“Favorite Wife: Escape from Polygamy” by Susan Ray Schmidt

The woman who wrote this book was born around 1950, but the “feel” of her autobiography would make you think she lived several generations earlier. Schmidt and her family were Americans who moved to Mexico with a group of Mormon fundamentalists who believed the second coming was very close, and who practiced polygamy. Schmidt’s family of origin consisted of her father and mother, their children and one younger “plural” wife and her children, for a total of 13 kids. Many families were much larger.

The men believed they had to have the maximum number of children so human souls could be “placed” into religious families. The senior men married all the available girls, and young men were told to go out and convert/recruit wives elsewhere.

The children were shockingly neglected. Most of the time, the women maintained a high level of mutual support despite a “system” that put their interests into conflict.

Schmidt eventually left the community, divorced her husband and entered into a long and happy monogamous marriage.

Dysfunctional religion?! Yes!

I read this book in August of 2012.


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