New Book!



Differences Between the FLDS Polygamists

and the LDS "Mormon Church"

Brian C. Hales

January 12, 2006


With all the publicity surrounding Warren Jeff’s and his trial, many people are asking questions regarding his possible association with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the “Mormon Church” or the “LDS Church”).  It is true that during the nineteenth century some member of the LDS Church married more than one wife, following the example of Old Testament prophets such as Abraham, Jacob, and Moses.[1]  However, the practice was largely curtailed in 1890 and completely stopped in 1904.

As Warren Jeffs goes to court and defends his own version of polygamy, he will likely attempt to draw a parallel between his recent polygamist activities and nineteenth century polygamy as practiced by LDS Church members.  This is unfortunate because significant differences exist between polygamy as practiced by Warren Jeffs (and all other Mormon “fundamentalists”) and plural marriage as experienced by Biblical prophets and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints between the 1840s and 1904.   

1.  Warren Jeffs (and other Mormon “fundamentalists”) exercise very different priesthood authority to perform their marriages than that utilized by Church leaders like Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor. Doctrine and Covenants scripture D&C 132:18 states that any plural marriage that is not authorized by the “one” man holding the keys of sealing “is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world…”  Early Church leaders solemnized plural unions using the priesthood keys held by the senior apostle who rises to that position through seniority based on his ordination to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.[2] 

Mormon fundamentalists have always used different authority.  Rulon Jeffs (1909-2002), the father of currently FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, claimed authority from an ordination he received in 1945 from John Y. Barlow.[3]  Barlow ordained Jeffs as a “high priest apostle” and as a member of the “Council of Seven Friends.” 

My research strongly suggests that both the council and the office did not exist prior to 1930, but were created then by Lorin C. Woolley with the help of Joseph Musser.[4]  Regardless, Lorin Woolley’s assertions form the basis for the priesthood authority claims for up to 90 percent of Mormon fundamentalists today.[5]  Ironically, Warren Jeffs was never ordained by his father as a member of that Priesthood Council (the Council of Friends), nor was Warren given his father’s alleged priesthood keys.  Consequently, Warren Jeff’s claims to legitimate authority are very confusing and seem to greatly contrast the descriptions of priesthood keys described by the Prophet Joseph Smith.[6]  In contrast, LDS Church presidents claim an orderly succession of sealing authority from Joseph Smith to Gordon B. Hinckley through the office of Church President, who has always been the senior apostle.[7] 

2.  Warren Jeffs (and other Mormon “fundamentalists”) believe polygamy could not be suspended in 1904 and that plural marriage is required by God today.  A review of religious history shows that polygamy may be commanded, permitted, or not permitted by God according to “the circumstances, responsibilities, and personal… duties of the people of God” in their respective ages.[8] 

When Joseph Smith first learned in the early 1830s that polygamy as practiced by Old Testament patriarchs had been acceptable to God, he was still not permitted to enter into it.[9]  However, within a few years he and other Church members were permitted, but it was not then required of all Latter-day Saints.  In 1852 the principle was taught publicly and for 38 years plural marriage was considered a commandment.  The 1890 Manifesto removed the commandment, but history shows that polygamy was still permitted until 1904.[10]  Thereafter, plural marriage was (and is) not permitted.  These directives have all been administered through the “one” man who holds the keys of sealing authority[11] in an orderly way (D&C 132:8, 18).

Brigham Young understood this eternal principle saying:  “A man may embrace the Law of Celestial Marriage in his heart and not take the second wife and be justified before the Lord.”[12]  One year after the 1890 Manifesto was issued, First Presidency Counselor George Q. Cannon explained: “The Nephites [in the Book of Mormon], according to all that has come down to us, were monogamists. This law was not given to them, as far as we have any account. Yet they were a great and a mighty people before the Lord.”[13]  To Jacob in the Book of Mormon, God stated that, depending upon His will and earthly circumstances, “I will command my people” (see Jacob 2:27-30) regarding their marriages practices, usually specifying monogamy, but at other times permitting or commanding polygamy.[14]

Some fundamentalists believe that simply living a polygamous lifestyle is sufficient to garner God’s blessings without worrying about authority issues.[15]  This sentiment was not shared by early priesthood leaders.  In 1847, W. W. Phelps married three wives without Brigham Young’s authorization.  Although Phelps had clearly embraced a polygamous lifestyle, Young excommunicated him because his marriages were not performed by proper authority.[16]  At no time in this earth’s history has freelance polygamy been viewed as eternally valuable.[17] 

