For the record the Mormon Church officially banned the practice back in 1890 but it still occurs among more fundamentalist sects...Link
According to a 2005 report there are between 20,000 and 40,000 people currently practicing polygamy in the US.
The government of Utah, heartland of Mormonism, has for a long time not been enforcing the laws against polygamy, out of considerations of 'religious freedom'.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints - now with some 10 million members worldwide - disavowed plural marriage in 1890. Polygamy is illegal in Utah but the laws against it have not been enforced for several decades.Link This inaction has allowed cases of Church-sanctioned abuse, including child abuse and pedophilia, to continue unabaited for many years:
Older Men Finding Teen Brides in Utah - The Salt Lake Tribune, December 14, 1997
Last year alone, nearly 1,000 teen-agers 14 to 17 years of age were married in Utah, including a 14-year-old girl who slipped a wedding ring on a man of 37 and the marriage of a 15-year-old girl to a groom older than 45. Of the girls ages 14 to 17, 37 percent married men who were at least four years their senior.Secrets in the Desert - Charges of abuse and polygamy roil Utah - Newsweek, 8/10/1998
Statistics show Utah girls under 16 long have been more likely to marry than boys. A decade ago, only 39 boys ages 15 and 16 took brides. One married a 29-year-old woman. That same year, however, 431 girls ages 16 and younger married. Fifty-six of the girls were not yet 15 years old, and one 14-year-old married a 44-year-old man.State statutes are failing to protect the hundreds of children who marry because of the strict limitations on what a judge can consider, say a growing number of county clerks and judges. Clerks are responsible for granting marriage licenses and also can perform marriage ceremonies.
John Daniel Kingston is a high-ranking member of the Kingston group, one of four large fundamentalist Mormon sects that practice polygamy, arranged marriages and, as in the runaway teen's case, sanctioned incest.Court Rules Mormons Cannot Escape Sexual Abuse Lawsuit - PRNewswire, December 15, 1998
The clan, which calls itself the Davis County Cooperative, has 1,500 members who live just outside the capital of Salt Lake City and run a $150 million business network. Authorities and ex-members say that girls as young as 14 are encouraged to get married, often to older men with many wives (they seek a civil marriage license only once; later brides are taken in private religious ceremonies).
...the state's Attorney General Jan Graham issued a statement that read, in part: "The claim of religious freedom is no defense to the crimes of statutory rape, incest, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, child abuse or cohabitant abuse."
In a ruling that carries national significance, a West Virginia court ruled recently that the First Amendment does not protect religious organizations from civil liability merely because of their status as a church.As usual, Churches do not care for the victims of such crimes, only for their own Christian institutions.
The Court's ruling represents a serious setback for the Mormon Church and its team of lawyers who have raised this defense in similar suits throughout the country. The Mormon Church has been sued at least 26 other times for their failure to report the sexual abuse of children.
In the past, the Mormon Church has vigorously defended sexual abuse suits by relying upon the First Amendment, which calls for separation of church and state. "Because of the Court's ruling, the Church will need to re-examine its strategy in dealing with reports it receives of sexually abused children," said Michael Sullivan, the lawyer representing Jane Doe and her mother.The Mormon Church has centered most of its arguments on the question of when does the state's interest in protecting children override a church's First Amendment rights to avoid government control. The Court responded by saying the state's interest in protecting children from the horrors of sexual abuse "will override even the most sincerely held religious convictions."
In the news: Man who had 80 wives and 250 children arrested on rape charges - Daily Mail, August 29, 2006
Warren Jeffs, the ruthless leader of a breakaway branch of the Mormon Church who had 80 wives and 250 children was arrested today after a five-month manhunt.
He was wanted on charges of polygamy, child rape, kidnapping, and tax evasion.
Native American DNA evidence has utterly disproved these claims.
See the book: Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church by Simon G. Southerton (an Australian DNA scientist, who was formerly a Mormon Bishop)
Unable to refute the DNA evidence, it turns out that:
now the Mormon Church has paid scholars ('BYU professors') to say that they never said that Native Americans etc were Israeli!as one review of Losing a Lost Tribe by S.G. Southerton stated. (BYU stands for Brigham Young University, a Mormon University, named after Mormon leader Brigham Young).
