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*How Polygamy Shapes Modern Mormons (Part 8 of 8)

The Modern LDS Church has not officially practiced polygamy for 130 years.  However, Lindsay Hansen Park says polygamy continues to shape the modern Mormons.  Why does she say that?

Lindsay:  This is very common in the historical community. They’re like, “Yeah, yeah, fundamentalism is interesting, but it’s not Mormonism.” No, no, no. It absolutely is. It’s irresponsible and frankly, unsophisticated, I think, to look at LDS Mormonism as a static religion that’s not impacted by these groups, because it is. Now, of course, it’s so hard to track.  Like I said, there’s always like two guys at an altar in a living room all the time. But these people are influencing our policies. They’re influencing how we view ourselves. They’re influencing how we market ourselves and brand ourselves. A lot of the marketing and branding of the LDS Church has been an attempt to distance ourselves from this. Scholars are so entrenched in that narrative, they’re still so loyal to the institution of Mormonism. It’s only non-Mormon scholars who are able to [admit,] “Of course, this is all the same thing.” But we have so much generational propaganda and campaigns to distance ourselves that scholars fall into this trap all the time. We’re uncomfortable with it.

I was also surprised to hear her critique of ex-Mormons.

Lindsay:  Here’s the thing. This is back to my critique with ex-Mormons. I always say, guys. Ex-Mormons watch conference more religiously than faithful Mormons do. They’ll watch it, and they’ll give you a play by play. They’ll be like, “Can you believe that Elder Holland said this?” And then they’ll all rant about it. I’m like, “Guys, you’re still sustaining the brethren. You just don’t agree with them. That’s the difference.  You’re still upholding their authority. They still matter to you.”

That’s okay. We need to stop being ashamed of that. Of course, they impact our lives. Of course, things that they say are going to affect you and your family. Why are we so afraid to admit that?  That’s the hierarchy’s narrative that you’re with us or against us.  They created that because that’s what they do to consolidate their power so they can maintain leadership. It makes sense. But ex-Mormons give the Mormon Church power every time that they validate the authority of the brethren, even if they don’t believe in the divinity of them.

GT:  You’ll see these memes [like] Heard on Sunday where they usually put a meme of some general authority, which is highly out of context, but just for shock value.  So you’re saying they’re still sustaining the brethren?

Lindsay:  Of course they are because here’s what I’ve learned. This is the gift that Mormon fundamentalists have given me. This is why they’re so dangerous. This is why all the policies in the LDS Church reflect being afraid of them, instead of the John Dehlin types, right? The [leaders] actually don’t care that much about liberal Mormons. [For example when] they get excommunicated Kate Kelly, the movement dies down, right? I mean, that’s not what happens. But it’s an easier thing than fundamentalism, because fundamentalism is a harder thing to root out.

Lindsay has made a huge effort to get orthodox scholars to attend Sunstone.

GT:  I know, especially with your work here at Sunstone, that you’ve actually gone out of your way to try to [invite orthodox scholars.] Because I know Sunstone has been marginalized for a long time. I know you’ve really tried to bring in BYU professors and Church employees.

Lindsay:  Oh, I played that game for a long time because people were [saying,] “Oh, Lindsay, Sunstone is just too anti-Mormon, so you need to bring them in.” I [agreed,] “Oh, you’re right. We’ll solve that. We’ll just invite more faithful Mormon voices.” They all told me no. I was like, wait a minute…

GT:  So, when people complain that Sunstone is too one-sided, come.

Lindsay:  No, here’s the thing. You can complain all day that Sunstone’s too fringe, and I say, “Yes, exactly. But at least we’re honest.” Because here’s the thing. Every Mormon knows how to perform Mormonism. We all know how to go to Sunday and put on the costume, the outfit, the white shirt and tie and say the right things. We perform Mormonism, and then we go home. We think whatever we think, and we do whatever we do.  Listen, in my job, I hear everyone’s secrets. So all y’all are into some weird stuff and you all have your secrets. And that’s okay. That’s called being human. But the difference is [with] Sunstone we stop running away from that. People are [saying,] “Oh, you’re fringe.”  I [said,] “Yes, and so are you.” But we’re not ashamed of it here. That’s how I got around from that, the toxic faith politics that I’ve seen destroy families. It has destroyed my own my own family.

GT:  Faith politics.

