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Saturday, July 21, 2012

thestar.com : Meet the modern Americans who still have faith in polygamy

By Ward, Olivia
Foreign Affairs Reporter

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—The dusty prairie morning chokes in the midday heat, but inside her spacious kitchen Lucy is crisp and in control, the captain of all she surveys.

She’s a solid, handsome woman with bright blue eyes and upswept greying hair: the embodiment of good pioneering stock. Her life has been a series of trials she’s faced and triumphed over on this unforgiving land. At 57, she has earned her laurels.

But there is no rest for Lucy. There’s an active career as a consultant, and an aging husband to care for — along with five other wives and an assortment of children, the remainder of 47 who have been born, nurtured, bidden farewell and sometimes mourned during five turbulent decades.

This multi-layered house south of Salt Lake, designed by Lucy herself (“never had a lesson in architecture”), is filled with comfortable, come-lately flourishes. But the past is not a foreign country here. Its daily presence presses in on the large extended family, its weight inescapable.

Lucy and her 78-year-old husband Sam are fundamentalist Mormon polygamists — cast out by the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which suspended the practice of plural marriage in 1890 and insists that they have no right to call themselves Mormons.

They speak on condition of anonymity, because officially they are outlaws. But they make up only a fraction of the estimated 40,000 polygamists in the United States, many of them spread across the southwestern states of Utah, Arizona and Nevada. And most live not in fortresses bristling with guns, but uneasily blended into communities that greet them with puzzlement, don’t-ask-don’t-tell tolerance, or outright hostility.

They are perhaps the last living imprint of their Mormon ancestors, carrying the beliefs that burned within those forebears as they settled in the inhospitable pre-Utah state of Deseret: an embattled, hardscrabble society that their mainstream descendents now fervently hope to leave behind, like some wandering tribe that, embarrassingly, will not stay lost.

They are also the worst nightmare of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and others who hope that Mormonism can blend seamlessly into the American social and political landscape. The presence of polygamists is all the more dangerous because “they” and “we” are joined at the historical hip by a common ancestry.

“We’ve had harassment,” says Lucy, matter-of-factly. “It’s wherever you go. Some people are friendly, others . . . ” She gestures at the green-and-brown landscape stretching beyond the rambling suburban house, where the only shade is from the clumps of trees she planted by hand.

But the fact that this group of old believers exists in relative peace and obscurity is something of a victory, considering its adherents more than a century ago resigned themselves to the fringes of society and the Mormon faith. They rejected the mainstream church’s decision to fall in line with U.S. laws and abandon the practice of polygamy. The edict was like a silver bullet through the heart of their beliefs.

“The family, and particularly the plural family, became the foundation of the social order God desired,” historian Matthew Bowman writes of the early Mormons in his book, The Mormon People.

Polygamy began with an Abrahamic revelation from Mormon founder Joseph Smith, which declared that plural marriage was not only sanctioned by God, but “sealed by the Holy Spirit,” allowing the participants to inherit “thrones, kingdoms . . . exaltation and glory” in the afterlife. Without “celestial marriage,” or polygamy (more properly known as polygyny), the prospect of eternal salvation was dim.

It was not an easy sell in the mid-1800s. At a time when prudish Victorians were draping their “naked” piano legs with frills, followers of Smith and successor Brigham Young wrestled down their scruples and plunged into plural marriage, believing it would ensure that “Mormon societies were stable, their members committed to the health of the community, and they lacked the poor underclass that fostered crime and debauchery in the United States.”

The thousands who practise polygamy today flow from that bloodline. They include those whose families abandoned the practice but later returned to the fold, and those who fled — like Romney’s ancestors — across the Mexican or Canadian border to continue the “true faith.”

Sam, a soft-spoken shepherd of his little flock of a few dozen families, is one of the former.

“I didn’t start out as a fundamentalist,” says the slight, silver-haired man, clad in the sober black that is a uniform of the fundamentalist church faithful: a symbolic holdover from a pre-Technicolor world where revelation and reality merge.

As a teenager in a mainstream Utah LDS household in the 1950s, Sam felt there was “something missing,” as though the emptiness of the land had somehow invaded his life. He prayed. Fundamentalist leaders gave counsel. The answer came.

“There were principles that the church had done away with,” he says. “I didn’t think it was right.”

Lucy chimes in: “There was more meat in what those leaders were saying. The LDS church had the milk.”

