In 1890, after being pressured by the U.S. Government, the Mormon Church
announced it would give up its practice of polygamy and their separate
economy, including their United Order, a system where all things are held
Secretly, however, the Priesthood continued to practice polygamy,
insisting that the Priesthood was a separate entity from the church.
Over the years, the church eventually denounced those who continued to
practice polygamy, and the two factions split. Those practicing polygamy
and United Order were called "Fundamentalists". The antagonism between
the two groups promoted mutual antagonism with Fundamentalists insisting
they had the courage to continue to live God's laws in spite of the U.S.
Government, while the church buckled in cowardice. This antagonism
continues to exist today.
Fundamentalists embrace all the early doctrines that Joseph Smith and
Brigham Young taught, many of which are not taught by the mainline church
today. An example being the Adam-God doctrine.
Many Mormons live a double life. That is, they remain active in the
mainline church while secretly belonging to Fundamentalism. Some, not
necessarily all, also live polygamy.
However, if any Mormon is discovered having sympathies or contact with
Fundamentalists, they are called in by their Bishop and face the
possibility of being excommunicated.
The approximate membership of Fundamentalists today, is 50,000. They
are spread over many states, mainly California, Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming,
New Mexico, Utah, Canada and Montana. While the greatest concentration
is in Utah, there are many independent groups led by self-appointed
While all Fundamentalists believe in polygamy, not all necessarily
practice it. Some join because they want to be faithful in believing in
early Mormon teachings; some join because they want to live polygamy;
others join because they want to live a United Order.
For those in the latter, living in the communes is not always a happy
life. It is a harsh life with leaders exercise unrighteous dominion and
who end up padding their own pockets. Nevertheless, many remain in spite
of the hardness of having their life controlled, believing they are
sacrificing to live a law of God.
More members leave the Mormon Church, than Fundamentalists.