Rulon Clark Allred (March 29, 1906 – May 10, 1977) was a homeopath and chiropractor in Salt Lake City and the founder/leader of what is now the Apostolic United Brethren, a breakaway sect of polygamous Mormon fundamentalists in Utah, Colorado, Montana, and Arizona, United States. He was murdered on the orders of Ervil LeBaron, the head of a rival polygamous sect (Wikipedia).
Vance Allred is Rulon’s Allred’s son, and at one point was a chief apologist for Mormon fundamentalist polygamy, and was being groomed to succeed his father as prophet of the AUB. In this three part series, Vance Allred discusses:
- Part 1: His father’s rise to power, via the founding of the Apostolic United Brethren, and Vance’s early years as the son of a polygamist prophet.
- Part 2: The events leading up to Rulon Allred’s assassination, and Vance’s candid critique of his father’s work, and
- Part 3: The sexual abuse in the AUB that led Vance to leave the AUB, and the events that led Vance to join the LDS church (requiring an interview with two LDS apostles). Finally, Vance discusses the factors that led to him becoming inactive LDS.
I think I might have misunderstood when you were talking about your dad being a holocaust denier. So did he deny the holocaust or did he believe it and you thought he was misguided for believing in the holocaust?
From what I gather, he was saying that his father was a conspiracy theorist, EXCEPT for when it came to the holocaust. In other words, he believes that the holocaust happened the way that history books tell it and it was not some kind of conspiracy.
I could be wrong, but that was how I understood what he said.
Please, please consider, Vance, that a twenty-nine-year-old man marrying a fifteen-year-old girl as his second wife is a perversion. You defend him saying that, “he was a perfect gentleman.” That is not the behavior of a gentleman no matter his actions towards his wives in the privacy of their bedroom. If you understand the mental maturity of a fifteen-year-old, who is still only a child, you would not defend this action. Add to that the fact that she was cognitively impaired in some way, and the image is horrifying.
Well said Joy! I’m appalled by the “religious justification of men having sex with little girls.
I was 14 and 16 a sick region well said thank you
I totally agree, Joy. Sickening.
Agreed. Thank you, Joy.
I was also confused by his comment on this. I wish John would’ve pushed him a little bit to explain his contradictions. (The “those men are perverts, but not my dad” comments.) I just didn’t see the difference.
Could someone point me to the History of the Church reference about the Adam-God theory that Vance mentioned? I searched Volume 3 of HoTC but could not find anywhere saying that God the Father and Adam are the same person. I know about the Journal of Discourses references, but I’m looking for a source that is tied directly to Joseph Smith, not Brigham Young.
I have the same question, but I do want to first say that I found this VERY interesting. I appreciate Vance taking the time to do this interview and share insights.
I do have a question. In the second section at about 52:00 it talks about Joseph Smith teaching about Adam God. Vance says it is very clearly shown in “History of the church (HOTC), volume 3 Page 389”
I found an online text of HOTC V3 @ https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/volume-3-table-contents and I go to https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/volume-3-chapter-26 and search and find “[Page 389]” on that page, but I don’t seem to see anything about Adam God.
You can find where Joseph specifically talks about Adam being God starting at the bottom of page 385, “The Prophet on Priesthood”. It is very evident that the only reason Brigham Young declared this doctrine in 1852 is because he learned it from Joseph Smith.
I noticed he said the “blue cover” History of the Church. Does this mean the reference to Adam is only found in older editions of the HoC? (And even if it is there, what if it was added to Joseph Smith’s words by Brigham Young, then taken out later when his views fell out of favor? Would we know if it wasn’t?)
I’m looking at HofTC Vol III, page 389: “…the Son of Man will descend, the Ancient of Days sit;…” and farther down the page: “The ‘Horn’ made war with the Saints and overcame them, until the Ancient of Days came; judgment was given to the Saints of the Most High from the Ancient of Days;…”.
On pg. 388 in the footnotes: “It is generally supposed that Brigham Young was the author of the doctrine which places Adam as the patriarchal head of the human race, and ascribes to him the dignity of future presidency over this earth and its inhabitants, when the work of redemption shall have been completed. Those who read the Prophet’s treatise on the Priesthood in the text above will have their opinions corrected upon this subject, for clearly it is the Word of the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith which established that doctrine. The utterances of President Brigham Young but repeat and expound the doctrine which the Prophet here sets forth.”
I’m also trying to square what Vance said with what’s in the HofTC and I can’t quite find anything in Vol 3 p 389 beyond what Lois quoted above.
