Polygamy is the practice of taking more than one spouse at a time. This is not to be confused with polyamory, the practice of having multiple girlfriends and boyfriends at once. Polygamy has a pretty long and complicated history, especially in the U.S. For this article, we’re just going to be looking primarily at modern polygamy in the United States only. Most people attribute polygamy to Mormonism, and they’re mostly right. Most people who still practice polygamy in the U.S. are Mormon. Nothing compares to the extent of what the FLDS does, however.
Most Mormons used to practice polygamy; it was something that was a part of their history. However, when the United States declared that this practice was no longer legal, most sensible Mormons decided that they should probably stop marrying so many wives. However, some people were livid with this declaration and decided to branch off so they could continue to have more than one wife. This is how The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or the FLDS), was formed. They did not like the teachings of the church anymore and decided to start to do their own thing, as did several other groups. The most notable ones being the FLDS, The Kingston Clan, and The Apostolic United Brethren, which just so happens to be the church of the family on the TLC show "Sister Wives."
When watching a show like Sister Wives you can see some pretty disturbing things. But it’s nothing compared to what some cult-like polygamists like the FLDS and Kingston Clan practice today. There are definitely plenty of sensible Mormons living in the world, so don’t attribute polygamy to Mormonism. These groups we’re about to discuss operate more like a cult than a religion. In fact, think of the FLDS as Mormons like The Westboro Baptist Church is to other Christians.
Here, then, are the 15 most disturbing things you didn’t know about polygamy.
15 The FLDS Is The Largest Practicing Polygamist Group In The U.S.
As we’ve already discussed, there are several groups who have branched off and formed their own type of Mormonism that allows them to have as many wives as they want. However, the largest and most powerful of all of these groups is FLDS. They have an estimated 8,000 – 10,000 members living within their community. It’s hard to keep track, however, as they’re always having so many children as well as kicking members out.
The thing about this group is that they don’t just live in our community. They’re not just random people that you’ll see on the street without ever knowing that they’re polygamists. They all live within a community together where they own businesses like stores, banks, and schools, and also hire only polygamists to run all of these. They’re pretty careful about how they can get away with all of this legally, as some things have to be regulated by the government. However, they’ve managed to find some loopholes and run very large communities in Utah, Colorado, and Arizona.
14 Warren Jeffs Is The Evil Dictator
Warren Jeffs is pretty much in charge of just about every aspect of the lives of the people in the community. Obviously, he can’t handle all of the thousands of his followers, but he can appoint different members of the community to do so.
He's estimated to have about 70 wives. Some men are lucky if they can find one woman they want to marry, but if you’re Warren Jeffs, I guess you don’t really have to worry about whether or not they’re “the one” since you can have hundreds of them. He even married most of his father’s wives once he passed away.
Luckily, Jeffs is now sitting behind bars. In 2011, he was found guilty on charges of child sexual assault. At one point, he married 12 and 15-year-old girls. He also got them pregnant, and what better evidence that he raped teenage girls than having them give birth to your baby. During an FBI raid of his house, they also found many recordings of Jeff sexually assaulting other teenage girls.
13 He Is Still Ruling From Prison
This photo is of Warren Jeffs with one of his young child brides.
Despite being sentenced to life in prison plus twenty years, Warren Jeffs is still in charge of the FLDS and rules the community by communicating through the phone to the men he’s put in charge while he’s locked away. You would think that an entire community wouldn’t want to follow a convicted child rapist’s rules anymore, but they’re so brainwashed that, of course, they’re going to stick by their leader.
Those who run the community now tell the people of the FLDS that Warren will be getting out any day now. They tell them that he’s been wrongly accused and that the government is just after them to dismantle the community. These people are so brainwashed that they have no way of disproving these theories as they think anyone who is against them is just an outsider who doesn’t understand their way of life. Luckily, Warren will never get out of prison or be able to hurt another person physically again. Unfortunately, he’s still powerful enough to constantly be harming innocent people mentally.
12 Polygamy Is Required To Get Into Heaven
Not everyone is necessarily super-stoked about practicing polygamy. However, it is a required part of being inside of these communities. One purpose of having plural wives was to be able to populate the Earth much more easily and quickly. While this is definitely a proven method, it appears that humans have been doing a pretty decent job of filling up the Earth with people by staying in monogamous relationships.
However, claims from leaders like Joseph Smith were that the idea that men need plural wives were revelations sent by God, so the followers of his religion have adopted this practice and made it crucial to their lives in order to make it into heaven. Polygamists believe that only women who have sister wives and men who have more than one wife get into heaven. The scariest part is that the first wife is supposed to give permission to the husband to be allowed to marry multiple women. But if the first wife doesn’t give this permission, she’ll be “destroyed by God.”