DNA research and Mormon scholars changing basic beliefs - USA Today News, July 26, 2004
...Mormons have been taught to believe the Book of Mormon — the faith's keystone text — is a literal record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas who descended from the Israelite patriarch Lehi, who sailed to the New World around 600 B.C. The book's narrative continues through about 400 A.D.
The church teaches that Joseph Smith translated this record from gold plates found on a hillside in upstate New York in 1820, when he was 14. The Book of Mormon was first published in 1830.
In Mormon theology, Lamanites are understood as both chosen and cursed: Christ visited them, yet their unrighteousness left them cursed with dark skin. The Book of Mormon says Lamanites will one day be restored to greatness through the fullness of the gospel. (The original 1830 version of the Book of Mormon said they would become "white and delightsome;" in 1981, the passage was changed to "pure and delightsome.") Though not mentioned specifically in the Book of Mormon, Polynesians have been taught they are a branch of the House of Israel descended from Lehi.
Traditionally, Mormons have understood the Book of Mormon to cover all of the Americas in what is known as the hemispheric model. At a Bolivian temple dedication in 2000, church prophet and President Gordon B. Hinckley prayed, "We remember before Thee the sons and daughters of Father Lehi." And in 1982, the church's then-President Spencer Kimball told Samoans, Maori, Tahitians and Hawaiians that the "Lord calls you Lamanites."Southerton's book details how these teachings have helped LDS efforts to convert new members, especially among Indians in Latin America and Maoris in New Zealand.
The Book of Abraham has a rather unpleasant side. Until recent years, it was used to justify the racist policies of the Mormon church. Blacks formerly were not allowed to hold the "priesthood." Since almost all postpubertal Mormon males are priests and since Mormon women can't amount to anything unless they marry a man who does hold the priesthood, this dogma effectively kept Blacks out of the "white and delightsome" Church of Jesus of Latter-Day Saints.Link
The offensive passages are to be found in Chapter I, verses 20-27. Verse 24 ends with a reference to the biblical "curse of Ham": "From Ham sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land."
Blacks nowadays can hold the priesthood if they desire. The head of the Mormon church -- the "Chief Seer and Revelator" -- a few years ago got a message direct from his god to change this policy. The change came just in the nick of time, too, since civil rights legislation was making it harder for racist organizations to feed at the federal money-trough.
The Curse of Ham was used to justify slavery in mainstream Christian denominations too.
The year 1852 was a year of decision for Brigham Young and his Mormon followers. After three years of uncertainty--in the wake of their long, arduous migration to the Great Basin--the Mormons had been granted a territorial government, thanks to the Compromise of 1850. In 1851, Young was appointed Utah's first territorial governor and Mormon residents elected their first territorial legislature. This body, convened initially in late 1851, dealt with a variety of issues, including the legality of slavery in Utah. The Compromise of 1850 allowed the residents of Utah to decide for themselves the status of slavery in the territory. In early 1852, governor Young asked the legislature to give legal sanction to slavery throughout the territory. Young got what he wanted. On February 4, 1852, Utah became the only territory west of the Missouri River and north of the Missouri Compromise line of 36º30' to legalize slavery.In that same year (1852), Young, the Mormon Church's 2nd president and pioneer leader, said that black people were inferior and that slavery was a divine necessity. For more than a century, black men were not allowed to become priests in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was only as late as 1978 that church leaders changed their Church's heretofore racist position. As seen above, they did this by claiming a revelation from God that granted the right to priesthood to men of all races. Of course, this was a most convenient and timely revelation, seeing as how the Mormon Church has been budding in the Pacific and Africa, and now hopes to do the same in Asia. Without changing such Mormon doctrines, it would be hard to convince their non-white victims to accept racist doctrines.