“Whenever the gospel has been revealed it has been through Adam. Whenever the Savior has been introduced, it has been through Adam. When has the Savior been introduced? He’s been introduced three times. This is my son, in whom I am well pleased . . . Joseph, this is my son, hear Him! Who’s voice was speaking? God the Father, who Joseph Smith said was Adam.”
However, on pp 385-387 are these statements,
“The Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the First Presidency, and held the keys of it from generation to generation. He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed, as in Gen. 1:26-28. . . .
“The Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years. The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed from heaven, it is by Adam’s authority.
“. . . He (Adam) is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand council. This may take place before some of us leave this stage of action. The Son of Man stands before him, and there is given him glory and dominion. Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family.
“. . . Our Savior speaks of children and says, Their angels always stand before my Father. The Father called all spirits before Him at the creation of man, and organized them. He (Adam) is the head, and was told to multiply. The keys were first given to him, and by him to others. He will have to give an account of his stewardship, and they to him.”
I think these statements could be interpreted multiple ways. For example, Joseph said when the keys are revealed, it is by Adam’s authority. This doesn’t mean Adam was personally present. The last paragraph above is especially tricky. I read it to mean Adam was the head of all the spirits called before the Father but I can see how one can understand it saying Adam is the father.
Wow. You’re still the man with connections, John. Your interview ten years ago with one of Ogden Kraut’s plural wives, Anne Wilde, was an eye-opener for me about the lived experience of polygamy. I came away from listening to that interview thinking, “There but for the grace of God go I”. What a treat now, to meet Vance through you.
I confess to sometimes eating my dessert first and so I did with this interview, listening to episode three last night. I admire a person who votes their conscience, Vance. You deciding your church activity was over as soon as you heard of the secret hard turn away from Christ-like love that is The Policy on denying baptism to the children of married gay couples—suggests a deep, active connection between your heart and your feet.
Your loyalty to the Book of Mormon even as your confidence in the corporate LDS church has withered is fascinating. John seemed to think you’d be inclined to throw the baby out with the bathwater as he has and turn against the Book of Mormon. While he was quite persuasive, I like your steadfast belief in your beliefs as an act of faith. While his love, insights and secular humanism will continue to help make the world a better place do they have the power to save him and his family or you and your family? The Book of Mormon makes astonishing promises from God himself through Jesus Christ and finally through the writers of the book that met Christ. If you still believe in the Book of Mormon it would seem that you’re betting on the big guns of the universe as an act of faith.
Could it be that you’ve found yourself on a path where the gospel of Jesus Christ yet remains vibrant and vigorous while the LDS church has increasingly been seduced by evil spirits, the doctrines of devils and the commandments of men? If so, you might find the message of Denver Snuffer interesting. Unlike religious strongmen down through history, Snuffer claims a commission and authority from Jesus Christ to teach truth while rejecting the power, adulation and wealth that invariably accrete around them. Think King Benjamin instead of King Noah. Anyway, thank you again for sharing your story with us.
You seem to be advising Vance to learn more about Denver Snuffer. I read most of his books a few years ago and knew for certain that he had seen the Savior. Then I read his book on the heavenly gift. That learning of secrets of church history got me to wondering if there might be more problems. I was very active at that time. But his book was the catalyst that got me to Mormon Think and Mormon Stories. I never looked back. My testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith completely crashed. Thanks be to DenverSnuffer!
It sounds to me like some of Vance’s conclusions about the gospel of Jesus Christ vs the the LDS church echo some of what Snuffer has written, alright, Earl. Vance might also resonate to Snuffer’s conclusion that sexual polygamy was not taught or practiced by Joseph Smith and is a significant sin as taught in the Book of Mormon. Snuffer has reached out to the world of Mormon polygamy, arguing against it and urging polygamous families to stop the practice in the coming generations. Vance’s lived experience of polygamy might resonate with Snuffer’s view on the matter.
Contrast that with the schizophrenic response to polygamy by the corporate LDS church: on the one hand, members found to be practicing polygamy are automatically excommunicated. On the other hand, the church hires “trained scholars” to nuance what they believe were Joseph Smith’s libidinous escapades with young women and already-married women. Ah, the fiction of D&C 132. Oh, and then there’s the quiet, current practice of sealing a second wife to a man that has lost his first wife.
