"Sister Wives" explained: A fundamentalist Mormon polygamy primer
October 25th, 2010
10:33 AM ET

"Sister Wives" explained: A fundamentalist Mormon polygamy primer

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Going where no reality show cameras had gone before, TLC this fall aired “Sister Wives,” a television series that invited voyeurs into the lives of a fundamentalist Mormon family that practices polygamy.

The finale aired earlier this month, when Kody Brown of Lehi, Utah, married his fourth wife and, with the addition of three stepchildren, expanded his kid base to 16.

And while the show set out to reveal the human side of such families - not one sexed-up by Hollywood (think HBO’s “Big Love”) or sullied by allegations of under-aged brides (think the trial of Warren Jeffs ) - it kept details about faith out of episodes.

Maybe that was a decision by TLC producers. Or perhaps the family, which is facing possible bigamy charges, wanted to keep those aspects of their life sacred. The finale’s spiritual wedding ceremony - only Brown’s first wife is recognized legally - was off-camera, after all.

So here's a primer on what drives families like this one, religiously, historically and culturally.

"Purest at its source"

Even though polygamy was disavowed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1890,  the LDS Church is still trying to shake its association with the practice, known among Mormons as plural marriage.

Joseph Smith, Jr.,  the church's founder and its first president, was the one who introduced the idea.

He established the church in 1830 after translating the Book of Mormon from golden plates that he said an angel revealed to him in New York State.

Smith - who, like all subsequent church leaders, is considered a prophet - continued to share revelations and new doctrines throughout his life. Among those revelations recorded in 1843 in the Doctrine and Covenants, a book of Mormon scripture, were teachings about plural marriage.

That Smith recorded these teachings is all Anne Wilde needs to know. Wilde, 74, was raised in the mainstream LDS Church but became part of the fundamentalist Mormon movement and the second wife in a plural marriage.

“I kind of look at the gospel as a stream of water, and it’s the purest at its source,” says Wilde, a spokeswoman for Principle Voices, a Utah-based group that educates the public about polygamy. “If those are eternal doctrines, then how can man change them? They can change procedures, but when they start changing eternal doctrines that God has said…that’s where I draw a line.”

Wilde says that about 38,000 people, mostly in the western U.S., are fundamentalist Mormons - though they are affiliated with different communities.

The essential belief among those who practice plural marriages is that they are necessary to achieve the greatest exaltation in what Mormons refer to as the celestial kingdom, the highest of heavenly kingdoms.

In fact, even if LDS Church members don’t practice plural marriage on earth, their scripture still teaches that in heaven it is possible. Mormons also believe that families are sealed together for eternity.

Though historians say that Joseph Smith had numerous wives, and some estimates exceed 30, he didn’t admit it. His first wife (and only legal one) denied it, too.

Brigham Young, who succeeded Smith and in 1847 led Mormon pioneers west to what became Utah, reportedly married 56 women.

The price of going public

It wasn’t until August 1852, at the LDS Church’s general conference in Salt Lake City, that plural marriage was first spoken about publicly.

Such talk, and the open practicing of such marriages that followed, did not go over well on the national stage. Polygamy, observed in an estimated 20 to 25 percent of LDS homes at the time, was just one of the factors that prompted the U.S. government to face off with Mormon settlers in the late 1850s.

In the ensuing decades, Congress would pass a handful of laws to abolish plural marriages. By the time of the Edmunds Act of 1882, polygamy was considered a felony compared to slavery. Practitioners faced fines and prison, and even those who merely believed in the doctrine were forbidden to vote or serve in public office.

Brigham Young had died five years earlier. The LDS Church ’s third president and prophet, John Taylor, a practicing polygamist, assumed his position in 1880. With the passage of the Edmunds Act, he - like many others - was forced into hiding.

In 1886, Taylor “nailed himself to the mast” on the issue of polygamy, says Ken Driggs, an attorney in Atlanta, Georgia, who has written extensively about fundamentalist Mormons and their legal history.

This was when Taylor shared a revelation, which he said he received from both Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith, upholding the practice of plural marriages.

Fundamentalist Mormons believe that Taylor shared this message with church officials who visited him. He revealed the names of those who would form a special quorum of apostles with authority to continue performing plural marriages, no matter what happened with the LDS Church, Driggs writes in a 2005 article for a Mormon journal.

The battle against Mormon polygamy continued while Taylor was underground, with 1887's Edmunds-Tucker Act forcing women to testify against their husbands, requiring anti-polygamy oaths and laying the groundwork for the U.S. government to seize high-value church properties, including temples.

Taylor died the year the law passed. He was succeeded in 1889 by Wilford Woodruff. And in 1890, Woodruff, who the Utah History Encyclopedia says initially had supported the practice of polygamy, issued what became known as the 1890 Manifesto: “I publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriages forbidden by the law of the land.”

A condition for Utah getting statehood, which it won 1896, was a ban on polygamy in its constitution. And while the LDS Church teaches that Woodruff prayed for guidance, his words have been called a declaration, not a revelation. The feeling among fundamentalist Mormons is that government pressure, not faith, was behind the end of plural marriage.

Even with the manifesto, there was dissension within. Taylor ’s son, John W. Taylor, was an apostle in the LDS Church. But he stepped down and was eventually excommunicated because of his continued support of plural marriages. For this reason he and his father are often held up as heroes among fundamentalist Mormons.

Fundamentalists splinter

What evolved in the 20th century, even after a second manifesto in 1904, was the quiet growth of a fundamentalist Mormon movement. The people within it held fast to their beliefs, even as the LDS Church tried to shut them and their practices down.

Fundamentalist Mormons see themselves as maintaining the core practices and beliefs of the LDS Church - including plural marriages. Many consider themselves Mormons, although the mainstream church itself won’t knowingly have anything to do with them and excommunicates them as quickly as it can find them.

Many LDS Church members, in fact, object to these people calling themselves fundamentalist "Mormons" as they feel there is nothing Mormon about them.

Fundamentalist Mormons say the apostles who’d been called by Taylor to perpetuate plural marriages later called new men to carry on the tradition. As a community, they settled along the Utah and Arizona border. But conflicts within the priesthood council about the succession of leadership would eventually lead to a split.

Today, there are a handful of fundamentalist Mormon groups, as well as polygamous families who call themselves independent.

Only one group has gone so far as to say that the mainstream LDS Church, in banning plural marriages, is guilty of apostasy. That group - the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - has gotten the most media attention.

The FLDS Church, with a membership of no more than 10,000, has seized headlines and spread an image of fundamentalist Mormon women wearing pastel prairie-style dresses and updos. The church's former leader, Warren Jeffs, was on the run until his 2006 arrest, and the raid on a Texas ranch in 2008 prompted allegations of forced marriages and child brides.

People like Wilde, the spokeswoman for Principle Voices, are quick to say that FLDS and fundamentalist Mormons are not synonymous.

“Please don’t paint us with the same brush,” says Wilde, who dresses in modern clothing, wears her hair short and insists that no one seeing her walk down the street would peg her as a woman in a plural marriage.

She wants people to see her, and women like her - including those featured on “Sister Wives” - as thinking and believing women.

