耶穌基督後期聖徒教會(摩門教)一夫多妻制及迫使其宣布結束的美國聯邦法律簡介

smith polygamy wives

 

耶穌基督後期聖徒教會(摩門教)一夫多妻制及迫使其宣布結束的美國聯邦法律簡介

John He 編作

 

耶穌基督後期聖徒教會(摩門教)一夫多妻制簡介

耶穌基督後期聖徒教會/摩門教的一夫多妻制可說是摩門教最引人爭議的地方,也可說是摩門教的第一大負面(絕大部份教友亦深覺反感), 在美國社會上引起了廣泛的倫理、司法和風俗的爭議與糾紛。

摩門教的一夫多妻制的實踐是在1843年7月12日,由末世聖徒運動創始人斯密約瑟正式推出。斯密約瑟宣稱獲得持劍天使的異象。「過去統管我、引導我、在這事工上堅固我的同一位神,賜給我這有關神聖多重婚姻的啟示並命令,同一位神要我遵守這命令。祂對我說,除非我接受、介紹引進、施行這命令,否則我和我的人民都會一起被咒詛,從此時起就被翦除。我們必須遵守,這是永生的法則,而且是以命令而非教誨的形式所賜下。」[1]據斯密約瑟哥哥所說:「約瑟受命娶更多妻子,而他延遲遵守,直到一位天使拿著抽出的寶劍站在他面前,宣稱倘若他再延遲完成這誡命,就要殺了他。」[2]

當時,一夫多妻制在伊利諾伊州是非法的[3],它是私下實施的。雖然在1839年至1844年那府Nauvoo摩門教領導人,其中包括斯密約瑟,楊百翰Brigham Young和金鮑賀博Heber C. Kimball都擁有多妻,摩門教長老公開教導,所有被吩咐進入多重婚姻的人都是受紀律約束的,例如,1844年2月1日,Hyram布朗被逐出教會[4]。斯密約瑟在1844年5月宣稱[否認多妻],“這是什麼事,一個人被指控犯有通姦—有七個妻子,當我只能找到一個。“[5]

斯密約瑟死後,一夫多妻制的實行則由繼承者楊百翰帶領的耶穌基督末世聖徒教會帶到西部。1847年7月24日,楊百翰及第一個摩門教拓荒者團隊遠走西部,領著一群拓荒先鋒從美國伊利諾州的 Nauvoo(納府)離開,經過內布拉斯加州的 Winter Quarters,歷經1300英里的行程最後到達現今鹽湖城所在的大鹽湖山谷。當時此地還是墨西哥的一部分,但是在美墨戰爭後於1847年7月24日劃入美國境內,成為猶他領地。1848年猶他領地(Utah Territory)正式成了美國領土[6]。在今天的猶他和一些周邊地區,一夫多妻制的原則當時是公開實行的。 1852年,楊百翰覺得在猶他州的教會,向全世界宣布一夫多妻制的實施是足夠安全的[7]。1896年1月4日猶他領地正式成了美國第45州。

十九世紀中後期,在美國引發的輿論反響和社會壓力越來越大,在強大輿論壓力之下,美國聯邦國會為了壓制越來越跋扈囂張的猶他摩門教的一夫多妻歪風,于1862年通過了劃時代性的《莫勒爾反重婚法(Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act)》,1874年通過了《波蘭德法》(The Poland Act), 1882年通過了埃德蒙茲修正案(Edmunds Act or Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act of 1882),1887年通過了埃德蒙茲-塔克修正案[8](Edmunds–Tucker Act) 。

在摩門教教徒們看來,一夫多妻制是摩門教神聖不可分割的一部分,但是迫于美國聯邦政府因多妻制度依法(埃德蒙茲-塔克修正案)監禁教會會友,沒收教會財產,並只要摩門教不終止實行多妻制度聯邦政府禁止猶他從美國領地升格成為猶他州。

