Joe on the Mormon Church and Raising Kids
Is your family Mormon?
Joe: We’re not Mormon, even though we call ourselves an Independent Fundamentalist Mormon. The reason for us coming out at this time is we feel that these questions about family and the structure along our faith that we believe is an important part of us. America’s ready to have that kind of discussion and we should be allowed to worship according to our conscience, in this time and in this country that was based upon religious freedom.
How do you think the Mormon Church will receive your book and your publicity?
Joe: I think the Mormon Church is very defensive typically because anytime I travel, if I tell somebody I'm from Utah, and they say “Oh are you a Mormon?” and you know, in my view, I’m Mormon. The Church is defensive in that they have done away with it since 1890 but they can’t get away from that stigma. So I think on one part, they’re going to be cautious about any association with our book, but I hope our book is very strong in making [the] distinction not only about Mormons but about the diversity within the Mormon fundamentalist you know, whether it’s Warren Jeff and the typical stigma there which causes confusing because of the FLDS, the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint Church. What we tried to do in our book is help people understand there’s a broad diversity on Mormon faith. I read one place that there’s more books about Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism then about any other figure in American history and so there are certainly a lot of diversity within the Mormon faith and what is Mormon and what that faith is about, it’s certainly under a lot of scrutiny now with two Mormon candidates running and the book of Mormon musical on Broadway right now.
Are you concerned that you will be arrested or there will be legal action taken against you when you go home?
Joe: Well, it’s a felony, there’s no questions; it’s a felony, [and] it’s a risk. We’re not looking for legalization. We are really looking for decriminalization. We want to be decriminalized and my relationship is not felonious. There’s other relationships that we may not agree with but are accepted in America you know; that people live together without marriage and all kinds of different arrangements that are considered felony. Well polygamy has been around before America started. Polygamy has been our tradition you know, [for] six generations. My family goes back, it’s not going away. The answer is – should the state be able to determine whether we’re married or not and we say no. We’re not asking for state sanction, we’re just asking for a decriminalization.
Do you encourage your children to eventually marry into polygamous families?
Joe: I just had my first daughter married last month and it was hard to have one leave the nest. It’s my first one and she married somebody of the culture or the faith but it’s monogamous and they don’t know whether they will or not. That was Laura, she’s in the book. I had three of my children write a chapter in the book and we did that on purpose because that’s another stereotype: that we’re forcing our kids. Hey that’s what you believe, you want your kids to have those same faith and values but the integral part of our faith is this concept and very intriguing in a Mormon doctrine, it’s something called Free Agency, this idea that we were put down here with choice. I think that’s an important part of Christianity, Christ gave us a choice. We wouldn’t always choose right and we would choose wrong and right and yet we have Christ as our savior. We feel like first of all among our doctrine is this idea of the eternal progression and plural marriage is something that allows you to progress internally. But it doesn’t mean that [if] somebody doesn’t like plural marriage, they’re going to some hell and so we don’t feel like our children had failed because they don’t end in plural marriage. We want to encourage them all to find their own path with God and it’s more important that they have a connection to our father in heaven and that they follow the path that they see fit. It’s a challenging way to live and it takes a very strong faith to do it.