Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto


By Brian C. Hales

2007 Best Book Award, John Whitmer Historical Association

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Book Description:

Under the subject of alternative lifestyles, the issue of polygamous relationships falls squarely in the middle of the debate. Polygamous marriages are a common practice in many other countries, but the United States has vehemently opposed such unions and will no doubt find itself disputing its position on them again in the near future. As with the same-sex marriage issue, a firestorm of controversy surrounds the question since the right to participate in a polygamous union is very much tied to the right to live out one’s preferences, religious or not. Detailed accounts of sexual abuse and child brides are frequently leaked from the various polygamous societies, notwithstanding their extreme efforts to remain under the radar of law enforcement and the press. A by-product of these mysterious societies is that public interest is vitalized by their continuous efforts to gain independence from traditionalist culture.
     This fascinating study seeks to trace the historical tapestry that is early Mormon polygamy, details the official discontinuation of the practice by the Church, and, for the first time, describes the many zeal-driven organizations that arose in the wake of that decision. Among the polygamous groups discussed are the LeBaronites, whose “blood atonement” killings sent fear throughout Mormon communities in the late seventies and the eighties; the FLDS Church, which made news recently over its construction of a compound and temple in Texas and Warren Jeffs' arrest and conviction; and the Allred and Kingston groups, two major factions with substantial membership statistics both in and out of the United States. All these fascinating histories, along with those of the smaller independent groups, are examined and explained in a way that all can appreciate.

Comprehensive Table of Contents:



1. Plural Marriage Restored

Joseph Smith and Plural Marriage
Expanding the Practice of Polygamy: Secrecy and Opposition
The Restoration of Priesthood Sealing Authority
Strict Control by “One” of the Sealing Authority
The “One” Man: Prophet and President of the High Priesthood

2. Secrecy: Concealing Polygamy in Nauvoo

The Perceived Benefits of Secrecy
Problems Created by Secrecy
The Endowed Quorum
The Council of Fifty
Nauvoo Secrecy: 150 Years Later

3. Following the “One” Man: After the Martyrdom

Brigham Young as the “One” Man
Polygamy Expansion in Utah
The Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862
John Taylor: The “One” Man
An 1886 Revelation to John Taylor
Table 1
Persecution Increases
Wilford Woodruff: The Next “One” Man

4. The 1890 Manifesto and Beyond

The 1890 Manifesto
Manifesto Presented at General Conference
President Woodruff Addresses Questions
Lorenzo Snow: The “One” Man
Joseph F. Smith and the Second Manifesto
The Case of Matthias Cowley and John W. Taylor

5. Plural Marriage: Commanded, Permitted, or Not Permitted

Obeying the Laws of God or the Laws of the Land
Release from the Practice: “It Is Enough”
God’s Regulation of Plural Marriage
When Polygamy Is Not Permitted
When Plural Marriage Is Permitted
When Plural Marriage Is Commanded
Plural Marriage: A Requirement for Exaltation?
Understanding Doctrine and Covenants 132
Suspending Plural Marriage: A Change in the Ordinances?

6. Polygamy Independent from the Authority of the “One” Man

Temple Sealers: John W. Woolley
Stake Patriarchs and “Sealing Blessings”
Action to Suppress New Plural Marriages
The Case of Joseph White Musser
Heber J. Grant: The “One” Man
The Gudmundson Colony
The Richard R. Lyman Case

7. 1920s: Polygamists Join Together

John T. Clark: The “One Mighty and Strong”
John T. Clark’s Claims
Nathaniel Baldwin: Early Supporter and Financial Sponsor

8. Lorin C. Woolley and Sealing Authority

Woolley’s Account of John Taylor’s 1886 Visitation
1920s: An Expanded Account of the 1886 Visitation
The 1886 “Ordinations”
The Other Four Men
Lorin Woolley’s Excommunication
Lorin Woolley and Resurrected Beings
Lorin Woolley and Government Leaders
Lorin Woolley’s Teachings
The “Grand Council of the Kingdom”
The Prophecies of Lorin C. Woolley
Lorin Woolley’s Death

9. Joseph White Musser: Father of the Mormon Fundamentalist Movement

The Family of Joseph White Musser
Musser’s Education
Musser Joins Other Mormon Fundamentalists
Celestial Marriage? and the “Fulness of the Gospel”
Musser’s Split Devotion
Musser Chooses Lorin Woolley

10. A Priesthood Organization Disclosed

Fundamentalist Doctrines of a Priesthood Organization
The Council of Friends
High Priest Apostles
The Sanhedrin
The Senior Member of the Council of Friends: The “One” Man
Keys of Sealing Outside the Church?
Questions about the Priesthood
The Priesthood Expands

11. Fundamentalist Priesthood Developments after 1934

The Importance of the Priesthood Organization
Byron Harvey Allred Jr.
Eslie Jenson and Apostle Melvin J. Ballard
Priesthood Keys and the Council of Friends
Instructing Fundamentalists in Priesthood Doctrines
Seeking a Divine Witness
Prayers of Vengeance on LDS Church Leaders
Lorin Woolley’s Visit to the Yucatan
Priesthood Succession after Lorin C. Woolley’s Death
J. Leslie Broadbent “Senior Member” of the Council of Friends

