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Photo: RadioFan / CC BY-SA 3.0

“Selling eternal life is an unbeatable business, with no customers ever asking for their money back after the goods are not delivered.” —physicist, atheist, and author Victor Stenger

Theo-constitutionalists’ grifting is one with a Wizard of Skousen leading a cabal of fundamentalist radicals riding white horses through the sagebrush pronouncing pernicious theo-constitutional ideas.

Deeply rooted in Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ theology and the sedition of the State of Deseret, it is a constitutionally couched collection of LDS-influenced actors born of righteous bigotry, thinking that they are chosen by their God to carry out the task of defending the United States and its Constitution, as they define it.


“God Constitution” is the definition. In this case, a theo-constitutionalist is one who believes that the United States Constitution was divinely inspired and comes directly from God. In the case of the Mormons, the Constitution is equal to the Bible and Book of Mormon in reverence.

Although there are other theo-constitutional denominations with their own indoctrination networks, I argue that the LDS Church is America’s greatest purveyor of theo-constitutionalism, with a dangerous end-time responsibility as the chosen one to defend the Constitution for its god. This theology is known as The White Horse Prophecy.

In reference to the Bible’s Book of Revelation and the Mormons being the white horse, the prophecy references the uniqueness of the LDS people in defending the Constitution when it is “hanging by a thread.” This doctrine is usually attributed to founder Joseph Smith. Whether or not he uttered the words or that the Mormons were chosen to defend the Constitution, the concept was defined throughout the last 150 years by LDS leadership.  It goes something like this, by Prophet Ezra Taft Benson:

“The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith there would be an attempt to overthrow the country by destroying the Constitution. Joseph Smith predicted that the time would come when the Constitution would hang, as it were, by a thread, and at that time “this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction” (Journal of Discourses, 7:15). It is my conviction that the elders of Israel, widely spread over the nation, will at that crucial time successfully rally the righteous of our country and provide the necessary balance of strength to save the institutions of constitutional government. If the Gentiles on this land reject the word of God and conspire to overthrow liberty and the Constitution, their doom is fixed, and they “shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant” (1 Ne 16:6; 3 Ne 21:11, 14, 21; D&C 84:114–115, 117 [Ether 2:8–10]).” – Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 618-619 (emphasis added)

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LDS Prophet Ezra Taft Benson

Theo-constitutionalism as a movement reached critical mass in the 1950s, with former Church Prophets/Presidents Ezra Taft Benson and David O. McKay as critical figures. McKay was a leader in the John Birch Society, a radical anti-communist conspiracy group, along with Benson, who also served as President Eisenhower’s Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

McKay, Benson, and Benson’s son, Reeda homeschool advocate who was employed by the John Birch Society and by Brigham Young University as a professor, and — were so vociferous in equating John Birch Society ideology with that of the LDS Church that even the LDS hierarchy at that time was afraid of the negative Gentile public perception, stating, “We deplore the presumption of some politicians, especially officers, co-ordinators and member of the John Birch Society, who undertake to align the Church or its leadership with their political views.”

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LDS Prophet David O. McKay

It didn’t stop them. McKay and Benson ascended, and the LDS influence over the John Birch Society continues to this day. In 2005, Don Fotheringham and former John Birch Society leader G. Vance Smith — both Mormon contemporaries with Benson — were involved in a very public breakup with the John Birch Society over the influence of the LDS Church within the society. As a result, Vance and Fotheringham created a splinter group, the Freedom First Society. Both still live and make their money on the theo-constitutional seminar and talk circuit.

Among all the Church leaders, Benson is an icon to the theo-constitutionalists, his works spreading today into internet memes. He not only figured prominently in refining the White Horse Prophecy but played in cultivating the work of contemporary Skousen.

The master plan

The goal of any organization, religious or otherwise, is to indoctrinate — particularly at an early age. The LDS faith is no different. Most have their methods of recruitment and propaganda, the Mormon network containing the well known missionaries and lesser known but powerful and incredibly wealthy Deseret Management Corporation, a subsidiary being Deseret Book.

Like any religion, there are varying degrees of belief, and with the Mormon faith being derived from direct revelation, there are a number of unofficial factions based on a particular leader’s interpretation. One that is well known is Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That said, there also is a sliding theo-constitutional scale for Mormons in which a fundamentalist extreme exists, with the current Sagebrush Rebels as part of the fringe.