They’re educated, she says. They work. They don’t live off the government. Their kids go to school and are showered with love and company. They have one-on-one sexual relations with their husbands. They went into plural marriages as consenting adults with eyes, hearts and minds open.

And, she says, they’re not hurting anyone.

Though Wilde’s husband died eight years ago, she says the 33-year marriage was wonderful. She won’t say how many sister wives she had - “only two of us are still living” - but she says the arrangement allowed her independence and that she never had to worry about her husband being alone.

“We don’t want it legalized. We want it decriminalized,” she says of plural, spiritual marriages. “We'd just as soon they [government officials] stay out of our marriages. Our marriage is for all time and eternity. The priesthood is the important thing, not the law of the land.”

soundoff (688 Responses)
  1. Tammy Downs

    I want to marry another man who is better in bed..my husband doesn't know though. In the black community that can be dangerous.

    October 25, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      Regardless of the community you are in, polygamy doesn't usually work that way. It's only OK for a man. When are we going to see the series about a woman with lots of men??

      October 25, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
    • Betty

      What is the 'black community'? That's right, it does not exist. There is no BLACK community just like there is no WHITE community. It is a made-up bigoted idea that the media tries to promote assuming that people of a certain melanin tone all think and act alike. Sound racist? Because it is!

      October 25, 2010 at 3:15 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Betty: What a lovely idea. We're all one human community. Except that's not accurate as much as we would like it to be. Recognising we have differences based on heritage is not racist ideology.

      October 26, 2010 at 11:54 am |
    • Cindyd

      I love that.....mine doesn't mow the yard all that well and I make more $$$ than he does, maybe He might let me consider husband #2!

      October 26, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  2. Pam

    I have not missed a single episode of Sister Wives and have found the family to be loving, considerate, supportive, and respectful of each other, and all of the adults appear intelligent, articulate and forthright. If I resided in Utah, I would be honored to have them as neighbors and to call them my friends. Since there is only one legal marriage contract on the government books in this family with the rest of the marriages being only spiritual cermonies to bind them each to one another, and there was no duplicity involved on the husband's part, I see no reason why they cannot live the lifestyle they have freely chosen as consenting adults. No good purpose would come of having these people prosecuted and the children placed in foster care while the parents served out their terms in jail. I hope that the family's legal battles will be resolved quickly so that a second season of their lives together can be filmed for public viewing. I want to know how their lives will be affected by all this hullaballoo!

    October 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
    • Jeff

      Count their 16 kids and think again. This man is a serial sperminator. He needs a vasectomy before society ends up footing the bill for the health care and education of his illegimate children.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
    • sherryrae40

      Jeff – this family is not on welfare... they all have JOBS.. why should their rights be violated just because they choose a lifestyle that is out of the norm to most people. I can't believe the comment that they should be sterilzed. That is an awful thing to say.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
    • Cari

      If they're on a TV show I don't think they'll need money any time soon.

      November 7, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  3. Annie

    Wake up and smell the coffee. ALL religion is MAN-MADE.

    October 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
    • Cari

      Yes, I completely agree. But just look at how much influence it has. Amazing isn't it. And people actually devote their lives to this.

      November 7, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  4. Bringham books

    "Nailed himself to a mast " on the issue of poligammie?! How is that not the red flag of crazy? Weak minded folks following the insane, forsaking their better judgement and free will on the say so of some perceived alpha monkey. That's religion for you. Sick minded victimizing the weak minded. So sad.

    October 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
    • JDT

      ...spell check, dude. SPELL CHECK! ...I love reading rants of people who cannot spell. They call people dumb, but they look ignorant in the process.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  5. AmishAirline

    I just booked a weekend ski trip to Utah, will this guy let me borrow a couple of his wives for the weekend? Preferrably the two thin ones?

    October 25, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
    • sri

      id just take the one on the far right...all the rest ...nah...cant do fatty's dawg...been there done that...not into that dawg

      October 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
  6. Mark

    I would need to be on LSD do believe the teachings of LDS

    October 25, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      You just made me laugh my milk out of my mouth. I'm reading your words while eating cereal. Oh, I agree with you by the way.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
    • jls

      They say the difference between LSD and LDS is that one you take with a cube of sugar – the other with a grain of salt.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
    • MsT

      LOL @ jls. Perfect!

      October 25, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
  7. Esteban

    @ Valerie: LOL!

    October 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
  8. lisa

    As far as polygamy...to each its own. I am not for it, it would not be the right answer for me but as long as your relationship(s) aren't directly affecting me I don't care.

    As far as the Mormon religion...I will admit that I don't know too too much about it however..my husband has a few family members that are mormon and I have known a few in passing and I have to say they are the nicest, most down to earth, respectfull people I have met. None of them preached about their religion. They never said their religion was superior to ours. They respect us for our beliefs and we respect their right to their beliefs.

    October 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
    • David Johnson


      There is an episode of South Park that explains the Mormon Religion. It is very funny. Try and watch it.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
    • JDT

      @lisa... you just described 99% of people in every religion. Mormons don't own the monopoly to common courtesy and tolerance. Just like Mormons, people of all faiths are pretty decent. It is the 1% of each that make the rest of a particular religion look bad. Just like anything else in society.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
    • David

      You make a great point Lisa. Unfortunately David Johnson has an axe to grind against Mormons.

      David: do you think that quoting South Park as the source of your information adds/detracts from your credibility?
      One other thought, you mention in an earlier reply that there is no proof for Mormonism. No gold plates etc... Well there is the Book of Mormon itself. It exists as evidence. And then again there are 11 people who testified they saw the gold plates. I wonder how 11 eye witnesses would be received in a court of law today? Seems solid to me. I could go on but my point is that your shallow criticisms of Mormons hold no water. I admit that no amount of debate from me will change your mind but for the sake of the forum, please do some reading.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
    • Peace2All


      In response to your posting to @David Johnson.

      I'm sincerely curious.... What do you think as to other religions, including christianity, islam, judaism, etc... that also claim angels, and witnesses.

      Which one is the *right* one, and how would one know...?

      October 25, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
    • Kelli

      I agree and I have never heard a Mormon trash on someone else's religion, they will only defend theirs. @ David Johnson - do you believe that everyone who is in Nascar is "poor and stupid," too?

      October 25, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
    • Anonymous

      @ David
      You DO realize the South Park episode was pointing out that it was ridiculous to chastise Mormons for their beliefs, right? And that it wasn't "grinding an axe" against Muslims?

      October 25, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Attacking me, does nothing to support your argument.

      South Park was funny and factual. Joseph Smith pulled the book of Mormon, from his...hat.

      The Book of Mormon fails on three main counts:

      First, it utterly lacks historical or archaeological support, and there is an overwhelming body of empirical evidence that refutes it.

      Second, the Book of Mormon contains none of the key Mormon doctrines. This is important to note because the Latter-Day Saints make such a ballyhoo about it containing the "fullness of the everlasting gospel." (It would be more accurate to say it contains almost none of their "everlasting gospel" at all.)

      Third, the Book of Mormon abounds in textual errors, factual errors, and outright plagiarisms from other works.

      Two examples of such errors:

      We read that Jesus "shall be born of Mary at Jerusalem, which is in the land of our forefathers" (Alma 7:10). But Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem (Matt. 2:1).