By the time he was 20, Sam had already married a teenage bride, who soon became pregnant. His new faith embraced plural marriage. Obediently, he took a second wife.

Two decades later the Lord would intervene again in Sam’s marital affairs. And then it was, if not a coup de foudre — anathema to fundamentalists who decry sexual attraction before marriage — then a heavenly bolt from the blue. One that, felicitously, hit the unworldly and homebound 20-year-old Lucy at the same time.

“I had made up my mind that I wanted to be in a plural marriage, like my own family,” she said. “My mother had numerous children and the family was huge. I had offers of scholarships but I didn’t want to stay in school. All those pep rallies and dances and football games just seemed frivolous.”

In spite of her father’s opposition, she dropped out before her high school finals and stayed home to grapple with the demanding vocation of polygamous householding.

After “three years of praying,” she knew her husband would be the quiet, 40-year-old Sam, who taught a youth group she attended in his home, and whose wives and children she had come to know. With down-to-earth practicality, she reckoned it was better not to be the first wife of a young man with unproven husbanding skills.

When the revelation first struck Lucy, Sam was unaware of his impending union. But one day, as he saw her walk through the door of the church, looking even younger than her years, “something hit: that girl would be my wife.”

Lucy, meanwhile, was eager to begin a new life that fulfilled the doctrines of her childhood. “My mother taught me that I had made a promise, a covenant with somebody before I came to this earth. And that we would marry and have a family. We made covenants with the (unborn) children we would bring here.”

The promises — which underpin the practice of plural marriage — would be fulfilled with Sam’s and Lucy’s more than half-dozen children, adding to the swelling family ranks.

But on their wedding night in 1976, Lucy says, “we just talked all night. We didn’t have any real contact before we were married. It was the first time I could find out about him and about the household.” But she adds quickly, love was in the picture, too. “When we came to an agreement that we’d marry, I started to think, ‘Do I really love him?’ I prayed about it.”

She glances fondly at her husband. “Now, when I look back on it, I didn’t need to pray, because I fell in love with him very swiftly. My prayers were answered.”

That didn’t prevent Sam from dividing his time among five other wives. Some had been “compassionate” marriages, harking back to patriarchal biblical times when widows were rescued from loneliness and destitution by polygamous unions. “There needs to be a father figure, someone to lead the family,” says Lucy.

But, “nobody here was underage and nobody was forced,” she adds, leaning forward, as though expecting a familiar argument: “I think there’s too much made these days of people marrying young.

“Even at 15, I wanted to get married. I think it’s a modern phenomenon that people marry older now. Who’s to judge? When you look at the immorality and the unwed mothers today, isn’t it better to have people taking responsibility at young ages?”

The question hangs in the air.

It’s one of the most crucial issues under debate as polygamist families struggle for decriminalization. A struggle they have only just gained confidence to wage in public.

“We aren’t asking for plural marriage to be legalized,” says activist Anne Wilde, who spent most of her adult life in a “totally happy” polygamous union that was nevertheless carried on in secret. “We believe that as long as the people are consenting adults, and there is no underage marriage or abuse or (welfare) fraud going on, it should be treated like other kinds of unions. People recognize diversity now.”

But the struggle for acceptance is difficult. The polygamy that makes headlines is of the most lurid kind — murderous clan leaders, fake prophets, authoritarian brutality, virtual imprisonment of young women, casting out of young males who might compete for eligible females, forced marriage, genetic disease and child abuse. The five-alarm case is that of Warren Jeffs, who once played a role in British Columbia’s Bountiful colony and is serving a life sentence in Texas on child sexual assault charges.

Mainstream Mormons look on and shudder, seeing their own claim to legitimacy in American society sink with each sensational new report that links them with a practice they reject and revile.

The backlash against fundamentalists — which includes excommunication and economic exclusion — puts more fear into pluralist communities than crackdowns by the state authorities, which have abandoned sweeping raids in favour of a policy of tolerance, in the absence of serious criminal behaviour.

Bigamy and plural marriage remain illegal throughout the United States. But by supporting community groups that help troubled polygamist families, Utah and Arizona authorities have reached a working truce.

“We’re concentrating on the safety issue,” says Paul Murphy, director of communications for the Utah attorney general’s office. “We believe a lot of it is education — preventing crime, not focusing on prosecution. We try to help people under the radar.”

