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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalist Statistics

Non-Mormons sometimes ask Mormons whether they are polygamists.  Mormons will usually sigh and reply, for the thousandth time, that the Latter Day Saints haven't practiced polygamy for over a century and that anyone who practices it today is excommunicated.  However, so-called Fundamentalist Mormons and others the world over do practice plural marriage.

Global Polygamy Statistics:

  • It is estimated that more than 3 billion people around the world today believe in polygamy (about 43% of the world’s population) and more than 2 billion actively practice polygamy (29% of the world population).
  • Polygamy is still legal in more than 150 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and most countries in the 3rd world.
  • Nigeria is home to over 40 million polygamists.
  • It is estimated that over 100,000 people in the U.S., mostly fundamentalist Mormons and Muslims, and another 100,000 people in Western Europe  practice polygamy secretly (and not-so-secretly).
  • About 78% of human societies are polygynous, in which some men marry more than one wife.  Only 22% of societies are strictly monogamous. Almost no modern societies are polyandrous, in which one woman marries more than one husband, although such societies have existed in the past in the Canary Islands, the Himalayas, the Canadian Arctic, and possibly other places.
  • Saudi Arabia has the second-highest divorce-rate in the world, and according to Abdullah Al-Fawzan, a professor and sociologist at King Saud University in Riyadh, polygamy is responsible for up to 55% of divorces.

Mormon Fundamentalists:

  • At times, sources have claimed there are as many as 60,000 Mormon fundamentalists in the U.S., with fewer than half of them living in polygamous families.  However, other sources suggest that there may be as few as 20,000 Mormon fundamentalists, with only 8,000 to 15,000 practicing polygamy.
  • The Apostolic United Brethren (AUB), the sect to which the Brown family belongs (see their recent court papers for proof), is estimated to have about 5000 to 9000 members throughout Utah, Montana, Arizona, Wyoming, Missouri, and Mexico.  The church has a temple in Mexico, an Endowment House in Utah, and operates several schools.  The AUB is one of the more liberal of the Fundamentalist Mormon groups practicing plural marriage.  AUB leaders do not arrange marriages nor do they authorize plural marriages for people under 18 or for those who are closely related.
  • The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) is estimated to consist of 6000 to 8000 members.  A large concentration of members lives in the twin cities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah.  The church has a temple near Eldorado, Texas.   FLDS members tend to be very conservative in dress and lifestyle.
  • The Kingston Clan, officially known as the Latter Day Church of Christ, includes approximately 1200 members.  The Kingston Clan allows marriage to girls just attaining puberty and between close relatives.
  • About 1,500 people are members of a group located in Centennial Park, Arizona, called The Work of Jesus Christ, also known commonly known as the Centennial Park Group. In the early 1980s there was a conflict of leadership in the FLDS Church. Some of the members were very unhappy with changes being made by FLDS leaders and, when the FLDS Church instituted a "one-man rule" doctrine, those who wanted to maintain leadership by a priesthood council founded Centennial Park in 1986.
  • There is a large movement of independent Mormon fundamentalists. Independents do not belong to an organized fundamentalist group and do not generally recognize any man as their prophet or leader. Because Independents are not one cohesive group, they are very diverse in their beliefs, interpretations of Mormonism, and practices.  Many Independents come from an LDS background, while others come from other Christian or Mormon fundamentalist backgrounds.  Statistically, it is difficult to estimate the number of Independents, but a recent estimate indicates that there may be more Independent Mormon Fundamentalists than there are in any one of the formally organized polygamous groups.  There may be as many as 15,000, about half of whom practice polygamy. According to this informal survey, about half of Mormon fundamentalists, both those in groups and those outside of groups, currently practice polygamy. There is a large concentration of Independents in Utah, Arizona, and Missouri.  
  • The average American FLDS polygynist man has three or four wives. Wives average eight children.  Men average 28 children.
  • During the 1800s when the LDS church practiced polygamy, the number of Mormon individuals living in polygamous households was approximately 20 to 30%.  The “2%” figure often cited has been disproven by several academic studies and researchers
  • According to US Census Bureau data, in 1997 in Colorado City every school-aged child lived below the poverty line.  At the same time, in Hildale, 50% of the town’s residents were on public assistance.
  • In Bountiful, British Columbia, a community of about 1000 people,  from 1986 to 2009 (a 13 year period), 833 babies were born to 215 mothers (almost 4 babies per mom).  85 mothers (1/3 of total moms) were 18 or younger. That's 7 times the provincial rate of teen moms.   Two of the teens had 3 children each by the time they were 18; 16 had 2 children each. That means 10% of the babies were born to teenagers, a rate more than double the local average and nearly 4 times the provincial average of 2.7 per cent.
  • In Bountiful 45% per cent of Bountiful's mothers are foreign-born, compared with 29% per cent in the rest of Canada and only 11% per cent in nearby Creston and Cranbrook.
  • At Bountiful Elementary-Secondary, there have been a total of 59 students in Grade 10 classes since the 2003-04 school year, but only 11 in Grade 12. There’s a similar trend at nearby Mormon Hills.  Since the 2003-04 school year, a total of 44 students have been enrolled in a Grade 10 class, while only 8 have attended Grade 12.
  • Since 2003, only 25 students from both schools have attained either a graduation certificate or the adult equivalent by upgrading their classes elsewhere.

