Mormon Polygamy History
The practice of polygamy in the Mormon church has a long and riveting history that stretches back to the 19th century. While most of the practice has fallen out of favor in the mainstream Mormon church, a small percentage of believers continue to follow this practice.
The roots of polygamy
The act of polygamy, or plural marriage, in which one man has many wives, was taught by the LDS church, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in the early 19th century. The Book of Mormon states that God revealed that there was a need for polygamy in order to “raise up seed unto God.” Because of this revelation, in 1830, the founder, Joseph Smith Jr., instituted the practice of polygamy. For decades, polygamy was publicly practiced with the position that religious freedom allows it. Finally, in 1862, the Morill Act banned the act of polygamy, and in 1890, the church president publicly forbade it.
The Mormon church as it stands now
Today the majority of Mormon believers are in traditional marriages, and the practice of polygamy is grounds for excommunication from the church. In spite of this, the practice continues in the AUB (the Apostolic United Brethren) and the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) churches, which are no longer part of the central Mormon church but small, independently practicing groups. If there is any doubt that the practice continues, the channel TLC broadcast a show in 2010 called “Sister Wives” that chronicled the life of Kody Brown and his four wives. While polygamous marriage is illegal in the United States, practitioners are rarely charged unless there are signs of other illegal activity, such as tax evasion or rape.