I’m excited to introduce Joe Jessop. He’s the LDS grandson of polygamist leader Rulon Allred. Joe will talk about growing up in the Apostolic United Brethren (that’s Kody Brown’s group for those of you who watch Sister Wives), and we’ll learn more about how the group is organized. Do they have a prophet or a council that leads? How did they split from the FLDS? What do we know about John Taylor’s 1886 revelation about polygamy? Who is Lorin Woolley, and can he be believed about the roots of Mormon fundamentalism? Check out our conversation…
Intro to Apostolic United Brethren
Joe: My name is Joe Jessop. My full name is Joseph Lyman Jessop. And I have two polygamous grandfathers on both sides, on my father’s side and my mother’s side. On my mother’s side–well, let’s start with the father’s side because the mother’s side is a little bit more famous. On the father’s side is Joseph Lyman Jessop. And on the mother’s side is Rulon Clark Allred. And as some people know, or probably most people know, he was polygamous leader of the AUB group or, “The Allred Group” during the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and then he was shot and killed in 1977, in his office in, I think it was Murray, right off of State Street. So that was my grandfather. I don’t have any memories of him, well, very few memories of him. He died when I was five. I remember going to his funeral.
GT 13:15 Let’s jump back to this priesthood split, then. You said it was the 51 Split. So, how did that split go? The AUB was one, and FLDS was the other group, is that it?
Joe 13:26 Yes, that’s a really easy way to view it. That’s the way it ends up. At the time, it was not necessarily that simple. So, what you had, you kind of had a geographical and a theological split. Because you had, in the 1920s and 30s, as polygamy was moving outside the church, yet still kind of in the church. Most people think that polygamy ended in 1890.
GT 13:58 Right.
Joe 13:59 It didn’t, and it couldn’t have, quite frankly, how do you do that? Just boom, stop, and everybody’s… I mean, there’s lots of polygamous families out there. Those people had to, there had to be this era, 10, 15, 20 years, a generation or so, for that to start to move away. So, most of those early polygamists, were just members of local wards.
GT 14:25 Yeah. So, even after 1890 they could still live with their wives openly.
Joe 14:31 Sure.
GT 14:32 It’s just like, “Just don’t take any more.”
Joe 14:34 Yeah, just don’t take any more and it was kind of on the hush-hush and the downlow. Everybody knew, but for the most part during, from 1890 to the 1920s, really, probably the Grant administration is when the Church gets pretty serious about saying, “No more.” You’re kind of, I don’t want to say, I don’t want to misrepresent the word, because rooting out, it might be a little bit strong. But there were certainly members of the church and even leading members of the church were that were active in saying, “Let’s get rid of this barnacle on the side of the boat,” maybe. So, they did and they started getting excommunicated in the 1920s and 30s. A few of them started getting excommunicated earlier. As we know, a couple of apostles were excommunicated in the early 1900s.
GT 15:32 Yeah, 1906, I believe.
Joe 15:33 Taylor and Cowley. So, there’s some of that even right in the higher ups of the Church leadership. So, as they started to move out, as polygamists started to move out, they started to coalesce underneath the leadership of Lorin Wooley, who claimed to have authority, dating back to 1886. In the fundamentalist movement, you’d call that the 1886 Revelation. So, he brought together polygamists, that coalesced under him, set up a council and people started coming together, started congregating, if you will, in the 1920s and 30s.
How Lorin Woolley Became Head of Polygamist Movement
GT 22:06 So, this is why Lorin becomes head of the movement?
Joe 22:09 Yes, this is why Lorin becomes head of the movement, because in the 1920s, he starts telling this story. Now, I’m going to get myself in a lot of trouble here, Rick. I’m going to be in so much hot water, you’re not even going to understand. I tell you that story from the polygamist perspective.
GT 22:34 That’s what I want.
Joe 22:35 That’s the story I grew up with. That story is insanely hard to corroborate in the historical record.
GT 22:42 Because of the 30-year gap, right?
Joe 22:44 Because there’s a 30-year gap. Lorin Woolley doesn’t start talking about it until pretty much all of the men, who were supposedly on that first Council of Seven in 1886, they’re all gone. They’re all dead except for his father. So, then he starts talking about it. At one time I was giving a presentation to a bunch of people, a group in Pineville in the AUB and I called it the “Alleged 1886 revelation.” Boy, did I ever catch flak for that. And the way I responded, in front of this group of people, who were ready to have pitchforks for me. I’m just kidding. They didn’t have pitchforks, but they were they were not happy with me, is I said, “Well, isn’t Joseph Smith’s First Vision alleged?”
GT 23:45 Right.
Joe 23:47 So, really, what the 1886 revelation is, and you can track down polygamists, who would refute me and probably come up with some journal entries from their great-grandfather or their great-great-grandmother, who was there who heard about it firsthand. There’s a lot of those types of things. But, really, it’s not much in the historical record. It’s a faith story. It’s a faith story. In polygamy, it’s one of those stories that you, if somebody is getting ready to join the LDS Church, and they’re working with missionaries, what are the missionaries asking them to do about to the Book of Mormon? What’s the promise of Moroni? It’s no different in polygamy. What you do is you study out and read the polygamous literature and then you pray about it and you…
GT 24:40 Better get the right answer.
