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  1. Congratulations Janet! These are amazing achievements, but your greatest achievement is having raised two beautiful and amazing daughters. We are stunned by them–their beauty and brilliance, and we want to give credit where credit is due…

  2. My bad for commenting before finishing listening. It’s called ménage à trois, John, but the real keeper has to be Janet’s: “When Viagra came out, there was an amazing transformation in polygamous society.” OMG. Too funny.

  3. Because a relative of mine joined and then left one of the fundamentalist polygamist groups (Harmston group in Manti) I have tended to stereotype all polygamists into the same mold that you see in the FLDS. I appreciated learning about the diversity that exists within many of the polygamist groups. Thank you for a very insightful podcast.

  4. One of my problems with polygamy has always been that wives are seen as rewards for righteous living. Modern day fundementalist communities seem to reinforce this. The more righteous you are, the more wives you can have. Seems a bit demeaning to the women. As if women don’t have enough things that demean them!

    One simple things that leads me to believe that polygamy will not be practiced in the eternities is that I am not ready to believe that there will be twice as many women (3x?, 4x?,…) as men in the celestial kingdom. This would seem to conote an inherent inequality among the sexes that I can’t agree with. Maybe that is just my simple mind, but it seems fairly straight forward to me….

  5. Bill, regarding plural marriage in the eternities: I read somewhere that extra plural wives for righteous men in the Celestial Kingdom would be drawn from the lower kingdoms.

  6. Dr. Bennion,
    Thank you so much for the overview of polygamy and the diversity found there. Several decades ago I had a writing project where I contact Rulon and Owen Allred, Leroy Johnson, Joel and Ervil LeBaron (w/ several other Firstborn leaders, especially Bill Tucker). My correspondence lead to personal visits with several of (and some of their wives). I corresponded with/visited several non-polygamist Mormon schism leaders as well.

    In all cases I was treated respectfully. My questions were answered. I am of mixed Native American heritage and that factor may have played in my favor with some of the leadership. It was a time when “cities of refuge” were being talked about, the building of the “City of the New Jerusalem” envisioned in the near future. The LeBarons especially taught that Native peoples would accomplish that task.

    I have kept dozens of letters, pamphlets, booklets, leaflets, books, etc., from the various groups, including 19 years of Truth Magazine. Perhaps John needs to have a Podcast on the problem of hording at some point (ha!).

    If I were to do donate that library, do you have a venue you could suggest?

    1. May I suggest myself… Only because I am engaged in scanning and making such documents available online. I would be happy to obtain these documents so that I can scan them and make them available as PDFs or e-books. This would make them available far more widely than most avenues. In the alternate I would give Them to the internet archive, or directly to the AUB. 

  7. Janet,

    Excuse my senility. I read my posting and realized I had overlooked the most tragic of my schismatic contacts. David Longo, who believed in Fundamentalist teachings and eventually led his wife and large brood to destruction was also a correspondent. I was actually in Salt Lake when the climax of his psychosis came. Such a shocking event. Such sadness.

  8. Amazing interview. I hope to find more information about Dr Bennion’s stay with the Allreds. (Thanks for the above references.)

    This interview has prompted hours of discussion in our home and with extended family. (I think it is time to get a link to this site in the ward newsletter – seriously.)

  9. I love this kind of stuff. It really helps to be able to empathize and truly (at least try to) understand how another group lives.

    George – I would donate your collection to the Marriott Library at the University of Utah. Contact the Special Collections Department — they have a huge collection of Mormon-related material and your stuff would fit nicely in their collections.

  10. Swearing Elder, thanks for the donation suggestion. It makes good sense. Two long epistles from Rulon C. Allred and
    the leader of the Cutlerites in Independence are especially insightful. Allred had mastered the act of chirography.

    PS: I like your “SE” title. I have been thinking of “Snoring High Priest” myself.

  11. @ David

    “Bill, regarding plural marriage in the eternities: I read somewhere that extra plural wives for righteous men in the Celestial Kingdom would be drawn from the lower kingdoms.”

    Holy cow, reference please. Since polygamy for eternity is Hell for me if this is correct then I’m screwed no matter what. If I’m righteous I get polygamy, if I’m not I get polygamy. There is no hope!

  12. Thanks so much for your comments about the interview. I believe polygamy to be one of the most complex and interesting marriage forms. I see you agree. Above all, realize that not all polygynous marriages are the same. Some can be wretched for men, for example. I just got off the phone with a key informant (an independent who left the Allred Group several years ago). His first wife has cancer, his second wife left him for a lesbian companion, his third wife is struggling to help bolster his dying business, and he is going through a mid-life crisis. In this way you can see that the problems you have in a monogamous marriage seem to become compounded with the addition of several spouses. Everyone has baggage they carry into a relationship. Imagine dealing with four sets of baggage issues!

    George, I am coming to Utah June 18-20. I’d love to get copies of your Rulon journals before you take them to the Marriott Library. Is that possible? I would truly love to analyze your material for a new project. Perhaps we could work on it together?

  13. Hi Janet,

    Unfortunately (or fortunately) I live in Orange County, California. My out-of-state travel is mainly confined to Santa Fe, N.M. My oldest son, Spencer, lives there, an activist in environmental issues. I get to Okmulgee, Ok., occasionally, where I hold tribal citizenship. I’m the West Coast reporter for our tribal newspaper.

    My data from Dr. Allred consists of two hand written epistles, approximately 6 to 8 pages in length each. He was quietly recruiting me to an active participation in fundamentalism (after I approached him). I do have a couple of follow-up letters from Owen, in more recent times. Today I came across HOUR OF CRISIS – DAY OF VENGEANCE, by Ervil LeBaron, May 1974. It was his most important work. Another rare volume, THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD, which sought to be, AN ANSWER TO THE CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN OF THE FULNESS OF TIMES, by the Utah Church. The Mexican church could afford but few copies of GOVERNMENT, the quality of paper was poor.

    Let me reflect on this. I will possibly just copy those items you are interested in (maybe do some scanning as well).
    I do have a partial database of my collection somewhere. I am attempting to downscale my collections/hobbies.
    I would like working with you, thought I readily admit to a slowdown in “lengthening my stride.”


    1. Hi George,

      I’m working on an important Ervil LeBaron document right now and would love to see these documents. Is there any way you could email them to me?


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  15. This also comports with my experience in AUB. I love those people. They are good people. Among the best. So many lies about them. I am pleased that the TRUTH is given to us by this good anthropologist. Truly, plural marriage does empower women. No, they are not the brainwashed group.

  16. Hi, I’ve just started listening to your podcast, and I love this episode. I’m a non-Mormon fascinated with Mormon history and culture, and I find the fundamentalist groups and LDS relationship to them very interesting. It’s really great to hear an anthropologist talk about these things, and the differences between the different fundamentalist/polygamist groups. Fascinating stuff! I would be really interested to hear Dr. Bennison or a researcher like her compare or just discuss the modern polyamory movement in relation to Mormon polygyny.

  17. This seems like a fair and compassionate look at this subject, thank you for your work. I am personally in a polygamous relationship that is not associated with any particular religion – it just works for us, and has for some time now. It is a rich life with much intimacy. I can’t imagine being in a monogamous relationship again, having done this.

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