If Vance respects teachings from the scriptures he might find Snuffer’s material interesting for it’s scriptural foundation and focus. What if, as father Lehi and Joseph Smith proclaimed, the gospel of Jesus Christ was intended to be delicious? Instead of the weak, tasteless pablum that gets endlessly recycled in the cause of Correlation, Vance might find an un-correlated approach energizing. Instead of flattering messags like we often hear from Salt Lake, Snuffer echos everyone that has ever met Jesus Christ and written about it in calling all who will to turn from where ever they’re currently facing back to God because all human beings are broken, weak and ignorant. By his own experience, Snuffer teaches that Jesus Christ is eager for any of us or all of us to turn to the Lord for salvation. While Snuffer rejects the title of “prophet”, him using the approach of actual prophets might intrigue Vance.
Snuffer describes writing “Passing the Heavenly Gift” to help folks better understand church history in the face of nearly 200 years of spinning, obfuscating and re-writing that history. The members of the Twelve that ordered Snuffer excommunicated apparently didn’t take kindly to him quoting from the journals of past LDS presidents in making his case that they were ordinary men often profiting at the member’s expense and certainly not doing so by the direction of heaven.
What Vance makes of Snuffer’s view of church history is up to him. We all get to choose. Remarkably, in every age it has never been easy to choose between messengers called of God to cry repentance—and the established religious tradition currently in power. That was Abraham’s experience, Abinadi’s experience, Jesus’ experience and Joseph’s experience. Now that the LDS church has pushed Vance away with its un-Christlike commandments of men, Vance might indeed find Snuffer’s teachings interesting.
When I read Snuffers books I was very impressed with his spirit and knowledge of the scriptures, but the more studying I did on my faith journey, the more I found Denver to be very similar with active mainstream LDS. The both have one thing in common. They seem to view modern-day scripture study as the only show in town. Where my views began to change was when I began studying the Bible, at first only the New Testament. I learned who started Christianity and why. I learned the differences between the views of Paul and those of the Apostles. I learned that the proof of Jesus’ existence and divinity is found in the Bible itself but, not in the writings of contemporary historians.
Looking up Strong’s Concordance online, I took the first listing on Google and it showed a power point presentation called “Hebrew Roots Of Christianity” which really opened my eyes. Still studying the NT, I noticed that the Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Mormon was the same as that in the Bible. Not unusual, because what God taught in the NT should be the same as what he taught in the BoM. But then I read those verses in Joseph Smith Translation where he corrected the Biblical verses. If the Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book, then why did Joseph change the Bible one which would also correct the BoM one?
I came into my New Testament study believing all I had been taught of Jesus, but with more study I realized that those Old Testament scriptures, cited by most Christians the world over, prophesying of Jesus, no more talked of Jesus than did Ezek. 37 talked of the BoM. Most readers wanted this to be prophecy even if it wasn’t. After much study by renown Christian scholars such as linguists and historians, and later even Israeli archealogists, I came to the place where I am not real sure Jesus even existed. There is no evidence. No one ever wrote who saw him in the flesh.
So being pretty skeptical of Christianity, I learned that most of our Founding Fathers were not Christian. Thomas Jefferson thought Jesus to be a great teacher. He even wrote “The Jefferson Bible” and it was taken from the KJV, but he left out the Virgin Birth, the miracles, and The Resurrection. And Ben Franklin and George Washington, and James Monroe were Deists. They were smart men but although their wives were Christians they were not. I believe that they were among the most correct men of their time and had they lived in our time would most likely be either agnostics of atheists.
So I began studying the Old Testament or The Hebrew Bible. I got as far the Book of Joshua (I used a translation that kept all of the Hebrew names rather than English.) and I was sickened at what a murderous god I had been worshiping. I noted that the Biblical Feasts were to be kept forever or so commanded God, and I had been taught that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So if that’s true then why did the Christians not observe the Feasts? (Actually some Seventh Day Adventists and all Messianics do.) And if Joseph Smith was inspired, why did he not have the Saints observe them? Or did he just follow mainstream Christians because otherwise he might be too controversial? And this observance versus non-observance is one of the main reasons why Paul and the Apostles were split in their teachings. Even Jesus kept Passover and talked of teaching the Law. And, the Feasts are part of The Law.
After Joshua, I skipped around and found a lot of very disturbing things! I even studied a little on parts of earlier languages. I learned of The Epic of Gilgamesh and how it is just another flood story. And after all of that I continue more on the study of science and found the hatred that many Christians have for the teaching of science that would in any way contradict Judeo-Christian scriptures and teachings. I still study religion of any kind and can see the similarities and why religions come about and how they grow and which ones are the largest and which ones will affect the lives of my grandchildren. But all this study was opened up to me when I came across Mormon Think and Mormon Stories. Thanks John, for helping me learn how to discover truth. My favorite quote, I found online by P.C.Hodgel–“That which can be destroyed by truth, should be.”
