Young and Minority Leaders

The Conflicts Between Religion and Polygamy in the Courts Today

Francis Githinji asked:

Being polygamous in the olden days meant that you were a great man. Marrying more than one wife was one of the most prestigious practices especially in the African community. It was like declaring your wealth in the society. A man who took care of wives and their children needed not to brag about his wealth. The truth was there for all to see. With time religion was introduced and Christianity preached monogamy. The one-wife one-husband doctrine was to be followed by all believers. This is not the case in all the cultures as we have seen young girls being married off to old men as the fifth or sixth wife. As if this was not sad enough we also see the men using religion as defense. In most court houses religion and polygamy have been associated so much that the legal line between the two have to be drawn.

It is fascinating to the legal experts that religion is being used as a defense strategy by many polygamists who marry under-age girls. This is demonstrated by a trial for Warren Jeffs who is a religious leader who tried to use religious liberty defenses. Many defendants try to use methods such as insanity but pleading on the basis of religion is unheard off. Religion and polygamy should not be tied together because being polygamous does not make you more saved or religious than other people. On the other hand, being religious does not guarantee you to become automatically polygamous. The spiritual leaders should remember their priorities even when they are convicted and in court. Trying to overcome the charges at the expense of their religious standing is very wrong. Spiritual responsibilities should always come first.

People like Jeffs who hide behind religion to commit crimes should be sentenced to long life in prison. He is a 50 year senior who was charged of rape. Though he did not rape the minor, he was an accomplice and he claims that he spiritually married the girl to an older man. This is using religion to create serious crimes. In fact the girl was ordered to have sex with the older man lest she was discontinued from the church. Religion and polygamy were brought together to avoid responsibility for the rape crime which was committed.

In 1890, churches split over the issue of religion and polygamy. Some people felt that having plural marriage was key to achieving the top most level of salvation. This is the line of thinking Jeff Warren was using. Actually in his church you would never convince a member that Jeff doesn’t get divine words on who to wed who in his church. He in fact does God’s will by hooking up couples and arranging all marriages. This is how he involved himself in organizing marriages between old men and under-age girls. The law is very careful on such cases and therefore the adults were charged but they off course attempted religious liberty defenses. The members argued that their faith allowed that and therefore religious laws should exempt them from any charges. Religion is by no means a defense to polygamy.

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