by Elisa Pulido
by Elisa Pulido
by Elisa Pulido
Though the Church abandoned polygamy in the U.S. just three years later (1890), the practice of polygamy in the Mormon colonies in Mexico continued. Mormon settlers in Mexico, many of them polygamists, established well-run, crime-free, and prosperous communities. By the turn of the century, orchards and mills thrived, brick homes lined the streets of settlements, and a fine school had been established in Colonia Juárez, the Academía Juarez.
In the mid-twentieth century, fundamentalist splinter groups from the U.S., seeking sanctuary from both federal prosecution and the disciplinary action of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also fled to Mexico and established colonies in the states of Chihuahua and Sonora. Members of the Musser, LeBaron, and Allred families have associated with fundamentalists in Mexico, or have established their own colonies.
Today, Colonia LeBaron is more religiously diverse, less polygamist, and more integrated into the surrounding community. Unfortunately, altercations with drug cartels and arguments over water rights with farmers in Chihuahua have led to further violence for residents. The escalation of violence in Mexico between fundamentalist communities and cartels resulted in the November 2019 murder of three women and six children traveling in a caravan of SUVs near the Mormon fundamentalist colony La Mora, in Sonora.
Beginning in 2001, Church President Gordon B. Hinckley established the Perpetual Education Fund, a program designed to provide loans to help Latter-day Saints outside the United States pay tuition for education leading to the acquisition of employable skills. The first three countries to benefit from this program were Chile, Mexico, and Peru.In addition to increased educational opportunities for members in Mexico, the Church experienced exponential growth in Church membership in Mexico in the latter half of the twentieth century. Mexico’s first stake (diocese) was established in the Mormon Colonies in 1895, however, in 1961, the Church, with a total Mexican membership of 25,000 members, began concentrating on the further development of Spanish-speaking stakes (dioceses) within Mexico. That year, the Mexico Stake was established in Mexico City and Harold Brown was appointed stake president.
The dedication of the first Mormon temple in Mexico occurred in Mexico City in 1983. In 1997, Church president Gordon B. Hinckley announced the building of smaller temples; one of the first of these was built in Colonia Juárez, Mexico and dedicated in 1999. This smaller design sped the growth of temple building in Mexico. By 2000, nine temples had been built, and in 2020 there are thirteen temples in Mexico with one under construction. By 1986, there were eight missions, eighty stakes, and over 300,000 members in Mexico. Three years later, in 1989, there were over one hundred stakes in Mexico. That same year, the Church appointed Horacio A. Tenorio, the first general authority of indigenous Mexican ancestry, to the Second Quorum of the Seventy. Tenorio had risen through the ranks of the Mormon hierarchy in Mexico, acting as a branch president, bishop, stake president, president of the Mexico Torreon Mission, and twice as a Regional Representative.
Elisa Eastwood Pulido is a historian of religion, with a PhD in Religious Studies from Claremont Graduate University. She taught World Religions at Brigham Young University, Salt Lake Center until 2019. She researches religion at the margins: race, gender, and religion; religion in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands; and Mormon studies. Her first book, The Spiritual Evolution of Margarito Bautista: Mexican Mormon Evangelizer, Polygamist Dissident, and Utopian Founder, 1878-1961, was published in March 2020 by Oxford University Press.
 Matthew Bowman, The Mormon People: The Making of a Faith (New York: Random House, 2012), 115; William H. Gonzalez and Orlando Rivera, “Hispanics of Utah,” Utah History Encyclopedia, https://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/about.shtml.
 F. LaMond Tullis, Mormons in Mexico: The Dynamics of Faith and Culture (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1997), 13; Barney T. Burns and Thomas H. Naylor, “Colonia Morelos: A Short History of a Mormon Colony in Sonora, Mexico,” Smoke Signals 27 (Spring 1973): 142.
 Tullis, Mormons in Mexico, 18, 20, 30–31.
 Bill Smith and Jared M. Tamez, “Plotino Rhodakanaty: Mormonism’s Greek Austrian Mexican Socialist,” in Just South of Zion: The Mormons in Mexico and Its Borderlands, ed. Jason H. Dormady and Jared Tamez (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2015), 55–56, 58–59, 62, 64–66.
 Smith and Tamez, 64–65.
 Tullis, Mormons in Mexico, 41.
 Ibid, 55.
 Ibid, 62.
 Simón Zúñiga, From the House of Joseph to the Land of Restoration (Denver: Bilingual Publications, 2010), 8.
 Barbara Brown Jones, “The 1910 Mexican Revolution and the Rise and Demise of Mormon Polygamy in Mexico,” in Just South of Zion, 26. The Reed Smoot hearings in the Senate in 1907 over the continued practice of polygamy by Mormons (Mormons in Mexico included), posed a challenge to Mormon polygamists in Mexico, but did not discontinue the practice. The largest factor in the discontinuance of most polygamy in Mexico was the forced exodus of Mormons in 1912 during the Mexican Revolution. Mormons who returned to the U.S. had to integrate with Mormons who had abandoned the practice for over twenty years, resulting in changing views and practices. See Brown, 27, 33.