The daunting alternative is jailing thousands, breaking up families and putting the children under the care of the state.

Priscilla and Marlyne Hammon remember a more perilous time.

The two women, now in their 50s, have an American Gothic air: scraped back coifs, no makeup and modestly cut skirts and jackets. Their families have survived extraordinary travails in the service of a faith that was publicly ridiculed and condemned.

In 1953, when Priscilla was an infant, Arizona state authorities raided her parents’ polygamous community of Short Creek — later (confusingly) renamed Colorado City — straddling the border with Utah. It was described as the largest mass arrest of its time.

“About 100 police surrounded it at gunpoint, at 4 a.m. All the men were put into the schoolhouse and the women were taken to Phoenix. The plan was to adopt out all the children, to destroy all the records and destroy polygamy,” she says, recounting each detail as though it were yesterday.

While 100 men were briefly jailed then released on a year’s probation, the women were forced into distant parts of the state. But Arizona authorities balked at relocating their more than 250 children. The mothers and children were scattered, forced to live in “nursing homes or old sheds,” the forerunners of today’s immigration detention centres.

Within a few years they had trickled back to their husbands and communities. Predictably, there were more marriages and more children. As in other polygamous groups cast out by the Mormon church, their own priesthoods carried out the ceremonies.

Even in Utah’s increasingly cosmopolitan towns today, the fear of discovery is pervasive, and polygamous parents and children live watchfully, expecting the unexpected. The fear is palpable: of humiliation, of exclusion, of the collapse of businesses and the bullying of children in school. It is hard to pursue legal protection for plural wives and children, to obtain documents such as birth certificates and to get medical help for prenatal care and childbirth.

For some, constant subterfuge leads to a siege mentality, a sense of persecution and pariahood. For children, it can be a psychologically splitting experience, forcing them to move between two different, even opposing, worlds.

Fed up with their furtive lives, some polygamists are fighting back, urged by Wilde and her Principle Voices advocacy group, which seeks to educate the wider community on the “real facts” of contemporary plural marriage.

In the past decade, they have joined rallies and spoken out for plural marriage. The reality show Sister Wives brought polygamous daily life to American living rooms, and it gained a new gloss in the popular TV series Big Love.

Unlike the mainstream LDS church, the fundamentalists are divided among about a dozen groups and categories, ranging from gun-toting survivalists to the family next door in Salt Lake.

Nicole, a young woman in her 20s, escaped a tightly wound community that exemplified the darkest stereotypes of polygamy.

“My mother was a plural wife and I had problems with physical and sexual abuse,” she says. “I was kicked out of school in eighth grade. On my 16th birthday my father gave me a choice of two men and insisted that I marry one.”

But many other polygamists lead lives more ordinary and middle-class, if challenging.

“Our kids get teased because of our lifestyle. It’s a dynamic we just learned to ignore,” says Valerie Darger, one of three wives of businessman Joe Darger — and with her sweep of dark hair and form-fitting clothes, a glamorous poster girl for plural marriage. Last year the family published a cover-blowing book, Love Times Three, with writer Brooke Adams, to “fight the misunderstandings” that make polygamists outcasts.

Unlike some urban polygamists, whose husbands lead covert, nomadic lives among different houses, the Dargers live together under one roof, with Joe portioning his time among the three wives. “There’s Vicki’s night and Alina’s night and my night. He’s able to see all of us,” says Valerie.

Sharing began early for the Dargers. Both Vicki and Alina — cousins and rivals for Joe’s affection in high school — knew they wanted to marry the husky, blue-eyed football player with the rakish smile. His polygamous mother suggested they all join hands. After some soul-searching and an unsurprisingly awkward courtship, the trio was married in 1989.

Two decades later they became a quartet. Valerie, Vicki’s twin sister, was broke and depressed after leaving another unhappy plural marriage with her own five children. After urging from Vicki and Alina, and a rapidly igniting spark with Joe, she agreed to join the family, which already boasted about a dozen kids.

“Joe came home from work one day and suddenly I was seeing him differently,” she recalls, smiling. “I found out he saw me differently, too. It just evolved from there.”

But she admits, “everyone has to make adjustments. There are jealousies and misunderstandings.”

There’s also economics. With 24 children to care for, food bills alone can reach $700 a week. Clothing is recycled, entertainment is at home and everyone pitches in to keep the wheels of the household turning. The wives have worked at a variety of businesses and Joe must be diligent to maintain the family income.