Did Heber J Grant Start Fundamentalism?
GT 40:10 So, a lot of people say, because of Heber J. Grant, (I almost said, George Albert Smith.) Because of Heber J Grant’s, such vocal opposition, that’s what created fundamentalism. Would you agree with that, or it was bound to happen and somebody had to do it.
Joe 40:33 It was bound to happen, and it was happening before Grant.
GT 40:36 Okay.
Joe 40:38 But President Grant didn’t help it. He certainly drove it underground. And it was going to happen, anyway. But one of the things that fundamentalists need, is they need–and this will come– maybe I might not be too articulate in saying this, but they need opposition. A snowball needs to be packed.
GT 41:07 Okay.
Joe 41:10 And President Grant provided…
GT 41:16 He was the hands that made the snowball.
Joe 41:18 …the packing. It helped, for sure. President Grant is not talked about in kind terms in polygamous circles. He’s just not. That’s kind of a rough period, for sure. In 1945, the polygamous homes are raided by State Police. My dad remembers it. I talked about that in my chapter. My dad remembers waking up to police officers rummaging through drawers and pulling books out of bookcases and carting his dad off in his pajamas. I mean, and then those polygamist leaders spend roughly close to a year in prison, before they sign their own manifesto. All but two sign it. [The manifesto said,] “We’ll stop living polygamy. We will no longer do this, if you’ll let us out of jail.” Of course, they got let out of jail and immediately went back to polygamy. But that’s where Rulon Allred enters the scene there in the late 1930s and the 1940s.
We’re continuing our conversation with Joe Jessop, LDS grandson of AUB leader Rulon Allred. This time we’re going to get into sticky Mormon Fundamentalists topics. How many wives do you need to get into the Celestial Kingdom? Do they still believe in the race ban in the AUB? We’ll get into more history & doctrine for the Apostlic United Brethren. Check out our conversation…
GT 00:43 I feel like we need to talk about Adam-God…. Do you think it went back to Joseph Smith? Did Joseph Smith teach Adam-God?
Joe 03:24 I don’t think he did. If he did, I’m not saying that he didn’t, maybe, allude to it, but it was not something…
GT 03:32 It was in King Follett, right?
Joe 03:32 Yes. Because, he talked about it at the King Follett sermon at his funeral and things like that. So, you certainly have things that if you want to read between the lines, you could say, “Yeah, okay, this certainly would encompass, and could fit within that.” But it’s Brigham Young, who really codifies it, and really starts teaching it that Adam is the literal, physical and spiritual father of Jesus Christ. And that Mary is one of God’s wives. So, it’s Adam, and Mary who get together that end up having Jesus Christ in the Immaculate Conception, or if you put it that way, the not-so- immaculate conception.
GT 04:33 Oh this is a can of worms. I was just talking about, I’m trying to remember, I just talked to Todd Compton about this, because we were talking a little bit about polyandry. Would Mary be polyandrous, since she was married to Joseph and Adam?
Joe 04:53 Sure. Yeah, in that regard, you could say that. Yeah, you’re absolutely right. You’re opening up a can of worms there. How do you describe who Mary is?
GT 05:04 Right.
Joe 05:04 So yeah, so that’s the essence or the basics of what the Adam-God doctrine is. I remember having a discussion with my dad, once, because I never, just on a personal level, I’ve read all about it, and it just doesn’t fit. To me, personally, it doesn’t make sense.
Racial Pillar of Fundamentalism
Joe: When I think of blacks and the priesthood, I tend to look at it through a polygamist lens. Because it is a defining, I can’t even tell you how importantly, defining it is that blacks do not hold the priesthood, cannot hold the priesthood in the fundamentalist groups. It is, literally, the very thing, even as much, if not more so, than giving up polygamy.
GT 30:46 Moreso than polygamy?
Joe 30:47 It’s on the same [level.] If you want you want to talk about the pillars of polygamy, the pillars of polygamy are polygamy, blacks in the priesthood, and Adam-God doctrine. Those are the pillars. Blacks in the priesthood is something [important.] I mean, the Church lost their priesthood when they gave the black men the priesthood in 1978. They lost it, according to the polygamists, 100% lost it. You cannot hold the priesthood if you’re a black man. As a black man, if you have any, any amount of African blood in you, you are the seed of Cain. And therefore [you] carry the Curse of Cain. And the Curse of Cain is you cannot have the priesthood until all the sons of Abel have had the priesthood. And the reason that you are a black man is because you are cursed from the preexistence, where you refused to fight. You didn’t follow the devil. You didn’t follow Satan, but you refused to fight with the forces of righteousness in Christ. And therefore, you were destined to come through the seed of Cain. You cannot hold the priesthood.
