April 10th, 2008
06:10 PM ET

Searching for Warren Jeffs’ Words


Among the many restrictions on members of the FLDS polygamist sect, one of the most severe is on music. Warren Jeffs, the church's self-proclaimed prophet who is now in jail, imposed a total ban on popular music.

But Jeffs penned and recorded many of his own songs with church members. Over the years we’ve gotten hold of about 12 of these songs and often played parts of them during our news coverage. Hearing the words and often the voice of Jeffs on these low-tech recordings is creepy. But you can’t help but be drawn in. It is like peering through a keyhole and getting a glimpse of the old-fashioned obeying, orderly, and devoted world on the other side.

When news of the raid on the YFZ ranch began to break, one of the first details we learned was that the name of ranch came from a song written by Jeffs called “Yearning for Zion.” Naturally, we wanted to find the song—and that became my mission.

At first, I thought it would be simple. I would just Google it. But to my shock and dismay, it did not exist in Googleland.  How about YouTube? Every song is on YouTube.  But not this one. 

I quickly realized that I was looking for a song in my world that existed in a completely different one.

So I hit the phones. I called one former FLDS member we’ve had on the show several times. She told me she knew the song (great!), when they were in the church her children had it on their i-pods (i-pods?!) but when they left the sect she wanted all remnants out of her house. So the songs were purged. (Strike two.)

My next call was to a private investigator who's been researching the FLDS for years. I was told he has more information on the church than anyone. And in fact, he thought he had the song, but had no idea where it was among his stacks of documents and myriad hard drives. He would look, but it would take days.

So I reached out to an organization that helps FLDS members leave the sect. A volunteer there knew of a woman who was “half in and half out of the FLSDS church” and who probably had a copy of the song. I wondered what “half in and half out” meant. 

As it turns out, it meant that if this woman found the song she would email it to the volunteer only at home (not to the organization’s address) and the volunteer would then email it to me. It was a bit like trafficking. And in the end, the woman got cold feet. It made me realize how difficult it is for anything to leave the FLDS church. Even a song.

I then called another former FLDS member. She had the song somewhere but was sitting in her car outside Colorado City, Arizona hoping to help rescue a girl who wanted to leave the community. She was waiting for this girl to call her back. Suddenly my request felt extremely trivial. Still, she promised she would help me find the song, and the next day, she did. She sent me to a documentary film maker with whom she worked, and he sent it to me just 20 minutes before air time.

I do not know if the young girl from Colorado City ever escaped.

My 48-hour quest ended with a relatively simple solution. But the process of finding this Warren Jeffs relic was more telling than the song itself.

– Diana Miller, AC360 Producer

Filed under: Polygamy
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. odette

    Um, from your blog history this appears to be the 3rd request to hear it. No one can have an informed opinion without going to the source. Please?

    April 13, 2008 at 10:00 pm |
  2. Jamila. B


    April 11, 2008 at 2:27 pm |
  3. Ruth

    How do these people get away with the situation for so long? Are Women so needy that they have to share and be owned, like some asset, not really valued as a person? Yuk!

    April 11, 2008 at 1:23 am |
  4. Jolene

    Diana: You sure have the connections. I suppose the song isn't one I'd want to download to my i-Pod or add to my playlist any time soon but it sure would be nice if you could post it for those of us with inquiring minds! Thanks.

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    April 10, 2008 at 8:34 pm |
  5. Kellee

    Using music to lull followers isn't new, or even original. Manson did it too.
    Keeping their minds clear by barring anything but his own warped message is Mind Control 101. No one should be surprised at the extent a man like that will go to in order to control his flock. He (and the other controlling male members) had to keep everyone isolated and ignorant of the outside world. Of course these women & children are afraid, they've been told their whole lives that the outside world is full of sinners who hate them.

    I'm very curious to see how this all plays out. They are so exposed now, I'm wondering how many women will really want to return to what amounts to a classic "cult" situation once they see the real world and the kindness of strangers.

    April 10, 2008 at 7:04 pm |
  6. Amber

    Too bad you couldn't get your hands on that song. i would have loved to hear what he calls music. The other that you all have played was down right creepy!

    April 10, 2008 at 6:55 pm |
  7. Taj

    Warren Jeff & other cult leaders and their members are failures in this real, tough, capitalistic, corporate world & try to find their escape in some way. They are disenchanted people. They need followers & that makes them feel good, brainwash & control. The problem is less severe in lot of poor countries where people are just satisfied with 2 meals a day, a place to rest & live in simplicity. The western world has gone crazy. Imagine how Hitler controlled the people of Germany. He is another cult leader. Look at wealthy & powerful contries how they try to control less previlaged nations. At least I had some hope for Tibet to live in tha path of Nirvana. Now China wants control on it. Oh man, I do not want any part of it. I would rather be a Hermit.

    April 10, 2008 at 6:39 pm |
  8. Froilan

    Hey, maybe you could post the song so we could hear what the fuzz is all about. Thanks

    April 10, 2008 at 6:28 pm |

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