Texas authorities have returned children to the Yearning for Zion Ranch, which is a good time to look at the meaning of polygamy and what it says about values in America. This is a great example of both the challenges and the opportunities for a lively and thoughtful discussion of values.
The ranch is run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a sect that broke away from the main Mormon Church. FLDS practices polygamy, a form of plural marriage, though the larger LDS denomination renounced polygamy long ago.
In fact, just a few days ago, the main LDS church posted to its Web site some new materials about its longstanding teachings on marriage — knowing that Americans are continuing to talk about this issue.
So, tell us what you think about this. Polygamy is the “perfect storm” when it comes to American values.
As this issue plays out in the U.S., it’s full of competing and conflicting values: religious freedom, tolerance, diversity, liberty, individualism, tradition, gender roles, sexuality, age of consent, forms of family, protection of the young, the role of the state, separation of church and state — and more.
Let’s start by talking about how we react to polygamy. What’s your starting point in thinking about this issue? Which values surface first as you think about this? How should our leaders sort out the competing claims?
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