For men, polygamy is no bargain. Those who are seeking sex can find it more easily and cheaply in an extramarital affair where the financial responsibilities are fewer and problems of numerous wives and children don’t have to be thrashed out on a daily basis.

For women, “sister wives” may ease the burden of childcare and household chores. But even in a celestial marriage, the human intrudes on the divine. A husband’s divided loyalties may be worrying, as well as emotionally taxing. With only the first, or legal, wife entitled to a man’s property if he dies or they divorce, the others must stay in his favour to avoid being cut off and destitute.

For children, too, polygamy is a tense lifestyle of secrecy from the outside world. “I found out the hard way that some people’s attitudes changed once they knew about my family,” wrote Alina Darger’s 18-year-old daughter Laura in Love Times Three. After a school chum discovered how they lived, she recalled, “the other girls ostracized me . . . I learned to change the subject whenever I was asked personal questions.”

That could change if polygamists gain legitimacy. But their struggle for decriminalization is only beginning. In the eyes of many LDS members, they cannot even call themselves fundamentalist Mormons, so estranged are they from the mainstream church.

But, says Becky Johns, a professor at Utah’s Weber State University, “those who practise it truly believe this is the way they must live to attain the highest degree of celestial paradise when they die. ‘It’s the way God wants us to live.’ A commandment, not an option.”

The ultimate challenge to the anti-polygamy laws would be a constitutional one in court. For mainstream Mormons, a victory for plural marriage would be an unwelcome blast from a past they have spent more than a century burying.

The first shot has been fired by reality stars Kody Brown and his “sister wives,” who are going up against Utah’s anti-polygamy law on the grounds that it violates freedom of association and the right to privacy in intimate relationships.

But if polygamy is decriminalized in the future, it may be because of growing liberalization of American society, accepting relationships such as gay marriage as part of the changing social scene — an ultimate irony for a fundamentalist faith firmly rooted in the hard moral soil of the 19th century.

Polygamous families will carry on regardless, cocooned in their own moral universe — one that promises a peace that passes all understanding of skeptical unbelievers.

“Would I do it all over again if I had the choice?” asks Valerie Darger. “Totally. It’s our sacredly held belief.”



  1. Does it seem that the Dargers are being groomed to represent the 'normalcy' of Polygamy vs the TV version represented by the fictional Big Love and the reality show Sister Wives?

  2. Yes-I think they have a chance of getting their own show. From what I've read of their book and website, they do seem Stepford Wives-like and a bit sterile, but a bit more honest than the Browns.

    My issue is that they gloss over major issues; the AUB has similar backwards views to the FLDS on race (believing blacks/non whites are Satanic)and their views on women's roles in work/household life. From the blog, Joe can seem intractable and in the book it seems he has similar (if not worse) rage issues than Kody, which his wives have been on the receiving end of.

    The Dargers are the shiny glossy coating on AUB polygamy, but there's still more under the surface than they let on. From a PR angle, though, I bet Principle Voices/AUB leaders are kicking themselves for backing the Browns over the Dargers for TLC, since the Dargers seem more "presentable" and media savvy.

    1. The Darger's are not AUB. They are independent. The third wife was AUB during her previous marriage.

    2. The leaders of AUB never backed Kody Brown on the issue of Sister Wives. They actually felt quite opposed to ot.

    3. Re: Darger affiliations and AUB/Kody- I guess I was wrong about that-sorry.

  3. I read the book too. I don't recall anything about Joe's rage issues. Can you just remind me? I don't doubt you're right, I just don't remember.

    1. I forgot which wife is was (Vicki? Valerie?) but what I remember was she was driving, not to Joe's liking and he screamed at her "I just told you what to do!" I read the book awhile ago (at bookstore) so I need to make another trip there to re-read for specifics. The wife was so frightened she didn't want to drive in the car with him, which angered one of her sister wives.

      The one thing that separates the Browns from the Dargers is that the Darger wives seem to care for each other and each other's feelings. One of the other wives came to the defense of the yelled at wife. I can't see Meri, Janelle, Christine, or Robyn standing in the way of Kody's anger against one of their sister wives.

