Read excerpts from Jon Krakauer's new book on Blood Atonement, "Under the Banner of Heaven."
Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee abducted fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart in June of 2002. Mitchell and Barzee have been charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated burglary in the June 5 abduction. Bail was set for both at $10 million.(read newspaper report of arraignment)
Mitchell is a product of Mormonism. He got his ideas about polygamy as a Mormon. Polygamy was started by Mormonism's founder Joseph Smith, enhanced by his successor Brigham Young, and continues in the hundreds of polygamous sects throughout the West. An estimated 60,000 people live in polygamy in the Western States, the vast majority are Mormons of one stripe or another.
Mormonism has never renounced polygamy in the sense of calling it abusive towards women. Polygamyor "celestial marriage" as it is called within Mormonismwill always be a part of Mormonism. Mormon theology requires its practice in its scheme of "Eternal Progression" by which Mormons become gods and populate their own worlds. In 1890, faced with the growing vehemence of the United States government towards polygamists, the Mormon Church set it aside. For twenty years Mormon leaders continued its practice underground. Thousands of polygamists spread out through the deserts and mountains of the West and continued its practice.
Recently, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch failed to condemn its practice when confronted in a town meeting in southern Utah.
The ugly step-sister of polygamy is Blood Atonement. Those who engage in this sexual aberration often protect their lust life through violence.