Additional Resource

Differences From Polygamous Groups

The points listed below emphasize facts, beliefs and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that differ markedly from the beliefs and practices of small polygamous groups that sometimes attract news media attention.

A Worldwide Church

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a global church. It has over 13 million members in over 170 countries, with over half its membership living outside the United States.

Members of the Church

  • Can be found at every level of society and in most all communities.
  • Celebrate public holidays, serve in their respective military services and actively interact with and respect those of other beliefs and faiths.  
  • Wear regular modern clothing and have contemporary hairstyles.


  • The Church teaches that marriage between one man and one woman is ordained of God.
  • There are no arranged or rearranged marriages. The decision of whom to marry is an individual choice.
  • Men and women are coequal in their relationship.  


  • You cannot be a polygamist and a member of the Church (Mormon).
  • The standard doctrine of the Church is monogamy, as indicated in the Book of Mormon (Jacob chapter 2): “For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none.”
  • The Church teaches that throughout biblical history, there were specific times, such as during the times of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob of the Old Testament, when polygamy was introduced in order to “raise a righteous seed unto the Lord.” (Book of Mormon: Jacob chapter 2).
  • Mormons practiced polygamy in 19th-century Utah, but it differed in important ways from the way polygamous groups practice it today.  A woman could choose to marry or not, and could leave such a relationship. Educational pursuits were valued. Two-thirds of plural marriages involved just two wives .
  • No historian believes that more than 30 percent of 19th century Mormons were polygamists. Some estimate it may have been as little as 5 percent.
  • The practice of polygamy by Church members ended by the early 20th century.


  • The Church teaches that members should seek out both spiritual and secular knowledge.
  • Members take full part in public and private education, both at the school and university level.
  • The Church owns and operates Brigham Young University, the largest church-sponsored university in America.
  • In addition to members' formal studies, the Church offers several education opportunities to over 700,000 youth in 132 countries.
  • The Perpetual Education Fund was established by the Church to help provide young men and women in developing countries with the means to gain education and training in order to successfully enter the workforce.

Church Government

  • There is no affiliation or formal or informal association between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and any polygamous group.
  • The Church is governed by a lay clergy at the congregational level.
  • The First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and several Quorums of the Seventy are all governing councils that allow for broad participation in decision making.
  • The Relief Society is one of the largest women’s organizations in the world, with over five million members

Community Involvement

  • The Church does not endorse, promote or oppose political parties but encourages its members to vote and participate as citizens.
  • The Church speaks out on moral issues facing society, such as gambling and pornography.
  • There are currently 16 members of the Church serving in the U.S. Senate and in the House of Representatives.


  • Members are encouraged to reach out to their neighbors in times of need.
  • “Mormon Helping Hands” volunteers have turned up in the thousands in recent emergency relief efforts involving wildfires, tornados and flooding.
  • The Church’s welfare and humanitarian program helps relieve suffering and develops self-reliance both in the U.S. and in over 160 countries worldwide.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.