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John R. Llewellyn: FAQ on Polygamy


Author of Murder of a Prophet, The Dark Side of Utah Polygamy, A Teenager's Tears, When Parents Convert to Polygamy

 

1. Why write about polygamy?

2. Should the practice of polygamy be decriminalized?

3. Is the practice of polygamy inherently evil?

4. What does the future hold for polygamy?

5. Should Tom Green, the most visual, affable and prolific of Utah's
polygamists have been criminally prosecuted?

6. Can Utah polygamy survive without religion?

7. What is there about Mormon fundamentalism that makes it so powerful?

8. What can government do to check the tide of polygamy?

9. Is there a higher rate of child molestation among polygamists than with
society in general?

 

1. Why write about polygamy?

The Mormon polygamist lifestyle is a bonafide culture and in the subculture are all the components of a compelling story -- conflict, drama, intrigue, tragedy, the bizarre, crime, sex, hate, love, murder. It's a subject I have studied, exposed, and for twenty years lived. It is a mysterious way of life unique to Utah and the Mormon faith, found no other place on earth. In the year 2002 people from all over the world will come to Utah to witness the Winter Olympic Games. While they are here some will want to know more about the strange practice of polygamy. I have portrayed the practice at its worst and as it really is, a demanding, rigorous lifestyle where few converts like myself ever last. Of the loyal advocates who do last -- the pro-polygamists - those who believe the doctrines and obey their prophet's edicts -- they have honey-coated their literature, portraying the polygamist lifestyle as it ought to be lived and is sometimes lived by an inordinate few.

2. Should the practice of polygamy be decriminalized?

There is a political movement underway, headed by pro-polygamists and libertarians, hoping to eventually persuade the Utah State Legislature to decriminalize the practice of plural marriage. This ad hoc movement plans to use the 2002 Olympic Games to promote their cause. Should polygamy in Utah be decriminalized?

 

YES, if engaged in by consenting adults. In my opinion it is hypocritical to tolerate or condone homosexuality between consenting adults and not polygamy. By accepting homosexuality, society is accepting the love-making practices of homosexuals -- buggery, fellatio, sodomy, mutual masturbation. If this type of behavior is not outrageous, why should the normal heterosexual habits of polygamists be outrageous? In a society where $10 billion is spent annually on pornography, where mistresses are common-place, and extra-marital affairs are even more common, it seems ridiculous by today's liberal standards that adult-consenting polygamy should be made a crime.

 

NO, unless polygamy can be "de-Mormonized." It is the feigned priesthood authority that is the primary source of abuse among Mormon fundamentalists. The Mormon concept of polygamy elevates one man above all the rest and subjugates the woman. The prophet is the greatest of all, a religious despot who controls the giving and taking of wives. Mormon fundamentalists believe that "plural marriage" is a commandment of God, that once the "principle" is revealed, those who refuse to live it, will be damned. They argue that plural marriage is the only conduit to a celestial exaltation and in their pious rhetoric attempt to abrogate any erotic connotation to the practice of plural marriage. They say polygamy [celestial marriage] is for procreation, the raising up of a righteous seed, the making of a progeny superior to those born under monogamy -- and that lust -- has nothing to do with it. The despot, the prophet, seer and revelator, the one who claims to be the only man on earth with the authority to speak for God, offers celestial exaltation and the license to take plural wives in exchange for ten percent of the man's gross income. However, if the man is found to be out of harmony with the prophet, his plural wife is taken away and given to another. In essence, the woman is married to the prophet's priesthood, not her husband. It is an extremely lucrative wife-selling business, in fact, a million dollar business. If you take away the pious rhetoric, Utah polygamy among the organized groups is the merchandising of willing women.


3. Is the practice of polygamy inherently evil?

Approximately 90% of Utah's active Mormon fundamentalists are members of one of four major organized polygamist groups. Of these, probably 80% belong to the two largest cults, The Fundamentalist Church and Apostolic United Brethren. At the head of these organized groups is a prophet who is a virtual demigod, or surrogate god. He controls the spiritual, sexual, temporal, social and financial well-being of the group. As long as the laity are in harmony with the surrogate god, their marriages and salvation are secure.  Organized polygamist groups are cultic in every respect. Hate and paranoia are used to unify and isolate true believers. Members believe they are part of the great cause and that their prophet has access to the one and only truth. They submit to repetitive rituals resulting in blind obedience and subservience to a central authority. Conformity is reinforced by inculcating the illusion that they are superior over all other faiths. The true believers' rewards are god-sanctioned sex with multiple wives and vain promises that in the next life they will be kings, priests and rulers of men, literal Gods of their own multiple worlds, one for each wife. Polygamous cults pretend to preserve free agency, but in reality they are institutions that destroy, or conspire to deprive man of his free agency by making the laity totally dependent upon the prophet and his priesthood. In that context, the Mormon polygamist cults are evil. Many apostates, like myself, become iconoclastic muckrakers. It is my opinion that any man, institution or doctrine that claims proprietorship over God should be subject to intense scrutiny, and if found wanting, their secret and sacred machinations should be exposed.


