It's usually easy and fun to make light of Mormonism, one of the more transparently manufactured Christian heresies. Made up by an illiterate huckster less than 200 years ago and pandering shamelessly to his most libidinous and base patriarchal fantasies, Mormonism, and the larger Latter Day Saints movement, is, overall, pretty deserving of mockery. The issue of polygamy is the one that most comes to mind when talking about the Mormons, though the majority of LDS groups have abandoned the practice (somewhat grudgingly). Today it is officially practiced only by scattered "Fundamentalist" LDS groups. (The FLDS, as they like to called themselves.) On closer examination, however, we can see very clearly that the fundie Latter Day Saints movement is far from a laughing matter.
Now, ordinarily I go by the theory that what two (or more) consenting adults to with each other in the privacy of their own bedrooms is neither the state's concern nor my own. Indeed, in terms of adult polygamy I feel the same way - as long as everyone knows what they're getting into beforehand and is free to bow out if they want to, I don't really care what adults do with each other. That goes for Mormons and everyone else. The problem with a lot of the fundie LDS folks, however, is the issue of child marriage. You see, many of the polygamist LDS communities like to "spiritually" wed young girls, some of them not even teenagers, to horny LDS elders that are old enough to be -my- father. Then they proceed to "spiritually" have sex with them, "spiritually" bang out more babies, "spiritually" abandon many of the male children, and then "spiritually" start the whole practice again with a whole new generation of girls. God be praised!
No, wait, that's fucked up.
I shouldn't need to explain why that's different from consenting adults, but I'm going to anyway - A 30 year-old woman who got married to a 40 year-old when she was 9 doesn't count as a consenting adult once she grows up and is still stuck in that marriage. To use a term I don't much care for, she's been brainwashed by her religion and her social situation. It is no different, and I mean no different at all from a kidnap victim exhibiting Stockholm Syndrome. She didn't opt into it at 9, there was no decision-making process on her part, she was thrust into a situation and has been taught that there's no other valid way of living, and now she's being used, literally, to manufacture a new generation of victims. It is child abuse writ large.
Likewise with child abandonment. It's an issue that isn't brought up as much, and the press does the issue a disservice by euphemistically referring to it as the phenomenon of "lost boys. Some LDS communities, nominally for spiritual reasons (of course), abandon or "excommunicate" teenage boys just to get them out of the community. Why would they do that? Come now, that doesn't take much imagination. Any population is going to give birth to more or less an equal amount of males and females, but fundie LDS elders want a large number of the female babies for themselves (spiritually, of course), leaving a surplus of boys. Boys that might, I should note, pose a threat to the harems of the elders. Hence, for any of a number of so-called sins, a large number of teenage boys are conveniently expelled from the community and left to fend for themselves in an outside world that they've been taught from birth to fear and revile. Once again, this is child abuse writ large.
I bring all this up because of a raid last week of fundie LDS leader Warren Jeffs' compound in Texas. Jeffs, as you'll recall, is in prison for arranging the "marriage" of a 14 year-old girl to an older cousin, an arrangement than culminated in her repeated rape. Well, a phone call to police by a 16 year-old girl (who is now missing), brought authorities to the Yearning for Zion Ranch, where they found hundreds of women and children, many of them showing clear signs of physical abuse, living in an insular LDS community. Hopefully this investigation will run to ground this particular group and their "spiritual" practice of organized mass child rape.
There are numerous interesting news articles on this matter, and I refer you to two of them in particular (here and here) because I haven't the stomach to recount the matter myself.
I also refer you to an excerpt on Mormonism from Christopher Hitchens' book God is Not Great - How Religion Poisons Everything, from Slate.com. Hitchens is a firebrand and I don't always agree with him, but his account of the founding of the LDS movement is without any misty sentimentality for the group's religious nature and lays bare its laughable origins. Here's the excerpt.