 LeVon Brown Whetton, Colonia Juarez: Commemorating 125 Years of the Mormon Colonies in Mexico (Bloomington, AuthorHouse, 2010), 33-34.
 Elisa Eastwood Pulido, The Spiritual Evolution of Margarito Bautista: Mexica
Mormon Evangelizer, Polygamist Dissident and Utopian Founder (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020), 74.
 Tullis, Mormons in Mexico, 75, 77-78.
 “Rey Lucero Pratt,” Missionary Database, ChurchofJesusChrist.org, https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/missionary/individual/rey-lucero-pratt-1878?lang=eng
 Barbara Jones Brown, 29, “The 1910 Revolution and the Rise and Demise of Polygamy in Mexico,” in Just South of Zion: The Mormons in Mexico and Its Borderlands, edited by Jason H. Dormady and Jared M. Tamez (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2015). 29-30.
 Moroni Spencer de Olarte, “’Ya llegaron los de Tierra Fría . . . ’: Los colores del Zapatismo en la Región de los Volcanes, Estado de México” (Unpublished master’s thesis, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, August 2013), 68.
 F. Lamond Tullis, Martyrs in Mexico: A Mormon Story of Revolution and Redemption, (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2018), 67-68.
 Ignacio Garcia, “Book Review” review of Martyrs in Mexico: A Mormon Story of Revolution and Redemption, by F. Lamond Tullis, BYU Studies, https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/martyrs-mexico-mormon-story-revolution-and-redemption.
 Kathleen McIntyre, Contested Spaces: Protestantism in Oaxaca, 1920-1965. Dissertation, University of New Mexico, January 31, 2013, https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1053&context=hist_etds.
 Tullis, Mormons in Mexico, 103-104.
 Thomas Cottam Romney, The Mormon Colonies in Mexico, (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1938), 250.
 Jason H. Dormady, “Introduction: The Mormons in Mexico,” in Just South of Zion: 11-12; Timothy Miller, “The Historical Communal Roots of Ultraconservative Groups: Earlier American Communes That Have Helped Shape Today’s Far Right,” in The Cultic Milieu: Oppositional Subcultures in an Age of Globalization, ed. Jeffrey Kaplan and Heléne Lööw (Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press, 2002), 87.
 Pulido, The Spiritual Evolution of Margarito Bautista, 77; Betty Gibbs Ventura, The History of the Salt Lake Mexican Branch (Salt Lake City, 1998), 178-181; Turley and Christensen, 197. By 2017, 780 Latter-day Saint Spanish-speaking congregations existed in forty-one U.S. states. These church units are populated largely by Latin Americans in general, not only Mexicans.; Jason Swenson, “Humble Beginnings for Beloved Branch,” Church News, August 25, 2000, https://www.thechurchnews.com/archives/2000-08-26/humble-beginnings-for-beloved-branch-117871.
 Pulido, The Spiritual Evolution of Margarito Bautista, 81; Lamanite Genealogical Society, “History of the Origin of the Lamanite Genealogical Society, organized in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 13th, 1919.” Available at the Church History Library; Guadalupe Monroy, “Como Llego El Evangelio Restaurado al Pueblo de San Marcos, Tule de Allende, Estado de Hidalgo: He aqui la Historia escrito por I.,” 117. Available at the Church History Library.
 Matthew Butler, Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico’s Cristero Rebellion, (New York; Oxford University Press, 2004), 146.
 Tullis, Mormons in Mexico, 119, 125-127.
 Pulido, The Spiritual Evolution of Margarito Bautista, 161-163; Tullis, Mormons in Mexico, 117-118.
 Enrique Gonzalez, “Acta de la Convención,” Informe General de la Tercera Convención de los Miembros de la Iglesia de Jesu-Cristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Días Celebrada en Tecalco, México, el 21 de abril de 1936 y que fué enviado a la Primera Presidencia para su resolución, (Mexico, D.F.: Comite Directivo, August 1936), 18-19.
 “Informe de la Mesa Directiva de la 3a. Convención, a la Primera Presidencia,” Informe General de la Tercera Convención, (Mexico, D.F.: Comite Directivo, August 1936), 19; Tullis, Mormonism in Mexico, 148-149.
 Mexican Mission Records, May 6, 1937. Mexican Mission, Manuscript History and Historical Reports, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, LR 5506 2 v. 5 Box 2 folder 2 of 2, May 6-8, 1937.
 Elisa Eastwood Pulido, “Solving Schism in Nepantla: The Third Convention returns to the LDS Fold,” in Just South of Zion: The Mormons in Mexico and Its Borderlands,” edited by Jason H. Dormady and Jared M. Tamez. 281. Fernando R. Gómez, From Darkness to Light: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Lamanite Conventions (Mexico City: El Museo de Mormonismo en Mexico, A. C., 2004), 39.
