SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A new church essay says Mormon church founder Joseph Smith had a teenage bride and was married to other men's wives during the early days of the faith when polygamy was practiced.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says most of Smith's wives were adults, but one was a 14-year-old girl who was the daughter of Smith's close friends. Research shows the marriage might not have involved sex.
It's the first time the church has officially acknowledged those facts, although it has not denied previous reports by historians.
Church officials note that while inappropriate by today's standards, marriage among teenage girls was legal and somewhat common during that time.
The essay posted this week is part of a recent push by the Salt Lake City-based religion to explain or expand on sensitive issues within the faith, including its past ban on black men in the lay clergy.
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — The attorney for the victim of a sex offender says any assets and inheritance the man has may be seized to settle a $1.8 million civil judgment stemming from five years of abuse.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Someone drove up a ramp near the Oklahoma Capitol steps overnight and into a disputed granite monument of the Ten Commandments, smashing it to pieces in an apparent act of vandalism, authorities said.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. George Brown said the person abandoned the car and fled the scene after destroying the monument Thursday night, and that investigators are searching the sedan for clues. He said he didn't know if there were any witnesses, but that investigators are reviewing security video.
The 6-foot-tall monument was erected in 2012 with the blessing of Oklahoma's conservative Legislature. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma has been suing to have it removed, arguing that it violates the state constitution and could be seen as a state endorsement of a religion.
"We consider this an act of violence against the state of Oklahoma," said Republican state Rep. Mike Ritze, of Broken Arrow, whose family spent nearly $10,000 having the monument erected. "We are obviously shocked and dismayed, but we're not discouraged," he said, vowing to have it rebuilt.
Gov. Mary Fallin called it an "appalling" act of vandalism and volunteered to help raise private funds to restore it.
The ACLU sued on behalf of a Norman minister and others who allege the monument's location violates the state constitution's ban on using public property to support "any sect, church, denomination or system of religion."
A judge ruled last month that the monument does not violate the state constitution, and ACLU attorneys filed an appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Ryan Kiesel, the ACLU of Oklahoma's executive director, said he and his clients are "outraged" that the monument was vandalized.
"To see the Ten Commandments desecrated by vandals is highly offensive to them as people of faith," Kiesel said.
The monument's placement has led others to seek their own on the Capitol grounds, including a satanic group that earlier this year unveiled designs for a 7-foot-tall statue of Satan. Other requests have been made from a Hindu leader in Nevada and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
HONG KONG (AP) — Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong plan to hold a spot referendum Sunday on whether to stay in the streets or accept government offers for more talks and clear their protest camps.
The three main groups behind the demonstrations said Thursday they would register public opinion at the main downtown protest site, where thousands remain camped out.
Hong Kong's government has offered to submit a report to the central government noting the protesters' unhappiness with a Beijing-dictated plan to have a 1,200-person committee pick candidates for the city's top leader in 2017 elections.
Protesters say the committee is weighted toward the central government's preferences and should be scrapped or at least reformed to better represent the Asian financial capital of 7.2 million people.
Hong Kong officials have also offered to hold regular dialogue with protesters about democratic reforms if they end their nearly monthlong demonstrations, which have occupied streets in three of the city's busiest areas.
The Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the main organizers behind the protests, has already rejected the government offer but still called for the Sunday referendum.
A spokeswoman for Occupy Central with Peace and Love, another protest group behind the referendum, said the ballot's language and more details would be released later.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the protests began, Tung Chee-hwa, the city's first chief executive after its 1997 transition from British to Chinese rule, said Friday that the protesters' demands were not realistic and that they should accept a longer timeline for electoral reforms.
"Students, I hope you listen to what this old man is saying," the 77-year-old said in a news conference. "It's time to go home."