Kirsten Andersen

Former ‘sister wife’:  Polygamy was ‘like living with adultery on a daily basis’

Kirsten Andersen
Kirsten Andersen

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, February 11, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A woman who lived in a polygamous ‘marriage’ in Utah for 18 years has spoken out to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, telling the paper that despite practitioners’ increasing push for public acceptance and legal recognition, all is not well behind closed doors.

“The only way that I can explain it is like living with adultery on a daily basis, and having the woman come home,” said Marion Munn, who spoke to the Daily Mail after a federal judge struck down Utah’s anti-cohabitation law, which the state had previously used to prosecute polygamists. 

Munn says that although she despised the idea of polygamy, she was convinced by her religious superiors that she risked God’s wrath if she failed to submit to the lifestyle.

“Certainly within Mormon-based polygamy, it's not really much of a choice, because Mormon scriptures teach a woman that if she doesn't consent to living in polygamy, God's going to destroy her,” Munn told the Daily Mail. “So for me going into it, I didn't personally want to live it, but I felt compelled to as a matter of faith.”

Munn was born in England, but moved to Utah after converting to a fundamentalist sect of Mormonism that still practices plural marriage.  Some 40,000 people are thought to live in polygamous ‘marriages’ in Utah, where their unions are recognized by their sects, but not the modern Mormon Church or the state. Nationwide, up to 100,000 people are estimated to be living in such arrangements.

Ironically, while Utah was forced to officially stamp out polygamy as a condition of statehood, it may now be the United States government that forces the practice back into the mainstream. As state officials fight to preserve the state’s definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman, the federal courts have been their biggest obstacle.  The decision to strike down the anti-cohabitation bill came on the heels of another federal court ruling redefining marriage to include homosexual couples (that ruling has been temporarily halted pending appeal).

In December, citing Lawrence v. Texas, the controversial 2003 Supreme Court decision that overturned anti-sodomy laws nationwide, Judge Clark Waddoups of the United States District Court ruled that Utah’s anti-cohabitation law was an unconstitutional intrusion of the state into the sexual behaviors of consenting adults. 

The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by the stars of the popular reality show “Sister Wives,” who have made a career out of popularizing polygamy in the mainstream media.  Kody Brown and his four ‘wives’ – one legal, the others not – moved to the suburbs of Las Vegas after their hit television program attracted unwanted scrutiny from Utah law enforcement.  But they sued to overturn Utah’s anti-cohabitation law, arguing it violated their religious freedom and privacy rights.

“This is essentially the Lawrence v. Texas for plural families,” said the Browns’ lawyer, Jonathan Turley. 

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes vowed to appeal the ruling.

While Kody and his ‘wives’ strive to put a positive spin on their polygamous lifestyle – their catchphrase is: “Love should be multiplied, not divided” – cracks sometimes appear in the shiny façade, revealing simmering resentment, jealousy and hurt feelings just below the surface.  Forced to compete for Kody’s time, money, and affection, the four women – Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn – have fought bitterly with him and each other over housing arrangements, pregnancies, child rearing, leisure time and just about everything else. 

“Part of the pathos of the Sister Wives show comes when patriarch Kody Brown introduces a new wife and mom to the ‘sisters,’” wrote legal analyst Marci Hamilton in a scathing article attacking the family’s lawsuit.  “For those who believe in gender equality, this arrangement should be seen as more than just television entertainment; it is a recipe for oppression, and a foot in the door for the patriarchal principle that unfairly ruled our world not so long ago.”

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“No collection of individuals—even those with their own reality-television show, or a set of religious beliefs—has the power or right to define what marriage is,” added Hamilton.  That is the obligation and power of the state legislature.  When marriage is defined, it also determines a wide range of issues, including who is responsible for which children, who inherits from whom, and who owns what.  These are crucial constitutive elements of our society that cannot be left to the whim of each individual.”

Hamilton drew attention to the high profile case of Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence behind bars for molesting underage girls he “married” within his sect.  

“Utah has declared polygamy illegal, and for good public-policy reasons,” Hamilton wrote.  “When practiced in a community, it leads to the necessity of each man looking to younger and younger women, and the abandonment of some of the boys to make the odds work for the men.  Even if the Brown clan can make polygamy look banal, as opposed to outright evil, the structure has a sure tendency to suppress women, foreclose the full flowering of their potential, and make children defenseless.”

Indeed, women and children who have escaped the lifestyle have long told horror stories about what it is like to live that way.

In her 2007 memoir Escape, Carolyn Jessop recounted her experience being married off to a 50-year-old member of Jeffs’ sect when she was barely 18. 

