Here we go again. Another so-called "polygamist" went on trial, convicted of actual crime - and the media had another sensationalism feast. Because the national polygamy rights movement always opposes real criminals (including Warren Jeffs), many dishonest media never report about normal pro-polygamists. Some dishonest media even falsely report that polygamists think convicts such as Jeffs are "martyrs" - even though, factually, most pro-polygamists around the country adamantly loathe such criminals.
Such was the case with the Warren Jeffs trial in Utah. Although "placing" a 14 year old girl to unwillingly marry her unmarried 19 year old cousin certainly involved under-aged, arranged, and incestuous marriage, it was not polygamy.
Yet Jeffs was sensationalized as a "polygamist leader."
Actually, Warren Jeffs was only the "leader" of his local Mormon-based sect in Utah/Arizona. Issues of his authoritarian/cultish coercive control over his little rogue sect's followers to commit crimes were the real matters to be addressed at the trial - not polygamy.
In fact, Jeffs’ sect has vastly more in common with the “mainstream” Latter Day Saints than with normal consenting-adult pro-polygamists around the country.
In 1890, the "mainstream" Latter Day Saints (LDS) contradicted their former acceptance of Mormon doctrines "requiring" polygamy. All Mormon Polygamists viewed such contradiction as "apostasy." Thus, Jeffs' particular sect historically identified itself as, Fundamentalist LDS (FLDS).
All subsets of Mormon Polygamy (including the FLDS) are based on Mormonism's "Doctrines & Covenants 132" and other doctrines exclusively added by their early "prophets" - such as their "priesthood keys" and "pre-existence of souls" doctrines. "Prophet" Brigham Young called it a "duty" for Mormons to have as many offspring as possible - through up to three wives or more - to ensure that such "pre-existent souls" would be born Mormon. Most Mormon Polygamy subsets continue that paradigm. The "mainstream" LDS embrace the apparent dichotomy of continuing it while simultaneously rejecting their religion’s original doctrines that created it.
While the "mainstream" LDS declare that Mormon Polygamists are not "Mormon," the technical fact remains that any form of polygamy based on Mormonism's exclusively-created doctrines is uniquely identified as Mormon Polygamy.
Understanding the differentiation is important. It clarifies the serious differences between Mormon Polygamy versus purely consenting-adult forms of polygamy around the country, such as Christian Polygamy and Secular Polygamy.
Indeed, outside of Utah's "Mormonland bubble," most pro-polygamous families (whether practicing or not) utterly reject "anything Mormon." Their own individual reasons and applications for consenting-adult polygamy are profoundly different - some even having extremely benevolent motivations. Seeing a modern society of abandoned single moms and marriage-phobic males, many consenting-adult pro-polygamists compassionately offer an alternative societal solution for adults who would freely choose such an option.
As such, the national polygamy rights movement has repeatedly "shouted from the rooftops" that it opposes Warren Jeffs. Not only do most pro-polygamists outside of Utah reject Mormon Polygamy’s pre-suppositions, but other FLDS-specific beliefs are opposed, too.
For example, the political structure of the FLDS requires the followers to sacrifice their minds up to their leadership’s decision-making - i.e., Warren Jeffs, their "prophet." When the FLDS "prophet" assigned people into under-aged, arranged marriages, the followers followed. Although some Mormon Polygamy subsets disavow such ideas, the FLDS sect embraces them.
Nationwide, most other pro-polygamists utterly reject all of that. So strong is that opposition that, when Jeffs was caught in 2006, the TruthBearer.org organization immediately issued a national press release applauding his arrest.
Now in 2007, pro-polygamists are glad he was convicted. The case only involved under-aged, arranged, and incestuous marriage. But the media did not call him an "under-aged marriage leader," nor an "arranged marriage leader," nor an "incest leader." Rather, Jeffs was reported as a "polygamist leader."
Such reports were deceptively inaccurate. At the national level, Jeffs is no leader at all. The national polygamy rights movement has always opposed him.
From the movement's press releases to National Polygamy Advocate Mark Henkel's many appearances on CourtTV throughout Jeffs' trial, that fact was made clear. Indeed, as the trial started, the TruthBearer.org organization issued another press release, distributing three specific clarifications. One, Jeffs and his local FLDS-Mormon Polygamy sect do not represent pro-polygamists nationwide. Two, the national polygamy rights movement for consenting-adults has always opposed Jeffs. And three, none of Jeffs' charges involved polygamy anyway.
Nationwide, normal pro-polygamists are glad that Jeffs was convicted on September 25, 2007. He never represented the national movement. Implying that Warren Jeffs represents all pro-polygamists is as offensively slanderous as saying that Mary Kay Letourneau represents all teachers. Any media that suggested otherwise has fully revealed their intentionally dishonest reporting.
[Reviewed for publication - Pro-Polygamy.com Review Board.]