    2. SheilaAnn, I think the only reason why the Darger wives do care for one another is because they are related (cousins and sisters). So the relationship between them was there long before Joe came into the picture; unlike, the Brown wives where they were all virtual strangers (or at least that is how I see it) before Kody married them (Kody is the glue that ties these woman together... where blood, friendship, and love hold the Darger wives together).

    3. KB-I knew the Darger wives were related..I also know sisters who hate each other. Sisterly love isn't automatic or absolute, although in many cases it is:)

    4. So far, we know very little about the Dargers other than what they've marketed to us in their book and tv appearances. I suspect that if they, too had a "reality" show, we'd come to dislike all their warts displayed as much as we do the Browns. A lot more background/behind the scenes info would also appear as it did w/the Browns.

  4. This was well written. Praise to Olivia Ward.

    "With only the first, or legal, wife entitled to a man’s property if he dies or they divorce, the others must stay in his favor to avoid being cut off and destitute."

    With regards to SW, this fact has been well discussed here on SWB about Meri's position in their family's hierarchy. What does impact from the Ward report is when she says "the others must stay in his favor to avoid being cut off and destitute."
    We can say Run Janelle/Christine Run because if they are miserable then they should get out. But.to where?
    Apparently the 3rd Darger wife is there because she DID get out of bad plyg marriage (with five kids)and then was desperate for a rescue.
    And so was Robin when she came on the scene....divorced and broke.

    Would Janelle and Christine *really* abandon their beliefs, however "acquired" as the beliefs were in Janelle's case, and go mainstream as single mothers taking care of themselves and their children?
    Or, if they would leave would they then be looking for another plyg family to take them in?? Janelle already did leave...and came back.

    What was missing in this piece was the clear acknowledgement and stats about how the plyg system fosters welfare exploitation and creative debt avoidance.
    The only reference to it all was “We aren’t asking for plural marriage to be legalized,” says activist Anne Wilde, who spent most of her adult life in a “totally happy” polygamous union that was nevertheless carried on in secret. “We believe that as long as the people are consenting adults, and there is no underage marriage or abuse or (welfare) fraud going on, it should be treated like other kinds of unions. People recognize diversity now.”

    Okay...so what if there IS welfare fraud?? Does the plyg community as whole sanction/ police itself??

    Kody and Klan may have fired "the first shot" to challenge anti-plyg laws seeking legitimacy for plygs. However, they also have set in motion an awareness of the underbelly of Plyg ethics, starting with their own.

    In going public, *the public* as well as the government and legal authorities, can easily access information that confirms just how they use and have used the system to, as they say, gain access to heaven.

    By having more wives and children than they can realistically support ????

  5. Left all that behind.July 21, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Just a few comments. First, the Dargers are Independent Fundamentalists, not AUB members. Second point, I question Ann Wilde's claim of being in a "“totally happy” polygamous union. If she was happy, the other women definitely were not. She was "Queen Bee" and always trying to hide the fact that the guy she lived with, Ogden Kraut, favored her. Last, what a rosy picture of a "persecuted" people, especially those reminding the reporter of the 50's "raid" on Short Creek (Colorado City). The press whipped up such a frenzy of outrage over that, the law was scared to do anything at all for 60 plus years, and the result was Warren Jeffs and his unbridled depravity. Does "religious freedom" really trump women's and children's rights, and supercede the established law? This is not a "quaint" life style, or gentle "old time" religion, its a nasty and abusive way of life.

    1. I agree. Can you imagine what would happen if this was made legal or decriminalized? What would be next? People wanting to make honor killings and sacrifice legal?

    2. Excellent point Footupkodysass. What about bringing back slavery and indentured servants.

    3. LATB, Amused, and Footupkodysass: Totally agree!
      And as for Anne Wilde (notice that she didn't change her name to her "husband"'s) "We'd play games — he'd park his car at a grocery-store lot and I'd pick him up" so that other people wouldn't see his vehicle parked in front of her home overnight, said Wilde, now a 72-year-old grandmother whose husband died five years ago.
      Sounds like a fantastic recipe for a home-cooked marriage! I know that whenever I make a point of hiding what I'm up to, it's because I know that it is wrong and don't want to deal with the consequences. With this one statement, she basically admitted that she feels the same way.


