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For week ended September 05, 1999 Posted 19 Sep 1999

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Pioneers, Polygamy, Politics Entwined in Hatch's Roots

Summarized by Gregor McHardy

Pioneers, Polygamy, Politics Entwined in Hatch's Roots
Salt Lake Tribune 5Sep99 L5
By Greg Burton: Salt Lake Tribune

While George W. Bush pussyfoots around his activities with drugs in his younger days, presidential candidate Orrin Hatch has no problem bringing his skeletons out of the closet. Hatch's great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather were polygamists, a fact that may endear him to his LDS constituency, but won't capture many votes among the rest of Christendom. And although his grandfather died as a result of his alcoholism, not exactly a laurel on a good Mormon's family tree, Hatch has made no effort to hide this fact either.

This article looks in-depth at the history of Hatch's polygamist forebears, mentioning a lot of Church history on the way, including Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and the Manifesto. An interesting comment by Jan Shipps, emeritus professor of religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University, helps put 19th century polygamy in a different light: "The whole notion that polygamy is a danger to the family was incredibly important in the early 20th century. But people aren't as afraid of polygamy today as they once were, partly because serial polygamy -- by which I mean divorce and remarriage -- is the standard rather than the exception for half the people in this country."

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