Q.  What do Latter-day Saint (Mormon) churches believe and teach about polygamy today?

A.  The Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (RLDS), based in Independence, Missouri, is opposed to the practice of polygamy both in doctrine and practice.  Early members of the church, including Joseph Smith’s wife, Emma, and his son, Joseph III, were opposed to polygamy and did not acknowledge Joseph's involvement in the practice.  Today, the church respects evidence indicating Joseph Smith as the founder of Mormon polygamy.  

Community of Christ statement on polygamy (click and scroll down)

A.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), based in Salt Lake City, Utah, claims that Joseph Smith received a revelation from God requiring him to "restore" polygamy and that he was "challenged" by this command.  He is recognized by the church for submitting to this revelation.  The church phased out the practice starting around 1890, due to intense pressure from the federal government.  Those who marry mulitple wives today are excommunicated from the church.  The doctrine of plural marriage is still published in current versions of church scripture and the church does accept polygamy as an appropriate principle.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints statement on polygamy

A.  The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) exists in a variety of splinter groups which formed when the larger Salt Lake City based church discontinued the practice of polygamy around the end of the nineteenth century.  Fundamentalists believe it is their duty to continue the plural marriage practice started by Joseph Smith.  Although polygamy is illegal, they believe it is more important to follow the "law of God".  To avoid conflict with legal authorities, the practice is kept secret, or at least not flaunted.  Since polygamy was also illegal and secret when practiced by Joseph Smith, they believe they are following the prophet in their current practice.  Often, young teenagers are "given" in marriage, to much older men.  Fundamentalists believe they are following the pattern established by Joseph Smith when he married the fourteen-year-old, Helen Mar Kimball.  Modern groups such as Tapestry Against Polygamy and Help the Child Brides are commited to helping women out of unwanted and illegal polygamist relationships.  There are an estimated 30,000 fundamentalist Mormon polygamists in the western United States, mostly in Utah and Arizona

Information on the FLDS and Help the Child Brides

Information on Tapestry Against Polygamy

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