|Born||22 August 1914|
|Died||6 August 1996|
|Education||Doctorate in natural medicine and chiropractics|
|Known for||Founder of Baha'is Under the Provisions of the Covenant|
Leland Jensen (22 August 1914 – 6 August 1996) was the founder of a Bahá'í sect called the Bahá'ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant (BUPC). Jensen initially supported the claim of Mason Remey to be the successor to Shoghi Effendi in 1960, resulting in his excommunication from the mainstream Bahá'í community. Jensen further believed that he was chosen by God to re-establish the proper administration of the religion, and went on to propagate his own teachings among a group of followers that observers say probably never exceeded 200. but declined in size significantly from 1990-1996. During his lifetime adherents were mostly concentrated in Montana, with smaller groups in other states.
Jensen gained national attention when on April 26, 1980 he led a group of followers into fallout shelters, expecting an apocalyptic nuclear holocaust. He went on to predict that Halley's Comet would enter earth's orbit on April 29, 1986, and collide with the earth exactly one year later. With Jensen's approval, in the early 1990s his companion Neal Chase made a total of 18 predictions which pertained to small-scale disasters that he claimed would lead step-by-step towards the Apocalypse, as well as dates for a nuclear attack on New York City by middle Eastern terrorists.
Jensen was a third generation Bahá'í on his mother's side. He and his wife, Opal, received doctorates in natural medicine, becoming chiropractic doctors. They attended the School of Drugless Physicians and graduated in 1944. Opal was the valedictorian and Jensen graduated with distinction (cum laude).
After they graduated, and after practicing for a while, they moved to St. Louis. In 1953 Shoghi Effendi launched the Ten Year Crusade, which aimed at bringing the message of Bahá'u'lláh to the entire world. Jensen and his wife gave up their practice and went to two tiny islands in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar. The first island was the French island of Réunion, which practiced Catholicism as the State Religion. He then stayed six months in Mauritius. Jensen and his wife were the first Bahá'ís to visit these islands, and therefore received the title of Knights of Bahá'u'lláh. More than 200 Bahá'ís received the title after moving to areas designated by Shoghi Effendi. His wife Opal died in 1990.
When Shoghi Effendi died in 1957, he died without explicitly appointing a successor Guardian, and Remey was among the nine Hands of the Cause elected as an interim authority until the election of the first Universal House of Justice in 1963. However, in 1960 Remey declared himself to be the successor of Shoghi Effendi, and expected the allegiance of the world's Bahá'ís. Subsequently, he and his followers were declared Covenant breakers by the Hands. They reasoned that he lacked a formal appointment from Shoghi Effendi, and that the office was confined to male descendants of Bahá'u'lláh, the Aghsan. Almost the whole Bahá'í world rejected his claim, but he gained the support of a small but widespread group of Bahá'ís. Jensen was among these first supporters of Remey. In 1964 he moved to Missoula, Montana with his wife where they opened a chiropractic clinic.
In 1969 Jensen was convicted of "a lewd and lascivious act" for sexually molesting a 15-year-old female patient, and served four years of a twenty-year sentence in the Montana State Prison. He claimed to be wrongly convicted, and later taught his followers that his prison stay was instrumental towards fulfilling prophecy. It was in prison that Jensen claimed to have a revelation, and converted several dozen inmates to his idea of being the "Establisher" of the Bahá'í Faith, stemming from his belief that the Hands of the Cause were "covenant-breakers" and the administration they established beyond Shoghi Effendi's death was faulty and not in line with the covenant. According to Jensen, shortly after returning to his cell,
"I felt a presence only. I saw nobody. I saw no dove, no burning bush or anything of that nature. It talked to me- not in a physical voice, but very vividly expressing to me that I was the Promised Joshua."
He recruited many followers in prison, and after his parole in 1973 he founded the BUPC. By the time his 1980 predictions were receiving national press coverage he had attracted followers in Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas.
Along with Baha'i and biblical prophecies, Jensen incorporated pyramidology and focused on natural and manmade disasters predicted in the Bible. He developed a series of Fireside Classes that attempted to show students the proofs of his beliefs. The main tenet of these proofs were that Jesus, Bahá'u'lláh, and Jensen himself were prophesied in the Bible by their names, their missions, and the time and place of their appearance. He also taught on the "Purpose of Life", "The Covenant", and the "Prophecies in the Great Pyramid". Jensen claimed to have decoded prophecies hidden in the inner passageways of the Great Pyramid of Giza. He postulated that if one equates each inch along its inner passageways to a solar year that there was a correspondence to historical events marked off along these passageways. He taught that the Flood of Noah, Exodus of Moses, Birth of Jesus, appearance of the Báb, proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh, and the Establishment of the Kingdom could all be found in the prophecies of the Great Pyramid.
Between 1979 and 1995 Jensen, and his companion Neal Chase, made twenty specific predictions centering nuclear attacks, worldwide catastrophes, and some smaller scale disasters. Jensen himself set two of the dates, while Chase set the other 18. Between 1980 and 1996, four researchers took part in group activities and even stayed the night in three BUPC fallout shelters in 1980.
In 1979, approximately 6 years after being released from prison, Jensen began teaching his followers that on April 29, 1980 a nuclear holocaust would kill a third of the world's population, and that over the next twenty years, the planet would be ravaged until in the year 2000 "God's Kingdom" would be established and a thousand years of peace would follow. On the fateful night, Jensen led a group of followers into fallout shelters in Missoula, Montana.
The disconfirmed prophecy resulted in Jensen losing several contingents of adherents, and his response was that he was right all along. Over the following years Jensen used several types of explanations, as noted by researcher Robert Balch,
- The prediction was fulfilled spiritually rather than physically.
