Memories of Tom Green

Tom Green died last month (Feb 28th, 2021). Here is his obituary. Tom was one of the most famous and controversial figures in modern Mormon polygamy. There is both much to love and much to disagree with in the life and person of Thomas Arthur Green. He lived a full and interesting life that spanned many different Mormon groups. His journey took him from the LDS Church, to the FLDS, to The Branch, to Fred Collier’s Group, to the LeBarons, to an Independent, and finally to the Kingston Clan. We were never closely associated with the Greens, but we have been privileged to meet Tom and some of his family members a few times in person. He has always come across to me as a humble, kind, and honest man. I believe the first time I met him was at a campout up Spanish Fork Canyon. It was an interesting get-together with fundamentalist Mormons of every stripe.

A few years later, at the same annual gathering, Tom gave those present an account of his life. I happened to have a recorder with me and captured his story in audio, which is nearly 3 hours long. It was a rainy evening up the canyon (as you will be able to hear in the recording) and we were all huddled under a tiny pavilion, some pop-up canopies, and tarps to keep out of the weather. There is also the occasional train in the background, and I dropped the recorder once; despite these distractions, it was a thoroly interesting and informative evening. It will probably spawn some additional blog posts – to comment on some of the things he relates in his telling.

This recording was made on August 11th of 2017, which was only a few months before this blog was started by my wife, Charlotte. One of the first things I wanted to post on this blog was the recording I had made of Tom sharing his memories. I asked Tom what he thought of my idea, and he wasn’t particularly comfortable with it. He asked me not to share it at that time, and I honored that request. You see, he was on parole at the time, and wasn’t particularly interested in stirring up the hornets’ nest so-to-speak. He had done so years earlier – he had been quite public and vocal about his practices and beliefs, and it had landed him in a lot of hot water. They (the government and society at large) don’t care if you are living polygamy (or any other “strange” practice), or hold to any less-than-mainstream beliefs, as long as you are quiet about them. Don’t openly resist the system, and you will be left alone – that is the deal.

Well, Tom is dead now, his probation has ended, and I figure the time is right to share these memories. I hope you will find them interesting and useful. Below the recording, because it is so long, I have some breakdown of the times. The times are not linked to the recording (Sorry, I’m not that tech savvy), but you can just drag the play bar along to the spots you are interested in. Enjoy.

Tom Green as I knew him

0:00:00 Introduction by Kevin Kraut.
0:01:11 Tom begins by telling us that he’s one of the old timers (seats get shuffled around).
0:03:36 Introduces Shane Whelan and his book, More Than One.
0:04:46 Continues about “old timers”.
0:08:00 Talks about Ogden Kraut.
0:09:56 Tom starts his story, talks about his grandfather in Canada as a polygamist.
0:11:45 Tom talks about his Patriarchal Blessing.
0:14:05 Discusses different branches of Mormonism.
0:17:10 Mormon Church History.
0:18:30 Tom tells about experiences while serving as an LDS missionary.
0:24:30 Home from his mission, answers to prayers, and finding a wife.
0:28:06 Tom gets married, early married life, early business life, and his introduction to Mormon Fundamentalism.
0:31:31 New business partner (Jethro Barlow).
0:32:25 Arranged marriages.
0:33:26 Being angry at God and being tested by God.
0:38:53 Discussion with Jethro Barlow.
0:43:10 Doing Church History research.
0:49:26 Comes to the realization that plural marriage is a true principle and that he has been a fundamentalist his entire life.
1:03:20 Matthew 10 vs Mark 10.
1:04:40 Meeting Rulon Jeffs, being ready to leave the LDS Church and be baptized.
1:08:20 Being introduced to the Righteous Branch (Peterson Group) by Bill Ander.
1:13:30 (Lights go out – power problems).
1:14:00 Tom joins the Peterson Group.
1:14:15 Studying Fundamentalist History, meeting Fred Collier, debates with Max Anderson.
1:17:12 Meeting Ortel Kingston.
1:19:00 Convinced of Collier/LeBaron lines vs. Lorin Wooley line and leaves the Peterson Group.
1:23:15 Following Ross LeBaron.
1:27:15 Beginning a plural family.
1:29:35 Dan Jordan got shot and the news interviews begin, Janet Bennion.
1:37:05 David Levitt (Juab County Attorney) gets involved.
1:41:15 Utah Common Law gets twisted, hearings and trial begin.
1:43:50 Charges Filed – Criminal Non-Support.
1:50:58 Charges Filed – Child Rape.
1:54:01 Thought he couldn’t be prosecuted, Haddlow vs Haddlow (Utah Supreme Court Case).
1:58:00 Sentencing and prison experiences.
2:11:25 Attorney experiences.
2:13:20 News coverage in prison and visiting family.
2:27:30 Dreams, adjustments to freedom (on parole), and meeting children for the first time.
2:35:00 Story about his father-in-law, looking for peaches in a hay-field.
2:38:10 Joining the Kingstons.
2:53:00 Closing.

