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FLDS Trial: Not Sharing Food Stamp Goods Precludes Entry To Heaven

A polygamous sect leader says not sharing goods purchased with food stamps would prohibit him and others from living their religion and being prepared for heaven.

Seth Jeffs took the stand Tuesday as he and 10 other suspects accused of food stamp fraud try to persuade a judge they were following religious tenets of communal living, not breaking the law.

He says they believe everything on earth belongs to God, which is why members must donate everything they own to a community storehouse. The group's leaders decide how best to redistribute the goods. The "law of consecration" is based on early Mormon beliefs from the 1800s.

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Seth Jeffs runs the group's South Dakota compound and is a brother of the group's imprisoned leader, Warren Jeffs. Seth Jeffs wore a jail jumpsuit with his hands and feet in cuffs. He is one of two defendants who is behind bars as the case plays out.

Prosecutors haven't yet questioned Seth Jeffs in cross-examination. They argue that he and the defendants knowingly broke the law.

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart is weighing whether food stamp rules burden the suspects' sincerely held religious beliefs.