4. What does the future hold for polygamy?

The future of Mormon polygamy looks bright. And why shouldn't it? In 1953, Arizona State raided the border town of Short Creek with the intent of eradicating polygamy once and for all. It was a complete failure. Since then polygamy has thrived, grown and organized unmolested. There are currently four United States, theocratic controlled, incorporated, polygamist communities in Arizona, Utah, Montana, and one in British Colombia. The priesthood leaders of these communities have mayors and policemen that manipulate the law of the land to enforce priesthood edicts.  Mormon fundamentalism is a subculture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a subculture as bonafide as any culture, with its own literature, heros, customs, communities and laws. Its roots are deep and solid. Anthropologists who have studied polygamy in Utah all agree that it is an established culture, here to stay. Contemporary polygamist leaders know that it is economically impossible to prosecute the tens of thousands of polygamists in and around Utah. They know that in time the current crusade in Utah against polygamy will wear itself out and the status quo will return. Then it will be business as usual.


5. Should Tom Green, the most visual, affable and prolific of Utah's

polygamists have been criminally prosecuted?


Tom Green is an extraordinary, enigmatic individual, very bright, charismatic, bold, knowledgeable and of course, controversial. He is a zealot believer in the sacredness of plural marriage and claims patriarchal priesthood authority to take plural wives. But as smart as Tom is, he let his infatuation with the media and runaway libido overpower common sense.  At this writing, New Years Day 2002, Tom is sitting in a cell at the Utah State Prison. He didn't have to go to prison. He could be enjoying the Xmas season at his Snake Valley desert home, a cluster of beat-up house trailers he calls, Greenhaven, being pampered by his bevy of child brides. But Tom's ministry, if you can call it that, meant placing his young wives on display and flaunting his lifestyle before television cameras. Against the advise of friends and family, Tom Green, ostentatiously, attracted attention to himself. Members of the media, with the apparent design to more sensationalize the Tom Green story, went to law enforcement and asked them why they were not enforcing the bigamy statutes. The media, whether intentional or not, orchestrated a collision. David Leavitt, Juab County Attorney, said that while watching television in his front room, he witnessed Tom Green confess on television to a third degree felony. Tom and his family were residents of Juab County. Consequently, he looked into the history of Tom Green and found that he was not only a suspected bigamist but a regular welfare recipient, and that there was "probably cause" to believe that in 1986, Tom Green committed child rape. The child rape, aggravated by Tom's apparent fetish for child brides [thirteen, fourteen and fifteen year old girls] induced Mr. Leavitt to prosecute. Tom was convicted of four counts of bigamy and criminal non support, all third degree felonies. In August 2001, Judge Guy Burningham sentenced him to the Utah State Prison, the sentences to run concurrently. Now Tom is wading through the muck, dragging his wives and friends behind him, hoping to beat the child rape charge on a technicality. He claims the statute of limitations is in effect and that he was in "Wyoming," no-a, "Idaho," no-a "Arizona," no-a, finally making up is mind, he really meant, "Old Mexico" where it was not illegal to impregnate a thirteen year old. Tom claims that his friend, brother-in-law and adopted son, Jay Slaugh, reported to the Uinta County Sheriff's Office that Tom had married a thirteen year old girl. But no one can find a report. However, unless David Leavitt can show beyond a reasonable doubt that the report by Slaugh, or any other report, was not made, Tom is home free. Judge Guy Burmingham is expected to rule on Tom's motion to dismiss in Janurary, 2002.