Lobbying for SB102 at the Utah State Capitol

Wasn’t it only 3 years ago that rabid lawmakers passed HB99, making life even worse for polygamists in Utah?

HB99 was so strict, it made it a felony to cohabitate OR purport to be married to someone you didn’t even live with. I figured with Utah getting even stricter, the law was here to stay, and the only way to get it to change would be to get the Supreme Court involved, which process would be helped along if someone was actually arrested.

Cuff me: I’m a polygamist.

Then, last year, adultery was decriminalized, and the world felt like it was upside-down. Why is it okay to be married and to sleep around with people who are already married (against the wishes of the respective spouses), but actually marrying, committing, providing for, and otherwise taking care of multiple consenting spouses is a crime?

Then an amazing thing happened! Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the Utah State Senate which would lower the criminality from a felony to an infraction (which means no jail time).

I thought changing the law would require a polygamist actually getting prosecuted, and then challenging the law (which kind of, sort of, almost happened with Kody Brown — long story). I’ve been pleasantly surprised to watch the progress of SB102 and realize it was probably going to pass. It feels so easy compared to what I was expecting.

A few weeks ago, I hung out with some other polygamists at the Utah State Capitol building while we lobbied the State Legislature to pass SB102.

Among others, Enoch Foster (of Three Wives, One Husband) was there with two of his wives, and Joe Darger (a famous polygamist who’s been on TV and in the news many times) was there with one of his wives. Colton Winder (of Seeking Sister Wife) was there with one of his wives, and he wrote a blog post about it. (Check out those awesome photos of Tami and Colton in the State Capitol building! I took those photos, tee-hee!)

My sisterwife’s schedule and mine conflicted so she ended up going on Tuesday and I was there on the Wednesday before the Utah State Senate unanimously passed the bill, which is really amazing!

The Utah House of Representatives also passed it, and yesterday the governor signed it into law! Read the news reports here and here.

Is this really when and how the law is changing?

How have things changed so much in such a short time?

Not what social media would have you believe.

Hello, my name is Tianna Foster.

I am 20 years of age.

I live at home with my dad, my three amazing mothers and 20 going on 21 siblings, whom I adore!

I grew up in the red rock country, in a beautiful community surrounded by wonderful people, each with a different background.

I have heard many different assumptions about the life of a child with “polygamist parents.” I know that the sad truth is that in some cases those assumptions are true, but what I want you to understand is that the problems that are pointed out in the polygamist communities exist all throughout the world, they are not things caused by polygamy, they are caused by self-focused humans. They are human problems.

However my life as a child raised in a polygamist family was much different than what social media would have you believe.

I had a wonderful childhood filled with the outdoors, adventure after adventure, traveling, family, friends and more love than most people receive in a lifetime.

When I was young, (before I was old enough to know about what the world thought of us) all I knew was that I was the lucky kid who had a dad and two moms to cherish, support, and want me. (My third mother joined our family a year ago.)

I did not see problems in my parents relationships; they all loved each other very much!

Being an adult I now see that like any relationship there are struggles from time to time and there are misunderstandings, but show me any marriage that doesn’t have that.

The important thing is they work through them and don’t give up on each other.

I understand that when you see people such as Warren Jeffs it puts a bad taste in your mouth but just because there was a bad man who had more than one wife does not make every polygamist family bad.

To say that is like saying that because one dog bites you all dogs are wicked. It’s simply not true.

We are not brainwashed.

