Today, when mentioned in Church meetings, the practice of polygamy is often portrayed as antiquated, odd, and undesirable. Modern saints are largely, if not uniformly, grateful that they are no longer called upon to live that way. Because apostles of the LDS Church have repeatedly and publicly announced that polygamy was never an essential doctrine of the restored gospel, this shared heritage has dissipated into a dismal understanding of who fundamentalist Mormons are. Indeed, President Hinckley has gone so far as to proclaim that “[t]here is no such thing as a ‘Mormon fundamentalist.’ It is a contradiction to use the two words together.” While every fundamentalist Mormon is familiar with an 1886 revelation declaring “I have not revoked this law nor will I” and while
most every fundamentalist Mormon considers this revelation as the basis for rejecting Wilford Woodruff’s 1890 manifesto, the vast majority of saints continue to be befuddled by the mulish stance taken by fundamentalist Mormons in rejecting that 1890 “revelation.”
To address this lost understanding, the first section of this volume will present a plethora of statements from apostles and leaders of the Church claiming that:
1) when the law of the land demands that the latter-day saints disobey God by abandoning plural marriage, the only honorable course of action for latter-day saints is to disobey the law of the land,
2) “the Lord will never give a revelation to abandon plural marriage,” and
3) if the latter-day saints abandon plural marriage, the Lord will separate a remnant of saints from among them who will be willing to live their lives in accordance with this important doctrine.
While mainstream latter-day saints will largely disagree with a modern application of these teachings as set forth by the early leaders of the LDS Church, the clarity and consistency of these teachings should help them to appreciate why fundamentalist Mormons believe the way they do. Nevertheless, this volume will be no apology for fundamentalist Mormon teachings either. There are gaps in the historical record that leave every fundamentalist Mormon with no choice but to recognize that some leap of faith is necessary to continue to believe what they believe – no religious sect is exempt from this universal fate and fundamentalists have not inherited a trail blazing exception. However, it is hoped that the reader will have an enhanced respect for the religious history of fundamentalist Mormons and a better understanding as to why persecutions have failed to silence Mormon polygamy.