- The prophecy was fulfilled physically, but not in the manner expected.
- The date was off because of a miscalculation.
- The date was a prediction, not a prophecy.
- The leaders had a moral responsibility to warn the public despite the date's uncertainty.
- God had given the world a reprieve.
- The prediction had been a test of members' faith.
Jensen's followers had made substantial commitments to the prediction, building shelters, writing letters to government agencies and newspapers, and distributed thousands of leaflets urging fellow Missoulians to build fall-out shelters. To them the disconfirmation was "painfully obvious", and researchers used them as a case study in cognitive dissonance.
On the day after Jensen's seemingly failed prophecy, the local newspaper of Missoula, Montana, the Missoulian, published the following on April 30, 1980:
- "Based on his interpretations of the Bible and on measurements of the Great Pyramid of Kuhfu in Giza, Egypt, Jensen said, ‘either a provocative act that will escalate into World War III, or World War III itself,’ was to occur at 5:55 p.m. MDT Tuesday [4/29/80]." (Missoulian, Vol. 107 No. 311 April 30, 1980)
When asked by a UPI reporter Jensen did not express concern that the prediction might not come true, remarking "There will be a nuclear holocaust some day."
After the 1980 event, Jensen introduced the idea that the seven-year Tribulation had begun on the date of his prediction of a nuclear holocaust, and thus committed himself to another event happening on the same date in 1987. In 1985 he made the prediction that Halley's Comet would enter Earth's orbit on April 29, 1986, and collide with the Earth exactly one year later. In the interim year, he taught that the comet would break apart, pelt the Earth with debris, and produce massive earthquakes. The new prophecy rekindled his followers, who became excited with the new idea.
As opposed to the first prediction, this time his followers made very little commitments to the prophecy, and began making disclaimers even before the 1986 event. When the members gathered on the night before the comet was supposed to enter Earth's orbit, nobody mentioned the comet. Jensen later said that the massive earthquakes were fulfilled by a "spiritual earthquake" when one of his important followers defected and left him.
Throughout the 1990s Chase made a total of 18 predictions which pertained to small-scale disasters that he claimed would lead step-by-step towards apocalypse, as well as dates for a nuclear attack on New York City by middle Eastern terrorists. He based these predictions on Biblical prophecies, evidence from Hopi prophecies, planetary conjunctions, dreams, numerological coincidences, Nostradamus, and psychics. After each failed prediction, the BUPC adherents carried on as usual, giving disclaimers to future predictions, and focusing on Jensen's other teachings.
Having worked in a print shop while in college, Jensen became a self-publisher. The Bahá'í Publishers Under the Provisions of the Covenant published several of his and other books on the Bahá'í Faith. A few of his more notable books are:
- The Most Mighty Document (1979) - The 7th Letter to Pepe Remey explaining their roles, the Covenant, and Jensen's beliefs on the succession of the Guardianship.
- Jeane Dixon Was Right! (1980)
- The Seventh Angel Sounded (1994)
- Stone 2000, p. 271
- Stone 2000, p. 280
- Stone 2000, p. 269
- Stone 2000, p. 277
- Stone 2000, pp. 272
- Proof for the Establisher Fireside pg 3
- Roll of Honor Bahá'í World Crusade 1953-1963, Leland and Opal can be found in the second row, fourth column.
- Rabbani 1992, pp. 28–30
- Remey 1960, p. 8
- Smith 1999, p. 292
- Smith 2008, p. 69
- State v. Jensen, 153 Mont. 233, 455 P.2d 631 (Montana, 1969)
- Hyslop 2004
- See his findings here, maintained by BUPC members
- Stone 2000, p. 270
- Shermer, Michael (1999), How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science, W.H. Freeman & Company, ISBN 0-7167-3561-X
- Stone 2000, p. 273
- "Doomsday is upon us, group claims", The Florida Times-Union, 1980-04-29
- Stone 2000, p. 278
- Balch states: "All eighteen predications in the 1990s were made by Chase…. Chase’s predictions pertained to small-scale disasters that he claimed would lead step-by step toward the apocalypse. Some of his predictions focused on upheavals caused by meteors, asteroids and comets, but most pertained to the destruction of New York City by a nuclear bomb that would be placed by Middle Eastern terrorists." (Balch et al., cf. Stone 2000, p. 272)
- Balch, Robert; Farnsworth, Gwen and Wilkins, Sue. (1983). "When the Bombs Drop: Reactions to Disconfirmed Prophecy in a Millennial Sect". Sociological Perspectives No. 26. pp. 137–58.
- Rabbani, Ruhiyyih (ed.) (1992), The Ministry of the Custodians 1957-1963, Bahá'í World Centre, ISBN 0-85398-350-X
- Hyslop, Scott (2004), Pluralism Project, Harvard University Study of Religion
- Remey, Charles Mason (1960), Proclamation to the Bahá'ís of the World, retrieved 2008-08-10
- Shermer, Michael. (1999). How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science. W.H. Freeman & Company. ISBN 0-7167-3561-X.
- Smith, P. (1999), A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith, Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications, ISBN 1-85168-184-1
- Stone, Jon R. (ed) (2000), Expecting Armageddon, Essential Readings in Failed Prophecy, New York: Routledge, pp. 269–282, ISBN 0-415-92331-X
- "Millennial Fever" (July 17, 1997). Missoula Independent. Front page.
- “Local Bahá'í Leader dead at 81”. August 8, 1996. Missoulian p. B2.
- “Ezekiel’s Temple in Montana!” (Feb. 9, 1991). The Montana Standard. Front Page.
- "Bahá'í: Deer Lodge Sanctuary" (January 29, 1991). The Missoulian. Front page.