APPARENTLY acting on complaints from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on the Utah-Arizona border, a weekend market in St George, Utah, last month ordered a woman who wrote a book about her experiences in a polygamy cult to stop selling it outside the market.
For a full year, Kristyn Decker sold signed copies of her Fifty Years in Polygamy: Big Secrets and Little White Lies for $15 a copy outside the Tuacahn Saturday Market.
But last month market organisers asked her to stop. They were apparently getting complaints about “graphic” parts of the book, and said it did not fit the family-friendly nature of the market, where vendors sell arts, crafts and food under white shade tents tucked inside a red-rock amphitheater just north of St George.
Market organiser Chris Graham said:
Decker is a really sweet lady, and I wish her luck with her book, but this isn’t a platform for her. Our mission statement isn’t to promote causes. We wouldn’t intentionally have a booth for Republicans or Democrats. Our theme and mission statement market is it’s fun for families. We have pony rides and camel rides; it’s like Disneyland.
Decker, now 60 and remarried, said she warns readers that a few pages of her book are devoted to sexual abuse that began when she was molested by a doctor at age seven. The abuse continued from a stepbrother until she was 11, when she finally learned to say no.
But the 270-page book is largely an account of her life of religious submission, poverty and depression — until she broke free.
Now president of the Hope Organization, dedicated to helping others leave polygamy, Decker said:
My book should be considered No 1 family friendly because I’m advocating against abuses.
Decker said that she doesn’t expect to be invited back to the Tuacahn Market but has other ways of promoting her cause. She said she has sold thousands of copies of her book and plans a longer version of her life story.
She believes complaints from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had prompted the ban. Once, a woman in a prairie dress stopped in front of her booth “and told people my book was all lies and that it didn’t happen.”
Decker’s book is the latest in a recent series from women who have escaped Utah’s history of polygamy. The polygamous lifestyle has garnered extensive media coverage, together with HBO’s Big Love, TLC’s Sister Wives and the latest televised series, National Geographic Channel’s Polygamy USA.
Decker says she came from polygamous “royalty.” She was born and raised in Utah’s second-largest polygamous community, the Apostolic United Brethen, operating in Salt Lake City suburb of Bluffdale. She was a daughter of Owen Allred, who became a “prophet” of the brethren in 1977 after the assassination of his brother, Rulon Allred, by a rival polygamous sect.
The mainstream Mormon church disavowed polygamy more than a century ago as a condition of statehood for Utah.
At 17, Decker married an independent polygamist with no connection to the Allred group. They had seven children. She ended the marriage in 2002, earned college degrees, became a Head Start instructor, launched self-help groups and eventually the Hope Organization.
Idaho resident Bob Stokes said he and his wife drove to St George to purchase Decker’s book, then discovered she was no longer allowed to sell copies there. He said:
In a world of more objectionable material — from video games to TV shows and movies — Stokes said he couldn’t fathom why the market banned Decker’s book. If the public library can show her book or put her book out to read with a warning on it saying it may not be family friendly, then it should be OK.
Hat tip: Genial Hall