Warren Jeffs, who has spent thousands of dollars on postage to distribute his apocalyptic mailings, seems to have turned his eye to another struggling business: newspapers.
In the last month, the imprisoned polygamist leader has shelled out tens of thousands on dollars for large ads in papers around the country, including the Washington Post, New York Times, the Salt Lake Tribune, and the Tennessean.
In the ads, Jeffs, using the same archaic language he favored at his trial, claims to be relaying the words of Jesus Christ and calls on Americans to repent.
Repent ye; now be of full humbling; all peoples shall be humbled in full way; as I send full judgements.
(If this taste of Jeffs fire and brimstone talk isn’t enough, the ads also invite readers to purchase copies of all of his revelations via mail order.)
The Denver Post‘s John Ingold noted how out of place the ad looked among the paper’s usual content:
On page 11A, beside a story about the president’s trip to Disney World and above a blurb shilling minivans, was the most curious ad. Starting with bizarrely dramatic words — ‘I, Your Lord Jesus Christ, Even Son Ahman, Speak to All Nations on Earth, My Own Revealing of My Soon Coming. Let All Hear My Will’ — the ad purports to explain a revelation that Jesus gave to Warren Jeffs.
Such a soapbox doesn’t come cheaply: the two ads in the Tennessean were priced at $6,903.23, the paper’s Bob Smietana reported. The quarter-page ad in the Washington Post cost another $10,000.
Smietana goes on to try to divine Jeffs’ intent in placing the ads. He spoke with Vanderbilt University religious studies professor Kathleen Flake, who believes the ads are meant to reassure members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that Jeff is still a “legitimate prophet.” “The audience for the ads isn’t the readers of the newspapers. The audience is the people placing the ads,” Flake said.
How, exactly, is Jeffs paying for all of this? Well, each family in the FLDS was recently asked to step up their monthly contributions to the church to $5,000, Matthew Waller reported in the San Angelo Standard Times. Jeffs is serving a life plus twenty year sentence in the Powledge Unit in Palestine, after being convicted in August of sexually assaulting two underage girls he had taken on as his “celestial wives.”
Perhaps Jeffs is making this foray into print advertising because he is feeling the strain of losing his phone privileges. Prison officials barred him from using the phone until mid-March after an investigation uncovered he had delivered an unauthorized Christmas Day sermon to his congregation over speakerphone, the Los Angeles Times reported.