      Mormons might say Jerusalem and Bethlehem are only a few miles apart and that Alma could have been referring to the general area around Jerusalem. But Bethany is even closer to Jerusalem than is Bethlehem, yet the Gospels make frequent reference to Bethany as a separate town.

      Another problem: Scientists have demonstrated that honey bees were first brought to the New World by Spanish explorers in the fifteenth century, but the Book of Mormon, in Ether 2:3, claims they were introduced around 2000 B.C.

      The problem was that Joseph Smith wasn’t a naturalist; he didn’t know anything about bees and where and when they might be found. He saw bees in America and threw them in the Book of Mormon as a little local color. He didn’t realize he’d get stung by them.
      Source – Problems with the book of Mormon Catholic Answers

      For 175 years the leaders and general membership of the Mormon Church have believed American Indians and Polynesians are descended from Israelites based on their understanding of the Book of Mormon. We now know from DNA studies that the ancestors of these native peoples were essentially all derived from Asia.

      Source – Answers to Apologetic Claims
      about DNA and the Book of Mormon
      Simon G. Southerton

      Happy Trails!

      October 26, 2010 at 10:21 am |
    • David

      Re: David Johnson

      a. I wasn't attacking you. If I was attacking anything it was your logic.
      b. South Park and 'factual' are oxymorons
      c. I have heard many if not most of the claims made to refute the Book of Mormon including yours below. Ultimately it boils down to faith and an acknowledgment that you may not have all the 'facts' in your possession. And that some of the information you consider to be 'fact' is actually incorrect. Unless of course you believe that science and empirical evidence are never wrong. I suspect the 'overwhelming' empirical evidence you claim will slowly be refuted as we learn more about ancient american cultures. In fact some of the evidence you didn't mention which was popular fodder in the past has already been proven incorrect (horses in the americas before the spanish, and the BofM reference to elephants) Both considered ridiculous errors by Joseph Smith until elephants appeared on ancient Mayan/Incan temples and horses from the Brea tar pits were dated before the spanish. Again, with a little time and patience we discover that there is still plenty to learn and relearn about the past. Plenty of bright people have pinned their beliefs on empirical evidence that was later discovered to be an error. (that bright fellow Aristotle was a Geo-Centrist....he got that wrong and undoubtedly had his own bucket of supporting evidence–I wonder how many people looked to him as an authority on the subject and lived their lives believing the sun rotated around the earth?)

      I believe the above response also accounts for your references to bees, DNA et al..

      Re: Peace2All
      I personally believe that most religions have truth in them and that spiritual experiences are not limited to any one group. But I also think that all religions that do not preach 'truth' will eventually falter and stumble at some point. For that reason i suggest people test the doctrines and practices of a religion they are interested in. Not for whether or not it fits your preconceived notion of God and how/why he would do what he does but rather for what it does for you in your life. If it edifies and make you a better person then you are on to something. I believe that God loves all his children and provides them a path to him, which path may take someone through a variety of religions. And I might add that the answer as to which religion is teaching all the truth must come from God through prayer.

      Hope that helps.

      October 26, 2010 at 9:22 pm |
    • David Johnson

      The Book of Mormon mentions several animals, plants, and technologies that are not substantiated by the archaeological record between 3100 BC to 400 AD in America, including the following: ass, cow, horses, ox, domesticated sheep, swine,goats, elephants, wheat, barley, silk, steel, swords, scimitars, chariots and other elements. Additionally, scientists note that genetic studies show that Amerind genes are mostly though not entirely of Asiatic origin, which appears to conflict with the Book of Mormon account of their ancestry.

      19th century, archaeological finds (e.g. earth and timber fortifications and towns, the use of a plaster-like cement,ancient roads, metal points and implements, copper breastplates, head-plates, textiles, pearls, native North American inscriptions, North American elephant remains etc.) is not interpreted by mainstream academia as proving the historicity or divinity of the Book of Mormon.This evidence is viewed by mainstream scholars as a work of fiction that parallels others within the 19th century “Mound-builder” genre that were pervasive at the time. Oh No! Mr. Dave!

      The Smithsonian Insti_tution issued an official statement in 1996 and again in 1998 that it considered the Book of Mormon to be "a religious doc_ument and not a scientific guide," and that it "has found no archaeological evidence to support [the book's] claims.

      The National Geographic Society, in a 1998 letter to the Insti_tute for Religious Research, stated "Archaeologists and other scholars have long probed the hemisphere's past and the society does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon."

      Hey, but what do the the Smithsonian and the National Geographic Society know.

      About those horses Smith pulled from his ummm...hat:
      Horses are mentioned eleven times in the Book of Mormon in the context of its New World setting.[36] There is no evidence that horses existed on the American continent during the 2500-3000 year history of the Book of Mormon (2500 BC – 400 AD) The only evidence of horses on the American continent dates to pre-historic times,[37](between 12,500 and 10,000 BC). It is widely accepted that horses were extinct in the Western Hemisphere over 10,000 years ago and did not reappear there until the Spaniards brought them from Europe.[39] Horses were re-introduced to the Americas (Caribbean) by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and to the American continent by Cortés in 1519

      Then we have those pesky elephants:
      Elephants are mentioned twice in a single verse in the earliest Book of Mormon record, the Book of Ether. Mastodons and mammoths lived long ago in the New World, however, as with the prehistoric horse, the archaeological record indicates that they became extinct along with most of the megafauna in the New World around 10,000 BC. The source of this extinction is speculated to be the result of human predation, a significant climate change, or a combination of both factors. It is known that a small population of mammoths survived on St. Paul Island, Alaska, up until 3700 BC, which is before the time when some think the Book of Mormon describes elephants in the Book of Ether.
      Source: Wikipedia

      Damn Dave, science and truth is hard on your religion. I think Joseph Smith was a scoundrel. But maybe that's just me. LOL!

      October 27, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Do you believe that everyone who is in Nascar is "poor and stupid," too?

      No, I think some are wealthy. Cheers!

      October 27, 2010 at 9:31 pm |
    • David

      @ David Johnson

      Let's not get science and truth confused. Science contains plenty of 'theories' which are hardly truth. Even in your lengthy response you used the following: 'mainstream scholars' (implies there are those that disagree), 'speculation', 'widely accepted'..etc... Science is a tricky platform to stand on because in the absence of undeniable evidence (example: the 'law' of gravity) we are left to speculate and fill in the gaps with our educated guesses. I consider your evidence to be lacking on the undeniability scale.

      My point is this: I don't rely on science to understand the things of God. You are welcome to if you like but I suspect you will be disappointed. I am certain there are plenty of scholars (mainstream or otherwise) who could refute the items you listed above but I am not one of them. I defend the Book of Mormon because I have read it and know in my heart and mind it is exactly what it claims to be. Joseph Smith did not create it and could not have even if he wanted to. You are welcome to call it fiction and denegrate it's authenticity but the book is here and is not going away.

      October 27, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
    • Cari

      I've heard that some people think that the "angels" people claim to have seen are actually aliens, and humans wre really created from a combination of alien and ape/gorilla DNA because the aliens needed someone to mine gold for them because their world's atmosphere was running out of it. I'm not saying that I believe this, of course there is about as much proof to this as there are to any other religions. Some leaders used religion to keep ther subjects from questioning them, or trying to overthrow them. Maybe no one actually saw anything, they just wanted everyone to worship them and what they supposedly "believed" in.