Lol! As if Vance Allred would even consider Mormon Fundamentalist Lite Denver Snuffer! Guess there’s always people trying to sell “product” where people are found who want it. Deeper doctrines without the expense of having to live ‘the principle”.
I am a former student from Alta High class of 99, Mr. Allred is still my favorite teacher of all time. I loved listening to your stories, and I still write essays just the way you drilled into us. I had no idea how involved you and your family were in polygamy. Hearing this interview and how you managed to escape fundamentalism at great personal cost and how you helped LGBT kids has given me even more respect for you. Thank you for sharing.
Wow, fascinating, thank you for sharing.
Thank you. It was very interesting, although difficult, to listen to your story. Sharing your first hand insights into the practice and experience of polygamy is as bad or worse than I have imagined. I guess people will think what they think no matter the facts. Seems that it is driven by the male ego for power, dominion and sexual entitlement. Very disturbing that your father married a 15 yr old child. The poor young girl. Tragic!
Why are you startled to hear about a man marrying a 15-year old girl? Joseph Smith married a 14-year old, and when I talk to active church members they see nothing unusual about that.
I have only gone through a little over half of the first section, but I think it is very interesting. I had a close friend once who was over 40 when he took a 17-year old for his second wife. He’s been a counselor in a bishopric in a large ward, but read a lot on “adoption”, the Wooley’s, John Taylor’s dream, and had visited with Anne Wilde. According to his first wife, exed but now active LDS, he had 6 wives at one time and lived near the colonies in Mexico. A large group of active and inactive LDS once gathered in his home where Tom Green spoke, before the Utah attorney general nailed him for welfare fraud (collecting money for each of many wives). There is a lot more polygamy around that you might think.
Brigham said, “Adam is our father and our God and the only God with which we have to do.” I have talked to several ex-Mormons as well as active LDS who, when asked, will say that Heavenly Father’s name is Michael.
And when people ask whether or not Joseph would have approved of things that Brigham may have said, they need to read a statement in the book, “Prophets, Principles, and National Survival,” which was recommended reading for all members by Ezra Taft Benson, general conference 1970: “Brigham young picked up the Bible and laid it down. He took the Book of Mormon and laid it sown. And he then took the Doctrine and Covenants and laid it down and said, ‘Brethren, these books are nothing to me compared to the words of a living prophet.’ Joseph Smith then said, ‘Brother Brigham has told you the words of the Lord and he has told you the truth,’.”
Am looking forward to hearing the rest of the story.
Earl Thank you for your comments. I wrote I found it disturbing not startling based on Vance’s description of his father’s character. There are thousands of examples that mimic that of Rulon, Joseph Smith and your friend. The way sexual exploitation of women and young girls is justified and shrouded in religious language and behavior is heinous. It did not start with Joseph Smith’s deviant teachings but that is the subject of these interviews. Worldwide terrible things have been conceptualized in the minds of men for power and greed. Magnanimous, narcissistic personalities manipulate both men and women in the name of bizarre religious and cultural rituals. Breaking women’s feet, female mutilation, imprisoning women behind closed doors, polygamous lifestyles, child brides, covering her head and or body with cloth, human sacrifice whether of the soul or actual. The list goes on. At first they may be met with resistance but over generations with cradle to grave indoctrination both men and women perpetuate the behaviors. It does not make it right. These things debase men, dis empower women and are always the result of some man deluding himself that he is the CHOSEN ONE and speaks for a God. Vance shows a great deal of courage and honesty as he has tried to disengage, own his deseptions but still show respect for those he loves.
I certainly agree with you about the atrocities of polygamy. I want to tell you how easy it is to get into the polygamy mindset. First of all many LDS feel superior to non-LDS because they are in the Lord’s True Church. I always felt that way even if I didn’t voice it very often. And as a man my priesthood gave me the idea that not only was I superior to other men in the world, but from reading just a little in approved history I just might be able to learn the secrets direct from HF through revelation.
Even in a large ward there are a few priesthood holders who want to learn “the mysteries” of the Kingdom and often delve into them a very little after a priesthood meeting. I am tell you this because it happened to me. Most young boys want to know secrets. Some young and old men are no different.
Also in many wards there will be a few priesthood holders who are “on the edge” and have already found more mysteries. I was tempted by one of these to view some “special” books in a semi-secret library. (actually just a few boxes of controversial books in a vacant room of a house) This really opened my ideas to subjects like the Three Nephites, polygamy, adoption, etc. I and a friend eagerly borrowed some books. He was too good a Mormon to be swayed so after he returned them, he wanted no more, but I couldn’t read enough. These were books mostly written by Ogden Kraut.
