Over the years a blind eye has been turned to the practice of polygamy in the United States. But the trial of a Fundamentalist Mormon for assisting in the rape of a minor could change all that.
Of all the difficult public relations campaigns in the world, this must be among the toughest: to sell polygamy, the practice of keeping more than one wife by one man, as a deeply Christian, rewarding activity that frees the women as much as it forwards the spiritual standing of the man.
But that is the challenge Anne Wilde has taken up, as a sort of unofficial spokeswoman for the polygamists of Utah.
Wilde was the second wife of Ogden Kraut. She keeps stressing that she feels that being a polygamist gave her more, not less, independence as a woman; and although her husband was a patriarch, part of his role as head of the family was to treat his wives with respect.
Wilde's purpose is made particularly tough because polygamy gets a consistently bad press, fuelled by events in some polygamist communities that appear to be anything but celestial.
Warren Jeffs, the "Prophet" of a polygamist community in Utah, has recently been charged with assisting the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl, who had allegedly been forced into a spiritual marriage with her cousin, and ordered to "multiply and replenish the earth."
In other words, procreate, or risk eternal damnation.
Jeff's lawyers argue that to commit him to trial would be to continue the persecution Utah's polygamists have suffered since the late 19th century.
Read the full article by EdiPilkington at Guardian Unlimited