I’m excited to have a newcomer and an old comer on the show. This is Newell Bringhurst’s 3rd time on the show and Craig Foster’s first! They’ve co-written 4 books: 3 on polygamy and one on Mormon Presidential candidates. It wasn’t just Joseph Smith! We’ll dive into candidates like George Romney, Bo Gritz, Sonia Johnson, and Eldridge Cleaver! Plus we’ll take a deep dive into polygamy. I’ll even ask if D&C 132 could be de-canonized as some critics ask, and I think their answer will surprise you! Check out our conversation….
Mormon Quest for the Presidency
GT 00:46 All right, well, welcome to Gospel Tangents. I’m here with two amazing historians. We’re at the home of Craig Foster. You’re a first-time guest here on Gospel Tangents. Could you go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself, where you went to school and that sort of thing?
Craig 01:02 Well, I graduated from BYU. I did all of my degrees at BYU, which usually is, what do they call that? Academic suicide? That’s what happened. I have a bachelor’s and two masters from BYU. One was in history, and the other one was in Library and Information Sciences. I worked for over 30 years at the family history library in Salt Lake City.
Newell 02:27 I’m a retired professor of history and political science from the College of the Sequoias, which is located in Visalia, California, where I taught for 25 years.
GT 02:38 Well, fantastic. Well, great. Well, you guys have teamed up on a couple of books.
Newell 02:44 Well, four books.
GT 02:45 Four books. We’re here to talk about polygamy. But let’s talk about, especially, since you mentioned political science, because you have a political book that you guys worked on together.
Newell 02:55 Well, we worked on a book entitled, The Mormon Quest for the Presidency. It went through two editions. It was obviously stimulated by the emergence of Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate in 2008. We started work on it in 2006-2007. What it, basically, consisted of is short biographical sketches of 10 people who had Mormon backgrounds or involvement with the Church, who sought the highest political office in the United States, the presidency. Of course, we start out with Joseph Smith, and we dealt with the older Romney, George Romney, who ran in 1968, and then Mitt Romney. Those were the three most prominent people with a Mormon background who ran for president.
Newell 03:58 But we also included some more obscure figures, including Eldridge Cleaver, who I’m now doing a current research for an expanded study. He was one of them. He wasn’t a Mormon when he ran in 1968. But he later joined the Church. He was one and the other one that’s had an interesting reputation was Sonia Johnson, who ran as a Green Party candidate in 1984. Of course, she was excommunicated for her strong advocacy of ERA [Equal Rights Amendment.] Then, there are some other lesser well-known [candidates.] Well, one of them that was not so less-known was Orrin Hatch. He actually launched a candidacy for president in the year 2000, running against George W. Bush in a crowded field. He didn’t get past the first primary, but, he achieved prominence as a leader of the Republicans in the Senate. So, his prominence made him a choice for inclusion in the book. Then, we included some other interesting people. Ezra Taft Benson, who later became president of the LDS Church, he was a contender in 1968 and he sought to be on the ticket as a vice-presidential running mate with George Wallace on the American Independent ticket. That was an interesting case study, because he, unsuccessfully, approached President David O. McKay for permission to do that. At the time, he was a senior apostle and President McKay said, “Well that wouldn’t look very good for the church,” running on this racist, 3rd party ticket with George Wallace, because we’re already having enough difficulty with the issue of blacks and the race issue.
GT 06:02 George Wallace was the guy, “Segregation now. Segregation today. Segregation, forever.”
Newell 06:07 Correct and that was an interesting–and he also toyed with the idea, before he was trying to get on with George Wallace, of being on a separate presidential ticket as a presidential candidate on this constitutional [party. It was] called the Spirit of ’76 political party that they were trying to form. It was actually an offshoot, kind of political action group, with the John Birch Society, like a PAC [political action committee.] They had a close association with the John Birch Society. He was proposing to be on a ticket with Strom Thurmond as his running mate. But, all in that same 1968 election, but it showed the political activism and involvement and extreme right-wing politics of Ezra Taft Benson.
GT 07:10 Very good. Craig, what were your contributions to that book?
Craig 07:15 Well, I wrote about Mitt Romney, for example, and wrote about a couple of the others. Another one that that ran in ’68 was George Romney.
GT 07:36 So, George was running against Ezra.
Newell 07:39 Yeah, running against Ezra.
Craig 07:41 If I remember correctly, he was in ‘68.
