The Latter-day Saints' practice of polygamy has been controversial, both within Western society and the LDS Church itself. The U.S. was both fascinated and horrified by the practice of polygamy, with the Republican platform at one time referencing "the twin relics of barbarism—polygamy and slavery." The private practice of polygamy was instituted in the 1830s by founder Joseph Smith. The public practice of plural marriage by the church was announced and defended in 1852 by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Orson Pratt, by the request of church presidentBrigham Young.
For over 60 years, the LDS Church and the United States were at odds over the issue: the church defended the practice as a matter of religious freedom, while the federal government aggressively sought to eradicate it, consistent with prevailing public opinion. Polygamy was probably a significant factor in the Utah War of 1857 and 1858, given Republican attempts to paint Democratic President James Buchanan as weak in his opposition to both polygamy and slavery. In 1862, the United States Congress passed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, which prohibited plural marriage in the territories. In spite of the law, Mormons continued to practice polygamy, believing that it was protected by the First Amendment. In 1879, in Reynolds v. United States, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Morrill Act, stating: "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinion, they may with practices." (Full article...)
Due to its unique geography – the only place in hundreds of miles from which one can easily access the Colorado River from both sides – it historically served as an important river crossing and starting in the mid-19th century was the site of a ferry operated by John Doyle Lee, for whom it is named. Boat service at Lees Ferry continued for over 55 years before being superseded by a bridge in the early 20th century, which allowed for much more efficient automobile travel.
Lees Ferry served as a military outpost for 19th-century settlements in Utah, a center of limited gold seeking and since the 1920s the principal point at which river flow is measured to determine water allocations in the 246,000-square-mile (640,000 km2) Colorado River basin. Lees Ferry demarcates the boundary between the Upper and Lower Basins of the Colorado River; the states which make up each basin are legally allocated one-half of the river's natural flow. Glen Canyon Dam impounds the Colorado a short distance upstream and completely regulates the river flow past Lees Ferry. Lees Ferry has long been a focal point of American Southwest water disputes, and has been called "both the physical and spiritual heart of water history in the arid West". Today Lees Ferry is a well-known fishing and boat launching point, including for whitewater rafting trips through the Grand Canyon. (Full article...)
A major contender for leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints during the 1844 succession crisis after Smith's murder, Strang urged other prominent LDS leaders like Brigham Young and Sidney Rigdon to remain in their previous offices and to support his appointment by Joseph Smith. Brigham and the members of the Twelve Apostles loyal to him rejected Strang's claims, as did Rigdon, the highest ranking officer of the church. This divided the Latter Day Saint movement. During his 12 years tenure as Prophet, Seer and Revelator, Strang reigned for six years as the crowned "king" of an ecclesiastical monarchy that he established on Beaver Island in the US state of Michigan. Building an organization that eventually rivaled Young's in Utah, Strang gained nearly 12,000 adherents at a time when Young claimed 50,000. After Strang was killed in 1856 most of his followers rallied under Joseph Smith III and joined the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Strangite church has remained small in comparison to other branches.
Similar to Joseph Smith, who was alleged by church opponent William Marks to have been crowned King in Nauvoo prior to his death, Strang taught that the chief prophetic office embodied an overtly royal attribute. Thus its occupant was to be not only the spiritual leader of his people, but their temporal king as well. He offered a sophisticated set of teachings that differed in many significant aspects from any other version of Mormonism, including that preached by Smith. Like Smith, Strang published translations of two purportedly ancient lost works: the Voree Record, deciphered from three metal plates reportedly unearthed in response to a vision; and the Book of the Law of the Lord, supposedly transcribed from the Plates of Laban mentioned in the Book of Mormon. These are accepted as scripture by his followers, but not by any other Latter Day Saint church. Although his long-term doctrinal influence on the Latter Day Saint movement was minimal, several early members of Strang's organization helped to establish the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which became (and remains) the second-largest Mormon sect. While most of Strang's followers eventually disavowed him due to his eventual advocacy of polygamy, a small but devout remnant carries on his teachings and organization today. (Full article...)
Though we may not necessarily forfeit our lives in service to our God, we can certainly demonstrate our love for Him by how well we serve Him.