I eventually phoned and talked to one of his wives, Anne Wilde. And, I found out about the polygamy underground where one could go online to find wives. Fascinating I thought, to learn about this and about the Wooleys and Benjamin Johnson (It’s been well over 15 years so names are a bit of a guess.) I learned about men adopted by Joseph and those who were supposed to carry on the priesthood line. And I even talked to a lady in my ward who was currently divorced. We talked about the possibility of marrying. I kept most of this secret from my wife. At socials I would pick out those men who were becoming more interested in the secrets of the Kingdom.
But, being a soul who is not afraid to read and study, I kept reading things not only pro -polygamy, but material in the 1800’s that were against it. Eventually I became convinced that plural marriage was not the way to go. Pretty soon, as I attempted to persuade my good priesthood friends that we may be going down the wrong road, I got to the place where I was not privy to these secrets. I would enter a conversation and the subject would suddenly change. I later told my wife all this and she had been worried as to how I acted at times.
So wives, be careful if your priesthood holders spend too much time after an elders or High Priest lesson talking. Take him with you quickly.
Vance my apologies misspelling your name.
Great interview — honest, open and of historical merit. Vance it sounds like that you have been so hurt by things from the AUB both within and while leaving that you have made it a goal to not inflict pain on others. So you struggle with inconsistent beliefs while you figure things out. That is not a bad thing,
A comment about polygamy as causing, enabling abuse. I think there a couple of other key issues. besides the abuse that can flourish in closed society. One is narcissistic, chauvinistic leaders who deep down see women more as objects is one. Also some large polygamist families where children may not be as closely monitored as they ought to be. (Maybe not in the be the AUB that you remember growing up.) This can give opportunities for bad things to happen. Stories of immature children watching children. Stories of jealous and.or angry sister wives not caring about children of other wives and even abusing them. This seems to be a part os some polygamist groups. Again I enjoyed your insights.
I’m someone who feels traumatized by the AUB, yet my interaction there also opened my eyes to the common humanity of all people. There were parts of this that were hard to listen to, but in the end I am grateful for your willingness to discuss and shine a light without condemning. I feel that what allows us to condemn individuals and groups is keeping them at arms’ length. The closer we get to someone, the more difficult it is to hate and categorize. I loved the part at the end when you talked about how much we want to categorize others because it makes it easier for our brains, but each of us individually defies categorization. We are each irrational in some ways and I appreciated that you owned that. I liked the idea of standing for something good rather than exerting energy fighting against. Thank you for sharing your experience.
This is fascinating dialogue on so many levels. I can’t think of just one comment, so I’ll leave this one: This man’s life story, and the incidents he is privy to makes one thing very clear to me… Joseph Smith’s teachings have led to everything from child abuse to murder. Lives have been diminished by Smith’s teachings, and any positive outcomes can only be attributed to good people who rose above those teachings.
Today’s Salt Lake-based Mormon church has forsaken Smith, Young and the foundations of LDS doctrines. If you want to know what polygamy was like when it was in full swing in the Mormon church listen to this man. Watch A&E. It’s sick. It’s disgusting. Some may make the best of it, but it’s not from any God I’ll ever worship again. The base desires of men are written all over Mormon polygamy. As Vance said, it really is “the law of the jungle” and NOT the law of God.
I agree with what you say here, Doubting Thomas: “The base desires of men are written all over Mormon polygamy.”
I’ve just finished listening to the first part, and it made me almost sick, but I will continue. My father firmly believed in polygamy, never was able to practice it, but he would have if given the opportunity, I’m sure. He broke my mother’s heart talking about polygamy and Mormonism all of the time, telling her he was going to have 12 wives given to him after this life, and more. She bore him 11 children, and he had no regard for her; all he could think of was the power and glory he would have in the next life. My mother refused to have her body buried beside him when she died.
I’ve lost track of how many times he’s mentioned Trump. I think he secretly likes him.
I do not have time to read through all of these comments so I am sorry if this has already been stated, but I disagree with your guest when he says that polygamy does not have a causal/correlational relationship with child molestation. Certainly, secrecy is highly contributory, but please consider these two points.
1. Men who are 38+ marry minor girls (14-15-years-old) in the name of religion. Is that not the very definition of molestation?
