30bRecently, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released its long-awaited series of essays on polygamy in Kirtland/Nauvoo, Utah and post-manifesto polygamy, igniting a firestorm of discussion online.

In this second installment, we bring together an all-star cast of Mormon Stories favorites to discuss the Early Utah Polygamy essay:

  • Lindsay Hansen Park, who in the middle of an amazing and incredibly exhaustive project for Feminist Mormon Housewives in the Year of Polygamy podcast series.
  • Joe Geisner, a long-time Mormon historian who has been assisting Lindsay in her research for the Year of Polygamy project.
  • J. Nelson-Seawright, a political science professor at Northwestern University, frequent blogger and commenter on Mormonism and a favorite guest of Mormon Stories.



  1. Charles December 2, 2014 at 7:01 am - Reply

    For me, it only played 7 minutes and 4 seconds. Is the error on my end?

  2. Bill December 2, 2014 at 7:11 am - Reply

    Me too….

  3. UncleRalph December 2, 2014 at 8:25 am - Reply

    I got three more seconds. Mine ended abruptly, mid-sentence, at 7:07.

  4. Joan December 3, 2014 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the interview!

    Re. Section 132 – Aren’t there more options than complete decanonization and doing nothing?

  5. Joe Geisner December 4, 2014 at 9:42 am - Reply

    Thank you very much Joan for listening. Do you see other options? I would love to hear you thoughts.

    • Joan December 4, 2014 at 3:27 pm - Reply

      I’ve seen suggestions that v. 26, 41-44, 51-58 and 61-65 be removed, along with other minor adjustments.

      • Joe Geisner December 5, 2014 at 11:57 am - Reply

        Thank you Joan for your response. I wrote this for another group, about this podcast, in response to the idea that Mormon Theology does not allow for the de-canonization of 132. Here is my response:

        I think it is quite debatable if Mormonism has a theology (I am not the only person who suggests this). With that being said, you can make theology say what ever you want it to say. Theology doesn’t need evidence or logic or history. You can just make it up. So, yes, Mormon “theology” can say what ever the leaders want it to say. I am correct about 132, there is historical precedent and it would be quite easy for the 15 to De-canonize. There is nothing in Mormonism that has absolute ties. I really like what Mark Scherer has written and said: “The Community of Christ has to decide whether they would follow a prophet from Palmyra or a carpenter of Nazareth?” They chose to follow the carpenter and as I told Mark, they are on solid footing, we Utah Mormons are on sand.

        • Joan December 8, 2014 at 3:23 am - Reply

          In the piece you wrote for the other group, what exactly is it about Mormon theology (if we have one) that “does not allow for the de-canonization of Section 132?” Since, as you say, theology is just made up, I assume Mormonism “doesn’t allow for de-canonization” in the sense of : the costs of doing so would be too high. Does all the same have to be true in the case of a radical revision? Wouldn’t that please the most people by not getting rid of it entirely.

  6. Scott Roskelley December 4, 2014 at 11:41 am - Reply

    I really think there is a connection between the true 24 November 1889 revelation by Woodruff, in which the entire quorum of the twelve, felt happiness, “great joy”, or as Abraham Cannon wrote “heart[s] filled with joy and peace. It sets all doubts at rest concerning the course to pursue.” and what George Q Cannon meant when he read D&Cov 124:49-50 directly after Woodruff announced the manifesto in the 6 Oct 1890 general conference. Cannon saw the manifesto as pertaining to the US only, as did most of the apostles. The federal pressure (US Sec of Interior), the pressing need to get the confiscated property back, etc forced the church back into as Lindsay expresses “doublespeak” time, i.e. giving the feds what they wanted to hear, and everyone else something different. Woodruff was going way off the rails, when he even began abandoning his own plural wives and declaring in general and stake conferences doctrine which he didn’t believe himself, like “no cohabitation with your wives married to you before the manifesto”. That was really painful for the saints to be forced into divorcing entirely their own wives and children. This was why we had in the Juarez, MX high council minutes in April 1894 George Cannon quoted as saying, “I believe in concubinage, or some plan whereby men and women can live together under sacred ordinances and vows until they can be married. Thus our surplus of girls can be cared for, and the law of God to multiple and replenish the earth can be fulfilled.” These are historical facts, not anti-mormon rumors. Then this re-appeared with Richard Lyman who for 20 years had a polygamous wife in secret while serving in the quorum of 12. I think when Hinckley said to Larry King that there are “no Mormon fundamentalists” this monopolization on the word/trademark Mormon is ludicrous, bull-headed – why can’t someone who believes in polygamy and the book of mormon call themselves Mormons?

  7. square peg December 4, 2014 at 11:54 am - Reply

    First of all, thanks to all of you who participated in this podcast. There were some very good things brought out by each of you.

    I did have a question for Lindsey. When is the podcast you did with Natasha on polygamy supposed to be released? I’m very much wanting to hear it.

    I am a woman who is in her early 40’s and I have to say that polygamy and the nauseating weight of knowing it almost certainly will be required after this life has tormented me since I was young enough to have read or heard anything about it. I have read endless numbers of books on the topic over the years trying to understand it more, but it only continued to gnaw on my soul the more I learned over the years. It essentially was the reason I finally decided to leave the church. Everything about it is demeaning to women and I cannot and will not believe that God wants any woman to feel like a piece of eternal property. My marriage is severely on the rocks because of my decision and my family is torn apart on the belief spectrum. I have been blamed for my lack of faith. But I wish the blame could ever be put where it truly belongs, but despite the essays and their strides to be more open about the topic, there still is so much ache in my heart wanting more. The essays did little to soothe the broken heart that I have had because of feeling stuck in a religion that I loved and hated. Had it not been for the whole polygamy thing and all the implications that have been apart of our church and our doctrine because of it, I more than likely would still be in the church. It is the biggest factor that I wrestled with that eventually led me out for my own spiritual sanity.