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The Black Hammer

Skousen worked for the FBI, was Chief of Police in Salt Lake City, was a professor at BYU, and wrote “The Naked Communist.” Around the same time, Benson himself was writing anti-communist, theo-constitutional literature, including a forward for the vile John Birch Society-themed “The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence, and White Alternatives.”  Both worked the seminar circuit in which they were well trained, complete with tables, books, newsletters, and testimonial “talks.”

In 1967, Skousen was charged by then-prophet McKay to create a theo-constitutional indoctrination program, combing his influence within the LDS/BYU infrastructure with the LDS community in his creation of the Freemen Institute (now known as the National Center for Constitutional Studies). Skousen was very careful to include theo-constitutional indoctrination programs for all ages as he undertook his divine directive.

The master plan “smoking gun” of theo-constitutional indoctrination for both the LDS faithful and unwitting gentiles is this remarkable audio, recorded at a LDS General Conference speech in 1975, wherein Skousen details his direction and plans and his White Horse reasons for doing so.  

While listening to the entire recording is enlightening, I thank you for indulging me the following liberty with these lengthy transcript snips in chronology from 51:00-56:35.

In regards to the John Birch Society’s influence in theo-constitutionalism, Skousen had this to say:

“I knew what the conspiracy was doing to the nation … the enemy was chalking up … and when some of the foremost agents of the enemy were in cabinet positions, serving as White House functionaries … abandoning our allies and the people who were depending upon us for the freedom of the world.”

Skousen said this about the theo-constitutional plan for the nation:

“In 1967, I was asked to go back to BYU, President McKay said, ‘When you get down there, start those young people studying the Constitution.’ And I thought he meant that BYU was going to start a program studying the Constitution. I was thrilled with that.

“And I said, ‘Now if the Church gets back of this president, that would be tremendous.’ ‘No, no, no, no,’ he said. ‘It can’t be done in the name of the Church, nor even Church Agency. All the Church can do is provide leadership from among its people. This must be a spontaneous movement for every denomination. It must come up from the roots of all the people.’

“Now the Prophet of the Lord says we must start teaching the Constitution. Where do you start? … We just cut off everything after the Founding Fathers presented. What the Lord said, ‘Anything more or less than is evil.’ And so this spring we began teaching it.”

In regards to White Horse Freemen, Skousen had this to say:

“We started it, we thought it would be nice to call them Freemen. Freemen … that’s what Moroni called his men, you remember? The Freemen vs. The Kingmen?

“The most important thing about Joseph Smith’s prophecy to me is the fact that he said, ‘And this people shall bear the Constitution away from the brink of destruction.’ And, that’s what puts fire in my bones. We can’t do that today! What if the country turned to the Saints today, ‘Now, you’re nice people, lead out!’ Any volunteers?”

Skousen said this about obscuring the grift:

“I want to tell you these are highly technical problems and they must be worked out and phased out so gently and carefully, it will have to be almost an art, so that there is not a terrible rocking of the boat and a losing of confidence in the process. It must worked out tactically as well as philosophically. Now, that’s our task.”

In sum, Skousen was charged by a prophet of God to undertake a plan to indoctrinate both Mormons and gentiles so that the Mormons may ascend to their rightful place in leading the United States of America — without the gentiles even knowing what hit them. This is as Benson suggests with his version of the White Horse Prophecy. So far, the closest they have gotten to achieving their goal was the 2012 presidential election with Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

The Freemen

“And those who were desirous that Pahoran should remain chief judge over the land took upon them the name of freemen; and thus was the division among them, for the freemen had sworn or covenanted to maintain their rights and privileges of their religion by a free government.” —Book of Mormon, Alma 51:6–7

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Moroni, facing eastward to Washington, calling the Saints

Skousen assembled his confidants of Freemen — Bert Smith, Bill Doughy, Glenn Kimber, and others — who all worked together to implement the McKay’s master theo-constitutional indoctrination plan that influences the fundamentalist Sagebrush Rebels today. I believe LaVoy Finicum considered himself a Freeman. During the Malheur occupation, the press and even his gentile admirers consistently quoted him incorrectly without using a capital “F” when he spoke of Freemen, and they still do today.