3.  Warren Jeffs (and other Mormon “fundamentalists”) believe that the more wives they marry in mortality, the greater their eternal rewardLorin Woolley appears to have been the first to discuss this idea.  In 1932 he taught: “To be the head of a Dispensation, 7 wives [are] necessary. [To be the head of] the Patriarchal Order must have 5 wives. [To be] President of the Church - 3 wives [are necessary].”[18]  Warren Jeffs is said to have more than seventy wives and it is known that he married several of his father’s (Rulon Jeffs) wives shortly after his father’s death in 2002.[19]  The Allreds,[20] LeBarons,[21] Kingstons,[22] and essentially all fundamentalists seem to hold true to this notion.[23]    

In contrast, Church leaders have never taught that a man gains an eternal advantage by acquiring as many wives as possible.  During the period when polygamy was commanded (1852 to 1890), full compliance occurred when the man took a second wife.  Marrying a third or fourth wife was not necessary.[24]  In a letter to a Mormon bishop dated May 22, 1888, then Church President Wilford Woodruff explained: “ SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1You ask some other questions concerning how many living wives a man must have to fulfill the law.  When a man, according to the revelation, married a wife under the holy order which God has revealed and then married another in the same way… so far as he has gone he has obeyed the law.  I know of no requirement which makes it necessary for a man to have three living wives at a time.”[25]

            It appears that the commandment to practice plural marriage between 1852 and 1890 was a singular directive given at a unique time and place with blessings attached.[26]  So far as has been revealed, no other people in the history of the world ever received this same requirement. Apostle Joseph F. Smith explained:  “It is a law of the Gospel pertaining to the celestial kingdom, applicable to all gospel dispensations, when commanded and not otherwise, and neither acceptable to God or binding on man unless given by commandment.”[27]  History shows that through the “one” man[28] who held the keys of sealing, the commandment was removed in 1890.  God’s reasons for the commandment were never fully provided.[29]  But even during the 1852 to 1890 period, Church leaders did not encourage men to accumulate wives and offspring as they might amass wealth or property in the interest of some eternal benefit.[30] 

4.  Warren Jeffs (and other Mormon “fundamentalist” leaders) exercise immense control over marriages among their followers. Today, Warren Jeffs,[31] the Kingstons, and the leaders of several fundamentalist groups, exert immense control over the marriages that occur among their followers.  This contrasts Brigham Young’s 1853 counsel:  “I am free, and so are you. My advice to the sisters is, ‘Never be sealed to any man unless you wish to be.’ I say to you High Priests and Elders, ‘Never from this time ask a woman to be sealed to you, unless she wants to be; but let the widows and children alone.’”[32]  Controlling marriages was never a practice of early priesthood leaders.  Individual free agency has been the rule and guide. 

5.  Warren Jeffs (and other Mormon “fundamentalists”) seem comfortable using deception to defraud the government of welfare subsidies.  Much evidence exists to show that during the past few decades, many plural wives of Mormon fundamentalist men have deceived the government in order to obtain welfare assistance and medical coverage. The deception occurs as plural wives fail to identify the father of their children in official records as required by state laws; the mothers supply spurious names or say they do not know.  Through this fraud, fathers are able to shift their responsibilities for the material support of their plural families to state welfare programs.

Being responsible for the temporal needs of the members of the UEP in the 1980s, Bishop Fred Jessop in the Colorado City, Arizona reportedly encouraged FLDS members in the area to take advantage of government assistance in the form of welfare and the WIC (woman-infant-child) programs.[33]  In 2003, “thirty-three percent of the town’s residents received food stamps—compared to the state average of 4.7 percent” resulting in more than $6 million a year in public funds being funneled into the Community of Colorado City, Arizona.[34] Jon Krakauer, author of a controversial book on contemporary Mormon fundamentalism, wrote: “Fundamentalists call defrauding the government ‘bleeding the beast’ and regard it as a virtuous act.”[35]

Welfare subsidies received by members of the Kingston clan resulted in the prosecution of Ortell Kingston by the state of Utah in 1983 for fraud.  The case was settled with Kingston paying the state $250,000.[36]

Independent polygamist Tom Greene was  SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1charged with criminal non-support among other crimes.  The State of Utah asserted that he and his “wives” had received more than $647,000 in state and federal assistance, including $203,000 in food stamps and nearly $300,000 in medical and dental expenses since 1985.[37]  After a drawn out trial process, he was convicted and sentenced to prison.[38]