Newell 07:44 Yeah, ’68, there were three potential candidates, three present and future Mormons that ran in ’68. Eldridge Cleaver, who later became a member of the Church, Ezra Taft Benson, and, of course, George Romney. That was a real tragic story, in a way, because he was the front runner, going into that election. He was clearly the front runner for the nomination. And he made the mistake, speaking honestly, and forthrightly saying that we’d been brainwashed on Vietnam. Because, by that time, we were deeply involved in the Vietnam War. He said, “We’re being brainwashed by the Johnson administration. Because every time Lyndon Johnson, he didn’t say this, but the joke was that you could tell when Lyndon Johnson was lying, because his lips moved. But, anyway, so he called out Johnson for being brainwashed on the Vietnam War. That was turned, viciously, against him. Because I think of what could have happened in this country, if George Romney had been elected, because Richard Nixon, eventually emerged as the candidate. We had Watergate, resignation, and extreme distrust in the government. Whereas George Wallace, in my opinion…
GT 09:14 George Romney.
Newell 09:15 Yeah, George Romney, was an extremely honest, straight-speaking individual. I think [Romney was] one of the better Republicans that we’ve had, in that time.
GT 09:28 He went on to be the Housing and Urban Development [Secretary.]
Newell 09:31 Yeah, under Nixon. Yeah. And his wife ran, unsuccessfully for the Senate. A lot of people sort of forget that, that she ran in 1970 for the Senate. So, they were very much of a political activist family, and young Mitt Romney was campaigning for his mother when she ran. I think he was on his mission when his father ran for president ’68.
Why Polygamy/D&C 132 Can’t be Decanonized
GT 17:24 Well, let’s move on to the topic that we brought here. You guys have written three books, called the Persistence of Polygamy. Why don’t you show those. Hold those up there, Craig. Tell us about, first of all, kind of give us an overview of all three volumes, and then we’ll dive into each one.
Craig 17:33 Yeah.
Newell 17:33 He was very much of a regional candidate as well.
GT 17:39 Very good. All right.
Craig 17:42 Okay. Well, we have the Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy. The essays deal with plural marriage during the lifetime of Joseph Smith. And we really do address the origins, questions of when did it start? How did it start? Et cetera. So, that pretty much covers that.
Craig: Then, we have The Persistence of Polygamy: From Joseph Smith’s Martyrdom to the First Manifesto, 1844-1890. There are some really good essays in there dealing with the continuation of plural marriage, talking about the time of the raids, and also covering issues such as plural marriage in the LDS Church, the question of blacks and priesthood, and was there a connection to plural marriage with that?
Craig 18:58 Also, in The Persistence of Polygamy, in the first volume, we had an appendix, in which we identified the known wives of Joseph Smith, and talked about the dynamics of why these women might have been approached by Joseph Smith to be plural wives, as opposed to other women.
Craig 19:26 Then, in The Persistence of Polygamy, the second volume, we have the wives of the prophets from Brigham Young through Heber J. Grant. So, [volume two has] all of the polygamists, other than Joseph Smith, since we had already covered him, but we discussed that [the other prophets’ polygamy] in this volume.
Craig 19:46 Then, in the largest volume, which Newell made a very good point that this has more pages than the two volumes combined, is The Persistence of Polygamy: Fundamentalist Mormon Polygamy from 1890 to the present, what was the present at that time. In that, again, [there are] some wonderful essays dealing with the early days of fundamentalism, dealing with aspects of the fundamentalist groups, and going along with Joseph Smith’s plural wives, Brigham through Heber J. Grant’s plural wives, we have the plural wives of the leaders of the polygamous groups. So, [there’s] an essay dealing with that, but also essays on other topics. Did you want to add anything Newell?
Newell 20:52 Yeah, I was just going to say that we had originally intended [on] only doing one volume, when we started out on this project back in 2007, [which] is when the genesis of this project came about. We quickly found that it wasn’t going to be adequate to do it all in one volume. I might further add that each volume has its own distinctive characteristics in terms of the way that we structured. In the first volume, where we were talking about Joseph Smith, we deal with a point, counterpoint approach, in which we tackle very controversial aspects of how Joseph Smith dealt with and handled polygamy.
Newell 21:44 For example, there are two counter essays covering under-age women that Joseph Smith married. Was that out of the norm for that time, in terms of men marrying teenaged wives. Craig, in one essay, argued that it wasn’t that far out of the norm, whereas Todd Compton argued that it was not quite within the norm of what was acceptable in that society.
