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St. George market bans woman’s book on polygamy

ST. GEORGE, Utah — For a full year at a weekend market outside St. George, Kristyn Decker sold signed copies of her book about growing up in polygamy for $15 a copy.

Then organizers asked her to stop. They were getting complaints about graphic parts of “Fifty Years in Polygamy: Big Secrets and Little White Lies.”

The organizers said the book doesn’t fit the family-friendly nature of the Tuacahn Saturday Market, where vendors sell arts, crafts and food under white shade tents tucked inside a red-rock amphitheater just north of St. George.

Decker “is a really sweet lady, and I wish her luck with her book, but this isn’t a platform for her,” market organizer Chris Graham told The Spectrum of St. George.

“Our mission statement isn’t to promote causes,” Graham said. “We wouldn’t intentionally have a booth for Republicans or Democrats. Our theme and mission statement market is it’s fun for families. We have pony rides and camel rides; it’s like Disneyland.”

Decker, now 60 and remarried, said she warns readers that a few pages of her book are devoted to sexual abuse that started when she was molested by a doctor at age 7. The abuse continued from a stepbrother until she was 11, when she finally learned to say no, she said.

But the 270-page book is largely an account of her life of religious submission, poverty and depression — until she broke free.

“My book should be considered No. 1 family friend because I’m advocating against abuses,” said Decker, now president of the Hope Organization, dedicated to helping others leave polygamy.

Decker told The Associated Press on Friday that she doesn’t expect to be invited back to the Tuacahn (TOO’-a-khan) Market but has other ways of promoting her cause. She said she has sold thousands of copies of her book and plans a longer version of her life story.

She believes complaints from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on the Utah-Arizona border forced her from the St. George market.

Once, a woman in a prairie dress stopped in front of her booth “and told people my book was all lies and that it didn’t happen,” she told The Spectrum.

Decker’s book is the latest in a recent series from women who have escaped Utah’s history of polygamy, which gain a larger profile after authorities cracked down ahead of the 2002 Winter Olympics. The polygamous lifestyle has captured extensive media coverage, together with HBO’s “Big Love,” TLC’s “Sister Wives” and the latest televised series, National Geographic Channel’s “Polygamy USA.”

Decker says she came from polygamous “royalty.” She was born and raised in Utah’s second-largest polygamous community, the Apostolic United Brethen, operating in Salt Lake City suburb of Bluffdale.

She was a daughter of Owen Allred, who ascended to prophet of the brethren in 1977 after the assassination of his brother, Rulon Allred, by a rival polygamous sect. The mainstream Mormon church disavowed polygamy more than a century ago as a condition of statehood for Utah.

At 17, Decker married an independent polygamist with no connection to the Allred group. They had seven children. She ended the marriage in 2002, earned college degrees, became a Head Start instructor, launched self-help groups and eventually the Hope Organization.

Idaho resident Bob Stokes said he and his wife drove to St. George to purchase Decker’s book when they discovered she was no longer allowed to sell copies there.

In a world of more objectionable material — from video games to TV shows and movies — Stokes said he couldn’t fathom why the market banned Decker’s book.

“If the public library can show her book or put her book out to read with a warning on it saying it may not be family friendly, then it should be OK,” Stokes told The Spectrum.

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Information from: The Spectrum, http://www.thespectrum.com

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