April 2016 Church & State - April 2015

Utah Polygamists Accused Of Violating Federal Law In Food Stamp Scam

  AU admin

A polygamist Mormon sect based on the border between Utah and Arizona is facing charges that it committed federal food stamp fraud.

Eleven leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) were indicted on charges that they laundered money and conspired to commit fraud. The group is charged with running a lengthy scheme in which church leaders applied for and received millions of dollars in federal assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – informally called “food stamps.” The aid was allegedly diverted away from the people who were supposed to receive it and instead put toward FLDS activities.

The indicted group of leaders, which in 2011 began calling itself the “United Order,” allegedly used SNAP aid to purchase groceries and then turned those supplies over to a FLDS storehouse that distributed the food to numerous church members – including some who were not eligible for SNAP assistance. 

Officials in Arizona and Utah told the Salt Lake Tribune that church leaders, who have made no secret of their anti-government sentiment, received $7.2 million in SNAP aid annually.

The case is United States of America v. Jeffs, et al.


Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

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