12. John Y. Barlow: Senior Member of the Council of Friends

Short Creek, Arizona
Truth Magazine
Rulon C. Allred
Persecution Increases
Joseph Musser’s “Law of Chastity”
1936: “Where Are the Keys of Sealing?”
Mormon Fundamentalism Spreads
LDS Church Opposition
Francis M. Darter

13. The Expansion of Fundamentalism under John Y. Barlow’s Leadership
The United Effort Plan

More Additions to the Priesthood Council
The 1944 Raid
Incarcerated with Hope
A Prison “Manifesto”
Barlow Sends Men to Mexico
New Emphasis on the United Effort Plan

14. Joseph White Musser: Senior Member of the Priesthood Council
Margarito Bautista

Rulon Allred: “Counselor” to Joseph Musser
A New Priesthood Council Is Called
The Star of Truth
Short Creek Fundamentalists Follow the Old Council
Joseph Musser Passes Away
Charles Zitting: New Senior Member
LeGrand Woolley and Louis Kelsch, Senior Members of the Council

15. Short Creek Fundamentalism

The 1953 Raid
Arizona’s Court Cases
Utah Prosecution: The Vera Black Case
The Journal of Discourses Reprinted
The United Effort Plan Revives
The Law of Placing
Teachings of Leroy Johnson
The “One Man” Doctrine
Centennial Park and the “Second Ward”
The Fundamentalist LDS Church
LDS Church Missionary Efforts
Awaiting the Millennium in 2000
Rulon Jeffs Passes On
Excommunication of the Barlow Brothers
The Colorado City Unified School District
Upheaval in British Columbia
Recent Legal Challenges
Temple Building in Texas

16. Rulon C. Allred’s Leadership

Satellite Congregations
Teachings of Rulon C. Allred
Owen Allred’s Presidency of the AUB
Fluctuation in Membership and Changes in Leadership
Accusations of Money Laundering and Deception
J. LaMoine Jenson Succeeds Owen Allred

17. The Kingstons

Family Background
Kingston Excommunications
Early Organizational Activities
Elden Kingston’s Leadership
The Teton Test of the Numbered “Inner Circle”
Demarcation from the Musser Group
Elden Kingston’s Final Years
Teachings and Guidelines of the Co-op
The Source of Elden Kingston’s Priesthood Authority?
Questions Regarding the United Order Cooperative
Questions Regarding the Law of Satisfaction
Paul Elden Kingston Takes the Helm

18. The LeBarons

Family Background
The “Right of the Firstborn”
Interactions with other Mormon Fundamentalists
The Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times
Ervil LeBaron’s Priesthood Expounded
Presiding Patriarch
Missionaries from the French Mission Join the LeBarons
A Period of Expansion
The Church of the Lamb of God
The LeBarons Today

19. Additional Mormon Fundamentalists

The Naylor Group
Gerald Peterson and the Righteous Branch of “Christ’s Church”
Tom Green
Ogden Kraut
Royston Potter
John Singer and Addam Swapp
James D. Harmston
Maurice Glendenning and the Order of Aaron
Alex Joseph and the Confederate Nations of Israel
Robert C. Crossfield
Ron and Dan Lafferty
Brian David Mitchell

20. Fundamentalisms and Mormon Fundamentalism

Characteristics of Fundamentalism
Fundamentalist Leaders
Weaknesses of the Fundamentalist Position
Types of Individuals Attracted to Mormon Fundamentalism
Obstacles to Leaving Mormon Fundamentalism
Sincerity, Tradition, and Personal Revelation
Finding the “One” Man Who Holds the Keys of Sealing




Praise for Modern Polygamy:

 “This book is the most thorough and comprehensive study written on the subject to date, providing readers with a clear, candid, and broad sweeping overview of the history, teachings, and practices of modern fundamentalist groups.” — Alexander L. Baugh, associate professor of Church history and doctrine, Brigham Young University

Mormon Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism is a fine introduction to its complex subject. Reading between the lines, one senses that Hales is more in sympathy with the organizational church than with the fundamentalists. But he allows each side to speak for itself through extensive citations from historical documents. Anyone wanting to know more about this surprisingly vital movement will do well with this volume.” — Jeffrey Needle, Association for Mormon Letters.

About the Author:

Brian C. Hales, author of the 3 volume Joseph Smith's Polygamy series, works as an anesthesiologist at the Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton, Utah. An active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a former full-time missionary, he is the webmaster of, a website dedicated to providing viewers with a historical and doctrinal examination of Mormon fundamentalist topics, including the practice of polygamy. Brian has presented at conferences for the Mormon History Association, the John Whitmer Historical Association, the Sunstone Symposium, and the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) on polygamy-related topics. His articles have also been published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and the Journal for Mormon History.

More Information:

541 pages
ISBN: 978-1-58958-109-8 (Paperback)
Published June 2012

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