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Apostolic United Brethren

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Apostolic United Brethren
The AUB headquarters in the Wasatch Range
OrientationLatter Day Saint movement
TheologyMormon fundamentalism
President of the PriesthoodDavid Watson[citation needed]
RegionNorth America
HeadquartersBluffdale, Utah, U.S.
FounderLorin C. Woolley (1929)
OriginApril 6, 1830 (officially given)
March 6, 1929 (as Woolley Group); 1975 (incorporated)
Separated fromCouncil of Friends

The Apostolic United Brethren (AUB) is a Mormon fundamentalist group that practices polygamy. The AUB has had a temple in Mexico since at least the 1990s, an endowment house in Utah since the early 1980s, and several other locations of worship to accommodate their members in the US states of Wyoming, Arizona, and Montana.

The title "Apostolic United Brethren" is not generally used by members, who prefer to call it "The Work," "The Priesthood," or "The Group." Those outside the faith sometimes refer to it as the "Allred Group" because two of its presidents shared that surname. Members of the AUB do not refer to their organization as a "church" and, unlike nearly all other Mormon fundamentalist groups, regard the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) as a legitimate, if wayward and diminished, divine institution.

Religious scholar J. Gordon Melton characterised the group as "the more liberal branch of the Fundamentalist movement", as the group allows sexual relations apart from the strict purpose of procreation.[1]

The group came into the Hollywood spotlight with the release of the hit reality TV series Sister Wives aired in 2010.

The AUB furnished a detailed description of their beliefs and practices in August 2009 to the Utah Attorney General's "Polygamy Primer,"[2] which was later revised in 2011.[3] This booklet is used to educate the law enforcement and social relief agencies involved with similar groups.

The AUB is unrelated to other similarly named groups such as Churches of the Brethren and Apostolic Pentecostals.


As of 1998, there were approximately 10,000 members of the AUB,[4] most of whom reside in Utah and Mexico. The headquarters of the AUB is in Bluffdale, Utah, where it has a chapel, a school, archives, and a sports field.

The AUB has communities in Rocky Ridge, Utah; Harvest Haven (a subdivision in Eagle Mountain, Utah); Cedar City, Utah; Granite Ranch, Juab County, Utah; Pinesdale, Montana; Pleasant Valley, White Pine County, Nevada; Lovell, Wyoming; Mesa, Arizona; Humansville, Missouri; Mount Pleasant, Utah; Southeast Idaho; and Ozumba, Mexico.[5] It operates at least three private schools; many families also home-school or send their children to public or public charter schools.

The AUB's members tend to integrate with their surrounding communities, much more so than some other Mormon fundamentalists, such as members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church). This can largely be attributed to the AUB's former prophet, Owen A. Allred, and his desire to be upfront with local law enforcement and the news media, especially when it came to ending rumors of underage, arranged marriages that many other fundamentalist Mormon groups were known for. Allred believed that transparency was key in helping the community see that the AUB and its members were not a threat.


The AUB is headed by a President of the Priesthood. Next in authority is a Priesthood Council (of which the President is a part). Below the Priesthood Council are Presidents of the Seventy, the Seventy quorum members, high priests, elders, Aaronic Priesthood members, the Women's Relief Society, Sunday School, Girls Class, Boy Scouts, and the Children's Primary organizations. On a local level there are Bishops, Priesthood Council representatives.


General Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School meetings (as well as many private family Sunday Schools) take place on Sundays, as do Priesthood meetings. Relief Society (a women's organization), Girls Class, Primary, and Scouting take place throughout the week.

Dances, firesides, musical events, plays, and classes are often held at meetinghouses.

Doctrines and practices[edit]

The AUB regards the Book of Mormon as sacred scripture in addition to the Bible, and accepts the Articles of Faith written by Joseph Smith to summarize Latter Day Saint beliefs. The AUB teaches that the LDS Church is still fulfilling a divine role in spreading the Book of Mormon and other basic doctrines of Mormonism, and in facilitating genealogy.

