Talk:Mormonism and polygamy

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In today's culture, a man marrying a 14-year old would be quickly labeled as a dirty-old man or felon. However, an entirely different culture existed in the pre-MTV, pre-Internet, pre-oversexed generation, mid-1800s. Victorian values ruled society. The average marrying age was between 14 and 16.

Is this really true?! This seems like total guess-work to me. Everything I've read states that menarche (the onset of puberty in young women) in the 1800s was around 16 or 17 on average, compared to today's average of about four years earlier. This page:

states that the minimum age for marriage was 14 for women (with parental consent)--that seems to imply that the average would likely not be between 14 and 16.

Moreover, it the quote implies that early marriage was the norm until MTV and the Internet. In fact, *late* marriage was the norm in most of western Europe before the industrial revolution. For example, in 17th century England, average marriage ages were in the mid twenties.

Patrick's addition of "until 1890" reflects the common error that leaders of the Church did not condone and that members did not continue to practice plural marriage after the "Manifesto" was issued in 1890. The practice was dramatically reduced but it continued privately into the early 1900s when President Smith issued yet another manifesto-type-proclamation to end plural marriage in the Church. Patrick's removal of "usually referred to as" and "as practiced by the members of the church" and "properly called" ignores the fact that Mormons and non-Mormons often, if not typically, refer to the Mormon's practice of plural marriage as "polygamy", and less commonly by its doctrinal name, "plural marriage".

Hi Patrick. I don't think the quotes work. The quotes make it seem like a commonly used phrase..."polygamy as practiced by the Mormons", but it is not. What I'm saying is that people usually refer to the Mormon's practice as polygamy even though the practice was actually polygyny and the doctrinal name is "Plural Marriage".'s latest edit and the insertion that the article is disputed with absolutely no comment is a procedural error. must first state his issues and generate discussion before styling an article like that. B 02:34, 20 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Pakaran's edits regarding polyandry, although well intentioned I'm sure, are not accurate. So, I'm cutting them out. Namely:

  1. "despite polyandry being officially forbidden by the church."
  2. "the fathering of children by polyandrous wives "would also be highly forbidden."
Ok, I'm aware that both are forbidden now, and I got the impression, at least, that a woman cannot be sealed to two men, where a man (a widower) can be sealed to two women. The historic question I'm unclear on. Pakaran. 01:32, 12 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Umm, there is nothing on this page. What gives? I see no history of anything. Hawstom 23:49, 16 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Here you are - try again: Plural marriage (Latter-day_Saint)

I sure would like to see a reference (more info) for plyg children of JS. Hawstom 23:15, 18 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Interesting perspectives at these sites:

I don't consider them very wonderfully researched, but have some interesting points that are not available on other places on the web.-Visorstuff 01:30, 19 Feb 2004 (UTC)

"Studies suggest that the majority of Utah polygamists in the 19th century only had two wives, the man often being a local church leader and the second wife typically being significantly younger."

"man" -> "main"?

Plural Marriage and Celestial marriage was one and the same to Joseph F. Smith. Journal of Discourses, vol. 20, p. 28-31 ???Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:35, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

LdS Women Sealed to Multiple Men[edit]

Since the 1980s church policy has allowed for deceased women to be sealed to all of the men to whom they were married in life.

I am not sure that this is the case. I assume this statement refers to the practice of temple sealings for the dead. As I understand it, the current policy allows a patron to submit a request to seal a woman to "any" man to whom she was married in this life, but not necessarily "all" of them. The patron (presumably a family member) should prayerfully try to determine how this should be done, although the obvious starting point would be either a) the first husband if he died while they were married, or b) the last husband to whom she was married, but not divorced. The point is that without additional information, we should not presume to know what marriage relationship either party would want to spend eternity in and coming up with a consistent set of rules is virtually impossible. So, family members doing the work make their best effort. In practice, there is nothing set up in the system to prevent a patron from having a woman sealed to every man to whom she was ever married (or even a few beyond that), but this does not mean that those sealings will be considered binding since every temple ordinance is predicated on Divine approval, subject to a) no mistakes being made (right people sealed, etc.) and b) acceptance of the ordinance by the people involved. NThurston 19:57, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Church policy does allow "for deceased women to be sealed to all of the men to whom they were married in life" but that doesn't mean that it is done routinely, or ought to be. NThurston 14:16, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

There was a letter that came out your bishop could share with you - I believe in 2003 about it. It was more of a "let it get worked out later, but lets take care of the ordinance now" sort of thing. And yes, the doctrine is there - the difference is that it is not taught nor clarified - and therefore unbinding to current LDS adherents, according to church revelations. -Visorstuff 19:08, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

Just want to chime in to agree with your interpretation and to thank you for the clear and accurate addition to the article that you recently made on this topic. Alienus 20:22, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Financial responsibility and polyandry[edit]

I just read this sentence in the main article:

The seeming polyandry of the Prophet Joseph can be understood as a means of being financially responsible in this world for these women who were given to Joseph in Eternal Marriage sealings.

It seems to mean that Joseph Smith was being financially responsible by letting other men pay for the women and he just had intercourse with them. And promised to take over after death. I suggest deleting this sentence, and perhaps paragraph. At the very least, the word "prophet" should be deleted, as it suggests POV of believing that JS is a prophet. If not not deleted, it could be rewritten as:

Joseph Smith's polyandry can be understood as a means of avoiding financial responsibility for these women and allowing their first husband to continue to have financial responsibility.

I really don't mean to attack the practice here, just to suggest that this line is trying way too hard to justify the polyandry. Can anyone come up with a better way of writing this? I do think deleting the line is best. Nereocystis 21:06, 12 May 2005 (UTC)

Clean up please.[edit]

The seeming polyandry of the Prophet Joseph can be understood as a means of being financially responsible in this world for these women who were given to Joseph in Eternal Marriage sealings. For some he did marry for eternity remained with the men they had married for time, and some were married for time to others at a later date, that none would be left destitute. For a woman can be sealed by revelation to a man for all eternity, yet she can be married to another for time; nevertheless, the children she bears shall belong to the man she is sealed to for eternity.

D&C 132:66 promised more revelation concerning the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, and clearly such is needed.

Contrast in style, lack of comprehensibility. I couldn't try to clean this up without being the author myself, so I won't--Tznkai 30 June 2005 17:50 (UTC)

"Spiritual wifery"[edit]

There has been a recent anonymous edit suggesting that "spiritual wifery" as a reference to plural marriage is incorrect. I don't think so. The term spiritual wife was in use in Nauvoo, and was mentioned in the Nauvoo Expositor. There is documentation for this, if necessary, but I don't think it's an important point. For example:

"At the time [in Nauvoo] spiritual wife was the title by which every woman who entered into this order was called, for it was taught and practiced as a spiritual order." (Helen Mar Whitney, Quoted in In Sacred Loneliness, 632.)

COGDEN 22:02, September 7, 2005 (UTC).

I've removed "spritual wifery" from the topic sentence. I think we should define the term later in the article. From recently reading Bushman's-Rough Stone Rolling, Smith and the members at the time saw a difference between this term and plural marriage. The use of this term to describe John C. Bennett's sexual activities in his church trial and excommunication may move the term closer to a definition of adultery. And Smith used the term, if memory serves, in his denial of accusations of immorality/polygamy. Sounds like we should talk about the use of the word rather than make it a synonym. WBardwin 01:49, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

COGDEN -- can we take "spritual wifery" out of the topic sentence? My reasoning above still stands. WBardwin 22:24, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes, actually, I have no problem with that. I've heard the term "spiritual wife" used recently to refer to a plural wife (by fundamentalists), but the term "wifery" is probably archaic enough not to require mention in the intro. COGDEN 22:31, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Group sex[edit]

The article currently says:

Mormon plural marriages did not include group sex under this practice.

This sounds like it means one of the following:

  1. This sentence suggests that plural marriage never included group sex.
  2. Group sex was prohibited in plural marriage.

Proving 1 is impossible. If 2 is true, I would like a reference. Alternatively, we could say:

There are no documented cases of group sex in plural marriage.

A comment about group sex should be included, because a lot of people wonder about sex. Nereocystis 15:04, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

I am posting here the dialogue that led to the edit named:

Hey - noticed your comments at Plural Marriage. You stated in your edit summary "no documented occurances of group sex" and changed "Most plural marriages did not involve group sex" to "There are no known occurances of group sex under this practice."
This is true. Somewhat. This depends on you definition of "evidence."
There is evidence of that Young placed a family on the Mormon trail where the husband and two wives slept in the same bed. Whether or not this was done to discourage non-Mormon settlement near Mormon communities or not is a matter of some dispute. As it was a waystation, all pioneering companies had to stop there and likely would witness the set up. This is where the claim of "evidence" comes from. Obviously, one bed, two women and a man, would lead people to believe that sexual relations occured in the bed, which by definition is group sex. Stupid reasoning, but it is enough to provide "evidence" although not very reliable.
I think a more accurate reflection of the statement would be "Mormon plural marriages did not include group sex."
Would you like to make the change? -Visorstuff 23:35, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
Fair enough - used your correction. --Tobey 04:56, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

Part of the marriage covenants in Mormonism as you know, is the instruction that there should be no sexual relations except with one's husband or wife (the temple statement is given in the singular - even historically). This is good enough to qualify as "one at a time." In addition, the early "polygamous" brethren were instructed to provide equally for their wives - seperate homes, or at the least, seperate entrances, seperate beds, etc. The above example was a unusual instruction, and the reasons are unknown. If couples did do group sex, it was outside of the instructions given.