 Pulido, ”Solving Schism in Nepantla,” 95-96.
 Charles W. Eastwood, Interview, interviewed by Elisa Eastwood Pulido, Redlands, California, August 10, 2014.
 Tullis, Mormons in Mexico, 157-158.
 Turley and Christensen, 184; Boanerges Rubalcava, “The Church in Mexico and Central America,” in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992, https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Mexico_and_Central_America,_the_Church_in
 Pulido, The Spiritual Evolution of Margarito Bautista, 186; Alma de Olarte, “Historia de la Colonia de la Nueva Jerusalén,” Written in Colonia Industrial/Nueva Jerusalén. Available in Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library.
 Jason Dormady, “Colonia Industrial Mexicana Nueva Jerusalén,” Secret History: Reflections on Latin America, October 13, 2009, http://latamreflections.blogspot.com/
 Moroni Spencer de Olarte, Interview, April 29, 2015.
 Dormady, “Introduction: The Mormons in Mexico,” 11.
 Pulido, 101.
 Esther L. Spencer, “History of Dayer LeBaron,” 71, Kirk Allen Watson Papers, University of Utah, Special Collections. 4
 D. Michael Quinn, “Plural Marriage and Mormon Fundamentalism,” in Fundamentalism and Society: Reclaiming the Sciences, the Family, and Education, ed. Martin E. Marty and Scott Appleby (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 247.
 Dormady, “Introduction: The Mormons in Mexico,” 11-12; “Tightknit Mormon Community Mourns Women and Children Killed in Horrific Attack in Mexico,” The Washington Post, November 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/11/05/every-family-is-affected-tight-knit-mormon-community-mourns-women-children-killed-northern-mexico/
 Tullis, Martyrs in Mexico, 134, 137.
 Rubalcava, https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Mexico_and_Central_America,_the_Church_in
 “Se celebra el último Aniversario del Centro Escolar Benemérito de las Américas,” Noticias, 20 Febrero 2013, laiglesiadejesucristo.org. https://noticias-mx.laiglesiadejesucristo.org/articulo/se-celebra-el-ultimo-aniversario-del-ceba
 President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Perpetual Education Fund,” Report of the 171st annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, May 2001, churchofjesuschrist.org. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2001/05/the-perpetual-education-fund?lang=eng; Turley and Christensen, 208.
 “Mexico,” Facts and Statistics, Newsroom, churchofjesuschrist.org, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/facts-and-statistics/country/mexico
 Agrícol Lozano Herrera, Historia del Mormonism en Mexico, (Mexico, D.F., Editorial Zarahemla, 1983), 96; Rubalcava, https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Mexico_and_Central_America,_the_Church_in
 Lozano, 96; Tullis, Mormons in Mexico, 159.
 Rubalcava, https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Mexico_and_Central_America,_the_Church_in
 Turley and Christensen, 191.
 Ibid, 196; “Temple List,” churchofjesuschrist.org, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/temples/list?lang=eng;
The Church Newsroom, Facts and Statistics, Mexico, “Country information: Mexico”, Deseret News Church Almanac (multiple almanacs from various years), Deseret News, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/facts-and-statistics/country/mexico
 Turley and Christensen, 196.
 “Elder Horacio A. Tenorio of the Second Quorum of the Seventy,” Church of Jesus Christ.org, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1989/05/news-of-the-church/elder-horacio-a-tenorio-of-the-second-quorum-of-the-seventy?lang=eng
 Marvin K. Gardner, “President Marion G. Romney, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1986/04/president-marion-g-romney-president-of-the-quorum-of-the-twelve-apostles?lang=eng.
 “Elder Jorge A. Rojas of the Seventy,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1991/05/news-of-the-church/elder-jorge-a-rojas-of-the-seventy?lang=eng.
 “Elder Benjamín de Hoyos,” General Authorities and General Officers, churchofjesuschrist.org, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/leader/benjamin-de-hoyos?lang=eng.
 “Elder Octavio Tenorio,” General Authorities and General Officers, churchofjesuschrist.org, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/leader/octaviano-tenorio?lang=eng.
 “Elder José L. Alonso,” General Authorities and General Officers, churchofjesuschrist.org, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/leader/jose-l-alonso?lang=eng.
 “Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela,” General Authorities and General Officers, ChurchofJesusChrist.org, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/leader/arnulfo-valenzuela?lang=eng.
 “Elder Moisés Villanueva,” Leader Biographies, ChurchofJesusChrist.org, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/elder-moises-villanueva.
 Turley and Christensen, 196.
 “Facts and Statistics, Mexico, Newsroom, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/facts-and-statistics/country/mexico.
 “Country information: Mexico”, Deseret News Church Almanac (multiple almanacs from various years), Deseret News. https://www.thechurchnews.com/archives/2010-01-29/country-information-mexico-67301.