      November 7, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  9. E.D.

    Looking at plural marriage through the lens of the gay marriage debate is very interesting. I wonder why more news and editorial commentary doesn't associate the two juxtaposed against the views of those who think marriage is only supposed to be between a man and a woman.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
    • David Johnson

      The fundies usually use the muti-wives thing as a reason not to allow gay marriage. The fundies say if Gay marriage is allowed, then why not polygamy, brother sister marriage, marriage to animals?

      I can well see how allowing gay marriage would put you on a slippery slope to allowing marriage to a sheep.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      Um, a sheep is an animal... that is not a marriage of equally consenting adults, just like certain other forms of relationship they usually use as examples of what will be next!

      October 25, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      Just stick to the definition of marriage as consenting adults and everything will be fine.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
    • David Johnson


      I was at the feed store a few days ago. There was this sheep there, who kept giving me the eye. I think she has loose morals. Anyway, I think we could make a marriage work. Do you think society would accept the children?

      October 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @David Johnson

      LOL..!!! Now THAT was funny... 🙂

      October 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
    • Frogist

      LOL@David Johnson: Awww you're gonna make beautiful sheeple...

      October 26, 2010 at 11:45 am |
    • Peace2All


      Lol...!!! Very nice..!!! "Sheeple"... 🙂

      October 26, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
    • Cari

      @David Johnson
      Asheep cannot give consent. How do you know what a sheep is feeling? Being from different species and being from the same gender is very different.

      November 7, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  10. 14401

    I think this is a famous quote, but don't quote me. "Me thinks Kody has the best of all world for a man". No so much for the women though.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
    • Juliax

      I agree with you 14401. I think most men would like that arrangement. Kody could chose the woman for the night, it appears that he visited each every 4th night. The first wife and only legal wife, was the only one who showed herself as a "real" woman – she was jealous, particularly of the last woman. The pregnant wife also had issues with the fourth wife because of her condition. I think all of these women have deep insecurities to put up with this sort of life style. Three of the women had jobs and he most likely managed all the money. The man had it made and like somebody here wrote this is morally a questionable life style and confuses our fundimental believes in what a family is. It looks like a good deal for a man but not for a woman, to me, at least.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
  11. Lee

    Wait a minute.... I just lost count on how many gods there are. K so which one do you believe in? And is that the God that does, or doesn't judge people on how they want to live their life? I thought the US was a free country, but I guess it's whatever religious people deem appropriate or not. Maybe you should start voting on gods instead of presidents. Just a thought...

    October 25, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
    • RZ

      That was dummb!

      October 25, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  12. Leo

    I see no difference between "plural marriage" and any other nutty religious practice... but I do have ONE question for the Mormons about the topic:

    If plural marriage is God's highest ideal, then why are there approximately EQUAL numbers of men and women on the planet? There's no way every man would end up with more than one wife, even if everyone wanted it that way. In other words, IF God wanted it that way, and IF God designed the human race... he really screwed up the numbers, didn't he?

    October 25, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
    • Ken

      Actually there are many animal species that practice polygamy. For example, alpha male elephant seals, called "beach masters" have large harems of females, that they engage in frequent combat over. Queen bees and ants might be another example.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
    • dt

      That was the most non-answer to a question EVER!!

      October 25, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
    • Liberal

      No, he didn't screw up the numbers. He gave us too many men to ensure enough suitable choices for the women. That means some of the men may get picked more than once (polygamy) while others sit on the bench.

      The real reason everyone is against polygamy is that it creates winners and losers in reproduction, and the men who wrote the laws don't want to be losers.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
    • Think

      I'm a fourth generation Utahn and one of my great-grandfathers practiced polygamy. I think the article was trying to point out that the Mormon church doesn't allow polygamy and hasn't since the 1890s. So it's pretty frustrating to Utahns when the rest of the country thinks we're all some kind of Nazi-Amish fundamentalists who all have polygamous marriages and wear funny clothes. The question Leo asked was a valid question, but even after reading the article and presumably all of the questions that came after it, he still is addressing the question to "The Mormons". Please. It's not "The Mormons" who are practicing polygamy. I am no longer Mormon and am not defending Mormonism. Nor do I defend polygamy. But it makes me CRAZY when people still, after more than 100 years, seem to refuse to accept that Mormons and Polygamists are not the same thing. If this show can get that point across, more power to it. Trust me, there's no group of people who would like be be dis-associated from wackos like Warren Jeffs than actual real Mormons. And the rest of us Utahns wouldn't mind that paradigm shift either.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:12 pm |
    • thepeppershaker

      Because God knows everything. Including how every single male would not even be worthy to practice "God's highest ideal" in the first place, or even lived in a time where it was sanctioned to do so. People have trouble keeping chaste in the first place, so why would God assume everyone would be practicing polygamy?

      October 25, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
    • erap

      Where did you get your statistics that there are equal number of men and women? If might be true but the distribution around earth is not equal. I some places there are more women than men. And in some places although men may outnumber women the 'gays' offset that number. As long as the man can do justice to his wives and children and there are no abuses, what gives?

      October 25, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
    • Kelli

      Leo, "Mormons" do not currently practice polygamy, just clarifying. However, since they DID back when the church was reorganized by Joseph Smith (in the 1800s,) there was rampant religious persecution and the government actually issued an extermination order on Mormons. Many men were killed, and they left behind wives and small children. So, in order for the religion to survive & grow, and these children to grow up in the church, these women needed someone to provide for the family. My great great grandmother was from a polygamist family, and her life history writes about her personal experiences with polygamy. She was a first wife, and her husband married her younger sister, after the younger sister's husband died. She writes that it was hard on all of them, but that her husband did it to take on the financial, emotional, and spiritual role of husband & father for her sister and the children who'd been left without a husband and father. I am a Mormon, and I feel sorry for her, and for those Mormons who practiced polygamy a long time ago, and I am extremely grateful that we no longer practice it today. For those of you who like to talk about how crazy you think the Mormon religion is, why don't you talk to a Mormon face to face, or attend a few meetings & find out for yourself what we believe. There is a reason that this religion has grown and thrived, despite tons of persecution (seriously, an extermination order!) and being falsely associated with cults like FLDS and fundamentalist LDS.

      October 25, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
    • LDSgirl

      I have no idea why the demographics of men and women are the way they are. But like Kelli said, to find out what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints really believe, talk to one. We'll gladly answer your questions. And, as an active member of this church, I'm very glad we no longer practice polygamy.

      October 25, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
    • andromeda9mm

      Leo ... don't let mormons fool you ... ( I know, because I'm exmo) but anyway, Kelli's argument is what most mormons will bring up, but it's simply not true. You can look at census records for the time, and there were actually MORE MEN than women in Utah. It comes down to this, JS wanted to fcuk younger women ... so didn't BY. Do not doubt it. 100% atheist now. 🙂

      October 25, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  13. Peace2All

    I have read the article above... and actually watched the series.."Sister Wives."

    My 'opinion' is, like any other issues of ethics or morality, which some will 'pidgeon-hole' this topic into, is.... Morality typically c-omes down to right & wrong, which really = suffering & happiness.