In 1971, shortly after being tasked, Skousen created both the Freemen Institute in Salt Lake City and the Meadeau View Institute in the Southern Utah community of Duck Creek, about 30 miles east of Cedar City. The purpose of the Freemen Institute was to promote theo-constitutionalism and create an indoctrination program to sell as a retreat, described as a “utopian community of alternative-lifestyle conservatives in Southern Utah.

In the early 1980s, the Freemen Institute split functions, with Smith and Kimber creating the National Center for Constitutional Studies — a wing that still produces propaganda materials for the theo-constitutionalist racket and is best known for its pocket constitutions — and Doughty creating the now defunct Institute for Constitutional Education that produced seminars at Meadeau View.

It seems Meadeau View and the seminars were not enough for Skousen and Doughty, who had grand illusions of a theo-con theme park at Mammoth Valley — complete with actual settlers who would play their roles as patriots — where one could walk the streets of a mythical constitutional America and bump into Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. I imagine an exhibit with God hovering over the founders while they sign the Constitution and maybe slaves on the street for historical accuracy. The utopian theme park/commune would work in conjunction with the seminars offered by Skousen’s Meadeau View.

Skousen bought heavily into the scheme — his family and other Freemen investing hundreds of thousands dollars, more than a million in sum for all investors — and Doughty began selling plots in Mammoth Valley to true working-class settlers, with Skousen prominent in the sales pitch to pay for it.

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Gunfight at the American Adventure near Shipley on the site of the “Miller-Mundy’s” estates. Photo: Colin Smith / CC BY-SA 2.0

Well, you know the story. As Doughty wasn’t paying the bills, banks were calling, Freemen investors got nervous, and the settlers didn’t get deeds to their plots. Eventually, a timely winter propane explosion at the Duck Creek Meadeau View campus put an end to things, and the theo-constitutionalist utopian theme park dream went up in smoke.

The Deseret News ran a series of excellent pieces back in 1994 describing the whole sordid affair. While Doughty and his fellow Freemen faced serious questions about financial wrongdoing, to this day nobody has been criminally charged.

Like Freemasons, the Freemen are a tight-lipped lot.

Indoctrination racket

Skousen distanced himself and was increasingly politically discredited, turning his efforts to writing more books, like the apocalyptic “The Cleansing of America,” written around the time of the demise of the Meadeau View vision, and “The 5,000 Year Leap.” He then hit his usual seminar circuit like he had done for the two previous decades, selling his John Birch society-themed theo-constitutional products. He was a master at the business of marketing from whom his cohorts and disciples learned much. He died in 2006.

Recently deceased fundamentalist theo-constitutionalist Bert Smith became the primary financier of the movement. My bet is that he lost money with Meadeau View. Having made his fortune selling military surplus while fighting against the federal government with his Utah store Smith and Edwards, his political motivation was to get back at Franklin D. Roosevelt for the World War II draft, which forced him to leave his family and lose his trucking business. Ironic.

In 1975, Smith met his second wife, Kathy Hyde, and invited her to study at the National Center for Constitutional Studies, which was then still known as the Freemen Institute. It is unclear how Kathy will proceed with his legacy. So far, they’ve done well with the NCCS peddling Skousen Constitutions and creating or funding a range of nonprofit theo-constitutionalist organizations, usually named “Lands” or “Freedom” Conferences backed by organizations with “Constitution” in the title.

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Boundaries of Deseret with State Seal over Utah. Once a proposed flag. Image: DrRandomFactor / CC BY-SA 3.0

For example, through the National Federal Lands Conference and the Utah’s Freedom Conference, with the sovereign Deseret URL of, Smith was considered the “father” of the Sagebrush Rebellion, supporting the efforts of the Bundys, the American Lands Council, and various Utah politicians associated with the transfer of public lands movement — like Bob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, who in turn reciprocated. Bert’s sympathies for the fundamentalist Sagebrush Rebels can be seen in a piece he wrote in 2012 supporting the Freeman footsoldier Cliven Bundy and in his appearing to offer Ryan the opportunity to run his Nevada ranch back in 2013 — both before the 2014 Bunkerville standoff.

Beyond providing pocket constitutions, there is a train of thought among those following Malheur that Bert and Kathy may have been the “deep pockets” to which Ammon Bundy referred, behind the Harney County Resource signs that covered those of the refuge. After “bleeding the beast” by selling government surplus yet fighting against that very same government, he died in April at age 95, two months after seeing his part of the dream realized but bruisingly fall with the inevitable loss of Malheur.