My parents love education and free thinking.

They have taught me to be full of questions and to observe all ways of living, to choose for myself what I believe and how I choose to live.

Never once have I been told to live that way simply because they do.

They’ve taught me to look at what each lifestyle produces and then to choose my path according to the outcome I desire.

Now I do not believe that plural marriage is for everyone. But this is America, “the land of the free.” Can we not be free to choose that way of life if we want it?

You take away our right to speak, our right to live and believe as we choose, then I ask you, what is so great about America?

If consenting adults choose to live that way why must they be persecuted?

I will fight against opposition!!

I will speak out for the ones who don’t have a voice.

And I will fight for our rights and for our freedom.

Can we please break down the walls that divide us?

We are families, not felons.

My thoughts on plural marriage:

Someone once asked me, “Why would you want to live plural marriage?”

Up to that point I had never really thought of why I would WANT to live the principle of plural marriage, so it caused me to reflect and to ask myself that very question. “Why?”
After thinking about it for some time I came to a conclusion that surprised me: I realized that I wanted to live plural marriage because it would bring out the worst in me.

I know you might be thinking, well why on earth would you want the worst in you brought out?

I’ll tell you…because only when the worst is brought out can I overcome it!

Sure I could live my whole life putting on the act of perfection, allowing people to believe that I’m just a saint of a person but in the eternal run what good would that truly do me?

If I do not face my insecurities and jealousies but instead I bury them, then I will go through life still carrying them. Closing your eyes to a problem may make it disappear temporarily, but as soon as you open your eyes it will still be there.

Face it, solve it, overcome it.

As Henry Drummond said, “This world is not a playground; it is a school room. Life is not a holiday but an education. And the one eternal question for us all is, how better can I love.”

Which brings us to love itself.

This small four letter word that means so much.

I believe that in order to know how better to love you must first understand love itself. I could go on about that but I will leave that topic for another time.

So for now ask yourself what is love? And, How better may I love God, others and myself?

If we go back to what Henry Drummond said and we believe that he is correct, that “life is a school room” then should we not take every opportunity to learn and grow?

At some point in our lives we will learn the simple things, the ABCs if you will, which are wonderful, but as we go through life we are meant to progress, to then take those ABCs and compile them into words, and then string those words into sentences and so on.
Moving from a kindergarten level on and on until you reach a college level.

Now if you want, you are free to choose to stay in kindergarten; however, if you want more you must be willing to apply yourself, take steps forward and go through tests that challenge your mind.

I believe that the same is true in every area of life.

I enjoy analogies so allow me to paint one up for you…we are, each of us these pieces of coal. God loves us just the way we are and if we choose to live our whole lives as the coal that we are that’s all right, but if we want more than that there are certain principles that we can choose to live by, which will push you to become something more.

It’s like asking God to place a mountain on your shoulders, while at the same time asking him to give the strength to withhold the weight.

It will be heavy and difficult but if we stay strong in the Lord then the very pressure that could crush us can also change us from coal to a diamond.

It is choosing to walk through the fire knowing that the purest of gold must first go through the hottest of fire before it can be refined.

I believe that the same goes for plural marriage, along with many other higher principles.

Marriage in my mind is choosing a companion to share in life’s journey with, having a partner to face the hard times with and to cherish the moments with, just choosing to do life together!

My dad has told me my whole life, “Marry your best friend.”

I plan on doing that. And your best friend should be the one who brings out the best in you.

If marriage is choosing a person who you love to share life with then plural marriage is just choose to share life with yet another person.

I once asked my Mom, “Why did you choose to live this way?”

She told me this: “Because your dad is such an amazing husband, father and friend! I wanted to be able to bless another woman with the blessing I have.”

My parents were happily married for eight years before ever even talking about the principle of plural marriage, and when they did it was my mother who brought it up.

She is a strong, kind, incredible woman!

As are each of my moms.

I aspire to be like them.

Seeing how happy and successful my parents are makes me want what they have.

There is a right and a wrong way to do everything.

I think that my parents have got something right that’s for sure!

I have many more thought but for now my time for writing is up.

My hope is that I have brought a new piece to the puzzle, given some new perspective, that I have shed some light and given some understanding.

I hope these thoughts and principles will bless your life!