 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1In 1993, one Utah State Department of Social Services employee estimated that through her office, “300 polygamous families receive from between $500 and $1600 worth of food stamps each month for families with an average of 15 members.”  She further explained: “The attitude of some polygamists is ‘the government is untrustworthy and corrupt, and I’m above it – but give me those food stamps and free medical care.’”[39]

In contrast, Paul set the standard incumbent upon God’s followers:  “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8).  LDS scripture D&C 83:2, 4 explains:  “Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance… All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.”  At no time have Church authorities encouraged men to marry wives they could not provide for or support materially.[40] 

6. Warren Jeffs (and other Mormon “fundamentalists”) place an emphasis on living the law of consecration now.  Mormon fundamentalists often place great emphasis upon the united order.  However, Joseph Smith made no effort to implement the law of consecration in Nauvoo (see D&C 105:34) and Brigham Young waited until 1868, twenty-one years after arriving in Utah, to actively promote it. John Taylor ceased emphasizing it shortly after Brigham Young’s death.[41]  It seems that early priesthood leaders felt little compulsion to put the law of consecration into operation, despite numerous opportunities to do so.

            Importantly, most of the efforts of Mormon fundamentalists to live the actual law of consecration bear little resemblance.  The scriptures plainly outline that this is a privilege (D&C 51:15) and freelance efforts will not be recognized.[42] 

7. Warren Jeffs (and other Mormon “fundamentalist” leaders) exercise control over property and the residences of their followers. Warren Jeffs (and other fundamentalists including the Kingstons) exercise tight control over property and residences and call it “the law of consecration.”  But in reality it is quite different.

In the law of consecration, properties are consecrated to the Church with the bishop acting as agent for the Church (D&C 42:31-34; 51:12).  Then after “testimonies” (i.e., discussions and interviews) between the member and the bishop, a decision is made regarding what is needed for the member’s stewardship. That portion is then deeded back to the member; he is the owner  (D&C 42:32).[43] Members receive their own property and resources and then are left to utilize their own free agency to make choices that will bring prosperity or problems. No dominion, compulsion, or control (D&C 121:37) are exerted by bishops and high councils (or other priesthood leaders) who serve to administer to the poor using the resources from the bishop’s storehouse (D&C 42:34, 51:13).[44]

In contrast, the Kingston’s Davis County Cooperative Society, the Allred united order communities in Montana and elsewhere, and the FLDS United Effort Plan have received numerous consecrations of money, property, and other valuables from followers who joined the respective plans. However, as a general rule they do not deed back to their members a portion, conveying it to them as their (the members’) own property. Instead, they maintain tight control over the resources and, consequently, tight control over all members of the plan.  The lack of free agency in these purported united order organizations greatly contrasts the teachings of all early priesthood leaders. 

8.  Warren Jeffs (and other Mormon “fundamentalists”) do little or no missionary work.  It appears that Mormon fundamentalist leaders seldom, if ever send out missionaries to preach the gospel and to baptize.  D&C 84:75-76 states:  “The gospel is unto all who have not received it. But, verily I say unto all those to whom the kingdom has been given--from you it must be preached unto them” (italics mine).  Mormon fundamentalists usually claim to represent the “kingdom of God” on earth and to possess all priesthood keys (including the “keys of the gathering of Israel” mentioned in D&C 110:11, 35:25).  Yet they do not claim to have received all priesthood responsibilities that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other early leaders shouldered.  One of the foremost responsibilities is the need to do missionary work (see D&C 1:4,18; 4:3; 18:10-16; 33:6-10; 60:2-3; 68:8 etc.). 

From the 1920s to the present, Mormon fundamentalists usually see themselves as a privileged group who, unlike early LDS polygamists, do not need to serve as missionaries to gather scattered Israel.[45]  Leroy S. Johnson, FLDS leader from 1952 to 1986, summarized: “Let us look to our own selves. If we labor from now on and save no one but our own souls, how great will our joy be in the Kingdom of God.”[46]  This self-focused attitude sharply contrasts the Church’s approach as exemplified in D&C 18:14-15:  “Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.  And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” 

9. Historically, Warren Jeffs (and other Mormon “fundamentalists”) have done little or no temple work to save the dead. The man who holds the keys of sealing also carries the responsibility to oversee saving ordinance work for the dead.  “For him to whom these keys are given there is no difficulty in obtaining a knowledge of facts in relation to the salvation of the children of men, both as well for the dead as for the living (D&C 128:11).  