Newell 22:22 There were other essays, for instance–I think one of the outstanding features that I thought was brought out very clearly, was the impact and influence of Doctrine & Covenants 132. There were actually three essays in Volume One, dealing with Doctrine & Covenants 132, which is the foundation scripture for polygamy. I dealt with the structure and texture to show that 132, while it was a foundational basis for polygamy, dealt with more than just polygamy. It wasn’t just a polygamy revelation, but it dealt with a wide array of doctrinal developments that form the foundation of the faith right down [to] today, specifically eternal progression and worlds without end, and the whole idea of the importance of Temple marriages for here and for time and eternity.
Newell 23:42 I tried to show that there’s been a lot of controversy over 132 and [there was a] focus on, well, why don’t we just get rid of 132, and we get rid of this polygamy problem? I said, that’s not possible, because 132 is such a complex, complete revelation, that that wouldn’t be possible. Craig dealt with 132 from the point of view of establishing kinship. So, he took a somewhat different approach. I took more of a structural approach. Then, a third essay in the volume that deals with 132 is the response of the Community of Christ to 132, how they grappled with that, because it’s equally controversial within the RLDS community, or now Community of Christ.
GT 24:41 What do you have to share on 132 there?
Craig 24:44 Well, as Newell said, I approached it in terms, very much in terms of the eternal progression and the eternal family. We looked at it as a culmination of what Joseph Smith had learned and then taught over the years regarding the eternal family, the nature of family. So, my focus was very much on kinship, the eternal family, and all of those aspects of it coming together as the results of his developing doctrinal questions dealing with that. It’s hearkening back to the fact that I spent my career doing family history and being involved with aspects of family history, including temple work. So, for me, that’s how I looked at it. I wanted to approach it from that background there.
GT 26:06 So, Newell brought up a good point there. You’ll see, especially in the ex-Mormon community, calls to de-canonize 132. I just had a question on Facebook. Somebody asked me, “Is polygamy still doctrine?” My answer was, “As long as 132 is canonized, it’s still doctrine.”
Craig 26:26 Yes.
GT 26:27 What would you say to people that would say, “Let’s get rid of 132?”
Craig 26:34 I would say exactly the same thing that Newell said, “You cannot get rid of 132, without throwing out a lot of other very important doctrine, within the church, doctrine dealing with eternal families, eternal progression. All of that is just in 131, and 132. There is so much there. There are so many doctrinal layers, so to speak. Plural marriage is just one aspect of 132. So, you either throw out the whole thing, or I guess you could go and try to wedge out where plural marriage is mentioned. But what you would be doing is you’d be watering down the whole section. I have responded to people who have suggested, “Well, let’s take out the polygamy part, or let’s get rid of 132.” My comment is, at least from where I’m coming from doctrinally, “I cannot imagine how you could get rid of that, and still have what we believe in terms of eternal families, celestial marriage, eternal progression, all of that.
GT 28:01 So, one of the parts that, really, I struggle with, is the part where the Lord says to Emma–I want to say Joseph says, because it feels more like Joseph to me, but, that Emma will be destroyed, if she doesn’t embrace this. Could we cut out those verses? Would that be okay with you?
Newell 28:22 Well, I think it’d be like, if you start saying, what should we take out of there? It’d be like, unwinding a ball of twine or something. Where would you stop? Because, if you read it very carefully, and study it very carefully, which I did in the process of putting this essay, because I have to confess, I was somewhat ignorant of the impact and implications of 132. When I started studying, and I thought, “Wow, this is probably both the most complex and the most controversial revelation that Joseph Smith brought forth, during his ministry. As Craig has said, it represents the culmination of Joseph Smith’s theological evolution, by the time of his martyrdom, comes forth and one, in July of 1833.
