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What people believe: Fundamentalist Mormons

26th July 2012

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Fundamentalist Mormons are one of the most contriversial religious churches in America due to their practice of plural marriages. As part of TNS "what people believe" series, we look at their beliefs...


Famous for their plural marriages, the Fundamentalist Mormons originated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) and seek to uphold the traditions that the LDS no longer practice. There is said to be around 60,000 Fundamentalist Mormons in America, the most residing in Utah and many of these practice polygamous marriage. The two largest groups of Fundamentalist Mormons are the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) and Apostolic United Brethren (AUB), but many just live individually in their families and don’t belong to a particular group.

What they believe?

The founder of the LDS Church Joseph Smith was said to have been told by divine revelation that in order to attaint the fullness of exultation into to the highest celestial kingdom (the highest Mormon heaven); he must have at least three wives.

Polygamous marriages in the LDS Church continued until 1890 where it was discontinued after a lengthy battle with the US government. The Fundamentalist Mormons wanted to keep this tradition, believing their religion could not be changed as it was divine law, so they broke away from the LDS church and continued to practice polygamous marriage. The LDS Church now excommunicates anyone involved in polygamous marriages and believe Fundamentalist Mormons should not use the term 'Mormon' at all. They however disagree, saying they have retained the original beliefs of the faith and the LDS changed the religion to become part of mainstream America. The Fundamentalist Mormons believe there are many benefits to plural marriage as well as religious law. They believe it prevents the husbands committing adultery and there are more women to help raise the children.

 What do they do?

According to Fundamentalist Mormons laws God commanded a law of health to Joseph Smith called the word of wisdom. This forbids Mormons from smoking, drinking alcohol or hot drinks. It is also recommended that they don't eat meat - or very little if possible.

The FLDS church has received large amounts of media attention and has spread the image of women wearing pastel coloured prairie-style dresses and conservative hairstyles. However, this is a very small group of people and most Fundamentalist Mormons live a fairly modern, normal life and practice polygamy behind closed doors.

In some Fundamentalist secs it is considered acceptable to marry underage gils as soon as they attain puberty, but this is highly contraversial in the faith and most do not prcatice it.

Weird facts...

  • There is a Broadway musical based on the religion called The Book of Mormon by the creators of South Park and has won a total of 9 Tony Awards.
  • American reality show Sister Wives followed the lives of the Brown family, who practice polygamy. Kody Brown, his four wives and their 17 children over three seasons.
  • Fundamentalist Mormon Tom Green, who had seven wives married his 15-year-old cousin who was also his aunt. He was jailed in 2002.

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