As one of six of the man’s ‘wives,’ the teenager, who had never even kissed a boy before, quickly realized that “the only way to protect myself in my marriage was by remaining of sexual value to him.  Sex was the only currency I had to spend in my marriage - every polygamist wife knows that.  A woman who possesses a high sex status with her husband has more power over his other wives.”

“If she becomes unattractive to him, she is on dangerous ground - usually winding up as a slave to the dominant wife,” Jessop explained.  “So although I hated Merril touching me, I knew I had to make myself attractive to him, even though there was no chemistry between us and our sex life was always perfunctory.” 

Eventually, Jessop had eight children by her husband, whom she says he beat regularly.  But when her seventh baby became ill with cancer as an infant, she realized that “no one cared” about her or her children.  Not one of the other wives came to see them during the long hospital stay or offered so much as a word of sympathy or support.

“This was a mark of the essentially competitive relationship we all had - the internal rivalries between six wives were hugely complex,” wrote Jessop.  But she said the experience was “a wake-up call.”  She began planning her escape, and in 2003, she fled with her eight children.  “Within hours,” she wrote, “Merril was hunting me down like prey, but I didn't care. I would rather be dead than live that way another minute.”

‘Better off dead’ is a concept revisited again and again in the gripping 1882 treatise The Women of Mormonism: The Story of Polygamy as Told by the Victims Themselves, which is filled with firsthand accounts of suffering by ‘sister wives’ in polygamous households.

“The house was a perfect hell, and every polygamous household is,” wrote one woman. “I defy any man or woman in [Utah] Territory to cite one instance of a polygamous household where there is anything approaching harmony – where there is not bickering, constant jealousy and heart-aches, even where the semblance of good relations is most rigidly observed.” 

“[Polygamy] renders man coarse, tyrannical, brutal, and heartless,” wrote another woman.  “It deals death to all sentiments of true womanhood. It enslaves and ruins woman. It crucifies every God-given feeling of her nature. She is taught that to love her husband as her heart prompts her to do, and to feel the natural jealousy that comes from seeing her husband marry another woman, is wicked, and springs from her innate depravity; that she must crush out and annihilate all such feelings.”

Yet another wrote, “How can a wife have those holy and tender feelings which should always be associated with the marriage tie, and which are inseparable from a true union, when she can speak, and to all appearances calmly, of her husband's having ‘gone to stay with some other woman?’ What ideas of home love and home associations can children have who talk about 'father's week at the other house,' and who discuss freely which woman is his favorite, and why she is so, and which woman's children he is most indulgent to, and provides for the best?”

Chris Gacek, senior fellow at the Family Research Council, told LifeSiteNews he believes polygamy is inherently unfair to women.

“Monogamy benefits women on many levels, and research shows that includes the emotional and spiritual,” Gacek said.  “Efforts to undermine the definition of marriage in one area (e.g., number of marital partners) inevitably lead to conceptual murkiness about the nature of the conjugal relationship that men and women can expect of each other.”

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David Bereit of 40 Days for Life, on the right.
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

All one fight: Why the leader of 40 Days for Life says he may become active in the fight for marriage

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By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Just eight years ago, 40 Days for Life was founded as a pro-life Christian ministry. This year, it reached 252 cities in 19 countries.

Now, says founder and National Director David Bereit, he's discerning whether to expand his personal activism to marriage.

"The various moral issues we confront in our culture today are all intrinsically connected," Bereit told LifeSiteNews at Saturday's March for Marriage. “When you look at the various factors that lead to the breakdown of nations and civilizations, they are moral factors," Bereit said. "It's the devaluing of human life, it's the abandonment of religious belief and practice, it's immorality -- the increase thereof – and it's the breakdown of the family."

"They're all tied into this moving away from God, and America was founded as a nation with Christian principles and ideals that used to say 'In God We Trust.' And the further we've turned away from that, the more we have fallen,” he said. "I believe that with man, turning the tide in our culture is not possible, but with God, all things are possible."

Bereit stressed that his attendance at the March for Marriage, as well as his ongoing process of discernment, was representative only of his own circumstances -- not those of 40 Days for Life, which remains an abortion-focused ministry.

Bereit did not shy away from questions that are often raised about what President Barack Obama called America's “tragic” history.

"America was built on Judeo-Christians principles,“ he said. “There are still fallen people that make up our churches and our communities."

"The question is, will people of faith and conscience turn back to God and do their very best to align themselves with the principles that formed our nation and made our nation such a great place in history?"

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

The third annual March for Marriage, which was organized by the National Organization for Marriage and exclusively livestreamed by LifeSiteNews, drew thousands of people, mostly minorities, just three days before what is being billed as the definitive U.S. Supreme Court hearing on the issue of same-sex "marriage."  

