CMN 3105: Reading #7: Polygamy 11/07/2013
A Matter of Principle: Fundamentalist Mormon Polygamy, Children and Human
Fundamentalist Mormon polygamy first raised in articles by Martha Bradley and Lori G Beaman ▯ both
authors acknowledged the potential for abuses in these communities, Bradley stressed their effective
in response this article argues that the fundamentalist Mormon communities of Colorado City and Bountiful
have histories of polygamous marriages involving young, often underage teens and on these grounds alone
are maladaptive because they likely commit serious human rights violations against women in general and
children in particular.
Creston British Columbia
Martha Bradley argues that “as a culture the Mormon polygamous world has effective, adaptive strategies
that allow the practice of plurality to continue, a system of highly symbolic meanings and cognitive
schemata that are transmitted through traditions, doctrines, practices and distinctive lifestyles.
Lori Beaman, focuses primarily on issues related to the Canadian Creston community, and raises the
possibility of using the “fluid concept” of “harm, or risk of harm” as a “filter in the boundaries of citizenship
This perspective asks the question: “Harm from what perspective?”
They can support a private space in which violence against women occurs and in which children are
abused…. Their voices must be taken seriously by the legal system the state’s claim to be respecting
women’s agency through nonintervention lacks both credibility and reflexivity.
They are no longer seen as a threat to the nation or the social order.
Schemata: a rule or principle that enables the understanding to apply its categories and unify experience.
Viewed from the frameworks provided in the articles by Bradley and Beaman, it may be that Bountiful and
other polygamous communities have developed maladaptive strategies causing harm to many women and
children, and that various governments are (and already have) responded to polygamists as threats to their
respective jurisdictions. Colorado City/Hildale and Bountiful have developed systemic, maladaptive strategies that depend upon the
violation of the civil or human rights of young women (among others), thereby threatening the survival of
Maladaptive: incomplete, inadequate or faulty.
Two key documents:
Convention of the Rights of the Child
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
On basic human rights measures, the polygamous groups in Colorado City and Bountiful may well be
threats to the state to the extent that they put some of their citizens at risk of serious but preventable harm
and human rights abuses.
Child marriages physically forced
Regardless of the details about these child marriages take place around the world, all of them “determine
children’s eventual sexual partners and essentially their sexual relations.”
Early to mid teens and considerably younger than their husbands.
historical examples up until the late 1950s indicate that individual polygamists are able to find their own
young celestial wives, only needing the approval of a Brother of the Priesthood who also would conduct the
1944 in which forty six men and women were arrested.
State Utah charged them with criminal conspiracy to commit acts injurious to public morals by counseling,
advising and urging other persons to practice polygamy. Induced a 13 year old girl to agree to be his polygamous wife.
The raid Short Creek did not end plural marriage not did it prevent elderly men from marrying young girls.
The raid and subsequent trials, however did produce glimpses into the lives of young, polygamous women.
Average age at first birth for this group was seventeen.
2/3 of this group were married by the time they were sixteen.
United States Senate committee hearing about plural marriages heard testimony that plus additional
evidence about polygamy involving thirteen, fourteen and fifteen year olds.
Nevertheless, the young women still had someone else arranging their marriages for them, often to old
Contemporary Evidence of Arranged Marriages Involving Underage Teens:
More recent accounts by men and women who left Colorado City/Hildale indicate that underage girls
continue to serve as polygamist brides, suggesting that the practice of arranged marriages involving young
teens is systemic to the community.
Anecdotal as these accounts are, they strongly suggest that numerous sexual assaults have taken place
within teenage and frequently underagegirls into polygamous marriage arrangements.
Utah birth records indicating that Warren Jeffs who was 47 in 2003, had impregnated at least two of his
dozen or so wives when they were under eighteen. Sexual conduct with 16 or 17 year olds is illegal in Utah
for people who are 10 years older, unless couples are legally married. No one can be legally married to
more than one spouse.
Contemporary Evidence of arranged marriages involving Underage Teens in
Bountiful British Columbia:
Debbie Palmer and other Canadians linked with their American anti polygamy counterparts to produce a
list of underage and young polygamists brides.
Among their findings was that church elders reputedly married girls as young as fourteen years old at the
same time that these men were married to the girls sisters and mothers.
“child bigamy” credibility of these allegations rose dramatically in 2003, when on a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
investigative television show, Bountiful’s leader at the time of filming, Winston Blackmore, admitted that
some polygamous marriages had involved 15 years old. 26 wives.
The fact that underage marriages still seem to have occurred in recent years raises important civil and
human rights issues that invite investigation by outside authorities.
It states that men and women should have the same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into
marriage only with their free and full consent.
The Religious Justification for Fundamentalist Mormon Polygamy:
Africa and India:
Tend to focus on the practices centrality to religious life and religious law.
Passages in Doctrines and Covenants:
61▯ “and again as pertaining to the law of the priesthood (if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to
espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins and
have vowed to no other man and then he is justified; he cannot commit adultery for they given unto him; for
he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.”
“62▯ and if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him
and they are given unto him; therefore he is justified”
as practiced in Colorado City/Hildale and Bountiful, polygamy has developed a maladaptive, ineffective
strategy the use of young, often underage womenthat now threatens the existence of the communities
For example, the arranged marriages rob the young women of the right to make marital choices. These
marriages also control the young women’s sexuality, as they become baby producers in order to fulfill the
religious aspirations of the men who control him.
Whatever benefits polygamous men may believe accrues from young teens having babies, those girls face
very real and potentially deadly consequences from their pregnancies and deliveries. Trafficking of young women.
Finally the way in