2. Polygamist societies are extreme patriarchies. Patriarchy/male dominance, especially in polygamist societies is reinforced by sex. Vance even stated that throughout history, the most dominant males competed for female mates. It’s all about sex. These men are taught to disregard any inhibitions they might have toward pursuing their sexual desires. They achieve a sense of entitlement, which is apparently difficult to shut on and off in different scenarios. Vance stated himself that polygamy brutalizes women and places them in positions of inequality. If a man believes that his sexual perversions are given to him by God and that he should not hold back because he is dominant over women, what moral compass is there to stop him from raping/molesting young girls?
Vance, you should listen to Lindsay Hansen Park’s Year of Polygamy series. There is one episode in which she talks about how a young girl living in a polygamist community was taken from her home every night, hung up in a church and gang raped by men in the community. She would black out because it was too much for her mind to handle. She’d wake up naked, knowing what had happened. She was also raped by her brothers repeatedly and when she told her father, he then raped her. No offense, but I’d like to know how the f*** you think that this s*** is not in some way caused by/correlated with polygamy?
It’s so frustrating hearing how intelligent people spend so much time studying “scriptures” and “doctrines” as though they have supernatural significance, when they are obviously fiction. Talk about “post-truth”, it’s been going on for centuries!
Think what good they could do if they used that time finding solutions for problems that have honest research and real empirical evidence.
Mike, I agree and was thinking the same thing.
That is exactly how I feel about my cousin Vance’s decisions. I too wonder how such an intelligent man can still believe in the B of M’s authenticity. If he really scientifically studied it, he’d see the numerous flaw rather than going by his “feeling” testimony.
I absolutely agree this a tremendous waste of energy. And through it all the BOM is real. Preposterous.
I finished listening to all three, and I must say there were parts that were really difficult for me to listen to.
I really hope that Vance will read Grant Palmer’s book, An Insider’s View, and also the CES letter. I cannot think that he is searching for any sort of truth while not wanting to read books that would help him.
Thank you John Dehlin for your questions to Vance, particularly near the end. Your comments and questions helped to clarify the discussion, and I appreciate that so much.
Next I want to listen to the Year of Polygamy series mentioned in the podcast.
Thank you Vance for sharing your experiences, and I wish you and your family the best as you continue on.
I agree. I think Vance would be well served by reading Grant Palmer’s book, An Insider’s View ….
Vance’s story was very interesting, but I just couldn’t get beyond how many blinders he is still holding on to. I don’t feel he stayed in a Christian church long enough if he still felt the need to return to a Mormon belief system.
I would really enjoy a Mormon Stories interview with Kristyn Decker since she was the daughter of Owen Allred. It would be interesting to hear how her life as Owen’s daughter compares with Vance’s nephew-perspective. Her book is an excellent read and reveals more of the everyday life of the wife practicing polygamy and really emphasizes the problem with sexual abuse in polygamists’ families.
Vance’s spiritual journey has clearly tied his intellect into a gordian knot. His story is interesting if only for all the contradictions he professes a belief in. I have no doubt though that these cognitively dissonant rest stops are a common phenomena for anyone who finds themselves in the middle of a transitional journey out of a life long belief system. I know that once I had finally realized, and admitted to myself, that much of what was taught about the early church simply wasn’t true I too found a number of comfortable and equally contradictive way stations to take a breather while I processed my sense of shock and loss along with the fear I felt about the direction I was heading. Thanks Vance for your willingness to share your story and good luck to you going forward.
As an aging baby boomer, I relate to Vance’s desire to simplify his life, to center his attentions on loving his kids and grandkids. After all his pain and struggles, all the years wasted on trying to defend the indefensible, after searching for something in the church to hang on to, he is done with the struggle and content to settle for a few comforting words from the Book of Mormon. He is consoled with the knowledge that there were good things along the way, but he is ready to move on to the simple Rodney King creed that we should all just try to get along, and that after all, that is all that really matters.
In the movie, “Dances with Wolves,” the last scenes are my favorites. The wise old Chief invites the young man to share a pipe with him, and wants him to stay rather than go off to crusade for justice for the people of the tribe. Dances with Wolves is filled with righteous indignation and determined to go. The old man is patient and understanding, but sad to part and worried that the young man is putting himself in danger. It is obvious that at this point in his life, the Chief feels there is nothing more satisfying and precious, nothing that brings him more peace of mind and contentment than the simple sharing of a warm fire with a beloved, respected friend. To that I say, “Amen.”
John, I’m not sure I understand why you ask the same litany of questions to the people you interview: BoM historicity, One True Church, existence of God, visionary experiences of prophets, etc. People’s belief systems can’t be reduced to a questionnaire, and I’m not sure what is gained by asking each person to answer by filling in the bubble with A, B, C, or D. I love listening to Mormon Stories, but every time this line of questioning comes up, all I can think is how limited your worldview must be if you really feel the need to corral every interviewee into only a small handful of options—particularly when you respect the idea, which Vance Allred consistently maintained, that feelings of belief can’t be put into simple rational formulations.
