Year of Polygamy: The Birth of Mormon Fundamentalism, Episode 73
Image from (credit: Brian Hales)


Join Lindsay as she interviews Brian Hales, author of  Modern Polygamy: The Generations After the Manifesto about his views on the beginnings of the different Mormon Fundamentalist groups.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

Brian Hales’ fundamentalist site

Brian Hales’ Joseph Smith polygamy site

Brian Hales’ site containing Mormon documents (a must see!)

Books by Brian Hales

4 Replies to “Year of Polygamy: The Birth of Mormon Fundamentalism, Episode 73”

  1. Lindsay, Thank you so much for these amazing podcasts! I feel like in the other podcasts, there has been a fairly interesting case made for why the fundamentalist groups thought they had authority. There was a lot of doublespeak, the apostles were making the case that patriarchs had the ability to seal, apostles and even the prophet were authorizing secret sealings, while later denying it. I feel like Brian Hales decided his conclusion (that the LDS church has the authority) before examining the Fundamental experience. His conclusion is that the LDS church absolutely always had the keys. That’s not a bad opinion to have (I am LDS and feel like they have the best claim on authority), but there is a good amount of evidence to show that it isn’t that clear cut. I felt like he used a lot of proof-texting of scriptures as evidence of that conclusion.

    For example, he says that D&C 132:7 clearly shows that only one person ever has the ability to seal. This isn’t clearly shown by that. Prophets, apostles, temple sealers and patriarchs were performing sealings in the 19th century. There are hundreds, if not thousands of temple sealers that are given this authority today. There is never just 1 person that holds this authority. With all of the doublespeak with prophets and apostles, no one really knew what was going on, for a good 30-40 year stretch. The presidents of the church were sealing in secret and claiming that it had been done away with in public. I really feel like Hales used verse 7 to suit his own purpose.

    He also claims that the powers of a patriarch in D&C 124:124 are obviously only in regard to patriarchal blessings. I feel like this is hardly self-evident. Here is the text of that verse:

    First, I give unto you Hyrum Smith to be a patriarch unto you, to hold the SEALING BLESSINGS OF MY CHURCH, even the HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE, whereby ye are sealed up unto the day of redemption, that ye may not fall notwithstanding the hour of temptation that may come upon you.

    It is hardly clear, whether or not this also includes the power to seal couples. In fact, in section 132:7 talks about how sealings need to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Our modern interpretation is that this doesn’t include the ability to seal couples, but I don’t think this was clear in the 19th and early 20th century. In fact, I don’t think it had been vetted to figure out exactly what it meant. Overall, I think it is disingenuous to claim that these were mostly free agents acting without a sense of authority. I think most were confused where the authority was and which leaders had it.

    Lindsay, I’ve really appreciated the perspectives of the different groups, that you have presented. I was just sad to see that reduced by Brian Hales to them simply trying to justify their actions without the appearance of authority. I think that they did and still do believe they have authority. It seemed clear to them at the time. To simply point out how they are wrong based on proof-texts diminishes their experience IMHO.

  2. I actually feel like there is a case to be made that D&C 124:124 is simply saying that Hyrum Smith has been sealed by the spirit of promise. It says nothing about sealing blessings on peoples’ heads.

  3. Thank you Lindsay for this extraordinary series. I have learned so much.

    I would also like to hear different perspectives on fundamentalist sects. Brian Hales was excellent but clearly did not think the fundamentalist groups had any real reason to believe they had the priesthood keys. I think, in the Church, we often reduce fundamentalist beliefs as all about making up excuses for old men to have sex with young girls. This series has taught me that there are a wide variety of fundamentalist beliefs that are not like those of Warren Jeffs. It is helpful to understand the messy aspects of succession and polygamy so we can judge for ourselves what we believe and why we believe it.

  4. Excellent work Lindsay. Brian Hales is very knowledgeable and intelligent, although his conclusions in my opinion can sometimes undermine his credibility. Having said that, I’ve listened to other Polygamy series podcasts, and I’ve yet to hear the claim that this practice was instituted for the sole purpose of establishing proper lineage.

    For example Joseph Smith, having a direct lineage from Joseph sold in Egypt, and therefore the rightful “heir” for the restoration of the gospel etc, etc. Where does this narrative fit in? I haven’t heard that since my seminary year almost 20 years ago.

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