ABSTRACT: This essay considers the issue of polygamy in response to Stephen Kent's arguments in an article in this issue. Ultimately, disagreements about religious freedom often emanate not from completely divergent positions, but from differences about the interpretation of boundaries and where they should be drawn. Kent and I agree on several points: 1) no woman or girl should be forced to marry and/or have sexual relations against her will; 2) men who abuse women or children in the name of religion should not be protected under the guise of religious freedom; 3) women who report being abused in polygamous (or any) relationships should be taken seriously. Finally, and related to point two, a theological basis for the abusive behavior is not an automatic protection from sanction. Despite these agreements, there are significant points of departure between Kent and myself, including the characterization of polygamy as inherently abusive, the use of media reports as generalizable data, and the conceptualization of agency of women who choose to live in polygamous relationships.
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