Here are some other instructions given on Polygamous marriages that are relevant:

In a meeting with stake presidents on 9 Oct, 1883, the First Presidency instructed against "self-pollution of both sexes and excessive sexual indulgence in the married relation"

Apostle John Henry Smith taught on 8 Sep, 1890 that "married people who indulge their passions for any other purpose than to beget children, really committed adultery." This was clarified later.

"Mormons are known to be a virtuous people, are known to condemn in strong terms and by every influence in their power every form of sexual sin, and that they do not indulge in intercourse with the sexes to any extent only in the marriage relation. This was the well known and established character of the Mormon people, and was the result of their teachings and practice for a generation past." -Journal of Discourses, Vol.26, p.221 - p.226, Erastus Snow, May 31st, 1885

"There is no law in this territory punishing polygamy, but there is one, however, for the punishment of adultery; and all illegal intercourse between the sexes, if either party have a husband or wife living at the time, is adulterous and punishable by indictment." B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol.4, Ch.110, p.357 (the law did prohibit multiple sexual partners)

That said, I think the teaching of church leaders on the matter was pretty clear. I'll modify shortly. -Visorstuff 19:02, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

The wording in the article is still unclear to me.

You're right that sharing a bed does not prove sexual relations. Quinn covers this issue in Same-Sex Dynamics among 19th-Century Mormons. Extra warmth at night is a plus even if sex is excluded.

None of the quotes listed above explicitly prohibit group sex. The one at a time quote is marginal for this purpose. If the 2 wives never touch each other, but only the jointly shared husband, the letter of the law is followed, but still, it counts as group sex. Throw in wife-to-wife contact, and the violation is still unclear. The Old Testament does not prohibit lesbianism, and many sources are less historical references are less concerned about lesbians than gay men.

Even if group sex were prohibited, it may have taken place, and is impossible to disprove. Here are some references which are suggestive of non-straight sex among the Mormons.

The first American community study of lesbians took place in the United States ( Louie B. Felt (primary president) fell in love with a couple of women and encouraged her husband to marry them. See for details. This doesn't group sex, of course, but suggests that love between some of the wives.

I don't know how to improve the wording for the article, but I'll take a stab. I don't like any of the options yet.

Group sex was not mentioned in Mormon discussions of plural marriage.
Group sex was not explicitly encouraged by Mormon leaders.

Nereocystis 22:50, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

Again, I am aware of one or two anamolies, but for the most part, they did have seperate beds and were encouraged to have seperate, but equal in all things. Quinn discusses every available source that even remotely points toward this. There are no others that I am aware of. I think that as the teaching of plural marriage or the doctrine of plural marriage did not include any teaching of group sex, then the current wording works: "Group sex was not part of Mormon Plural marriage." This allows for people to believe what they will. However, to satiate your argument, I will further clarify "Group sex was not part of the teachings of Mormon plural marriage." It has been mentioned in discussions of plural marriage (Quinn discusses it for example) and of course it woundn't be encouraged or discouraged, as most would consider it an "unholy and impure practice." I'll make the change. It also seems that the anomolies - such as the one referenced earlier - that result in strict instructions to co-habitate in the same household. These were exceptions and usually direct instructions to do so. Quinn, however, only slightly points to this in his work, which I think is a disservice to the reader. But that is my opinion and not his. -Visorstuff 23:22, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

I suspect that you are right. However, if we judged marriage by Joseph Smith's published writings, we would think that he was monogamous. Of course, polygamy itself was considered immoral by most Americans. The Supreme Court called it odious.

Many practices which were considered unholy and impure have been preached against, from murder to adultery. If the hierarchy were concerned about group sex among polygamists, they would have preached against it. Maybe it didn't cross their minds. Perhaps it was only discussed in private. Perhaps it was too odious to mention.

Of course, separate beds, or even houses, don't completely prevent group sex, just as sleeping in one bed doesn't prove sex.

That's why I don't like "Group sex was not part of Mormon Plural marriage." We can guess, but we don't know. One example of group sex among plural marriages would make the sentence untrue.

I prefer "Group sex was not part of the teachings of Mormon plural marriage." It states exactly what it means, and doesn't say anything about areas which we don't have information about. I wouldn't mind quoting historians who express an opinion on the subject. Nereocystis 00:28, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

One more thought. How many of the journals mention sex at all? The existence of children suggest that sex happened among polygamous households. The lack of discussion of sex in journals did not change this conclusion. If 2-person sex is not mentioned in journals, the lack of mention of group sex does not prove that group sex did not happen. Nereocystis 00:39, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

I have about a half-dozen accounts of sexual relations on hand. Most discuss how hard it is to share yourself with two women, or knowing that your husband is with another woman. One case discusses how awkward the sexual relations are because she feels she is compared to other wives. Another that she wishes she could spend more intimate time with her husband. Another states simply that it was a good thing that he had other wives, as she didn't enjoy it much and that he basically only showed up to her home to procreate more children to raise up for her former, deceased husband (or to pay the bills/take care of the home). There are more than the few I have on hand, but they are similar - always talking about intercourse as it relates to having children, awkwardness about being compared, wondering and wishing that they could have intimate moments more often. Realizing how intercourse makes a couple "one," the emotional bond of sexual relations and of course, abstaining from sex while fasting. In every case I've read, discussion of sexual relations deals with a husband and wife, not wives. But that's my research. I don't think that anyone else has done more than quinn and compton on the subject, but many have done as much as they have, as there is not a lot of data available. I like how the para reads now. Shall we leave it for now? -Visorstuff 05:34, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

The current wording looks good.

Your other comments brings up the issue of jealousy, which probably was a big issue for the polygamists. Stories in my family suggest that the wives didn't really get along all that well. Perhaps this can be added when time permits. Nereocystis 16:59, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

I think that outward jealously was the exeption, not the norm. It would be impossible to find a consensus of their true feelings on the matter. For them, it was likely, "just the way things were." My family and my research has mixed statements on the matter. Only one seemed to have issues, the rest were either sisters or became best friends. -Visorstuff 21:54, 21 November 2005 (UTC) (talk) 05:43, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

Many of you are overlooking some core beliefs of LDS doctrine. As cited above, Mormons were expected to live lives of sexual purity, including no sexual relations outside of marriage. Within polygamy, the men are married to each of the women, but the women are not necessarily married to each other (as stated above, in the discussion on "spiritual wivery"). As implied with the term "group sex" there would have to be multiple women actively involved. However, should they be abiding by the strict moral code, they could not be involved with each other in a group setting without being immoral (even committing adultery, technically). Not to mention the issue of homosexuality. (talk) 05:43, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

Abandoning the Practice[edit]

Nice article. I have rearranged some parts for continuity, removed some redundancy, made a few POV alterations, and corrected spelling of a word.

At the end of the first paragraph, after mentioning the church's renunciation of the practice, there was a sentence and a paragraph describing that renunciation and discussing the "fundamentalists" who have disagreed with it. Because it has all stemmed from abandonment, and there is already an entire section on abandonment, I put the whole part down there, combining it with a pre-existing paragraph that previously was a repetition of the topic of "Mormon fundamentalists".

In that paragraph, I replaced "Saints" with "polygamists" because as far as I know, the term "Saint", if used at all by non-LDS within context of the Mormon movement, rarely or never refers to the "fundamentalists", only to LDS church members. This may make the reader think that it's LDS church members who are constituting the membership of these separate, unaffiliated churches.

I also changed "despite opposition by government and the mainstream church" to "despite the ostensible opposition of the government and LDS church leaders". I added "ostensible" because although the practice is illegal to both said state and church, neither group really does anything about the branch-off churches; the government prefers to abstain from difficult (and now, controversial) enforcement among consenting individuals, and the church has no jurisdiction over non-members, and has long since expended its evangelical hopes with polygamists. I took out "mainstream" for the same reasoning as above; I don't say it doesn't exist, but the practice is not visible at all in the LDS church, even in its inactive extremities, and should not be portrayed as though it is. Very, very few are the LDS members who have actually met a polygamist in real life, moreso with the Church's expansion.