為了永續生存,為了避免永無止境的官司纏訟,也為了證明摩門教教徒願意遵守美國法律,現時分支主流耶穌基督後期聖徒教會教會(LDS)會長伍惠福於1890年9月25日正式發布「The Manifesto(宣言)」要求教會信眾遵守當地的婚姻法律,宣布結束多妻制度,並從1904年開始將實行多妻制度的會友開除教籍或禁止他們加入教會。但是關於多妻制度的《教義和聖約》第132章仍然存在於教會的標準經文中  [9]。 

不過也有偷偷實行此教義的例子。另一分支基本教義派的耶穌基督後期聖徒教會(Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,常簡稱為FLDS)還是多妻制度。分佈在亞利桑那州的科羅拉多市和猶他州的希爾戴爾聯合起來的雙城的社區中,基本教義派的耶穌基督後期聖徒教會仍然实行一夫多妻。美國劇集Big Love便是根據此基督教教派的一夫多妻制度而改編,主角信奉摩门教,有3名妻子[10]

“摩門教是因政治目而發布這個宣言的,後來又稱這是一個啟示。”末世聖徒教會(FLDS)發言人威利·傑索普(Willie Jessop)說,“我們原教旨主義者認為相信,盟約是與上帝達成的,不因政治原因而受到操縱,結果這在我們與摩門教主流之間設置了一個巨大的障礙。”[11]   

 基本教義派的耶穌基督後期聖徒教會是摩門教基本教義派(Mormon fundamentalist)最大的一個分支教派,也是目前美國最大的奉行一夫多妻制的團體。一群創始教徒在1930年代離開耶穌基督後期聖徒教會(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,LDS)後創立了FLDS。造成這次分裂主要起因為LDS放棄多配偶制,並且將南犹他州和北亞利桑那州實行多妻制的教徒逐出教會。基本教義派的耶穌基督後期聖徒教會(FLDS)和耶穌基督後期聖徒教會(LDS)是兩個完全不同的宗教派別,兩者之間也沒有任何的正式關係[12]。  

即使耶穌基督後期聖徒教會(LDS)一方面強力推薦使用正式名稱耶穌基督後期聖徒教會來取代摩門教的俗稱,然而另一方面強調「摩門教徒」單單只適用於耶穌基督後期聖徒教會會友身上。針對分離出教會的宗派中仍然實行多妻制度的基本教義派的耶穌基督後期聖徒教會(FLDS),教會(LDS)強調『……沒有那些所謂的「摩爾門教原教旨主義派」或「摩爾門教派」。稱呼那些奉行一夫多妻制的團體為「一夫多妻制的教派」才恰當,任何稱謂包括「摩爾門」都不正確及造稱誤導』[13] 。  

結言:

 在這裡我們必須要談一下一個令耶穌基督後期聖徒教摩门教難以自圓其說的一件事。

回顧當年,斯密約瑟硬把多重婚姻引入教會,主要是靠斯密約瑟自稱的一個異象 –持

劍天使的異象—如本文一開始所述。

斯密約瑟繼承者楊百翰相信並接受斯密約瑟的”持劍天使的異象”也實際實行了多重婚姻教義。

我們可以思考一個簡易邏輯:

如果那真有一位持劍天使的異象,強制約瑟斯密進入多重婚姻。

那麼, 當美國聯邦要通過制裁多妻制度的法律時 ,當教會會長伍惠福受到來自美國聯邦政府的壓力後要停止多妻制度時.  持劍天使 跑那去了?

迫使耶穌基督後期聖徒教會教會(LDS)宣布結束多妻制度的美國聯邦法律簡介

1862年《摩利爾反重婚法》(Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act)

十九世紀中後期,美國聯邦國會為了壓制越來越囂張跋扈的摩門教的多妻歪風,于1862年通過了劃時代性的《莫勒爾反重婚法(Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act)》,美國第十六任總統亞伯拉罕.林肯(President Abraham Lincoln)于1862年7月8日,將之簽署成美國聯邦法律。《摩利爾反重婚法》是由來自佛蒙特州聯邦參議員賈斯廷.史密斯.莫勒爾(Senator Justin Smith Morrill,Vermont)所提出的議案,目的就是為了反對猶他摩門教的多妻主義教義而制定的美國聯邦法律[14] ,此法案禁止重婚和限制美國任何領土的教會和非盈利所有權者的上限至50,000元[15]