-- The Mormons and Slavery – A Closer Look, by Newell G. Bringhurst (in Religion and Slavery, edited by Paul Finkelman)
The Mormon Church (which started just a few centuries back in the US) teaches that its members' ancestors were Israelites. They're so far gone into this fantasy, that they've started baptising-by-proxy hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who were Holocaust victims. In the minds of Mormons, these posthumous baptisms of Jewish people is supposed to ensure that the deceased Jewish people are converted (though they are dead) into Mormon Christians and go to Christian Heaven. These numerous post-death baptisms have been taking place against the express wishes and hurt sentiments of Jewish groups who have been trying to reason with the insensitive LDS Church.Jewish Leaders Say LDS Baptisms for Dead Jews Continue Despite Agreement - KUTV News, April 8, 2005
Genealogy work is a top priority among Latter-Day Saint faithful. That’s because they use these resources to find their ancestors and perform baptisms by proxy for the deceased person. It’s called baptism for the dead, an ordinance that became very controversial to the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors ten years ago.Apparently, even death does not provide relief from involuntary conversions of non-Christians by rabid Christian fanatics.
Back in 1995 members of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors met with LDS leaders and worked out an agreement in which the LDS church promised to stop baptizing deceased Jews. That organization pointed out that hundreds of thousands of holocaust victims, who are not direct descendants of church members, are being baptized in LDS temples. LDS leaders agreed to withdraw the names of those holocaust victims in genealogy records and issued a directive to discontinue any further baptisms of deceased Jews.Now ten years later Jewish leader Ernest Michel, who headed up that agreement in 1995, says the church has breached its agreement and is still baptizing Jewish people. That’s why he and three other Jewish leaders plan to arrive here in Salt Lake on Sunday to meet with top LDS leaders.
"We have proof of thousands and thousands of Jews, including holocaust victims, who have been baptized…We will not stand for these continuous baptisms…We are hurt, we are frustrated and we want to make it right," said Michel.
"chloroform in print"From: Origins Of Mormonism (with Images)
-- Mark Twain, referring to the Book of Mormon
The same page also has more on how The Book of Mormon, The Book of Abraham, and the Christian denomination of Mormonism itself, came to exist.
See also: Was Joseph Smith for Real? How he lied, perhaps even to himself by Mark D. Thomas, a Book of Mormon scholar who resides in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Joseph Smith is the founder of the LDS Church (1830).
The Skeptics Annoted Book of Mormon (partly annotated thus far) discusses absurdities, errors and inconsistencies in the literature, besides those which DNA evidence has already laid bare.
It also identifies disgusting and racist verses in the Mormon scripture, such as the following:
And I will feed them that oppress thee, with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine.
--2 Nephi 6:18
And it came to pass that whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed.See more: The Book of Mormon in Issue No. 23 of Biblical Errancy.
More bizarre beliefs of Mormon subcults:
Ex-Members Sue Polygamist Church - Associated Press, 04/09/1998
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Three former members of a polygamist church say they turned over a total of $264,390 - all their worldly possessions - to the sect's leader in the belief that it was the only way to meet Jesus Christ. Angered because no such meeting materialized, the trio is suing Jim Harmston, who heads The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days, for taking advantage of their "deepest spiritual needs" and failing to deliver on his promise.See also: Losing Faith and Lots More - Mormons who quit the church find themselves ostracized by friends, co-workers and even families - LA Times Cover Story, December 1, 2001 continue the practice. They are also very violent, dangerous and considered a possible source of terrorism.
The three said they were excommunicated last year from the church, which has about 300 members. It is rooted in Mormonism and teaches the world will soon end with only its members being saved. Its faithful believe Harmston is God's spokesman on earth - a reincarnated Joseph Smith - and that members can meet Jesus Christ if they consecrate all that they have to the church, Hancock said.
Smith founded the Mormon church in 1830.
See the book: Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer.
The author investigated the motives behind murders committed by fundamentalist Mormons - motives that are driven by their beliefs, which were not unique to the murderers themselves, but are shared by their community.
Brigham Young, who married 19 times, took over the LDS church after the lynching of its founder Joseph Smith (who was married 12 times himself). It is suspected that Young ordered the Mountain Meadows Massacre. It is known that Brigham Young was a racist and that he approved of slavery to the extent that he got slavery legalised in Utah.