Worth pointing out that they did not link to "anti mormon" literature, but the church's own website about polygamy.
Probably this article:
So now people get doxxed by friends and family. Imagine someone pretending to do this to influence someone in one direction, but then using it for any other reason. Who can say none of their friends would be tricked?
The mormon church constantly asks its members to tell the missionaries their non-mormon friends names, phone numbers, and addresses so missionaries can visit and try to convert them. While we see things from the technology side, the mormon church has done the sneaker-net version of the same thing for a very long time.
Mormons obviously believe some pretty strange things, but they also tend to live pretty admirable lives, with a strong focus on community, family, charitable giving, and more.
"During that time [when plural marriage was part of the doctrine] some male followers of the Latter Day Saint movement took dozens of wives each, disproportionately favoring girls between 14 and 16 years old."
There's no reference, does anyone have a source for that?
Starting on page 37, the complete data is published including the marriage age of husband and wife (I didn't actually download it, and was looking at the charts sideways.) There are definitely a lot of <= 16 wives. I guess the question is disproportionate to what? The rest of the US population at the time? It's a vague statement to begin with. Anyway, you can count them yourself, I just took a quick glance, and yes, there are a lot.
And the wiki that goes along with it:
I did follow the links, but I didn't see anything promising.
Wikipedia also has a table of other early church leaders with the number of wives they had, which at least gives you some leads to dig further to validate their claims.
Off-topic, but I visited Salt Lake City last year and I was surprised by a bookstore that had both a Mormon section and an Anti-Mormon section. I'd never seen an Anti-Mormon section in a bookstore before, and I certainly didn't expect to see it in SLC of all places. But in retrospect, it kind of makes sense that people would have stronger opinions about Mormonism—good or bad—in places where its influence is greater.
And a review of its more recent book-length expansion:
"These men averaged thirty-six years of age
(range: 24-60) and had been married an average of ten years (1-32 years) before marrying a second wife of a mean twenty-five years of age (14-39 years). At that time, their legal wives averaged thirty-two years of age (22-56)."
I haven't found a good dataset, but this book has this comment: "Latter-day Saints were surprisingly obedient to the counsel to marry, and in 1860 Manti, only 1.6 percent of women over the age of 16 had never been to the altar." I believe 14 was the minimum legal age of marriage for at least part of that time, so that would mean almost all women were married between 14-16. Depending how many of them re-married after being widowed or divorced, or how many older women migrated in for marriage, I'm not sure what the overall stats of 'age at marriage' would look.
I've always wondered at the historical accuracy of "A Study In Scarlet", but its depiction of the social climate regarding marriage among the LDS would appear to be spot-on...
If only 2% of women over age 16 as also under age 18, that statistic is not so shocking. I don't agree that this statistic alone demonstrates that "almost all women were married between 14-16."
"A study in scarlet" is not historically accurate. IIRC, Conan Doyle said so himself.
Even today, the median age for a woman having her first child in some poorer countries such as Niger, Bangladesh etc. is 18 years. That means a lot of them are younger than that. If you get a group of ten 15 year old girls from Bangladesh, statistically one of them will be nursing their first child.
So let's be careful to judge history by the standards of today. Sure, some of this was mormon practices, but other parts of it was just because these people were doing the same thing most poor peasants on the rest of the planet were doing and considered normal.
"After 1885, age of consent laws changed around the country, reaching 16 in New York in 1889 and 18 in 1895. Prior to these changes the age of consent in most places in the United States was 10 or 12 years."
There's a very strong trend to criticize historical figures for not conforming to modern standards, but it's not usually very useful in understanding their character.
Whats more, looking at comparable relationships contemporary or even before Smith's time, let's say Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson (15 and 45 respectively) in the late 18th century and you can clearly find plenty of condemnation of the age disparity between the two.
I'm sure there were others who were fine with men like Jefferson and Smith preying on teenagers, but it does not mean it was considered ok then.
FWIW I'm not a Mormon (or an American). So I have no dog in this fight. I just find the historical demographics & statistics interesting.
> [...]age of marriage was about the same it is now (http://i.imgur.com/HnQjG67.png).
Yes, if you look at the average for the population as a whole. But once you look at percentile breakdowns (such as page 26 of ) you see a very different picture.
In 1850 the 10th & 25th percentile of marriage age for white women was 17.0 and 18.8, respectively, 16.2 and 17.8 if they were black.
It seems very likely that if you were a sustenance farmer on the frontier in a town that had been established just 10-15 years prior (such as Manti, UT being discussed here) it wouldn't be unusual for "normal" locally to be what was the "normal" for the 5th or percentile of the population as a whole, or even lower.
Furthermore as the  paper notes the marriage age (and childbearing) ages in Western Europe and North America were inflated over the rest of the globe at the time, due to a difference in societal structure.
I wouldn't be surprised if isolated communities in North America such as the Mormons or the Amish who were deliberately setting out to do their own thing looked very different demographically.
> Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson (15 and 45 respectively) in the late 18th century and you can clearly find plenty of condemnation of the age disparity between the two.
Yes, that sort of thing is definitely an outlier, and the Mormons with their polygamy practices can rightly be said to be unusual in this regard.
But that shouldn't be confused with the question of whether the age of first marriage (or child) should per-se be considered profoundly unusual for the time, or some extreme outlier. As far I can tell it wasn't.
Smith was considered an outlier by his contemporaries. This is not simply a case of applying modern standards to a 19th-century person. People alive at the time considered his marriages abnormal.
Isn’t the usual proportion somewhere slightly above 0%?
It's been the focal point of quite a few spirited discussions between the Mormon members of my family and (non-Mormon) me.
The article highlights the fact that it is now possible for single individuals to order Facebook ads targeted at very specific groups, and asks whether the practice is ethical or not. This could just as easily have been done inside other organizational structures, such as political parties and other interest groups.