I am all for staying out of other people’s business and I am a supporter of religious freedom, after all, isn’t that the foundation for which our nation is built upon? If you want to engage in polygyny and have several wives, go right ahead, the same for women that support polyandry and want to take more than one husband, no skin off my back. I do not even feel that polygamy should be illegal as long as you are creating a union amongst consenting adults capable of making their own life decision. In fact, I saw a few cases in my research, one an agnostic union and another a tradition Jewish union, in which wonderful family situations arose from polygamist structures.
These polygynous and polyandrous situations are in sharp contrast to what I uncovered about Mormon polygamous unions. I really hate to lump the entire Mormon religion together here, because I am sure there are many polygamous Mormons out there that are not part of dictatorial, unhealthy and abusive relationships, so I will focus on a specific branch of the Mormon church, the Mormon Fundamentalists. As is true with most religious fundamentalism, this particular sect of Mormonism takes their religious beliefs to an extreme, which unfortunately has had terrible consequences for the wives and children affected by these unions.
In order to become part of the union of the United States, Utah had to publicly denounce its approval for plural marriages. Since the early 1900s, the Church of the Latter Day Saints, or LDS, has taken a harsh stance against any church member that publicly comes out as a practicing polygamist. All this really did was force the true believers in plural marriage to go underground and form their own sects where polygamy was accepted. These smaller groups sharing the same religious, cultural and social beliefs settled mainly in Utah, Arizona, Texas and sometimes Mexico.
Outside of the eye of the mainstream church, these groups are the reason polygamy has gotten a bad reputation within the states. The documentaries I saw featured many women who were able to escape from these families; their stories were often difficult to hear ranging from physical abuse, sexual abuse, underage marriages, mental abuse, emotional abuse and unspeakable psychological damage as a result of living many years under the dictatorial reign of a man they thought would take care of them. The vicious cycles of torment are repeated in these families for generations, all in the name of God.
What God would love someone that arranges for their daughter to marry their brother at 14 years old? Is this the same God that commands these men to beat women down with words and fists? Would this God want the wives of plural marriages to live in complete isolation from the outside world, bearing children for her husband to use as slaves? I suppose everyone has their own interpretation of ancient text, but I am fairly certain that there is not a god out there that would condone such shameful acts.
Those poor children rescued from the camp in Texas will probably never be able to properly acclimate themselves to society because of their mistreatment, nor will the wives be able to deal with making decisions for themselves. I can only hope that this will serve as a wake up call for the greater part of the Mormon community for them to realize the many injustices that have been going on as a result of their policies toward polygamy. The denial ends today, as there are 534 women and children that will have the chance to speak out against the numerous crimes that have been committed against them for as long as they can remember. In the end it is not polygamy that is perverted, but instead I propose it is the adaptation of polygamy by power-hungry and inherently corrupt individuals, utilizing a practice that is already looked down upon by many as a guise to justify the systematic sexual and physical abuse of already disenfranchised women.