The prosecution and conviction of Tom Green for bigamy brought to Utah media from around the world. The Salt Lake Tribune rated Tom's bigamy conviction the fourth most important story of 2001, the church owned Deseret News rated it sixth. Should Tom be prosecuted for something that happened fifteen years ago, especially when the victim of the rape is still happily married to Tom? Pro-polygamists say no. But taking Tom's erotic propensity towards pubescent girls into account, what assurance does society have that Tom will not continue to pursue pubescent girls? Court records indicate that Tom was investigated in 1989, 1990 and 1995, relevant to inappropriate conduct with young girls, but that did not discourage him from marrying Cari and Hanna Bjorkman. Nor did that discourage him of attempting to take two other pubescent girls as wives. I think the question can be answered with another question, can Tom be trusted around thirteen and fourteen year old girls?


6. Can Utah polygamy survive without religion?

No! -- because religion is the cohesive medium between the man and the women. Religion more than any other factor cements the relationship. If Utah polygamy were de-Mormonized, the institution of polygamy in Utah would shatter and fall to pieces, except for the few who place family and love above religion.  In the polygamist subculture, love, family and security are by-products of the relationship. Religious authority takes precedence over all other aspects of the relationship. This is why polygamist prophets like Owen A. Allred, Rulon Jeffs and James Harmston feel they have the right to give and take wives with impunity, and why their gullible adherents go along with it. The marriage ceremony should say, "do you take the priesthood in this marriage as your master and mediator, to honor and obey through time and all eternity?" Because in essence, the woman marries the priesthood. Few plural marriages are consummated and stabilized by true love. If the couple is lucky, affection comes later. The mood and affection of the woman is contingent upon the husband's conformity to the priesthood, and many women, especially in the Allred Group, use that weapon to their advantage. Because love is not a factor in the marriage, it is easy for a woman to go from one man to another, which happens often. Religion is the transcending medium that removes the taboos making polygamy a sin. People living the Mormon brand of polygamy are in general decent, law-abiding people. They would not practice polygamy without the alleged commandment from God and the prophet to take responsibility. Religion is a powerful persuader. Nourished by the promise of a future exaltation, it is religion that persuades women to overcome jealousy and resign themselves to a life of loneliness, obscurity and poverty. Disciples of polygamy are conditioned to believe that opposition (persecution, poverty, discrimination, etc.) is a normal consequence of living Mormon fundamentalism.


7. What is there about Mormon fundamentalism that makes it so powerful?

Utah polygamists believe that Mormon fundamentalism is the ultimate virtue and ultimate enlightenment, and that all power resides with the priesthood. This belief is so deeply entrenched in fundamentalist thinking that they have little tolerance for opposing thought, even with their own flesh and blood. Leaders in the Allred Group have stood behind the pulpit and condemned their daughters to hell for choosing the LDS Church over their priesthood. Polygamist priesthood leaders claim they are infallible, and that when the brethren speak, the thinking has been done. Pious, audacious statements of that tripe are designed to separate the true believers from the doubters, thus unifying the group. Religion is a powerful tool and Mormon fundamentalism offers the partisan more rewards than most religions by controlling the satisfaction of certain hedonistic propensities which society in general finds aberrant..

Example: Lying, cheating and stealing are permissible if it protects or enhances the priesthood. Because the priesthood is the only power that can sanctify marriages, it is permissible to seduce the wife of another man. A man holding a greater priesthood can claim the wife of one holding a lesser priesthood. In other words, a man acting in the capacity of priesthood cannot commit adultery. If the priesthood holder has his "Calling & Election Made Sure," he cannot sin. Control over man's celestial exaltation is the priesthood's ultimate power. Next comes the life or death of perceived enemies. Priesthood leaders routinely pantomime the spiritual assassination of enemies. Jim Harmston, the inventor of the True & Living Church, is the most innovative in the pretended art of "spiritual assassination." The practitioners of voodoo jab pins into surrogate dolls, Jim and the other prophets curse their enemies with prayers. Jim's favorite targets are apostates and the leaders of the LDS Church. In Jim's pantomimes, he turns his enemy into unorganized matter and then rockets them into outer space.

A few self-proclaimed prophets like Ervil LeBaron go beyond the spiritual and actually murder their enemies. The murder ritual is justified by the doctrine of Blood Atonement practiced by members of the early church. Blood Atonement is the shedding of an enemy's blood to save him from eternal damnation. Blood Atonement is still a viable doctrine in many fundamentalist groups. Fundamentalist priesthood fosters intolerance of minority groups and nonbelievers. This intolerance is a result of the illusion of superiority. Many Mormon fundamentalists are sympathetic with the doctrines of white supremacists and have established political ties. Derogatory remarks towards Jews and Blacks are common place among Mormon fundamentalists. All of the above can be found in tons of books defending Mormon fundamentalism. In summery, the lifestyle is adventurous, unifying, pursues a great cause, lays claim to great wisdom and eternal knowledge, and promises many rewards in the next life, and the only reward in this life is permission to have sex with many women. The prophet takes upon himself the responsibility for the polygamist relationship, thereby freeing the disciple of a bad conscience. Obedience is the key to a successful polygamist relationship, obedience to the prophet and his priesthood.

