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Brigham Young was the most visible practitioner having been sealed to 55 women.
Sanction of the practice was supposed to officially end with the 1890 Manifesto from Church president Wilford Woodruff.
Mormon Think provides a response to that accusation.) Because the Church now admits some of the things originally written on this page in their essays, some of the topics here are no longer as important as they were before, but we are keeping much of that information here anyhow. The reasons most commonly given by members (even if not published in Church lesson manuals) to justify polygamy are: In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff received a revelation that the leaders of the Church should cease teaching the practice of plural marriage so it would not be in violation of the laws of the land. (From anecdotal information, there is still a large number of members believing this.) Links recording official Church teachings concerning polygamy: Some apologists say that the above points are not officially taught in Church through lesson manuals. However, these things have been taught in Church, whether officially or not.
It shall not be necessary to prove either of the said marriages by the register or certificate thereof, or other record evidence; but the same may be proved by such evidence as is admissible to prove a marriage in other cases, and when such second marriage shall have taken place without this state, cohabitation in this state after such second marriage shall be deemed the commission of the crime of bigamy, and the trial in such case may take place in the county where such cohabitation shall have occurred.
In 2012, during the Romney campaign, my ward had a combined Priesthood/Relief Society session where stake leaders went over how the Church was perceived by the media and how we could combat the negative perceptions.
A regional "media expert" handed out a pamphlet that described ways to address a handful of sensitive topics.
Polygamous "marriages" were conducted in secret by Joseph Smith as early as 1833/35 (even though the sealing power wasn't restored until 1836 and D&C 132 outlining the rules of polygamy was not given until 1843) and by a few select members beginning in 1843.
Throughout this time, the Church publicly lied that any devout leaders were involved in polygamy.
This is an understandable consequence given the Church's reluctance to discuss unflattering issues like polygamy and denying blacks the priesthood in any sort of detail in Church lessons.