    • David Macfarlane December 4, 2014 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      Hey, peg, the pain in your posting is palpable (apologies for the accidental alliteration). You have my empathy. TBMs often seem to see us as pains in the butt, at best, and Satan-worshiping heretics at worst. Your experience illustrates how viscerally painful it is to leave the religion you were raised with, especially this one, and how “leaving the church and leaving it alone” is really not an option. Your first-person experience provides support for John’s statistical work about why people leave. This is real and deserves respect.

      I think that almost all disaffected Mormons feel as they do because we both were sold and bought an idyllic concept of truth that seems naive as we age and the world opens up. (Maybe I am only speaking for myself, as many TBMs have posted here and elsewhere they they knew long ago of Joseph’s polygamy and polyandry. I did not.) The protective cocoon of the church is a source of both tremendous comfort, but certain revelations create great pain and frustration. You don’t have to embrace all of it or any of it. For me, the greatest source of satisfaction outside the church is the ability to decide for myself what I believe and which path to follow.

      Whatever happens to you, and I hope your family holds up during this transition, you will emerge on the other side of the refiner’s fire with a stronger sense of self because you will have chosen; you will own the decision. Best of luck.

      • square peg December 4, 2014 at 2:59 pm - Reply

        Thank you David. I sincerely appreciate that.

    • Goto December 5, 2014 at 7:11 am - Reply

      Amen Square Peg–amen!! I am done with this church and all religion and even God and this essay–Nauvoo one is the nail in the coffin. I am a man, I have a large sex drive, but I love my one wife and I keep those external desires at bay!! No woman should feel like a piece of meat and under valued because a man-not a God says we can have more than one wife. So Hell it is for me if the Mormobs are right. The woman in my life deserve more than what Josrph Smith and his sex starved friends desired. Sorry to offend anyone LDS–this is coming from a member whose family joined the church when he was 6, and I have been active ALL my life!!

      • square peg December 5, 2014 at 6:45 pm - Reply

        There’s no way God would send you to hell for treating your wife the way she deserves to be treated. I have to believe that was NEVER the will of God-merely man assigning God to their actions to justify themselves. If there is a God, he will punish instead those who treated his daughters poorly instead. No Father would want his daughters to be devalued in such ways.

    • Bill December 5, 2014 at 11:03 am - Reply

      This is blaming the victim at its finest. WE were the ones who were punched in the throat by the church that was supposed to have our best interests in mine yet we are the ones who are blamed for our lack of faith. Just know that you have lots of company and lots of prayers on your (our) behalf to that God I’m not sure I believe in any more!

      • square peg December 5, 2014 at 5:35 pm - Reply

        Yes Bill, It does feel that way. I hope we all can find the help and the strength needed to work through our individual faith journeys. I hope we all find ourselves in happier and healthier places in the future. Best wishes to all who find themselves in these difficult circumstances.

    • Lilli December 5, 2014 at 11:17 am - Reply

      Square Peg,

      People fall for Mormonism and things like polygamy because they do not believe in or know what Christ taught. They don’t even know what Joseph Smith taught. They just believe whatever the ‘Church’ today tells them. Blind faith will always cause people to be deceived.

      The truth will set you free from your troubling feelings about polygamy, for polygamy was never and will never be a law of God. But it is usually what false prophets preach and practice. Even many true prophets throughout time have fallen for polygamy, for it is very enticing to the natural man and most men desire it in one form or another. ‘Serial’ polygamy, by divorce & remarriage, being the most common & accepted form of polygamy in the Church today.

      But the bottom line is Christ continually condemned polygamy in every way. If we study his teachings and example on love, the Golden Rule and his words on marriage, we find there is no way he would have ever allowed for polygamy. It is the opposite of love, it is extreme abuse & selfishness on the part of men. It is completely contrary to the Golden Rule, for men would never want done to them what they do to women in polygamy, nor would men put up with it, as women shouldn’t either. And last but not least, Christ clearly taught in Matt. 19:9, that married men can’t marry another woman or it’s adultery, even if he divorces his 1st wife 1st, for there is no such thing as divorce in God’s eyes, it’s just a vain invention of man. So Christ condemned all polygamy when he condemned remarriage after divorce, because his reason was that marriage is unbreakable and only between 2 people.

      So if we want to have peace and know right from wrong we need to study, live and believe the words of Christ, then we won’t fall for men who teach abusive whoredoms like polygamy.

      If you even just study the words of Joseph Smith and how he spent his whole life preaching, warning & fighting ‘against’ polygamy, then you will feel better, realizing that he warned us that if we fell for men who preached or practiced polygamy we would be damned. But Brigham had other ideas and desires, and when Joseph was gone Brigham started preaching opposite to Joseph and changed the scriptures and started saying that Joseph really did live polygamy secretly. But there is no proof of that whatsoever, only lots of vile hearsay against Joseph, usually by those who had every reason to lie to justify their adulteries.

      Even if it ends up that Joseph really did weaken and fall for polygamy and lie is whole life, it still just means he was a false prophet, for Christ also clearly taught that true prophet would not lie. And even if Joseph didn’t lie about polygamy and was innocent of it, it appears he lied about almost everything else. So I believe he was innocent of polygamy but that he was just another false prophet teaching many things contrary to the words of Christ. And Christ warned us about falling for just such false prophets.

      So even though we are raised in a Church and thus tend to believe it’s the only true church, like anyone in any other religion does who was raised in their churches, we all have to one day follow Christ and ‘prove all things’ and test to see if the Church we were raised in is really true or not. Which I found it was not and none are.

      But the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and we can follow him independently of any church or man or prophet. For his Gospel is simple to understand and it’s easy to tell true prophets from false ones if we study and live his Gospel.

      It all boils down to who you gonna believe, Christ or anyone else.

      • Mrsdirt December 12, 2014 at 9:42 am - Reply

        Hello, Joseph did practice polygamy and polyandry. The church admitted this already.

