Mormon History

Polygamy Analyzed - 1880

The Salt Lake Daily Tribune January 25, 1880

THE  SECRET  AND  FINAL  SOLUTION  OF  POLYGAMY.
_____

"The New England fathers," says the historian Motley, "had no notion of establishing a democracy. The virtues of the Puritans were many and colosal, their vices were few but formidable, for they were intolerance, cruelty, tyranny and bigotry. They came here to establish, not liberty of conscience, but the true church. They people, as such, had no rights at all. * * * A true picture of those early times would present this quaint, solemn, arbitrary government keeping the people as tight as a drum, prying about and thrusting its primitive and patriarchal nose into everybody's business and meddling with the most minute and trifling matters."

Mormonism, polygamy and all, is not so much a relic of barbarism as a relic -- indeed, the bitter kiss -- of Puritanism. Salt Lake is much closer to Boston, to-day, than it is to San Francisco. The vices of these old Puritans were indeed but few, but, as Motley well says, "formidable."

We shall never be able to account for the practice of polygamy amd the concomitant idea of "blood atonement" in our day, in Utah Mormonism, until we divine the true cause and source of these things. Their roots are deep and to the many unknown and unguessed of.

Polygamy is superficially berated as if it were one with -- had its origin in common with -- ordinary libertinism and licentiousness. Such a thing is bad enough, people think, in irreligious people, but in a community professing itself religious a thousandfold less excusable -- horrible --incredible -- unaccountable.

Nothing can be wider of the mark than to arraign polygamy in this wise. The secret of polygamy is to be found in the perversion of the sexual instincts, and a blind, wild craving of outraged nature to right itself.

[Onddaism?] and kindred sexual [craves?] have one and all the same root in perversion. And while this is true, physically and practically considered, it is equally true, literally and ideally, that they have sprung from a certain morbid cnsciontiousness, which is widely removed from reckless and lawless licentiousness, although its tendency has been more and more, as normal conditions of physical health and soundness have supervened, to sun in parallel lines with the libertine spirit and even [embrace] with it. Thank God, "the quadruped opinion" is not humanity's ultimate.

A clear and full understanding of the peculiar nature and character of the man Rigdon throws such a flood of light upon all Mormonism as nothing else can. The fons et principaux of the whole thing is to be found in him.

The most aggravated cases of polygamy are where a pure and unperverted natural woman has found herself "unequally yoked" with a diseased and perverted man. Such a woman never could understand where polygamy came in. Her whole nature has felt itself outraged by it, and she is revolted from it. And yet, her thought, her partially reconciling reflection has been, "well, man's nature is essentially more gross than woman's." The same God who made my nature to revolt at polygamy, made my husband's which is disposed to it."

Poor woman, thus generalizing from a disordered and morbid specimen of mankind, you are nearer to nature and to the God of nature than is your husband. The conditions of your birth, your extraction, your life course, have run harmoneously along with that God of nature, while some and perhaps all of his have been running counter thereto. That is the difference -- the sad gulf -- between you, and diseased conditions of body and mind the secret of the introduction or, more properly and exactly, of the first germinating and eventual establishing of polygamy. Most likely two quite different characters and dispositions, first evolved the thought (S. Rigdon), and finally established the practice of polygamy (B. Young), but much more closely akin to one another than to the third party (J. Smith), who has had the nsame and borne the stigma of introducing it.

The ever deepening horror of the thing is that the young and unperverted should be still enmeshed, when a full knowledge and comprehension of what is here briefly hinted at would save them.

"Blood Atonement," which may be justly viewed as a blood-relation of polygamy, seems to have had its principal source in the dyspeptic habit, amounting to hypochondria, of J. M. Grant, though Rigdon may have been before Grant in this, as he was before Joseph in the religio-polygamic idea. Rigdon had a temperament tinged with sadness and inclining to melancholy (black bile,) whereas the natural character of "the prophet" was jovial. But the bonhommie of the latter was lost to the Mormon system in the acerbatica amd vindictiveness of Brigham Young, and the two, Rigdon and Young -- have given its tone to Mormonism in Utah.

The strongest men are the gentlest. The most virtuous are the most charitable. The best people are the most natural. Society makes us humane. Isolation leads to barbarism. The healthiest people are the most sociable.

Had the Mormon prophet lived to be fifty and eschewed vanity, his more highly toned wife would have saved him and the Mormon Church from the curse and degradation of polygamy. Their son, the present Joseph, possesses the best elements of both his parents and may yet redeem the name of Joseph Smith and (as a religo-sensual craze) the polygamy of Mormondom.