Newell 29:37 As a historian, as an observer of the evolution of Joseph Smith’s theological development, which is something I’ve become more and more interested in, as I’ve gotten older. I’ve always wondered where Joseph Smith would have gone with all of this, if he hadn’t been killed abruptly in 1844. Because, by this time, he’d moved to other controversial theological aspects. For example, and that’s beyond the scope of polygamy. [He’d moved onto] the idea of having himself crowned king and establishing the kingdom of God on earth. He was moving very rapidly in that direction. I even had this conversation a little bit with Mike Quinn. Some years ago, because he had done so much work in this area. “Where do you think he would have gone?” We speculated back and forth in detail that I won’t go into–one of my more interesting discussions with the late Mike Quinn. I said, “Where do you think Joseph would have gone? We went back and forth a little bit. It’s kind of interesting, ironically, because he, as a strong, true believer, who has been excommunicated, and me, as a skeptic and doubter who is still a member of record of the Church, I mean, it’s kind of comical, in a way. But, to me, that’s what makes studying LDS history and doctrine so endlessly fascinating.
Dating the Fanny Alger Affair
GT 43:54 A couple of other questions I want to ask you guys about, because it’s funny to me how often I’ve talked about polygamy and people still ask me the same questions. The Fanny Alger affair, I think it’s dated between 1834 and 1836. There are some people, Blake Ostler and Don Bradley, that make the case, and I think it’s a pretty good case, that the sealing to Fanny occurred after the visit of Elijah in the temple in March of 1836. I know Brian Hales, and most other people, put it a little before that, 1835, before the temple. I know Mark Staker has made the case. I think he’s a minority opinion, that when Peter, James and John restored the Melchizedek priesthood, that they gave Joseph and Oliver the sealing power as early, depending on when you want to date Melchizedek restoration, to either 1829, to even as late as 1831. Mark makes the case that, even if we go with 1831, that was before Fanny Alger, and so Joseph had the power to seal. Where do you guys weigh in on that controversy?
Craig 45:23 Well, first of all, I do want to mention that Don Bradley had an essay in here about that.
GT 45:31 Oh, good.
Craig 45:31 Yeah, because it was an excellent one, and it is titled, “Mormon Polygamy before Nauvoo? The relationship of Joseph Smith, and Fanny Alger.” It was in that essay that he first put forth his argument regarding Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger. He came right out and asked, “Was it an affair? Or was it a plural marriage? And if so, why wasn’t it an affair, or why was it? Why wasn’t it a plural marriage? Or why was it?” I think he did a very good job in explaining that. I want to give a little teaser for those who have not read the book or read his essay.
GT 46:28 I heard his presentation at MHA about 10 years ago.
Craig 46:30 Okay, so you remember what he found.
GT 46:32 Yes.
Craig 46:34 That was really very interesting of what he found in Oliver Cowdery’s letter. So, that is definitely, I think he does a good job of placing it as a marriage, and when it was. Now for me, personally, that’s how I view it. I don’t view…
GT 46:56 You think it was after the Kirtland dedication?
Craig 46:58 I think that it was a plural marriage. Now, I think that the sealing power was not restored until the vision in the Kirtland Temple. So I don’t support Mark Staker’s argument. I do think that the sealing power was restored at that time. However, I also take the approach that even if the relationship had begun beforehand, that wouldn’t be the first time that there had been aspects of a doctrine taught or practiced before it was officially taught or practiced. Does that make sense? So, I personally wouldn’t have a problem. But I can understand concern of other people about that. Was the timing correct or not? For me, that’s never been an issue, because I’ve seen examples of different things happening throughout Church history, maybe not taking a plural wife before you’re supposed to. But I’ve seen other aspects. So I usually am fairly open, in regard to, “Okay, I can see that.” For example, a teaching about, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man they become.” Well, that was certainly being taught, or at least being discussed, before Joseph officially taught it. So, I use that as an example of where the principle was there. It was being discussed before it officially started.
GT 49:01 Well, that phrase came from, was it Wilford Woodruff?
Craig 49:04 Lorenzo Snow.
Newell 49:04 Lorenzo Snow, yeah.
GT 49:05 In the 1880s or something?
Craig 49:07 When he first came up with this and talked with Joseph about it. He talked with Joseph in about 1840–was it ’43, early ’43? [He talked with Joseph,] before Joseph ever taught it, and he said, “That is correct principle. God revealed that to you, but don’t be openly preaching that until I do.” So, that’s just one example there of where it was in the works already. It just had not been officially made official yet.
GT 49:48 Do you have anything to add there, Newell?
