Over the last week we have been reading, watching,
and seeing a news story out of Texas concerning
polygamy. The stories have focused on a polygamist
religious sect, FLDS, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus
Christ of the Latter Day Saints. The charges are
that a 16 year old girl was beaten and forced to be
a wife of an adult man. This anonymous phone call
enabled the State of Texas social services to swoop
down on the private property of a known and recogzined
religious compound. At least it did not become another
Waco! Footage has shown armed militia and armored
vehicles in abundance.
Anthropological studies show that polygamy has been
common in societies throughout human existence. It is
recorded in the Bible. Martin Luther wrote in favor
of it. Many nations and cultures encouraged it for
increasing the birth rate and providing for social
The Republican presidential nomination cycle with the
candidacy of Mitt Romney increased awarness of polygamy
with the attacks he had to undergo because he is a
Mormon or a member of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter
Day Saints. The main way US Christian groups attacked
Mormonism was through its practice of polygamy, even
though the Mormon Church forbids it, which had been a
cardinal tenet of religious belief coming from the
founders, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, who claimed
to have had direct revelations from God on the practice
of polygamy. In other words, polygamy was divinely
inspired for the original Mormon faith. Later, as Utah
petitioned to be admitted as a state, US Christians
demanded admission be based on renunciation of polygamy.
Mormonism was equated with barbarism.A new revelation was
received and polygamy was removed as a cardinal tenet of the
Mormon faith. It was, though, sort of slight of hand. Mitt
Romney's run for the presidency opened the polygamy issue again.
Main line christian churches, catholic included, are no longer
the persecutors of Mormonism. Rather, the persecutors today
are the so righeous fundamentalist evangelicals who lead the
attack. They are very anti-Mormon and live in States that have
anti-Mormon laws on the books, but have only rarely been
enforced. The laws, however, are on the books and can be used
at the descretion of the State. Texas is one of those States.
The ACLU opposes the anti-polygamy action by the State of Texas.
Interestingly, so does the Libertarian Party. They take the
position that it is not the government's responsibility to
regulate marriage. Finally, the christian right has incorporated
a prohibition against polygamy in their ballyhooed Federal
Marriage Amendment to the Constitution.