Utah is known for polygamy, a reputation that dates back to its Mormons pioneers. Previous Mormon faith promoted plural marriage, which was banned in 1800. Those who refused to shift faith still practice polygamy today. In other words, despite having some Mormons (FLDS) practicing polygamy, it is prohibited in the state of Utah. That statute, however, was successfully challenged after a U.S. District Court ruling stated that its cohabitation prong is facially unconstitutional. Continue reading
The church of FLDS under Warren Jeffs, on the other hand—as revealed in Dr. Carole Ann’s critically acclaimed book “The Power of Polygamy”—have used religious beliefs, such as the sacrament of marriage, to excuse and commit various acts of child sexual abuse. These, therefore, are not covered within the scope of Judge Waddoup’s ruling, which merely struck down the phrase “or cohabits with another person” of Utah’s Anti-Bigamy Statute. It did not make multiple marriages, nor matrimony between an adult and a minor, legal.
Complicating the entire situation is the FLDS’s property trust, known as the United Effort Plan (UEP), which owns most of the real estate in Colorado City and Hildale. The UEP was set up to allow sharing of properties among FLDS followers under the principle of “communal living”. In 2005, Utah courts seized control of the trust after state allegations that Jeffs and other FLDS leaders had mismanaged its assets.
After the courts had taken control of the trust, UEP property residents were required to pay a monthly occupancy fee of $100 to the trust, which had been reorganized to provide housing and other benefits to the trust’s beneficiaries. However, FLDS church followers loyal to Jeffs had refused to pay their fees, and as a result, many had been evicted out of their homes. Some of the evictees have set up tents on other FLDS members’ properties, raising fears of the possible emergence of a tent city in Hildale.