Joseph Smith wrote: “And now my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For  their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect” (D&C 128:15).  The Prophet also instructed:  “How are they to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah.”[47]

            Despite this clear emphasis from the Joseph Smith, my research suggests that fundamentalist leaders have never used their alleged priesthood keys to perform saving ordinance work for the dead in any significant degree.[48] In their teachings and practices, fundamentalist leaders have consistently treated proxy work as a non-issue.[49]   

10. Mormon “fundamentalists” change the obvious meaning of D&C 85:7 regarding the duties of the one mighty and strong, in order to support their position Joseph Smith wrote what is now Doctrine and Covenants 85:7 on November 27, 1832, as part of a letter to W. W. Phelps, in response to disobedience among Church members in Jackson County, Missouri.  In it he warned that if the problems were not resolved, the Lord would send “one mighty and strong” with two duties: “to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints” (D&C 85:7) in Zion (Independence, Missouri).  A simple review of the city plat of Zion drafted in 1833[50] shows that before the second responsibility of arranging “inheritance lots” for the saints could be accomplished, the temple (“house of God”) would need to be surveyed (“set in order”).[51] 


Mormon fundamentalists strongly reject this obvious interpretation.  Lifting this prophecy from its context, they usually proclaim an impressively comprehensive set of duties for the “one mighty and strong.”  Fundamentalist writer Ogden Kraut summarized this hope and perspective: “The setting in order of the House of God will be a greater event than the Restoration… The miracles will be greater, the number of converts will be more numerous; the power and wealth of the Saints will be richer; and Zion—the New Jerusalem—will finally be built.”[52] Modern polygamists proclaim that through his efforts they will be vindicated and the practice of plural marriage restored.  A sweeping transformation of the mother Church is also anticipated.[53]  Nothing exists to suggest that early priesthood leaders believed anything similar to current fundamentalist traditions regarding the “one mighty and strong.”[54]  Neither does the scripture, when kept within its context, seem to justify such elaborate expectations. 

11. Mormon “fundamentalists” provide new definitions for gospel terms – Mormon fundamentalists understand certain religious terms differently than early Church members.  For example, among Mormon fundamentalists today, the term “fulness of the gospel” is synonymous with plural marriage, with or without the law of consecration.[55]  In contrast,  the Doctrine and Covenants says three times that the Book of Mormon contains the “fulness of the gospel” (D&C 20:9, 27:5, 35:17), yet the Book of Mormon mentions the law of consecration only twice (3 Ne. 26:19, 4 Ne. 1:3) and mentions polygamy only to condemn it (Jacob 2:23-31). President Young gave a comprehensive definition: “When we take up the religion that has been revealed—the Gospel in its fullness, we find that it is simply a code of laws, ordinances, gifts and graces which are the power of God unto salvation.”[56]


            These differences (and many others) suggest to me that plural marriage, as practiced by Old Testament patriarchs and early Latter-day Saints (like Brigham Young) was very very different from polygamy as practiced by current Mormon fundamentalists (like Warren Jeffs).  Modern polygamists often see themselves as faithful stalwarts living difficult gospel principles that the Church authorities and members are too weak in faith to obey.  Contrastingly, Church leaders view modern polygamists as self-appointed and unauthorized apostates who are perverting a sacred Bible-based principle. 

            Perhaps these dissimilarities are why some observers deny that there are any true Mormon fundamentalists. Anthropologist Janet Bennion, neither a Latter-day Saint nor a Mormon fundamentalist, lived for a time in a fundamentalist community in Montana where plural marriage and a united order were practiced. After her experience, she observed: “Fundamentalism refers to the Mormon schism groups that emerged during the 1920s and 1930s after the second manifesto from the mainstream Mormon church declaring plural marriage sinful. Although it parallels them upon many occasions, it does not necessarily duplicate the early Mormon doctrine and practices that were fundamental’ to the gospel of Joseph Smith.”[57]  Church President Gordon B. Hinckley emphasized during a 1998 television interview on Larry King Live: “They have no connection with us whatever. They don’t belong to the church. There are actually no Mormon fundamentalists.”[58]

I believe that it is neither forgetfulness nor embarrassment that evokes a general silence from Church authorities on the topic of polygamy.  They know that plural marriage is a “meaty principle” that will never be understood by unbelievers or gospel freshman.  Brigham Young observed:  “The whole subject of the marriage relation is not in my reach, nor in any other man's reach on this earth.”[59]  Accordingly, it seems likely that virtually all public discussions of polygamy, regardless of the setting, will result in misunderstanding. [60]  In addition, Church leaders know that giving doctrinal “meat” to individuals who need “milk” may cause them to “perish” (see D&C 19:22). 

