Joseph Shatner founded the Josephite Church in 1843 in Boston, Massachusetts. While it was once no more than one of the many protestant orders of Christianity in America, the Brethren of Joseph rose to new prominence in 1995, when they purchased the abandoned state of Deseret (formally Utah) from the United States Government. An autonomous theocracy with its own flag, judicial system, Deseret relies upon the US Cavalry to provide armed escort to all settlers and supplies heading to the region. Utah is officially out-of-bounds to anyone who is not a member of the Josephite Church, US Cavalry or Native American, and US Cavalry Cruisers frequently patrol the region destroying cykegangs and hostile Gangcults.
Josephites strive to lead a pure life, eschewing all drugs, including medicine, alcohol and Recaf. Most clothing is coloured either black or white, with broad-brimmed round hats and long coats being common, typically peg-fastened rather than buttoned. Devout male Josephites are always clean-shaven, and many carry straight razors, seeing electronic ones as decadent and sinful.
The succession of Dessert has not been universally popular, even with Presidents North’s many public endorsements. Rumours of the Brethren of Joseph practicing animal sacrifice, running cult sponsored brothels and engaging in kidnapping and brainwashing are commonplace, and are widely repeated in tabloid rags, Vulture TV stations and Datanet forums. The Josephites simply deny these allegations, but they persist nevertheless.