Mormonism and Polygamy

Yesterday I wrote a post about the raid of a West Texas compound that belongs to the Fundamentalist Church of … Continued

Yesterday I wrote a post about the raid of a West Texas compound that belongs to the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints. In that post I described the Church as a “polygamist sect of Mormonism.” I have received two dozen emails as well as many comments saying that I misunderstood what I was writing about and that these polygamists have nothing to do with Mormonism and my use of the Mormonism moniker was uninformed and incorrect.

I appreciate these comments and completely understand how loaded the appellation question and polygamy are in talking about the FLDS. As every news article is quick to point out, polygamy has been outlawed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known by outsiders as Mormonism, since 1890. Those who practice polygamy are banished and, usually, abhorred by members of the mainstream church.

But to say that the FLDS should not be considered Mormons, well that is a simplification of a very complex history and if you ask me, truly wishful thinking. I’ve spoken with former members of the FLDS and they certainly consider their former belief system “Mormon.” Its history and its holy books – including the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s Law and Covenants – are Mormon, and members believe themselves to be carrying out the true covenant of Joseph Smith.

So who’s right? In academia, the answer to this question is usually that you call people what they consider themselves to be. But, after yesterday’s post, I see that this is complicated because mainstream “Mormons” – members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — feel that it invalidates and insults their faith for anyone to refer to FLDS as a fundamentalist sect of Mormonism.

What makes this odd is that Mormonism itself is not the official name of the LDS Church. Historically, it actually was a pejorative term applied by mainline Christians who saw Joseph Smith’s followers as a radical and bizarre cult. Part of that prejudice in America was based on a revelation that Smith made official in 1843, stating that plural marriage was required to receive the highest glory from God. He said he had this revelation a decade earlier:

“If any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else…And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.”

(From the Doctrine and Covenants of the Latter-day Saints, Section 132.)

The LDS Church’s official web site acknowledges that its early adherents practiced polygamy. In the 19th century, more than a thousand Mormon men went to prison for polygamy-related offenses. In 1862, Congress passed the Morrill law prohibiting polygamy and in 1872 Church president Brigham Young offered up his secretary George Reynolds as a test case to go before the Supreme Court in order to test the constitutionality of the law. In 1879, the Supreme Court heard his case and ruled the Morrill law was legal. In 1882, Congress passed the Edmunds Act, which provided imprisonment and fines for practicing polygamy. The Church was under siege and in 1890, the Church’s third president, Wilford Woodruff, received a revelation that plural marriage was to come to an end.

That would’ve been the end of the story for polygamy and Mormonism but it wasn’t. Dissenters said that prior to Woodruff’s 1890 revelation, there had been a divine visit by the long-dead Joseph Smith to then LDS Church president John Taylor, stating that plural marriage should continue. Lorin Woolley was a polygamist who said he was there when President Taylor spoke about this revelation and he was ex-communicated from the Church in 1912 when he gave a written account of those events. A group of dissenters who continued to practice polygamy organized around Woolley’s account, and some of these followers ultimately moved to the deserts of Utah and Arizona and began a homestead that would ultimately grow into the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints. To make things further complicated, the Priesthood of the FLDS has itself splintered off into smaller groups of polygamists, such as those living Centennial Park not far from FLDS headquarters in Colorado City and Hildale.

So there’s all that. Does that clarify why this is so contentious? Maybe, maybe not. My editor asked me if it was like Jewish people disavowing Jews for Jesus. I’m guessing the stakes are higher here because the history of the Mormon people is short. They don’t feel like sharing it with the polygamists who are living lives so dramatically different than their own. And none of this answers the question of whether or not the authorities in Texas were right to bus out 250 women and children based on a single complaint of sexual abuse. Authority is a sticky thing.

And just now, after I put all my history books aside, I logged on to Facebook and asked the profile that claims to be Warren Jeffs whether or not he was Mormon. Here’s that answer here — take it for what it is:

“awkward subject… we aren’t on the best terms. they would say that i’m “excommunicated”, but i just like to say we’re on hiatus from each other.”

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  • Janet K.

    Ms. Hoffman: Thank you for taking time to delve a little deeper and outline the distinctions between each of these sects. I won’t go into all the minutiae about the use of hyphens and small “d” versus large “D” in the official names of all these churches. It’s enough that you clarified the differences and why Mormons/LDS/Salt Lake-based members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bristle at being bunched with the FLDS/fundamentalists/polygamists.As you rightly point out, the bigger question here is, is it right for the government to go in and bus out more than 400 women and children based on one 16 year old’s complaint of sexual abuse?Not only is authority a sticky wicket, but perception and ideas about morality and life choices are, too.Right up front, I will state the obvious: polygamy is illegal in the United States. It is a prosecutable offense. It is also an offense that many attorneys general and district attorneys in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and elsewhere have often turned a blind eye. Not because they want “to leave well enough alone” but because pursuing these cases is potentially volatile and gets mucked up by cries of “Freedom of Religion.”Where states have been successful in prosecuting polygamists, though, is in cases of incest, rape, and abuse of government welfare programs. Case in point, of course, Warren Jeffs.Texas is walking a fine line between ensuring the safety of a child who called in a claim of sexual abuse and removing children from their homes and families simply because they live in family units that aren’t perceived as the social norm. I’m not suggesting growing up on a compound with more than one mommy and only one daddy should be ignored. By the same token, there are a lot of people in this country who are living in relationships or engaging in behaviors that June and Ward Cleaver types would find less than acceptable. Simply being ignorant of the ways of the world does not make one a bad parent and does not imply a bad living situation. If that were the case, we’d have to say that people with children living in the hollers of Appalachia without televisions, computers, electricity, or cars are putting their children at risk of not being able to survive in the modern world.If Texas is removing kids and women because of a perception (real or imagined) of backwardness and ignorance, that’s over the line. If, on the other hand, there are blatant signs of abuse and misconduct, then yes, the state should step in and remove children from harm, regardless of religious belief or socioeconomic status or level of education/worldly awareness.Finally, you’re right to point out that the issue of polygamy and its identification with mainstream Mormonism runs far deeper than one group simply disavowing the other. Mormons fervently believe that a prophet of God received a revelation and told them to cease and desist. This isn’t about disavowal as much as it is about obedience and for Mormons “obedience is the first law of heaven and the law upon which all other laws are predicated.” As such, there is no place in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for polygamy. (At least, not in this life anyway. But that’s way off topic and a discussion for another day!)

  • Aubrey

    A few on this post have asked questions about the LDS church believing in polygamy in the afterlife. I am LDS and have been sealed in the temple to my husband. Men and women who have several spouses during their lifetime (due to divorce, death, etc.) are sealed to all of their spouses–not just men to women. The assumption made is that you should seal everyone who was married to one another and then let them sort it out in heaven. So, for example, I have an ancestor who had four different husbands and she is sealed to all four husbands. We assume that once we get to heaven it will all be figured out. Men and women can then choose which spouse they would like to spend eternity with. A sealing is not polygamy, but a way of spiritually connecting ourselves to one another in the afterlife. I certainly will never be a part of a polygamous relationship, but being sealed to my husband and children is the greatest blessing in my life. Hope this helps clarify the issue.

  • georgepwebster

    ” I am LDS also but was unaware of the historical FLDS connections so thanks for clarifying that.”Enough said on ignorance.

  • L.Kurt Engelhart

    Another example that one religion can be recognized and collectively (governmentally) found to be better than another. Government cannot be removed from the practice of religion. We need to acknowledge this and start to act accordingly.

  • Gavin082

    The true lesson that is lost in all of this is that ‘revelation’ often has much more to do with the need of those living in the secular here-and-now and less to do with the word of god.That god changed his mind about polygamy when it came time for Utah statehood is just one example.The only difference between this situation and any of the ‘established’ religions is two thousand years…

  • Brett H.

    The issue here is NOT the fact that the FLDS people want to be called Mormons. As an LDS person, I just don’t want someone thinking that my religion condones polygamy, and the oppression and pedophilia that goes along with it. My personal belief, from what I’ve seen growing up in Utah, is that most FLDS polygamist groups comprise the following:Opressed, and subservient women kept in ignorance.The bottom line here is, who wouldn’t want to distance themselves from that, by name, or otherwise? To date, the LDS church has been synonymous with the term “Mormon” in the eyes of mainstream media, which is fine. Again, I just don’t want people to confuse us with the FLDS. That is where the contention comes from.

  • Sari

    This whole story is not about polygamy. It is about children being married off to 50 year old men, intimidated to consent because they are told they will go to hell if they refuse, and then RAPED. This is about child rape. Lets not forget that.

  • Utah Girl

    The comments stating that consenting adults really should be allowed to live in whatever sort of marriage contract suits their circumstances (such a Gay marriage), are missing the point! Their is no consent involved when a girl barely into her teens is told to marry a man often older than her own father. Most of these proposals of marriage are based on “revelaton” from God that it is His intention this child become the fifth wife of Elder So-and-so. To refuse such a marriage is to defy God! This is not about consenting adults agreeing to live a life-style outside the norm. It is about girls and the women they will become being forced into a life of sexual and physical subjugation. Joseph Smith refers to “virgins” BELONGING to a man in the Doctrine and Covenants. Some would define that as slavery. It is, at the very least, child abuse and child rape. Thank God that Utahns wanted statehood more than they wanted to continue practicing polygamy! I shudder to think of what my life as a Mormon female would be today . . .

  • Joe

    LDS members get skittish around the FLDS because they’ve worked so hard to repress and hide the truth of their own origins. LDS members vehemently dislike FLDS because the FLDS exposes the fraud of Joseph Smith, and undermines their own religious beliefs. He wanted lots of sex, so he figured out a doctrine that allowed him to do that, legally, in 19th century society. LDS members worry that if they allow this doctrine back into the mainline LDS church, they’ll just be seen as more backwards and cultish. They protect their religious certitude with the zeal of dogmatics, and that is why so many people objected to the original article.

  • Amelia K

    “A few on this post have asked questions about the LDS church believing in polygamy in the afterlife. I am LDS and have been sealed in the temple to my husband. Men and women who have several spouses during their lifetime (due to divorce, death, etc.) are sealed to all of their spouses–not just men to women. The assumption made is that you should seal everyone who was married to one another and then let them sort it out in heaven. So, for example, I have an ancestor who had four different husbands and she is sealed to all four husbands. We assume that once we get to heaven it will all be figured out. Men and women can then choose which spouse they would like to spend eternity with. A sealing is not polygamy, but a way of spiritually connecting ourselves to one another in the afterlife. I certainly will never be a part of a polygamous relationship, but being sealed to my husband and children is the greatest blessing in my life. Hope this helps clarify the issue.”About as clear as any absurd religious belief!!

  • Edgar

    SARI, you talking 100% nonsense: there no story of child rape anywhere existed in case of FLDS. People have wild imaginations, and press reporting it – that’s all. So far.

  • Maxwell Alan Miller

    You are correct that the so-called ‘mainstream’ LDS church once practiced polygamy. You are also correct that the matter is more complicated than I’m sure many of your angered respondants indicated.

  • Policyman

    I find it amusing when one sect of a religion disavows another sect. LDS members asserting that FLDS members are not Mormon is the same as Baptists claiming that Catholics are not christians and vice versa. Similarly, would Hassidic Jews be correct in claiming Reformed Jews are not Jewish? One might well claim that because it was the LDS that changed its belief system in the face of pressure from the US government that they are the ones who cannot claim to be Mormon. Of course, so many like to apply the opposite of this logic when they deride claims by moderate Muslims that the extreme “fundamentalists” do not follow true Islam. The only way for society to operate in this morass of belief systems is to do so under the rule of law. So your last question is the most pertinent, was the claim of sexual abuse sufficient to remove the children? I say it is. If they were not removed and subsequent investigation showed that the claim was true and other children had been abused in the mean time, the only question would be, “Who was the idiot who said to leave those children in that dangerous situation?” Regardless of the truth or falsity of the FLDS theological argument or what constitutes a true family, young children being sexually exploited is something we can all agree is not to be allowed.

  • Parker

    Claire,Read, folks, and think, then read and think some more. Go to primary sources. Peace to you.

  • Emmi

    The convenience of the Mormon church’s change in stance on polygamy gives me as an atheist nothing but amusement.The church leaders basically: Smith said God told us we should be happy as a general rule. (Good rule, by the way.) So, if the government is making us unhappy because of our practice of polygamy, clearly we should change it. (vastly summarizing John Taylor from “Our Religion Is From God”)That’s excellent. It would validate any change, whatsoever, to the rules. It’s a long, long way from: “…but the benefits, blessings and power appertaining to the second or more faithful and fuller observance of the law, he will never receive, for he cannot… I understand the law of celestial marriage to mean that every man in this church, who has the ability to obey and practice it in righteousness and will not, shall be damned.”

  • Fate

    Edgar wrote: “SARI, you talking 100% nonsense: there no story of child rape anywhere existed in case of FLDS. People have wild imaginations, and press reporting it – that’s all. So far.”What is being reported so far is that teenagers who have been removed appeared pregnant and some have infants. The age for sexual assault in Texas is 16. Curiously, the only way around this is if the girl was married, as I assume the fathers will plead, but I also assume the marriage has to be recognized by Texas, and polygomist marriages are not. So Sari is not talking nonsense. The children were removed due to the apparent sexually abusive nature of the group. In the afidavit, the 16 year old girl said she had an 8 month old baby. Assuming the girl is as old as a 16 year old can be (16 and 11 months), to have an 8 month old baby now meant it was conceived when she was 15 years and 6 months old. That is considered child sexual assualt (rape), even in Texas.

  • Paganplace

    ” Utah Girl:”The comments stating that consenting adults really should be allowed to live in whatever sort of marriage contract suits their circumstances (such a Gay marriage), are missing the point! Their is no consent involved when a girl barely into her teens is told to marry a man often older than her own father.”Oh, absolutely agreed… that’s to amplify that there’s a difference between abusive religiously-justified practices *and* anything agreed upon between consenting adults. I do suspect that outlawing the practice altogether has unintended consequences of pushing the whole matter into the shadows, where abuse is more likely, and where there is little protection for human rights, *because* it’s forced ‘underground’ and into isolation, anyway.

  • lwps

    I must point out what good Republicans the Mormons are, not to mention that the Moonies also love the Party of God. Crackpots of every denomination have taken over that party. People who call liberalism a mental disease have not seen conservative christians in all of their babbling, pants-wetting writhing.

  • Pam

    Technically, the issue in Texas is not over polygamy. The issue is over the legality of brides under the age of 16 and concern of child abuse and neglect. In Texas, a girl aged 16 or under may not marry, even with her parents’ permission. Therefore, any marriage in the FLDS Zion ranch that involves a girl under the age of 16 runs counter to Texas law. Unless, of course, the FLDS have an exemption with the state of Texas. [Sort of like the exemptions the Amish have.] They don’t, which is why the state is acting as it is. The same goes for child abuse and neglect. The state is acting under its laws and standards regarding abuse and neglect of children, just as any state or locality does in the issue of children. There was a credible report of child abuse; the state is investigating. And just as in many other cases, the state is removing the children in question until the investigation is complete. This is called child welfare and it is what we expect. This is all pretty cut and dried.The bigger issue, of course, concerns the balance between church and state and what we as a society deem a morally and socially acceptable baseline. On the issue of child brides, do we accept this if the bride is amenable and her parents consent (and yes, this may be a result of her culture and society)? How do we approach the issue of child brides if the girls are given in marriage against their will? With the FLDS in particular, how do we balance the rights and traditions of a religious organization with the laws and standards of the greater society. Should the FLDS be allowed to marry off young girls as they have been, or does the state have the right to impose a set of expectations to which the larger society and government adhere but not the FLDS? Where and what is the dividing line?I am no supporter of the FLDS and there are many issues besides child brides that I have a problem with. But please remember that this issue addresses child brides and child abuse and neglect. Polygamy, polygamous social structures, lack of education, subservient women and strong patriarchy are themselves but the Texas case right now is about the children.

  • Murali Krishna Devarakonda

    All this talk about what the religion or the sect says is a red herring in my view. The only issue is what is legal, and what should be illegal.The core problem with this incident and others before it isn’t whether polygamy is or should be legal. * The problem is adults having sex with children *No society should condone in any form sex with children.Polygamy, Polyandry, Polyamory, Bigamy and any kind of sexual union between *consenting adults* is not the issue, and shouldn’t be illegal in the first place. The problem is that laws exist on books in several US states that make these various kinds of sexual activity illegal – including fellatio and sodomy – even between consenting adults. Updating our legal systems and eliminating sexual prejudices from the society would go a long way towards eliminating sexual crimes against children. Whether it’s religion or a cult, an ancient tribe or an oppressive society, sex is the most fundamental of human needs that’s the most “regulated”, ironically leading to oppressive rules of sexual engagement in practically every society and country.Treat sex as a basic human need – no more, no less – and you’ll have taken a giant step towards eradicating most ills of societies, especially sexual crimes against children.

  • L B Allen

    To Maxwell Alan Miller and everyone else trying to find a simialr theological split for comparison:The Catholic and Lutheran split (what really should be refered to by it’s historical name: The Protestant Reformation) was not the result of one divergent sect appointing a new prophet, but rather the result of one religious leader rebelling against a theological hierarchy that endorsed and carried out the supression of the masses through their control of the interpretation of the bible, selling of indulgences, selling of forgiveness and penance, and numerous other examples of exploitative behavior levied by a rich and corrupt religious body against the common people who were uneducated and poor. Luther’s 95 Theses, which was nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, was more about the social injustices and oppressive tactics of the Catholic church than about a divergence in belief as to who was the true prophet, which was never in doubt.

  • garrett

    It’s difficult to fault the Mormon Church because most of its practitioners are so damn nice. (I can’t recall a single Mormon I don’t like.) But this flap involving sex abuse and underage brides should highlight to any fence-sitter the dangers that comes with believing in the divine on Earth without evidence.Brigham Young and Joseph Smith were firm believers in polygamy. The Mormon faithful, by definition, are firm believers in Young and Smith, so it would seem the mainstream Mormon church will always be in this uncomfortable position. The church only abandoned the policy of polygamy because it was politcally expedient and morally necessary. The FLDS are faithful to the original doctrines of the church and far more faithful to Smith and Young than their brothers in Salt Lake. Nice or not, this thinking demonstrates clearly the horror that can result from suspending doubt and believing without proof.

  • Raul

    Pam, as before, you are not logical. There was no neglect nor abuse of 416 children in the FLDS church. Just phony call of unknown person and hysterical reactions from the Texas government, who violating the freedom of practice Mormon religion for all 416 children, their mothers and fathers and all other members of said Mormon Church.Press love it, you and others impressed by wild imaginations generated by “child abuse professionals”. That’s all, so far.

  • Linda N

    My question is one about money. Where does the money come from to build this brand new facility, all these houses, the temple? Do the parents claim “Aid to families with Dependent children” payments, food stamps? With the disproportionate ratio of adults to children, it’s difficult to understand where the money comes from. The press and law enforcement should look into this. As they said in Watergate, follow the money . . .

  • Emmi

    The problem in this compound in Texas isn’t polygamy, or Mormonism, or religion…the problem is the same as it is everywhere else in the world; the problem is fundamentalism. These are just small people using religion as a weapon and an excuse to do violence against others. Notice that they share in common with their other destructive brethren in the Middle East the same need to isolate themselves from the broader, modern world. This is not a requirement of the religion; it’s a requirement for retaining unhealthy power over others.Basically, anytime a group insists on living in the shadows, they should be assumed to unable to withstand the light of day.

  • Raul

    Dear MURALI KRISHNA DEVARAKONDA,You cerainly did not know the laws of all 50 States, including the Washington, DC, and Terrories, of our country. There several States which allowed marriages between adults and children under certain conditions – permission of parents or judges. As for the legality of consensual sodomy, it is legal in every part of the United States of America: read the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • Robert

    I don’t want to get into who is a Christian, and who is not. That will be decided by a higher Authority. As to who is a Mormon, and who is not, again I defer. The offense here is that children are forced, or led, into a union that is questionable at best. We know that it is illegal under the laws of this land. Render onto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Caesar, aka, the United States of America has stated that polygamy is illegal. If this offends you move to another country, or establish one. It’s that simple.Do some of these people truly believe they are doing Gods work? Maybe, but I think it more likely that they enjoy the idea of sexual subservience, and hey, it’s nice to have a variety…..keeps the marriage fresh! My wife recently divorced me. I loved her, but she had a different agenda. I couldn’t make her love me, and I couldn’t make her stay married to me. She had the right to terminate the marriage. Evidently the wives of a polygamist are denied this right, or are prevented from knowing their rights. There’s something very wrong with that. If a woman doesn’t have any rights in this, doesn’t that make her a slave?

  • Jam Session

    Thank you Ms. Hoffman for going to original source material.

  • George

    Why would any man want to marry even one woman? Its just so much cheaper to rent….than to own.

  • Rob C

    If we call them all Mormons, we failure to distinguish between religions. The difference between LDS church members and those who would consider themselves members but who are not (either from discommunication or lack of a church-sanctioned baptism) is simply the difference of being a member of something and not being a member. If I am not a member of a given society or association but want to be, should I be called by that society’s name? If the answer to that is ‘yes’ then we have denied the organization the right to determine its own membership. If the term ‘Mormon’ is going to begin to be an umbrella term for people both members and not of the LDS church, then another term will have to be developed to clearly distinguish LDS church members from their non-member counterparts. Otherwise, we begin to call apples and oranges by the same name.

  • Raul

    LINDA,

  • Raul

    EMMI,There no problem with fundamentalism – but with people who hate fundamentalists. If I am, for example, a Jew, and the fundamentalistical, that not necessary means that I and my brothers “using religion as a weapon and an excuse to do violence against others”. That’s kind nonsense generally came from such ignorant person, as you are. Sorry, my dear, that’s how I perceived you commentary.

  • ep thorn

    A person can call their religion what they like; they have no right to decide what others may call theirs. This is the problem I have with well-meaning ‘moderates’ in, for example, Islam who declare that extremists are not Muslim. How convenient it must be to be able to decide with omnipotent power who is, and who is not numbered among the pious. The utter arrogance of it all is astounding. Fine; the current incarnation of the Mormon Church- that is, the current ‘mainstream’- can say what they would like. That doesn’t mean everyone else has to accept their simplistic and contrived views on religion.

  • Raul

    JAM SESSION, Tell me, why do you oppose polygamy?

  • David Auslander

    The current situation in Texas really has very little to do with polygamy. If it was about polygamy–a free choice made by consenting adult women and men to live in plural marriages together–the public and the media might dabble with the sensationalism of it for a moment. But ultimately, it would be regarded as just another out-of-the-mainstream “lifestyle choice” by another wacky group, and everyone would eventually lose interest in it and get back to minding his/her own business. There would be no rush to enforce the law. But this is not about polygamy, it’s about a self-propogating, quai-religious distopia based on the abuse of children to justify the sexual and masochistic needs of an authoritative patriarchy. It has to be stopped.I don’t know anyone, other than a Mormon, who belives in “The Book of Mormon,” the “Doctrine and Covenants,” and the authority of Joseph Smith. So if someone believes in all of that stuff, what else do you call him?

  • Anonymous

    It makes me angry that the practices of the FLDS is only getting national attention now. The polygamist cults have been operating in the open for 100 years even though it is illegal. One reason has been that sheriffs and county government officials in Utah and Arizona who are Morman have sympathized with the polygamists and refused to investigate the child abuse. Despite attempts by the LDS Church to disavow the FLDS, many Morman men in their heart are envious of the polygamists for not abandoning the true church teachings and assimilating into modern society. When the FLDS pulled out of Colorado City and Hildale and moved to Texas they ended up moving to an area with few Mormans who would look the other way.

  • Forget LDS— Hindus worship rats, monkeys and elephants

    These clowns are so primitive that they are worshipping a deformed girl with two faces as a goddess.Rats, monkeys, elephants— how foolish!Jesus

  • dhartmanva

    It seems silly to call people what they want to be called, if they are doing so under fraudulent pretense. Or, if you don’t care about that, maybe my friends and I should start calling ourselves the US Senate?

  • orray

    To “Mark in Irvine,” thanks for making reference to Jon Krakauer’s expose of family and sexual practices of contemporary Morman splinter groups, “Under the Banner of Heaven.” Krakauer’s overall point, however, is not how extreme the splinter Mormans are, how outside the tradition they are, but quite the contrary: how rooted they are in that tradition, how their claims are truer to the early LDS church than the now reformed Salt Lake branch. He further makes the point time and time again that fundamentalist Morman elements have always enjoyed at one level a certain surreptitious tolerance, even support, of many mainstream Mormans, providing no overt scandal erupts. That may be pushing the point, but that point seems not without evidentiary substance.

  • silverlining

    Part of the reason for removing the children till things were sorted out was that several of them were visibly pregnant and/or had children, despite being under 16 yrs of age. Also, several of the kids were unable to identify their parents, making the issue of custody a little tricky to sort out…Any adults that left the compound left of their own accord, other than the two arrested.

  • Freaks II

    All this talk of “elders,” “tablets,” etc. You people are freaks. Period. This is scarier than “The Dark Secret of Harvest Home” and “Children of the Corn” combined!

  • patrick

    The modern LDS Mormon Church has it’s roots from this group referred to as fundamentalists. The truth is the LDS knows of their furdamental roots, but they deny them along with all of Joseph Smiths original teachings including racism.The real question is can the Mormons separate themselves from their own history, no matter the title given.The LDS church is aware of the FLDS and by not stopping the ‘fundamentalists’ they embrace their actions as their own, as it is their history denied for the pourposes of a charitabe tax situation.Patrick

  • Edgar

    To: LDS MEMBER.Who gave yuou the right to claim an exclusive right on Mormon religion, and define who is Mormon and who is not? You may not answer, but for sure – nobody.I can join FLDS Mormon church at any time, or even estabish my own Mormon Church and call my members send you to hell, if I wish to, and nothing you can do about about it. Therefore, don’t get ultimative on the ownership of religion. That’s personal matter, as always.

  • David Auslander

    To LDS MEMBER:Actually, members of the ELCA (The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) DO consider themselves “catholic,” but not “Roman Catholic”–the Vatican has exclusive rights to that franchise.

  • Emmi

    Raul, there’s no problem with fundamentalism? Really? Those 19 hijackers were praying pretty hard to your one People-of-the-Book God when they crashed those planes. And every time someone straps on an explosive belt. Fundamentalist religious belief is as much a part of that behavior as it was in this compound we are discussing. Fundamentalism simply means unquestioningly accepting and applying the beliefs of a religion. You have some other definition for it? Just look around the world and the handiwork of that. That’s pretty much all I need to know. They are known by their works, are they not?”Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city….And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, both young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.” See, for me, when a representative of God tells others they have to do violence in that God’s name and they do… well, that scares me and I think rightly so.I notice how you did not dispute my point with any actual facts or examples, just went for the insult. Classy of you.

  • LB Allen

    When Lutherans (and others) refer to the catholic church they are talking about the universal Christian brotherhood. Definition of catholic from Miriam Webster: of, relating to, or forming the ancient undivided Christian church. Roman Catholicism is a branch of Christianity, and is a part of the catholic church.Again, the point is being missed that the Lutheran church was not formed as the result of a squabble over something as innocuous as polygamy. Luther was going against the representation of the Pope as God’s living embodiment on Earth.I find it very disressing the FLDS or LDS members would twist the Reformation to their benefit. But, it does highlight the narrow mindedness and ignorance that both groups share to this day.

  • Lighten up everyone…

    How come the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day of Saints or “RLDS”) isn’t part of this discussion? They’re a Mormon offshoot also. If we’re asking who’s a Mormon let’s not forget the Community of Christ! They do own the Kirtland Temple after all…

  • Bill

    The talk about polygamy misses the point. The evil people in Texas are polygamous, true, but the real issue is that they are child-rapists. That’s two separate issues: polygamy and child-rape. A Mormon complaining that the members of a polygamous sect aren’t real Mormons is like a Jew complaining that Hasidic Jews aren’t real Jews or Catholics complaining that Baptists aren’t real Christians. Give me a break.On the other hand, just about every religion has a right to claim that supposed adherents who practice child rape have lost the faith.

  • Raul

    “How come the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day of Saints or “RLDS”) isn’t part of this discussion?” What’s make you think they are not? Of course they participated in discussion. Here been a lot of Mormons already, but some concealed their memberships, possibly for good reasons. What problem bother you, brother (or sister)? Pray to God, that helps a lot, as far as my experience showed (for me).

  • rj

    No disrespect, but some Christians would make the same case of “identity theft” with Mormons.

  • Senator

    Patrick, explain me about racism of Mormons.

  • AJ

    I agree with RJ. If Mormons want to complain about the FLDS considering themselves Mormon, than they should be more respectful of the Protestant groups who wish for Christianity to be distinct from Mormonism. After all both religions view Jesus very differently. Just as the FLDS confuses people when they call themselves Mormon, if the official church doesn’t recognize them. Mormons confuse people when the call themselves Christian and other protestant churches don’t recognize them.

  • ed_tred@yahoo.com

    THE MAIN POINT is the the Mainstream Mormon Church in Utah DID embrace polygamy (also know as adultery). The FOUNDER of the Mainstream Mormon church (Joseph Smith) said the God told him to command the people to commit polygamy/adultery. The Modern day mainstream Mormon Church is trying to distance themselves from the fact that their founder is the one who started polygamy. If Joseph Smith lied about the polygamy (come on! God did not tell people to commit polygamy/adultery), THEN how can anyone trust anything else he said (yeah, sure he found golden tablets that supersede the Bible)

  • Ed Marrow

    THE MAIN POINT is that the Mainstream Mormon Church in Utah DID embrace polygamy (also know as adultery). The FOUNDER of the Mainstream Mormon church (Joseph Smith) said the God told him to command the people to commit polygamy/adultery. The Modern day mainstream Mormon Church is trying to distance themselves from the fact that their founder is the one who started polygamy. You would think from listening the Mormon President that they had never condoned polygamy, when in fact they very much did preach polygamy for many years. If Joseph Smith lied about the polygamy (come on! God did not tell people to commit polygamy/adultery), THEN how can anyone trust anything else he said (yeah, sure he found golden tablets that supersede the Bible)

  • Ed Misher

    THE MAIN POINT is that the Mainstream Mormon Church in Utah DID embrace polygamy (also know as adultery). The FOUNDER of the Mainstream Mormon church (Joseph Smith) said the God told him to command the people to commit polygamy/adultery. The Modern day mainstream Mormon Church is trying to distance themselves from the fact that their founder is the one who started polygamy. You would think from listening the Mormon President that they had never condoned polygamy, when in fact they very much did preach polygamy for many years. If Joseph Smith lied about the polygamy (come on! God did not tell people to commit polygamy/adultery), THEN how can anyone trust anything else he said (yeah, sure he found golden tablets that supersede the Bible)

  • Todd

    Its not about religious freedom as some like to claim. People can believe what they want and practice what they want. And in texas they arent talking about consenting adults choosing to live in this lifestyle. This is about forcing 13 year old girls to marry 40 and 50 year old men. If it was outside of the compound we call it child molestation. But if its inside the church compound its suddenly different. These kids arent choosing this life style its forced upon them. They dont have any other options. Most of them have no idea of what goes on in the outside world. If other countries censor what people read or watch its bad but if these people do it its religious freedom. People can call it what they want it doesnt make it right or legal.

  • Alister

    Question to Claire Hoffman:Why you calling in both articles the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as “Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints”? I think the exact name is highly important for the readers.

  • Anonymous

    AJ and others:If the FLDS accept the Doctrine and Covenants (which they do), they should not be ignorant of the verse which says the following, Doctrine and Covenants 115:4That is how we can call The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Mormon and any other kind not.

  • LosAngeles_Mormon_guy

    As a Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the main organization based in Salt Lake City), allow me to give you the view from the inside. We are very glad polygamy is over and done with, and no one wants to see it return. We see it as a terrible burden that was placed upon some of the early members of our church (only a small percentage of church members was ever involved in polygamy). No one seriously thinks that polygamy is at all attractive. The women of the church hate the idea for obvious reasons. The men of the church can’t imagine that this could lead to anything but a hell of stress and contention. We can’t even imagine doing this again.As for the historical practice, most Mormons probably couldn’t give you a very good explanation of it; we spend little or no time thinking about polygamy because it is not a part of our lives. The vast majority of Mormons, myself included, have no ancestral connection to Utah, so the practice is even further removed from us. It is not really a part of the consciousness of most of us. We are caught up in the business of living, and our daily faith is in our relationship with God, our families, and the rest of the world, as with followers of other faiths. Most Mormons have little interest in poring over fine points of doctrine concerning a practice that has long lapsed. I, on the other hand, have just enough interest in it to bore you with my take on it.In my opinion, the default doctrine of the Mormon church is monogamy. Polygamy is only authorized when there is a need to raise a lot of children in a short time. This is made clear in The Book of Mormon, Jacob 2, “Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;” and “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.” Doctrine and Covenants 132 is a widely misunderstood and misquoted document, even within the church sometimes, because people too often don’t bother to read the whole thing. D&C 132 does not require everyone to practice polygamy. Its main point is that in order for any ordinance, including marriage, to last after death, it has to be performed by someone having authority from God. This is not such a foreign concept; in marriages in the west, the wording is usually, “’til death do us part” or “as long as we both shall live.” Mormons believe that marriage is a sacred institution ordained by God and should last forever, a doctrine embraced by some and that strikes fear into the hearts of others… Temples, like the one you see from the Washington Beltway, are where these ordinances take place. (I got married in one of them many years ago. No pomp, very simple, very beautiful. Believing that we are married forever gives me a different perspective on marriage than I might otherwise have, living so close to Hollywood in this disposable age…) Anyway, part and parcel of this idea of marriage as God’s ordinance is that God has the right to set the parameters of the ordinance. Therefore, as it states in D&C 132, the Old Testament patriarchs did not sin in marrying multiple women because this was commanded by God at the time, and from the children of these marriages came entire nations, consistent with Jacob 2 as discussed above. In the early Mormon church, the number of members was small and the mortality rate as they were pushed across the country and settled in the Rocky Mountain west was alarming. In 1838, Governor Boggs of Missouri went so far as to issue an order that all Mormons should be killed or driven from the state. (In this context, the murderous guerrilla warfare that took place in the area during the Civil War is not surprising. It was a lawless and violent time in an uncivilized frontier, after the US had removed the native civilizations but before they really established their own. “Heart of Darkness” type stuff, imho.) After settling in the Utah valley, survival continued to be a struggle as they started to farm the desert. It was in these circumstances that some in the Mormon church, usually the most committed, were told to participate in polygyny. They followed reluctantly. The result was that those most committed to the church raised very large numbers of children, and many of these children and their descendants went on to lead the church for generations. It produced, in a very short time, a group of very committed people large enough to hold the church together. This is a result consistent with Jacob 2 as discussed above, “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people (to practice polygamy); otherwise they shall hearken unto these things (be monogamous).” It’s easier to see the benefits to the church in hindsight. At the time, I think they just thought they were being obedient, and they suffered through the poverty, ostracism, and loneliness as a matter of faith.

  • CALIFORNIAMARTY SAYS

    Bigotry flourishes in these comments-Today the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and later maybe some other of the many forms of bigotry. Pick one that applies to you,

  • krasni

    Oh, and I think we’re leaving the RLDS out of this because the RLDS are a group that splintered when the LDS church started practicing polygamy, not when they stopped. So far as I know, they don’t commit or endorse any egregious and disgusting crimes as a church, so identifying them as Mormon is less likely to result in prejudice towards the mainstream LDS church from the casual reader.

  • bastanow

    Abraham, Issac and Jacob in the Bible all practiced polygamy. Does that mean they were Mormons also?

  • garrett

    It’s not bigotry to point out intolerance in a sect’s past. The policies were made by men and later renounced by men. That is honorable but when both of these divinely inspired doctrines are allegedly coming from the same Alpha and Omega creator, it shows weakness in the supposed authority of the chuch. It is NOT bigotry to point this out. (Or to point out any of the abuses of the Catholic faith).

  • krasni

    Bastanow: I thought Isaac had only one wife, Rebecca. Rather a lovely story, actually.

  • Alex

    Garrett:”It’s not bigotry to point out intolerance in a sect’s past. “That is true, unless you choose to color facts with omissions, misrepresentations, lack of historical context, or with willful ignorance of exculpatory evidence.

  • Joseph

    What is it that causes a group of people to separate themselves off in an enclosed compound anyway? No doubt, this can easily lead to the development of increasing paranoia and delusional thinking of those in the compound. Furthermore, girls were essentially being raped in this compound. How can this be justified? At any rate, I am not Mormon, but do know Mormons, and I don’t believe their church sanctions this type of behavior at all. We’ve also seen other wackos, like David Koresh who had nothing to do with anything Mormon. Furthermore, if you look at the books of the non-Mormon Bible, you can find lots of quotes to justify just about any behavior. It’s how it is interpreted in the light of modern times.

  • Mark

    I hate the way the sourcing and attribution rules of major media outlets don’t even allow the normal copyediting for capitalization, punctuation, and the like. This is disrespectful of the people you quote. Someone who sent you an informal IM did not want it to be rolled right through to a quote in the Washington Post as is. When you as writers screw up in your manuscripts, don’t you expect your copy desk to catch it. Of course a source’s meaning and intent should not be changed, but common sense can judge when a copyedit will affect meaning and when it won’t.

  • Mark J.

    I find it ironic that certain Mormons take offense that others describe themselves as Mormons, yet these same Mormons cannot understand why certain Christians take offense when Mormons describe themselves as Christian. Mormons cannot have it both ways.The scriptures relevant to polygamy are still in the Mormon canon and polygamy remains a fundamental doctrine of the COJCLDS, even if it is not practiced as it earlier was. The practice was so important to the church that its founder, Joseph Smith, died defending polygamy. He and the inner circle who secretly practiced it but publicly disavowed it, destroyed the printing press of an anti-polygamous member who was exposing the practice. It was for this act Smith was sent to jail where he was killed by a mob of angry citizens.(I am a descendent of Nauvoo era polygamous Mormons.)

  • Robert Wagner

    Well, by golly, we certainly have nailed those goofy cats in Texas.Now all we have to do is get those goofy cats in the Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Jewish, Islamic, UCC, Presbyterian, and Unitarian churches.And then, there’s the belief sets of the Democratic and Republican parties.Lots of work to do.

  • nwguy111

    As a former Mormon who was once sealed “for time and all eternity” in the Mormon temple, I like many others were taught that the Mormon Church suspended the practice of polygamy in 1890 “in mortality”, to comply with the modern society practice and laws.In Mormon Theology “plural marriage” (polygamy) is still held as a sacred eternal Mormon principal (law) and in fact, will be practiced by many who attain the “Celestial Kingdom”, or the highest degree in heaven, according to Mormon Theology.In fact, men, whose wives have passed on, may be sealed to a 2nd wife in an LDS Temple (or even a third, should the 2nd wife pass on, too.). Any temple ceremony is considered to have eternal implications, especially when the words “for time and all eternity” are uttered as part of the ceremony. Temple-going LDS are taught that if they remain faithful and true to the covenants and promises made in the Mormon Temple; “the day will come when you will be chosen, called up, and anointed Kings and Queens, Priests and Priestesses…the realization of these blessings depends upon your faithfulness.” Mormons are regularly taught that Elohim (God, the Father) has many wives (essentially Heavenly Mothers) and that plural marriage is revered as a “higher principal.” So, essentially both LDS and FLDS believe similar doctrine; that as faithful members; one day, after they pass beyond the veil of death, they may be privileged to able to live the same life that God is living, meaning a polygamous lifestyle. The difference is that for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), the polygamous lifestyle is prohibited until after death. But, for the FLDS, the polygamous lifestyle may be lived today, but only with the blessing and approval of the FLDS prophet.

  • Alice

    I had a few thoughts I wanted to share after reading your article.1. The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints LEFT the Church of Jesus Christ when they felt they had more authority to run the church then the Prophet of God. (Think of people telling Moses how to run the church. Not good! So they left the church…)

  • Fate

    Raul wrote: “Recently the Federal Government entered into the theater – the FBI got warrant from the Federal District court via the US Attorney on search of the property of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This action effectively paralyzed activities in the local Texas’ district court. As I said before, feds will entered into the game, because the do have their own plans against the male Mormons in the said Mormon Church.”Well that is quite an assumption. What you may not understand of federal laws are that they apply to interstate crimes. If any of these children were taken across state lines, even by their parents, and were abused, the feds are required to get involved. What country are you from anyway? You say you have muslim fundamentalist friends. All the muslims fundamentalists I know are restricted from forming friendships with anyone non-Muslim. So maybe your seemingly lack of revulsion of the reports coming out of Texas makes sense now.Raul wrote: “Apparently, the leaders of the Church did not acted fast to confront the search warrant on the federal level, and now they do have more problems – from the Federal Government and the State of Texas government.”‘Confront the search warrant’? What are you talking about? Do you mean by force? I’m not sure where you think this is going but it seems clear to me you are not used to the laws of America. If federal laws were broken, as Texas must have determined, the FBI gets the call. If they are now involved, not only were crimes found to have been committed, but also federal crimes.Raul wrote: “We’ll see how that’s going to evolve. There is plenty of actions could be done on the federal level by the Church, but I don’t see any actions for now.”What actions at the federal level?

  • Raul

    Mark, I agree with you. Your arguments are perfect.

  • Gomer12

    As a Latter-day Saint I too bristled at your article yesterday listing the FLDS as a sect of Mormonism. I appreciate your going to the extra effort today of clarifying things. As one steeped in Mormon history I find nothing inaccurate about your article today. I am not used to seeing this from the Washington Post. Usually reporters pick up on the first account written on a subject and then just repeat it–inaccuracies included–for as long as it’s newsworthy. Good job.

  • L Swinford

    “Can polygamists call themselves Mormons?” How nuts. Polygamy has been around almost as long as there have been humans, certainly far longer than before Joseph Smith. Polygamy is not a Mormon issue. But to assume that Mormons do not now practice it or officially sanction it does not connect with historical Mormonism. Christianity commonly does not see the need for celibacy, but Roman Catholicism long ago set that standard for their ministers. They have history to support, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox have history and traditions to support the different idea. Mormonism similarly has different streams, each with their own precedent and emphasis. The ONLY reason why mainstream Mormonism abandoned polygamy was that the country enacted laws against it. Today, popular culture permits men and women to bed as many others as they desire — provided they aren’t married to more than one at the same time. American popular culture is absurd, not Mormons. The fiasco in Texas and elsewhere, however, was an absurdity of taking on extra brides that were simply too young. American legal culture makes it clear that marrying multiple partners is against the law, but pressing an underage partner is, culturally, breaking a still bigger law. That is the issue, not the polygamy, the lines we have drawn to protect the young. (I’m not a Mormon, by the way)

  • Jeff P

    Janet:

  • Kennedy

    I don’t know, if backwardness and ignorance leads to the “marriage” of underage girls to older men, then I’m all for the state stepping in. And let’s face it, we all know what’s going on at that ranch. Older men are “marrying” young girls.I somehow don’t think that is the result of these girls exploring their own sexuality and choosing their own partners.It’s wrong for female children to be forced into marriage. That’s not a “lifestyle” choice. It’s abuse.

  • Susan S.

    Is it true that Mormons still have doctrinal polygamy in heaven? For males only, of course…!

  • Raul

    Fate, I cannot answer all you questions because this site is censored.What you do not understand is that I perfectly aware of the federal officer’s modus operandi and how they conduct their field’s operations by reading copies of various federal files, besides the great deal of books on the federal laws. Apparently you never know the attorney’s activities in the court. It is the war – pitiless and relentless. War of words and logics. That’s the confrontation. There even possibilities to kick out the judge from the case, if the judge make wrong move. That’s the confrontation. Study the law and then you will understand my point.I wrote of the actions before, however, sensor removed it from the site. There no need for repeat. I let it go.

  • Anonymous

    ‘And none of this answers the question of whether or not the authorities in Texas were right to bus out 250 women and children based on a single complaint of sexual abuse. Authority is a sticky thing.’Have you all read the accounts of how they “break” babies?The LDS people have nothing to do with these idiots, save a common history.

  • Raul

    KENNETH,Your comment clearly indicating that you are revengeful and evilishly minded person, who have nothing to do with Christianity, as well as with the present systems of laws of any state of our country under the United States Constitution. It is pity that your mind set on evil instead of justice in accordance with laws of this country, along with the ethics of every religion on this planet Earth.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think the issue here is Mormonism or polygamy. The root problem is the abuse of power and authority. Then there is the attempt to isolate and control the victims. There is a very vicious cycle going on in that society – engaging in abusive practices and seeking to isolate themselves more and more to avoid the consequences.It is hard to see how this cycle can be broken without some sort of shock to the system.This is going to be a sad and ugly shock, but there doesn’t seem to be a better option.There is also a set of victims that goes unmentioned in these articles – the hundreds of “lost boys” who are ejected from this society onto the streets of St. George and other cities to fend for themselves without family or support.

  • Ed Whitey

    Their disavowal of a splinter sect is about as pointless as Catholics saying Protestants arent Christain. Its the same relgion at the core, just different minutia.And for the record – why the heck do we outlaw polygamy? If the man and women are ok with it so what? Frankly I couldnt survive more than one woman but there are those that can – you know that whole consenting adults thing? And dont give me the whole financial responsibility tripe, there are single man/woman marriages that cant afford to be together financially.Now forcing minors into sexual marriages like this group has done is another whole story and is utterly vile.

  • Ed Whitey

    Their disavowal of a splinter sect is about as pointless as Catholics saying Protestants arent Christian. Its the same relgion at the core, just different minutia.And for the record – why the heck do we outlaw polygamy? If the man and women are ok with it so what? Frankly I couldnt survive more than one woman but there are those that can – you know that whole consenting adults thing? And dont give me the whole financial responsibility tripe, there are single man/woman marriages that cant afford to be together financially.Now forcing minors into sexual marriages like this group has done is another whole story and is utterly vile.

  • Ed Whitey

    Their disavowal of a splinter sect is about as pointless as Catholics saying Protestants arent Christian. Its the same relgion at the core, just different minutia.And for the record – why the heck do we outlaw polygamy? If the man and women are ok with it so what? Frankly I couldnt survive more than one woman but there are those that can – you know that whole consenting adults thing? And dont give me the whole financial responsibility tripe, there are single man/woman marriages that cant afford to be together financially.Now forcing minors into sexual marriages like this group has done is another whole story and is utterly vile.

  • Anonymous

    Ms. Hoffman, I couldn’t read all the article, as I have a problem with the press treating this incident as Mormonism related and as POLYGAMY.It is NEITHER….THIS IS SERIAL RAPE OF FEMALE CHILDREN, ostacization (CHILD NEGLECT) of MALE CHILDREN aroung age 12 when their hormones kick in. Further, it is a BABY MILL! IT IS SUBJUGATION OF WOMEN IN THE MOST EXREME FORMS of BEING HELD HOSTAGE—physical and mental abuse!THIS SHOULD BE FRONT PAGE OF EVERY PAPER IN THE US until it isfully investigated!

  • Jeremiah

    Thanks for that additional insight and history. I am LDS also but was unaware of the historical FLDS connections so thanks for clarifying that. I’ve always just looked at the various LDS splinter groups as similar to the situation with protestants and Catholicism — at a basic level, a group splits off from the main body because of doctrinal disagreements. Whose doctrine was/is right remains the believer’s burden.

  • lobo1939

    I taught high school in a Utah community many years ago and was stunned when one of my piers announced that she was going to her aunt’s wedding that weekend. She explained that the aunt was a spinster and would marry her father who was still legally married to my pier’s mother. She explained further that this was a spiritual union so the spinster aunt would have access to Mormon heaven. The mainstream Mormon religion still sanctions polygamy. It just calls it something else.

  • M. B. in NYC

    As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I would like you for clearing up the difference between the FLDS and LDS churches. Since Mainstream America thinks of the LDS/SLC based church when the word Mormon or Mormonism is used I think it is inappropriate to use in context of the Fundumentalist sect.This is especially a hot button topic since so many people still believe that the LDS church practices polygamy. I’m constantly asked by co-workers and new aquaintences about this issue and so it is disconcerting when large institutions like the Washington Post link Mormonism and polygamy back together.I would like to point out that in the most recent General Conference of the LDS Church, church leaders spoke strongly against sexual abuse. I myself am horrified at what the FLDS “church” has been doing down in TX and hope that one day those poor children and abused adults will be able to lead normal and healthy lives.

  • Perry

    This response is clearly a mockery of those calling for the recant.

  • KJ

    Unless the term is trademarked FLDS members have every right to call themselves Mormon since they have a common and traceable heritage. Of course LDS members have every right to disagree and explain why. This is not much different from the way that Mormons refer to their church as Christian whereas many of us mainstream Christians beg to differ. In fact, the FLDS has a better case for describing themselves as Mormon.

  • freaks!

    The Dark Secret of Harvest HomeLet’s just call it what it really is: the LSD church!

  • allost

    If the people being held against their will were a group of white men the federal and state governments would be all over it. Because its women being victimized places like Utah and Arizona and until recently Texas did nothing. We have all known for years what they were doing to those girls. Apparently Texas is a bit less willing to turn a blind eye. Good for them!

  • Razor

    One technical clarification: the language quoted from Doctrine and Covenants section 132 relates to plural marriage procedures that exist when the law of plural marriage is operative. Church doctrine and teaching hold that most often the law is not operative.

  • Bill Tetzeli

    Most people who claim revelations from God are just trying to make gods of themselves. Isn’t that obvious?

  • Emmi

    >The mainstream Mormon religion still sanctions polygamy. It just calls it something else.It’s called “sealing” and has been since the early days of the church.Honestly, I don’t care if people feel like practicing polygamy, like gay marriage it’s just a contract between private persons and I don’t think the government belongs there. The usual rules apply like any household: no abuse, no relations with minors, etc. There are thousands of abused wives and children in monogamous households too, right now. Ones and twos don’t capture national attention, is all.That said, I think the modern LDS church disseminates a bit too much about their history, changing their story often as political whims dictate. They have a distinct disadvantage in that their history is so modern all the warts and charlatans in their past are easy to spot. But in this day and age of information, it is a lot harder for them to, well, let’s be honest, lie to their adherents about Smith, especially, but Taylor as well. There were darn good reasons Smith kept getting kicked west.Like KJ, I’d say that “Mormon” fits the FLDS very well, since they are living the original teachings instead of the conveniently modified ones.

  • Mark In Irvine

    to see how twisted some of these FLDS people get, read “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer – there is history of the LDS Church and of the polygamist splinters – they really do seem WAY OUT of the mainstream LDS church.

  • Paganplace

    “And for the record – why the heck do we outlaw polygamy? If the man and women are ok with it so what? Frankly I couldnt survive more than one woman but there are those that can – you know that whole consenting adults thing?”Well, Ed, it’s probably outlawed just cause people presume it’s immoral. Personally, I think poly marriages *ought* to be legal, but in a context where all partners are equally-bound to each other and each have equal rights with respect to, and ties to all others. This isn’t what you have in the Mormon-type practice, you essentially have women with no rights as regards each other, and as you can see in the quoted language, treated as property. Often, given their communities, no real choice in the matter in the first place. Can’t have the US Government enforcing *that,* can we. If actual consenting adults want to observe their religion and arrange their lives that way, then in principle, I think a way should be found to make it fair, equal and just under the law. Not only that, people should be free to *leave* a bad situation. (This is a problem of making polygamous marriages illegal: if a woman wants to leave one, as things stand, she gets *nothing* cause it’s not considered a marriage in the courts in the first place. If she’s battered, she can’t go to the cops because of fear of arrest or something.) And any fair legal code that could accomodate such marriages would have to make that option available to all combinations of partners, not just a man who has several wives. In principle, it could be done, I think, though. But I sure wouldn’t be the one to try and write *those* legal codes. 🙂

  • George Sutton

    A simpler explanation would be to compare Roman Catholics to Pentacostals. They both use the same or similar Bible, but they are very different in what they believe and how they worship. Although it’s difficult and convoluted to trace their connection through Martin Luther and lots of other twists and turns, they are related to each other in some basic sense. So it is with the LDS Church, headquartered in Salt Lake City, and the FLDS Church, headquartered somewhere in the Texas wilderness. Consequently, newspapers such as the Washington Post ought to be more careful when they tag this or that group as “Mormons”. It only tends to confuse readers. A more informative approach would be to call the FLDS a “Mormon splinter group” (or something similar). That way, your readers would be better able to more clearly differentiate them from the original group.

  • Otis

    “Their disavowal of a splinter sect is about as pointless as Catholics saying Protestants arent Christian. Its the same relgion at the core, just different minutia.”I would hardly consider the encouragement and arrangement of the abuse and rape of young girls a mere difference in “minutia.”LDS church members are rightfully abhorred when the FLDS groups are confused and construed as mainstream Mormons. Who would want to be associated with such a disdainful and loathsome acts?

  • freethinkr

    FLDS is more true to mormonism’s roots than the current Church. There is no mormonism without Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith was unequivocally a polygamist. “God” even told him so, as noted above.The only reason that the mormon church renounced polygamy was because they were forced to due so by the US government in order to survive as a religion.

  • fromutah

    I was raised in Utah and on the inside of the Mormon church. Although Mormons do not practice polygamy, poligamists lived in our town and were tolerated. A girl in my freshman class in high school disapeared from school for a week and returned with bruises all over her throat. This fourteen year old had been married to a man in his fifies. She dropped out of school altogether a few months later when she became pregnant. We pitied the polygamous families. But they continued to live among us. Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants still exists and some Mormons I know feet sympathy for these courageous souls who still live the restored gospel in its fulness. Jesus said by their fruits you shall understand others.

  • Tim

    Well, we hear over and over that the fundamentalist Islamic terrorists really do not represent Islam. After all, Islam is the religion of peace. So I think if we wholesale excuse Islam of so many of their followers who commit violence in the name of Allah, then we should excuse the LDS for a few crazy people in Texas who claim to be Mormon. Let’s just say that Mormonism has been highjacked by a few radical individuals and forget this whole notion that somehow the historical Mormon church has had anything to do with their actions.

  • dunnage

    Well, they can call themselves whatever they prefer.

  • Kennedy

    I agree that full, consenting adults should be able to live in whatever arrangement works for them. BUT this topic is about the sexual abuse of young girls. Texas invaded the compound because girls are being sexually abused. That’s not a “culture” I’m willing to accept.

  • Paganplace

    Well, any senses of poetic justice aside, somehow I have accumulated this notion that male-on-male rape in institutions somehow doesn’t make girls and juveniles any safer. Yaknow, FWIW.

  • Senator

    Not really, Patrick. I think black people might become great Mormons in the future. Is there Mormon churches in Africa?

  • LosAngeles_Mormon_guy

    Paganplace:Widows and widowers can remarry. We figure it all gets sorted out properly later. Among Mormons, there are all kinds of opinions about how exactly things are arranged, but for the most part, we don’t worry about it. We believe God to be kind and just, his nature proven to us in the gift of his Son. He isn’t out to get us and no one gets condemned on technicalities. (For example, no one gets condemned just because they are born in a time or place with no knowledge of Jesus Christ. No child is condemned for dying before baptism.) Also, God isn’t going to force anyone to be in a miserable marriage forever. As we say, “There is no compulsion in heaven.” So we trust that He will work everything out in such a way that everyone will be happy. We are taught of a God who is infinitely kind and compassionate. He sent his Son to suffer and die for us. Recently I felt despondent, really low, and as I considered how defeated I was, I remembered that Jesus suffered and died for losers like me. As I thought of this, the love of God flowed into my heart and healed me. To me, it was a miracle, the Lord intervening in my life. Millions of people from many faiths have had similar experiences, no doubt including many who are reading this. We cannot prove to you that we are not crazy or deluded. It’s nothing that can be settled by proof or debate, only by personal experience. God calls everyone to come to Him and receive his love. We approach Him through faith and in humility, and he communes with us through His Spirit. This is a path that anyone can follow. In this most important of endeavors, the rich and well-educated have no advantage. If we seek Him with true intent, when the time is right, He will answer.

  • Morgan

    If the FLDS is correct in asserting that the US Constitution protects their right to rape underage girls because it allows for freedom of religion, then it stands to reason that the terrorists that were responsible for 9-11 were fully justified because they believed it was required of their religion. Their lawyer might want to review his notes from class. The freedom to practice your religion does not excuse you from laws with which you disagree.

  • Edgar

    Nobody asserting that the US Constitution protects their right to rape underage girls because it allows for freedom of religion. That’s absolute nonsense. The marriage to certain females of various ages never means to be a rape. There are about two hundred different countries where marriage of males to females permitted below the age of 18 years. The conditions are different from country to country, so and in the USA we have 50 States and several Territories where marriages males permitted to females below the age of 18 years. Texas limits early marriages to age 16, other states to 14 or lower ages. Human beings are different by their physiologies and cultures.The institute of marriage existed thousands years, and historically was religiously sanctioned, followed by the “civil” marriages. Marriage is not the business of the state, but of the church. Rape is not existed in marriage, but outside it. That’s the fact.Whole meaning of the marriage related to reproduction? if it is physiologically possible. That’s was God’s Will, nothing else. It is not for simple pleasure, but for God’s purpose. Freedom of religion does not means the freedom of sexual orgy. Religion is about the obedience to God’s Will, and everything else is sequential.Another point in this subject, and an important one. The early marriages male members to the female members of said church might been conducted not in the Texas, but in other States of this country, where the early marriages is permitted by the state’s laws, even from the age of females below age of 14. Priest of the church could travel in other states with the couple to perform the ceremonial of marriages. In this case no Texas law ever was violated and all accusation from the government is false, derived from the evil imagination of its governmental agents.Let’s not forget that the temple of this church was build between 2003 and 2006, and females arrived in the State of Texas from other States of this country. They were married in other States – not in the State of Texas, before their arrival in the compound of their religious organization, which has been established and incorporated somewhat about in 1940 in two States – in Arizona and Utah. That’s fundamentally important matters, which practically all press and government ignored.

  • Paganplace

    Come on, Anonymous, you misconstrue what people are saying about this. There are legitimate questions of whether certain styles of polygamy lead to abuse situations, etc etc, I think we’ve all duly deplored acts of child rape and abuse. And, well, Thanks, Losangeles. It’s funny, it always seemed the Mormon church was rather preoccupied with the specificities of your afterlife, and all. It always seems to get referred to, after all when justifying various things. And, no, I don’t think you’re crazy for having a religious experience or whatnot… I’ve got a pretty deep religious life, myself, (It’s not the custom of Wiccans to run around ‘witnessing’ about tat sort of thing, for various reasons, so I’ll leave it there.) But my religion doesn’t teach people they’re ‘losers’ or damned and needing saving by, of course, the same religion that says this. Doing OK, thanks. And, Edgar, I don’t even know where to start, with you. 🙂 Marriage is a civil contract, whatever religious implications you may attach to it. And these certainly don’t make it legal or OK for a bunch of underaged women to be forced into ‘marriages’ that don’t even protect them, then say it’s not ‘rape’ cause they’re ‘married.’ They’re too young to even have a *say* in the matter, whatever you like to call it.

  • Pam

    Edgar,Marriage, whether performed in a church or a civil ceremony, is not just the purview of religion – it has legal ramifications as well. (This, BTW, is why gay people seek the right to marry).The members of this sect don’t *legally* marry after the first wife – they marry “spiritually.”The idea behind this is to get around the laws against polygamy.However, when you are not *legally* married to a female below the legal age of consent, but are having sexual relations with her, you are breaking a whole new set of laws. These men can’t have it both ways – they are either committing statutory rape, or they are polygamists.Further, in none of the states where these people have lived, is 14 or 15 considered old enough to consent.So, they have no legal leg to stand on. But this isn’t why so many of us are outraged (and you should be, too) – it’s because these girls have no say in *any* of it. They are forcibly “married” to these much older men because the church leader claims that God has told him that is how it should be. Their wishes do not enter into it.Perhaps in your country this is considered OK, but not here. Here, it is rape, and it is abhorrent.

  • Edgar

    In the United States of America we know several States where marriage of man to women at age of 13 or lower permitted with consent of parents – New Hampshire and New Jersey, Kansas, for example. That’s the fact. In Arizona possible for man marry woman of age 15 years with consent of parents. In case of members of the Mormon church it is easy thing to do, because parents like the idea of early marriage for females. I don’t know about the boys. Boys usually easily misbehaving and parents dislike the idea marriage boys with girls, and preferred marry their daughters to mature men, that’s proper way to go. Adam was older then Eva so shall be the way for every marriage. There no force at all, just parental guidance govern the marriage patterns on the start.

  • Jessica

    Warren Jeffs is communicating via Facebook???!

  • Edgar

    Pam, girls can’t say “no” because they are underaged and parents decide for them what is proper for them in the matter of marriages, and that’s legal in USA. The priest does not have power to tell parents what to do, and he only performs ceremonial of marriage. Such ceremonials could be performed by him in any state of this country which permists marriage for persons below age of 14. There is plenty of such states in the Union. Just take the search engine on the Internet and you will see a lot of them.I think you are over-emotional and under the influence of the news which parroting the Texas officials’ imaginative and stupidly criminalized version. Its pity that press media in the USA acting as the sequence to the governmenal conduct without any critical reason. The press looks like perfectly sujugated cow to the master-mind of the US government. Sorry, but that’s what I observing for far from hundrends newspapers on the net.

  • Pam

    You’re leaving something out, Edgar – it’s with the consent of the parents *and* the minor concerned, and this is a legal matter – it has to be court approved and it has to be a *legal* marriage – not a “spiritual” marriage done in secret behind the closed doors of the temple.You’ve ignored everything I said before – these girls aren’t legally married and they are not above the age of consent to have sex – particularly not with men several times their age.No matter which way you turn it, these men are breaking the law. The girls are slaves. The whole thing is rotten to the core.

  • Pam

    Edgar wrote:NOT true.

  • Proudtobelds

    Kj, your ignorant comment, “This is not much different from the way that Mormons refer to their church as Christian whereas many of us mainstream Christians beg to differ” is the quintessence and epitomy of an uneducated stance, and is a demonstration of survile submissiviness to the misinformed and erroneous opinions of press, bigots, and fools who choose to ignore the facts. Here is several different defintions of christianity to help elucidate and eradicate the blindness which has captured many, including yourself.1. of, pertaining to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings: a Christian faith.It’s clear by the defintions given that Mormons are chrisitian in every sense of the word. In fact, they embrace the true doctorine of Jesus Christ–the very doctrine that was pure 2000 years ago but has been corupted, convoluted and changed through out the ages by the very organizations that now call mormons non-christians (which from your words, it sounds like yours is one of them). Joseph Smith was instrument in restoring the true doctrines of Christ. Anyone who follows those restored teachings are truely Christ like and truely Christians. Now with that said I’d like to see you attempt to explain and justify your ingnorant, foolish statement “…many of us mainstream Christians beg to differ.” The only thing you should be begging for is an education, one that contains facts.

  • Chris

    I would also like to voice a concern that I have regarding Warren Jeff’s association with the online networking site, Facebook. Although in jail, he continues to communication (most likely through direct descendants or close followers) through the popular website. They will continue to prey on young girls and recruite. This is tragic for our communities.

  • Edgar

    Pam, you mentioned that “gay people seek the right to marry”. Those people is condemned in Judaism, Christianity, Mormonism, Islam, etc. There no chance for them to be married because they are against the God’s will and standing in violation of Creation. They have delusions on marriage. Only degraded countries — like Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and So. Africa — permitting them to do the marriage on the governmental level. Over 195 countries reject that nonsense. All churches of world’s religions reject that nonsense. Married homosexualists could not enter in such noble and ancient country as Iran, but married heterosexuals can – from any country of the world. That’s the difference on the international level. 195 countries do not recognize homosexualistic marriages. In European Union 23 country does not recognize marriage of homosexualists. That’s the fact

  • Morgan

    People such as Edgar serve to highlight the importance of the separation of church and state. As Americans we cannot capitulate to the demands of such religious extremists or they will serve to undermine this republic. Small concessions, such as Harvard College banning males from one of their gyms for certain hours due to the outcry of a handful of muslim students, are only the beginning of a slippery slope that will inevitably lead to shira courts being forced upon us.

  • Anonymous

    the issue is not polygame, ITS CHILD RAPE. all you leftist loonies had your communes with the “we will share everything” from the 60’s. you live with two or 3 others and share.

  • Edgar

    Anonymous, you talking the fantasy, the hallucinatiions. There never was rape of any child or any sexual abuse in Mormon church. Don’t make up the false issue!

  • patrick

    Senator,Racist enough for you now?Patrick

  • Providence Candlelight

    THERE IS NOTHING DESCENDED FROM JOSEPH SMITH THAT IS NOT A CULT.Further, to say that the SLC crowd outlawed polygamy is misleading is not an outright lie.First of all, it was the US Military that convinced the “profit” (sp) to go have a little chit-chat with God. Fortunately for those seeking legitimacy, statehood, etc., the profit reported that God had directed him to stop the cult from practicing polygamy. As you can read in today’s papers, some did and some did not.They continue to teach that polygamy is a “divine state”. Divine for whom?Sincerely,

  • Harold

    One of the questions about Mormonism related to spiritual marriages. Because such marriages are spiritual, they perhaps should not be considered as sexually related. What’s make people outside of Mormon religion think that spiritual marriage necessarily means performance of sexual activities between man and woman? Even in actual legal marriage man not necessarily engaged in sexual activity with woman, and their official titles, “husband” and “wife” does not required them to have sexual activities. They might be bond to each other socially or psychologically, but not sexually. Logically, man can spiritually marry girl of any age, or woman can marry boy of any age, but without any sexual activities between them. Even any boy can spiritually marry any girl without any sexual activity. From such consideration it is easy to comprehend that no member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has had sexual act with any of spiritual wife, if any of them existed in said Church. However, if any man was engaged in sexual activity with person below the age of 16, then such conduct might be illegal in the Texas. But this shall be proved without any reasonable doubt in the court of law. So far nothing like that was done, and no sexual abuse take place in the Church.

  • Paganplace

    Umm, Harold?”Logically, man can spiritually marry girl of any age, or woman can marry boy of any age, but without any sexual activities between them. Even any boy can spiritually marry any girl without any sexual activity.”From such consideration it is easy to comprehend that no member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has had sexual act with any of spiritual wife, if any of them existed in said Church. “…Do a bunch of girls impregnated at fourteen count? Or has there been a mess of miracles?

  • Paganplace

    Not to mention that if there *weren’t* any sex going on, (I know sometimes that’s all certain folks care about,) …it doesn’t mean kids still aren’t being basically enslaved for life at tender young ages. That’s really just not acceptable in a free country.

  • Harold

    Paganplace, you talking such a hystrical nonsense about the fourteen years aged pregant women because you never see a woman who has been pregant at age of 13 and give the birth also at age of 13 to a very healthy baby-girl. I did. The woman became a perfect mother for another FIVE healthy children after first pergancy. No problem with her body and her mind at all since her early womanhood (motherhood). Therefore, don’t talk silly staff about early womanhood. You looks just as one of countless fools all around this “intelligent” country.

  • Mr. Berg

    Mr. “LOSANGELES_MORMON_GUY” you said: “I’m very glad law enforcement is finally going after that FLDS group.”If that’s true, you are not a Mormon, not a Christian man. No Christian person will be glad in the case when whole commuinity of Mormons in Eldorado suffering from the hands of government of Texas. Obviously you are evil person, because you happy when other human beings, especially 416 children, suffering from the authorities of State of Texas.

  • LosAngeles_Mormon_guy

    frank burns: “What, The Hand of God did not intervene and pull those evil law enforcement officers away from the doors??? Where is Jehovah where you need Him nowadays? Back in Ezekial’s day he would have done something, by golly.”I’m very glad law enforcement is finally going after that FLDS group. Should have done it long ago. But the argument you use has an inauspicious pedigree. It sounds a lot like Matthew 27, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.”An Ezekiel reference might be made to fit, but in a different way. If you remember, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all prophesied that Babylon would destroy the kingdom of Judah unless they repented. Ezekiel, in fact, prophesied very specifically about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and David all lived to see these prophecies fulfilled. So it would be more accurate to say that Jehovah is doing what he has always done as exemplified in the writings of Ezekiel. Still, it might be safer to leave statements about divine punishment to the Pat Robertsons of the world. :-)Hi, PaganPlace. I meant only the first paragraph (after the quote) of my last comment to be addressed to you. The rest I meant for everybody here. I enjoy your comments. They are fair-minded and refreshingly free of vitriol. What beliefs are considered pagan these days? Does Shinto count? How about traditional Native American or Polynesian belief systems?

  • DR

    Harold:

  • Johnny Dangerous

    The Polygamy Issue:In regards to the LDS in Utah: “Does polygamy still exist in Utah? You bet it does. Utah was admitted to the Union in 1896 but only under the condition that the Mormon Church ban polygamy, which they agreed to do. The Mormon Church remains opposed to polygamy to this day and immediately excommunicates any member who is discovered to be practicing polygamy. There are several ultra-orthodox offshoots of the Mormon Church though, especially in rural parts of Utah, which quietly practice polygamy today basically under a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Most polygamists just want to be left alone and don’t want notoriety.”It should also be noted that every member of the LDS has a years supply of food in their pantry. That’s pretty smart in my book.What’s really wrong are the LDS members who categoricaly deny that polygamy still exists. What’s even scarier are the states where with the parents permission a girl as young as 13 can be married off in a prearranged marriage.Yikes! These loopholes need to be closed.It was enivetible that eventually church and state would have a showdown. Did the framemakers of our constitution see this one coming? I hardly doubt it.