摩門教徒認為該法違反憲法,剝奪他們在憲法第一修正案—-自由信奉自己的宗教的權利[16],因而選擇了忽略摩利爾反重婚法案(The Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act), 而美國總統林肯也默契准許摩門教會長楊百翰忽視摩利爾反重婚法案,以換取其不捲入與美國南北戰爭[17]

美國總統林肯為何默契准許摩門教會長楊百翰忽視摩利爾反重婚法案?

 高勝寒作了如下(筆者略作微潤)說明[18]:

“當時這條剛被美國聯邦國會通過的《摩利爾反重婚法》新法,卻將亞伯拉罕.林肯總統逼進了一個兩難的處境︰他是以道德號召而被美國選民送進白宮的,如果不簽署這條法律,勢將損害自己維護道德的形象,然而面對著即將爆發的南北戰爭局面,如果簽了,又必會將百翰.楊逼反,極有可能倒戈至美國南方政客的陣容中。

   在這種兩難的局面下,亞伯拉罕.林肯總統使出了一招兩面三刀的權宜之計,他一方面將之簽成美國聯邦法律,另外一方面在暗中通知百翰.楊說,只要猶他保持中立,他就會默許他和他的耶穌基督後期聖徒教會教徒繼續他們的一夫多妻制,這就是為什麼猶他在美國南北戰爭中保持中立的秘史。

   百翰.楊答應不參與分裂美國聯邦後,亞伯拉罕.林肯總統言而有信,立即以美國三軍統帥的身份,對美國猶他道格拉斯堡的駐軍陸軍總司令帕特里克.愛德華.康諾爾將軍(General Patrick Edward Connor,Fort Douglas,Utah)下了一道明確的密令︰暫時不得對違反美國聯邦法律的多妻制度的猶他摩門教教徒,采取任何的制裁行動。

   耶穌基督後期聖徒教會會長百翰.楊與美國聯邦政府的蜜月期,隨著亞伯拉罕.林肯總統之被刺身亡,和美國南北戰爭的結束而畫上了一道休止符,當美國聯邦政府可以騰出手來處理內政時,猶他摩門教的多妻制度議題,又成為美國聯邦國會議員們的熱門話題。”

該摩利爾反重婚法於 1882年由埃德蒙茲修正案(Edmunds Act)進行了修訂,然後再於 1887年由埃德蒙茲-塔克修正案(Edmunds–Tucker Act)進行了修訂。

1874年《波蘭德法》(The Poland Act)

1874年,美國聯邦國會通過了《波蘭德法案(Poland Act)》, 藉由消除了耶穌基督末世聖徒教會(摩門教)的控制成員施加在猶他領土的司法系統,以方便依據1862年《摩利爾反重婚法》進行檢控[19]。《波蘭德法案》是由來自佛蒙特州的聯邦參議員盧克.波特.波蘭德(Senator Luke Potter Poland,Vermont)提出的,故以其名為這條美國聯邦法案命名之。該法案允許美國聯邦檢察官在猶他美國領土地強制執行美國聯邦法律,為打擊摩門教的多妻制度鋪墊了司法戰場的法理基礎[20]

  

1879Reynolds v. United States

在1879年Reynolds v. United States案中最高法院裁定:宗教責任不是受到刑事指控的適當抗辯[21]。宗教信仰自由不能作為實行一夫多妻制的理由。憲法第一修正案並不保障一夫多妻制[22]