Then, I added "families" as one of the forms of the practice of polygamy, because some families don't associate with an organized sect, but "individuals" does not adequately describe their organization, as they teach the same to their children.

I added "In consequence of the tendency of outsiders to confuse the LDS church with the breakaway groups" to the paragraph about the Church's attempt to change journalists' usage of "Mormon". Otherwise, it sounded as though the Church's motive was obfuscation instead of clarification, which was the whole impetus of the usage campaign -- the Church, espeically outside of Utah, got tired of being mistaken for the small and secretive polygamous groups people sometimes read about in the news. I added "themselves" after "modern polygamists" so the press wouldn't sound so belligerent.

Lastly, I made two changes to the second paragraph under Critical views: first, I changed "Some critics argue the LDS Church's current policy against the practice of plural marriage is disingenuous, for several reasons" to "Some critics, expecting that the LDS Church's formal departure from plural marriage should equate with a doctrinal reformation, see the church's current policy as disingenuous for several reasons". These critics evidently are opposed to the church's former stance; and when you censure somebody for not changing, and then for changing, your argument sounds more like implacable hostility. This edit softens that, and gives a little more logic to the critics' argument.

Second was more of a factual point; I removed "Plural marriage... is not... discussed at Church meetings (Church leaders are discouraged from teaching or discussing polygamy)". Actually, while the Church's current lesson books do not throw the doctrine into the spotlight, plural marriage is not uncommonly brought up in class discussions. As far as I have seen, all but new members, and perhaps inactive converts, are well aware of it; and in some congregations, you could even say it is frequently commented on, albeit often lightheartedly. Church leaders may be instructed not to from "promote", "advocate", or "encourage" plural marriage; as to that, I'm unaware; but there is no stricture in the classroom, and it is even freely mentioned at the lectern by lay speakers without any admonishment, or even a sideways glance or grumble. Discussion is not at all proscribed, as this paragraph seemed to report. Bravo-Alpha 17:00, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

Welcome aboard - Some good edits. However some considerations of adding back in/reverting some edits:
You may want to see the discussion at Talk:Bruce R. McConkie about polygamy. I know that the topic is occasionally is brought up in gospel doctrine, but it is not supposed to, according to church policy and GHI and the D&C OD 1. From the talk page:
if you are familiar with the history of polygamy in the LDS church you would know that the church does not teach polygamy: "When any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved." Not one thing should be taught about plural marriage in the Church after the manifesto was sustained as part of the canon in the LDS church, re-emphasized and found as binding to the church at large (under HJG administration). So, of course the correlation would remove references to polygamy - as it is current church policy on the matter..
I have been counselled to, and have in turn stopped the discussion of plural marriage in classes I've been a part of.
Second, your edits may seem very offensive to those who are not LDS. FLDS and UAB and others refer to themselves as Saints. when editing, place yourself in their shoes more. The edits are great from an LDS POV, but may be offensive to those who are not LDS, but are "Mormon."
Can you go back and make these two changes? Mormonism is bigger than the LDS Church, it is part of the broader Latter Day Saint movement. Your edits reflect only the LDS Church, and should be modified. Care to take a stab? Keep up the good work. -Visorstuff 23:19, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
incidentally, you can sign your posts automatically by typing four tildes in a row like this: (~~~~). You also may want to check out the WP:LDS. Hope to see more of you around. -Visorstuff 23:19, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
What a warm welcome. Thanks for the advice. But I can't see why you referred me to that spanking match in Bruce McConkie Talk...
My aversion to the concept of "plural marriage not being taught" comes from its presence in three of the four volumes of the canon of scripture. Regardless, I think my latest changes are more in line with what you've suggested. If not, go ahead and correct it. Bravo-Alpha 09:03, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Referred you there for the discussion on plural marriage not being taught in current cirruclum. I like your changes - has resulted in a stronger article. I do agree that it can be confusing between a doctrine that has been restored and can be studied personally, and officially discouraged from being taught. Good work, and welcome aboard. Hope to see more of you around the WP:LDS. -Visorstuff 16:37, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Anon's observation[edit]

It is a fact that a child is not sexually, or emotionally mature enough to understand the full extent of what being married means. She will be raped physically, mentionally and emotionally. the man that takes a child for sex is a rapist. Any deity would know that, and that's all that needs to be said about that. Unsigned by User:

Not sure what the point is on the above. Most who practiced "plural marriage" historically have entered into such marriage relationships after legal age. There are some modern groups who do enter into relationships as young as 14, but that is the unfortunate exception, not the rule. In any case, thanks for sharing your opinions with the community. -Visorstuff 01:06, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Celestial Marriage[edit]

I'm deleting the part that says plural marriage is sometimes called "celestial marriage." This is nonsense. Celestial marriage is simply marriage in "heaven." It is neutral as to number. Amulekii 20:46, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

If I remember correctly, polygamy was introduced as a part of the number-neutral doctrine of celestial marriage, so the two are linked. Al 20:53, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
Take a look at this quote from
(This is why Fundamentalist Mormons prefer the terms plural marriage, celestial marriage or patriarchal marriage, instead of the term polygamy.)
Looks like CM is still in use, as a euphemism for polygamy. Al 20:55, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't think that a claim by an anonymous guest write establishes this fact as verified. At best this is an unverifiable secondary source. If someone can find a reliable primary source, I would be OK with saying that a particular group uses the term. Certainly, it is not in widespread use among those who discuss or study the topic. --NThurston 21:51, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Let's distinguish between wanting a citation and genuinely doubting this claim, shall we? If it's the former, we can dig a little deeper. If it's the latter, we need to have a little chat. Al 22:08, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Actually, for me, it's a bit of both. Mostly, this fact is likely to be disputed, which makes it a clear candidate for needing to be documented. (See [citation needed].) At the same time, although I have no evidence one way or the other, I doubt that this term is currently in wide use to refer to the practice of polygamy, with the possible exception of a few communities. So, I think the article would benefit from verification of how widespread its use is, preferably by a verifiable primary source. --NThurston 22:37, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Ok, how about: Al 17:00, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

This seems like adequate documentation that at least one person uses the term "celestial marriage" to refer to polygamy. It is rather narrow, however, and does not document how widespread the term is used (which is what I think is needed). It should be noted that the "celestial marriage" link refers to a quote from JD which does not even associate using the term "celestial marriage" with polygamy, rather it documents the root of a separate valid discussion about whether a monogamous marriage could qualify a person for exaltation in the 19th century view. Based on this documentation, the application of the term "celestial marriage" to polygamy appears to be restricted to a few 20th or 21st century writers who study or advocate a point of view that extends the JD quote to imply that all celestial marriages require a polygamous relationship. Even there, to me it would be a logical stretch to say that the terms are interchangeable, because I am sure that there are polygamous marriages (i.e., Islamic or tribal) that would not qualify as celestial marriages, so there must be some differentiation in their usage. So, while I do not doubt that there are some who use the terms interchangeably, my thoughts are 1) it is probably not linguistically correct to do so, and 2) I doubt that there are many serious Mormon History scholars who use this terminology. --NThurston 16:04, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

I know this is a way-old and stale discussion, but actually, Brigham Young referred to plural marriage as Celestial Marriage. For example: "A man may embrace the Law of Celestial Marriage in his heart and not take the second wife and be justified before the Lord." (Wilford Woodruff Journal, September 24, 1871). COGDEN 01:10, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

What happened to existing plural marriages when the practice was abandoned?[edit]

Were the additional wives beyond the first simply expelled? Along with their children or without them? Were new husbands arranged for them? -- 14:22, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

In theory, after the 1890 Manifesto, polygamist men were supposed to continue providing for their plural wives, but were supposed to cease co-habitation. In practice, however, this never happened until much later. Men just continued to cohabitate with their wives, even though it was illegal. President Joseph F. Smith testified in 1904 before Congress that he was still cohabitating with his wives, because he was willing to take that risk, but he didn't encourage others to do so. Heber J. Grant pled guilty to cohabitation in 1899. By the 1930s, when the church really began actively rooting out existing polygamists, probably most of the ones married prior to 1890 were dead. By the time Grant, for example, became President in 1918, two of his three wives had died, making him a monogamist. COGDEN 20:59, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

plural marriage on celestial marriage was one and the same to Joseph F. Smith. Journal of Discourses, vol. 20, p. 28-31 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:37, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Exceptions and quotes[edit]

It seems like an editor is seeking the exception and the titillating in the attempt to pass them off as Mormon doctrine or belief. Let's look at his source for incest among Mormons found in the Journal of Mormon History; it does not support what he was attempting to say. His sources are either bad or he is not reading directly from the original source.

