The first group however, those individuals who genuinely believe the mainstream Church has erred, may be less impressed by changes in civil law. For them, other forces on the horizon could decrease their participation in fundamentalist programs including plural marriage. New research and studies that deal with Joseph Smith's polygamy are soon to be published. They demonstrate important differences between the current traditions and practices of Mormon fundamentalists today if compared to those of their founder. The recognition of those distinctions could stem the tide of converts to some degree and even convince those now practicing fundamentalist polygamy that their methods would not be approved by the Prophet they profess to revere, Joseph Smith, who established all true fundamental doctrines.

Fundamentalists can be found attached to all major religions. There are Catholic fundamentalists, Islamic fundamentalists, and Jewish fundamentalists. Each group is formed by "reactionists" who respond to changes within their mother churches and to modern forces in civilization. Mormon fundamentalists will, in the coming years, confront new challenges within and without. That they will persist is unquestioned, but whether historical discoveries and doctrinal observations, coupled with increased public leniency, will greatly alter their numbers of adherents or the style of their practices, remains to be seen.

Brian Hales is a Utah-based anesthesiologist and expert on polygamous break-offs from the LDS Church. He is the author of numerous books, including Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto. Read more about him at MormonScholarsTestify.