|Latter Day Church of Christ|
|Orientation||Latter Day Saint movement|
(Trustee in Trust)
|Paul Elden Kingston|
|Associations||Davis County Cooperative Society Inc.|
|Headquarters||Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.|
|Founder||Ortell Kingston (Elden Kingston was founder of the Davis County Cooperative Society)|
|Origin||January 1, 1935 |
Bountiful, Utah, U.S.
|Separated from||Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints|
The Latter Day Church of Christ is a Mormon fundamentalist denomination in the Latter Day Saint movement. Also known as the Kingston Clan, Kingston Group, or The Order, it evolved from the Davis County Cooperative Society, though not all members of the latter became members of the church. There are approximately 3,500 members of this group. It is notable for being one of the few Mormon denominations that still practices polygamy.
According to his autobiography, Charles W. Kingston became disenchanted with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in 1926 because of its abandonment of plural marriage. Kingston began preaching polygamy amongst fellow members of the LDS Church as well as distributing pamphlets and the book, Laman Manasseh Victorious: A Message of Salvation and Redemption to His People Israel, First to Ephraim and Manasseh, which he had co-written. This eventually resulted in his excommunication from the LDS Church in 1929. By 1935, his followers began moving to Bountiful, Utah, with the intention to live under a United Order communalist program as defined by Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants. On February 7, 1941, the community founded by Elden Kingston officially declared themselves the Davis County Cooperative Society Inc. The corporation produces goods and services that are used by members, and sold or traded to other cooperatives and to the public. In 1977, Elden's brother Ortell Kingston began to file for legal recognition of the church later organized as The Latter Day Church of Christ.[verification needed]
Over the decades, the Cooperative has maintained extreme secrecy while developing an extensive cooperative system with assets at an unconfirmed value of over $150 million. Their secrecy comes from a fear of arrest for living in plural marriages, which originated in 1959-1960 when being investigated by the Davis County Grand Jury, which they claim was organized by LDS Apostles Mark E. Peterson and Spencer W. Kimball.
Financial holdings include: a 300-acre (1.2 km2) dairy farm in Davis County; a 3,200-acre (13 km2) farm in Tetonia, Idaho; a coal mine in Emery County; 1,200 acres (4.9 km2) in Terreton, Idaho; a cattle ranch and a discount store; Desert Tech Firearms; Washakie Renewable Energy; a grocery store; and a restaurant supply in many western cities including Tucson, Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, Boise, and Portland. J. Ortell Kingston aggressively pursued a financially expansive agenda for the Davis County Cooperative Society Inc.
The Davis County Cooperative Society claims to maintain the original beliefs and teachings of Joseph Smith. It began the practice of plural marriage shortly before the establishment of the cooperative. Members of the Latter Day Church of Christ are also members of the Davis County Cooperative Society (a separate legal entity) which practices the law of consecration and United Order.
During the first years of the Davis County Cooperative Society, Kingston and his followers wore unique outer garments that led to people referring to them as "blue-coats." Men and boys wore blue coverall-type suits tied with strings; women and girls wore plain blue dresses. As a symbol of their renunciation of worldly goods, the outer clothing contained no pockets in which possessions could be carried, although later an inside pocket was provided for the sanitary measure of carrying a handkerchief. All went bareheaded and barefoot.
The community practices plural marriage. One long time leader, Ortell Kingston, encouraged marriage of close relatives in an effort to improve the genetic profile of the group. Some of these marriages were considered incestuous, according to the laws of the state of Utah.
Following the teaching of Brigham Young who on January 27, 1860, said "I am a God to this people and so is any man who is appointed to lead Israel or the kingdom of God",Charles W. Kingston taught that "Every individual ... no matter what authority, standing, or station he is in, is responsible to the one above him in exactly the same way as if that individual was the Savior himself .... We must look at the one above us in the same light as we look at the Savior." This doctrine is known as the Law of One-above-another. (See the Book of Abraham Chapter 3, from the Pearl of Great Price as produced by Joseph Smith, as well as John 13:13-20.)
According to a 2011 document prepared by the Attorneys General of the states of Utah and Arizona, the church describes itself as emphasizing family values, education, and self-sufficiency, and that every child is a priceless blessing. Children are allowed to attend public school and many go on to college.
The church's theories on genetics, that could be used to "purify" the Kingston-family pedigree, were reportedly developed at the Kingston Dairy, owned by the co-op in Woods Cross, Davis County, Utah, and that use of these theories encouraged incestuous marriages of close relatives in order to "perfect" the Kingston bloodline. Those marriages, if proven, could be considered illegal under Utah's consanguinity laws. Connie Rugg, formerly one of Ortell's plural wives, stated: "Ortell Kingston experimented [with] inbreeding with his cattle, and then he turned to his children."
Some examples include:
|Example of Intra-family Marriages within the Kingston Clan|
|Marriage of Jeremy Ortell Kingstona and Aunt/Cousin LuAnn Kingstonb |
Hales (2006), Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalists, p. 399
It is believed that the Latter Day Church of Christ briefly practiced child marriage of girls just attaining puberty, non-members and ex-members claiming that Kingston Clan leaders who claim a "pure bloodline" are given priority over almost any other members when choosing plural wives. It is believed by some that girls as young as 13 were coerced into marriage as new plural wives.
However, Charles W. Kingston in his autobiography denied all of these claims stating: "...inferred in news paper clippings and in public utterances that the Davis County Cooperative Society was [g]uilty of 1 - Living off of Relief 2 - Marrying teen age girls, two of the worst practices that people as a whole condemned the most. The first charge...The Davis Co Cooperative Society records will show that more than fifty one % who joined, were taken off relief rolls and put in a position to make their own living; thus saving the Government and the State more than two hundred thousand dollars in relief money in the last 25 years. The second charge is just as absurd and unreasonable as the first."
Despite the wealth of the Kingston Clan leaders, plural wives have been found living in deplorable conditions. Often, wives' homes consisted of only small rundown clapboard houses with peeling paint and broken windows. Connie Rugg stated: "The men in the Kingston group do little or nothing to support their many wives and children". Sometimes wives will "go gardening," scrounging through garbage cans to provide food for their children and themselves.
The Latter Day Church of Christ has also been accused of engaging in welfare fraud and tax evasion. The members have larger families, which is typical of the older Mormon teachings. John Ortell Kingston was accused of tax evasion and fraudulently obtaining welfare by having his wives claim to be single mothers. Ortell's holdings were estimated at $70 million. In 1983, Utah sued Ortell Kingston for repayment of welfare subsidies his plural wives had received. While admitting no wrongdoing, Ortell paid the state $250,000 and the case was dropped.
In 2016, the State of Utah with federal law enforcement raided various properties in connection with the Kingston family or Davis County Cooperative Society with the intention of finding welfare fraud. The State of Utah stated: "It was a specific investigation that we were approached by [federal law enforcement] to participate in." However, after two years of investigating, they did not find any welfare fraud. "State investigators found no wrongdoing among members of the Davis County Cooperative Society, also known as the Kingston Group."
In July 2019, Jacob Kingston, Isaiah Kingston, and two others pled guilty to fraud related to $512 million of federal renewable-fuel tax credits taken since 2010 through a company named Washakie Renewable Energy LLC. One of the guilty pleas states they "cycled" fraud proceeds through Order-related businesses and then back to Washakie's bank accounts, falsely calling them loans or profits. As part of the plea deal and restitution, they will forfeit their WRE plant
The Utah holdings of the Davis County Cooperative are estimated at more than $2 billion, including the following: