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Ogden Kraut

One of the most renown of all “independents,” Ogden Kraut was set apart as a “Seventy” by Joseph W. Musser in the mid-1940s, but afterwards served a mission for the Church.[1]  Excommunicated in 1972 for “teaching and promoting the living of plural marriage in our day,”[2] he went on to champion the cause of polygamy by authoring more than sixty books defending its continued practice.  Staying neutral regarding the specific teachings of the larger “groups,” most fundamentalists applauded Kraut’s writings even if they didn’t agree with all of his interpretation of fundamentalist traditions.  Though an activist in many ways, he did not support violence or confrontation as a way to promote the practice of plural marriage.  His diplomacy earned him the respect of most of the people he met, regardless of their stand on plural marriage.

In one of his more popular publications is 95 Theses, Kraut attempted to mimic Martin Luther who on 31 October 1517 nailed a list of “95 Theses” or problems he had identified with the Catholic Church, on the door of the castle church at Wittenberg, Germany.  Some of the “95” topics included by Kraut are unimpressive such as “fear of enemies” and “healing instruments.”  However, he also listed the dozen or so more common concerns consistently repeated in fundamentalist literature.[3]

Curiously in all of his writings, it appears that he never explained his beliefs regarding the “one” man mentioned in D&C 132.  Reportedly he approached Louis Kelsch to perform some sealings in the early 1970s, but later was influenced by Alex Joseph and Robert C. Crossfield.  In 1991, one of his plural wives was asked regarding the sealing authority used to solemnize his own marriages, she paused a moment and then responded, “I’ll have to ask him.”[4]  On one occasion he complained:  “It is a very perplexing problem today for individuals who want to enter into the law of Abraham, to find someone to perform the sealing, because of the restrictions established by the groups themselves and even some of the independent prophets.  If the Lord should reveal to a man and a woman that they are to be joined in the law, and they approach someone they feel has that calling in one of the groups, they are usually told that they must first be baptized into their church group, attend meetings for a year, and pay their tithing to them.  The people feel it is priestcraft because it looks like they are required to pay for that ordinance.”[5]

          In defense of the distance he kept from the larger polygamist groups, Kraut wrote:  “John Taylor authorized and set apart several men to perpetuate the principle of plural marriage and gave them the calling to perform such marriage, regardless of what the Church or the government might say or do...  There is no mention of setting up a church, taking tithing, having weekly meetings, or setting up a colony somewhere.  Their calling (or keys) was to (1) live plural marriage, (2) perform plural marriage sealings, and (3) set apart others with this same calling.”[6]

Shortly before his death in July of 2002, Kraut penned his opinion of the status of modern polygamy: “The fulness of the Gospel is still alive B seriously wounded, but it does survive.   It has been splintered and the splinters have splinters B who disagree over who has the most ‘authority’ or the most ‘keys.’  But a few righteous Saints still defend the restored Gospel and its eternal Priesthood laws as given to Joseph Smith, scattered though they may be.”[7]  He also added: “The Mormon Church believes Joseph Smith is a prophet and so do the Fundamentalists; so why are they at such odds with each other?  The answer is simple: one believes everything the Prophet Joseph taught, and the other does not.  And the gap grows wider.”[8]


[1]    .  Quinn, “Plural Marriage, 1998,” 29.

[2]    .  Kraut, Complaint Against Ogden Kraut, 63-65.

[3]    .  See Hales and Anderson, “The Doctrines of Modern Polygamy, an LDS Perspective,” unpublished manuscript, 1993.  Available for download at mormonfundamentalism.com.

[4]    .  Personal conversation with Anne Wilde 16 May 1992.

[5]    .  Kraut, Holy Priesthood, 6:290.

[6]    .  Ibid., 6:250, 257.

[7]    .  Ibid., 6:274.

[8]    .  Ibid., 6:283.