Members of the AUB are known for their belief in plural marriage and what is commonly called the "1886 Meeting". Other key beliefs include the United Order, the Adam–God doctrine, and the exclusion of black people from the priesthood. While not all members take part in plural marriage, it is considered a crucial step in the quest for obtaining the highest glory of heaven.

Attitudes toward the LDS Church[edit]

AUB members regard the LDS Church as an important vehicle in spreading Mormonism's introductory teachings, particularly through the LDS Church's missionary program and the widespread publication of the Book of Mormon. The group's founder, Rulon C. Allred, told a fundamentalist congregation in 1966: "We are specifically instructed through John Taylor by Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ, and by Joseph Musser as well that we are not to interfere ... with the function of the [LDS] Church."[6] On November 16, 1966, in another discourse, he commented: "[We] are not in a position to dictate to the [LDS] Church, or to presume that we preside over [LDS Church] President David O. McKay, or that we can send missionaries into the fields of labor, or that we can in any way dictate the affairs of the Church.”[7] "God’s Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," Allred declared.[8] He further explained in 1975: "We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no matter who may decry it or who may deny it."[9] "We are functioning within the spiritual confines of the Church," he commented, "but we are definitely outside of its legal organization."[10]

Under his leadership, the Allred group did no missionary work or temple work, leaving those responsibilities to the LDS Church. He predicted in 1975 that "the time is at hand when God is going to intervene in the matter, and the temples will be opened to us, and we will have our endowments and do our own work for our dead." Under his brother Owen's leadership, the AUB constructed its own endowment houses for ordinance work;[5] this was in response to the LDS Church's policy change which extended priesthood and temple blessings to all races, change which caused Allred to exclaim “do not go into a temple that has been defiled by the Canaanite being invited into it” and to publish an ad listing several racial statements from Brigham Young and accusing the LDS Church of forgetting past revelations.[11][12] Several LDS joined the AUB over such changes.[13]

Drew Briney, an author on Mormon polygamy, former AUB member and appeals attorney,[14] summarized AUB members' general sentiment toward the LDS Church:

The "AUB" accepts the mainstream LDS Church as Christ's Church but views it as "out of order" just as the Israelites were "out of order" at the time of Christ—still accepted, just somewhat prodigal. Its members are taught that they should not disparage the LDS Church and its leaders teach that "the mother church" should be respected by the "father" (AUB or "the priesthood") the same as a husband should take care of and honor a wayward wife inasmuch as he is able to do so. Incidentally, AUB's leaders commonly concede that no organization is exempt from being out of order to some degree (including the AUB) but they emphasize that the LDS Church has abandoned many doctrines taught by the early brethren—not just plural marriage. Some of these doctrines include: Adam-God teachings; united order or "full consecration"; proper conferral of the priesthood; the ban on blacks receiving the priesthood; the doctrine of dissolution; the kingdom of God as a separate organization from the Church; the ordinance of rebaptism; the ordinance of mother’s blessings; giving a complete temple endowment (as opposed to the shortened version now administered in the LDS Church); the wearing of a full length, unaltered garment; the unchanging nature of all ordinances; prayer circles outside of the temple; the law of adoption (sealing men to men as father/son); and the teaching that a living prophet can never lead you astray—even if he strays from teachings and revelations of previous prophets.[15]


The AUB's claims to authority are based around the accounts of John Wickersham Woolley, Lorin Calvin Woolley and others, of a meeting in September 1886 between LDS Church president John Taylor, the Woolleys, and others. Prior to the meeting, Taylor is said to have met with Jesus Christ and the deceased church founder, Joseph Smith, and to have received a revelation commanding that plural marriage should not cease, but be kept alive by a group separate from the LDS Church. The following day, the Woolleys, as well as Taylor's counselor, George Q. Cannon, and others, were said to have been set apart to keep "the principle" alive, including sufficient priesthood authority to perform marriage sealings and pass on that authority.