Here are the actual quotes:

"“While Brigham Young might have held these views and, on that basis, authorized the Watt-Brown marriage, Ronald Watt searched unsuccessfully for others examples or statements. He concluded that Young avoided the situation after alloweing George D. Watt to marry Jane Brown.”
"Samuel Smith, Brigham City mayo, a probate judge, and a counselor to Lorenzo Snow, then stake president. Of his five wives, two were sisters (Sarah and Frances Ann Ingram) and the last two were his nieces, Jenetta Maria and Caroline Simth, daughters of Samuel’s brother George."
"Surprisingly, all fifteen sources missed a case which was actually prosecuted as incest. Seventy-year old Henry Sudweeks married his brother’s daughter, forty-year-old Emma Sudweeks, in 1890. He was convicted of incest and sentenced to a three-year term; he served over a year."

What is most galling is that the practice of marrying those of close relationship was not wide spread; more importantly, it was not doctrine of the church. More effort needs to be paid to these types of edits and they all need to be expunged from LDS articles; if it is not doctrine it can not be portrayed as the actions of the LDS church. --Storm Rider (talk) 01:45, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

I stand by the citations for incest, which are:
  1. Faulring, Scott H. (1987). An American Prophet's Record, 424.
  2. Journal of Mormon History, 1992, p. 106
  3. Stenhouse, Fanny (1875). Tell it All: A Woman's Life in Polygamy. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0766128113.
I understand that LDS apologists dont want this aspect of polygamy publicized, but this is an encyclopedia. And even if incest never happened, what basis would that provide for removing information about other problems associated with 1800's LDS polygamy such as rape, pedophilia, and wife-shortages? One look no further than the modern-day fundamentalists to see that these problems often accompany polygamy whenever practiced. See WP:CENSOR and WP:NOTPAPER Noleander (talk) 04:41, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Oh, please. To put stubs in the article like "Pedophelia" is insulting and extremely POV. Shame on you. Bytebear (talk) 05:08, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
What's up with the reverting? I think you're nearly in violation of the 3-revert rule. Im in the middle of edting this page. If you have specfic issues or questions, please raise them here on the Talk page before reverting. Civility, AGF, etc. Noleander (talk) 05:37, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
You are subtrefuging the 3RR violation by changing your edits slightly and claiming them to be "refinements". If you want to add to this article, you need to discuss these issues first. Your edits are disruptive, and borderline vandalism. I have already requested external intervention. Please stop your disruptive behavior. Bytebear (talk) 05:40, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Sure, I'll be happy to discuss them here first. There are some important aspects of plural marriage in the early LDS church that are not addressed in this article, namely problems associated with plural marriages. There are several significant problems, namely:
  1. Unhappiness of many wives in plural marriages.
  2. Marriage to underage girls
  3. Shortage of wives
  4. The sexual gratification aspect
  5. Coercion, deception, threats of not getting into heaven if women dont comply
  6. Incest
These are well-known problems, and widely discussed in many reputable LDS books (including books by Mormon apologists such as Sacred Loneliness). Omission of these topics is a large oversight in this article. All of these problems in the early LDS church have abundant documentation and citations. This is an encyclopedia. See WP:CENSOR. Visitors to wikipedia who visit this page seeking to learn more about plural marriages will be deprived of significant insight without these topics. I'm happy to work with anyone to compose new sections on these topics. I understand these topics are embarrassing to LDS church members, but painful as they may be, this is an encyclopedia and truthful information needs to be presented. Noleander (talk) 05:55, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I will address each of your points as they need to be balanced.
  1. Many wives were very happy, and in fact went on speaking tours as part of the sufferage movement touting the joys and benefits of plural marriage.
  2. Underage was not an issue in the 1800s. Legal marriage age for many places was as young as 10 or 12. There are many famous women who were married under the age of 17. It was a common practice, and at the time, no one blinked an eye at the age of the brides.
  3. You have one quote by one man which sounds tongue in cheek about a "shortage of women". It isn't verifiable and you are using WP:OR to come to your own conclusions.
  4. Every historical socialogist agrees that the practice was done for spiritual reasons, and not sexual. In fact, something should be said about men being excommunicated in the early church for abusing the precept as "spiritual wifery."
  5. Coersion is also under interpretation. Brigham Young could claim coersion as well. Also, the examples often given as evidence of coersion, Hellen Kimball and Zina Huntington ended up the strongest proponents of the practice.
  6. I don't know what you consider incest, but I know of no instances of it. If you mean sisters being married to the same man, then yes, that occured, but the practice specifically forbids sex with two women simultaneously, and any woman-on-women contact would be considered a sin, and the thought repulsive. If you mean some other evidence of "incest" I am happy to hear it.
Now, I hope you understand that I and others know more about the subject than your anti-Mormon sources have informed you. You simply do not have enough knowledge of the subject to be objective, and your recent edits are extremely bias and show a true lack of understanding of the subject. Bytebear (talk) 06:07, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your input. What do you think of adding sections for these topics, with balanced views: both the pros and cons (everything fully cited, of course)? Noleander (talk) 06:09, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
How does this sound:
  • A new section called "Problems associated with plural marriage".
  • Six subsections under it (see above for the six topics)
  • Each subsection has a brief description of the problem, fully cited from reputable books (Sacred Loneliness, etc). The description is written in a very objective, clinical fashion, avoiding any provocative wording
  • Each subsection has balancing information: provides alternative examples, describes rarity of the problem, etc
Any objections to that proposal? Noleander (talk) 16:08, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
How about if I add the proposed "Problem associated ..." section in, including some rough counter-balancing text, and others can refine the counter-balancing text? Noleander (talk) 01:18, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Okay ... I added that section into the article. I endeavored to keep the text factual and non-salacious. If there are any assertions that are not supported by a reliable cite, please let me know, because it is my intention to have fully cited text. The counter-balancing sections are just rough text now: feel free to add more specificity. Noleander (talk) 03:14, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
I opened up a new section at the bottom to help resolve what is factual. I hope to see some discussion before I make major edits.Mormonfool (talk) 04:20, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

Anti Polygamy statement in 1835 D&C[edit]

I am trying, but you are adding too many things that have no balance. You are also not citing your statements. For example you quote the 1835 D&C, Section 101, but the 1835 edition (asside from not being canonized yet) has only 99 sections.[1] Bytebear (talk) 06:45, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

I got that cite from wikipedia article Teachings of Joseph Smith, Jr. .. it says:
The 1835 Kirtland Edition[citation needed] of the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 101:4 read: "Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband." (see also CIX in the 1844 Nauvoo Edition[citation needed] or Section 111 in the 1950 Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints version.[citation needed] This section was removed from the LDS Church's publication of the Doctrine and Covenants in 1850,[citation needed] along with the insertion of Section 132 (describing the new and everlasting covenant, including the plurality of wives(D&C 132 Intro).
With your permission, I'm putting this "1835" dicussion in a new top-level section here on the Talk page. If I ever add anything without a cite, I apologize. It is my intention to provide a reputable cite for every non-trivial sentence I add into an article (BTW, this article has many, many uncited facts). The other issues about "problems with plural marriages" are still open for discussion, would you agree? Noleander (talk) 06:53, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree this should be a separate section, but I will need to look into the citation. My reference does not include it, and only has 99 sections. It could be an error in the other page. It's not like Wikipedia is known to be wrong. :) Bytebear (talk) 07:02, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Bytebear: Have you been able to discover if "section 101" is the correct section number for the anti-polygamy rule from 1835 D&C? Noleander (talk) 16:11, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
No, I haven't. I have found 1843 editions that have more verses, but not the 1835. Maybe we need expertise from other editors. Until then, we should leave it out. but if you want something comparable, the current D&C section 49:16 says "Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation;" But this is in line with other LDS Scriptures that say that monogomy is the norm unless the Lord commands polyamy. This is clear from the Book of Mormon (the earlies published LDS Canon). If you want to illustrate that church leaders were hiding the practice, that can easily be shown without going into church doctrine. Bytebear (talk) 17:32, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Using that other section doesnt illustrate the point being made by notable critics. Their point, I believe, is that in 1835 the D&C had a monogomy section; then that section was removed after JS received his polygamy revelation, and added the polgamy section. Adding/removing sections to key doctrine document like D&C is very releveant to this article, and needs to be in this article. We can wait a day or two to see if anyone shows that section 101 doesnt exist; otherwise we should assume that the dozens of reference works that mention section 101 are correct. Noleander (talk) 19:47, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I have given you a link to the entire text of the 1835 edition, and it has no section 101, so your reference is incorrect. We cannot assume your reference is correct when I have shown it not to exist. I am not saying the verse does not exist, but as it stands, you must prove it exists before using it. Bytebear (talk) 00:19, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing that out: I didnt notice the link in the text above. Yes, section 101 is in the document you supplied, on page 251: at The sentence reads "Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again". If you have no objection, I'll put that line back into the article. Again, the information we should be conveying to the readers is: D&C had a section on marriage that emphasized monogamy (1835 onward); that section was removed in 1876 edition, and a new section supporting polygamy was added. Noleander (talk) 01:13, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

