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FLDS Witness John Walsh cross-examined

Dear Blog Readers,

Read the first paragraph. My ex-husband is among those who believe polygamy to be a holy practice. And, there are the LDS women who despite their knowledge that only men will ever hold office in the LDS church, they will have a “special” position in the celestial kingdom because they will be “the first wife” of the many wives their husbands will be given as an exalted gods over their own worlds.

Question: Why aren’t the 50% or so who believe polygamy is an archaic practice lobbying to have Section 132 of the Doctrine & Covenants rescinded?

Well, John Walsh is a convert to Mormonism, and since male converts get special offices and patronizing strokes, they stay no matter what realization they come to about Joseph Smith and the sordid history of early Mormonism. Women converts, on the other hand, are expected to put out a baby every two years and be subject to their priesthood heads.

I could never envision a “priesthood head.” There were times when I considered taking a mound of bread dough, baking it in a Pyrex bowl, then painting eyes, nose, mouth, whiskers (it had to look like a man!) and then the word “priesthood” across the top and tossing it at my husband when he walked in the door; but, instead I made the best cinnamon rolls around. The whole neighborhood could smell them. The kids would come running; and, I was considered a good, stay-at-home Mormon mom. If only they knew. . . .

Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada

From: Info-Secte [mailto:infosecte@qc.aibn.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2011 3:37 PM
To: ‘Info-Secte’
Subject: Mormons split over polygamy practice, expert says at trial

Mormons split over polygamy practice, expert says at trial
Vancouver Sun (blog)
By Daphne Bramham
5 Jan 2011

Even though the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially renounced polygamy in 1890, a religious studies expert says that mainstream Mormons are nearly evenly split over whether it should continue to be practised. W. John Walsh said Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court that the LDS church’s official position remains that polygamy is banned, but that it’s possible that somewhere between 50 and 60 per cent of the church’s members “would like a return of polygamy, which they see as a holy practice.”

The other half would not like to see a return of polygamy and deem it to be “an archaic practise,” said Walsh, who was testifying as an expert on behalf of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in a constitutional reference case that will determine the validity of Canada’s law prohibiting polygamy. (The FLDS split from the mainstream church over the practise of polygamy and the FLDS is the largest group of so-called “fundamentalist Mormons” in North America. Walsh estimated that there are 50,000 fundamentalist Mormons in North America, 10,000 of whom belong to the FLDS.)

If Walsh is right, that suggests that if Canada’s law is struck down, it could cause a major schism in the LDS church and would likely mean a large contingent of disaffected Mormons wanting to immigrate to Canada. Membership in the LDS church is estimated at about 13 million worldwide with 6.7 million living in the United States.

Prior to his testimony, Walsh’s academic credentials were questioned by lawyers for the attorneys general of B.C. and Canada. As part of his challenge, Craig Jones for B.C. read portions of two articles that appear on an Internet website under Walsh’s name. One is entitled What is the Purpose of Plural Marriage? and the other is Why Did the Church Abandon Polygamy?

Under oath, Walsh said he didn’t recall having written either, noting that he wrote “hundreds and hundreds” of articles 15 to 20 years ago after he first converted to Mormonism. Some were posted on Internet bulletin boards and have since been posted on other websites in full or in part. None of those, he said, reflect his scholarly work.

In the first one, Jones characterized the author as “a big cheerleader for polygamy”. In it, Walsh writes, “There is no doubt in my mind that your attitude toward plural marriage will determine your place in eternity.” Those who choose ‘plural’ or ‘celestial’ marriage have a chance at the highest realm of heaven – the celestial kingdom – while those who don’t may find themselves alone for all eternity.

Walsh went on to call polygamy “the natural order of things” that men would have multiple wives (polygyny) and women would not have multiple husbands (polyandry) because polyandry would not result in the greatest number of children.

“When a man is limited to only one wife, some women will have the choice of marrying a worldly, carnal man or remaining unwed,” Walsh writes. “If men were eternally limited to only one wife each, some women would never have the opportunity for exaltation.

“Plural marriage remedies these penalties by enabling every woman the opportunity to have a righteous husband, enjoy the blessings of motherhood and fill the measure of her creation.”
Under questioning, Walsh said Wednesday that as a general principle, he believes polygamy should be legal with “reasonable restrictions” as long as it is between consenting adults. He also said that he believes it’s unlikely that the U.S. Supreme Court would today uphold that country’s anti-polygamy law as it did in the Reynolds case, which resulted in the mainstream Mormon church renouncing polygamy in 1890.

The U.S. Supreme Court had the opportunity to hear a constitutional challenge to its law in 2007, but the justices declined to hear it.
http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/thinktank/archive/2011/01/05/mormons-split-over-polygamy-practice-expert-says-at-trial.aspx

7 Comments
7 Comments
  1. That Daphne Bramham is so far off base when it comes to Mormons and polygamy is no big surprise, but it’s clear that John Walsh is no expert on the topic either. Probably likes getting his 15 minutes of fame however. That 50-60% figure is pulled out of the thin air with NO actual data to support it. As a life-long Mormon who has attended church in 3 countries, I’ve never once hear any Mormon guy pine for it’s return.

    And legalizing polygamy in Canada isn’t going to see a rush of Mormons heading north either. The LDS Church already exists in countries where polygamy is legal, and even there members are subject to the ban, and will lose their membership if they insist on practising it.

    I don’t know if the LDS Church will jump in on this issue like they did with same sex marriage (probably not unless they can’t avoid it), but if they do it won’t be in support of it. The practice of polygamy by early Mormons was a very different thing than what the FLDS are up to, and also a very different thing than what we will get if Canada legalizes it.

    • Of course, the LDS church is not going to become involved in the issue of polygamy like it did with same-sex marriage. If it was going to become involved, it would have done so long ago in Utah, but consider that the LDS church did not give up polygamy in earnest until around 1920, that gave many factions of polygamy time to spring up, each with their own “prophet”, each interpreting the licentious actions of Josept Smith in his own bizarre way. And each one so very harmful to women and children. Just as harmful as Joseph Smith was to his beloved wife, Emma, when he penned Section 132 of the Doctrine & Covenants because she would not accept his polygamy. He hurt her emotionally, physically, and psychologically, but he couldn’t control his urges of wanting more and more power; and, of course that meant subjugating and controlling women–and sleeping with them. Brigham Young was the next ego-centric, magalomanic to lead hundreds of innocent people who thought they had found the promised land and its made-in-America religious dream. They followed like sheep mainly because there was no where to turn back to nor anyone to turn back to, but wife #19 did. Now the publishers are overflowing with books from these women who have been so harmed for so many decades.

      Nancy Mereska, President
      Stop Polygamy in Canada

  2. Groups like the FLDS are not the fault of the LDS Church. These groups are cherry picking what they want from what Joseph taught to try and justify their own desires. Joseph clearly taught that the members of the church should follow the council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12, and if there was ever some kind of split, between them on some matter (there hasn’t ever been) then the members were to follow the majority of the brethren. If the founders and followers of the FLDS believed Joseph, they would believe that, if if they believed that, they would accept the Official Declaration ending polygamy.

    Nancy, it’s pretty clear to me that you have a huge personal axe to grind against the LDS Church and you haven’t really made an objective study of the lives of the plural wives from that era. If Joseph and Brigham just wanted to sleep around a lot, this is not how they would have gone about it. You are ignoring a mountain of testimony from them and from their wives that contradicts your accusations.

    There were financial hardships and stuggles to overcome such unChristlike attributes as jelousy or selfishness, but in their journals you will also find firm testimonies of Christ and of the church and of the doctrine the were working on living. They were not oppressed, they were free to refuse any proposal of marriage, they were free to divorce any husband who did not treat them well. Only men who were asked by the Church to take plural wives were allowed to do so, and a man would not be asked to do that unless he was faithful in following the example of Christ. Only about 5% of adult Mormons back then were in a plural marriage, so it was not widespread with with the FLDS, nor were the abuses of forced marriages, no ‘lost boys’ or re-assigning wives as reward/punishment etc. part of early LDS polygamy.