1878年11月14日及15日兩天,“雷諾茲對美國案“在美國聯邦最高法院開庭聽證。美國聯邦最高法院院長莫里森.雷米克.韋特(Chief Justice Morrison Remick Waite)親自主持聽證,八位美國聯邦最高法院常務大法官內森.克利福德(Justice Nathan Clifford)、諾亞.海恩斯.斯溫尼(Justice Noah Haynes Swayne)、塞繆爾.弗里曼.米勒(Justice Samuel Freeman Miller)、斯蒂芬.約翰遜.菲爾德(Justice Stephen Johnson Field )、威廉.斯特朗(Justice William Strong)、約瑟夫.裴羅.布雷德利(Justice Joseph Philo Bradley)、瓦德.恆特(Justice Ward Hunt)和約翰.馬歇爾.哈倫(Justice John Marshall Harlan)全體坐庭聽證。

   美國政府司法部的理由很簡單:宗教信仰不可成為破壞美國法律的理由。而喬治。雷諾茲的律師則辯稱:“美國聯邦憲法第一條修正案“的”自由信仰“,應該允許摩門教教徒實行他們自己認為是正確的,包括多妻制度在內的宗教行為。

   美國聯邦最高法院的九位大法官中,只有斯蒂芬。約翰遜。菲爾德勉強同意,其餘的八位大法官,全部堅定地支持美國聯邦政府“宗教信仰不可成為破壞美國法律的理由“的法理說法。

   1879年5月5日,美國聯邦最高法院做出了九票同意,零票反對的劃時代裁決:根據“宗教之義務不得成為罪犯免責的理由(宗教的責任是不適合的刑事辯護起訴書) “和“地方法律不得超越聯邦法律“的司法原則,宣布喬治。雷諾茲敗訴。

這個裁決為摩門教的多妻主義權利而挑戰美國政府的司法大戰,畫下了一道再也難以跨越的休止符。[23]

 

1882年埃德蒙茲修正案(Edmunds Act or Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act of 1882)

1887年埃德蒙茲塔克修正案[24](Edmunds–Tucker Act)

 

埃德蒙茲法,也被稱為1882年埃德蒙茲反一夫多妻制法,是美國聯邦法規,1882年3月23日簽署成為法律的,宣布一夫多妻制為一項重罪。該法案因美國Vermont佛蒙特州參議員喬治 F.埃德蒙茲George F. Edmunds  而被命名。該埃德蒙茲法還禁止 “重婚“或“非法同居“(unlawful cohabitation)(輕罪a misdemeanor),因而消除了需要證明實際發生的婚姻。該法不僅強化了1862年《摩利爾反重婚法》(Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act),還取消一夫多妻者的投票權,使他們沒有資格出任陪審員,並禁止他們擔任政治職務[25]

埃德蒙茲法的法力無邊, 其限制都能強制執行—- 無論個人實際上實行一夫多妻制,或者只是說一種在摩門教教義多重婚姻的信念而沒有實際參與其中。

就在這一天, 1882年3月22日,美國第二十一任總統切斯特.艾倫.阿瑟(President Chester Alan Arthur)將1882年埃德蒙茲修正案簽署成美國聯邦法律,揭開了摩門教多妻制度教規崩潰的序幕[26]

1887年,來自佛蒙特州的聯邦參議員喬治.富蘭克林.埃德蒙茲(Senator George Franklin Edmunds,Vermont)和來自弗吉尼亞州的聯邦眾議員約翰.倫道夫.塔克(Congressman John Randolph Tucker,Virginia)聯手,通過了《埃德蒙茲-塔克法案(Edmunds-Tucker Act)》,法案鄭重聲明違反者,將面臨罰款五百至八百美元,入獄五年的監禁期,更有權對觸犯者的機構,加以財產充公,勒令解散等懲罰條文。

在《埃德蒙茲法案》與《埃德蒙茲-塔克法案》的威力下,實行摩門教一夫多妻制的信徒們紛紛鋃鐺入獄。

第一個被這條美國聯邦法律制裁的是猶他鹽湖城教會中十二使徒之一的魯德格.克勞森(Rudger Clawson),他在1882年八月因實行 一夫多妻被定罪,被送進了監獄服刑,開啟了摩門教教徒為了一夫多妻制而坐監的先例。 