      I fully believe that people have the right to self-determination and to live however they choose. I also fully believe that the vast majority of the laws that we have here in the US help keep our society civil and free of exploitation. Polygyny is just that, a "lifestyle choice" that is exploitative at its core and abusive and vicious in its practice. The arguments for the decriminalization or legalization of polygamy ring hollow to me because they are all arguments based in emotion; nobody is trotting out scientific or sociological studies that show that being raised in a polygamist household, or being married into a polygamous union, is beneficial or even neutral. In fact, studies, news reports, and even anecdotal evidence points to quite the contrary. The Browns are the sit-com version of polygamy; the Dargers more insidious because they seem to be far more intelligent with fewer skeletons in the closet. My guess is, however, that if someone were to scratch the surface, the've hidden away a few doozies!

  6. Yes, CJ, it surely does seem that way.
    Even the reference to the "form-fitting" clothing and being a glam poster girl for the Polygamy. Yeah, thats a bit of a marketing come on.

  7. Honestly how does pologamy really differ from men who "sow thier seeds" having multiple partners and lots of kids or from women who accept the "seeds" of multiple men and have just as many or more kids and any of the Brown women and all the kids have different last name...in some ways polyg is better at least the child knows who thier dad is and he is around at least sometimes..........welfare issue abound in the situations I described too. We will never be able to legislate morality. We may think the Codmister is gross but he is in "good" company with alot of other low life men (and women.

    1. One major difference is the "playa" and his baby mamas don't go around professing love for each other, and preaching how wonderful their life is on a reality tv show called Sister Wives. In fact, the only time you see them on tv is when they appear on Maury Povich or Jerry Springer type shows. But you have a point, I think Kody and the rest of the polygamy bandwagon are exactly the same as the men who have baby mamas spread across the nation. They each have more children than they can afford.

    2. Left all that behindJuly 21, 2012 at 3:31 PM

      Another difference, is that polygamy is full of miserable women who hate the way they live. They paste on fake smiles and do it because they have been convinced that they must - it's what "god" wants for them.

    3. Another difference:
      "Playas" don't believe that all those babies are going to populate their planet when they die and move on to their celestial reward. Also, "playas", when fathering so many babies, will be on the hook for child support. Plygs generally don't put the father's name on the birth certificate and when the mothers leave, they generally have a much harder time proving paternity or having recourse in the court system. This is built into the whole "welfare fraud" ethos that plygs exploit, keeping the father from having their wages garnished when the moms take welfare. Both are irresponsible; neither is less irresponsible than the other, and it is irresponsible across the board, FOR ANYONE, to have more children that they can afford!

    4. I don't understand it when polygamists, and now apparently people here, defend or at least rationalize polygamy by mentioning that some non-polygamous American single men will impregnate one woman, leave her, and then do the same to another woman. Where does anyone get the idea that most Americans believe that absentee fathers are upstanding people, and/or that this is something that all American men do? Everyone I know, conservative or not, religious or not, is appalled by serial deadbeat dads. This problem should not be cited as a justification for the Kody Browns of the world.

    5. Another way polygamy is different than guys just having babies left and right...is that the so-called wives (well, all but the first) have essentially "married" this guy with a pre-nup that says, BTW, if we get divorced, you get nothing. No alimony, no child support, just go away. A baby-mama can generally get some child support, and doesn't feel like she has to wait on the guy to make him happy.

      Also, by marrying a plyg, the woman is essentially waiving her children's rights to a legal father, if they are in fact not listing father on the birth certificate....again making child support an issue, and not allowing any rights of inheritance (assuming the plyg dies with any money.)

      That all is rotten because there are some rights that you can't sign away....and polygamy is setting your kids up to have no father and no support if your "marriage" fails.

    6. And I don't think the women that were dumped by their baby's daddy's are going to go around lecturing and going on tv to say how having a dead beat baby daddy has fulfilled their lives.

    7. Footupkodysass: good point. I also doubt that most serial deadbeat dads breed as many children into the welfare system. Playahs might have four or five kids by four or five women, but they're generally not producing the dozens that plygs are. There was a new story in Kentucky recently about a deadbeat dad who had 30 kids, but he was pretty much bashed left and right by everyone. American society does not approve of deadbeat dads, and it's puzzling when the FLDS claim we do.

  8. I'm new to this blog and was wondering what AUB stood for? I've tried looking it up online but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot about it. Thanks.

    1. Apostolic United Brethren. It's a polygamous fundamentalist Mormon group. Christine Brown's grandfather was Rulon C Allred, who lead the AUB until his assassination in 1977.


