly what he [Jeffs] is because he is leading people away from the truth. When you put yourself in that position of influence, you better make sure you?re teaching the right thing ? and I think he is definitely not.?