GT 32:15 So, because, to me that flies in the face of Article of Faith 2. Is that still a big deal with AUB?
Joe 32:25 Oh, sure, Articles of Faith are there, yes.
GT 32:29 “Men are punished for their own sins, but not for Adam’s transgression.” But Cain is different. Cain is not Adam, right? Is that the idea?
Joe 32:37 Cain is not Adam. He’s post Adam.
GT 32:39 So, you can be punished for Cain’s transgression?
Joe 32:41 Yes.
GT 32:41 But not for Adam.
Joe 32:43 You could easily be, yes, you can be punished for Cain’s transgression. But more importantly than that, in polygamy, Rick, the doctrine has jumped over the top of Adam and gone to the preexistence. So, it doesn’t have anything to do with Adam. They’ve gone to the preexistence and in the preexistence…
GT 33:03 So, they sinned in the preexistence by not fighting.
Joe 33:05 In the preexistence, based on their lack of valiancy, their lack of willing[ness] to fight. That is what destines them to come through the seed of Cain.
GT 33:16 And so, curses are multi-generational curses.
Joe 33:19 Yeah, absolutely. And even one drop. So, yeah, amen to the priesthood of that man. Even one drop of African blood. And, the funny thing is, is that is that in a weird way, the polygamists, I know that sounds so racist for me to say that. That’s blatantly raw. It’s really raw. There might be people that watch this and go, “Oh, geez, what’s he saying? And what’s Rick letting Him say?” But weirdly enough, the polygamists don’t really view themselves as racist.
GT 33:55 Oh, I’m not surprised at all.
Joe 33:56 They don’t think that that’s racist. They actually think, differently than that. They think that they’re actually showing charity towards the black [people]. Because you don’t want to give the priesthood to somebody who can’t handle it.
GT 34:13 It’s like a 3-year-old driving a car, right? It sounds like Randy Bott.
Joe 34:16 Yeah, that’s exactly right.
We go further into fundamentalist Mormonism. What are your thoughts?
“Lorenzo Young asked if the spirits of Negroes were neutral in heaven. He said someone said Joseph Smith said they were. President Young said no they were not. There were no neutral spirits in heaven at the time of the rebellion. All took sides. He said if anyone said that he heard the Prophet Joseph say that the spirits of the Blacks were neutral in heaven, he would not believe them, for he heard Joseph say to the contrary. All spirits are pure that come from the presence of God. The posterity of Cain are black because he commit murder. He killed Abel and God set a mark upon his posterity. But the spirits are pure that enter their tabernacles and there will be a chance for the redemption of all the children of Adam except the sons of perdition.” – Wilford Woodruff’s journal (December 25, 1869)
“There is no revelation, ancient or modern, neither is there any authoritative statement by any of the authorities of the Church … [in support of the idea] that the negroes are those who were neutral in heaven at the time of the great conflict or war, which resulted in the casting out of Lucifer and those who were led by him.” – Joseph F. Smith
It’s funny how despite these definitive statements, the “neutral in heaven” explanation for the priesthood ban was still rampant throughout the Church. Comes to show that, like polygamy in 1890-1920, folkloric doctrines don’t get dropped like a hot potato.
As the above quote shows, it’s interesting that Brigham rejected the”neutral in heaven” explanation.
“they need opposition. A snowball needs to be packed.”
Such a great statement, I will definitely be using this!
Rick, I really enjoyed this interview (both parts). To me it really filled in the full picture for what our doctrine would have looked like before a major shift in the early 1900s. I also think Joe was a great person to interview, I appreciated his candor and how he embraced his background and showed respect for family and friends still in the UAB.
After years of study, I feel like I had finally wrapped my head around Adam/God, but was actually a bit confused by Joe’s explanation. I think most people do not understand Adam/God because it has not been properly explained to them. It seems totally nonsensical that Michael in the temple would be talking to himself as Elohim. It took me a long time to wrap my head around it. I do not personally believe it, but it makes much more sense in terms of larger Mormon doctrine than our current view. What clicked for me was understanding that in the modern Godhead we have God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. In the temple, we have a different Godhead, with Michael subbing in for the Holy Ghost. Why? Well, in the original theology, Elohim was not God the Father and Jehovah was not Jesus. Michael was God the Father, Jehovah was his father and Elohim represented plural former generations, like grandfather and great grandfather (Elohim is plural). The story of Michael/Adam was the story of our Heavenly Father who had to complete his final task of becoming a God and bringing one of his wives to populate the earth. They are our spirit parents (literally) and our physical parents as we all are their offspring. I had understood that Jesus was the first born spirit son of Adam and Eve, but in this interview he emphasizes that Mary was another one of Adam’s wives who came to earth just to give birth to Jesus. I’m curious how other people understand the role of Mary and Jesus in the Adam/God doctrine/theory.
Hey, my grandparents and great grandparents on my dads side were in this group do you know a way to get records I’m looking for their marriage records. A dean allred married them but I can’t find the records anywhere.