A Second Wife's Tale
A woman who spent 33 years in a plural marriage describes why she supports polygamy but opposes the sect leader Warren Jeffs.
Warren Jeffs'arrest on charges
related to his leadership of a polygamist sect comes, coincidentally, less than two weeks after a Salt Lake City rally at which the teen-aged children of polygamists defended the practice, which is also known as plural marriage. These two events have again shined a light on the community of fundamentalist Mormons: people who have broken from mainstream Mormonism--the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS church)--over doctrinal differences, including the mainstream LDS church's 1890 abolition of polygamy, which fundamentalist Mormons continue to practice.
Jeffs--who had been a fugitive before his arrest Tuesday and faces charges of sexual misconduct for arranging marriages involving underage girls--leads one such community, called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), based in Hildale, Utah, and nearby Colorado City, Arizona.
Anne Wilde is the community relations director of the pro-polygamy groupPrinciple Voices
--which organized the Salt Lake rally--the co-author of "Voices in Harmony: Contemporary Women Celebrate Plural Marriage," and a fundamentalist Mormon unaffiliated with Jeffs' group. She spoke to Beliefnet about fundamentalist Mormonism, her differences with Jeffs, and her own plural marriage.
Why is plural marriage important to you?
It's a strongly held religious conviction. However, that isn't the reason that we have gone public. We're really working toward equal civil rights. We're trying to separate the religious part from the civil part, and eventually we'd like to see polygamy decriminalized so consenting adults can live it more freely.
Are you yourself in a plural marriage?
I was for 33 years. I was his second wife, and very, very happy in it. My husband and I had a beautiful marriage. We did a lot of things, like writing books, that we enjoyed doing together. He died four years ago. But I still consider myself a polygamist at heart.
Have you kept up with the other wife or wives?