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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended February 27, 2000
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Summarized by Mike Nielsen

With 2002 Olympics in line, Utah focuses on cleaning up polygamy
Detroit MI News (Gannett) 23Feb00 N5
By Greg Barrett: Gannett News Service

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- In a pair of stories, the Detroit MI News reports on polygamy and the fundamentalist Mormon movement in Utah. Owen Allred, the 86 year-old leader of the Apostolic United Brethren, is featured in the first article. Allred admits that some men seek polygynous relationships for sexual gratification, and they fail to care properly for their wives' and children's needs, which taints the reputation of the practice.

Allred supported a state legislator's proposal to provide funds for investigations of abuse in polygynous marriages. The bigamous marriages are difficult to prosecute because they typically have no "paper trail" of documents verifying the existence of the marriage. Normally, only for the man's first marriage does he obtain blood tests and documents confirming the existence of the marriage. Without these, the crime is rarely prosecuted because law enforcement officials are reluctant to prosecute what occurs between consenting adults. [Although the legislation's sponsor was optimistic that the upcoming Olympics would increase public concern with the state's image, and thereby help the legilation pass, it did not.]

The highly publicized case of a 16-year old teen's marriage to her 33-year old uncle, David Ortell Kingston, renewed attention to the issue. Kingston received the maximum sentence, 10 years in prison, for incest and unlawful sexual conduct. John Daniel Kingston, the teen's father, plead no contest to child abuse for whipping his daughter when she fled the marriage. The Kingstons are affiliated with the Latter Day Church of God, believed to have about 1,000 members.

Estimates suggest between 30,000 to 50,000 polygamous family members in Utah. They generally are integrated with the rest of Utah society, to the point that when 25 "Remarkable Mothers" were announced by the governor's office, one of the 25 women withdrew because of the revelation that she was a widow of a polygamist.  Orrin Hatch (U.S. senator) and Mike Leavitt (state governor) are mentioned as great-grandsons of polygamists.

Although polygamy is a curiosity in the West, the article quotes a Rutgers University anthropologist, Helen Fisher, as stating that it is found in 84% of the world's 853 cultures. In some cultures, as many as 25% of men have more than one wife at a time. Allred suggests that about 20% of the men in his church are polygamous.

The Allred group is considering ways to address the problems that accompany polygamy. For example, before condoning a polygamous marriage, it may require evidence that the man can afford to support an additional family. Allred says "Oh, they're not going to like it, not one bit. But what too many of them don't understand is this: There are more men damned for trying to live celestial marriage than there will ever be saved."

The second article focuses on Tapestry of Polygamy, an organization of women who have left polygamous marriages. They describe marriages with sex but lacking in affection and love, and jealousy between wives sharing the same husband.

A polygamist and historian counters that polygamous marriages are not necessarily bad because of polygamy. "In monogamous marriages when a man (is bad to) his wife, you don't blame monogamy," he says. The article ends with the Tapestry of Polygamy website,


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