Newell 49:50 No, I think you pretty well covered it. Although, getting back to the whole Fanny Alger thing, I guess I’m still skeptical whether it really was a polygamous marriage. I’m kind of in this other camp. Because there’s a such a little amount of evidence, even that which Bradley has managed to dig up. I tend to think that the first real, what I would call, recognized, I’m saying recognized plural marriage would be Louisa Beaman. Because that would coincide with the evolution of Joseph Smith developing theology on that whole structure of what polygamy is meant to accomplish. There was discussion about plural marriage with Indians and stuff like that, as early as 1831. But I think it was in the realm of, well, ideas, maybe with eugenics, the idea that by intermarrying with Indians, they’d be helping them to become ‘white, delightsome’ as discussed in the Book of Mormon. It wasn’t widely practiced. But, there were these discussions going on, and speculation on what should be correct doctrine and practice. But, like Craig said, these things were implemented somewhat later after the initial discussion. Joseph Smith might have discussed with Fannie Alger that, “I consider you my plural wife.” He could have done that as early–and this is all speculation when he was involved with her, for whatever reasons. But I don’t see the real beginnings of the implementation of polygamy coming until considerably later. Then, right after, Joseph marries Louisa Beaman and starts taking other plural wives, then he starts teaching it to others. [He taught it to] Brigham Young and others of his followers. There’s no evidence that he was teaching it to any of his followers, at the time that he was involved with Fanny Alger. That’s my take on it.
Polygamy from Martyrdom to Manifesto 1844-1890
Newell 57:35 Well, I think Volume Two, it goes into, of course, the period from the martyrdom to the Manifesto. The unique feature, I think, about Volume Two that causes it to stand out, I think, from other studies of this period in polygamy is, what we did in that was include an examination of other groups, other than the mainstream LDS Church under leadership of Brigham Young, who either embraced or rejected polygamy. We get into the Cutlerites. We get into the followers of Lyman Wight, and we get into…
GT 58:24 If you go to the Lion House, it’s hard to get them to even admit that he practiced polygamy.
Newell 58:24 The Strangites, especially, because James J. Strang was the major rival to Joseph Smith, during the period of right after the martyrdom. That was the major opposition group. So, we’ve tried to include essays from writers who would discuss these other groups. The essay that I did, in particular, for that volume was actually focused on how Brigham Young has been perceived by writers, his involvement in polygamy. I entitled that “Whatever Happened to all of Brigham Young’s Wives?” Because, in a lot of the writings, particularly the writings about the life of Brigham Young, after the Manifesto, was to play down the practice of polygamy and certain early biographies and writings on Brigham Young. [This downplaying was to] give you the impression that you he never even practiced polygamy. So, that was what I tried.
Craig 58:24 Strangites.
Newell 59:36 (Chuckling) Yeah, because it became persona non grata or uncomfortable to discuss this. We’re going to leave this behind. It was similar to what happened after they lifted the black priesthood ban. We want to move on. We don’t want to discuss this anymore, because we want to become considered as respectable and a part of mainstream American society. That’s what drove a lot of the biographical works on Brigham Young, particularly those that had official church imprimatur on that. They were just loathe to deal with the fact of Brigham Young’s polygamy. Craig, your essay, your contribution to that volume was–go ahead.
Craig 1:00:40 My contribution was the wives of the prophets. For each of the volumes, I was the one that looked at the wives. So, I was the one that did the appendix in the first volume. Then, I did the essay. It was originally going to be an appendix. But it was so big that Newell said, “Go ahead and put this into the main body. It makes more sense being there.” So, that’s what we did. Then, in this one, I looked at the wives of the fundamentalist leaders. But, yes, it was a fun essay to do in just finding out the similarities and the differences of the wives of each of these leaders and the connections that they had.
Craig 1:01:41 Another essay I want to mention that I didn’t do, but I think is a really fun one, is the late Lewis Wiegand. He was a member of the Community of Christ, and he wrote an essay. He had stumbled upon this when he was doing research. There were a number of families that were polygamous families that belonged to the RLDS Church.
GT 1:02:11 Oh, really?
Craig 1:02:12 Yes, they had gone west with Brigham or whatever the situation, and then they were go-backs. They went back to the Midwest and joined the RLDS Church, and they were told that they could keep their plural wives.
GT 1:02:33 Clear back in the 1860s?
Craig 1:02:34 Yes. So, they had plural wives. Now some no longer lived with–would pick one wife and no longer lived with them. Others lived with their wives.
Newell 1:15:20 I was going to mention two other essays that are in this volume that are aspects that are overlooked during this critical middle period. One of them was the essay written by Connell O’Donovan, which deals with Brigham Young, African Americans and schism and the beginnings of black priesthood and temple ban. He gets into the fact that there was the William McCary affair.