  8. Curious Lee December 4, 2014 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    Something that I haven’t seen in any of the podcasts on polygamy are the genetic repercussions of the practice. Because of the practice I believe that genetic predispositions to nondominant genes were passed down. Also with so many different half siblings it was difficult to track who were cousins. Hasn’t this also caused some pockets of genetic illness in Utah descendants? Just curious….

    • Matthew December 4, 2014 at 10:26 pm - Reply

      I have not heard of any genetic abnormalities in the Utah/Idaho/Arizona population as a whole or polygamous descendants as a whole, perhaps because the population was large enough and as was mentioned only practiced by perhaps 50% of the population and immigration helped. Where it has clearly caused genetic abnormalities are among the flds in Colorado city / hildale utah. It has greatly increased the incidence of fumarase deficiency. Just google that phrase and Colorado city and you’ll find a gold mine on the Internet. A small closed population is where the problems really begin to manifest themselves in significant numbers.

      • Curious Lee December 5, 2014 at 6:57 am - Reply

        Thanks for the info. Great podcast. And good insight on how an essay can be spun. Thanks to Lindsay, J, and Joe…etc for using their time to dissect this essay and bring the many issues surrounding this history to light.

  9. Doug December 4, 2014 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    Some error on playback. Can’t even download it.

    • John Dehlin December 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      Doug – Try again. Those problems should be fixed.

  10. Belle December 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    This is one of the best commentaries (podcasts) I have heard to date on the topic of polygamy. Lindsay is by far the first person that I have heard that articulates my own feelings about polygamy (from a woman’s perspective). The church essays are a great admission (along with even Brian Hale’s work) by the church about some of the prior practices of polygamy (despite the double-speak), but they do not deal with the root of the issue for many of us. Lindsay explains exceptionally well what the problem with polygamy is for most women. I really appreciated the push back that she gave concerning the fact that some women express being just “fine” with the idea of polygamy and why that doesn’t resolve the issues of marginalization, inequality, and devaluation of women that polygamy creates, she gave voice to so many of us, please keep it up!

  11. Rio December 4, 2014 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    I’m curious to know if Lindsay or other women here have watched “Sister Wives” on TLC…and what their reaction is to the seemingly positive portrait that the Brown’s project about polygyny?

    • Belle December 4, 2014 at 5:45 pm - Reply

      Rio, perception is everything isn’t it? I don’t see a positive portrait after watching any of the episodes I’ve seen, actually my response is pit-in-the stomach, horrid feelings. You can conclude whatever you want, regardless, my views about what polygny does to women (devaluation, etc) doesn’t change because of “sister wives.”

      Also, do you truly believe that “reality” TV is reality? Just curious on that.

      • Rio December 4, 2014 at 9:13 pm - Reply

        My question wasn’t to challenge anything you or Lyndsay said, but rather to simply ask what your perceptions of the show were.

        Thank you for your response.

        • Belle December 7, 2014 at 10:25 pm - Reply

          I apologize Rio if I came across as abrupt, I suppose that it’s in part that I find it frustrating that the argument that some women are “fine” with this form of oppression, that I (or other women) should be as well, I suppose I’m a little defensive about it, so I am sorry if I was a little rude in my response.

          I do not have a high opinion of reality tv in general and “sister wives” is no exception, I have not watched most episodes, but what I did watch left me feeling as I stated above.

          I spoke to a my sister today who regularly watches the show, she likewise doesn’t have positive feelings about polygyny and said she likes to watch the show to see the “person” she likes “win” whatever conflict is going on (gawking at their lives)…so anyways there is another opinion.

          • Lilli December 9, 2014 at 10:04 am

            From what I have watched with Sister Wives it does not seem like they are very happy and admit jealousy and they even complain about not getting enough time with their husband, etc. They seem to take solace in each other’s company somewhat but that is surely not the ideal for women.

            But even if some women say they like polygamy that does not mean it is a righteous way to live. Many or most women for the last 6000 years have just gone along with and some have even liked being abused, controlled and demeaned by men in so many ways, in the home, society or church.

            Just look how most women in the Church don’t seem to have a problem with being demeaned & disrespected by Church leaders and not allowed the Priesthood, when it is said to be the greatest thing there is. And how they just go along with the false idea of ‘obeying their husband’ and letting him be the leader and decision maker in the family.

            Such things are not right and are unrighteous dominion, but most women since the Church began have accepted it and many even thought it was right and good.

            When God/Christ actually teach the opposite & expect men to honor & respect women and their equal position, power, Priesthood & voice in all things, in the home, church and society. Neither spouse or gender presides over the other, both have all the same right & gifts & powers as the other in God’s eyes. Yet women have been taught, by men, that they don’t & most believe it.

  12. cl_rand December 4, 2014 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Another enlightening discussion. My great-grandfather took two sisters as plural wives marrying the oldest sister around 1880 and then taking the younger one, which was my great-grandmother, as his second wife a few years later. My grandmother was born in 1899 and grew up living in a house just down the street from where her father lived with his first wife, her mothers’ older sister, and their children. She was not allowed to tell anyone that he was really her Dad, she and her siblings called him uncle whenever they were in public. These two sisters gave birth to 25 children which has astounded me ever since I first learned about it. My grandmother told us of the many difficulties, rivalries, resentments and disappointments that came from living in such a huge family with one side forced to pretend their father was simply an uncle. After her father died she told me she used to pray that her mother could die before her aunt died, “So that Mama could have Daddy all to herself for a while”, as she put it. To her disappointment the aunt went before her mother. My grandmother remained a devout and active member of the church her entire life but she was forever grateful polygamy had been abolished before she was ever expected to participate.

    Listening to these discussions about how plural marriage was presented and practiced and how especially unfair it was to the women and children has really heightened the empathy I hold for the many feelings and emotions my grandmother would express about her experience growing up with it. Thanks for the education.