    Obviously, there are current laws on the books. If you choose to go against the law,(as it stands)you are choosing to possibly suffer any consequences of breaking said laws.

    Now with all of that said:

    1)From what I could tell about the adults and children on the show.... they seemed to me to be happy. Did they exhibit problems, like 'any' relationship... of course. But, as far as I could tell, all-in-all, they seemed quite happy.

    2)As long as no-one is being abused, harmed, nor in an environment which is somehow detrimental to anyone....

    Why not let them be...?

    To me, this like the whole gay marriage issue. They are *not* harming anyone.... Why not let them be...?

    October 25, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jeff

      Gays don't produce 16 children and go on welfare. You may enjoy paying for the health care, education, and social benefits to Kult Kids, but I don't. They can marry as many women as they want - as long as the women are sterilized.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
    • Peace2All


      YOU SAID...

      "Gays don't produce 16 children and go on welfare. You may enjoy paying for the health care, education, and social benefits to Kult Kids, but I don't. They can marry as many women as they want – as long as the women are sterilized."

      So, are you assuming that the small minority of polygamist families are 'all' on some kind of welfare..?

      Even if some are, they would make up an extremely *small* amount of the welfare population.

      Large family does not necessarily = welfare family.

      Also, you were o.k. with them having as many wives as they want, as long as the 'wives are (sterilized)'.

      Possibly, a bit drastic and hmmm... extreme, don't ya' think...?

      October 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
    • Ron

      "Morality typically c-omes down to right & wrong, which really = suffering & happiness."

      You are one confused bird! Yet so peaceful!!! I'll bet you're are reading this in the full lotus position.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Interesting.... Of all the things to comment on, you chose one sentence, that used in 'short-hand' in discussing this article.

      And then, you made personal attacks, albeit, pretty harmless as attacks go, but none-the-less.

      So, what is 'your' take on this article.....? I would love to hear what you have to say on that.

      If... You would like to have a discussion on 'morality' .... we can discuss that too.

      @Ron.... You're up...!

      October 25, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
    • Meg

      Jeff, you said: "... They can marry as many women as they want – as long as the women are sterilized... "

      Why wouldn't you suggest the men be sterilized? After all, there is but one man in most polygamy cases, and the sterilization of a man is cheaper and less physically damaging for a man than it is for a woman.

      A lot about this thread bothers me. I view polygamy as harmful to women, as it often subjects many women to the will of just one man. There is no equal status in a situation like this. People defending polygamy gloss over it as "harmless", something I consider naive.

      Jeff is against polygamy and wants to address the issue of welfare polygamists. But he is no ally of mine. Jeff sees a solution by continuing the age-old tradition of treating women like cattle. Thanks, Jeff!

      October 25, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
    • JackieInDallas

      Jeff...I think if anyone should get sterilzed, it should be the man. The women who are not legal wives might decide to leave the "marriage" (a lot do), and may then go on to marry men like you. I think that they deserve the right to have children then....don't you?

      October 25, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  14. David Johnson

    As long as the women are of legal age, who cares? They can have a hundred wives.

    It's like gays marrying. Who cares?

    October 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
    • Jeff

      Gays don't produce 16 children on welfare. You may enjoy paying the health care and education and social benefits to Kult Kids, but I don't.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Do you really think the kids of polygamists, make up or would ever make up a large percentage of the welfare rolls?

      October 25, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      Ah, Jeff if that's really an issue, then you probably already do – their Moms claim as single mothers because their marriages aren't legal!

      October 25, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
    • civilioutside

      Legalizing polygamy would probably go a long way to getting those kids off the welfare rolls. Because then the parents would have to report the family income, not just the mother filing as a "single parent."

      October 25, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
    • Fred

      Y ou SHOULD care.. I would bet money that WE are supporting these wackos with welfare ...

      October 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
    • Gbr

      At Jeff:

      This family is not on welfare and are actually pretty well off. Most of them have jobs.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
    • Liz

      Consenting adults, I guess, are the two driving words in plural marriages. What this family calls polygomy is called adultery by the majority of people since only the first marriage is recognized. Consenting adults could potentially include any number being "married" producing countless children; brothers marrying sisters, sisters marrying sisters, brothers marrying brothers, fathers marrying daughters or sons, and mothers marrying daughters or sons. The argument used "consenting adults" crosses every social and legal boundary throwing out arguments against incestuous marriages. The term "consenting adults" is very close to "anything goes". Is that where we want to go? I'm just taking this argument to what seems like a ridiculous end but could, in fact, happen without laws defining "man and wife". We might as well throw out that phrase, actually. Do we really want any two consenting adults to marry? Thoughts????

      October 25, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
    • mosenewbell

      My understanding is that this family is pretty well off financially, but the welfare, healthcare and education arguments still beg the question of why my government keeps taking the money I earn and indiscriminately rewarding it to people that make bad decisions. I can see how the knee jerk reaction is to "prevent people from doing X.", but taking away peoples freedom to live their lives they way they want isn't the answer.

      October 25, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
    • Paul P

      The welfare issue is a red-herring. Utah is ranked 43rd in the list of total federal welfare recipient states. When you look at the list on a per-capita basis, Utah ranks 47th on the list. I'm from Utah, and don't support polygamy, but I just don't see fundamentalism as a huge drain on federal welfare programs.

      October 25, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
    • mosenewbell

      @Liz My thoughts: Inbreeding and all of the other "slippery slope" arguments are illegal for other reasons. Government should not have anything to do with marriage.

      October 25, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
    • ScottK

      @Liz – It seems like the argument you are making is valid but only from the perspective of either creating a high risk of complication/retardation which science has proven when children are born to closely related people, and the "Ick" factor of not wanting to imagine two siblings getting it on. Personaly I dont see this as the slippery slope issue that many anti-gay marriage or anti-polygamy activists portray it. There are no lines of siblings waiting to get their relationships legalized or decriminalized, there is no large group of people waiting to consumate their relationships with their pekingese.

      There are however many loving, caring individuals who have chosen another consenting adult to be there partner in life and are being denied that right and discriminated against which is just plain wrong. Study's have shown that gay couples make excellent parents and I'm sure the study's would show the same for polygamist family's as well (as long as they are not forcing underage children to participate). It is a bit ironic though, that the Mormons fought so hard against giving gays the right to marry, but many want their own freedom to marry how they see fit.

      October 25, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Scott K.

      Well said...

      October 26, 2010 at 2:00 am |
  15. Brittany

    I don't understand what all the fuss is about. These people are in no way harming anyone. They are not pushing their children to become polygamist, no 16 year olds are being hurt... so what is the problem? Just let them live thier lives!