    I understand full well not wanting to be in any kind of plural marriage, I share that feeling, but it is wrong to project your own feelings onto others and assume that their feelings and reactions would be like your own.

    As for Brigham’s wife #19, in her book I believe she says she ‘escaped’ by leaping out of the temple window into the Great Salt Lake and swimming to freedom. Except the temple is something like a MILE away from the lake. She is not at all a credible person, and if you just accept what she says because it fits your agenda, and ignore what so many other plural wives of his and others have said, they you are cherry picking too, just like the FLDS.

    If you really want to stop the legalization of polygamy, you should focus on the hear and now instead of attacking 100 year old straw men.

    • Paul,

      If you do not know the history of how polygamy started in the Mormon church, Christian fundamentalism, Muslim fundamentalist, etc., how on earth are you going to be able to make a reasonable argument for stopping the practice? Writers and publishers are now flooding the market with biographies and auto-biographies of those who have come out of polygamy. The harms they have suffered are indescribable. In another one of your comments, you said this site is “a joke.” I trashed the comment. I’ll tell you the same thing I told “muchamartina”–stop posting your negative comments to this blog. From now on they will be trashed.

      Nancy Mereska, President
      Stop Polygamy in Canada

  3. I did not post the comment calling this site a joke.

    I am familiar with the history of Mormon polygamy etc. and I’m aware of the kinds of abuses that happen in groups like the FLDS. Polygamy can be practiced in a way that is abusive, just as a monogamous marriage can be abusive too. In both cases however it is possible, if the people in the marriage are Christ like and of high character with mutual respect etc. etc. for the relationship to be positive and not abusive.

    I think there is a paradox in that those men who are eager to practice polygamy are likely the ones least suited to do it in a way that is not abusive, and those who are best suited to make it work are perfectly capable of having a fulfilling monogamous marriage so they don’t really care to go beyond that. With early LDS polygamy a man had to be called by the church to practice it, and that was a way of pushing good men to the next level and blocking those who would abuse it. Often those called to practice it dreaded the call and proceeded mainly out of a sense of duty to God.

    Legalizing polygamy would throw the door wide open to all men with no safeguards in place, and how can you deny a woman having multiple husbands if you allow a man to have multiple wives? A law could put some things in it, like a high age of consent for plural wives, requiring a couple be married monogamously for a number of years before being allowed to add a plural wife, requiring formal, legal consent from all involved etc. Even so, under the constitution I don’t think it would be possible to implement a law that replicated the early LDS practice. And from an LDS POV, only a plural marriage authorized by the church is acceptable to God, any plural marriage instutuded by civil authority would be immoral in God’s eyes.

  4. I am allowing this post from “Paul” whose user-name for his email is “rubbish-bin” only to allow my blog readers to see the real thinking of an LDS man. No God would put women through the torture of having to share her husband with other women and pretend to accept it. The only reason early Mormons practiced polygamy was to produce many children and to hold women under the thumb of their almighty, but imaginary, priesthood! Muslims, fundamentalist Christians and others who practice polygamy holding their women at bay under pseudo-patriarchal laws want the same thing, groups of baby-factories. My finely honed axe is against polygamy, Mr. Rubbish-bin. I believe in God but not a God who subjugates women!

    Nancy Mereska, President
    Stop Polygamy in Canada

    P.S. In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Eve1, Eve2, Eve3, etc.!

  5. Paul mentions some LDS history so let me do likewise. When the 1890 Manifesto was implemented more traditional stalwarts took stock in believing that from then to certainly within a generation or two that the ‘Gentiles’ would see that they had error and grant the practice of polygamy. This historically never evolved and the Holy Ghost continued to inspire a monogamous form of wedlock. So put another coat of ‘white bright’ on that history and remember that back-in-the-day not more than 30-35% of Mormondom ever did ‘The Work’ and it never wasn’t a souce of conflicts, divorces and apostasy(s), including Joseph Smith’s 1st. wife Emma Smith. Today, for those in ‘The Work’ no change still much pain, seperations and lost faiths.

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