(outdent) I wonder why I coudn't find it. Anyway, yes it's fine to include it, but be careful with your POV. You cannot use WP:OR in assuming why this section was removed. I suspect it was because this is a letter (simiar to later declarations) and not a revelation. In other words, it does not fit with the pattern of the rest of the D&C, and other sections removed were also lectures. I believe there are references to the idea that the D&C was strictly to be "Doctrine" and "Covenants" and not lessons or declarations. Bytebear (talk) 05:57, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

I just notices that the section Plural marriage used as an excuse for multiple sexual partners already cites Section 101 of the 1835 D&C. Bytebear (talk) 06:04, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Plagarism in this article[edit]

I was reading through this article and some of the sentences sounded a bit too polished, so I did a quick Google search of some of these sentences, and they are pulled right from existing websites. We need to be careful about cutting and pasting. Does anyone know the header template for cut-and-paste content? Bytebear (talk) 06:07, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

1833 date is supposition[edit]

The date in which Smith introduced Plural Marriage is not 1833. The "affair" with "Fanny Alger" is not proven, and in fact, many historians believe Smith was not having an affair, as she got pregnant with another man's child. It was also a good 10+ years before his first "known" marriage, so I think we need some references to clarify the dates, and not state the 1833 date as fact, when it in dispute. Bytebear (talk) 07:36, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

I think the consensus of historians is that Alger was Smiths first plural wife, in 1833. The 2nd paragraph of the article says as much (written by another editor, not me). Compton himself says she was ... see See articles Joseph Smith, Jr. and polygamy and Fanny Alger. The pre-marriage affair, of course, is just speculation by many historians (although justified by some very strong evidence) and you are correct that any mention of the affair should be designated as "claimed affair" or "speculated affair" or similar. Noleander (talk) 08:29, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
First of all, your source is secondary at best, and second, it docments the marriage of Alger to another man in 1836, something that does not fit if she was already married to Smith. There is no evidence that a marriage took place, no documentation of any kind, just rumor of an affair. The Kirtland temple was not used for sealings, as that ordinance was introduced in Nauvoo, so clearly there is something amiss. These are all facts (along with the 10+ year gap between wives) that make the idea that Alger and Smith were sealed highly improbable. These are also facts that must be presented in the article. Bytebear (talk) 08:38, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
From the Fanny Alger article: "The first contemporary reference to the alleged relationship was in a letter dated January 21, 1838. Oliver Cowdery wrote to his brother Warren stating that Smith had inappropriately spent time alone with Alger," That alone should dismiss this debate over the supposed 1833 date. Bytebear (talk) 08:40, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
From all sources that I can find, it appears that historians have consensus that Alger and Smith did get married in 1833. Do you have a reputable source that says otherwise? In any case, at some point we have to let the other articles in wikipedia do the talking. It is just not feasible to add dozens of lines of "maybe, perhaps, although, except ..." next to every assertion when that information is already covered in other articles. It is better to simply say, in this article, "The consensus is that Alger was the second wife, although there is some disagreement. See Joseph Smith, Jr. and polygamy for details." Also, Compton's work is first-class research, by an outstanding LDS scholar. It is not "my" source, it is the key source of just about anyone interested in Smith's marriages. Noleander (talk) 08:50, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Th article Joseph Smith, Jr. and polygamy does say that Alger and Smith were married in "early 1833" but there is no citation. Where are your references? I have given you a reference that says the earliest known date is 1838. Who came up with 1833 and how?Bytebear (talk) 09:01, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
I will also point out that:
In 2005, Perego said DNA testing also ruled out three other alleged male descendants — Moroni Llewellyn Pratt (son of Mary Ann Frost Pratt, married to Parley P. Pratt), Zebulon Jacobs (son of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith, married to Henry Bailey Jacobs) and Orrison Smith (son of Fanny Alger).
So, unless you have a reference later than 2005, any references supposing Smith fathered a child with Alger must be dismissed. I am ok with you saying, "Historians have supposed that Alger married Smith but DNA evidence has proven that her child was not his." Bytebear (talk) 09:06, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Im getting very confused by the points you are making. Im not aware of any statement in this article that says Smith and Alger had a child together. I certainly never wrote such a sentence. What are you talking about? The sources I used for the 1833 marriage were Compton and Brodie: both top-notch renowned historians. Virtually everywhere I've looked historians seem to agree that Smith married Alger in 1833. I'm willing to concede that there may be some minority opinion on that, but again, the issue is how to address it in _this_ article. I suggest we just go with the 1833 date and qualify it by saying "see the JS & polygamy article for alternative dates on when his polygamy started". Noleander (talk) 09:15, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Both Compton and Brodie came to their conclusions based on the rumors that Alger's child was Smith's. There is a reference, althogh I don;t have it in front of me, which has said that with recent DNA evidence, their conclusions need to be reviewed. The whole affair (meaning the rmors and inunendo) occured nearly a decade before Smith began telling others about plural marriage, and before he took his next wife. Throwing the Alger incident into the plural marriage pool is something done to try to 1) show that plural marriage started much earlier and 2) to try to characterize the practice as a "dirty, filthy affair". But other historians (of whom I agree) feel that the two have nothing to do with each other, and recent DNA evidence supports that position. Evidence that Compton and Brodie didn't have (and Bridie would have likely ignored). Bytebear (talk) 17:50, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Proposed merge from Polygamy in Utah[edit]

All of the content at Polygamy in Utah is about Mormons, and much of it is duplicated here. I propose that that article be merged into this one. --Alynna (talk) 13:55, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

sounds good to me. I don't see anything unique in the Utah article that can't be covered here. Bytebear (talk) 19:01, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm of two minds. "Plural marriage" is the doctrinal concept and the term was used, within the early church, to show a distinction from the more generic polygamy. The title Polygamy in Utah is more history oriented. If merged, I think we should completely reorganize the article to reflect doctrine, early practice, Western LDS practice, and modern variations. Of course there are modern polygamists, probably in Utah as well as elsewhere, with no ties to the LDS church. Quite a challenge. WBardwin (talk) 02:51, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
If that is the case, then we need to change the focus of this article, to the doctrine of Plural Marriage, with little or no discussion of the history of the practice. Bytebear (talk) 06:03, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Against Merge: Plural Marriage is not unique to the State of Utah. There is no reason to merge a Utah History article with a general concept. -- (talk) 18:00, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Plural Marriage[edit]

Why not call the article Polygamy plural marriage seems like a weasel word.--Margrave1206 (talk) 17:12, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Because we have an article on polygamy in general already, and plural marriage is a specific doctrine justifying it. --Alynna (talk) 18:21, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
Polygamy is not exclusive to the culture within the LDS movement. People may have more than one wife, and other more involved family arrangements, in other cultures as well, i.e. Muslims and traditional people in Africa and Indonesia. The polygamy article covers the more widespread social practice while this Plural Marriage article covers both the LDS doctrine and the subsequent practice and social issues unique to followers of Joseph Smith, Jr. WBardwin (talk) 00:49, 27 April 2008 (UTC)
Plural marriage is not unique to Mormonism. Christian plural marriage also exists. If there is a doctrine of plural marriage within LDS, it should be labeled something like "Mormon plural marriage" to distinguish between them. JohnBoyTheGreat (talk) 01:15, 11 July 2008 (UTC)
I think you are wrong - the specific term "Plural Marriage" has a specific definition in Mormonism, whereas in other religions and cultures it is just another generic term for polygyny, polyandry, or polygamy. If you disagree, I would like to see a reference, and if so, then lets create a disambig page for the different types of "plural marriage". --Descartes1979 (talk) 04:04, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

Inventing New Words. LDS plurality has several intriguing modes, which can be gleaned piece by piece from analyzing and reconstructing the family history records which LDS families themselves publish on the Internet. Working from the Ancestral File, the IGI/Ordinance Index, the Pedigree Resource File, and various submissions to and, it is possible to discover seven styles or modes. Sociologists don't necessarily have words for all the fine distinctions. So I'll toss some Latin-root words to the discussion and see if they make sense for encyclopedic use.

(1) polygyny, the marriage of a man to more than one wife at the same time (from ca 1835 to 1890, sometimes beyond);

(2) polyandry, the marriage of a woman to more than one husband at the same time (rare, but there, especially in the Nauvoo era);

(3) necrogyny, the marriage or sealing of a living man to a woman then deceased with whom he was never associated while she was living (occurred with increasing frequency after the passage of the Edmunds Act, peaked in LDS culture following dedication of Saint George, Logan, and Manti temples);

(4) necrandry, the marriage or sealing of a living woman to a man then deceased with whom she was never associated while he was living (many instances from the opening of the Endowment House, a few recent);

(5) sororgyny, the marriage of a man with two or more living women at the same time who were blood sisters (see, as an example, John Doyle Lee's association with three sisters and their mother);

(6) fraterandry, the marriage of a woman with two or more living men, either sequentially as in levirate marriage or at the same time, who were blood brothers (extremely rare, one post-Manifesto case has come to my attention);

(7) matergyny, the marriage of a living man with his own mother-in-law by affinity (see Lee again).