GT 1:16:00 Right.
Newell 1:16:00 Because he was a practitioner. He broke off from the mainstream church when he was practicing polygamy.
GT 1:16:07 He was a former slave, right?
Newell 1:16:09 Yeah, a former slave. There’s, in fact, been an excellent biography written by him, subsequent to this essay that Connell O’Donovan wrote about William McCary and his practice of polygamy, particularly with white women. I mean, one of his wives, who was with him, was the–I can’t recall her name. She was…
GT 1:16:39 Lucy Stanton.
Newell 1:16:40 Thank you, Lucy Stanton, that cause celebre within the LDS Church, and was a major factor in prompting Brigham Young to go toward the practice of black priesthood denial. This was as early as 1847, although it wasn’t formally announced to the main body of the church until after the arrival of the saints in Utah in 1852. But, this was a seminal event and the perpetuation of polygamy, or perpetuation of black priesthood denial was–just, they couldn’t [accept] the unseemly association that polygamist Africans practice polygamy. [Mormons didn’t] want to be associated with that image. That [is,] if we, allow blacks to be full members of the church, they may want to take plural wives. There was that logic or the reasoning that was in there.
Newell 1:16:42 But the other essay that I thought was really evocative, that takes a little bit of the opposite approach in terms of expanding the role and the assertiveness of women, is the one by Andrea Radke-Moss. [In that essay,] she talks about polygamy as being a major catalyst for getting women actively involved in the political process. I think [it’s] one of the most evocative essays in the entire chapter, showing how Mormon women, “We’re going to prove that we’re not downtrodden, shrinking violet types. We’re going to go out there and militantly support the practice of polygamy. [We’re going to show it] as being a legitimate part of our faith and our practice, and getting actively involved in the political arena, creating this female activism. One of the interesting, I guess, byproducts of this is that Utah wanted to give women the right to vote during the territorial period, and would have been the first part of the United States to do so. But then it was nullified by the anti-polygamist act, the Tucker…
Craig 1:18:12 Well, they did have the right to vote.
Newell 1:18:57 They had the right to vote and they took it away from them.
Craig 1:19:16 They took it away, the Edmunds-Tucker.
Newell 1:19:17 And so when they wrote the first Utah constitution in 1896, it included the right of women to vote. A lot of it was due to this political activism on the part of women in defending the practice of polygamy throughout the late 19th century.
Decline of FLDS
GT 24:08 It seems like Elissa Wall–she was the girl who basically testified against Warren Jeffs, and got him thrown in jail–had a big deal about red dresses, like they were slutty, or I don’t know the words she used.
Newell 24:21 Well, the red, that’s an interesting thing of that whole concept of red. That was the absolute forbidden color. Nobody could wear anything that had red in it. That was established under the Jeffs in the FLDS. There were a couple of rationales for that. The major rationale was that’s the color the Christ is going to wear when he comes back in the second coming. They also, looked upon red in almost a little bit of an opposite way in that it was the color of passion or color of, like, red light district. It was, somehow, attached to licentiousness. What I find ironic is when Warren Jeffs was stopped and arrested when he was driving between Las Vegas and back to Colorado City, he was arrested driving a red Cadillac Escalade, that was the color. Again, I love irony.
Craig 25:39 And [he was] wearing shorts and a T shirt.
Newell 25:45 (Chuckling)
GT 25:45 So, he wasn’t wearing his garments, then, huh, just like Joseph Smith.
Craig 25:54 Elissa’s sister, Rebecca, she had a book that came out called–what was it? Witness in Red or Woman in Red? Heck, we wrote the thing, but I can’t remember what the title of the book was.
Newell 26:14 Oh, geez.
Craig 26:15 Oh, The Witness Wore Red.
Newell 26:16 The Witness Wore Red, there you go. Yeah.
Craig 26:19 She was there as a consultant for law officials and for prosecution. So, she was there practically every single day of Warren’s trial down there in Texas. And every single day, she wore a different outfit that was red. Because…
GT 26:41 Was that Elissa or her sister?
Craig 26:43 That was Rebecca that wore the red, because she knew that that would just drive him crazy.
GT 26:52 So what has happened to their movement? I know he’s been in jail, and he’s tried to excommunicate a lot of the men. And I mean, it just seems–is it dying?
