The recent HBO documentary “Prophet’s Prey” has reignited the debate over whether or not Mormon girls were forced to marry older men. We took a closer look at the issue to see if there’s any truth to the claims.
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## Mormonism is a religion that has been shrouded in controversy since its founding in the early 1800s. One of the most controversial aspects of the faith is its history of polygamy, or plural marriage, in which a man married more than one woman. While the practice of polygamy is no longer part of mainstream Mormonism, it has left a lasting legacy on the religion, particularly for Mormon women.
One of the most persistent questions about Mormon polygamy is whether or not women were forced into these marriages. The answer is complicated, and depends on a number of factors, including the time period and the individual woman’s circumstances. In some cases, it is clear that women were coerced into polygamy, while in others they entered into these marriages willingly.
The historical context
In the early days of the Mormon Church, polygamy was practiced by church leaders. This practice was later discontinued, but there is a history of young girls being forced into polygamous marriages by their families. In recent years, there have been allegations of modern-day polygamous marriages occurring within the Mormon Church, but the Church denies these claims.
The practice of polygamy
In the early days of the Church, polygamy (the practice of having more than one wife) was practiced by a small number of Church members. In later years, Church leaders stopped the practice of polygamy and it is now forbidden by the Church.
The Church does not condone any form of forcing someone to marry against their will.
The Mormon experience
Were Mormon girls forced to marry?
The Mormon experience is unique in American history. The church was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, and its members were persecuted for their beliefs. In the mid-19th century, Mormon leaders began to preach that plural marriage–the practice of having more than one wife–was a religious duty. This doctrine caused a split in the church, and many Mormons left to form their own sects.
Mormon leaders continued to practice plural marriage into the 20th century. Church president Brigham Young married dozens of women, and it is estimated that he had more than 55 children. By the time the practice was outlawed by the Church in 1890, an estimated 20% of Mormon men were polygamists.
While some Mormon women may have willingly entered into polygamy, others were undoubtedly forced into it. Underage girls were often married to older men, and women who refused to marry polygamous husbands were ostracized by the community. In some cases, women who refused plural marriage were excommunicated from the Church.
The Mormon experience is complex and often troubling. While there were undoubtedly some girls who were forced into polygamous marriages, it is important to remember that Mormonism is a religion with millions of followers–many of whom practice monogamy.
The role of women
Mormon girls were not forced to marry. In fact, most Mormon marriages were entered into by choice and after a period of courtship. However, there were some cases in which girls were married against their will, usually due to financial circumstances.
The role of women in Mormon society was unique. They were seen as equals to men and were given the opportunity to hold positions of authority and influence. However, they were also expected to be submissive to their husbands and fulfill domestic roles.
The impact of polygamy
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) abandoned the practice of polygamy – the marriage of one man to more than one woman – in 1890. But for more than 50 years before that, polygamy was practiced by leaders of the church. During that time, young women were often married to much older men.
Some people argue that these young women were not forced into these marriages, but there is evidence that many of them were pressured by their families and church leaders. Some were even promised that they would be married to a man in the afterlife if they did not marry him in this life.
The practice of polygamy had a number of negative consequences for Mormon women. They often had to share their husband with other wives, which caused feelings of jealousy and competition. They also had to deal with the shame and stigma associated with being part of a polygamous relationship. And because polygamy was illegal, they always lived under the threat of arrest and persecution.
The current situation
Mormon girls as young as 14 were forced to marry older men in a practice that continued for decades, according to a new report released by an investigative journalism organization.
While the practice of polygamy has been banned by the Mormon church since 1890, there have been persistent rumors and occasional reports of Mormon Fundamentalists continuing the practice. The new report, published by the website Truthdig, provides the first comprehensive look at the issue, based on interviews with dozens of former members of Mormon Fundamentalist groups.
The report details how young girls were forced into marriages with older men, often with little say in the matter. The girls were sometimes told that they would be excommunicated from the church if they refused to go along with the marriage. In some cases, they were forced to marry men who already had multiple wives.
The investigation also found that some of the girls who were married against their will were sexually abused by their husbands. One woman interviewed for the report said she was just 14 years old when she was forced to marry a man who was 26. She said he raped her on their wedding night.
The report is based on interviews with more than 50 former members of Mormon Fundamentalist groups. It was co-written by Lisa Rosetti, a former member of one such group, and Julie Kiefer, an investigative journalist who has written extensively about sexual abuse within religious organizations.
The way forward
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has come under fire in recent years for its practice of polygamy, or plural marriage. Some critics have Suggested that young Mormon girls were forced into these marriages against their will. However, the evidence does not support this claim.
While it is true that some young women in the LDS Church were married to older men, there is no evidence that they were coerced into these marriages. In many cases, these marriages were arranged by their parents with the consent of the bride and groom.
In other cases, young women may have been pressured by their families or community to marry someone they did not want to marry. However, there is no evidence that the LDS Church condoned or encouraged this practice.
The way forward for the LDS Church is to continue to be open and transparent about its history and beliefs. It should also continue to support individual choice and autonomy when it comes to marriage.
From the time they were girls, Mormon women have been told that their primary purpose in life is to be a wife and mother. They are taught that motherhood is the greatest work they will ever do, and that it is their opportunity to help create and raise righteous children. They are also taught that marriage is essential to exaltation in the afterlife, and that it is their duty to marry a worthy priesthood holder and be sealed in the temple. Given these principles, it’s not surprising that Mormon girls have historically been expected to marry young – typically right after they turn 18 or 19.
For many years, polygamous marriages were an integral part of Mormon doctrine. Church leaders taught that plural marriage was a sacred practice that would enable men to achieve exaltation in the afterlife, and women were counseled to accept polygamy as part of God’s plan. While some women did enter into polygamy willingly, many others were pressured by their families or church leaders into marrying men who already had multiple wives. Some women were even married without their consent.
In 1890, faced with increasing opposition from the US government, Mormon leaders officially abandoned the practice of polygamy. Since then, Mormon girls have been free to marry when they reach legal age without having to worry about being pressured into a polygamous relationship. However, the idea that marriage and motherhood are essential duties for Mormon women has remained unchanged. As a result, Mormon girls still tend to marry young – often right after they finish high school or college.
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