Bill Doughty and Glenn Kimber still live. Doughty shuttered the Institute for Constitutional Education and with Kimber created George Wythe University to train a cadre of young adults to be Freemen. Kimber became president of the National Center for Constitutional Studies and melded both their materials and that of Skousen’s into Wythe’s theo-constitutional curricula. Skousen’s “The Five Thousand Year Leap,” written for the moment, became required reading. At one time, Wythe was quite popular, pushed by theo-constitutionalist Skousenite Glenn Beck as premier.

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Instead, and in a fashion in which the indoctrination racket seems to excel, Wythe was financially run into the ground. Its academic programs were considered worthless and it had a scandal that included an administrator who was arrested for soliciting prostitution, and it was finally told by the Utah Division of Consumer Protection to shut down by August 2016. On December 2015, the “ousted founders of George Wythe University filed a $1.5 million defamation suit … against the school’s current leaders, saying they have been unfairly smeared for financial and academic failings.”

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There were big plans for Wythe with satellites of Monticello College, a physical location, and American Founders University, an internet presence. With Kimber as its president, American Founders University merged with Monticello after a scandal whereby its founder, Rick Koerber, was indicted in an alleged $100 million Ponzi scheme defrauding investors — one of Utah’s largest in history. although unaccredited, Monticello still exists and is also now overseen by the State of Utah. There are no plans to close it.

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Kimber Academy Logo

Kimber’s most insidious indoctrination task was more than just for young adults: His specialty became young children. He created a network of private physical locations and homeschool materials called the Kimber Academy. It still has a physical location in Cedar City, where he and his wife live today.

A religious institution teaching LDS doctrine, The Kimber Academy’s welcome statement reads, “Students will be taught the 28 Principles of freedom from our country’s Founding Documents, by studying The 5,000 year Leap written by W. Cleon Skousen, and how to use those principles to solve America’s problems.” Of course, they use National Center for Constitutional Studies materials. A prominent Academy associate is fundamentalist theo-constitutionalist and Sagebrush Rebel Shawna Cox.

Julieanne Skousen, the daughter of Cleon, is married to Kimber. She helps operate the Academy, writes textbooks, and peddles her own theo-constitutionally themed materials.

Their daughter, Jewel Skousen, who uses her grandfather’s last name and grandmother’s first, is a “school choice” advocate and is married to Koerber. Together, they operate the radical Free Capitalist website and talk show program. She ran for a Utah House seat while a salacious accusation of polygamy by Koerber’s ex-wife added insult to injury in federal fraud charges. She didn’t win, and her husband’s case is still pending.

The Wizard’s son, Paul Skousen, sells Cleon, writing his own books and articles and lecturing at the ever-present seminars about his dad. His cousin Mark Skousen is an economist and former CIA analyst. He currently teaches at Utah Valley State College. Mark’s brother Joel Skousen is the spokesperson for all that is conspiratorial in the theo-constitutional movement, appearing frequently on Alex Jones’ InfoWars.

Tent City

Doughty, who is still living, never faced charges and appears to have settled his million-dollar Meadeau View affair — however Freemen settle things in these parts.

No doubt he had and continues to have a great influence over the fundamentalist theo-constitutional movement. Said one of his proteges at the 2008 groundbreaking for Monticello, “And one of my mentors, Dr. William H. Doughty — if he said it once, he said it a thousand times: ‘There is no magic in small dreams.’

theo-constitutional theo-constitutionalistLate in life and after suffering a stroke, Doughty is still forging ahead with a new dream that he calls “Tent City” in the same Mammoth Valley area that he and and the Freemen envisioned for their theme park and conference center. He helps fund and is active in the fundamentalist Independent American Party.  He has visions of apocalyptic collapse and of living off the grid, a place for Mormons and gentiles to come when the shit hits the fan. In the meantime, he invites you to visit to learn a little about the Constitution, grow things, and to join him as a Freeman.

Next week: The 50 Year Leap – Part 2: Of Fundamentalist Echo Chambers and Sagebrush Rebels



  1. There are a number of errors or misleading assertions contained in this article.

    First – David O. McKay was NOT (as this article claims) “a leader in the John Birch Society”.

