Inside the Cult: Ruth, Mark, Joni

Inside the Cult: Ruth, Mark, Joni
Dr. Phil and Jay investigate a bizarre religious town where polygamy is permitted.

Ruth grew up in Colorado City, and is now in a polygamous marriage in Canada. As one of more than 12 wives, she says it's great to know the other women her husband is sleeping with.


"Help me understand this," Dr. Phil asks her.

"I chose the situation I'm in," says Ruth, who got married when she was 20.

Asked about girls as young as 14 who are forced to marry, she says, "I know when I grew up, that was not the norm. That was something that started to take place after the year 2000."

Ruth won't disclose exactly how many wives her husband has, but reveals it's more than 12 and less than 20.

"So between 12 and 20 wives living with one man, can y'all get him to do anything?" Dr. Phil jokes.

Dr. Phil surmises their viewpoint: "The power resides with the women because you outnumber him so much. It's not that you're being exploited; you in fact are in control."


"Definitely," says Ruth. "I feel like I'm in control. At the same time, I have a great deal of love and respect for my husband. But I feel free to make my own choices."

Dr. Phil reminds Ruth that it's against the law to have multiple wives.

"I feel like polygamy should be decriminalized. I don't necessarily think it should be legalized, but I think it should be decriminalized. And the reason is polygamy does not equal abuse. We have a lot of functional families that are raising their children with choice. We don't deserve that stigma," she says.

Ruth has six children, which is about the average for each wife. Dr. Phil does the math: If there's an average of 15 wives with six kids each, that would be 90 children. Ruth explains they don't all live under one roof, but they are all one family.

When Ruth's husband was excommunicated from the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints church, she decided to leave with him, rather than be assigned to another husband by Warren Jeffs.

"Which is a common practice," says Jay. "If a man does something wrong, he's thrown out and all his children and wives are assigned another man."

Dr. Phil introduces Ruth's nieces, Nola and Julia. Nola was 18 when she married. She is the only wife her husband has at this point, but she expects him to take more wives "if that opportunity should arise." Julia also got married when she was 18, and she's the only wife.

"If he has the opportunity to take another bride, is that going to happen?" Dr. Phil asks Julia.

"I would accept that," says Julia, who grew up in a polygamist community. "I love my family. I had five mothers and it was great. I enjoyed my childhood."