11 Families Are Constantly Getting Torn Apart
Polygamists have extremely large families. They don’t really associate with the outside world, so their families are oftentime their only friends. This results in many close-knit and very large families. However, not everyone born into this religion wants to be a part of it. People aren’t necessarily held against their will, although it is rather hard to try and leave. Oftentimes you might get held back and manipulated in order to try and get you to stay. But for those who do escape, a lonely world awaits.
If you leave the community, you become an apostate. This means that you have to cut ties with all of the family members that you leave behind. Sometimes some of the wives leave, so, of course, they take their young children with them. But if their children are over 18, they have the free will to stay, resulting in mothers losing their children and children losing their mothers.
10 There's A Strict Dress Code
Like many fundamentalist religions and cults, a pretty strict dress code comes along with this polygamist group. Modesty is common for women in different polygamist groups, but the members of the FLDS take it to a whole new level. The women are rarely ever seen without their long pastel dresses on. They keep their entire bodies covered head to toe. They claim it is so that people focus on each other’s personalities instead of getting attracted to their bodies. This sounds like a harmless thing, but it’s also a little startling that you can’t control yourself to the point that you have to hide every inch of skin from head to toe.
Another thing that’s required of the women of the FLDS is that they aren’t allowed to cut their hair. Their hair is part of their identity and who they are. The most disturbing part of the 'do, however? Women need to have long hair so that they can wash men’s feet in heaven. That is seriously disturbing.
9 There's No Access To Outside Entertainment
One of the things that makes the FLDS most like a cult is that there is no access to outside entertainment. Not only is the internet and TV supposedly full of bad things that make people evil, but it’s also a place where people can get factual information to dispute all of the ridiculous lies they’re told inside the cult. The children are all home-schooled and they barely get a decent education. They’re never told about math and science other than the basics they need to grow up to be workers within the community.
The biggest lie that they’re told is that Warren Jeffs is the president! They actually believe that he’s the president of the United States and that he’s been locked away under false accusations! Of course, they wouldn’t be allowed to use the internet because a quick Google search would dispute all of the beliefs that they hold so true to their identities.
8 They Are Extremely Racist
When you run into extreme fundamentalist religious groups, you’re bound to find out that they have some pretty homophobic, racist, and generally bigoted perspectives. But the thoughts of the FLDS stem way beyond just your racist uncle who’s constantly posting things like #whitelivesmatter on Facebook. The members of the FLDS actually believe that African-Americans or any person of color are literal demons.
They really believe that everyone who isn’t in the community is the devil. Wouldn’t that be pretty scary, thinking that you live in a world where you’re surrounded by demons? But African-Americans are the worst of them all, according to the FLDS. This is because they pretty much believe every stereotype there is surrounding the black community and culture. Rap music and rock n’ roll were invented by African Americans, therefore, they caused all the bad in the world. Who knew good music was really Pandora’s box?
7 Children Are Forced To Work
When you live in a world where you have to provide for multiple wives who have multiple children, it can be pretty tough to make enough money in order to support them all. Many of the men who live within the community are businessmen or farmers. They own lucrative properties and manage them themselves. However, what better way to save money than to cut back on employment? What’s even better than having any employees at all? What about slaves? Better yet, child slaves.
That’s right, many of the men of the FLDS force their children to work for their businesses. It’s not uncommon for children of all denominations to help out on family farms and within family stores. But most of this is just small chores that actually help teach the children good values and work ethic. In reality, the children of FLDS are subjected to long hours and dangerous situations that put them at risk for serious harm. But hey, free labor is free labor, right? Wrong. Wrong on so many levels.
6 Someone Is Always Watching
All of the women in the picture above are Jeffs' wives. When you live in a cult like this, everyone knows everyone. A lot of the women do stay home from work, as well as some of the children from school. This means that if you’re up to something a little risky, you probably have a neighbor watching. If your neighbor isn’t watching you, then big brother likely is. The FLDS has an intricate security system in place throughout their community. They know who comes in and out of their properties.
When they see something a little out of the ordinary, they send the “God Squad” to investigate, a small team of security that is known for harassing outsiders driving through the area. This makes it extremely difficult to contact anyone inside or outside of the FLDS without someone knowing about it. The A&E drama Escaping Polygamy covers this subject a lot, as the show revolves around helping people escape this cult. You can’t just walk out your door and leave. Someone will attempt to harass you or hide you away, and if you have children, you risk losing them as well.