Also, it is embarrassing that someone with a PhD would recommend the CES Letter and Grant Palmer as paragons of scholarly or intellectual inquiry. Yes, they deserve to be read; so do a million other things. Why not recommend people read, oh I don’t know, the Joseph Smith Papers volumes? Or Dan Vogel’s Early Mormon Documents? Why not send people to editions of primary sources so they can use their own minds to decide what to make of things?
I’m personally out of the LDS Church, and I’m only bothering to comment because of how much I appreciate the work that you do. Not that I assume my little comment here will make much difference, but I wanted to write letting you know in case other exmos aren’t willing to bring up this perspective with you.
I think John asks about the CES letter because if a mormon was unaware of the issues raised in the CES letter, the person would quickly learn her religion was not true upon reading the CES letter (and researching cites).
It’s an interesting question because if the person is aware the church is not true, then John can delve into how the person dealt with that realization. Deny it? Rationalize it? Hide it? Escape? Tell their children? Tell their spouse? Accept it and freely talk about it?
It might be the ultimate question. What does a person do when faced with the truth.
Reading back on my comment, it feels a little sanctimonious and harsh. This was reactionary. I really love your work, so take my previous comment with a fat grain of salt.
Is the Brown family on “Sister Wives” in the AUB? They never mention what sect they follow.
According to the Wikipedia link on AUB in the intro, yes.
Yes the Browns are still part of the AUB. Christine’s father is Vance’s brother Rex – all my cousins. Christine’s mom, Annie, is my sister. Annie’s mother married my father Owen Allred after she left her husband Floren LeBaron who’s brother had Vances father, my Uncle Rulon murdered in his office. Woe! Hope all that made sense. The Browns live polygamy because they too were taught it is for their eternal salvation.
I really like that he owns the fact that his beliefs may conflict with each other. I think that is very healthy. I also like the fact that he is comfortable not being a part of any organized religion. He is finally finding his own voice. He is able to change a family history to something much different and much better.
I loved this episode. I wanted to comment on the part where John and Vance discussed the merits of Lindsay Hansen Park’s assertion that all the ills in the church can be traced back to polygamy. I agree with Vance that polygamy is not the root of all our evils. However, unlike Vance, I don’t believe that it’s the secrecy of the church that causes all the problems. Rather, I believe that our ills all go back to the idea that we have a man who talks to God, and that this man cannot lead us astray. In other words, everything that issues from his mouth is 100% correct.
This becomes a problem when we learn that, in fact, the man is not right. Then we either have to do the hard thing and admit that he isn’t always right, that sometimes he doesn’t get his answers from God, or we have to do the easier thing by building policies and doctrines around errant pronouncements. Sadly the church repeatedly takes the latter solution, and continues to paint itself into corners rather than simply admitting that they’re not always right.
Polygamy is the result of the infallibility doctrine. Bigotry and intolerance, too. All our ills point to infallibility not to polygamy.
I enjoyed that podcast, video, thanks for sharing it.
I read a couple escape from polygamy biographies last year, I find that whole culture interesting. It is neat to hear different peoples personal experiences with it.
I guess they call it cognitive dissonance, i dont understand why Vance doesnt want to read the other history of the church… reading No Man Knows My History was a real wake up call for me… of course it took me several years to get the courage to read it… so maybe Vance will read it one day, too
Especially a nice book since he loves history so much.
What group is settled south of Santaquin? Anyone knows? The son of a family friend joined that group some years ago.
AUB people live south of Santequin
Thanks! I thought so but Vance and Lance both talk of Salt Lake/Murray so I thought I might be off. the family friend lived in a trailer park off 4500 So about 15 years ago with two of his wives and used to travel to MT to visit another wife so that seemed to fit.
This was a fascinating interview… but the mental gymnastics he took us through. Wow! My head seriously hurts.
Also, I really appreciate Kristyn Decker’s comments on this thread and 2nd the suggestion for a Mormon Stories interview with her!