    Second — Although Cleon Skousen initially endorsed the JBS but never joined, his son (Paul) has stated that Cleon had a “falling out” with the JBS over some of its more extreme viewpoints.

    Third — the official position of the LDS church regarding the JBS is as follows:

    See 1/4/63 Deseret News article, page B1, entitled “Church Sets Policy In Birch Society”, for following First Presidency quote:

    “We deplore the presumption of some politicians, especially officers, co-coordinators and members of the John Birch Society, who undertake to align the Church or its leadership with their partisan views.”

    “We encourage our members to exercise the right of citizenship, to vote according to their own convictions, but no one should seek or pretend to have our approval of their adherence to any extremist ideologies.”

    “We denounce communism as being anti-Christian, anti-American, and the enemy of freedom, but we think they who pretend to fight it by casting aspersions on our elected officers or other fellow citizens do the anti-Communist cause a great disservice.”

    Also see October 1992 Stake Presidents document entitled “Profile of the Splinter Group Members Or Others With Troublesome Ideologies” which lists 20 warning signs of apostasy. Third on the list was “John Birch membership or leanings.”

    There is a long history of internal disputes about the JBS and its doctrines within the Mormon hierarchy. In October 1961, for example, Ezra Taft Benson stated that “the internal threat to the American way of life is in the secret alliance which exists between the more advanced Social Democrats and the hard-core Communist conspiracy” and he described the “insidious infiltration of communist agents and sympathizers into almost every segment of American life.”

    First Presidency counselor Hugh Brown interpreted these remarks as endorsing JBS doctrine and he subsequently answered an inquiry about the JBS by writing that “we [the First Presidency] are definitely against their methods” and he observed that “we do not think dividing our own people, casting reflections on our government officials, or calling everybody a Communist who does not agree with the political views of certain individuals is the proper way to fight Communism.” [Brown 12/18/61 letter to Mrs. Alicia Bingham].

    In April 1962 Brown wrote, in an obvious reference to the Birch Society:
    “Let us not undermine our government or accuse those who hold office of being soft on communism…{or} by destroying faith in our elected officials under the guise of fighting communism.” [Improvement Era , June 1962, “Honor The Priesthood”, page 450]

    After Ezra Taft Benson explicitly endorsed the JBS, Brown described himself as “disgusted” with Benson’s pro-JBS activities and if they did not cease, he suggested “some disciplinary action should be taken.” [Hugh Brown to Gustive O. Larson, 11/11/62].

    In October 1962, Ezra T. Benson’s son, Reed, became JBS Coordinator in Utah. Reed used chapels to speak to stake meetings about the JBS. Hugh Brown wrote in November 1962 that “It is certainly regrettable [Benson] is permitted to continue to peddle his bunk in our Church houses.”

    • That you rely on Cleon’s son, Paul Skousen, as a source indicates the weakness of your critique.

      Paul Skousen is notorious as a former CIA analyst under Reagan, for selling shredded top secret documents about Iran-Contra – which makes him a spy, not a whistleblower.

  2. I can’t understand your purpose for this article. Please explain your purpose. It was a well written article. But even Karl Marx wrote interesting stuff and some in his community ate it up.
    Have you ever considered a paper on the formation of the KKK clan? or the Kights of Colubus?

    • If you “can’t understand your purpose for this article” then your mind is as closed as any JBS propagandist, who fails to appreciate that Karl Marx was one of the most brilliant and consequential political/economic philosophers of the 19th century.

  3. Mr Zinda you are the Umberto Eco of Theo C onstitutionalism. Quoting Buckminster Fuller… Think Global Act Local… We need a knight on a white horse to restore the Constitution. START HERE FIRST St George, or the dragon of hypocrisy remains elusive. We are all Americans and the Constitution must be respected by all. Glad the LDS Church agrees. Let’s practice what we preach LOCALLY. 🙂

  4. Was looking forward to fair treatment of subject but glaring errors right off the bat make me question your understanding of subject and commitment to careful journalism. I know this ain’t the NYT but a correction would be in order IMHO.

  5. > The master plan “smoking gun” of theo-constitutional indoctrination for both the LDS faithful and unwitting
    > gentiles is this remarkable audio, recorded at a LDS General Conference speech in 1975, wherein Skousen
    > details his direction and plans and his White Horse reasons for doing so.

    I can find no evidence this speech was delivered in a General Conference session.

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