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‘Persecution plain and simple’:  Franklin Graham fundraises for Oregon bakers after GoFundMe shuts them down

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By Ben Johnson

BOONE, NC, April 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – First, they were fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual “marriage” ceremony. Then, a rival business owner convinced GoFundMe.com to stop Christian bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein from raising money to pay the fine on the grounds that, since their religious beliefs violate state law, they are common criminals.

Now, one of the nation's most well-known Christian ministers and philanthropists is coming to their aid.

An administrative law judge fined the Oregon bakers, proprietors of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, $135,000 to pay for the emotional suffering of Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer – a lesbian couple who say they feel the Kleins “mentally raped” them.

The Kleins have since closed their Portland-area business and lost substantial income. After hearing of the fine on Friday, Melissa said the amount would financially crush them.

The family opened a GoFundMe page and, within hours, they collected more than $109,000.

Then Lisa Watson, the co-owner of Cupcake Jones in Portland, began lobbying the website to banish the couple's appeal.

“The amount of money they have raised in a matter of a few hours by thousands of anonymous cowards is disgusting,” Watson wrote on Facebook. She added that the website's “terms of service address hate speech, bigotry, criminal activity, and sexism among other things in their campaign.”

GoFundMe then suspended the Kleins' fundraising.

“While a different campaign was recently permitted for a pizzeria in Indiana, no laws were violated and the campaign remained live,” GoFundMe said in a statement. “However, the subjects of the 'Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa' campaign have been formally charged by local authorities and found to be in violation of Oregon state law concerning discriminatory acts. Accordingly, the campaign has been disabled.”

The day after the announcement Watson, who operates her business with husband Peter Shanky, posted a photo of her 2015 Equality Advocate Award “for outstanding leadership to advanced lived equality for all LGBTQ Oregonians.”

The Kleins hope the website will reconsider. “We have told GoFundMe that the money is simply going to be used to help our family, and there is no legitimate breach of their terms and conditions,” the Kleins wrote on Facebook.

That's when the Reverend Franklin Graham and his ministry Samaritan's Purse stepped in, allowing those who wish to alleviate the couple's suffering to donate on its website.

"The fund was created to help persecuted Christians in the U.S., including Aaron and Melissa Klein,” an employee at Samaritan's Purse told LifeSiteNews today. “It was only activated over the weekend and the organization has not yet announced any numbers. Currently, Samaritan's Purse is focused on the earthquake in Nepal and providing relief supplies to people impacted by the disaster.”

Graham praised the Kleins' steadfastness in the face of legal challenges. “They have taken a stand for the Word of God, and they should not have to stand alone,” the ministry's founder and president Franklin Graham said. “I believe that Christians across our nation will rally around Aaron and Melissa and their five children. Please pray for Aaron and Melissa, and pray for our nation. When our judges are punishing Christians for practicing what they believe, that’s persecution, plain and simple.”

“God bless Reverend Franklin Graham,” AFR Talk radio host Bryan Fischer said today. 

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

The Kleins will still receive the money raised by GoFundMe, in addition to any supplemental funds raised by Graham's international charitable ministry.

Conservative author Dan Calabrese wrote that “Melissa's Sweet Cakes will not have to go into bankruptcy and the family won't personally be ruined. And what a disappointment that must be to the gay mafia, whose agenda is to intimidate all gay marriage opponents into not just silence but compliance, for fear of just such” an outcome.

Christians have risen to the challenge before. Memories Pizza raised more than $840,000 after the Indiana pizzeria was harassed into closing its doors for saying it would cater a same-sex “wedding.”

Calabrese warns that these victories may lead to more intense anti-Christian persecution.

“When put in an untenable position like this, Christians and others who support their right to operate their business as they see fit will come to their aid. So the gay mafia will take it up a notch, attempting to intimidate the fundraising organizations from cooperating with the effort,” he said.

If that fails, “Maybe they can persuade friendly Democrat lawmakers (or terrified Republicans) to legislate them out of business.”

Readers can donate to the Klein family here.

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Opposition to same-sex ‘marriage’ – a deeper love

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By John-Henry Westen

April 27, 2015 (CNSNews.com) -- Same-sex “marriage” – the legal recognition of same-sex relationships – is one of the most contentious issues in America. Laws, constitutional interpretation, and the future of religious liberty may well rest on what nine justices decide two months from now.

Many observers seem to believe that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of redefining marriage. And while many on all sides of the debate, especially those who are undecided, believe this will bring cultural peace, evidence around the world points in the exact opposite direction.

Rather than settle animosity and ease cultural tensions, the advent of same-sex “marriage” will lead to the repression of religious freedom and determination to root out dissent to the gay rights doctrine. At LifeSiteNews, we have watched this play out for nearly two decades in 17 countries around the world – and America is next.

