|Why is Polygamy an Issue Today?
When we first turned our attention to the subject of polygamy for our fourth documentary film, Lifting the Veil of Polygamy, we had been asking the same question. After all, wasn't it just a minor relic of Mormonism's past, and today only practiced by a small handful of fringe sect members? What possible relevance does it have today?
That is what we thought, and that is what we find most people think today. Why harp on something that was practiced--and effectively wiped out--a century ago?
This was the main reason we fought against even touching the subject. But as we began to scratch the surface of this disturbing subject, we were completely shocked by what we found. Not onlydid we discover that polygamy was alive and well today--in numbers we never dreamed possible--but its implications not only for these fringe sects but also for the mainline LDS Church today were completely unavoidable.
Mormonism taught that polygamy was necessary for exaltation. This was a revelation that was proclaimed by Joseph Smith and further taught by Brigham Young and all the early leaders and apostles of the LDS Church. Contrary to what is often hinted at today, it was not simply a minor social practice; it was a central plank to the whole foundation of the Mormon doctrine of salvation.
The LDS Church officially abandoned the practice in the late 1800s, but strangely enough, this doctrine was never recanted or removed from their scriptures. It's still there. Doctrine & Covenants section 132 still proclaims that polygamy is God's plan, an "eternal covenant," which begs the question: why was it abandoned? If polygamy really is the means to exaltation, why would the church prohibit their membership from the only means to achieve it?
Mormon leaders lied about polygamy when they practiced it; they continue to lie about it today. Mormon polygamous history is an uncomfortable topic, and an embarrassing one. The LDS Church leadership has, in many instances, denied fundamental (and well-documented) aspects of not only their history but their current doctrine, in order to avoid dealing with this problem.
Tens of thousands of faithful followers of Joseph Smith continue the practice to this day. Some estimates are as high as 100,000. These "Mormon Fundamentalists" as they are known, believe in and live the original doctrines of Mormonism, most importantly polygamy. And their numbers are growing--in part, because the mainline LDS Church is not dealing honestly with their history and doctrine, and many well-meaning and faithful Mormons see this as inconsistent; they begin looking for true, original Mormonism. And true, original Mormonism, beyond any quesiton, leads right back to polygamy.
Polygamy today is responsible for untold heartache and abuse among women, children, and even the men. In some of the more extreme groups, including the largest polygamous sect of Mormonism, women and children have no rights whatsoever. They are told what they will do, who they will marry; they are chattel. These groups tend to be very closed and isolated, which is a breeding ground for all sorts of unspeakable abuses. And yet for the most part, the Mormon Church disavows any connection to these groups, and in so doing, they turn a blind eye to the suffering of these people; to acknowledge it would require an uncomfortable admission of its own history. What hope is there for them?
Lifting the Veil of Polygamy is about Mormonism--not just Mormonism's past, but Mormonism's present. Not just the fringe groups, but the mainline LDS Church. It is a compelling and moving documentary told by ten former Mormons, many of whom lived the horrors of polygamy. They share the dark history of this cruel doctrine, its disturbing implications today, and most importantly, they point to the real source of salvation, Jesus Christ.
It's a film that every Mormon needs to see--and everyone who loves a Mormon should have. It contains information about Mormonism that many LDS members themselves have never learned. With eternity in the balance for those who follow after a false gospel, what message could be more important than the understanding of the real plan of salvation, as revealed in the Bible?