Polygamy in Utah has a long and complex history in both religious and legal aspects, with some communities still practicing the unconventional lifestyle today. Notorious for its fundamentalist roots in Mormonism, the state has faced numerous challenges in balancing the rights, protection, and beliefs of its citizens when it comes to this unique form of family structure. In this article, we delve into the world of polygamy in Utah, exploring its origins, struggles, and modern-day manifestations.
Polygamy In Utah Table of Contents
Origins of Polygamy in Utah
In the early 19th century, the practice of polygamy was introduced into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) by its founder, Joseph Smith. However, it drew severe criticism from both mainstream society and other Mormons. As a result, Smith's successor, Brigham Young, led the group to the then unincorporated United States territory of Utah in the 1840s to escape persecution.
Role of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism)
After settling in Utah, the LDS Church played a significant role in promoting the practice of polygamy as part of their faith. This community considered polygamy to be a divine commandment, which ultimately led to increased instances of this form of marriage.
Changes in Law
Due to the growing prominence of the Mormon population in Utah and the practice of polygamy, several laws were enacted under the U.S. government to ban and criminalize this form of marriage. Acts like the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act (1862), the Edmunds Act (1882), and the Edmunds-Tucker Act (1887) worked towards outlawing polygamy in the United States.
Current Legal Status
In 1890, the LDS Church officially renounced the practice of plural marriages through the Manifesto (a declaration by church president Wilford Woodruff) as a condition for Utah gaining statehood. However, the practice continues to this day among some independent and fundamentalist sects of Mormonism.
Polygamy remained illegal in Utah under its state constitution until 2020, when the state decriminalized the practice. It is now classified as an infraction, punishable by a fine or community service, instead of a felony. Nevertheless, polygamy is still legally prohibited in all 50 US states at the federal level.
Modern-Day Polygamous Communities
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS)
FLDS is an offshoot of the mainstream LDS Church and openly practices polygamy. Warren Jeffs, the group's imprisoned prophet, is infamous for his sexual abuse of underage girls. This community mainly resides in Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah.
Apostolic United Brethren (AUB)
This fundamentalist group also split from the mainstream LDS Church and permits polygamy as part of their doctrine. They reportedly consist of hundreds of families living in small towns throughout Utah, Arizona, and Montana.
Independent Groups and Individuals
Lastly, many independent groups and individuals practice polygamy in Utah without affiliation to any organized religious sects. It's noteworthy that in recent years, social acceptance for consensual adult relationships has expanded to encompass polyamory and ethical non-monogamy widely.
Polygamy In Utah Example:
In the United States, there are numerous TV shows portraying polygamous families, such as "Sister Wives" and "Escaping Polygamy," focused on the lives of Kody Brown, his wives Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn, and their 18 children in Utah. This provides an accessible window into the realities and complexities of polygamous families in the state.
Utah's unique history and its ongoing relationship with polygamy make it a captivating topic for those exploring alternative relationship and family structures. As society evolves and becomes more understanding of various lifestyles, the discussions surrounding polygamy, non-monogamy, and polyamory will only continue to deepen. If you found this article insightful, make sure to share it with others and check out other guides on The Monogamy Experiment for more on these unconventional relationships.