Converts come from the frustrated ranks of the LDS Church. As long as there is an LDS Church, there will be Mormon polygamists.


8. What can government do to check the tide of polygamy?

Good question?
In this country a person can worship a yellow dog or believe that in the next life he will be a pharaoh in Babylon. In America one has the right to be different, even wrong. There is no law to prevent men and women from donating money to a religious leader. We can live in a commune, participate in bizarre rituals and do other stupid things as long as we don't violate the laws of the land. So where do you draw the line? It is not even unlawful for a man to teach his daughter that when she reaches puberty she must become a plural wife or go to hell. It is equally lawful to not believe, for example, that Mormonism is a fraud and not the ultimate enlightenment. Many apostates, unencumbered by doctrines that subjugate the believer, feel that they have outgrown Mormonism and that free thinking is the greater enlightenment. It is not so much the living of polygamy that is malicious, but the doctrines taught by polygamists that are designed to rob men of their free agency. For example, women are taught that it is the husband who resurrects the wife. Some husbands use that absurd doctrine to manipulate and control their wives. But how do we disprove it when it is suppose to take place in the next life, if there is a next life? If we should imprison men for teaching what we believe to be false doctrine, then where do we stop? Do we imprison Catholics because we know best? Do we punish children with tattoos and brass rings in their noses? Do we imprison homosexuals because it offends our morality? Should we make suicide a capital crime? The most tragic result of Mormon fundamentalist polygamy is the brainwashing of young girls, inculcating upon their impressionable minds the belief that God wants them to become subservient plural wives, and that their salvation depends upon it. Somehow, society must find a constitutional way of providing these young girls with an alternative view so that they can exercise their free agency. In the twin cities of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, children are given the choice of obedience to priesthood or eternal damnation, which is no choice at all.

Colorado City, Arizona; Hilsdale, Utah; The Town of Rocky Ridge, Utah, and Pinesdale, Montana -- all incorporated, priesthood owned, polygamist cities -- have Sunday schools in which theocratic, polygamist doctrines are taught to hundreds of girls. The theocratic controlled kingdom of god taught by the Mormon fundamentalists is nothing more than another form of totalitarianism. All power is vested in God's vicar, who is the prophet [mouth piece of God], seer [one who sees the future] and revelator [the prophet who knows God's will regarding the inhabitants of this world.] Thank goodness in this country, a person is able to enjoy freedom from religion, as well as freedom of religion. So what is the solution? What can government do? Or better still, what is government doing, or not doing? At a Statewide Association of Prosecutors meeting in June 2001, Juab County Attorney David Leavitt and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff proposed that the state handle all polygamy prosecutions. David Leavitt stated that his experience in the bigamy prosecution of Tom Green taught him that the State is the proper place to pursue polygamy complaints. Although the State has concurrent jurisdiction, Mark Shurtleff said he wanted the combined support of all 29 county attorneys. A committee of
county prosecutors was expected to "craft guidelines." This is an excellent idea, but here it is January 2002 and we haven't
heard anymore about it. Why? Has Mr. Shurtleff lost interest, or is the proposition in limbo because of lack of support from concerned citizens? The proposition is logical. Polygamists are scattered throughout the state and are often mobile. A central intelligence source monitoring suspected illegal activities, especially civil rights violations, makes sense. The Utah State Legislature and Attorney General's Office have already taken a step in that direction with the employment of Ron Barton, who has been dubbed the Polygamy Czar. And by the way, Mr.
Barton, is concentrating on child abuse cases and doing an excellent job. One way child's rights activists and anti-polygamist activists can make a difference is by letting their respective county attorneys and Mr. Shurtleff know they support his proposal. The bigamy statute should be amended so that prosecutors won't have to petition a judge to declare a plural wife a legal wife as happened in the Tom Green prosecution. Under the present statute, the defendant must be legally married to one wife while cohabiting with another wife. Tom Green married, divorced, married and divorced hoping to circumvent
the bigamy statute. The FLDS priesthood yanked their children out of public school so they wouldn't be exposed to the independent example of apostates. These children are allegedly being taught at home. The State has the duty to see that these children are being adequately educated. There are priesthood owned and managed businesses on polygamist owned incorporated cities where it is suspected that child labor laws are
being violated. In 2001 Senate Bill 146 was passed making it a felony for parents or pastors to condone or solemnize unlawful marriages of minors. The performance of any polygamist marriage is now a crime - misdemeanor for adults, felony for minors. But how is government going about enforcing that law?


