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- Under the Prophet in Utah - 40/45 -
be destroyed, and an end could be put to the protection that is, of itself, an encouragement to polygamous practice. He has never spoken that word.
Recently, the way in which the new polygamy is perpetrated in Utah has been almost officially revealed. A patriarch of the Church, resident in Davis County, less than fifteen miles from Salt Lake City, had been solemnizing these unlawful unions at wholesale. The situation became so notorious that the authorities of the Church felt themselves impelled about September, 1910, to put restrictions upon his activity. In the course of their investigations they discovered that he did not know the persons whom he married. They would come to his house, in the evening, wearing handkerchiefs over their faces; he sat hidden behind a screen in his parlor; and under these circumstances the two were declared man and wife, and were sealed up to everlasting bliss to rule over principalities and kingdoms, with power of endless increase and progression. He refused to tell the hierarchy from which one of the authorities he had received his endowment to perpetrate these crimes. He refused to give the names of any of the victims, claiming that he did not know them!
It is probable that for a long time plural marriage ceremonies were not solemnized within the Salt Lake temple. Now, we know that there have lately been such marriages in it, and at Manti, and at Logan, and perhaps also in the temple at St. George. There are cases on record where a man has a wife on one side of the Utah-Colorado line and another wife across the border. No prosecutions are possible in Utah; for, as Joseph F. Smith told the Senate committee, the officers of the law have too much "respect" for the ecclesiastical rulers of the state. Similarly, in the surrounding states, the officers show exactly the same sort of "respect" and for the same reason. They not only know the Church's power in local politics, but they see the national administration allowing the polygamists and priests of the Church to select the Federal officials, and they are not eager to rouse a resentment against themselves, at Washington as well as at home, by prosecuting polygamous Mormons.
Some few years ago, Irving Sayford, then representing the Los Angeles Times, asked Mr. P. H. Lannan, of the Salt Lake Tribune, why someone did not swear out warrants against President Smith for his offenses against the law. Mr. Lannan said: "You mean why don't I do it?"
"Oh, no," Mr. Sayford explained, "I don't mean you particularly."
"Oh, yes, you do," Mr. Lannan said. "You mean me if you mean anybody. If it's not my duty, it's no one's duty.... Well, I'll tell you why.... I don't make a complaint, because neither the district attorney nor the prosecuting attorney would entertain it. If he did entertain it and issued a warrant, the sheriff would refuse to serve the warrant. If the sheriff served the warrant, there would be no witnesses unless I got them. If I could get the witnesses, they wouldn't testify to the facts on the stand. If they did testify to the facts, the jury wouldn't bring in a verdict of guilty. If the jury did bring in a verdict of guilty, the judge would suspend sentence. If the judge did not suspend sentence, he would merely fine President Smith, three hundred dollars. And within twenty-four hours there would be a procession of Mormons and Gentiles crawling on their hands and knees to Church headquarters to offer to pay that three hundred dollar fine at a dime apiece."
Mr. Lannan's statement of the case was later substantiated by an action of the Salt Lake District Court. Upon the birth of the twelfth child that has been borne to President Smith in plural marriage since the manifesto of 1890, Charles Mostyn Owen made complaint in the District Court at Salt Lake, charging Mr. Smith with a statutory offense. The District Attorney reduced the charge to "unlawful cohabitation" (a misdemeanor), without the complainant's consent or knowledge. All the preliminaries were then graciously arranged and President Smith appeared in the District Court by appointment. He pleaded guilty. The judge in sentencing him remarked that as this was the first time he had appeared before the court, he would be fined three hundred dollars, but that should he again appear, the penalty might be different. Smith had already testified in Washington, before the Senate Committee, to the birth of eleven children in plural marriage since he had given his covenant to the country to cease living in polygamy; he had practically defied the Senate and the United States to punish him; he had said that he would "stand" his "chances" before the law and courts of his own state. All of this was well known to the judge who fined him three hundred dollars--a sum of money scarcely equal to the amount of Smith's official income for the time he was in court!
A leader of the Church, not long ago, asked me, in private conference, what was the policy of the American party with regard to the new plural wives and their children. I replied that as far as I knew it, the policy was to have the Church accept its responsibility in the matter and give the wives and children whatever recognition could be given them by their religion. The Church was guilty before God and man of having encouraged the awful condition. It was unspeakably cowardly and unfair for the Church leaders to put the whole burden of suffering on the helpless women and children; and, moreover, this course was a justification to polygamists in deserting their wives, on the ground that the Church had never sanctioned the relation.