Members of the AUB see their history as going back to Joseph Smith and to the beliefs he espoused and practices he established. They believe that the LDS Church has made unacceptable changes to doctrines and ordinances. The members of the AUB see it as their responsibility to keep them alive in the form they were originally given and to live all the laws God has commanded. Each doctrine or practice changed or abandoned by the LDS Church is in turn perpetuated by the AUB.

Until the 1950s, Mormon fundamentalists were largely one group, but with the ordination in 1951 of Rulon C. Allred by Joseph W. Musser, who then presided over the fundamentalists, the fundamentalists in Colorado City, Arizona (formerly known as Short Creek), became more distant. Within a few years they formed their own group, which is now the FLDS Church.

The shooting of Rulon C. Allred by Rena Chynoweth on May 10, 1977 (under the direction of Ervil LeBaron), brought the AUB into the spotlight. Allred was succeeded by his brother, Owen A. Allred, who died in February 2005 and was replaced by his appointed successor, J. LaMoine Jenson.[16] Jenson died in September 2014 after a battle with colon cancer, and was replaced by his appointed successor, Lynn A. Thompson.[17]

In 2016–2017, some AUB members in Pinesdale, Montana split away from the main AUB and formed their own group with their own meetings; the breakaway group (which called itself "the Second Ward") objected to the leadership of Thompson] who was accused of molestation. However, the dissident group and the main faction continued to jointly operate the private Pines Academy, which then had 129 students, as well as the municipal government.[18]

Lynn Thompson died October 5, 2021.[19]

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Rod Williams, a Secret Service agent involved in Watergate and a former member of the AUB, claimed in sworn testimony, as part of the Virginia Hill lawsuit, that he stole copies of LDS Church's temple ordinances from the Seattle Temple at the behest of Owen Allred, a claim denied by Allred.[20][21]

According to one former member, attorney John Llewellyn, "plural wives [of AUB men] are sent into nearby Hamilton to apply for welfare as single mothers. The informant reported that welfare checks are often taken directly to the priesthood leaders."[5]

In 2014, after Lynn A. Thompson assumed leadership of the AUB, he was accused of fondling his daughter Rosemary Williams when she was 12 years old,[22] and shortly thereafter two of his nieces also said he had sexually abused them too. An individual within the AUB also alleged that Thompson embezzled up to $500,000 in tithing funds and other church funds and that he used official Church accounts for personal expenditures.[23] An audit confirmed Thompson had embezzled funds before becoming AUB's leader.[24] In March 2019, Pinesdale Academy, the church's school in Pinesdale, Montana, required teachers to pledge support for Thompson or else they were let go.[24] The church required its members to make the same pledge, causing many people to leave the church as well.[24] Thompson died in October 2021.[25]


