Polygamy in the United States

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Introduction to Sociology May 27, 2008 Baggett 1The practice of polygamy has played a vital role in the cultural development of many countries, including the United States. Although it has been outlawed in the United States for quite some time, it is still practiced in some areas of the west, primarily by followers of a splinter Mormon faith, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The communities formed by these polygamous sects can have negative effects on the women and children involved.

According to The World Book Encyclopedia, polygamy can either refer to a system in which a woman is married to more than one man at the same time, known as polyandry, or more commonly, polygyny, a system in which a man is married to more than one woman at the same time (650). The formation of a polygamist sect is most often based on religious beliers.

In other areas around the world, the Hindu religion does not set a limit to the number of women a man can be married to at the same time while the Muslim religion allows a man to have as many as four wives (650). The practice of polygamy in the United States is largely based on the religious beliefs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, FLDS, a splinter faith of the Mormon church ("Church", Columbia Encyclopedia).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was formed in 1830 in Fayette, NY by Joseph Smith. Followers of the church, more commonly called Mormons, base their beliefs on the Book of Mormon, the Bible and revelations made to Smith. Smith claimed that golden tablets containing the Book of Mormon had been revealed to him. A headquarters for the organization was established in Kirtland, Ohio in...