Note 1: The above article was most probably written by James T. Cobb. It seems reasonable to conclude that Cobb was himself much too close to polygamy (and too much impacted personally by that pernicious system), to "see the forest, for the trees," when it came to objectively describing its origins. LDS dispensationalism arises out of the belief that, at different periods of time in history, "the gospel" is retored to its original purity and then is again "lost." Proto-Mormons, like Sidney Rigdon, must have struggled with decisions regarding just which of the many manifestations experienced in "prior dispensations" were to be included in the final (Mormon) scheme of religion. Rigdon's doctrine of an American Zion, where the twelve tribes of the polygamous patriarch Jacob were to be "restored," naturally opened the way for an idealization patriarchal polygamy as a former divine institution. In the Book of Mormon's Book of Jacob, the writer denounces the polygamy of David and Solomon, but holds open an "escape clause" by which the biblical practice can be instituted for patriarchal purposes. That was, perhaps, as much as Rigdon and other early Mormon leaders were willing to acknowledge, regarding the "blessings of Jacob."

Note 2: If this text appars to be incomplete and its thesis not fully developed, it is probably because Cobb's original article was published in two separate parts. See the March 16, 1880 issue of the Tribune for what appears to be its conclusion. There Mr. Cobb traces polygamy to the "sealing power" of the Mormons' top leader -- which Cobb speculates originated as a doctrine of Sidney Rigdon's concoction. Certainly the theological apology for celestial polygamy rests upon the possiblity of a widower being eternally "sealed" to both a deceased first wife as well as to a living second wife. In this religious development, Rigdon appears to have provided priestly justification for a post-mundane continuation of Joseph Smith's secret plural wifery. So long as Joseph was only married "spiritually" to his plural wives, the logical (?) extension of Rigdon's doctrine might allow multiple "spiritual wives" during earthly existence. Smith, according to most reports, paid no attention to such fine points of theology -- and extended Rigdon's doctrine to the sphere of carnal intercourse with his "plurals" well before his passing "beyond the veil."

Note 3: Mr. Cobb, who was not trained in sociology, understandably overlooks the peculiar group dynamics that often come into play in religious cults led by a single, charismatic and despotic "alpha male." In such groups (where the leader speaks in God's place and the members are breaking away from many established cultural norms), it is not unusual for such a male leader to initiate, develop and control diverse intimate relationships with several his most devoted female followers. In polygamic Mormonism, this particular phenomenon was managed by the top leadership and eventually sanctioned by them, amongst the lower churchly ranks, as an integral part of building up an isolated and separatist society. Institutionalized LDS polygamy was a complex manifestation, which indeed may have sprung from Puritanical idealization of "Old Testament virtues" and the bigoted, cultish control exercised by certain religious leaders, who managed a largely ignorant membership, grounded both in traditional New England religion and in New England's hallmark fringe of fanatical non-conformity. See the story of Cochranite polygamy, for a parallel example of this phenomenon.

 (Webmaster Note: Mormon Senator Harry Reid would have made a great 19th century Anti-Mormon)

Reid: Polygamous groups are criminal gangs

July 24, 2008

WASHINGTON, July 24 (UPI) -- Polygamous groups are criminal gangs that commit welfare fraud and tax evasion as well as sexual abuse, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday.

Reid, D-Nev., a Mormon, spoke at the opening of a Judiciary Committee hearing on the communities, the Deseret Morning News reported. He said he was glad the hearing was being held on Pioneer Day, a Utah holiday commemorating the arrival of the Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City.

"I am here to tell you that polygamist communities in the United States are a form of organized crime," he said. "The most obvious crime being committed in these communities is bigamy, child abuse -- teen and preteen girls are forced to marry older men and bear their children."

Reid proposed a federal-state task force to police polygamous sects, CNN said. "The lawless conduct of polygamous communities in the United States deserves national and federal action," Reid told the Washington hearing.

Polygamists, including women in long dresses, packed the hearing room. The focus was on law enforcement, and the polygamists did not testify although former sect members did.

