TLC’s Sister Wives premiered in 2010, and the polygamous Brown family has gone through a lot of changes. However, it seems the family patriarch, Kody Brown, will never shy away from defending his beliefs, even though they are controversial to some.
Kody and his three wives, Meri Brown, Janelle Brown and Robyn Brown, as well as Kody’s now-ex-wife, Christine Brown, belong to the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB) — which is a sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) or the Mormon religion that allows followers to practice polygamy. Kody was previously legally married to Meri, but the pair divorced in 2014 so he could legally wed Robyn to adopt her children from a previous relationship. His other marriages are considered “spiritual unions.”
The AUB is considered “the more liberal branch of the Fundamentalist movement,” according to religious scholar J. Gordon Melton, the author of Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America, as they allow members to have sex without the strict purpose of procreation.
As Kody likes to say, “Love should be multiplied, not divided.” And the family sure has multiplied — Kody is a father to 18 children and a grandfather to three. While Kody himself felt a “divine calling” to practice polygamy and he and his wives raised their children as part of their religious sect, he revealed that he doesn’t think any of his children would be part of a polygamist relationship in an episode that aired in March 2020. As of now, all of his married and engaged children are in a monogamous relationship and plan to remain monogamous.
“I think the majority of them are oriented towards Christianity,” he told TLC. “I wanted to advocate faith for my children, but I’ve really set it in their place to make their choices about God and religion.”
Unfortunately for the family, polygamy is illegal in all 50 states. However, in 2020, polygamy was decriminalzed from a felony to an infraction in Utah.
While the Browns used to reside in Utah — a state whose population is nearly 50 percent Mormon — they lived in fear of being arrested because of strict anti-polygamy laws that were in place at the time. In 2011, they relocated to Las Vegas so that they wouldn’t have to hide their unconventional lifestyle.
“We did not know how aggressive the district attorney would be, so we didn’t want him finding out that we were leaving the state,” Kody said in a 2015 interview. The five adults and 18 children were forced to pack up their belongings in just three days.
Kody explained that the decision to move was a difficult but necessary one. “There was an immense amount of peace that we felt in arriving to Las Vegas,” he added. “It was like, ‘Okay, this is our new home and here we believe we will experience freedom.'”
While Las Vegas may have been more accepting of their practices, the family felt like they were growing apart while living in four separate rental houses. In 2018, Kody decided to uproot his brood again with a move to Flagstaff, Arizona. The family plans to live collectively on their Coyote Pass property, save for Christine, who announced in November 2021 she was leaving Kody and returning to Utah.
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