5 Living Conditions Are Horrendous
Even though some men use their children as workers in order to save money, not every person is lucky enough to be a business owner. And working a full-time job isn’t enough to support one family sometimes. This results in wives going without the proper help they need to raise the multiple children they’re forced to have. When the women have their husband's children and they aren’t the first wife, they technically aren’t in a legal marriage because that’s illegal in the U.S. This means that when they have their children, they sometimes don’t even put the father’s name on the birth certificate.
This is so they can more easily get government assistance because they label themselves as single mothers. However, when they do get government aid and food stamps, their money has to go to their husband. The husband is in control of all of the financials with little say from the woman. In some cases, husbands even play favorites with their wives, giving the most beautiful and submissive wife the most money and aid while leaving their least favorite one starving in a house that’s falling apart. The conditions for those who are sick and elderly are even worse, as even the healthiest of women can barely get any help.
4 The Man Is Always In Charge
As previously stated, the man is always in charge. Of everything. Financials, the environment, the children, and even the wives’ own bodies. This is actually pretty terrifying if you think about it. Women are supposed to be submissive to their husbands and do as they say. If they don’t, they are being ungodly and are subject to punishment.
The members of the FLDS and even the other religious polygamist groups mentioned believe that a woman’s job is to have children and take care of their husbands. This is taken to the extreme measure within this society. They go so far as to discourage women from hugging or kissing their children, as the only affection should come from the head of the household, which is the man. These men are no longer husbands, instead, they become dictators and rulers that take freedom away from these women and children.
3 Women Are Basically Breeding Machines
The picture above is Tom Green with his three wives. They weren't members of the FLDS, but they still practiced polygamy. One of his wives was his own stepdaughter.
Women really serve no purpose in this society other than to be walking incubators. They do have jobs every once in a while, but really only if they desperately need to. And even this is considered a huge privilege that the women are supposed to be grateful for. Gee, how lucky they are to have a minimum wage job that they can barely manage along with the multiple children they were forced to have.
When you have this society where men can have multiple wives, there tends to be an imbalance in how many single men vs. women there are. This results in many men getting outcast from the society for the mere reason that they aren’t needed. The rest of the society wants to make room for important and powerful men so they can have multiple wives. But the women get to stay, as long as they’re attractive. Husbands can use their daughters to trade off and marry to new men in order to gain power and business opportunities. But if you’re too overweight or don’t smile enough, there’s a good chance you might get outcast with all of those lonely men who never got the chance to have five wives.
2 Young Girls Are Forced To Marry Older Men
The above photo is Warren Jeff's father, 85, with one of his young wives who was only 19 when they married.
As previously mentioned, the leader of the polygamist cult is a convicted child rapist. This comes as no surprise then, that the entire community is full of pedophiles. Since polygamists believe that a woman’s purpose is to bear children, they think that as soon as these girls hit puberty they should find their husbands and start popping out babies. If you’ve taken a basic health class, you know that most girls hit puberty around the age of 12. However, some can reach puberty at the young age of 9.
Pedophilia is illegal, and the members of the FLDS know this, so they’re careful about how they go about their relationships. But that doesn’t stop men who are 30, 40, 50 or older from attempting to begin dating girls as young as 12. They often have dances where all the young girls go to meet older men looking for a new wife. The sickest part is that the parents allow this to happen. They’re all brainwashed enough to believe that this is an acceptable way of life and how normal things operate. It’s even grosser to imagine a 50-year-old man with four wives already interested in an 18-year-old girl!
1 Incest Is A Good Thing
The above photo is Warren Jeffs with one of his child brides. Many of his young brides also happened to be his cousins.
Incest has been believed throughout history in many cultures to be a good thing. Those who practice incest believe that it is an essential part of keeping the bloodline pure. The members of the FLDS, as well as The Kingston Clan, believe this to be true as well. If you know anything about incest, then you know that it can result in many health problems for both the mother and the baby. However, when a culture disputes science altogether, they’ll still stay true to their beliefs.
The families involved in the FLDS are huge. They could have upwards of 50 siblings at a time, which means they probably have at least 50 aunts and uncles too. This means that they’re bound to run into a cousin or second cousin that they didn’t even know they had at one point. So even if they aren’t forced into a relationship with their half-brother or sister, they still run the risk of falling in love with someone they might unknowingly share a bloodline with.
Another disturbing thing is that multiple sisters might end up marrying the same husband! And young little girls run the risk of being married off to their older uncles! On the show Escaping Polygamy one of the hosts was courted by her uncle who was in his 40s while she was only a teenager.