  9. It occured to me that , If Cowboy Cody drew up a will, he could name anyone as the heir to his misbegotten fame, regardless if its 10 cents or 10 million, so if he corks off nd hs Robyn as the primary heir, I dont think theres much Meri could do about it, she could take it to court, but I doubt she would come out on top,

    1. She could contest the will. And being she is the legal spouse she should win.

    2. And if it's a state with survivor spouse law, she gets it all

  10. thebargainbabe--not logged inJuly 21, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    wht a ridiculous fluff piece of "journalism" tryin to sell the plyg life to us. ugh

  11. AUBorFLDSnotRightJuly 21, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    The Dargers of course want more. However, I believe something's holding them back, for they have had offers from production companies. I don't know for fact, but believe they don't want to compete with the Browns as they see them as friends, AND have seen what destruction of the family has taken place. I do believe they are happy as you can be in polygamy.

  12. Has it occurred to anyone that both presidential candidate, Obama and Romney, had grandfathers who were polygynists?

    1. Dear Anon,
      Not both, but Romney. K. Dee discusses him in her post, and some in discussions, I would prefer to not go into that discussion just yet, it is time for a post about it soon, THANKS!!

    2. Why do you say not both? I realize you'd like to discuss this later. When you do, please include research on Obama as well. It certainly appears his father indeed practiced polygamy.

  13. Is there any sort of group effort to get TLC to cancel Sister Wives? Petition or letter writing campaign?

    1. what would we talk about on this blog if they cancelled sister wives?

    2. I'll third that motion! SW's is so entertaining, well at least this BLOG is :)

    3. I love this SWB too!! Even when Sister Wives cancels, unfortunately there will always be polgamy & plenty of sister wives to discuss...just not the Browns. And like another poster pointed out a lil while back, that we may not get to see the whole train wreck of SW played out on tv, but it will happen & Paparazzi & gossip tabloids & on-line sources will have a field day...lol

    4. It would probably turn into an anti polygamy/feminist blog.

    5. It is a delicious trainwreck waiting to happen... why cancel the fun?

    6. I agree w/Caramel Brownie..
      SWB definitely has plumed the depths of Polygamy as much as it has the Brown Klan. There will be lots to discuss.

      Beyond the rag-mag potential for KodyWorld should it leave the airwaves and their only media value left will be in those publications, Plyg Life and its effect on women and children will still be a hot topic. Especially if TLC or any other network decides to push yet another plyg family.

    7. lol... omg, TLC only WISHES there would be a publicity drive to cancel SW. That would drive so many more viewers and therefore sponsors to the show. It's a total WIN for them if/when someone cares enough to hate something that badly and make it public instead of just to quietly quit watching.

      But then the pressure would be on to make the show more interesting than it is now and has been going downhill further and further since first season.

    8. wetandstickyundiesJuly 23, 2012 at 12:31 AM

      I agree, something needs to happen to shake things up, as I am sure the ratings must be sinking. The subject is facinating, but the cast of characters has become so boring.

  14. Once Again, WHY are these people not prosecuted, when all posters would if they broke a law they did not care for?

  15. The author didn't investigate all the names used thoroughly. Widely known is the fact that Anne Wilde, who was 2nd "wife" of Ogden Kraut, did not get along with his first wife, in fact, drove her away. What Anne likes is that her husband wrote books, and she rides that coattail and makes $$.

  16. Of course they are only seeking decriminalization & not legalization! Imagine, for giggles, that polygamy was legitimized. Law makers wouldn't be allowed to draw up & ratify a sexist document. So, if men were given the right to multiple spouses, then women would be given the same privilege too. Scandalous! Also, I think empowering the first wife with legality is part of their culture/dynamic. If all wives were afforded the same rights & securities then chaos would ensue. And, of course, there is the issue of welfare and govt assistance. Their whole infrastructure would collapse if they couldn't bleed the beast.

    1. Interesting points, MockPlygSlop. For example, say a man had four wives with equal rights before the law (or really, a woman with four husbands). Said man is on life support with no directives about what he wants. The women are tied 2-2 to pull the plug or keep him in his vegetative state. What happens? How is that decided?