    October 25, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
    • lynn

      Unfortunately we all pay the price– all these wives lead to ALOT of children – I read awhile back that the government sends more money for welfare to the state of Utah than any other and it is becasue of the areas where polygamists reside

      October 25, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
    • civilioutside

      I suspect, though, that at least part of the reason for that welfare issue is the very illegality of polygamy. These women are legally required to report themselves as single parents, which makes them elligible for more in the way of welfare payments than they'd otherwise be enti-tled to.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
    • RH of WI

      Comparing gay marriage and polygamy is really extremely stupid. Gays don't want to marry plural they want to marry the one person they love. I'm fairly certain that "Joseph Smith, Jr., the church's founder" was a pig and came up with the idea for self serving reason's.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
    • Rae

      Lynn, you're an idiot. Most polygamists are part of middle (and even middle-upper) class America. Very few are actually on welfare and Utah is not the state that receives the most federal welfare assistance. It's not even in the top 15.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
    • Semper.Fi

      What of the daughter that agrees with her parents religion, but has no want to be married to a polygamist. Is dad gonna tell the council men, and get her excommunicated or hide her from the church because he raise her improperly.

      @redcat: Couldn't have been said any better

      IMO way to much air time for a religion that people would/could and much rather live without knowing about.

      October 25, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Semper. Fi

      Actually, well for me personally anyway, I am interested in this and 'all' religions, as they pretty much all seem to be claiming TRUTH, especially all of the christian denominations. And of course... islam, judaism, etc...

      So, how does one know which one is the truth, if you don't learn about them...?


      October 26, 2010 at 1:55 am |
  16. Disa


    I don't see why any form of marriage between consenting adults shouldn't be legal.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
    • Zeus Henna

      I agree. As long as everyone is willing to engage in a plural marriage who cares if they do? It is one thing to have different wives/husbands sprinkled around all ignorant of the plurality, but if everyone is in on the joke I don't see the problem! We should legalize polygamy.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • Tim B

      I agree – this isn't for me (keeping one person happy is a hard enough job), but if this is what all of the people invovled want, why not? And I emphasize, ALL of the people involved, the man, any current and potential wives. I'd even ask the opinion of or at least the acceptance of the older children.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
    • maestro1151

      While I don't agree w/ the fact that marriage should include any two people that are consenting... yes I'm for only a man and a woman... I don't see how anyone from the GLTB community could ever look down on polygamy. If gays are allowed to marry, then legally polygamy between consenting adults (obviously I'm excluding and FLDS, or other peeps that think anyone under 18 is able to consent.) should be allowed as well.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
    • mrs. nog

      THANK YOU! I've been married to the same fantastic man for 28 years and have a thriving happy marriage that I am thankful for.
      However had I not been so lucky and met the man of my dreams I could see how a plural marriage would be attractive to me. I like women, have many friends but really am not happy with every day domestic chores. I prefer to work. It would be nice to have other wives to share. I would really have no problem and I've never been the jealous type. Truly this life choice hurts no one as long as young girls are not exploited and forced to marry young or forced into plural marriages.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
    • David G.

      You are so wrong on so many levels.

      How about consenting father and daughters? How about sisters and brothers? How about a group marriage of 100,000 people? Our society would be chaotic.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  17. Alama007


    At the time of the 1886 revelation Lorin Woolley was a mail-carrier between Mormon leaders (meaning he transferred information between Taylor and other Mormons leaders in hiding). If anyone was to know what Taylor revealed in the 1886 revelation, I think that person would be Lorin Woolley who knew the Mormon leaders.

    Also, Woolley did not reveal what was said some 50 years latter, he revealed the information in 1912, some 26 years latter, at least according to written accounts.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
    • Alma

      I think it would be more likely that the leaders Taylor was sending messages to would know of revelations before the postman (Woolley). The fact that not one of those leaders ever referred to the Centerville meeting and that Woolley only came forward after the others were all dead is a pretty good indicator that Woolley's account is a fabrication. You're right that I overestimated the time as 50 years; but you have underestimated it. The 1912 account didn't mention anything about men being authorized to perform marriages. That part didn't appear until 1929 –43 years after the alleged meeting.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
    • Kelli

      The post man???

      October 25, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  18. Alma

    It's unfortunate that the author of this article presents most of her information from a decidedly fundamentalist's perspective–suggesting that John Taylor claimed a revelation–"which he said"–from both Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith. The only source for that claim comes from fundamentalists Lorin Wooley fifty years after the alleged event. Also, although the author parrots the position of fundamentalists that the manifesto isn't considered a revelation. The president of the Church in 1904 stated under oath in a Senate hearing that it was a revelation. (Protest in the Matter of Reed Smoot Volume I page 108).

    I would take issue with two other items: 1) The LDS Church never "disavowed" plural marriage in the sense of repudiating it. Church leaders stopped its practice, expelling from the Church those who wouldn't accept the Church leadership. 2) I know members of several fundamentalist groups and they all teach that the LDS Church is in apostasy by prohibiting the practice of plural marriage. The claim above that only the FLDS group has taken such a position is not true.

    So-called fundamentalists claim to be observing the fundamentals of Mormonism; but their practice and theology runs counter to many of the fundamentals articulated by its founder Joseph Smith–such as the requirement to obey the law of the land, disavowed above by Anne Wilde. For more on the history of fundamentalism, see

    October 25, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      And how do these claims and counter-claims differ from the claims made by adherents of the bible and other books-of-silliness? They don't! It's all man-made caca that needs to be done away with!! That being said, other than the potential genetic issues, I don't really care who marries whom and how many wives/husbands they have – provided their choices don't become my problems.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
    • elidude

      Thank you for the time you put into that, Alma.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
    • Jade

      Agreed. The author obviously has an anti-Mormon bias. The bias is there in wording such as saying historians report Joseph had as many as 30 wives, but "he didn't admit it," implying it's true. The fundamentalist views are couched in strong terms implying they are completely factual, but the Mormon side is peppered with words like "claimed." Not the most professional article. I would have expected better from CNN.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
    • Margy

      This "religion" is just a glorified excuse for 'some" guys to screw several different women! They women are brainwashed and the men are trash, just saying:)

      October 25, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
    • Kelli

      Well said, Alma. The person writing this article was incorrect about many of the beliefs, teachings, standpoints, and history of actual Mormons (Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.) Someone definitely didn't interview a Mormon when getting this info, or accurately do their research. Sad. 🙁

      October 25, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
    • Tempguest


      What is wrong regarding the teachings or facts of Mormonism in the article? I've noticed Mormons say this a lot when people oppose them, even when the person gets their information directly from Mormon sources.

      Just curious what was incorrect in this article...

      October 25, 2010 at 7:09 pm |

      Thank you, sane person, for stepping up to the plate, (This being baseball season..), with great comments on CNN. I am flummoxed by your clarity.

      October 30, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  19. Derek

    This is an oddly fair and respectful article. Typically articles that deal with polygamy or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints use loaded words to paint a negative picture. I don't agree with polygamy but commend the writer for attempting to write a fair article.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
    • N

      I agree with you Derek. I do not agree with polygamy, but it is nice to see an article that treats it fairly. Even if you don't agree with something it is good to understand it without bias.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
    • I like i

      I can't handle one wife with her monthly PMS, can't imagine how can he handle 4.. but I see the benefits. When one or two are complaining about headaches, he still have two to go.

      I wonder what type of food Mormon's consume to handle all four at one time!!

      What would happen if 3 of them wants to be with him that night? Cat fight??

      October 25, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
    • Jeff

      The same could be said about gay marriage. It's also often seen as bizarre and unthinkable (especially - and ironically - to Mormons).