Bill Number: S. 3313 (IS)
Bill Title: Victims of Polygamy Assistance Act of 2008 (Introduced in Senate)
Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry   View all legislation sponsored by this member.
Introduced: 2008/07/23
Latest Major Action: 2008/07/23 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Notes: There are no notes for this Bill

S 3313 IS

110th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 3313

To establish a Federal Polygamy Task Force, to authorize assistance for victims of polygamy, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

July 23, 2008

Mr. REID introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

A BILL

To establish a Federal Polygamy Task Force, to authorize assistance for victims of polygamy, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Victims of Polygamy Assistance Act of 2008'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Despite the fact that polygamy has been illegal in the United States for over 100 years, the practice of polygamy involving underage marriages is growing. Sizable polygamist communities exist in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, and are expanding into other States.

(2) Polygamist communities are typically controlled by organizations that engage in widespread and systematic violations of State laws and the laws of the United States in order to enrich their leaders and maintain control over their members.

(3) The crimes perpetrated by these organizations include child abuse, domestic violence, welfare fraud, tax evasion, public corruption, witness tampering, and transporting victims across State lines.

(4) Due to the systematic and sophisticated nature of these crimes, State and local law enforcement agencies would benefit from the assistance of the Federal Government as they investigate and prosecute these organizations and their leaders for violations of State law. In addition, violations of Federal law associated with polygamy should be investigated and prosecuted directly by Federal authorities.

(5) The work of State and Federal law enforcement agencies to combat crimes by polygamist organizations would benefit from enhanced collaboration and information-sharing among such agencies.

(6) The establishment of a task force within the Department of Justice to coordinate Federal efforts and collaborate with State agencies would aid in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activities of polygamist organizations in both Federal and State courts.

(7) Polygamist organizations isolate, control, manipulate, and threaten victims with retribution should they ever abandon the organization. Individuals who choose to testify against polygamist organizations in Federal or State court have unique needs, including social services and witness protection support, that warrant Federal assistance.

SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF A FEDERAL POLYGAMY TASK FORCE.

(a) Establishment- There is established within the Department of Justice a Federal Polygamy Task Force, which shall consist of the Deputy Attorney General, the United States attorneys from affected Federal judicial districts, representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services, and any officer of the Federal Government whom the Deputy Attorney General considers necessary to strengthen Federal law enforcement activities and provide State and local law enforcement officials the assistance they need to address the illegal activity of one or more polygamist organizations.

(b) Purposes- The Federal Polygamy Task Force established under subsection (a) shall--

(1) formulate effective responses to the unique set of crimes committed by polygamist organizations;

(2) establish partnerships with State and local law enforcement agencies to share relevant information and strengthen State and Federal efforts to combat crimes perpetrated by polygamist organizations;

(3) assist States by providing strategies and support for the protection of witnesses;

(4) track the criminal behavior of polygamist organizations that cross State and international borders; and

(5) ensure that local officials charged with protecting the public are not corrupted because of financial, family, or membership ties to a polygamist organization.

SEC. 4. POLYGAMY VICTIM ASSISTANCE DISCRETIONARY GRANTS.

The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (42 U.S.C. 10601 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 1404E the following:

`SEC. 1404F. ASSISTANCE FOR VICTIMS OF POLYGAMY.

`(a) In General- The Director may make grants as provided in section 1404(c)(1)(A) to State, tribal, and local prosecutors' offices, law enforcement agencies, courts, jails, and correctional institutions, and to qualified public and private entities, to develop, establish, and maintain programs for the enforcement of rights and provision of social services (including witness protection, housing, education, vocational training, mental health services, child care, and medical treatment) for an individual who is exploited or otherwise victimized by practitioners of polygamy.

`(b) Authorization of Appropriations- In addition to funds made available under section 1402(d), there are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section--

`(1) $2,000,000 for fiscal year 2009; and

`(2) $2,500,000 for each of the fiscal years 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

`(c) False Claims Act- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, amounts collected pursuant to sections 3729 through 3731 of title 31, United States Code (commonly known as the `False Claims Act'), may be used for grants under this section, subject to appropriation.'.

SEC. 5. POLYGAMY INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION ASSISTANCE DISCRETIONARY GRANTS.

Section 506(a) of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3756(a)) is amended--

(1) in paragraph (1), by striking `and' at the end;

(2) in paragraph (2), by striking the period at the end and inserting `; and'; and

(3) by adding at the end the following:

`(3) $2,000,000, to be granted by the Attorney General to States and units of local government to investigate and prosecute polygamist organizations that violate Federal, State, or local laws.'.

 

MAIN INDEX

BIBLE INDEX

HINDU INDEX

MUSLIM INDEX

MORMON INDEX

MORMON HISTORY

BUDDHISM INDEX

WORD FAITH INDEX

WATCHTOWER INDEX

MISCELLANEOUS INDEX

CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX