Polygamy–Utah's "Open" Secret

Polygamy is fairly widespread throughout Utah, and I don’t know many people who can’t tell you a polygamy story.

My children went to school with some Kingston children. An old friend worked for a polygamist. Another lived around the corner from a polygamist family.

YES, the mainstream LDS Church, the one that puts a claim on the term “Mormon,” does not–at this time–practice or condone temporal polygamy.

Spiritual polygamy is, of course, a different matter. This goes on every day, in temples everywhere. But they do follow the laws of the land. They also believe, however, that it is a tenet that is required for entrance into the Celestial Kingdom.

You will find mainstream Mormons who will argue this with you. Until they research it. Then they just shut up.

But the truth is, polygamy is pervasive throughout the state.

And the world is waking up to this fact.

Consider this article in the Chicago Tribune.

From the article:

Mainstream Mormons in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with 12 million members worldwide, have asserted that all polygamous denominations–including Jeffs’ Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–are aberrations in a state where the influential Mormon Church suspended the practice of polygamy more than a century ago. But Utah’s attorney general, pro-polygamy activists and other experts estimate there are 40,000 people living in polygamous families or communities like this one across the Western U.S.–with a large portion of them residing in suburban Utah.

Although it is rare that allegations of abuse are as systemic or egregious as those reported in the community led by Jeffs, virtually every other polygamous sect practicing in Utah today has been linked to financial, sexual or spiritual improprieties. Federal grand juries in Arizona and state investigators in Nevada are probing polygamist practices in those states, according to media reports.

This one isn’t going away, folks. You can thank Warren Jeffs for that. It’s interesting that polygamists are coming out of the woodwork–sorta–to defend their belief in polygamy. The SAME belief espoused by Brigham Young and Joseph Smith.

In the wake of such comments, Utah polygamists have come forward in unprecedented force to defend their faith, values and lifestyle. They say plural marriage fulfills the mission of all Mormons to be fruitful and multiply and to ascend to the highest reaches of heaven. They say it breaks their hearts that the mainstream church in 1890 abandoned polygamy–or what one expert called “the process of polishing the soul”–to appease the federal government and ensure Utah would earn statehood. They point to such communities as Eagle Mountain and Rocky Ridge, where polygamous families appear to be happy and prosperous, often with multiple wives of one husband living in palatial homes with adjoining yards.

“We’re really sickeningly boring,” said Jane, another wife to the same husband as Mary. “There is no high drama. We are the people next door–it’s just that there are more of us.”

Modern-day polygamists are living the MORMON faith the way JOSEPH SMITH and BRIGHAM YOUNG taught it. Which is why it is so absurd to say there is “no such thing as fundamental Mormonism.” Sorry, LDS.org. It’s not flying.


About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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8 Responses to Polygamy–Utah's "Open" Secret

  1. MLBower says:

    There is a show on TLC tonight called “My Husaband’s Three Wives.” Is there suddenly all of this attention being placed on polygamy because of Warren Jeffs? Has there always been information out there that we were just unaware of?
    I guess I never really bothered to look. When I began having doubts about the church, it was easy enough to just not go. I have never confronted anyone from the church with my quesitons because I didn’t have information and facts to back up my doubts. Of course, I guess I didn’t have any actual facts those times when I defended the church either.
    Whenever the subject of polygamy came up, I would repeat what I was taught. Historically, women were not able to own property so, for example, if a man were to die, his brother or one of his friends would step up and marry his widow so that she would not lose her property. Also, I was led to believe that in the RARE instance of polygamy, the husband was required to provide each wife with a seperate household. All of this would be topped off with the point that many other cultures practice polygamy as well, as with the harem and the Mormon church officially outlawed polygamy and it is not practiced.
    When I was baptized into the church in 1983, I lived in Virginia and can honestly say that I did not have any knowledge of polygamists. Although I have not been in regular attendance since I was a teen, I still didn’t realize the full history. It was only a couple of years ago when I learned of blood attonement.


  2. Cele says:

    MJ, I can’t remember how old I was the first time I saw the film Child Bride of Short Creek but I know I’d heard of polygamy before. I was shocked and began reading more about this horrendous religious belief. I remembered learning in school that it had been banned so Utah could gain statehood. When I started hearing people disavow polygamy as a lie, I came to realize that the only people who didn’t know about it were Mormons in Utah.

    I can remember, over the years, several times seeing interviews with women and children, who’d escaped – these compounds and communities – their faces grayed over or interviewed in dark relief to hide their identies. So I stand stunned that in today’s communications age, people could ALLOW THEMSELVES to be so in the dark about the truths that surround them.

    side bar…

    Yesterday I was doing a live remote at our community’s annual Chowder, Blues, and Brews Festival and walking past me is a man in a beautiful wine coloured t-shirt for Polgamy Porter / Wasatch Brew Pub. Too funny.


  3. Tracy says:

    I know this is a serious subject, but I came across this beer company and all I can say is, “What a riot.”



  4. MLBower says:

    I love those. I wish they would ship the beer out of state.


  5. John says:

    Nat, you quoted the Chicago Trib:

    >From the article:
    >Mainstream Mormons in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with 12 >million members worldwide, have asserted that all polygamous denominations–>including Jeffs’ Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–are >aberrations in a state where the influential Mormon Church suspended the >practice of polygamy more than a century ago. But Utah’s attorney general, pro->polygamy activists and other experts estimate there are 40,000 people living in >polygamous families or communities like this one across the Western U.S.–with >a large portion of them residing in suburban Utah.

    There are a few salient facts identified here but not correlated/analyzed:
    1. “12 million members worldwide”
    2. “asserted that all polygamous denominations… are aberrations”
    3. “But Utah’s attorney general, pro-polygamy activists and other experts estimate there are 40,000 people living in polygamous families… across the Western U.S.”

    Beginning the last sentence of the paragraph with “But” implies that the facts contradict the assertion of the first sentence, that polygamy is an aberration. Some pretty shabby analysis, then again “journalism” never really has been an analytical endeavor. Numbers are a useful tool if they are relevant to one another. The two numbers quoted are NOT relevant to one another in a direct correlation. Here’s why:
    1) The number 12 million asserts as fact the official Church of Jesus Christ of LDS membership is 12 million,
    2) That number is non-representative of the truth, that the number of people calling themselves “Mormons/LDS” is much larger number and includes dozens of splinter sects and offshoots ranging from Warren Jeffs’ cult to the RLDS church. (The press often, very artfully makes this type of vocab switch to help “facts” fit their hypothesis/argument. You would be nailed in a heartbeat for that sort of argumentation by most high school English teachers.)
    3) The number 40,000 refers to “people” not the “Mainstream Mormons in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” that it is being compared with,
    4) Even so, 12 million to 40,000 puts polygamists (LDS or otherwise) at 0.00333 of total population. That’s less than 1% – less than one third (1/3) of 1%. Even under the most liberal statistical protocol, the occurrence is an outlier, that is to say –an aberration.

    Supported conclusions: Polygamy exists. It is practiced by people calling themselves “Mormons” some not. Statistically polygamy is an extreme aberration ~1/3 of 1%. The author artfully crafts these facts into an argument against the assertion that polygamy is an aberration.

    Perhaps a more purposeful argument could have been made that polygamy is abhorrent.

    You’re right when you point out the differences many of us see out here in the wilderness as opposed to way things are done in “Zion.” There is no disputing that “Utah” Mormons are a different breed and thus the Utah culture has developed around what is essentially a closed society that has, independently of “the Church” developed its own rules and customs… Mormonisms if you will, that are believed and promoted by “Utah Mormons” but are not doctrine. When you have enough generational reinforcement of a Mormonism, you end up with multiple layers of Church leaders, members and community officials (since most are all members) all following the same and unsupported precepts, giving the impression of “official” support or apparent weight of doctrine. There have been cases of congregations that have developed in somewhat isolated regions of the mission field that have had to be “re-educated.” The seminal members of the Church in that community learned some Mormonisms alongside official doctrine from “Utah Mormon Missionaries” and gave equal weight to both. I’m talking whole stakes brought together and addressed personally by a member of the twelve that although some practice “Mormonisms” may be inherently good or helpful on the whole, it was not doctrine, and not something that can have any impact or effect in someone’s church standing. Unfortunately there is a difference in the Gospel and the Church. The gospel is eternal and true. The Church is made of men and men are fallible. They are two different things. I’m neither making excuses for them nor condemning them as a whole. I think individuals will be held accountable for their actions.

    Keep Smilin’



  6. Dorian Nordenstrom says:

    That was a amazing post. I don’t agree with each single thing that you said but still good nonetheless. On a side note, I am so ecstatic that the NFL is back. It seems like I been patiently waiting forever. This has to be my favorite time of the year. Sorry, I’m rambling. lol


  7. Chad Nordenstrom says:

    Hey Dorian,

    Are we related? Who is your team? I am a huge Seahawks fan. As far as this blog goes it is way off.

    “You will find mainstream Mormons who will argue this with you. Until they research it. Then they just shut up.”

    There is a reason they shut up is because it is fruitless to argue with idiots. You think you know what you are talking about and you don’t. Stop going to anti LDS material or anti-mormons to findout what Mormons believe. It is so insane. I wouldn’t go to an LDS person to find out what the Catholics believe???


  8. Birdman says:

    Chad…too funny…how and why do you think we became ex-mormons?? We studied and found the truth to be different than what the church calls the truth. Polygamy is still and always will be a base of the LDS church…plural marriage is a requirement to become a God in the after life…if you are trying to tell us different, you are just telling yourself a lie.


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