Who Was The Founder Of Ron And Dan Lafferty's School Of Prophets?

Brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who belonged to the School of Prophets, an extreme fundamentalist breakaway sect of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called LDS or Mormon, brutally murdered their sister-in-law, Brenda Lafferty, and their 15-month-old niece, Erica, in 1984. Per the official LDS website, there have been many sects of LDS known as the School of the Prophets throughout Mormon history, some known for embracing outmoded fundamentalist LDS beliefs such as polygamy or plural marriage, which the mainstream LDS church distanced itself from in the 1890s and now condemns (via E! News).

The story of who founded the Laffertys' sect called School of the Prophets proves just how perverted the Mormon teachings became in the minds of the Lafferty brothers and their followers. The complete story of the Lafferty killings is told in the true-crime book "Under the Banner of Heaven" by John Krakauer. Krakauer's book has now been adapted into a fictionalized series on Hulu, starring Andrew Garfield. A series trailer is available to stream now on YouTube.

The School of Prophets model throughout history

According to the official website of the LDS church, the very first instance of the term School of the Prophets being used by the Mormon church came in 1832 from Joseph Smith, a founder of the religion itself. (A statue of Smith is pictured above.) Prior to that, the term was used to describe seminaries at institutions like Harvard and Yale. Early on, the first LDS School of the Prophets, based in Kirtland, Ohio, trained Mormon men for missions. Examples of religious fervency common in early School of the Prophets gatherings include speaking in tongues. Soon, the Kirtland model for School of the Prophets was used by other Mormon outposts as the religion spread west.

Brigham Young, another important figure in the early history of the Mormon church, founded a School of the Prophets in Salt Lake City, Utah in the 1880s. By the late 19th century, though, referring to secular and nonsecular education from the LDS church with the term School of the Prophets became less and less common as the Mormon church established its seminaries to fulfill that role. Already prone to fundamentalist thinking such as polygamy, the Lafferty brothers were excommunicated from the mainstream LDS church. They spent some time afterward as a part of a similarly-minded Mormon splinter sect, also known as the School of the Prophets. This one was founded by R.C. Crossfield, a self-proclaimed prophet also known as Onias. (A statement on this period from Crossfield himself is available to read online.)

The Lafferty brothers were once more excommunicated

Over time, though, the extremist thinking of the Lafferty brothers became even too much for Crossfield's School of the Prophets sect. As a result, Dan and Ron Lafferty were once more excommunicated. At this point, the Lafferty brothers founded their own sect, also called School of Prophets, and Ron Lafferty claimed to be a prophet, per True Crime Daily. Ron and Dan Lafferty wanted a return to polygamy in the church, among other patriarchal and outmoded views on marriage. There were alleged instances of child sexual abuse with Dan's own stepdaughter.

Five of six Lafferty brothers became involved in their brother's new School of Prophets. The one Lafferty brother to not join with Dan was Brenda's husband, Allen. Some speculate that Ron and Dan Lafferty's true motivation for killing Brenda and her daughter was in retaliation to Brenda's reticence toward her husband Allen getting involved in this new School of Prophets sect, according to an AP report. Brenda also played a part in supporting Ron's wife, Dianna, escape her marriage (via E! News).

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.