SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Lawyers for a polygamist sect say Utah and Arizona violated separation of church and state when they took over a trust that holds the group's land.
At a hearing Friday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, they asked Judge Dee Benson to bar the sale of the 700-acre Berry Knoll Farm in southern Utah, one of the properties in the United Effort Plan trust, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Benson asked all the lawyers involved to come back with a compromise on Wednesday, saying he might freeze the sale if they do not.
The trust, which dates back to the 1940s, owns most of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., twin communities mostly inhabited by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as well as property in British Columbia, where the group has an outpost.
Rod Parker, one of the FLDS lawyers, described the trust as a "religious institution." He said the group believes property should be held communally.
The states took over the trust in 2005, saying they feared lawsuits by dissidents might end up with residents of Hildale and Colorado City losing their homes.