Council of Friends

Apostolic United Brethren

Notable members, former members or adherents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (1992). Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America. New York: Garland. p. 51.
  2. ^ Utah Attorney General's Office and Arizona Attorney General's Office (August 2009), The Primer: A Guidebook for Law Enforcement and Human Services Agencies Who Offer Assistance to Fundamentalist Mormon Families (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-08-20
  3. ^ Utah Attorney General's Office and Arizona Attorney General's Office (January 2011), The Primer: A Guidebook for Law Enforcement and Human Services Agencies Who Offer Assistance to Fundamentalist Mormon Families (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-16, retrieved 2014-01-14
  4. ^ Bennion, Janet (1998). Women of principle: female networking in contemporary Mormon polygyny. Oxford University Press. p. 22. ISBN 0-19-512070-1.
  5. ^ a b c Llewellyn, John R. (2004). "Chapter 2". Polygamy Under Attack: From Tom Green to Brian David Mitchell. Scottsdale, Arizona: Agreka Books. ISBN 1-888106-76-X. OCLC 54909250. Archived from the original on 2006-03-15.
  6. ^ Rulon C. Allred, Discourse, May 15, 1966, Murray, Utah, in Gilbert Fulton, Gems, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Gems Publishing, 1967), 1:44.
  7. ^ Rulon C. Allred, Discourse, May 15, 1966, Murray, Utah, in Gilbert Fulton, Gems, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Gems Publishing, 1967), 1:4
  8. ^ Allred, Treasures of Knowledge, 1:142
  9. ^ Allred, Treasures of Knowledge, 1:126. He also taught: "If we have entered into these holy laws out of righteousness and a desire to keep the commandments of God, and that has been the dominating force in our lives, there is no power on earth or in heaven or hell that can sever us from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.": Allred, Treasures of Knowledge, 1:93.
  10. ^ Allred, Treasures of Knowledge, 2:13
  11. ^ Hales, Brian C. (2006), "Chapter 16: Rulon C. Allred's Leadership", Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: the Generations after the Manifesto, Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books, ISBN 1589580354, OCLC 64510545, Because African American Church members now had access to LDS temples, the Allreds concluded that all LDS temples were desecrated.
  12. ^ Owen Allred, "An Issue of Priesthood Authority," April 2002, 3, stated: "It was finally revealed to us from the Lord that we had instruction and permission to give certain ordinances outside of the church and the temples controlled by the church."
  13. ^ a b "Right after the Mormon church gave blacks the priesthood, a polygamous offshoot saw its ranks grow". The Salt Lake Tribune. May 25, 2018. Archived from the original on 2018-05-25. Retrieved 2021-12-28.
  14. ^ Manson, Pamela (May 1, 2009), "Sect may have to pay more money in lawsuit", Salt Lake Tribune
  15. ^ Briney, Drew (2008), Silencing Mormon Polygamy: Failed Persecutions, Divided Saints, & the Rise of Mormon Fundamentalism (self-published), Salt Lake City, Utah: Hindsight Publications, p. 28, ASIN B001MBY7GY, OCLC 297227864, This information came from multiple interviews with members of the AUB. Names withheld by convention of implied request.
  16. ^ Dethman, Leigh; Dillon-Kinkead, Lucinda (February 17, 2005), "Polygamist Owen Allred dies", Deseret Morning News, retrieved 2014-09-04
  17. ^ Carlisle, Nate (September 4, 2014), "J. LaMoine Jenson, Utah polygamist leader, dies at 79.", The Salt Lake Tribune
  18. ^ "Sex abuse allegations have rocked the polygamous church of 'Sister Wives,' causing rift from Utah to Montana". Salt Lake Tribune. October 21, 2017.
  19. ^ Rosetti, Cristina (October 11, 2021). "The Quiet Passing of Fundamentalist Mormon Prophet Lynn A. Thompson Suggests Polygamy Recognition Remains a Distant Hope". religiondispatches.org. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  20. ^ Cantera, Kevin; Vigh, Michael (January 12, 2003). "Temple Rituals Allegedly Stolen". The Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on 2003-10-20.
  21. ^ Steyn, Mark (May 2005), "The Marrying Kind: Owen Allred (1914-2005)", The Atlantic
  22. ^ Mccombs, Brady (November 22, 2014). "Woman on 'My Five Wives' accuses father of sex abuse". Associated Press. Salt Lake Tribune.
  23. ^ Carlisle, Nate (October 21, 2017). "Sex abuse allegations have rocked the polygamous church of ‘Sister Wives,’ causing rift from Utah to Montana". Salt Lake Tribune.
  24. ^ a b c Carlisle, Nate (April 9, 2019). "Those unwilling to follow disputed Utah polygamist leader may have to leave a Montana school". Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on April 9, 2019.
  25. ^ Rosetti, Christina (October 11, 2021). "The Quiet Passing of Fundamentalist Mormon Prophet Lynn A. Thompson Suggests Polygamy Recognition Remains a Distant Hope". Religion Disptaches.
  26. ^ Bennion, Janet. "Apostolic United Brethren". wrldrels.org. World Religions and Spirituality Project. Retrieved 13 June 2022.
  27. ^ Whitehurst, Lindsay (22 February 2012), "More from Kody Brown's statement", The Salt Lake Tribune

Further reading[edit]