Righteous Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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Coordinates: 37°42′30″N 113°49′01″W / 37.708384°N 113.816949°W / 37.708384; -113.816949 (Temple Location)

Righteous Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Pyramid-shaped temple located near Modena, Utah
Pyramid-shaped temple[1] located near Modena, Utah, west of Cedar City, Utah.[2]
Classification Mormonism
Orientation Fundamentalist Mormon
Polity Hierarchical
Leader Gerald W. Peterson, Jr.
Region Iron County, Utah
Founder Gerald Peterson, Sr.
Origin April 6, 1978
Iron County, Utah
Separated from Apostolic United Brethren
Temples 1

The Righteous Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as The Righteous Branch, The Branch Church, The Peterson Group and Christ's Church, is a fundamentalist Mormon sect of the Latter Day Saint movement. It is based in Iron County, southwestern Utah.

There are approximately 100 to 200 members, most of whom live near Modena, 7 miles (11 km) west of the area of Beryl on Utah State Route 56 in Iron County.[2] The ranch property itself was part of the original Gerald Peterson, Sr. property outside of Cedar City,[2] and is not part of the incorporated city.[1] Some of the sect members live near Tonopah in Nye County, Nevada, and throughout the United States.


The Righteous Branch was organized on April 6, 1978, by Gerald Wilbur Peterson, Sr. (born October 8, 1917 in Lusk, Wyoming, died January 1981).[3] Peterson claimed that after Rulon C. Allred, the President of the Priesthood of the Apostolic United Brethren from March 29, 1954, to May 10, 1977, was murdered by followers of Ervil LeBaron, Allred appeared to him and instructed him to preside over the presiding keys of the priesthood.[4]

As with other Mormon fundamentalist groups, the Branch believed that a priesthood organization and council existed outside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The keys of the priesthood were believed to have passed from John Woolley to Joseph Musser to Rulon Allred and then to Gerald Peterson, Sr.

A key distinction between the Righteous Branch and the LDS Church is that when in 1978 the LDS Church changed the temple ordinances and gave the priesthood to black people, the Righteous Branch believed this was the final act of apostasy. Peterson relieved the LDS Church's First Presidency from its duties and reorganized a new church body with a new Mormon temple. This was done on April 6, 1978, two months before the LDS Church's First Presidency claimed to have received inspiration to ordain people of African descent. Peterson claimed that he had foreknowledge of this coming apostasy through revelation. The Righteous Branch was organized in the same manner as the LDS Church with a First Presidency, Quorum of Twelve Apostles, Presiding Bishopric and other priesthood and auxiliary organizations, with full responsibility for all the functions of the original church. As such Christ's Church is fully engaged in all gospel functions including missionary work and proxy baptism for the dead.

Some other Mormon fundamentalist groups, such as the AUB, still believe the LDS Church to be the one true church, but that some functions of the priesthood continue with its organization (such as plural marriage and the United Order), whereas the keys of missionary work and genealogy primarily lie with the LDS Church.

After the death of Peterson on January 9, 1981, leadership was passed to his son Gerald W. Peterson, Jr., who then moved the headquarters of the sect to St. George, Utah.[3]

Regarding Peterson Sr.'s claim to succeed Allred, the Branch claims that Peterson Sr. was Allred's "worthy senior" chosen to succeed him, supporting that statement with a claim that Peterson was ordained a patriarch and a "high priest apostle" (the latter being a priesthood office unique to some Mormon fundamentalist groups). However, there is no evidence that Peterson Sr. was a member of Allred's Priesthood Council and no ordination date has been provided.

Doctrines and practices[edit]

Along with all other original Mormon doctrines, ordinances, and practices the Righteous Branch also practices plural marriage and teaches the Adam–God doctrine, the Curse of Cain doctrine, and lives the United Order.[5] Adherents are modern in their dress and do not allow women under 18 to be sealed into plural marriages.[citation needed]

The Righteous Branch built a pyramid-shaped temple near Modena in Iron County,[5] making it one of seven Latter Day Saint denominations to have built a temple, and the only one other than the LDS Church to have built more than one.[a]

Prominent members[edit]

Current leader Gerald Peterson, Jr. has a doctorate of osteopathic medicine,[6] and also practices homeopathy in Tonopah, Nye County, Nevada.[7] Peterson served as a medical officer in the United States Army and received training there before deciding to practice in the private sector.

His father and sect founder Gerald Peterson, Sr. also practiced homeopathic medicine.[citation needed]

Prominent Mormon fundamentalist and polygamist Tom Green was a member of the Righteous Branch for a short time.[8]

See also[edit]




  1. ^ a b Utah Attorney General's Office and Arizona Attorney General's Office (June 2006), The Primer: Helping Victims of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in Polygamous Communities (PDF), p. 23, archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-07-19 .
  2. ^ a b c Spencer, James R. (December 2004), Spying Out Polygamy in Utah, mazeministry.com, pp. 1–4 
  3. ^ a b Shields, Steven L. (1990) Divergent Paths of the Restoration, 4 edition. Herald Pub House. ISBN 0-942284-13-5
  4. ^ Hales, Brian C. (2009) Gerald Peterson and the Righteous Branch of the Christ's Church".
  5. ^ a b Moore-Emmett, Andrea. (2004) God's Brothel. Pince-Nez Press. ISBN 1-930074-13-1
  6. ^ Gerald W Peterson DO Hmd in Tonopah, Nevada Archived July 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Tonopah Based Business see Professional Services: Dr. Gerald Peterson Jr. D.O.
  8. ^ Hales, Brian C. (2009) "Tom Green".