在審訊期間,他的一個妻子因拒絕作出對他不利之證被判蔑視法庭而入獄。法官查爾斯贊恩判處克勞森以最大可能的刑罰,他被判處3 .52年徒刑和罰款 1,500元。入監前他說了最後一句話,克勞森說他要捍衛他的權利來實踐他的宗教和挑戰法庭執行法律的能力旨在摧毀宗教在特定的[一夫多妻制]建立—這違反了美國憲法第一修正案。他以Clawson v. United States上訴最高法院,進行聆訊後被最高法院駁回了。1887年, 在他的刑期將要到期僅僅幾個月之前, 他被美國總統格羅弗克利夫蘭(Grover Cleveland) 赦免[27]

 接著的是一大批摩門教會領導,或知名分子如威廉. 佐敦.菲萊克(Willian Jordan Flake)、安格斯.芒恩.肯農(Angus Munn Cannon)、約翰.夏普(John Sharp)、舒朗卓(Lorenzo Snow)、亞伯拉罕.霍格蘭.肯農(Abraham Hoagland Cannon )、喬治.奎爾.肯農 (George Quayle Cannon)、郭禧伯(Heber J. Grant) 與斯密F. 約瑟(Joseph F. Smith.)等一千三百余人,逐一被送上了法庭的被告席,或關進監獄服刑[28]

 在這些為了一夫多妻制而進監獄,或被查辦的眾名角中,與斯密F. 約瑟,他不僅是耶穌基督後期聖徒教會的第六任會長/教主,還是家勢顯赫的摩門教世家,斯密 約瑟的侄子,他的父親就是與斯密約瑟一起”殉教”的斯密海侖。 

 斯密F. 約瑟從1901年10月17日開始出任耶穌基督後期聖徒教會的第六任會長/教主,一直到他在1918年11月19日死亡為止,長達十七年之久。

 1906年,美國聯邦檢察官以非法地同時與四位婦女同居為理由,將他送上了法庭,由于法律所限,同居只屬于惡行輕罪,結果罰款三百美元了事。


[1] – Prophet Joseph Smith, Contributor, Vol. 5, p. 259 ; http://www.i4m.com/think/history/angel_sword.htm; 法蘭客  持劍天使的異象http://blog.udn.com/lofranklo/4791359

[2] ─斯密海侖,Elder Benjamin F. Johnson’s Letter to George S. Gibbs, 1903  “Joseph was commanded to take more wives and he waited until an angel with a drawn sword stood before him and declared that if he longer delayed fulfilling that command he would slay him."
Hyrum Smith, Elder Benjamin F. Johnson’s Letter to George S. Gibbs, 1903; http://www.i4m.com/think/history/angel_sword.htm; 法蘭客  持劍天使的異象http://blog.udn.com/lofranklo/4791359

[3] Greiner & Sherman, Revised Laws of Illinois, 1833, pg. 198–199 

[4] Times and Seasons, vol. 5, pg. 423, February 1, 1844; Polygamy in North AmericaFrom Wikipedia . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamy_in_the_United_States

[5]  History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Volume VI, edited by B. H. Roberts, 1902.; Polygamy in North AmericaFrom Wikipedia . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamy_in_the_United_States

The Mormon practice of plural marriage was officially introduced by Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, on July 12, 1843. As polygamy was illegal in the state of Illinois, Greiner & Sherman, Revised Laws of Illinois, 1833, pg. 198–199    it was practiced privately. Though during the 1839–44 Nauvoo era several Mormon leaders including Smith, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball took plural wives, Mormon elders who publicly taught that all men were commanded to enter plural marriage were subject to discipline; for example, the February 1, 1844 excommunication of Hyram Brown. In May 1844 Smith declared, “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one."

[6] Wikipedia, Utah

[7] Polygamy in North AmericaFrom Wikipedia . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamy_in_the_United_States  After the death of Joseph Smith, the practice of polygamy was carried to the West by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then led by Brigham Young. In what is today Utah and some surrounding areas, the principle of plural marriage was openly practiced. In 1852, Young felt the Church in Utah was secure enough to announce the practice of polygamy to the world.