    • Goto December 5, 2014 at 7:15 am - Reply

      Amazing post!!

  13. Bri December 5, 2014 at 9:07 am - Reply

    Thanks so much – glad to know these essays are incomplete to a lot of other people. I look forward to reading the books in the footnotes as suggested.

  14. Jonathan December 5, 2014 at 11:13 am - Reply

    Kathleen Flake’s THE POLITICS OF AMERICAN RELIGIOUS IDENTITY deserves more attention. I’m surprised, in fact, that it never came up in the conversation. Not that the point was to acknowledge every scholar who has contributed to our understanding of polygamy, but her study is important as it underscores the centrality of polygamy and early Mormon identity and how Mormonism reinvented itself during the early 20th century. It is referenced in the footnote of “The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage” essay, but I generally don’t think it comes up enough. I highly recommend it and look forward to Flake’s forthcoming book on polygamy, which will also be published by North Carolina Press. I would love to hear her on Mormon Stories!

  15. Susan W H December 5, 2014 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    A round of applause for all of you–each one contributed to my understanding of the essays. I appreciate learning about the instances where the footnotes seem to contradict statements in the body. Lindsay, thank you.

    I do have a correction for Joe, though. Towards the end you said that Charles Penrose was a dyed-in-the-wool monogamist. I think you might have been thinking of someone else, because Penrose was definitely a polygamist. He had three wives and continued to live with all of them post-Manifesto. He was indicted for unlawful cohabitation in February 1885 and spent the next few years hiding on the Mormon Underground while continuing in his job as editor of the Deseret News. He was my great-grandfather.

    • Joe Geisner December 6, 2014 at 9:04 am - Reply


      Thank you for listening. Yes, I have no idea what I was thinking! I will chalk it to brain freeze or dementia. :-)

      I did know about Romania Bunnell Pratt, his secret wife, but I didn’t know about Louise Elizabeth Lusty, his second wife. So thank you for your website about Penrose’s life. It was fun to go though the dates.

      Susan, has anyone transcribed his missionary diaries. The quote I read about his recruiting a woman to be a wife for the man in Utah, is the only entry from this period I have. I would love to get the other entries from this mission.

  16. Cynderella December 6, 2014 at 2:48 am - Reply

    This was an excellent discussion. There is however, one aspect of Mormon polygamy that I have not heard discussed. There are divorced men in the LDS church today who are sealed to more than one living woman. If you are a divorced female who is still sealed to her former husband and that man chooses to be sealed to his current wife, you receive a form letter from his bishop. The letter asks two things; does the ex-spouse owe you money and do you know of any reason he would not be worthy to be sealed to his current wife. Your permission is not requested, nor is it required. You are essentially being informed that you will soon have an eternal sister wife and your thoughts on the matter are of no concern.

    Thankfully, when I received such a letter, it arrived nine months after my resignation from the LDS Church, and I had been divorced for sixteen years. Even so, the cold legalese wording of the letter made me angry. I couldn’t help wondering how such a letter would be received by a woman who had been divorced for a much shorter time. It also occurred to me that in some cases the ex-husband could be requesting a sealing to the woman with whom he had cheated.

    I agree with Lindsay that polygamy is a painful subject for Mormon women. I don’t think that the church has addressed that pain, in fact, the wording of the letter I received leads me to believe that the church leadership doesn’t even know that the pain exists.

  17. Charles A Smith December 6, 2014 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    Great podcast. I am a product of polygamy via Orson Pratt and his 10th wife.

  18. David Macfarlane December 7, 2014 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    Growing up Mormon in semi-rural northern Utah, i.e., somewhere between SLC and Ogden, we never had in-depth discussions of polygamy. Instead, the practice was the source of a family tale about my great great grandfather. In the retelling, he was asked to take another wife and consulted the lone extant spouse. She, wisely, said she would consent if she could pick the woman, and then proceeded to select her best friend. This arrangement seemed to work fine for a while, until great great grandfather came home with a teenage bride he had consulted neither wife about. When he was told to flee to Mexico because the feds were coming shortly thereafter, the two older wives told him to have a safe trip. Apocryphal? Perhaps, but entertaining, nonetheless. Regardless, this was the one story we told, and we treated polygamy as an aberration necessitated by the unbalanced gender ratio and the need for the women folk to be taken care of. I never heard one person make the “raise up seed” rational, which takes me a bit by surprise. Minus the polygamy, this is the proliferation strategy of Palestinians or Albanians in Kosovo.

    So, if women did not have more children in polygamous relationships, and some men were unable to find brides (per the anecdote Joe shared) because many younger women were already married to older church leaders, and marrying and having sex with women doesn’t really qualify as “taking care of them,” one is left with very unsettling assumptions about the real motivation for polygamy.

    After listening, the issue I have is this: Would God’s one and only true church try to destroy people’s lives (Mike Quinn, Fawn Brodie, etc.) for writing factual information? I cannot resolve this. I’ve read David Grant’s account of how he came to know, which includes excerpts from Clayton Christensen’s explanation of his own process. I respect their experiences, but I really believe at this point that, if this is God’s church, I’ll take the Telestial and be fine with it, thank you very much.

    By their works ye shall know them, indeed. Mormons are nice people, and the church donates millions to charity (paltry compared with Catholic Relief Services), but what happens to those who don’t tow the line is frightening. Is there room for dissent with a discussion of truth? I think there has to be.

    Apologies for the ramble. Thanks to all four of you for a very enlightening conversation.

    • Ashley January 13, 2015 at 5:21 am - Reply

      Thank you for pointing out that it is not necessary to marry and have sex with someone in order to take care of them. We successfully take care of children and the elderly all the time in this society without doing so. This argument has always bothered me.

  19. Michael Surkan December 8, 2014 at 7:39 am - Reply

    How confident are we in the information number given in the podcast regarding the quantity of Joseph Smith’s polygamous descendants? I think one of the guests said the number was somewhere around 1100.