9. Is there a higher rate of child molestation among polygamists than with society in general?

It would take the unmitigated commitment of all the polygamist groups cooperating with trained analysts to accurately answer that question. All one can do is offer an educated opinion.  Half of my twenty three year career as a Salt Lake County Deputy
Sheriff was spent as a detective investigating sex crimes. I wrote a sex crimes manual, taught at the Utah State Police Academy and gave sex crime seminars throughout the State of Utah. I participated in a child abuse seminar at the BYU and was invited to speak to classes at the University of Utah and Weber State College. I have accumulated over 180 credit hours at the University of Utah and Weber State College with emphasis on sociology, psychology and police science. I have interviewed hundreds of sex crime victims and hundreds of sex crime suspects. I know what motivates the sex offender and how
he thinks. For twenty years I was a polygamist and associated with the Allred group, the second largest group in Utah with an estimated 7000 members. It is my opinion, yes, there is a greater frequency rate of child molest among polygamists than in society in general. My opinion is based on my experience and observations as a polygamist, research into all of the polygamist groups, and the many interviews I have conducted with apostates from these groups. In the last ten years, Owen A. Allred has excommunicated three of his apostolic councilors for allegedly molesting their own children. An apostolic councilor is equivalent to the ancient apostles of Jesus Christ like Matthew, Mark and Luke. The latest to be excommunicated is Gustavo Galindo Palacios who was arrested in November of 2001 on four counts of first degree felony rape of a child and three first-degree felony counts of sodomy upon a child. Scuttlebutt in the Allred Group asserts that the Allred priesthood covered up the pedophiliac act of these three men until their lasciviousness leaked out and they were forced to excommunicate. Apostate women from all of these groups, especially the FLDS headquartered at Colorado City, have revealed horrid tales of having been molested as children. Every polygamist group has dozens of tales about child molest and other sexual misconduct.

On her wedding night, a young plural bride from a prominent polygamist family began to perform fellation [blow job] on the groom. The shocked groom asked her what she was doing. She said she thought that is what was expected of her. When asked where she learned such behavior, she said her brothers. In the case of the young bride, she had about fifteen brothers and
sisters, the same father but different mothers. They were brought up together, insulated from the rest of society. When the sexual hormones kicked in at puberty, they experimented with each other. Sexual intercourse was taboo, but nobody said anything about fellatio. Another prominent polygamist family has several incidents of homosexuality among the male siblings. It is rumored that when the father learned of the homosexual behavior he called upon his priesthood brethren to council and cure his sons. Priesthood leaders are automatically experts in all things. Pedophiles have a tendency to gravitate to those areas where they are apt to be the least detected and where they come in contact with children. The pedophile is characterized as having strong feelings of inadequacy. Children do not detect these feelings of inadequacy. Among children, the pedophile feels strong and potent. In some instants the pedophile, while a child, experienced a super satisfying sexual encounter. As a molester he may be attempting to relive that sexual experience. The most dangerous pedophiles are the psychopaths, those who adopt a super god-ego, power over life and death. As with all sex offenders, fantasy plays an important part in their behavior.


Religion provides habitat for the pedophile. Active church attendance suggests the pedophile can be trusted. He hides behind his patriarchal authority and uses priesthood to his advantage. There are many youth programs like the boy scouts. Missionaries, like soldiers and sailors in the military, are thrust into a homosexual environment at a time when their libidos are the most active. At least for the soldiers and sailors there is a heterosexual outlet, the prostitutes who frequent military bases.


The problem of sexual abuse within religious institutions is compounded by the tendency of the clergy to cover up and cure the offender by prayer. In the fundamentalist groups, the emphasis on polygamy seems to act on some men as a destroyer of sexual inhibitions as in the case of Tom Green. Old men marry young girls. Men marry half sisters, nieces and step daughters, mothers and daughters. The pedophile is most apt to prey on members of his own family where he exercises control. In ninety
percent of the cases, the perpetrator is well known to the victim and in a position of trust and/or authority.