It is doubtful that news reporters, journalists, and broadcasters will be too concerned regarding the misunderstandings that arise from their confusing FLDS with LDS, or Kingston polygamy with early LDS plural marriage, or “Mormons” with “Mormon fundamentalists.”  But we can probably be assured that the media will persist in keeping the controversies alive for our continued viewing and listening pleasure.


[1] See  Genesis 16:1-3; 25:1, 6; Exodus 2:21, Numbers 12:1.

[2] The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is clearly a Church Quorum - see D&C 107:22-24.

[3] Rulon Jeffs, “Deposition of Rulon Jeffs,” April 4-5, 1989, 19; photocopy in my possession.

See also Dasvid W. Jeffs’s obituary in Truth 19 (August 1953): 94-95.

[4] See Brian C. Hales and J. Max Anderson, The Priesthood of Modern Polygamy: an LDS Perspective, Salt Lake City: NPI, 1992, 25-209; Brian C. Hales, Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: the Generations after the Manifesto, Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2006, 97-216; (Brian C. Hales webmaster).

[5] D. Michael Quinn, “Plural Marriage and Mormon Fundamentalism,” in Fundamentalisms and Society: Reclaiming the Sciences, Education, and the Family, edited by Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1993), 244.

[6] Personally I believe Warren Jeffs has performed a remarkable feat among the FLDS members.  He shows up after his father’s death as the head of the UEP and convinces most of his listeners that he is the FLDS church leader, president, and prophet.  Despite no legitimate claim to genuine sealing authority, he does not hunker down in a defensive posture but proceeds to excommunicate all potential rivals (except Fred Jessop who dies a year later).  Next, he buys land in Texas and builds a temple.  Temple building has never been a part of the FLDS tradition, except for one prophesied to be constructed at Berry Knoll between Colorado City and Centennial Park. The United States government assisted in creating a fortuitous diversion by issuing a warrant for Jeffs’ arrest, ultimately landing him on the FBI’s ten most wanted list.  Focusing his followers on his need for support as a fugitive and now as an imprisoned captive, Warren continues to divert attention away from core issues regarding his dubious personal line of priesthood authority and his seemingly indefensible claims to possessing genuine priesthood keys.

[7] See D&C 81:1-2; 112:20; 107:17, 22, 78-79, 82, 91; 124:126.

[8] Journal of Discourses, Vol.20, p.28 - p.29, Joseph F. Smith, July 7, 1878.

[9] According to Orson Pratt speaking in 1869, Joseph Smith “told individuals, then in the Church that he had inquired of the Lord concerning the principles of plurality of wives, and he received for answer that the principle of taking more wives than one is a true principle, but the time had not yet come for it to be practiced.”  (Orson Pratt, October 7, 1869, Journal of Discourses, 13:193.) 

[10] Kenneth L. Cannon II, “After the Manifesto: Mormon Polygamy 1890-1906,” Sunstone 8, nos. 1-2 (January-April 1983): 27-35; Hardy, Solemn Covenant; Fred C. Collier, Polygamy in Mexico as Practiced by the Mormon Church 1895-1905 (Salt Lake City: Colliers, 1981); D. Michael Quinn, “LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 18 (Spring 1985): 9-105.

[11] See D&C 132:7, 18, 19.

[12] Brigham Young, July 28, 1866, Journal of Discourses, 11:268-69.

[13] George Q. Cannon, November 1, 1891, in Stuy, Collected Discourses, 2:294. See also Orson Pratt, July 4, 1859, and October 7, 1869, Journal of Discourses, 6:351 and 13:192; H. W. Naisbitt, March 8, 1885, Journal of Discourses, 26:115.

[14] Brian C. Hales, Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: the Generations after the Manifesto, Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2006, 77-96.

[15] See Ogden Kraut, The Holy Priesthood, Salt Lake City: Pioneer Press, 1995, vol. 4, 197-99.

[16] Richard Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker; BYU Studies Vol. 23, No. 1, pg.6.

[17] D&C 132:13, 15, 18 explains that marriages, whether monogamist or polygamist, that are performed without proper authority end at death.  Eternal marriage requires authorization through the “one” man who holds the sealing keys (D&C 132:19-20, 39).

[18] Quoted in Joseph White Musser, “Book of Remembrance,” 21, holograph, n.d., photocopy in my possession; see also Items from a Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Musser (n.p.: Privately published, n.d.), 16. See also Moroni Jessop, Testimony of Moroni Jessop (N.p.: Privately published, n.d.), 2, photocopy in my possession. Wives are said to become jewels in the crowns of their husbands.

[19] Brian C. Hales, Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: the Generations after the Manifesto, Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2006, 340; (accessed December 27, 2006).

[20] Hales, Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism, 297.

[21] LeBaron polygamists in Mexico share this doctrine: “A small percentage of the leaders of the sect have between five and nine wives, adhering to the sect’s code of building up a ‘quorum.’ Three are needed for a rudimentary quorum, five wives are adequate for a medium quorum, but seven and sometimes twelve wives are required for the highest quorum of all.” Bennion, Desert Patriarchy, 135.  I am unaware that any Church leader has ever taught such a doctrine. 

[22] Kingston leaders acquire dozens of wives and apparently have so many children they can’t even remember all their names.  When John Daniel Kingston was asked in court to provide the names of his offspring by his plural wife, Heidi Mattingly Foster, Kingston came up with about five names before faltering, saying he was “very nervous.” After viewing a list of the children, he then attempted to name them but once more fell short, prompting Judge Valdez to supply the final child’s name for him. Kingston was able to name only nine of his thirteen children by a second woman, Rachael Ann Kingston. “Sounds like I left a few out,” he said after judge reminded him of the number of children by that wife.  (Brooke Adams, “Court Ends One Kingston Separation,” Salt Lake Tribune, May 22, 2004. (accessed January 7, 2006).

[23] Examining the behavior of Old Testament patriarchs seems to greatly contrast this Mormon fundamentalist standard.  Noah was plainly a monogamist when entering the ark (1 Peter 3:20).  According to the Bible, Abraham took Hagar as a plural wife only after his first wife Sarai asked him to do so (Genesis 16:1-3).  Contrastingly, D&C 132:34-35 tells us that God commanded Abraham to take Hagar as a plural wife.  Whether at Sarai’s request or at God’s command, it appears that Abraham was far less inclined to marry polygamously than are many Mormon fundamentalist men today, including Warren Jeffs. Similarly, Jacob (later called Israel) was deceived by his father-in-law into marrying, not his intended wife Rachel, but her sister Leah (Genesis 29:21-30).  Jacob married Rachel a week later and became a polygamist, but it is clear from the text that his original desires were to be a monogamist husband of Rachel.  Jacob took two additional wives, but only after Rachel and Leah admonished him to do so.  Rachel pled with him to marry Bilhah (Genesis 30:1-5) and later Leah “took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife” (Genesis 30:9).   Jacob’s twelve sons became the heads of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.  There is nothing in the behavior of these men to suggest that they were actively pursuing a specific number of plural wives (such as three, five, seven or twelve to fill their own “quorum”) or as many wives as possible as many Mormon fundamentalist men seem to do today.

[24] D&C 132:19 promises godhood, exaltation, and a “continuation of the seeds” when “a man marries a wife” (monogamously) and they live worthily.

[25] President Wilford Woodruff  to Samuel Amos Woolley, fourth Bishop of the Ninth Ward, Salt Lake City, private letter dated May 22, 1888.  Copy of typescript in possession of the author.

[26] Believing that all exalted men are practicing polygamists generates logistical problems that are not easily resolved. Eugene England observed that there are 104 males born for every 100 females and that more male children die before the age of eight than female children. Accordingly, if we take into account that the children dying before reaching the age of accountability will all be exalted (D&C 137:10), then we actually have an abundance of men in the celestial kingdom. Eugene England, “On Fidelity, Polygamy, and Celestial Marriage,” in Multiply and Replenish: Mormon Essays on Sex and Family, edited by Brent Corcoran (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), 118; printed originally in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20 (Winter 1987): 138-54; see esp. 151-52.

[27] Journal of Discourses, Vol.20, p.26 - p.27, Joseph F. Smith, July 7, 1878.

[28] D&C 132: 7, 18, 19.

[29] John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations: Aids to Faith in a Modern Day, arranged by G. Homer Durham (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1960), 393. Elder Widtsoe continued: “Some have suggested that it was a means of trying and refining the people through the persecution that followed. Certainly, one must have had faith in the divine origin of the Church to enter it. Another suggested explanation is based upon the doctrine of pre-existence. In the spirit world are countless numbers of spirits waiting for their descent into mortality, to secure earth bodies as a means of further progress. These unborn spirits desired the best possible parentage. Those assuming plural marriage almost invariably were the finest types in the community. Only men who were most worthy in their lives were permitted to take plural wives; and usually only women of great faith and pure lives were willing to become members of a plural household.” More recently Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-73), 1:361-62 wrote: “In this dispensation, the promulgation of the law of plural marriage had an effect similar to the presentation of the doctrine of the Bread of Life in the meridian dispensation. Opposition from without the Church increased, while some unstable members of the kingdom itself found themselves unable to accept the fulness of the revealed program of the Lord. There were many important reasons why the Lord revealed the doctrine of plurality of wives. But if plural marriage had served no other purpose than to sift the chaff from the wheat, than to keep the unstable and semi-faithful people from the fulness of gospel blessings, it would have been more than justified.”

[30] Heavenly Father expects His followers to marry and bring children into the world and for parents to raise them properly (D&C 68:25-28) and perform “great thing” (D&C 29:48).  But it would be unjust for an infertile couple who have no children in mortality, due to no fault of their own, to be eternally compromised when compared to parents who are blessed with a dozen earthly children.

[31] A teaching unique to the Colorado City fundamentalists involves the “Law of Placing.” Considered a “high and holy law,” it requires “young ladies [who are] anxious to marry, to submit themselves to the leadership and their father for direction and placement into a marriage of divine choosing.”  (Mary Mackert, The Sixth of Seven Wives [Salt Lake City:, 2000], 20, 15; see also Debbie Palmer and Dave Perrin, Keep Sweet: Children of Polygamy [Lister, British Columbia: Dave’s Press, 2004], 5, 63, 163, 189, 202-4, 215; Larson, Brainwash to  Hogwash, 42, 77.)  Promises of “sainthood” are sometimes extended to young brides who submit to the Law of Placing by marrying men sometimes many decades older than themselves.  The “law of placing” contradicts the teachings of early Church leaders.  Brigham Young instructed:  “When your daughters have grown up, and wish to marry, let them have their choice in a husband, if they know what their choice is. But if they should happen only to guess at it, and marry the wrong man, why let them try again; and if they do not get in the right place the second time, let them try again. That is the way I shall do with my daughters and it is the way I have already  done.”  (Fred C. Collier, ed., Teachings of President Brigham Young [Salt Lake City: Collier’s Publishing, 1987], 3:292; discourse given April 16, 1854.)

[32] Brigham Young, April 8, 1853, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London and Liverpool: LDS Booksellers Depot, 1855–86), 6:307; punctuation standardized.

[33] Bistline, The Polygamists, 153.

[34] Jon Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (New York: Doubleday, 2003), 12-13.

[35] Krakauer, Under the Banner, 13. See also Rena Chynoweth with Dean M. Shapiro, The Blood Covenant (Austin, Tex.: Diamond Books, 1990), 46-47; Melissa Merrill (pseud.), Polygamist’s Wife (Salt Lake City: Olympus Publishing, 1975), 64; Kathryn M. Daynes, More Wives Than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System 1840-1910 (Urbana: University of Illinois, 2001), 210-11.

[36] Kathleen Tracy, The Secret Story of Polygamy (Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks, 2002), 85-87.

[37]  Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven, 20.

[38] Tracy, Secret Story, 196-204.

[39] Carolyn Campbell, “ Inside Polygamy in the ‘90s,” 102.

[40] Some fundamentalists may try to draw a parallel between their use of deception to illegally extract welfare assistance from state governments and Church members in the 1852-1904 time period who at times used deception to defy anti-polygamy federal laws.  Using deception to hide a person’s obedience from adversarial forces is very different from deception to steal and commit theft.

[41] Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints,

1830-1900 (1958; reprinted, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966), 293-349. In an epistle to the presidents of stakes, high councils, bishops and other authorities of the Church dated May 1, 1882, the First Presidency, composed of John Taylor, George Q. Cannon, and Joseph F. Smith, wrote: “There has been a good deal of talk about the United Order, and about Co-operation. These things are very imperfectly understood at the present time, and in our emergence from the world, with its customs and habits, we find it extremely difficult to adjust and regulate our temporal affairs. When the perfect law of God shall be instituted, a state of things very much more perfect than that which we now have will be introduced. . . . Our relations with the world, and our own imperfections prevent the establishment of this system at the present time, and therefore, as was stated by Joseph in an early day, it can not yet be carried out.”  (James R. Clark, ed., Messages of the First Presidency, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1965- 71], 2:339.) 

[42] D&C 42:31-34, specifies that the receiver of consecrated properties must be an authorized “bishop” of the Church, suggesting that the Lord would not find a freelance movement acceptable.

[43] Elder John A Widstoe explained:  “[The law of consecration] is organized under Church authority by the voluntary action of a group of men holding the Holy Priesthood, for themselves and their families. All officers are drawn from the membership of the order. All members, upon entrance into the order, pool their resources, that is, place them, as a consecration, in the common treasury of the order (D&C 42:32, 33). Each man is then given, from the treasury, his “portion” or “inheritance,” that is, the means or capital with which to make a living for himself and his family—a farm and implements for the farmer, a shop and tools for the mechanic, etc. (D&C 51:3) As the youth within the order grow into maturity they are likewise given their “inheritances” from the common treasury. His “inheritance” is deeded to each member; it is his very own; it is private property. This “inheritance” he is free to use as he chooses. His free agency is carefully guarded.” (D&C 51:4; 104:73-75).  (Evidences and Reconciliations, 374-75.)

[44] D&C 121:37 states:  “When we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”  Critics might assert that several Mormon fundamentalist leaders have exercised control, dominion, and compulsion specifically regarding marriage and land property issues.  Joseph Smith warned:  “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion…No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge” (D&C 121:39-42).

[45] Missionary work is the process through which LDS men ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood cleanse themselves from “the blood of this wicked generation” (D&C 88:74-75, 84-85). An 1831 revelation states: “And now, concerning the residue, let them journey and declare the word among the congregations of the wicked, inasmuch as it is given; And inasmuch as they do this they shall rid their garments, and they shall be spotless before me” (D&C 61:33-34; see also D&C 88:74-75, 84-85, Jacob 1:19, 2:2). Because fundamentalist men do no missionary work, it is unclear how they propose to become “spotless” as these scriptures discuss.

[46] Johnson, L. S. Johnson Sermons,5:58.

[47] Joseph Fielding Smith ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 330.

[48] In 1981 the Allred Apostolic United Brethren built an endowment house and for the first time in the seventy five year history of “Mormon fundamentalism,” performed a few proxy temple ordinances.

[49] Despite their claims to hold the keys of sealing, which allow parents to be sealed to their children by proxy, I have seen no evidence that Lorin C. Woolley, J. Leslie Broadbent, John Y. Barlow, Joseph W. Musser, Leroy S. Johnson, Rulon Jeffs, Rulon C. Allred, Eldon Kingston, or Ortell Kingston ever exercised those keys to continue the creation of a “welding link… from the days of Adam even to the present time” (D&C 128:18).

[50] See History of the Church 1:357-58.

[51] The first FLDS leader who took the reins in 1952, Leroy Johnson (1888-1987), provided an interesting explanation of why his followers did no temple work:  “The Lord has deprived us of the privilege of the House of God. Why? Because He can’t trust us.”  (The L. S. Johnson Sermons, 7 vols. [Hildale, Utah: Twin Cities Courier, 1983-84], 1:178.)

[52] Ogden Kraut, The One Mighty and Strong (Salt Lake City: Pioneer Press, 1991 paperback

edition), 136-37.

[53] See Brian C. Hales, Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: the Generations after the Manifesto, Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2006, 128-29.

[54] See for example Elder Orson Pratt’s comments regarding the one mighty and strong in Orson Pratt, November 1, 1879, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London: LDS Booksellers Depot, 1855-86), 21:150-51; February 7, 1875, Journal of Discourses, 17:305; November 1, 1868, Journal of Discourses, 12:323.

[55] Fundamentalist authors often cite a quotation attributed to Brigham Young “at the dedication of the St. George Temple” in 1877: “Hear it ye Elders of Israel, and mark it down in your logbooks, the fullness of the Gospel is the united order and the order of plural marriage, and I fear that when I am gone, this people will give up these two principles which we prize so highly, and if they do, this Church cannot advance as God wishes for it to advance.” (J. L. Broadbent, comp., Celestial Marriage? [Salt Lake City: Shepard Book, May 1929 printing], 1.)  Elden J. Watson, editor of Brigham Young Addresses, 1801-1877: A Chronological Compilation of Known Addresses of the Prophet Brigham Young, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Privately published, 1971) has scrutinized every known discourse, published and unpublished, by Brigham Young and the published discourses of other General Authorities during the nineteenth century, including talks given at that dedication of the St. George Temple, attempting without success to find this alleged quotation.

[56] Brigham Young, August 11, 1872, Journal of Discourses, 15:122.

[57] Janet Bennion, Women of Principle: Female Networking in Contemporary Mormon Polygyny

(New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 156.

[58] Gordon B. Hinckley appearing on Larry King Live, transcript of broadcast September 8,

1998, in my possession.

[59] Discourses of Brigham Young, p.195

[60] After much research into modern polygamy, Andrea Moore-Emmett, author of God’s Brothel, concluded that polygamy today is completely driven by two things: “power and sex” (KUED interview by Doug Fabrizio undated mp3 in my possession).  It is likely that most, if not all, media treatises will conclude similarly.