Craig 27:02 It appears to be dying. There’s been a real out-migration from Short Creek, Hilldale and Colorado City, because he told the faithful followers, those left, that if they had any means to leave, they needed to leave. So, there’s been a real out-migration from Short Creek to all over Utah, all over the West, back to the Midwest. I understand some people have said that they’ve even seen FLDS further east, into the south into New England and all that. But most of them are in a very large area of the Western to Midwestern United States. You had read something on that. No, I read it. I’m sorry. A person commented that one of his ex-FLDS friends said that it’s now down to about 1500 members.
GT 28:17 Wow, because it used to be about 10,000?
Newell 28:19 Yeah, 10,000. So, it’s diminished by, almost–they’ve lost 80% of their members.
GT 28:27 Are they joining other polygamous groups or LDS or just atheism or do we know?Craig 28:33 It’s a mixed bag.
2 Largest Polygamist Groups: AUB & Independents
GT 30:09 One of the groups that we haven’t covered, and I think they’re the hardest to study are the independents. But, I know, Anne Wilde is an independent.
Craig 30:17 Yes.
GT 30:19 The thing that I find so fascinating is–because they’re the largest group now, right? They’re like, 10,000? Ten thousand seems to be the number everybody likes to claim onto.
Craig 30:30 Yeah, it’s really hard to estimate a number, but I would say, there are at least 10,000, probably more, who, in one way or another, would be considered fundamentalist and independent. But, for organized groups, I’m going to stick my neck out. They probably won’t appreciate it. But I would say, today, the largest organized group would be the Apostolic United Brethren.
GT 31:12 That’s Kody Brown’s group.
Craig 31:13 Yes.
Newell 31:14 Yeah, and Dave Watson is the current head of their seven member priesthood council. His wife is Marianne Watson, who, has written…
GT 31:31 She’s my neighbor, right? Out in Lehi?
Craig 31:33 What? Yes. They used to live in Lehi.
GT 31:36 Oh, they don’t live in Lehi anymore?
Craig 31:36 They moved to Mt. Pleasant.
Newell 31:40 Yeah, that was one of the…
Craig 31:42 Yeah, she is the co-author, along with me, of American Polygamy.
GT 31:48 Okay.
Craig 31:49 And she is one of his wives.
GT 31:51 Okay.
Newell 31:51 Yeah, and that was an interesting experience. I just relate on a personal level. I had never been down to Mount Pleasant, where they’ve been establishing over the years a major AUB settlement down there. It’s interesting, because it’s out by itself away from the main part of Mount Pleasant. I had the opportunity, earlier this week, to go down there with Craig. It was an interesting experience for me, because one of the leaders down there, one of the principal families, his name is…
Craig 32:37 Do you want to give his name? I don’t know if he would want that.
Newell 32:40 Yeah, but anyway, I grew up with him. I won’t give his name, because I’ll protect his privacy. But he grew up with me in Midvale, Utah. He lived two streets over from me. His story is that he grew up LDS. We belonged to the same boy scout troop. He was a couple years older than me. He ended up going to Brigham Young [University], graduating in history, political science, ultimately became a seminary teacher for the mainstream LDS Church. He was, at the same time, serving as a counselor in his bishopric. He confronted the issue of the Adam/God theory and started looking into other aspects of what the fundamentalists were teaching. He met personally with Rulon Allred, and Rulon encouraged him to stay active in his LDS ward, even though he was–it’s like he was caught between two worlds. I found this an absolutely fascinating story.
GT 33:49 Oh, I know. I love it. It’s like the LDS Church is the bachelor’s degree and “We’re the master’s degree.”
Newell 33:52 Yeah, I mean, the LDS Church, they still consider that the legitimate church and they consider themselves [that] eventually the two groups are going to come back together. He has studied the theology and the doctrine. [He’s a] very bright, well-educated guy. I was absolutely impressed with what he had to say. Besides, our fathers had been close friends. Because they both had wonderful voices, they’d been in the Olympus Male Choir together. So, our fathers had been close friends. But, because he was two years older, I’d never been that close to him when we were growing up together in Midvale. But it was a surreal experience going out there and meeting with him.
Were you aware of the Mormon presidential candidates like Eldridge Cleaver? Did you know RLDS allowed polygamists to join back in the 1860s? Do you agree that D&C 132 can’t be de-canonized? Were you aware the FLDS had dropped so precipitously? Any other thoughts?