Lindsay:  Faith politics, where we have to pretend and perform our loyalty to the institution.  Because in Mormonism, proximity to power is how we gain our own power, because there can only be one guy. There’s only one prophet. So your power and your credibility and your worth is in proximity to that one guy. So we all organize around that in different ways. It’s damaging. It’s cankering to the soul, because what we are saying is we are giving someone else the authority over our worth, our worthiness, our Heaven, our God, our connection, our interaction with the divine.  I’m not going to do it anymore. I did that for years. I believed that was the way to go. I can’t with integrity do that anymore. I love Mormonism. I have such affection to it. Honestly, for better for worse, I actually don’t like this about myself, I am loyal to it through and through, obviously, as my work is a testament to. I’m loyal to it. But I am loyal to it collectively. I will never give my own personal authority to any dude, again.  It’s too complicated. It’s too messy. There’s too much paperwork, too many stories. There’s no value in that.

That’s just some of the jewels in this episode.  This episode is available to subscribers of our free newsletter.  Subscribe to and I will send you a secret link to the conclusion of our conversation….

Lindsay Hansen Park says polygamy continues to shape the modern LDS Church.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Lindsay.

395: How LDS Attitudes Empowered Warren Jeffs

394: Rulon Jeffs LDS & FLDS History

393: 2nd Manifesto Polygamy 1904-1925

392: 20th Century Polygamy/Reed Smoot Hearings

391: Mormon Fundamentalist Theology

390: John Taylor’s 1886 Revelation

389: “More Than One Way to Mormon”

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“More than One Way to Mormon” – Lindsay Hansen Park

I’m excited to introduce Lindsay Hansen Park.  She has her own podcast, Year of Polygamy, and is the Executive Director of Sunstone, where she coined the phrase “More Than One Way to Mormon.”  She has done a lot of work in polygamy communities, and we will get acquainted with her in our first episode.

Lindsay:  My name is Lindsay Hansen Park, and I am the Executive Director of the Sunstone Education Foundation. I also have a really popular Mormon podcast called Year of Polygamy. I’m also [part of a new podcast.] It’s becoming really popular new podcast, Sunstone Mormon History podcast.

GT:  You’re an international TV star, too.   I don’t know how long it’s been, but you posted the thing where there was this Russian dialogue over a video of you talking about polygamy.

Lindsay:  Yeah, it’s a wild world I live in. Like, it’s every little Mormon girl’s dream is to grow up and be all over the news for polygamy. {Chuckling}  So I think I’m killing it in that regard. No, I mean, it’s weird. My life, it’s so weird. I always say, I don’t even know if I could get another job because my resume is so weird. Now [that] I’m doing Mormon stuff all the time, I’m not even normal. I can’t have a normal conversation with people. We’ll just be at a dinner party with never-Mormon people, and always we end up talking about polygamy. I’m like, “Sorry, I’m weird. I don’t know how we got here.”

GT:  The Year of Polygamy was supposed to last a year and how long has it been going on?

Lindsay:  Yes, everybody thinks this is really hilarious joke.  I was going do a year of polygamy. What people think, they’re like, “Does that mean you practice it for a year?” No, I was just going do–so I had the Feminist Mormon Housewives podcast, which is now defunct. We don’t do that anymore.

GT:  Oh, I didn’t know that.

Lindsay:  Yeah. I just thought for a year, I’m going to go down and study this topic and tell the history of polygamy, and it turned into what is it, five years now?

GT: Has it been five years?

Lindsay:  Several Years of Polygamy.

GT:  You don’t just do polygamy. I mean, certainly, that’s the major topic because I know you’ve talked a little bit about Mountain Meadows Massacre and some other stuff like that.

Lindsay:  Well, it’s my theory that Brighamite Mormonism [meaning that] anyone that came across with Brigham Young and all the break off groups that sort of come from, are completely shaped by polygamy. The doctrine, theology–I often say the LDS Church is still a polygamous church. Brigham Young asked everyone to be a polygamist if only in their hearts, and I think that people took that really seriously. So for me, I can see traces of polygamy just about anywhere. A lot of the things that the modern LDS Church have now, the practices, policies, doctrine, culture either grew out of polygamous culture, or a response to polygamous culture or a direct reaction to trying to distance yourself from it. So to me, polygamy is everywhere.  I can trace the roots. We talk a lot about the history but like Mountain Meadows Massacre and Mormon violence and all of that. All of it is rooted in ideas that are traced back to polygamy, in my opinion.

Have you listened to Year of Polygamy or attended Sunstone?  What are your thoughts?  Check out our conversation….

Lindsay Hansen Park is Exec Director of Sunstone and came up with the slogan, “More Than One Way to Mormon.”

We have several dozen episodes about polygamy.  Find out more about polygamy by clicking on this link:

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Bonus Episode on Sunstone Podcast

I would always rather ask the questions than answer them, but I had a fun conversation with John Larsen of the Sunstone Podcast. We talk about various topics in Church History! And for those of you who think my podcasts are too short, this one is about 70 minutes!  Check it out!