I just finished reading Dorothy Allred Soloman’s book In My Father’s House and stumbled upon this interview/site while doing some additional research. I also appreciated this interview very much. We all have blind spots in what we believe, but it says something when we acknowledge them. One thing; though, that Mr. Allred said was interesting to me…..where he said something to the extent of women holding out for the best. I didn’t really understand how polygamy could in any way be that. I mean; say you are an independent women and can take care of your own financial security and you are emotionally healthy……that doesn’t mean that a husband shouldn’t provide for his family financially or emotionally. This should be his contribution to the family and he should contribute as much as the wife; if not more because he is supposed to be the provider. So; I don’t think this would be ideal for women at all. I say this with all due respect because it was upsetting to read of Rulon’s murder in Mrs. Soloman’s book. Every human life has value and it seems like he was a good person with some admirable qualities. However; this doesn’t and shouldn’t overshadow the very real abuses and injustices that are embedded in polygamy.
I also wanted to make a point regarding another topic that Mr. Allred touched on; which was homosexuality. As humans I believe we all have worth and God loves us all. However; I think where there becomes an issue is when there are those who want to redefine marriage. Homosexuality redefines marriage just as polygamy does. When you think about it…….slogans like love is love and people should be free to have their own relationship as long as it is between consenting adults etc. apply to both homosexuality and polygamy. They are both different forms of love according to this logic. It was interesting that Mr. Allred mentioned polygamy as a closed society when homosexual society is also closed. There are very high rates of abuse including domestic violence within homosexual partnerships and even suicide that is often overlooked. Effectively; it seems like it is a trojan horse and it is bringing in harmful acceptance of polygamy with it. Again; these are relationship variations and occurring between consenting adults so we are being encouraged to accept them. However; this will leave those who are in abusive situations without a strong voice against abuses. I admit that in my ignorance of the truth about polygamy; before doing my own reading and research, I believed that polygamists’ rights were being infringed upon and they should be allowed to practice their religion…because “it occurs between consenting adults” and “love is love”. That really is the slippery slope. We all have religious liberty, but we don’t have the right to abuse others in practicing our religion.
Thank you for this excellent interview and site!
Jennifer, I had never heard that homosexual relationships had high rates of abuse. Are there sources to show that they are notably higher than in hetero partnerships? And if so, will you kindly provide a reference to these sources? If I understand correctly, the aim of your argument seems to be that gay marriage as well as plural marriage ought to be curtailed by legal restraints, specifically for their susceptibility to unusually high abuse rates, thus protecting the rights of individuals. This is an unfamiliar claim to me, and I, for one, would benefit from some source material confirming this. Thank you.
Thank you for your comment on my post.
Yes; there are sources that can demonstrate that homosexual relationships; do have extraordinarily high rates of abuse. This link should provide you with some further insight and also sources that you can explore. https://www.advocate.com/crime/2014/09/04/2-studies-prove-domestic-violence-lgbt-issue I am sure if you did some further research for yourself; you could find even more data as well.
Re: If I understand correctly, the aim of your argument seems to be that gay marriage as well as plural marriage ought to be curtailed by legal restraints, specifically for their susceptibility to unusually high abuse rates, thus protecting the rights of individuals. This is an unfamiliar claim to me, and I, for one, would benefit from some source material confirming this. Thank you.
My comments were not really my “argument”. I was simply giving my thoughts on the issue of polygamy based upon my own research; including books I have read and processing Mr. Allred’s interview. He mentioned homosexuality in his interview and I found that interesting. I think; perhaps you misinterpreted what I said and used the incorrect word when you said that I believe that gay and plural marriage should be “curtailed” by legal restraints. Gay marriage is now legal, but it was not always legal. Those who wanted it to be legal advocated to change the laws because they believed they were persecuted and at a disadvantage because they didn’t have the “right” to get married so it was made legal. That hasn’t stopped the abuses that occur in LBTQ relationships. So; the “rights” of individuals may be protected, but abuses are still occurring. Polygamy is not legal and in Utah is illegal. It is my understanding that many polygamists don’t want plural marriage to be legal because then they would be legally responsible for every wife and child they have. Instead; from what I have learned, it is that there is an attempt to use religious freedom to simply be exempt from the law (that states that polygamy is illegal). They just want to be left alone to break the law because they believe they have the obligation and right to marry many women according to their religious beliefs.
My comments were that there is no difference between homosexual marriage and polygamy; both being just different marriage structures. And; if you accept homosexuality then there should be no reason to not accept polygamy, because both are just different forms of relationships. (God said no to both) I do believe that the extraordinarily high rates of abuse in both forms of relationships shouldn’t be ignored, but laws will not stop the abuses from occurring. And; in the instance of polygamy, why not enforce the laws that already exist?
I hope this clarified my comments. :)
This gentleman is quite charming and interesting, his sister Dorothy Allred Solomon wrote a great book about their family “Daughter of the Saints” it was a great read and a fairly good portrait of the everyday life of this family.