Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a Mormon, has called polygamy a “bizarre” practice. Romney, seeking the Republican nomination for the Presidency, is attempting to put some distance between himself and one of the more controversial elements of Mormonism.
Now, however, a group of fundamentalist Mormons are pushing to get the practice legalized, according to a Reuters article on Yahoo News. The fundamentalists, some of whom are no longer hiding their participation in polygamy, are claiming that the practice should be legalized on religious grounds.
While the fundamentalists want polygamy legalized, they are against the abuses that have made headlines in recent years, such as forced marriages of underage brides.
Reuters notes that the practice of polygamy was introduced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as the Mormons are formally known, in pre-Civil War days, but because the United States government threatened to deny statehood to Utah, the home of Mormonism, the practice was officially banned, on the basis of a divine revelation, in 1890.
While Romney calls the practice “bizarre,” other Mormons, such as Ephraim Hammon, are more comfortable with it. “If it was me,” Reuters quotes Hammon, “I wouldn’t apologize for my past. My ancestors did what they did. I can’t help that.”
Romney has explained the use of the practice when the Mormons were settling Utah and needed to increase their population. Romney’s ancestors, like Hammon’s, practiced polygamy in obedience to orders from Mormon leaders. Today, about 40,000 “fundamentalist Mormons” in Utah and nearby states live in polygamy illegally, according to Reuters.
While the fundamentalist Mormons say they are the true Mormons because they practice what Mormon founder Joseph Smith said came from a divine revelation, other Mormons disagree that it was God speaking to Smith. Reuters quotes John Llewellyn, a retired policeman who used to practice polygamy, “I don’t think the revelation that Joseph Smith received came from Christ. I think it came his Y (male) chromosome.” Smith was said to have had at 24 wives.
Some question the divine revelation that was once given and then taken away. An Elder in the Mormon church explained why that can happen, in a statement to Reuters, “We believe in this continuing flow of revelation, and it’s (God’s) right to authorize and de-authorize — to turn it on or turn it off.”
The whole issue, as Reuters notes, comes at an “awkward” time with the prominence being given to Romney in his campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination.
Reuters, Fundamental Mormons seek recognition for polygamy. news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070612/us_nm/usa_mormons_polygamy_dc_1;_ylt=AvZW12se5w2EvDFO8futudcE1vAI
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