Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mary Batchelor - Longing to Return to Polygamy

This morning we heard testimony from Mary Batchelor, a member of the independent FLDS. The eldest of seven children, she lived in several areas of the United States before finally settling in Utah. She was baptized at the age of nine into the independent FLDS, and went through the Public School System, graduating from high school.

Two meaningful words in her adolescence were Salvation (through Jesus Christ) and Exaltation (through plural marriage).

She was 21 when she became the second wife of her husband, for they both believed fervently in the plural marriage way of life, the first wife having been in the home since 1989. That sister wife moved out after four years, and Mary found herself alone as the now monogamous and therefore legal wife of her husband. They are still monogamous to this day, although Mary insists that she would dearly love to revert to plural marriage again. She has seven children.

It came to light that, after the first wife left, she had written a strong letter to a newspaper critiquing the polygamous way of life. The Attorney General of Canada read excerpts into the record from Mary's response to the letter – littered with vituperative and denigrating comments.

Mary believes fervently that by entering into plural marriage she would be doing right by God. She asserted that she does not practise assigned marriage, and she is obedient only to her conscience. She chooses to live by the principles she believes in. Two of her children were born during the plural marriage period of her relationship, and all of them are in public school in Utah. (Her daughter Holly has Down Syndrome and heart problems.) Mary said that she has discussed with her children whether the family should revert to a plural marriage situation.

In 2000, during a period of intense public criticism and threats against polygamy, she co-wrote with Anne Wilde a book in defence of plural marriage. Its content was a distillation of comments received from 700 questionnaires that were sent out to women already in a plural marriage. The comments were overwhelmingly in favour of continuing and legalizing the polygamous institution. Mary also co-founded the magazine Principle Voices, which advocates for polygamy education, and she has worked with the government of Utah in efforts to decriminalize polygamy, declaring it to be the exercise of her civil rights.

When the Attorney General for Canada asked her if it was fair that, while a man may take multiple sexual partners in her religion, a woman may take only one man, Mary replied that she had no problem with that.


For an in-depth portrait of Mary Batchelor link to

The Court is now in recess, and will convene again on Tuesday 25th January.  Next week will be the final full week of testimony, and the schedule at the moment shows that all the witnesses appearing will be members of the FLDS.

1 comment:

  1. What is the name of the book Mary and Anne co-wrote that was the distillation of the 700 interviews? Thank you!