Several Enduring Myths about Mormon Polygamy in the 19th Century:

  • "Mormons practiced polygamy because women on the frontier far outnumbered men, and plural marriage gave every woman a chance to have a husband." Actually, men sometimes outnumbered women, especially in the early years of Mormon settlement. Some towns had 3 times as many unmarried men as women.  All census numbers in Utah from about 1850 up to 1960 show more males than females in the state.
  • "Polygamy took care of older women and spinsters so they had a chance to get married." In truth, most plural wives were younger than the first wife. This idea was especially true in the 1850s.  In Utah (1850s to 1890s), the average age of a 2nd wife was 17 (husband average age early 30s) and the average age of a third wife was 19 (husband average age mid to late 30s). The average age in the USA for a first marriage in the late 19th century was about 22.
  • "Polygamous men lived in harems and had about 20 wives each." Although a few prominent Church leaders like Brigham Young did have wives numbering into the double digits, this situation was far from the norm. Most polygamous husbands took only 1 or 2 additional wives. If the family could afford it, each wife had her own home or apartment.
  • "Polygamy was all about sex." Some plural marriages contracted in Utah were for eternity only. In eternity-only marriages, conjugal relations weren't permitted, and the wife usually supported herself. In marriages for both time and eternity, the couple enjoyed conjugal relations and the husband was required to support his wives and any children they had.
  • "Only the poorest of the poor practiced polygamy." Statistics show that most of the men who practiced polygamy in Utah were among the wealthier members of Mormon society. Supporting multiple households required cash, so church leaders were more likely to approve the marriages of men who could support additional wives.  However, plural wives often came from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and plural marriage to a well-established man helped them move up the social ladder.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find any reliable statistics on the Lost Boys or on polygamous marriage reassignment / divorce.



Written by Terrasola


  1. Below are some links to articles about Blackmore (of the FLDS in Bountiful) trial here in Canada. He is being tried on tax evasion. Its interesting to follow are should provide a window into the operation of the community.




  2. "In eternity-only marriages, conjugal relations weren't permitted, and the wife usually supported herself."

    That sounds pretty good. You have your own house, bathroom, TV, computer. You just call him over if you need something heavy moved.

    1. HaHaHa, that's a good one Mary.

    2. Sign me up. I'm tired of having to pay somebody to do all the stuff I can't.

  3. One of the articles states." Some plural marriages contracted in Utah were for eternity only. In eternity-only marriages, conjugal relations weren't permitted, and the wife usually supported herself." This is inaccurate and makes no sense except to excuse some rather disturbing practices in early Mormonism. The reverse was true - widows who believed themselves to be eternally married to men who had passed on did remarry for "time" only. But, think about it - why would any women be married solely for eternity? This was touted for an explanation of the women whom men like Joseph Smith "married," and who were already married to other living men. Often these women ended up living with both men. Because of the implications, apologists have claimed that there was no conjugal relationship, which is patently untrue. Some of these women produced children during the time period of the "marriage" and some claimed that their child was Joseph Smith's. If you are interested in this history read "In Sacred Loneliness" by Todd Compton (LDS author) or visit this very informative web site - http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/

  4. The eternity only business sounds like a crock to me. Something people said to excuse early church headsips marraige arrangements to very young girls like the previous poster said......makes no sense, and sounds far-fetched even for mormondom

    1. I don't care who said it, it isn't true! It IS all about the sex...they want different sex partners. That's it, and always has been the reason for plural marriage. The Mormons tried to make it religious...built in to their religion as a way to get around that pesky adultery thing. Joseph Smith was a horny con man.

  5. There is a growing plyg community in Lafayette, Indiana.

  6. anony 7:27

    dude, where?? I live nearby.

    traditional praire-dress plyg or AUB?

  7. The conjugal aspect isn't as bothersome to me as the eternity thing. If you are married for eternity, how can you be taken from one guy and given to another, or even have another guy after the first dies? Then what happens to eternity. You have to be on 2 planets at the same time?

    1. The women are unsealed from the previous husband and sealed to another man. If the woman has children, they can be taken from their bio father and sealed with the mom to the new "priesthood holder."

  8. I knew a Mormon lady who never married and got terminal cancer. There was this man who would often visit her in the hospital, and my mom (who was liked the whole Mormon thing but didn't know much about it) said that each Mormon family "looks after" another Mormon family, and how nice that was, etc. It's only later, having read up on Mormonism and plural wives, celestial marriage etc that I suspected that this lady must have entered into an "eternal" marriage with this man, because as a single woman she could not enter into heaven. I was telling my mother about this the other day she she basically confirmed my suspicions when she told me her friend had gone to the temple for a special "ceremony" shortly before she passed away...... It's so sad to think that it wasn't enough for this lady to have been a nice and good person and to get into heaven on her merits alone, that towards the end of her life she had to worry about where she would be going and having to get married.

  9. The fact is Mormonism has never repudiated polygamy or removed it from their doctrine..it was simply SUSPENDED in this life.. they still believe there is a necessity for multiple wives in the next life where they populate their own planets

    Proof of the lie for public consumption is the fact that deceased excommunicated polygamists are returned to church rolls after death


  10. Anon 7:27, I am also a Hoosier who would like to know!

  11. I think with the politicians we currently have in office, it will be a long time before we in Indiana are able to find a church to call home. If there is one out there we are searching in the Madison, Delaware, and Grant County areas. We are Christian Fundamentalists and don't care to hide our beliefs from the world. I want my children to be proud of who they are- not shamed.