Genehisthome (talk) 16:35, 19 November 2009 (UTC)

Percentage of participation[edit]

Re: the recent addition on percentage of participation. I'm mentally scattered today (it's the weekend, sigh), but I recently read somewhere that the overall percentage can be broken down by rural and more urban areas. Rural people were much more likely to live in polygamy and have larger families. That makes sense to a farm kid like me. I'll try and dig up the reference, somewhere. WBardwin (talk) 00:49, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

Ah! Daynes, Kathryn, "More Wives than One: Transformation of the Mromon Marriage System 1840-1910". page and material will hopefully follow. WBardwin (talk) 02:31, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

NPOV issues with "Federal government actions" section[edit]

Hi. I flagged the "Federal government actions against polygamy" section (5.1, currently) as needing some NPOV work, based primarily on paragraph 2. Here are some examples of POV language:

Those authorized to teach the doctrine had always stressed the strict covenants, obligations and responsibilities associated with it—the antithesis of license. But those who heard only rumors, or who chose to distort and abuse the teaching, often envisioned and sometimes practiced something quite different.

  • For one thing, this whole section is uncited. Uncited material that describes particular POVs gives the article a POV. Here, the POV that is clearly expressed is that of those "authorized to teach the doctrine"; use of the phrase "distort and abuse" is clearly POV.

One such person was John C. Bennett, an earlier mayor of Nauvoo and adviser to Joseph Smith, who twisted the teaching to his own advantage.

  • "twisted" is POV

He and associates sought to have illicit sexual relationships with women by telling them that they were married "spiritually," even if they had never been married formally, and that the Prophet approved the arrangement. These statements were false.

  • This is completely uncited, and thus, can only be read as a POV opinion.

Those that twisted teachings of polygamy over the years often caused serious problems and acted as a fuel for distress over the issue, associated rumors, and misunderstandings.

  • Again, "twisted"; "fuel for distress" also frankly sounds more poetic or press-release-y than encyclopedic.

I'll let someone else (some more regular editor) take a crack at it if they want; if not, I'll do it. --Lquilter (talk) 16:27, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Bennett was excommunicated for abusing or misusing the principal (adultery) and he and others did call this misuse "spiritual wifery". I will see if I can dig up some references. It should be presented as the facts, and not so much opinion though, so I agree it is POV right now. Bytebear (talk) 05:18, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

last section redundancy[edit]

The last major section ("Relationship of current...") includes the "afterlife sealing is voluntary" point at least three times. This is redundant. If someone else wants to take a crack at cleaning it up so that it flows well & doesn't need redundancy, go for it; otherwise, I'll get back to it in a while. (I note that the last three sections are somewhat confusing -- probably, this whole set of materials could be restructured in a better way.) --Lquilter (talk) 16:43, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Problems associated with plural marriage[edit]

A lot of problems in this section that I can see. Plural marriage used to justify immoral behavior with young girls

  1. Stanley Hirshon's biography is not a good source to cite. It was universally panned by Mormon scholars and critics alike (Leonard Arrington, George Ellsworth, and Dale Morgan). The main reason is that Hirshon consulted none of the the primary sources on Brigham Young. Instead he draws from Eastern newspapers. On the specific issue of underage marriage he cites the NYT of May 19, 1857 link . The article is highly gossipy and full of unsubstantiated rumors. It can hardly be said to document the occurrence of a sealing of 10 and 11 year old girls. I recommend the reference be removed.
  2. As I understand Compton there were at most two girls aged 14 that were married to Joseph Smith: Helen Mar Kimball and Nancy Winchester. No 13 year olds as the article states and definitely not "several".
  3. Statistically speaking, Utah (~79% Mormon in 1880) were 3 to 4 times less likely to marry 13 and 14 olds than the US as a whole in 1880. See easily reproducible Census data here link.
  4. Using George D. Smith's numbers is problematic. 1) They are biased towards elite polygamists, those who first became polygamist before 1847. How elite? At 5.5 wives each compared to a total average of closer to 2 per polygamist. 2) The sample includes 1st wives (initially monogamous) married before polygamy was introduced. I counted 3 of the 13 14 year olds this applies to. 3) There is no sense of comparison of those numbers and national statistics. George Smith has a sample of 459 wives with known age at marriage (128 are unknown by my count). So compare to the 1850 census elite Mormon polygamists only married 13-15 year olds at a rate 2-4 times higher than the national average (.44 2.83 4.6)% compared to (.2 .72 2.2)% —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mormonfool (talkcontribs) 07:07, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

Shortage of wives caused by plural marriage

  1. The sub-section is badly written. A few isolated quotes say nothing about whether there was a shortage of women or a surplus of unmarried men in practice.
  2. Statistically, every age range of Mormon males from 15-35 were married off at higher rates than the 1880 national average (see link above.)
  3. No informed Mormon apologist uses the 2-5% number for polygamist rates. That sentence should be deleted.
  4. The failure to cite Kathryn Daynes, the leading scholar of 19th century Mormon polygamy demographics is a major shortcoming.

Plural marriage and incest

  1. My opinion is that this whole section should be dropped. The citation about Lorenzo Snow is wrong on many levels. 1) In 1886 he was not Church president. 2) the source is second hand and clearly indicates that it is speculative. 3) No public discourse that advocates brother-sister marriage has been found. 4) Uncle-niece marriage laws were in flux from 1850 to 1900. The later isolated case was prosecuted. 5) There has been no evidence presented that polygamist Mormons were more likely to be incestuous relationships than their nation contemporaries.Mormonfool (talk) 04:37, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
I have dropped the section. ~Adjwilley (talk) 22:36, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

In academic fairness it should be noted that the Joseph Smith journal entry for 1843 on the "marriage" of John Milton Bernhisel with his blood sister Maria identified this union as one of the 10 "sealing ordinances" he conducted on 26 October 1843 between Bernhisel and women who were then deceased. This qualifies the relationship not as incest, but as necrogyny, an entirely different element in the tableau of LDS plurality. The women to whom "sealed" on that date may have also included Fanny Spafford, Catherine Paine, Dolly Ransom, and Catherine Burgess; Bernhisel's diary also mentions his sister in law Catherine Bremer Bernhisel and aunt Mary Shatto as deceased "celestial" brides. These diaries are primary source documents which should be acceptable to all parties to the discussion and are available in edited versions in print and in the Church Historian's office. Genehisthome (talk) 16:10, 19 November 2009 (UTC)

Child abuse

It should be noted that in the fundamentalist sects often (old) men marry underaged women who are forced into the relationship. So celestial marriage turns into rape of minors.

Source: Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (2003) ISBN 0-385-50951-0.T. Mehr (talk) 11:05, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

Additional Problems[edit]

Not to ignite a firestorm of issues, but one of my problems with the article is that it relies too heavily on Compton. It omits any actual citations to Smith's (and the church's official) denials, information re: the public debut of D&C 132 in 1852, the Brigham Young quote that the original was burned by Emma Smith, Emma Smith's statements, the controversy (and court statements) re: whether or not there were Smith progeny from the plural wives, and generally takes a slight POV that events occurred a certain way historically. Even if, as I've often written, "a consensus of historians" accept that Smith did this or that with she or she, some of the very women who claimed to have been married to Smith in the flesh years after the fact were, I believe, shown to be embellishing at one or both of the famous trials (Temple Lot and Kirtland Temple). At least some of this needs to be mentioned. Best, A Sniper (talk) 05:19, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

Major restructuring proposal[edit]

Nuvola apps important.svg

A major restructuring proposal for all polygamy articles related to Mormonism has been made at Talk:Joseph Smith, Jr. and polygamy#Series and Restructuring proposal. Please visit and give your two cents. --Descartes1979 (talk) 04:39, 30 June 2008 (UTC)

Too "Mainstream" Mormon Centric...[edit]

There is but a brief mention of Mormon Fundamentalism here, but the majority of the current firestorm on polygamy in the media etc. doesn't necessarily regard past polygamy but CURRENT polygamy. There are many articles on the break-away sects from the "Mainstream" Mormon church, but there should be a universal perspective...polygamy in the eyes of Community of Christ, in the FLDS, The AUB, The Kingstons, etc. There is an ongoing viewpoint, albeit a minority one that views the LDS Church as the apostates, and that they (pick your group) are keeping the principle alive until the Mormon church comes around again, or worse. So in order for this article to be correct in the scope of the "latter day saint movement" all viewpoints should be rounded out. Twunchy (talk) 23:57, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