    I ask this because my understanding was that it has been difficult to prove that Joseph had married all the women that claim to have married him and that in some cases DNA testing has disproven claims of descent from Smith (and no where proven it).

    Combined with the fact that Emma denied Smith was a polygamist (as well as the entire RLDS church) it makes me wonder as to the veracity of all the claims. Let’s not forget that the Utah church had a vested interest in proving Joseph’s polygamous ways to justify their own practices.

    I am NOT trying to defend Joseph (whom I believe was a con man of sorts), but I have even less trust of the Utah Mormon leadership. The very fact that having proof of Joseph’s polygamy is in the interest of the LDS church makes such claims suspect in my view. If Smith had not actually been a polygamist then the entire polygamist foundation of the Utah church (which exists to this day in theological terms) is dust.

  20. Lilli December 8, 2014 at 11:58 am - Reply

    If the Church was true and the leaders were honest & righteous they would admit that there is no proof whatsoever that Joseph ever preached or practiced polygamy and that there was only a lot of vile hearsay against him, from mostly those who had every reason to lie. And they would admit that there is tons of proof that Joseph preached, fought and warned against polygamy his whole life. They would also admit that Christ taught that ‘true prophets can’t lie’, and that either Joseph or Brigham did lie.

    Righteous people, especially true prophets, assume someone is innocence until proven guilty. Thus they would assume Joseph was innocent of polygamy and not believe vile hearsay, no matter how much.

    But they can’t admit that cause they know most people would leave the Church if they knew the whole truth about it’s history and leaders.

    Thus, it seems to me that all the LDS leaders, (like those in Brigham Young’s day), really like & desire polygamy and don’t care that it is against Christ’s teachings or that it is abusive to women. When did they ever truly respect women’s divine equality & rights anyway?

    I believe that the Church worded this last essay in a way that leaves it open to bring polygamy back, probably just as soon as it becomes legal nationally and enough of the membership will go along with it, which it seems most members already are ok with polygamy, or they would have left the Church long ago, for it’s easy to find out and see that Christ (and Joseph Smith even) was totally against polygamy and called it adultery.

    So those who would believe in men who claim to be ‘prophets’ and who would treat women that way, must want the perk of polygamy themselves or they wouldn’t have anything to do with such men or teachings, they would listen to Christ instead, (who clearly taught that married men can’t marry another wife or it’s adultery).

    I think that within 10 years the church will be living polygamy again and also accept same sex marriage, given their history of changing doctrine to whatever the majority of society or members want, even if the Church once totally preached against it.

    The Church seems more concerned about keeping members then about keep the commandments of Christ.

    • David Macfarlane December 8, 2014 at 12:59 pm - Reply

      “… there is no proof whatsoever that Joseph ever preached or practiced polygamy and that there was only a lot of vile hearsay against him …” I’m not sure how you can say this, Lilli, despite the fact you rarely pass up an opportunity to say it. Is all of Todd Compton’s work based on lies and third-hand information? On what are you basing your long-winded assertions, other than personal conviction?

      • Michael Surkan December 8, 2014 at 1:21 pm - Reply

        @David – I would love to hear more about the evidence behind Joseph’s polygamous marriages. In particular, how much evidence is there that comes from non Utah Mormons?

        It is hard for me to give much weight to the statements of Utah Mormons since they had such a vested interest in justifying the continuing LDS practice of polygamy.

        Of course, all such questions could finally be put to rest for good if we could find just one polygamous descendant of Joseph that can be verified with DNA testing.

      • Lilli December 8, 2014 at 3:01 pm - Reply


        I have studied this a lot and I have never seen or read any of any proof that Joseph preached or practiced polygamy. But we have tons of proven and published proof from him while he was alive that he was totally against it.

        It would not even have made sense for him to lie and live it secretly, for he would have known that as soon as people found out they would lose all confidence in him. Joseph warned the Saints that they would be damned if they ever fell for anyone, even a prophet who preached or practiced polygamy, even if he himself taught it.

        If he thought the people would have to accept it someday he would have never said that and other things and set himself and the BoM up to be rejected. For he totally denounced polygamy in the BoM too, leaving no room for it in any circumstance. Joseph also set the people up to later reject Brigham, (for it appears Joseph was about to excommunicate Brigham but died before he could do so), and thus many or most Saints did not follow Brigham, for Joseph had taught them that polygamy was and always will be a whoredom, just like Christ did.

        If the Church had any proof I believe they would have waved it around long ago, like in the Temple Lot Case when they tried using their best evidence, but couldn’t prove that Joseph lived polygamy. They only have hearsay from other people, things said or wrote by people after Joseph was gone and couldn’t defend himself anymore.

        One sided testimony is not proof, no matter how much.

        Do you have any references to proven & published accounts of Joseph preaching or admitting to polygamy that he published while he was alive? He always denounced any accusations that he was practicing polygamy. Do you think he lied? Do you believe he was a true prophet? Christ said that was impossible, that true prophets have to keep his commandments in order to be such, including “Thou shalt not bear false witness”.

        So whether Joseph lied or Brigham lied, the Church has no foundation and either ended with Joseph or was never started by true prophets in the 1st place.

        Though it appears Joseph may not have lied about polygamy and was truly innocent, it appears he lied about most everything else.

        I believe Joseph was a false prophet who wrote the Book of Mormon, with help & many sources, including his own father’s dream of the Tree of Life that he accredited to Lehi and then never seemed to mention that his father had the same dream. Kind of front page news that the Church never mentions. Why? Because people would start putting 2 & 2 together. Joseph was a gifted story teller & I believe others helped him write the BoM, which teaches many things contrary to Christ, which again, true prophets would not have written.

        The Church is not founded on Christ’s teachings, for polygamy is completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ on so many levels. Not to mention all the other things the Church preaches and practices past and present that are contrary to the commandments of Christ.

        • cl_rand December 10, 2014 at 7:17 am - Reply

          You’re absolutely right about one thing Lilli, LDS doctrine isn’t based on the teachings of Christ. That’s because it was conceived of and founded by a devious young treasure seeker who had no problem lying through his teeth to protect his own skin and separate folks from their women and money. Then again the Church of Christ has the same problem with their founder.

  21. Josh December 8, 2014 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    Great job on this episode! Many thanks to all involved. Does anyone have some sources for further reading about information on immigrant young girls coming to Utah, getting married off to church leaders, and having babies a year later? This is new to me and I would like to read into it a little further. Thanks in advance.

  22. Dave December 8, 2014 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Thank you very much for this discussion.

    A couple of points. First, if my wife and I were having issues involving trust, and the other were to respond with half-truths; “double-speak”, technically true but (seemingly intentionally) misleading statement, meaningless facts which (seemingly intentionally) divert the issues and all of the other problems raised by the panel, there really wouldn’t be any therapist who would recommend forgiving and letting go. The same for employees, friends and politicians. Why should an institution which not only claims to represent God, but also asserts moral authority and calls on its members to “chose the right” be held to a lower standard?

    I understand the (admittedly guarded) optimism expressed, but at some level isn’t this like an abusive husband who only beats is wife once that week, so we should be happy?

    I do hope there is a third episode and if so, the panel discusses the conflicts between the LDS Church which releases an essay pointing to polygamy as starting in the 1840s and specifically between one man and multiple women and the LDS Church which releases an essay stating that it started sometime in the 1830s and at one point had more polyandrous marriages.

    Another question is what is the game plan for the church? Or is there? This may be too hot of an issue for this site, because it would undoubtedly be seen as undermining the leadership by speculating, but from a now outsider’s view, what is the point? Is it baby steps to address it? People guess that it’s inoculation, but it’s opened such a can of worms that simply saving future generations doesn’t seem likely.

    I know women who have voted with their feet over this issue, so is this such a major item that they decided to move forward a bit? There are rumors that Monson is not completely mentally fit, so are there battles behind the scenes?

  23. Sloan McCae December 9, 2014 at 9:46 am - Reply

    Can someone PLEASE teach/tell Lindsay Hansen Park how to stop her ‘baby talk’. It undermines the valid research she has done on this important topic. Lindsay, you are smart, strong, competent women. Please stop being coy and ‘cute’ in the way you speak. And please, for the love of god, stop narrating what you are saying—as you are saying it. Or giving disclaimers before you speak. Just say what you have to say. (e.g., “I know I’m probably going to be controversial here – giggle, giggle– but…..”) JUST SAY IT, DON’T NARRATE ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SAY. It is more than annoying and belies the usually smart insight that you have to share. I know nothing about you, but I would guess you grew up in Utah and have been socialized to second-guess yourself or at least speak like you do. Please read Deborah Tannen’s “Speaking 9-5” and reflect a bit on your speaking style. You are not a little girl. You are a grown woman doing an important work. Please talk like it. The cutesy, coy, cadence you use (which is the verbal equivalent of ‘batting your eyelashes’ is obnoxious and ridiculous. Speak with authority, with confidence, and get rid of that ‘general conference’ infantilized way of speaking. Tough love needed and given. With this said, thank you for your Year of Polygamy podcasts and contribution.

    • Cynderella December 9, 2014 at 11:15 am - Reply

      Sloan, that was harsh! I think Lindsay navigates the mine field of female podcasting very well. She knows her audience. She is speaking to both believers and non-believers, and yes she lives in Utah where the “B” label is easily acquired. You accused Lindsay of ‘general conference’ speaking and I have to disagree. I don’t think her delivery is at all like that of the ‘sistern’. This is a case of ‘walk a mile’; Lindsay can’t be expected to sound one way on line and another in her real life. She is functioning well in the society in which she lives. Let the woman be who she is.

    • Lindsay Hansen Park December 9, 2014 at 4:40 pm - Reply

      Wow and ouch! This is just how I speak. It’s not an act and I don’t plan on changing it. I’m not an elitist, I don’t care to sound like one, and it doesn’t bother me if it distracts from the privileged messaging you are used to hearing.

      Aside from your condescending “tough love,” don’t tell me how to better change and communicate my feelings so it’s more palatable to you.

      • cl_rand December 10, 2014 at 7:34 am - Reply

        Well put Lindsay. Sloans’ so called “tough love” is nothing more than an attack on the messenger from someone too weak minded to discuss the message. BTW, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way you deliver the message! Thanks for all the work.

    • myrrrrnaloy December 9, 2014 at 4:57 pm - Reply

      Can someone PLEASE teach/tell Sloan McCae how to stop his/her ‘telling people what to do all the time’. It undermines the semi-valid comment s/he has made on MormonStories.org. Sloan, you are smart, strong, competent commenter. Please stop being authoritative and ‘helpful’ in the way you type. And please, for the love of god, stop telling strong, smart, competent woman what to do all of the time. Or giving disclaimers about how much you like a person before you type something utterly assholish. Just don’t say completely condescending and rude things when you feel you have to say them. (e.g., “You are not a little girl.”) JUST DON’T SAY IT, TURN OFF THE PODCAST IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT. It is more than annoying when you feel you have to share a stupid, rude opinion that no one wants to hear. I know nothing about you, but I would guess that you’re a brown-haired anglo of East-English and Dutch descent, and have been socialized to think that you can open your fat mouth about anything you want to, and that someone would actually like to hear your opinion. Please read Michael Staver’s “Do You Know How To Shut Up? and 51 other life lessons that will make you uncomfortable″ and reflect a bit on your life. You are not sharing an opinion that anyone wants to hear. You are a listener to a free podcast. Please act like it. The belittling, unkind comment you left (which is the verbal equivalent of ‘being a douchecanoe’ is obnoxious and ridiculous. Enjoy the silence of your stupid opinion with authority, with confidence, and get rid of that ‘general conference’ patriarchal, paternalist, patronizing way of typing. Tough love needed and given. With this said, thank you for nothing.

      • cl_rand December 10, 2014 at 7:41 am - Reply

        You said that extremely well myrrrrnaloy.

    • nat kelly December 9, 2014 at 5:05 pm - Reply

      Sloan, please reread your comment and tell me you can see how incredibly condescending, sexist, and elitist it sounds.

      Lindsay is an incredible expert at what she does. She does not need you to “teach” her anything. She is unearthing this incredibly vital history, using an approach and format that has never been done before, highlighting women’s voices that have been completely left out of history, and you want to micro manage her “speaking style?”

      Dude no.

      The way you made that comment was annoying, so I’m going to send you a list of 5 books on proper communication to improve your style. You are a big, strong, smart man, and you can totally do better!!! I know you’ll appreciate my little bit of tough love!

    • nat kelly December 9, 2014 at 5:39 pm - Reply

      actually, lindsay’s style is to mormon studies what buffy is to superheroes.

      “what, you don’t think someone like me fits the typical mold? Let’s see if I give a damn while I am busy slaying hell beasts/the misogyny monster of mormonism’s past present and future.”

  24. cwc December 9, 2014 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    Typical feminist hysteria. Sloane was merely providing unsolicited, valuable feedback about how offensively female Ms Hansen Park comes across. S/He isn’t saying anything all of us haven’t thought ourselves: narrative driven, female centered programming would be better if it had 100% more penis. That’s all. Maybe invest in a prosthetic? I understand the fMh podcast has begun fundraising. I hope they spring for a top of the line prosthetic penis for Ms Hansen Park. It is a small thing to ask for from a FEMINIST podcast: be more like a dude. Not just any dude- an academic dude, the very best kind of dude that there is.The world needs more of them.

    • Sloan McCae December 10, 2014 at 9:08 am - Reply

      Oh you Western women are funny. So sensitive and reactionary. And for the record, I am a woman as well, although gender is irrelevant for this discussion (amusing however that you all speculated that I am a man). In fact, I am an active, main stream, professional LDS women who would like to see Lindsay ‘up her game’ a bit. (Insert clip of Eliza Doolittle here please). lol. Speaking with authority, without apologizing for your comments, in a confident, straightforward way is neither male or female. It simply lends credibility and yes is more pleasing to the ear. It is neither ‘privileged’ (one of Lindsay’s favorite words) or elitist, or male. You ladies need to all grow up. We are talking about Feminism here, after all. So take it from a true Feminist who has successfully lived and worked in a man’s world for 25 years. One who has successfully functioned in a male-dominated Church, and a male-oriented Gospel. You can do better is all I’m saying. Apologies if the feedback wasn’t kind and gentle enough for your taste. Maybe the dude’s are better at this than we are. They simply take this kind of feedback—for what it’s worth—shrug and move on. Grow a thicker skin ladies and keep up the great FMH PodCast Lindsay. I really am a fan and admire what you’re doing. Otherwise I wouldn’t waste my time trying to make you better at your craft.

      • Cynderella December 10, 2014 at 9:40 am - Reply

        Sloan, you are exactly what I guessed you were, which makes your criticism worse. You could have made your point in a much kinder way, or you could have kept your opinion to yourself. It is disappointing when women criticize other women for superficial things. If Lindsay had been on video, you probably would have criticized her appearance (for her own good, or course). If women must be judged, they should be judged for what they say, not how they say it. Criticizing Lindsay’s delivery, is like criticizing Kate Kelly’s tone. Your comments were rude and you owe Lindsay a sincere apology.

        • Sloan McCae December 10, 2014 at 9:54 am - Reply

          Wrong on all counts Cynderella. Let me make my point with an analogy: I give training to women MBA’s who are entering the workforce and I tell them: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. In other words, don’t dress like a receptionist if you want to be the CFO. How you dress is going to give cues to others about how to treat you, indicate what you think of yourself, how seriously you take yourself, etc. If you want to be seen as and treated like a secretary, dress like one. If you want to be seen as an executive, dress and speak like one. Same principle applies here. If Lindsay wants to become more credible and be taken seriously, she need to improve her delivery. It is a simple suggestion. I am not attacking her worth as a person or the work she is doing. I would tell John Dehlin the same thing. He is too wordy, talks too much and talks over his guests in an attempt to lead them to the answer he wants to hear. (Does that make you feel better that I have no problem dolling out the advice to both men and women equally?) lol. I would never criticize Lindsay’s appearance btw, because it IS irrelevant in this context. So, I can see that I’ve struck a nerve with all you girls (which is what you’re acting like). But perhaps you would all do well to calm down a bit, put your emotions in check and say the hardest thing of all “Maybe the suggestion is valid and maybe this is some food for thought.” You don’t have to agree with me or take the suggestion, but this emotional over reaction is hilarious. And who are you to decide that we have to be ‘nice’ or keep quiet? Sounds very Relief Society to me…..I haven’t read those rules anywhere. So ladies, put on your big girl pants and grow up and ‘up your game a bit’. Hugs and kisses. And lot’s ‘o love, Sloan. LOL.

          • Cynderella December 10, 2014 at 10:25 am

            Just two points, Sloan. First, you didn’t criticize John and second, Lindsay didn’t sign up for your class. Your criticism was unsolicited. Keep the hugs and kisses, but have a nice day, Cyn.

          • myrrrrnaloy December 10, 2014 at 4:05 pm

            When you train women with MBA’s, do you charge extra for the condescension? JW.

          • Ray December 12, 2014 at 7:16 pm

            This is called thread High-jacking, the theme and intent of this thread is not about anyone’s delivery style or getting training for an interview… You have proving how disparate you are to stoop low enough in high-jacking a thread. Very disrespectful and self centered you might consider getting some training yourself!