      October 25, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
    • Jesse

      That's exactly what I was thinking when reading this. He wrote it completely unbiased, and stated the facts as they are, and when things couldn't be proven, like john taylor creating a secret society of apostles, he STATED that it was the polygamists beliefs, not fact. The only group that might take offense would be FLDS warren Jeff's followers.

      I even learned some stuff about the polygamists that I didn't know! I thought they were all the old school style that wore dresses and up dues. but apparently they've branched off into different groups.

      I think it's funny how people think polygamy is so nasty, when TV and movies paint the same more accepted picture of one man banging tons of girls. We call him a "player" and he's idolized for his efforts. What's the difference? The polygamists just show more commitment to their multiple wives, and actually support their children. If polygamy is illegal, why don't we illigalize infidelity, and fornication? Just a thought.

      Another thought I just had, if the government legalized polygamy, would the LDS church reinstate it?

      October 25, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
    • Theldara

      Agreed, this article was very well written and avoids sensationalism. Excellent job!

      October 25, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
    • XWngLady

      To Jesse: Polygamy should be illegal because there are individuals out there that if they could would have multiple marriages and families around the country without the consent or knowledge of the spouse or the children that they already have. Not the mention the nightmare of trying to provide to these multiple families. Someone is going to go without!!

      October 25, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
    • Holly in Houston

      Agree with Derek. Well written and factual. It may not change my opinion on plural marriages, but it's fair.

      And to think all this comes from one man who convinced others God spoke to him privatly, personally leaving no physical proof. Funny that.

      Not any different than Scientology, Judaism, Christanity or Islam, is it?

      October 25, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
    • erap

      Can anyone tell which passage of the Bible forbids polygamy? Biblical prophets practice it which means God approves of it. You can't have a religion wherein you approve some part and reject some part.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
    • Brian

      @ Holly,

      Actually, it is a little different from those in terms of proof (aside from Scientology). There have been archeological finds that have shown physical evidence that at least some of the stories in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are true. Now, I'm in no way saying that those pieces of evidence prove beyond doubt that any of those three religions are true, just pointing out that saying there is "no evidence" of any of the stories is a bit off.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
    • LDW

      This article seems to stress the point of view of 'happy' polygamists that they are hurting no one. However, in FLDS & fundamentalist Mormon communities, there is the phenomenon of the so-called ‘Lost Boys’ who are the discarded young men who can never find a wife within the community, because the elders take so many wives. These young men must either live celibate lives within the community, or forsake their families and community and live out their lives in exile. Moreover, they leave in their late teens or early twenties, when it becomes evident that they’ll never be allowed to have a girlfriend or a wife, and they leave without money and with only minimal educations.

      Furthermore, within the polygamist families, the fathers reign supreme. Some girls and wives are allowed to be educated, but this is not according to their own wishes, but is determined by their fathers and husbands. Usually they are allowed education only because they will then become more valuable wage-earners. Polygamist husbands in the FLDS & fundamentalist Mormon communities don’t earn enough to support their wives and children: many husbands do not work at all, but merely preside over the family and conduct Church business.

      Where the happiness occurs in this practice that creates so many casualties as its by-product eludes me.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
    • sss-666

      This is correct, men using women and put religion as excuse.. the worse thing is that these children grow with that mentality thinking it's ok.

      October 25, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • HotAirAce


      While there may some evidence that some of the places, characters and events described in the bible are accurate, this only applies to natural, not SUPERnatural places, characters and events. Religion is mostly about belief in the supernatural, and evidence of the natural cannot be used to support the accuracy/existence of the supernatural. Nice try though.

      October 25, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
    • Cat

      I don't see the respect that you get in a relationship like this, for the relationship or the women involved. . Its absurd and not sacred. Also, who in their right mind would want to live and be married to the same man in the same house!!!! LET alone thats 5 people raising a lot of children. I don't see how this psychologically works for any party except for the man.

      How can you work out issues with one person whom you are married to when there are 4 others involved? Also, you loose that bond and exclusiveness. I am typically not judgemental and can understand where people are coming from, but this is just not something I can wrap my brain around.

      October 25, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
    • Peace2All


      You Said:

      "Can anyone tell which passage of the Bible forbids polygamy? Biblical prophets practice it which means God approves of it. You can't have a religion wherein you approve some part and reject some part."

      Shhhhhhhh....! that's kind of a no-no thing that most of the fundamentalists would rather not comment on. They would prefer to sweep that under the rug..so-to-speak, and cherry-pick chapter and verse that only matches whatever their 'beliefs.'

      October 26, 2010 at 1:49 am |
  20. Muneef

    In Islam it is not allowed to marry as polygamy two sisters and only if divorced the first one he may marry the second sister if was ok for him and her family...

    October 25, 2010 at 11:59 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I don't believe the term "sister wives" refers to any kind of cosanguity.
      These women are not genetic sisters, but sisters in marriage – kind of like how in a more traditional family, if your two brothers marry, their respective wives are sisters-in-law.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
    • Calvin


      maybe you should stop reading the same book over and over and start to get a real education. You are spouting off the same shallow stuff that has been dismissed. You embarrass yourself as to your ignorance.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:23 pm |
    • Healing Enzo

      I'm confused about polygamy.

      What would I do with 2 (or Deus forbid, more than 2) husbands ?

      One husband can't put the toilet seat down, take out the trash or cook worth a jot.

      I make the choices. Because I can & will. It's what I do. I don't ask much, but that my partner serve my needs in the relationship, while I do the heavy lifting. Boys aren't up to the task. Two would be worse than one.

      October 25, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
    • mycatsbreathsmellslikecatfood

      1 nagging wife is bad enough...what kind of man would want 4 wives to nag at him.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
    • Reality

      The koran without the flying chariots, "pretty, wingie, talking thingies", militant passages, without the passages that make women inferior, and without the passages that allow slavery to include harems and polygamy is basically the same as the OT and NT without their own collections of embellishments and myths (e.g. Abraham, Moses, the son of a god, miracles, resurrection and nativity myths).

      Bottom line: lets combine Islam, Judaism and Christianity with one book free of all the frauds, folly and failures of the these current religions. We would be well on our way to the utopia of religious convergence. The name of the Book?? "Do No Harm"!!!!

      October 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
    • Bobcat

      Don't this guy look like the Dumb & Dumber guy?

      October 25, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
    • katie

      When they say 'sister wives' they don't mean that all the women are related by blood. They can be complete strangers and once married, they are called sister wives. Kind of like sister-in-law or brother-in-law. But islam does allow for plural marriage.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
    • Ibeglowin

      This show is going to hurt the plight of FLDS women that are suppressed, born into this practice. The Sister Wives are all in this situation by choice and they are opportunists. Thousands of women and children are abused withing the true FLDS communities and this show will no doubt lessen the sympathy and compassion that they so deserve. DO NOT LET THIS SHOW FOOL YOU! Research, find out for yourself how Warren Jeffs and those before him have created a massive cult that enslaves women.

      October 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
    • Mesa Mick

      Wack-a-doodles one and all. Thank god I'm an atheist!

      October 25, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
    • XWngLady

      @ Jesse: Polygamy should be illegal because there are individuals out there that if they could would have multiple marriages and families around the country without the consent or knowledge of the spouse/children that they already have. Not the mention the nightmare of trying to provide to these multiple families. Someone is going to go without!!