[8] Wikipedia, The Edmunds–Tucker Act, 2011/06/02 

The Edmunds–Tucker Act of 1887 was passed in response to the dispute between the United States Congress and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) regarding polygamy. The act is found in US Code Title 48 & 1461, full text as 24 Stat. 635, with this annotation to be interpreted as Volume 24, page 635 of United States Statutes at Large. The act is named after its congressional sponsors, Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont and Congressman John Randolph Tucker of Virginia. The act was repealed in 1978.

The act disincorporated both the LDS Church and the Perpetual Emigration Fund on the grounds that they fostered polygamy. The act prohibited the practice of polygamy and punished it with a fine of from $500 to $800 and imprisonment of up to five years. It dissolved the corporation of the church and directed the confiscation by the federal government of all church properties valued over a limit of $50,000. The act was enforced by the U.S. marshal and a host of deputies.

The act:

  • Dissolved the LDS Church and the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, with assets to be used for public schools in the Territory.
  • Required an anti-polygamy oath for prospective voters, jurors and public officials.
  • Annulled territorial laws allowing illegitimate children to inherit.
  • Required civil marriage licenses (to aid in the prosecution of polygamy).
  • Abrogated the common law spousal privilege for polygamists, thus requiring wives to testify against their husbands
  • Disfranchised women (who had been enfranchised by the Territorial legislature in 1870).
  • Replaced local judges (including the previously powerful Probate Court judges) with federally appointed judges.
  • Abolished the office of Territorial superintendent of district schools, granting the supreme court of the Territory of Utah the right to appoint a commissioner of schools. Also called for the prohibition of the use of sectarian books and for the collection of statistics of the number of so-called gentiles and Mormons attending and teaching in the schools.

In 1890 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the seizure of Church property under the Edmunds–Tucker Act in Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States.

This act was repealed in 1978.

[9]维基百科,一夫多妻制, 2011/06/02 

[10]维基百科,一夫多妻制, 2011/06/02 

[11]摩门教一夫多妻制详细解读 小教主娇妻多达70几位[]http://www.holelong.com/cn/news/2010-1/news_11_130121209.html

[12]维基百科,基本教義派的耶穌基督後期聖徒教會 2011/05/30

[15] Wikipedia, The Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, 2011/06/02

The Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act (37th United States Congress, Sess. 2., ch. 126, 12 Stat. 501) was a federal enactment of the United States Congress that was signed into law on July 8, 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln. Sponsored by Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont, the act banned bigamy and limited church and non-profit ownership in any territory of the United States to $50,000.

[16] Wikipedia, The Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, 2011/06/02    The act was designed to target the Mormon practice of plural marriage and the property dominance of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Utah Territory. The measure had no funds allocated for enforcement, and Lincoln choose not to enforce this law; instead Lincoln gave Brigham Young tacit permission to ignore the Morrill Act in exchange for not becoming involved with the Civil War. General Patrick Edward Connor, commanding officer of the federal forces garrisoned at Fort Douglas, Utah beginning in 1862 was explicitly instructed not to confront the Mormons over this or any other issue.

Reynolds v. United States From Wikipedia, 2011/06/02    The Mormons, believing that the law unconstitutionally deprived them of their First Amendment right to freely practice their religion, chose to ignore Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act at the time.

[17] Firmage, Edwin Brown; Mangrum, Richard Collin (2001), Zion in the courts, University of Illinois Press, p. 139, ISBN 0252069803, http://books.google.com/?id=9AimifP2a-4C, “Having signed the Morrill Act, Lincoln reportedly compared the Mormon Church to a log he had encountered as a farmer that was “too hard to split, too wet to burn and too heavy to move, so we plow around it. That’s what I intend to do with the Mormons. You go back and tell Brigham Young that if he will let me alone, I will let him alone.""

