POLITICS OF POLYGAMOUS PEOPLE: HOW A MINORITY RELIGION CAN HELP US UNDERSTAND RELIGION AND POLITICS IN AMERICA
When Texas State Troopers invaded the Yearning for Zion Ranch occupied by polygamist Mormon’s in 2008, it was the third major raid in American history. Yet, fundamentalist Mormons represent a small and little understood element of the American religious landscape. Nonetheless their struggles in America represent the evolving conflicts between politics and private religious life. This study introduces the doctrine of plural marriage as understood by Fundamentalist Mormons and uses it as a case study to consider five aspects of the relationship between religions and politics in America. This includes a discussion of when government chooses to intervene in the practice of religious groups and the responses of those groups to government involvement, the impact of the federal system on religious actors, the dynamic justifications given for involvement and the constant tension between public concerns and private devotion.
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