      October 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
    • lawcat2013

      polygamists are ugly

      October 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
    • bailoutsos

      What happened to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?"

      October 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
    • Neeneko


      For many people, the only way to be happy is to make sure others can only choose the same way they do.. and people like that tend to concentrate power. The idea that others are happy but living differently makes them confront their own lives and worry that maybe they are not happy or that they did not choose right, and it is easier to remove other people's options then it is to be introspective or secure in their own lives. People like nice linear scales.. one choice, one option, and easy to compare yourself to everyone else on the line.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
    • Nancy

      The botom line is that the guy just wants to sleep with four different women. Using religion as excuse.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
    • amachen

      @Reality – Fanatics always have been and always will be. To pay all of your attention to them is to dismiss the majority, and that's just plain stupid. As for me, I'd rather be a happy fool with a little religion. Consider your time just a bit wasted – at least on me.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
    • Murpis

      Mesa Mick Said...

      "Wack-a-doodles one and all. Thank god I'm an atheist!"

      How can you thank God if you're an atheist? I'm just asking.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
    • Muneef

      You are right it was my misunderstanding thanks for explaining, it seems then I have no subject here and can sign off.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:31 pm |
    • Ben

      Won't someone PLEASE think of all the single men?!!?

      October 25, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
    • Todd

      And yet they would prevent a loving couple from getting married if they were the same gender.

      Hypocritical much?

      October 25, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
    • Robert

      To all the people on here who bash these women for their life style. Your religious practices seem just as silly and inhuman as theirs do to those of us who don't believe at all.

      October 25, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • tntbrian

      Many Americans practice serial polygamy. They have multiple wives but not at the same time. Can anyone explain to me why the mormon version of polygamy is so much worse than serial polgamy?

      October 25, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      I have absolutely no problem with Poligomy it is the whole "an Angel gave golden plates (which have never been seen) to Joesph Smith" thing plus the whole women as subserviant to men aspect of LDS and the "inner circle of MEN only in the temples running everything" that make it hard for me to accept. I mean believe what you will if you are LDS you have that right and I support you in your religious freedom. It is not for me or my wife thanks and we are not Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu. Buddhists, we are polytheists which I guess is outdated as well but live and let live I always say.

      October 25, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
    • Stargirl

      This article is very inaccurate and bias. The phrase "fundamentalist mormon" is contradictory because there is NOT A SINGLE MORMON who practices polygamy. If anyone practices polygamy in the LDS church, they are excommunicated. The writer to this article is not a very informed or intelligent individual and anyone who judges the LDS church by the polygamist doctrine is missing out on a true and virtuous, motivating, and service oriented religion, and is ultimately rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ.

      October 25, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
    • Margaret


      The Gospel of Jesus included a belief in the Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit), but not a celestial kingdom, spirit children, or wearing special underwear.

      October 25, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
    • Ricky

      Muslims can marry up to 4 woman, but they fail to call it polygamy-your call!

      October 25, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
    • Mr. Kent


      Mormons (the mainstream ones) get upset when other Christians exclude them from being called "Christian". I'm assuming by your response that you are mainstream Mormon– right? If so, how can you get off saying that FLDS and other groups that read and believe the Book of Mormon are not Mormon themselves? That would be like saying that Mormons aren't Christian, even though they believe in and worship Jesus Christ. Could you explain why you don't consider them Mormons even though they read the Book of Mormon as one of their scriptures?

      October 25, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
    • Tempguest


      How is polygamy not Mormon if the very founders of Mormonism taught this, believed it, and lived it? Sounds like Mormonism has strayed from true Mormonism? How can a true religion change with the times? I thought truth was truth, no matter how much society changes.

      October 25, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
    • icaro_satsuma

      for healing enzo:
      wow! what the heck *does* your husband do?? my husband never leaves the toilet seat up, and actually always puts even the lid down so that i don't have to always have a clear view of the inside of the s**ter; is a very good cook; and takes out the trash (and the recycling) 9 times to my 1. he also dusts, vacuums, mops, changes the sheets, AND does all the typical manly stuff around the house. the only problem i can see with having more than one of him is that i'm not sure any woman could possibly deserve more than one man this good!

      October 26, 2010 at 9:34 am |
    • RH

      Multiple marriage (no matter what religion) is just a way for some pervert to say, see its OK for me to have multiple wives. My religion says so. Cop out. Who wrote these books, or iterpreted them as the above story states, Men did during a male dominated society. How many religions say its ok for a woman to have multiple husbands. I say, keep it in your pants and respect your 1 wife. You want many partners, dont get married and join a fraternity.

      October 26, 2010 at 10:18 am |
    • Frogist

      @Healing enzo: Well luckily you won't have that problem. Polygamy in the Mormon tradition is one man and as many women as he likes. Not the other way around.

      October 26, 2010 at 10:37 am |
    • Frogist

      @Stargirl: I believe the article already explained all the nuances of your position. They consider themselves Mormon and that's why they call themselves that. Just because you do not believe them to be as such, doesn't mean that's the truth.

      October 26, 2010 at 10:39 am |
    • loriey

      What I want to know: WHO is footing the bill for the birth of all these "illegitimate children". Insurance companies recognize the first "legal" wife of the marriage,so who is paying the hospital bills for the delivery of all these children? Kody is a "salesman", how much income does he make to support the large home & feed 13 children. Now he's brought in a "wife" with 3 kids of her own, spread the love is one thing but to keep producing children...who pays THAT bill.
      Kody's behavior is out of the "norm".....he doesn't act very mature & does not seem to "meet" the needs of all these woman.
      He also stated that HE could not handle it if his "wives" had OTHER husbands??? It's okfor him to have other "wives" but he does not want his "wives" to have other "husbands"......SELFISH/IMMATURE. He gets what he wants but they don't.
      These women need a wake up call.

      October 26, 2010 at 10:56 am |
    • loriey

      What I want to know: WHO is footing the bill for the birth of all these "illegitimate children". Insurance companies recognize the first "legal" wife of the marriage,so who is paying the hospital bills for the delivery of all these children? Kody is a "salesman", how much income does he make to support the large home & feed 13 children. Now he's brought in a "wife" with 3 kids of her own, spread the love is one thing but to keep producing children...who pays THAT bill.
      Kody's behavior is out of the "norm".....he doesn't act very mature & does not seem to "meet" the needs of all these woman.
      He also stated that HE could not handle it if his "wives" had OTHER husbands??? It's okfor him to have other "wives" but he does not want his "wives" to have other "husbands"......SELFISH/IMMATURE. He gets what he wants but they don't.
      These women need a wake up call.

      October 26, 2010 at 10:59 am |
    • marge

      Since only the first marriage is legal,I don't see what they are doing that is illegal. So,they want to call themselves his wives,they are not legally. In fact, if they it beats spouses cheating on each other,if they're faithful.
      It's their business. As far as trashing religions to get a point across,it doesn't.

      October 27, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
    • Paula Mosley

      Islam only allows four wives. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young had thirty plus (BY had 54 I thought).

      October 28, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
    • Jesus

      Muneef– this is Jesus/Mohammed/Joseph Smith/Santa Claus/God– you are correct- two sisters can not marry. But twins are a different story!

      November 29, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.