    2. Not sure what will happen but I bet a lot of attorneys will be happy!

    3. Left all that behindJuly 22, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      And legalization would open up a so called "celestial" law to the "unworthy." Part of the theology of these groups is that only true believers should be allowed to live this. This is one of the reasons that leaders originally opposed any lobbying for legalization. Independents like the Dargers and Principle Voices are more gung hoe and want legalization.

      People say that it won't make any difference to them, one way or the other, if polygamy is legalized, but can you imagine if you go into a marriage and later on your spouse starts pressuring you to let them bring another partner into the mix?

    4. I really do understand that they have rights to worship as they please. But I do not want it to be legal. And the reason I feel that way has NOTHING to do with religion. It's wrong on so many levels. And my #1 reason is that it's so oppressive to women. Women have fought for so long to be equal. Legalizing polygamy would put us back years. If they want to live as married that's up to them. But they need to make a law where they enter into some kind of contract making it so the women can't qualify for welfare. And if my husband asked me to have a 2nd wife. I would be in jail for Domestic assault.

  17. If polygyny (the SW as well as the main form of practiced polygamy) is so great, then how come the majority of kids have such bad childhood memories of it? Yes, it's true that there are a lot of bad childhoods outside of polygyny BUT these people all make the case of how much better polygyny is over monogamy.

  18. Why do any of the polygamists marry the first wife legally at all? Wouldn't all the wives prefer to be on equal footing legally? Is it so one of them can be the boss wife? I don't understand.

    1. Good question. Never thought of it this way. I wonder if Randy Maudsley re-married legally after his legal wife divorced him. Off to search.

    2. " I wonder if Randy Maudsley re-married legally after his legal wife divorced him. Off to search."

      Was that his first wife who divorced him? When did that happen? What happened to her after she divorced him?

  19. LizE: I suspect the reason that polygamist men marry the first wife is similar to the reason that Hugh Hefner stayed legally married to his wife for 10 years after they separated: so that his dozens of subsequent conquests wouldn't pester him constantly to get married. Also, it's not uncommon for a polygamist man to be married to his first wife for several years before courting a second one. It would look pretty questionable to the first wife in those early years for the man to decline to make it official.

  20. Why oh why do all articles about pro-polygamy say something to the effect that it isn't about s*x with the men and then make a generalization that all monogamous marriages are somehow fraught with unfaithfulness. I agree, it's not about the s*x for the men (i.e Kody, Joe Darger), it's about the control and the whole celestial planet thing. But, just as the Browns don't like to be characterized by Warren Jeffs, I don't want my marriage compared to Hugh Hefner, for goodnes sake!

    And I find it almost impossible that most polygamist families do not rely on the govermnment for food stamps and other welfare programs. I believe that 90% of them do. And that's where their lifestyle does impact mine...I don't think I should have to pay for that.

  21. "And I find it almost impossible that most polygamist families do not rely on the government for food stamps and other welfare programs. I believe that 90% of them do. And that's where their lifestyle does impact mine...I don't think I should have to pay for that."

    CPA Carol,
    My stance exactly !!
    When their lifestyle impacts mine (and yours) then they have made it *our* business.
    Kody Brown and his wives exploited a process of welfare entitlements that apparently is well-known and well-used in the plyg community.
    Wonder when their cadre of adoring fans will finally figure that out??

    And how many Kody Brown-like families are out there on the taxpayers dime?

  22. “Would I do it all over again if I had the choice?” asks Valerie Darger. “Totally. It’s our sacredly held belief.” Since Browns blew it, next in line, Dargers.

    They have to, they are special, and entitiled. We are evil, we need to remember that. Say what they want, they are all, admitidly, from the same deep rooted cult. If theirs go sour, the will be capable of running much more than the FLDS.

  23. I have a question about plural marriage that has had my head going in circles for years. If each marriage is inspired by GOD, does that mean GOD was wrong, when a marriage breaks up?

    1. Sadly, GOD has nothing to do with ones that follow Joseph Smith and are the true fundamentals. They are a cult, most of them with proven corrupt dealings:

      Cynical Jinx, what are your thoughts on the Dargers and Browns committing a crime and being able to profit from their books, Tv, etc? interesting in how you see it.

    2. That was the same question I was thinking- why can they benefit from a crime?
      Could it be insiders know legalization is coming?

  24. Please google the Mountain Meadows Massacre, September 11, 1857.

    1. AlsoAnAmericanWomanAugust 4, 2012 at 12:34 PM

      And please google Missouri Termination Order 44 while your at it!