It's been pretty hard to miss what's been going on at the Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado, Texas. In case you haven't heard, here's a quick recap: the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which believes in polygamy, (which is different than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has a large following near Eldorado where this YFZ Ranch is located.In late March, the Texas Child Protective Services hotline received a call from a girl claiming to live at the ranch who said she was being abused. This led to a huge raid by Texas law enforcement and child welfare officials, who ended up removing 452 children (some pregnant and/or already mothers) from the ranch.
So, that's the rundown. I think there has been plenty of media coverage, so I don't need to go into great detail. Just Google "Yearning for Zion" for more information. Instead of rehashing what has already been splashed all over the Internet, let's look at some notable polygamists.
Joseph Smith, Jr.
Let's start with the founder of the Mormons, Joseph Smith, Jr. While it was well-known that his "main" wife was Emma, he may have had up to 33 wives in addition to her. The ages ranged from 14 years old to 60 years old. It would seem that Emma sometimes supported the polygamist lifestyle and was sometimes vehemently opposed to it. Although she actually attended one of the weddings of her husband and another woman, she also went on record saying that her husband had only one wife and that polygamy was never advocated in their household. Some theorize that Emma really didn't know much about his other marriages "“ Joseph knew she disapproved and he secretly married others anyway, including some of her friends. It's unknown how many children Joseph Smith had "“ DNA tests are still being done on people who claim to be his descendants.
Tran Viet Chu
Not all polygamists are Mormons or Mormon offshoots, though. Tran Viet Chu of Vietnam says he has no problem keeping up with his 14 wives and 80-plus children.
"Poor me, every time I see a voluptuously shaped woman I find no way to resist my sensitive feeling. I seem to have been born with this flirtatious tendency," he told the
Cong An Nhan Dan (People's Public Security) newspaper. He lives with some of his family, with each wife supporting her own children. Chu provides for himself. He says he's lost count of all of his wives and kids, but says he has "at least" 14 wives. And yes, polygamy is illegal in Vietnam, and so is having more than two children per family.
Islamic law allows men to have up to four wives at a time, but he says he has kept the same three for the past 20 years or more "“ it's the fourth wife he rotates out. "It's the one for renewal," he said. "I like to change my fourth wife every year."
One of his sons, Fahd al-Sayeri, said he was out with friends when they heard celebratory gunshots coming from a tent, signaling a wedding. When he conversationally asked who got married, Fahd was informed that it was his own father. Again.