A prime example is Canada. Same-sex “marriage” passed in 2005. Similar to European countries which have done so, there has been a relentless pursuit of the minds of children against the wishes of their parents. Schools, both public and private, were first mandated by law to have gay-straight alliance clubs under the auspices of anti-bullying. Then, sex-education, teaching the normalcy of homosexual sex, was given to children without parents being permitted to opt their children out of the classes.

We have arrived at this state of affairs because of the silence of Christian pulpits on sexual matters, and the concomitant shouting from every secular pulpit, screen and book. Even the current discussion around same-sex “marriage” in the United States reveals a grave reluctance to speak about the heart of the issue – homosexual sex. Rather, arguments are made about the goodness of natural marriage, about its benefit to children, and its unchangeable character.

From reporting on the subject every day for so many years, we knew that the struggle for same-sex “marriage” has very little to do with marriage. In fact, until just recently, gay activists didn’t even want to be “married” to each other. Most had no interest in the constraints that such a formalized union would entail in terms of exclusive partnership.

However, the leaders among the activists convinced the movement that they must attain marriage as a societal stamp of approval to homosexual behavior. And, frankly, they have largely succeeded.

Today, in many of the nations where same-sex “marriage” is law, opposition to it is seen as akin to racism. It is seen falsely as an animosity against someone for who they are—an unwillingness to recognize the human dignity of a class of persons due to an immutable characteristic.

However, that false perception is due to a purposeful agenda to conflate animosity against homosexual sex acts with animosity against persons who experience same-sex attraction. The ancient Christian teaching to “love the sinner and hate the sin” is an impermissible distinction in the minds of some. It is, however, the key to understanding the majority of the opposition to same-sex “marriage.”

The plain truth of the matter is that opposition to same-sex “marriage” is rooted not in hatred and bigotry, but just the opposite – in love. Like parents who do not allow children to behave dangerously without lovingly correcting them, opponents of same-sex relationships are hoping to save people with same-sex attractions from severe physical, psychological, and spiritual harm.

Just as, out of love and concern for their children’s welfare, parents must correct and discipline, despite the protests they may get in return, any true believer in marriage, natural law and science must lovingly correct their fellow man.

In other nations, the perception that opposition to same-sex “marriage” is based upon bigotry has led to laws that violate religious liberty, parental rights and freedom of speech. This is why those who oppose same-sex “marriage” must present their reasoning as based on love and concern for the welfare of those in homosexual relationships, in addition to concerns for children and society itself. And there is ample evidence on which to base that concern in the numerous studies showing the grave harm of homosexual sex to both body and psyche.

When I’ve spoken of these findings at conferences around the world, some have questioned if the researchers who showed these harms weren’t themselves biased by anti-gay sentiment. And so I’ve taken to carrying with me on my phone the quotes of the late Canadian gay activist Gens Hellquist, whose testimony proves the harms of gay sex better than any study ever could.

Speaking a year after the passage of same-sex “marriage” into law, Hellquist was seeking more healthcare dollars for the LGBT community. "We have one of the poorest health statuses in this country,” he said. “Health issues affecting queer Canadians include lower life expectancy than the average Canadian, suicide, higher rates of substance abuse, depression, inadequate access to care and HIV/AIDS."

"There are all kinds of health issues that are endemic to our community,” he added. “We have higher rates of anal cancer in the gay male community, lesbians have higher rates of breast cancer.”

He concluded: “Now that we can get married everyone assumes that we don't have any issues any more. A lot of the deaths that occur in our community are hidden, we don't see them. Those of us who are working on the front lines see them and I'm tired of watching my community die."

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Pastors and preachers must take up this call to speak the truth in love, for without this approach, the public will be led to believe that those opposed to same-sex “marriage” are indeed haters needing to be stopped with the force of law. Love is the most powerful force in any argument, and gay “marriage” pushers have used it very effectively. As Hilary Clinton tweeted as she fought religious freedom laws in Indiana: “We shouldn't discriminate against ppl bc of who they love #LGBT”

The truth is that those who oppose same-sex “marriage” are showing a deeper love, as any parent does when instilling difficult discipline. We have enough love and concern for those with same-sex attraction to warn them not to engage in behaviors proven to be very harmful. We won’t encourage people to enter into such harmful behaviors by redefining marriage to encourage it, nor will we allow our children to be indoctrinated into regarding it as a healthy and safe alternative lifestyle.

We have failed so far to get this message of love out to the public. I will not be surprised if the Supreme Court approves of same-sex “marriage” – and I will be even less surprised to see a subsequent  crackdown on religious freedom, as already seen in states like California and Colorado.

Pope Benedict XVI predicted it a decade ago. Observing the international trends, the then-Cardinal said “very soon it will not be possible to state that homosexuality, as the Catholic Church teaches, is an objective disorder in the structuring of human existence.”

Reprinted with permission from CNS News

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