That's a tough call. The LDS Church is vastly more prominent than any other group, including the CoC, so to include minority views may violate WP:WEIGHT by giving undue weight to fringe groups. Other than the CoC, all other groups are fringe, and even the FLDS are only prominent because they are the ones still practicing plural marriage. Bytebear (talk) 06:02, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
Thats true. However, I think it should be noted more obviously that Mormon Fundamentalism is NOT the LDS church. You wouldnt have to name specific other churches, but make a clear point that the LDS Church in SLC does not endorse or approve of the actions of any Fundamentalist group. Jhigh2010 (talk) 14:57, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
I would go the other way and say that the weight on Mormon Fundamentalism is WP:UNDUE. The lead paragraph makes a point of mentioning that the practice is continued by "tens of thousands" of fundamentalists, but completely ignores the 14 million Mormons not practicing polygamy. Adjwilley (talk) 00:16, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Revisiting name change[edit]

This article was recently renamed from plural marriage to Polygamy and the Latter Day Saint movement. I want to revisit that, because it seems like a very cumbersome new title. Do we really need to invoke the Latter Day Saint movement here? That term mainly applies when referring to the totality of Latter Day Saint organizations including the Community of Christ--which never practiced polygamy. A better term for "Brighamite" churches practicing polygamy is Mormonism. Moreover, what exactly is wrong with plural marriage? I say, lets either change it back to plural marriage or change it to Mormonism and polygamy. COGDEN 20:47, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Since there were no opposing comments, I have changed the article to Mormonism and polygamy. COGDEN 00:09, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree (retroactively) with the change. I also saw nothing wrong with "plural marriage", though I suppose this name might be somewhat clearer. Good Ol’factory (talk) 22:36, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

I'll have you know[edit]

I have not read the whole article, but I'll have you know that, if the article says that Mormons are polygamists, it is incorrect. I am a Mormon, so I know that it is not true. Sorry, I 'm just angry at the fact that people will actually believe that Mormons are polygamists, because it isn't true. —Coastergeekperson04's talk@Jun/02/09 01:16

Read the article, then you'll know! - Why make such a comment if you haven't read the article. Few would disagree that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Lattter-day Saints cannot be concurrent polygamists and members in good standing. However, members of the LDS Church in times past have been polygamists, and some polygamists today consider themselves Mormon. The LDS Church does not own the word Mormon, and it began as a nickname for believes in the Book of Mormon, which many polygamists certainly are.

Salt Lake City polygamy[edit]

Why no description of modern day polygamy in small towns as well as the rare cases still going on in metropolitan Salt Lake? Seems to me that such material would be a good addition. This article has a lot of good history but is short on the current state of affairs (was that a pun?) Binksternet (talk) 16:53, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

do you have reliable sources? I think you are describing more of an urban myth, since Fundamentalists are covered in the article. Bytebear (talk) 02:46, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
No, I have no reliable sources. I thought there would be some, but I haven't found any. All I have are the observations of a Salt Lake City friend of mine who sees evidence of polygamous householding in one or two large homes that he passes regularly while walking his dog. I just figured some reporter would have written a piece on it. Binksternet (talk) 16:10, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Marriages ending in divorce[edit]

The article currently says: A man who is sealed to a woman but later divorced must apply for a "sealing clearance" from the First Presidency in order to be sealed to another woman. This does not void or invalidate the first sealing. It merely establishes that he is indeed divorced from her or that she is deceased.

I dispute the last sentence in the above. From the time the "sealing clearance" requirement was first announced (in February 1994), it had been my clear understanding that the new requirement was not a mere fact-finding exercise, but that the main issue was whether a divorced man was really living appropriately to be sealed (again) in the temple. Richwales (talk) 21:38, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

I have removed the sentence in question. If anyone believes this sentence was correct and should be reinstated, please supply a source. Richwales (talk) 06:30, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

Widows in the LDS Church?[edit]

It seems to me that some material should be added to this article on the subject of customs / practices / policies involving widows in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

My understanding has always been (and still is) that if an LDS woman is married (in the temple, for time and eternity), and her husband dies, it is generally assumed that she will keep her sealing in effect and will either remain unmarried in this life, or — in the event she does remarry — her second marriage will be "for time only", and preferably to a widowed man whose first (deceased) wife has been sealed to him. And assuming the woman and her first (deceased) husband have been faithful, it is (as far as I've ever known) settled LDS doctrine that they will be reunited for eternity after this life.

This could (and, I assume, does) create complications if a woman ends up being widowed at a young age. Unless she happens to pair off with a young widower (not too many of those), or cultivates a May-December romance with an older widowed man (a potentially creepy idea for many), a young LDS widow could easily end up remaining single for a long time, perhaps till she dies. Given the LDS Church's extremely strong belief in eternal marriage, most believing / practising single, never-married LDS men are not likely to be willing to shut the door on the possibility of an eternal marriage by marrying (for time only) a widow who remains sealed to her first husband. And the other conceivable option — for a young widow to have her first sealing cancelled in order to be free to be sealed to someone else — is, while theoretically possible, very strongly discouraged as far as I'm aware (since, in many people's view, doing such a thing would challenge or even defy the underlying fundamental concept of marriage for eternity).

As far as I understand the policy changes (last 20 years or so) regarding sealing a woman to multiple husbands, those changes don't affect the situation (in this life) of a sealed widow, since the multiple sealings can only be done by proxy, after everyone involved has died. If we were still practising plural marriage, of course, it would be reasonable for a sealed widow to marry a man for time only whose first wife (sealed to him) was still living … but, of course, that's not an option any more (at least, not for devout members of the mainline LDS Church).

If anyone knows of citable source material on this subject — either official policy statements or verifiable anecdotes within the LDS Church — I think it would constitute a useful addition to this article. Richwales (talk) 23:56, 24 August 2009 (UTC) Richwales (talk) 05:18, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

I have a practical solution: she should marry a young, single non-Mormon who is willing to allow any children to be raised LDS. But seriously, this is a quandry. I know some women in that situation, and have remained single. COGDEN 18:57, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Marriage Age[edit]

19th century marriage ages/statistics are often bandied about, but I'm looking for good documentation. I'm trying to track down a recent publication: A Population History of the United States. By Herbert S. Klein. Cambridge University Press, 2004. Any other sources on editor's shelves? WBardwin (talk) 20:29, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

Defining Characteristic[edit]

In the first sentence it describes polygamy as a defining characteristic of early mormonism, which isn't entirely true and could be rephrased. It was a temporarily instituted principle but not a basis of worship. It was never included in any credo or articles of faith, and it is condemned by both the book of mormon and doctrine and covenants as mentioned later in the article - it is not a defining characteristic of the true church of jesus christ of latter day saints. --freshmaniac (talk) 09:49, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Yeah, we should be particularly careful about the intro. I have been a member all of my life. When I was younger, I was always taught about Jesus Christ, living prophets, plan of salvation, etc. It wasn't until I was much older that everybody from other religions started blasting me with their polygamy obsession. The church never characterized itself by its practice of polygamy any more than the 100's of religions that practice polygamy today do, nor the dozens of prophets and apostles from biblical times characterize their theology by polygamy. People who are obsessed with sexual deviants will characterize the church by its polygamy, but for an academic website, this seems irresponsible.--Pepwaves (talk) 00:22, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
If not a self-defining characteristic, polygamy was certainly a characteristic that outsiders used to categorize the faith. Pepwaves, you haven't been a member long enough for your personal memories to have any bearing on the early development of the religion. We go by reliable sources, not by personal memories. Reliable sources show that outsiders, gentiles if you will, across the board, believed that Mormonism was set apart from other religions by its polygamy. Binksternet (talk) 02:17, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
The recently reverted material had some relevant sourced content that we may want to consider working back into the article, as appropriate. The changes to the intro, including the dismissal of mormon fundamentalism, should probably not be kept. ...but what do you think? ~BFizz 18:27, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Speculation regarding future polygamy[edit]

It is very weaselly to entitle a section of this article "Possibility that the LDS Church may re-introduce polygamy". The LDS Church has not made any such official statement nor made this possibility clear in any official manual. Mormon Doctrine, despite the title, is not, in fact, official doctrine of the church; citing it does not equate to the "many modern LDS adherents believe" currently attached to it. Statements relating to the church "possibly" re-introducing polygamy either need a good source, need adequate rewording, or need to be removed, a la WP:OR. I'll be happy to get started soon, but I wanted to hear from other editors before doing so. ...but what do you think? ~BFizz 08:10, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Not objective[edit]

I have only read the first 5 paragraphs of this article and I cannot begin to address the multitude of falsehoods that where contained in there. Whoever wrote this article was biased and gathered all of their information ONLY to make their point. This article is not at all objective. I can only hope that the reader will pursue further study of this subject.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 01:57, 29 June 2010

Request for change in wording[edit]

One of the paragraphs in the article has a sentence that says, "Sidney Rigdon, during a period when he was apostate from the Church . . . " Could you please change the word "apostate" to a more specific description of Rigdon's relationship to the church at this stage in his life to clarify this sentence? Apostate is a word that would only be readily understood by someone who is a Mormon or acquainted with culture and not as readily by someone outside of the movement. Thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:40, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Main Photo on Page[edit]

Hello, I am new here and hope I am putting this in the right place. My comment is related to the photo under “Mormonism and polygamy” to the right, with the following caption: “The wives and children of Joseph F. Smith, Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, circa 1900.” I think the photo is actually of Brigham Young and his family. The man in the middle of the photo has the exact same beard, looks like him, and also Joseph Smith was quite young when he died.Nrg1998 (talk) 21:08, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

There was more than 1 Joseph Smith. I am very sorry, please disregard my above comment.Nrg1998 (talk) 21:12, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

Major changes to introductory section[edit]

I believe the changes I made in the introductory paragraphs speak for themselves, but let me state why I've made them.