          • Ashley January 13, 2015 at 5:39 am

            Are you aware that inserting an apostrophe after “MBA” is incorrect? In doing so, you indicate that you are speaking of the MBA in the possessive, not the plural. The correct way to write the acronym in this case would be simply, MBAs.

            As a feminist with a master’s degree myself, I am surprised that you were unaware. Actually, I’ve seen you make this mistake more than once and this “western woman” would like you to know that it’s annoying! :-/

            Please brush up on your grammar. Also, please strip yourself of all femininity and make yourself more like a man because if you are going to work in a male-dominated world, the last thing you should be doing is celebrating your diversity as a female. It’s much better to strap on a fake penis and blend in.

            You’re a feminist? Really?

      • Xposit December 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm - Reply

        So you want to “see Lindsay ‘up her game’. . .? That’s funny Sloan. I certainly hope she doesn’t stoop to your level. You imagine you are perceived as authoritative when in fact you simply come across as self righteous and petty. And nothing I’ve seen you post here would be interpreted as “pleasing to the ear.” Hysterical stuff Sloan!

  25. Sunshine December 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Oh God, Sloan. You are so annoying and condescending.

  26. Jonathan December 13, 2014 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Where can I read more about polygamist marriages from hand cart companies? It sounded like he said Connor Donovan” but I can’t find any author by that name.

  27. Geoff - Aus December 14, 2014 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    It sounds like someone started this project, to tell the truth, and someone else said not to much.

    Hopefully there will be a follow up that will be completely honest. and will include that it was not gospel but culture again.

    Even the race and priesthood one didn’t come out clearly and say this was purely culture, no Gospel, and was always wrong.

    There seems to be plausibly deniability built.

    We still can’t be completely honest.

  28. Cory December 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    John: my dad is sealed to three women, consecutively married and divorced, and interestingly enough, before my mother passed away, there were times when #1 (my mother) and #3, together with us kids, attended functions together, or all spent the night in the same house, and we all got along well! So, maybe that portends well for our potential Celestial Kingdom situation.

    • Lilli December 20, 2014 at 10:28 am - Reply

      There have always been a lot of women who have put up with or even liked polygamy, especially ‘serial polygamy (by divorce & remarriage). But it still doesn’t make it right.

      For Christ condemned all polygamy, even serial polygamy.

      No matter what leader or lady may condone or like any type of polygamy, they don’t trump Christ.

      • Cory December 20, 2014 at 1:30 pm - Reply

        I’m not trying to justify it. I’m also not too worried about what Christ said about it. Just pointing out our rather interesting family situation.

      • Ashley January 13, 2015 at 10:19 am - Reply


        I am always able to figure out who you are regardless of the blog on which you are commenting. “For Christ condemned all polygamy.” Many of your sentences begin with “for.” It is unmistakeable.

        I do wonder though, if maybe you are misinterpreting things? I do not mean to be rude, I mean to have a real conversation about this. Do you sincerely believe that a loving Christ, who atoned for our sins and descended below all – having felt all pain, all sadness… do you REALLY think he would condemn the woman who divorced her abusive husband, found real love and then remarried? I am not sure exactly what the Bible states because frankly, I think it has been so tainted by evil people that I don’t read it as much as I should but really, I think we need to give our Lord more credit than that.

        Sorry, I do not consider remarriage to be polygamy in any form. It is common sense and if we really believe in our Savior, I think we need to realize that He is a reasonable being. Why would he do what he did if he wasn’t?

  29. Pamela December 18, 2014 at 11:31 am - Reply

    I would have liked to hear more from female perspectives than male in this particular podcast.

  30. Sarah Burton December 22, 2014 at 11:36 am - Reply

    My husband served his mission in West Africa, and they were actually not even allowed to teach polygamists because they didn’t want to break up families. Thanks for the great podcast! Polygamy is so interesting!

  31. Adam Albrec December 31, 2014 at 10:05 am - Reply

    John asked a good question about the ‘lost boys’ phenomenon and while I can’t find the source, after looking for quite a while, there is an account, I read years ago, of an inquiry by Brigham Young about what he considered an serious problem of increasing masturbation among young men in the early Utah territory and the reports coming back to him that blamed polygamy, since there were simply not enough women left to marry, as the polygamists were getting all of them. So the question would be:

    1. Would the leaders see this as an excuse for the sin/problem with polygamy, or would they more likely…
    2. See the sin of masturbation as the reason why these young men didn’t deserve to have wives in the first place?

    as Thomas More observed concerning crime and poverty:

    “For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.”
    ― Utopia

    This I suspect is the base of the Church’s predisposition toward capitalism and its priority of power over people, and wants of the powerful over needs of the many.

    There has also been a curious thing to note here about the panel’s reaction to the essays (Lindsay’s reaction being the most perfect example) – the Church can’t win here.

    On the one hand, the leaders attempt to leave polygamy (our people’s Paris Hilton Sex Tape and ‘booster’ to fame and notoriety) behind, and there is a part of us, that rightfully feels it is wrong and cheating to fail to acknowledge it and/or hide it. Then whenever there is even the slightest move toward seeing it as a positive – as in the current doctrine of eternal polygamy through Earthly remarriage, we are still mad/angry/pissed. This is the problem of building something on evil. You can add as much fresh milk as you want to that vat of sour, it is just a matter of time before it is all bad again.

    In our case, much like America in general, we are built on exploitation and greed, and nothing can fix that, short of reinvention. Has there been much good in the Church and its roots – for sure. But just as the Salt Lake Temple was completed by the subversion/misappropriation of the tithing system (out people’s ‘sale of indulgences’ moment – funny how these big buildings always undercut actual Christian charity), the tangible support structure for all we have is fundamentally corrupt. The ends do not justify the means.

    It is one thing have bad branches in an otherwise good tree as they can be pruned, but a bad trunk means that all the good branches are always in jeopardy.

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