From: <CEvans1950@aol.com>
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998 10:12:28 EDT


See how complex it gets when the govt starts trying to use its power to enforce what are essentially religious beliefs?

If knowledgeable adults chose to form a marriage of more than two they should be allowed to. It was essentially a wrongful religion-establishing notion to deny the Mormons their right to choose plural marriages in the first place: When noisy other-brands-of-Christianity forced their ideology down the Mormons' collective throat.

There is an omnipresnt danger of folks subverting the government as they try to force their religious ideas on others. The spectacle of the Mormons being made to cave-in on one of their original doctrines shows just how willing some busybodies are to intrude on others' lives uninvited.


Utah Gov. Questions Polygamy Law

.c The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Facing criticism for suggesting polygamy may fall under religious freedoms, Gov. Mike Leavitt turned to Utah's attorney general for advice on why Utah fails to prosecute polygamists when the practice is widespread.

Last week, Leavitt said human or civil rights violations committed by polygamists should be aggressively prosecuted. But he implied the practice itself, with its roots in early Mormon doctrine, might be protected under the First Amendment.

There are believed to be tens of thousands of practicing polygamists in Utah.

On Monday, self-described victims of polygamy condemned the governor for his comments. They claimed he is insensitive to the physical, spiritual and emotional abuses suffered by women and children in polygamous groups.

Worse, they said, Leavitt's remarks amount to tacit approval of the long- outlawed practice.

"Until Gov. Leavitt takes the laws of polygamy seriously, our hands are tied and we will continue to be a voice unheard," said Vicky Prunty, director of the Tapestry of Polygamy, a self-help group for former polygamist wives and children.

The Mormon Church banned polygamy in 1890, and an anti-polygamy clause was written into the Utah Constitution as a condition for statehood. Many practicing polygamists, however, believe the church was wrong to forsake what had been a cherished doctrine.

Prunty's group held a news conference outside Leavitt's office Monday and presented his deputy chief of staff, Vicki Varela, with a letter urging him to enforce the constitution he swore to uphold.

Leavitt declined to respond in person. However, Varela drew a distinction between prosecuting the act of polygamy itself and prosecuting crimes that may occur within plural marriages - just as her boss was trying to do last week, she said.

"Polygamy is against the law in Utah," Varela said. "We do not know why prosecutors do not choose to prosecute it."

Leavitt was dragged into the controversy over polygamy when he was questioned by reporters about the case of John Daniel Kingston, a prominent member of a large polygamist group who is being prosecuted for child abuse.

Kingston pleaded innocent Monday to allegations that he whipped his 16-year- old daughter with a belt for rebelling against an arranged marriage to his brother.

There has not been a prosecution against anyone solely for practicing polygamy in Utah since 1952, when federal and state agents raided the border community of Short Creek - now Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. The raid turned into a public relations debacle as children were pulled from their parents' arms and husbands were jailed.

Varela said Leavitt instructed his office's attorney, Gary Doxey, to get a "policy statement" on polygamy prosecutions from Utah Attorney General Jan Graham. Graham's chief deputy, Reed Richards, said the policy is simple: "Crimes are prosecuted when we know about them."

"The vast majority of these relationships are between consenting adults," he said.

AP-NY-07-28-98 0514EDT


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