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Exceptional American Polygamy
November , 2014
by William P. Meyers

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America (the United States of America) is exceptional, don't you agree?

Among the less-talked about exceptional features of America is American polygamy. Fortunately we have a religion created in the U.S.A., by an American Prophet who received messages from God, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith.

Smith was no ordinary polygamist. Currently the American Church, aka the Mormons, are putting up web pages [plural marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo]admitting the Smith was a polygamist, something they had apparently been denying for over a century. They previously admitted that Brigham Young and others who relocated the Mormon Zion in Utah had been polygamists. The official church stopped sanctioning polygamy when God, I mean the U.S. federal government, told them to cut it out. But many Mormons continued to practice polygamy in secret, and some still pracice it today.

Of course Joseph Smith did not invent the practice of one many having multiple wives. [Note the Mormons never seem to have practiced Polyandry, in which one woman can have multiple husbands.] Many ancient peoples allowed men to have multiple wives, notably the Jews. But the legendary founder of the Jewish race, Abraham, only had two wives, Sarah and Hagar. Jacob had 4 wives. King David upped the ante with 8 wives.

Kings in general sometimes had a lot of wives and mistresses, or harems, but then we don't expect them to keep their sex drives in check the way we (mistakenly) think of religious leaders. Turkish and Chinese kings sometimes had problems keeping track of their wives, but many of these marriages were to create political alliances. The founder of the Qing dynasty in China, Hong Taiji, had fifteen wives. The Ottoman (Turkish) Emperors were limited by Islam to four official wives, but often kept large harems of secondary wives.

The Buddha is celebrated for abandoning his wife and child to become a bum seeking enlightenment. Jesus of Nazareth famously had no wives at all.

The Prophet Mohammed set the rule for Islam as a maximum of four wives. Later, when talking to Allah one day, he wheedled out permission to have many more wives. He married the later twelve only after his first wife, Khadija bint Khumwaylid, died when he was 50 (and she was 65. She had been widowed twice before marrying the young Mohammed).

Joseph Smith was not about to let Mohammed outdo him. He was born in Vermont in 1805 to a not-very-prosperous family. Joseph studied various Protestant denominations as a young man, but mostly seems to have borrowed the parts of his religion he did not invent himself from the Koran and from ancient Egyptian translations that were becoming available around that time. He seems to have later inflated his own early "religious" experiences, but eventually standardized his story as being communicated to by an angel named Moroni starting in 1823. He spent a lot of his young adult hood futilely looking for lost treasure.

Smith married his first wife, Emma Hale, in 1827. Her parents made him give up the treasure hunting business. But sooner than that he learned that conning people out of money by styling himself a religious leader was even less physically exerting than occasionally digging for treasure. Americans, like all people, having a sizeable percentage of gullible people, his religion grew pretty quickly. He published the Book of Mormon in 1830 and officially organized his Church of Christ that same year.

There has always been controversy about Joseph Smith's extra wives. Emma Smith consistently denied they ever existed, despite the numerous other witnesses, the explicit writings of Smith on the subject, and the open and widespread practice of polygamy among Smith's close associates.

In the Doctrine and Covenants any man aspiring to priesthood is encouraged to take multiple wives [D&C 132:61-62]:

61. And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified.

The emphasis on the virginity of multiple wives is why teenage women have been the main target of Mormon missionaries from the time of Joseph Smith until the present. Joseph Smith was accused by his detractors to have had over thirty secret wives at the time of his death in 1844. Some scholars have made lists [See wikipedia's List of Joseph Smith's Wives].

Now I know that many Americans who think they are patriotic still belong to non-American religions. I say if Americans are going to subscribe to crazy beliefs that are out of touch with reality, they should at least sign up for crazy Mormon beliefs. And let's hear it for the citizens of Nauvoo Illinois, who in trying to expose Joseph Smith as a con artist, made him into a martyr. Our American Religion really started to thrive once it had steadier hands on the tiller.

The United States of America was chosen by God to be the exceptional nation. His angel Moroni was sent to sign up Joseph Smith as our exceptional prophet.

When Americans commit acts that are called Crimes Against Humanity or War Crimes if any other nation commits them, remember We Are Exceptional. We are not bound by conventional morality or international law. In God We Trust.

See also: Four Pillars of Mormonism

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