[19] Wikipedia, The Poland Act , 2011/06/02    The Poland Act (18 Stat. 253) of 1874 was an act of the United States Congress which sought to facilitate prosecutions under the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act by eliminating the control members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) exerted over the justice system of Utah Territory.

[21] Reynolds v. United States From Wikipedia, 2011/06/02     Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1878), was a Supreme Court of the United States case that held that religious duty was not a suitable defense to a criminal indictment.

[22] Reynolds v. U.S.: 1879 – The Supreme Court Destroys Mormons’ Hopes
http://law.jrank.org/pages/2650/Reynolds-v-U-S-1879-Supreme-Court-Destroys-Mormons-Hopes.html

On January 6, 1879, the Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s decision. The Supreme Court said that the First Amendment did not protect polygamy, and based its decision on historic American cultural values:

Polygamy has always been odious among the northern and western nations of Europe, and, until the establishment of the Mormon Church, was almost exclusively a feature of the life of Asiatic and of African people. At common law, the second marriage was always void, and from the earliest history of England polygamy has been treated as an offence against society.… In the face of all this evidence, it is impossible to believe that the constitutional guaranty of religious freedom was intended to prohibit legislation in respect to this most important feature of social life. Marriage, while from its very nature a sacred obligation, is nevertheless, in most civilized nations, a civil contract, and usually regulated by law.

Therefore, the Supreme Court upheld Reynolds’ sentence of two years imprisonment and a $500 fine.  

[24] Wikipedia, The Edmunds–Tucker Act, 2011/06/02 

The Edmunds–Tucker Act of 1887 was passed in response to the dispute between the United States Congress and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) regarding polygamy. The act is found in US Code Title 48 & 1461, full text as 24 Stat. 635, with this annotation to be interpreted as Volume 24, page 635 of United States Statutes at Large. The act is named after its congressional sponsors, Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont and Congressman John Randolph Tucker of Virginia. The act was repealed in 1978.

The act disincorporated both the LDS Church and the Perpetual Emigration Fund on the grounds that they fostered polygamy. The act prohibited the practice of polygamy and punished it with a fine of from $500 to $800 and imprisonment of up to five years. It dissolved the corporation of the church and directed the confiscation by the federal government of all church properties valued over a limit of $50,000. The act was enforced by the U.S. marshal and a host of deputies.

The act:

  • Dissolved the LDS Church and the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, with assets to be used for public schools in the Territory.
  • Required an anti-polygamy oath for prospective voters, jurors and public officials.
  • Annulled territorial laws allowing illegitimate children to inherit.
  • Required civil marriage licenses (to aid in the prosecution of polygamy).
  • Abrogated the common law spousal privilege for polygamists, thus requiring wives to testify against their husbands.
  • Disfranchised women (who had been enfranchised by the Territorial legislature in 1870).
  • Replaced local judges (including the previously powerful Probate Court judges) with federally appointed judges.
  • Abolished the office of Territorial superintendent of district schools, granting the supreme court of the Territory of Utah the right to appoint a commissioner of schools. Also called for the prohibition of the use of sectarian books and for the collection of statistics of the number of so-called gentiles and Mormons attending and teaching in the schools.

In 1890 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the seizure of Church property under the Edmunds–Tucker Act in Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States.

This act was repealed in 1978.

[25] Wikipedia, The Edmunds Act, 2011/06/02    The Edmunds Act, also known as the Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act of 1882, is a United States federal statute, signed into law on March 23, 1882, declaring polygamy a felony. The act is named for U.S. Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont. The Edmunds Act also prohibited “bigamous" or “unlawful cohabitation" (a misdemeanor), thus removing the need to prove that actual marriages had occurred.

The act not only reinforced the 1862 Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act but also revoked polygamists’ right to vote, made them ineligible for jury service, and prohibited them from holding political office.