1) It is categorically inaccurate to assert that polygamy was a "defining" aspect of "early Mormonism," when most converts between 1830 and 1850 were unaware of both the doctrine and practice. It might have been considered a defining aspect of Mormonism to the world outside Mormonism, but it was anything but defining for the Mormons themselves. I have replaced that contentious and unsupported assertion with factual representations which explain the practice from the Mormon perspective and lend clarity to its radical and controversial nature.

2) Given the general confusion extant over this issue, it is important to establish the position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in relation to the reason for the origins of the practice and the reason for its suspension. I've provided both.

3) I expanded on the history in order to lend additional insight into why some continue to practice polygamy today, while the Church in general does not.

4) In referring to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have deferred to their style guide, using "the Church" in subsequent references. In referring to splinter groups or modern practitioners, I have not referred to them as "Mormons" to avoid confusion, per the AP style guide.

Davidwhittle (talk) 21:56, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

"Criticism" section[edit]

The "Criticism of Plural Marriage" section seems strange. First, is it intended to list objections to plural marriage in the 19th century, or objections in general? Since the article also discusses contemporary Mormon attitudes towards plural marriage (both in and out of the LDS Church), it seems like it should be more clear.

It also lists a very narrow set of objections and doesn't quite get at the full picture. Mormon plural marriage was a complete horror for most 19th century Americans. Indeed, polygamy was listed up there with slavery as one of the "twin relics of barbarism" in the founding platform of the Republican Party. It seems strange not to mention that the practice flew in the face of pretty much every sexual / family norm of the time, right in the time period when Victorians were putting exclusive romantic love and marriage on a pedestal. Went way beyond the relatively narrow objections listed now - the bachelor problem, etc. It also doesn't list the objection that polygyny by its very nature devalues women. This was a major Victorian criticism of 19th century plural marriage, and it's also a criticism of contemporary fundamentalist plural marriage.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 02:09, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

Polygamy, or polyandry, are hardly unique to Mormonism; the objections you mention seem targeted at these practices in general, rather than polygamy specifically practiced by Mormons. Perhaps we should add a "criticism" section to those articles? Or do you have sources that mention these criticisms in direct relation to Mormonism? ...comments? ~BFizz 03:39, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

I am talking about specifically American / Western objections to Mormon plural marriage in the 19th century (and beyond). While it's true that polygamy has existed (and been criticized) elsewhere, I'm not sure how that's relevant here. My point is simply that Mormon polygamy was criticized for many more reasons than those listed here. The practice was notorious in the 19th century not just because there were examples of unhappy plural marriages, or it created excess bachelors, or it seemed to encourage sexual lechery among men -- although these were objections, too. It was criticized because it was a completely atypical marriage practice in the 19th century United States. Anti-polygamy was its own social movement, and importantly politically for many reasons in the late 19th century. There are plenty of references documenting broad American objections, including, as I said, the 1856 Republican platform, which equated the practice of polygamy in Utah with slavery. Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote the best-selling novel of the nineteenth century, also wrote a preface to an anti-polygamy book in which she called polygamy "a slavery which debases and degrades womanhood, motherhood and the family." See:;rgn=full+text;size=100;view=image

Just to take a few more snippets of primary sources quickly from the files near me:

(1) "SALT LAKS CITY M. E. CHURCH," by G.M. PIerce Zion's Herald (1868-1910) (a Methodist church periodical); Feb 16, 1871; 48, 7; American Periodicals Series Online pg. 81 "It is woman in Utah that has been especially enslaved, oppressed, degraded, and made wretched. It is in the training, by Mormon mothers, of their children, to abominate polygamy, that there is much of the hope of the future elevation of the women of Utah, and with the elevation of women, the elevation of the entire population."

(2) "Polygamy." Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922); Feb 25, 1882; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1987) pg. 15 "It will be a good day for the country when believers in the higher system of monogamy no longer constitute a minority in Utah; when a right social condition shall overwhelm a wrong sociology, instead of standing helpless and awe-stricken before it.

As for secondary sources, I know this is covered in this well-known piece by historian David Brion Davis:

Also I'd point to: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 7 August 2011

Polygamy = Polygyny[edit]

The word Polygamy is used multiple times in all of the articles relating to these concepts - when what is actually happening is Polygyny. Polygamy suggests that there is a option of either Polygyny and Polyandry, when in fact there is no vagueness about the type of Polygamy discussed in the article. Should not most references to polygamy be changed? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:53, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

Technically, you are correct. However, here in Utah, polygamy is the preferred term. News media also take their cue from Utah and use the term polygamy. The article does, in two places, identify the type of polygamy most commonly practiced as polygyny. The polyandrous aspects are discussed as well.
No change required.
--Trappist the monk (talk) 13:22, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
You are using the same sort of vague language though. You're suggesting that there is even a hint of suggestion that some sects of Mormonism participate in Polyandrous practices, when there absolutely is not. Using vague language is confusing - I had assumed until recently that Polygamy only referred to multiple wives because of this sort of thing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:57, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
I was not vague when I reported how the practice is described in Utah. I was not vague when I noted that the article identifies polygyny as the predominant type of plural marriage. I was not vague when I noted that the article discusses polyandry. Nowhere did I write anything about what forms of polygamy are practiced. My previous post was completely constrained to the term you questioned and to the article.
I was not vague when I wrote: No change required.
--Trappist the monk (talk) 03:33, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
Let's not bite the newcomer. The IP editor raised a valid question. -- Adjwilley (talk) 23:05, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
You are right, IP editor did raise a valid question. I provided a reasonable and unambiguous answer. But IP editor, in a new post, inaccurately asserts that I made claims that I clearly did not make. This, and the accusation of "vagueness", deserved an answer. Gauche American that I am, I said it louder.
--Trappist the monk (talk) 13:04, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

Multiple sealings when marriages end in divorce Section[edit]

This section is unreferenced and I think problematic. From a strictly Wikipedia standpoint it need References. It seems to go against what Mormons say, not that that is good enough to delete the section. I don't think it needs to be deleted, just backed up.

However, while it is not usable on Wikipedia, within my extended family, which has extensive Mormonism in it, I have divorced family members. Once I had the chance to read a "Sealing Clearance Letter". I remember that it clearly said that the Sealing was Void between the Husband and Wife, but not the kids. However, not being a Mormon I have no way of understanding everything about there Marriage systems.

Additionally, after I did some a basic "Sealing Clearance Letter" search on Google, I found a number of Forum posts, one from an ex-Mormon ex-wife, what seem to believe the same thing. That a "Sealing Clearance Letter" voids the first sealing completely.

Again, the issue I see here is that it is no sources. Only secondary is the issue that it seems to go against what is commonly believe. If it can be sources, it definitely needs to be included. — Preceding unsigned comment added by ARTEST4ECHO (talkcontribs) 13:13, 1 June 2012 (UTC)

Land ownership[edit]

Is it not true that after many mormon men were murderd, women entered plural marriages for the sake of inheritance out west (Utah) because women could not own land for themselves at the time? I'm not positive though. Superbuttons (talk) 16:57, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

No, not true; this is yet another titillating, but unfounded speculation surrounding this issue. -- (talk) 16:25, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

Non-relevant mention of John C. Bennett in Edmunds-Tucker section[edit]

Inserted in the section regarding the Edmunds-Tucker Act is a strange segment about John C. Bennett. This passage is strange for two reasons; it has nothing to do with the Edmunds-Tucker Act and is also written in a biased tone which implies that the mainline practice of polygamy was appropriate, whereas Bennett's was not. I could not think of a way to edit this segment to make it fit under the heading, but it's large enough that I don't want to delete it altogether without asking a moderator about it. I have added requests for reference, however, on statements that feel out of place, are opinion, or require backing up. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:35, 7 September 2013 (UTC)