Manual The American Polygamist

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The interesting thing is, even with the boys, they tend to wear workshirts and blue jeans and they — the buttons are always right up to the last button on the neck and the sleeves are always rolled down.

I spent quite a bit of time in Colorado City with a man named Joe Jessop who has over 50 children and because most of those have remained in the polygamist faith or lifestyle, the next generation is probably well over And it just becomes exponential. I met a lot of people from fundamentalist families who had 60, 70, 80 sisters and brothers.

And they have established lots of farms in different places. And it was phenomenal what they were doing. They were literally crushing stone, starting with giant boulders and then down to smaller rocks and then right down to powder, and creating earth. Did you find any evidence of that? I had heard that over time but the more you look into it, there would be isolated cases but the welfare — I believe that at least with the FLDS, that really has very much the separatist idea of wanting to be involved in the government as little as possible.

How, Scott, are all these children educated? CAVANAUGH: Now most of the time authorities, I think, have taken a sort of hands-off attitude towards these polygamist communities but, you know, many people ask why since polygamy is illegal and there have been allegations, some confirmed, of underage marriages taking place in them, how do they get away with it? I mean, the FLDS, especially under the leadership of Warren Jeffs, I think served as a lightning rod but, you know, there have been tens of thousands of polygamists throughout the American west and a lot of them moved into northern Mexico.

So the attempts that have been made over the years to crack down on it have always been a failure. Any home, any FLDS home I went into, there would be a very large portrait of Warren Jeffs in the living room and, in some cases, in every room in the house. And I think what would happen with Warren Jeffs—and it started under his father, who was the previous prophet, Rulon Jeffs—is that what went from a very loosely organized faith, and often just individual families did it, there was not a lot of organization to it, but the FLDS over time became increasingly under the sway of what they call one-man rule and this man is a prophet who, in their faith, is getting dictates directly from God.

He got a revelation to move the wives and children from one man to another but in 20 cases in one day. And the amazing thing is that, to my knowledge, all but one family obeyed that dictate. So that speaks of incredible power of a man who is, again, in their faith is guided by God, to be able to move, you know, wives and children from one man to another.

This is the country, and these are the states, where the marriage contract, alone among contracts, may be broken at will—even though, nine times out ten, the breaking is a travesty of the law because it is an act of collusion between the parties. In these districts no questions are asked. The test is simply that of a house of prostitution: ability and willingness to pay for the services demanded. Residence is established by hanging up your hat, and a hat for the hanging may be rented. Divorce is granted for good reason or no reason. The complainant's whim is the state's will.

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Divorce is big business. Competition is keen, and while the state, in its organized harlotry, does not send its girls to meet the train, the traveler is sure of a hearty welcome by the Madame masquerading as a judge in what—God help us—is known as a court of justice.

Breaking Polygamy: Secrets of the Sect

Competitive pressure has reduced the required period of legal residence in Nevada from six months to six weeks. Business magazines report divorce business as they report sales of sewer pipe. Business Week July 14, says:—. Nevada, with 0. But the greatest increase in the divorce traffic was recorded in in Los Angeles County, California, where This is almost double the Nevada trade, and three times the divorce sales of a rising competitor—Miami, Florida.

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We have, then, the revolting spectacle of several states scrambling for divorce business as they do for the tourist trade. Man's most significant personal relationship is sundered in an atmosphere of chicanery and buffoonery. Why do our marriages fail so widely? The reasons are many and complex, but only a few can be touched upon here.


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It may be that in this era of revaluation of values, we are slowly abandoning our ancient concepts of marriage and the family as we move toward new forms whose shapes are still inchoate. Man's relation to God, the state, the family, and marriage have all come under increasingly sharp scrutiny and have been subjected to various degrees of change since the French Revolution. Two hundred years ago there began the gradual dechristianization of the West, in the sense that man, not God, was enthroned at the center of the universe.

The consequences are necessarily profound and all-pervasive. But mankind does not trust itself.


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  • Should Polygamy Be Permitted in the United States?.
  • The period since has been marked by wars, revolutions, crashings of empires, risings of dictators, and destruction unparalleled in history. Men yearn for a security which does not exist. They seek a faith which they do not find in their religions. Their moorings have been swept away. They scarcely know what to believe or where to turn. Monogamous marriage, as we have known it, is challenged. For if repetitive divorces are permitted for capricious reasons—as in the notorious Tommy Manville case—we are tacitly establishing a legal halfway house between monogamy and polygamy.

    It is a polygamous relation accessible now only to the well-to-do.

    More Americans Than Ever Say Polygamy Is Morally Acceptable | HuffPost

    The ordinary man can no more afford the luxury of repetitive divorces than the ordinary Moslem, to whom polygamy is permitted by his faith, can afford four wives. But this is unimportant. What is important is that the law permits men to skip into and out of marriage at will, and the law is the expression of the will of the people. If we abandon monogamous marriage, it follows that we must also abandon our old concepts of the family and the relationship of parents to children.

    It is too early to say precisely in what direction we are heading, but it is evident from the statistics of divorce that we are not heading in the direction of re-establishing monogamous marriage and the family in their once almost impregnable position. Marriage, as we know it, is an institution of relatively recent origin. Monogamous marriage is largely a product of the Western world. Cultures as great as ours, or greater, have long endured under other forms of marriage. And it may be that Americans, subconsciously believing that marriage and the family, as they have anciently existed, no longer suit their needs, are slowly changing them for other forms.

    If we seek, however, specific reasons for our high divorce rate, we shall find them expressed in our attitudes and aspirations, in our character, in the manner in which we think and act. It is apparent, for example, that divorce lightly asked and lightly granted is individualism gone mad. It is an orgy of the ego. An anarchy within the law.

    It is an indulgence of the gratification of the immediate desires of man or wife without regard to family, children, or state. It is the case of my welfare and the rest be damned. Polygamy is something of a mystery to most people living outside those communities. Outsiders are typically offered only a partial glimpse, and then it's in the context of a "raid" like the one that resulted in the arrest of Prophet Warren Jeffs, the removal of hundreds of children from their multiple mothers, and those rare photos of rural women wearing identical prairie dresses.

    This is not, of course, the full picture of Fundamentalist Mormon polygamy. It's barely a sketch.

    The polygamous town facing genetic disaster

    For one thing, what's the Principle really about? When did it begin, how has it been practiced, and how, if plural marriage is illegal, are tens of thousands of people marrying more than one spouse? Rules of Polygamy. What's the history of polygamy in North America? This plural family of one father, three mothers and 21 children lives in Salt Lake Valley among monogamous families.