[27] Wikipedia, Rudger  Clawson, 2011/06/02  August 1882 was a difficult time for Rudger Clawson. Clawson was the first practicing polygamist to be convicted and serve a sentence after the passage of the Edmunds Act. ( During the trial, one of his wives refused to testify against him. She was put in prison for contempt of court. Judge Charles S. Zane sentenced Clawson to the maximum possible penalty—he was punished with 3 1/2 years in prison and a $1,500 fine. For his final words before being sent to prison, Clawson defended his right to practice his religion and challenged the court’s ability to enforce a law aimed at destroying a particular establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. His appeal was heard and rejected by the Supreme Court of the United States in Clawson v. United States. He was pardoned in 1887 by President Grover Cleveland mere months before his sentence was going to expire.

[28] Wikipedia, The Edmunds–Tucker Act, 2011/06/02 

  • William J. Flake — 1883 — one of the founders of Snowflake, Arizona, who married his second wife in 1868. Was imprisoned in the Yuma Territorial Prison in 1883. After his release, when asked which of his wives he was going to give up, he replied, “Neither. I married both in good faith and intended to support both of them." As he had already served his sentence, he could not be retried on the same charges.
  • Angus M. Cannon — 1885 — a Stake President, member of the Council of Fifty and younger brother of Apostle George Q. Cannon. Cannon was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and a $900 fine. Cannon was the appellant in the case of Cannon v. United States, which was decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1885. Cannon’s appeal was on the grounds that he had immediately ceased having sexual relations with the two wives he was accused of cohabiting with after polygamy was criminalized. The Court rejected Cannon’s argument, holding that “[c]ompacts for sexual non-intercourse, easily made and easily broken, when the prior marriage relations continue to exist, with the occupation of the same house and table and the keeping up of the same family unity, is not a lawful substitute for the monogamous family which alone the statute tolerates."
  • John Sharp — 1885 — a Bishop, member of the Council of Fifty, territorial chairman of the People’s Party, director for the Union Pacific Railroad, Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution, Deseret Telegraph, and Deseret National Bank. Sharp initially pleaded not guilty, but withdrew his plea and pleaded guilty to the charge. He was fined $300 and court costs. As a result of pleading guilty, rather than plead not guilty as other LDS Church leaders had done, Sharp was asked by the stake high council and the First Presidency to resign as bishop of the Salt Lake Twentieth Ward, which he did on 3 November 1885. The New York Times criticised the church’s removal of Sharp and suggested that it “reveals again the stubborn character of the Mormons’ opposition to the law".
  • Lorenzo Snow — 1885 — an Apostle of the church at the time. In late 1885, Snow was indicted by a federal grand jury for three counts of unlawful cohabitation. According to his indictments, Snow had lived with more than one woman for three years. The jury delivered one indictment for each of these years, and Snow was convicted on each count. After conviction he filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the federal district court which convicted him. The petition was denied, but federal law guaranteed him an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. In Ex Parte Snow the Supreme Court invalidated Snow’s second and third convictions for unlawful cohabitation. It found that unlawful cohabitation was a “continuing offense," and thus that Snow was at most guilty of one such offense for cohabiting continuously with more than one woman for three years. Snow became President of the LDS Church in 1898.
  • Abraham H. Cannon — 1886 — a member of the First Council of the Seventy of the Church and son of Apostle George Q. Cannon. Cannon was convicted of unlawful cohabitation in 1886 and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, which he served in full. In 1889 he became an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • George Q. Cannon — 1888 — an Apostle of the church and former non-voting delegate for the Utah Territory in the United States Congress, prior to passage of the Edmunds Act. Cannon surrendered himself to authorities and pleaded guilty at trial to a charges of unlawful cohabitation. As a result, Cannon served nearly six months in Utah’s federal penitentiary.
  • Heber J. Grant — 1899 — an Apostle of the church at the time. Grant pleaded guilty to unlawful cohabitation and paid a $100 fine. Grant became President of the LDS Church in 1918.
  • Joseph F. Smith — 1906 — President of the LDS Church. Smith was brought to trial on a charge of unlawful cohabitation with four women in addition to his lawful wife; he pleaded guilty and was fined $300, the maximum penalty then permitted under the law.