This Church leader, himself a new polygamist, answered miserably: "The Church will not let itself be put in such a light before the country. That would be to admit that it has been responsible all the time."
I asked: "Has the Church not been responsible?"
He replied--equivocating--: "Well, not the Church. The Church has never taken a vote on it."
"That," I said, "answers why you have never got redress and never will get it because you are all liars, from top to bottom. You know you would never have entered the polygamous relation--nor could you have induced your wife to enter it--except with full knowledge that the Church did authorize it. The Church is one man, and you know it. The whole theory of your theology collapses if you deny that."
He shook his head blankly. "I don't know what is to become of us. I don't see any way out."
I could only advise him that he should join with other new polygamists in demanding that the Church authorities make all possible reparation to the women and children who were being crushed under the penalties of the Church's crime. But I knew that such advice was vain. He could not make such a demand, any more than any other slave could demand his freedom. And if the non-polygamists demanded it, the Prophets would deny that polygamy was being practiced. The children could not be legitimized-- for the Church cannot obtain legitimizing statutes without avowing its responsibility for the need of them; and the Gentiles can not pass such statutes without encouraging the continuance of polygamy by removing the social penalty against it.
So the burden of all this guilt, this shame, this deception, falls upon the unfortunate plural wife and her innocent offspring. She is bound by the most sacred obligations never to reveal the name of the officiating priest--even if she knew it--nor to disclose the circumstances of the ceremony. She has justified her degradation by the assumption that God has commanded it; that her husband has received a revelation authorizing him to take her into his household; that her children will be legitimate in the sight of God, and that eventually the civilized world will come to a joyous acceptance of the practice of polygamy. When the trials of her life afflict her and she finds no relentment in the world's disdain, she sees no avenue of retreat. To break the relation is to imply at once that it was not ordained of God, and to cast a darker ignominy upon her unfortunate children. Her only hope lies in her continued submission to her husband and his Church, even after she has mentally and morally rejected the doctrine that betrayed her. A more pitiably helpless band of self-immolants than these Mormon women has never suffered martyrdom in the history of the world. Heaven help them. There is no help for them on earth.
The Prophet of Mammon
In an earlier day among the Mormons, the ecclesiastical authorities collected one-tenth of the "annual increase" of the faithful into "the storehouse of the Lord;" and this was practically the entire assessment made by the Church; although, by the same law of tithing, every Mormon was held obliged to consecrate all his earthly possessions to "God's work" on the demand of the Prophet. The common fund was used, then, to promote community enterprises and to relieve the poor. The tithe-payer saw the good result of the administration of the Church's moneys, and was generally satisfied. He was promised eternal happiness if he paid an honest tithe, but he was also given an earthly reward--for the Church admitted him to many opportunities and enterprises from which the niggardly were adroitly excluded. He was spiritually elevated and enlarged by giving for a purpose that he considered worthy--the fulfillment of a commandment of God and the relief of his fellow-creatures--and the community benefited by having a part of its yearly surplus administered for the common good.
But by the time the Church had reached its third generation of tithe-payers, the "financial Prophets" had made a change. On the theory that since the Mormons were paying the bulk of the taxes, they should share in the distribution of the public relief funds, the Mormon poor were denied assistance from "the storehouse of the Lord," and were compelled to enter the poorhouses, to seek shelter on the "county farms," or to take charity from their neighbors. The resulting degradation of a sublime principle of human helpfulness is strikingly shown in the fact that in some cases, where the county relief funds are distributed through a Mormon clerk of paupers for out-door relief, the Mormon bishop even collects one-tenth of this money, from the wretched recipients, as their contribution to God Almighty!
Nor is the greed of the present hierarchy satisfied with one-tenth of a Mormon's income. Said Joseph F. Smith, at the April Conference of 1899 (according to the Church's official report): "If a farmer raises two thousand bushels of wheat, as the result of his year's labor, how many bushels should he pay for tithing? Well, some go straightway to dickering with the Lord. They will say that they hired a man so and so, and his wages must be taken out; that they had to pay such and such expenses, and this cost and that cost; and they reckon out all their expenses and tithe the balance." To Smith's inspired financial genius this was "dickering with the Lord." He wished to collect ten per cent of the farmer's entire yield--a tithe that would have bankrupted the farmer in three years!
Nor is the tithe any longer the only exaction demanded by the Prophet. A score of "donations" have been added. There is the Stake Tabernacle Donation, which is a fund collected from the Mormons of each "Stake" (corresponding usually to a county) for the building of a house in which to hold Stake Conferences. There is the Ward Meeting-House Donation,
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