Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mormons and Fundamentalist Mormons -- Not Even Kissing Cousins

Ever since Texas authorities marched in and raided the compound owned by the FLDS Church, the media has been having a heyday with stories about strange religious practices, polygamy, teenage pregnancy, child rape, on and on. While they are covering these stories and investigating the cases, I can see that the reporters are tired, probably staying up late to meet their deadlines, and I can see that mistakes will be made. However, there is one mistake that is being repeatedly made that they must stop – they keep referring to the compound as being owned by the LDS Church, and that the people who are being arrested are LDS. No, folks, that would be FLDS. Note the use of that first initial.

The LDS Church, to which I belong, has absolutely nothing to do with that compound out in Texas. Those aren’t our members out there being arrested. Those aren’t our four hundred children being farmed out to foster care. Sure, we care what happens to them as they are part of the human family, but we are not brothers and sisters in the Gospel. The LDS Church and the FLDS Church are two entirely different organizations.

There are those who have said that the two religions are so close, they might as well be the same. Umm . . . that would be said by people with very little knowledge into the beliefs and practices of the two religions. Many of the FLDS congregations live in seclusion, have very little contemporary education (many don’t even know that man landed on the moon) read only books written by their leaders (Warren Jeff’s followers didn’t read the Book of Mormon or the Bible for their scriptures – they read books written by Jeffs) wear old-fashioned clothing, believe that a woman’s entire place in this world is to have children, rarely associate with those outside their own church, and view the outside world as a scary and unsafe place. People of the LDS religion go to college, hold degrees, teach at universities all over the world, study all forms of books, read both the Book of Mormon and the Bible, wear modern clothing, associate freely with people of all religions, and while we do have children, we as LDS women are encouraged to learn, grow, educate ourselves, and be people every bit as interesting and well-rounded as our husbands. These are all outward things – I haven’t even touched on doctrinal differences – but this is a pretty long list of just simple ways in which we are very, very different.

The Fundamentalist Church has sometimes been said to be an offshoot from the LDS Church. It calls itself the Fundamentalist Latter-day Saint Church or Mormon Fundamentalist Church. However, when we go back to the roots of the FLDS Church, we see that they aren’t connected even that remotely. From the Mormon Fundamentalist website, which was set up to educate people as to the origins of the FLDS Church, we learn that after the early LDS Church leaders stopped practicing polygamy, a man named Wooley came forth and, I quote: professed that the authority to solemnize new plural marriages was held by men who were not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The site goes on to say that all branches of Mormon Fundamentalism are traced back to Wooley. Let’s rephrase that just for clarity: The man who started the Fundamentalist movement began it by saying that men in the LDS Church don’t have the authority to practice polygamy, but he did. Right there, in black and white, you have it – the FLDS Church was started by disavowing the LDS authority to practice polygamy, therefore, the FLDS Church is not claiming any relation to the LDS Church. From the horse’s mouth, folks. We say we’re not related, the man who started the Fundamentalists says we’re not related –

We’re not related.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not support, approve, or agree with anything that has been done by the Fundamentalist Latter-day Saint Church. We do not practice modern day polygamy. We do not marry off our daughters in their teens. We do not hold our children back in their education and brainwash them into only knowing the things we want them to know. We do not worship our leaders, but rather, respect them. We have families, but we do not consider that to be the full extent of the worth of a woman’s creation.

I would dearly love it if every broadcaster, journalist, and blogger in the media today could somehow get it into their heads that they are confusing two entirely different churches when they confuse the LDS and the FLDS churches. I would love it if people would stop blaming the Mormons for the mess in Texas – wrong people.

I fully admit that us Mormons are a pretty strange people and I’m not asking the world at large to believe everything we do. I’m just asking that people get their terminology straight and make sure they’re talking about the right group of people. Understanding, folks, that’s all I want. I’m not trying to convert you—I’m just trying to help spread around a little understanding.

30 comments:

Lynne said...

Very interesting post, Tristi. Thanks for the information.

Luisa Perkins said...

Hear, hear, Tristi!

Karen said...

This was very informative. I knew that the two groups have no connection now, but assumed that they had been linked in the past. Just another example of how dangerous it can be to depend on the media for our education!

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Tristi

Excellent post! You did a fantastic job of showing the differences between the two churches and how they are, in fact, not related at all. I may be sending some friends links to this post. Thanks for answering this in a much better way than I ever could have!

East of Eden said...

This was really a good post. I haven't heard too many mistakes by the media out here, but I will say that it drives me crazy when they say "fundamentalist Mormons" etc. I read on another blog today someone questioning if the FLDS read the BoM and used the LDS media materials. I know some of the polygamist groups, like the one in Manti, still use the DC, BoM and the current hymn book in their worship services. I also read a commentary that before Rulon Jeffs (the father of Warren) took over the FLDS they were more mainstream, allowed to listen to music, dance, read outside books etc. Apparenly when Warren took over it got even more restrictive.

Anyway, they're all a bunch of loonies in my book!

Anne Bradshaw said...

Great post, Tristi. Except for the bit about us being strange people :-) Depends how you define strange. Peculiar maybe--in the sense that we stick to high moral principles, and really do strive to love others unconditionally in a world that generally goes the opposite way--but not strange as in odd/weird. No, not that.

Karlene said...

We also dance and sing, cut our hair, wear makeup, paint our nails, watch TV and go to movies, listen to the radio... the list could go on soooo long.

Queen of Chaos said...

WE'RE SO NOT RELATED!

This junk in Texas is really going to add further confusion for us LDS folks. GRRRRRRRR
Don't ya just love Satan? {I wanna ring his neck right about now!}

Dan and Wendy said...

Using the media's logic can I start referring to Lutherans as Fundamentalist Catholics?

Tristi Pinkston said...

Anne, I think it all depends on the individual Mormon. As a group we might not be all that strange, but as for me personally, I am very, very strange. :)

Dan, go for it! See what happens, I'll be curious!

Kimberly said...

Brilliant post, Tristi! Informative but not hostile. Mind if I link to it?

Tristi Pinkston said...

Sure, Kimberly -- link away.

Jennie said...

Excellent post, Tristi. I've read quite a few posts on other sites on this subject and some of them are really pathetic. I appreciate someone who knows what she's talking about and who didn't insult anyone in the process of presenting a well-researched, informative essay. I noticed another major difference on your blog too---the comments are written by people who seem to know the fundamental elements of the English language; they can spell and they know something about grammar as well as having and sharing opinions.

berlinwritergirl said...

Thanks for the post. We are reading Escape right now for book club and I definitely don't want people linking me to the FLDS.

Framed said...

Like Karen, I always assumed the FLDS were a splinter group from the LDS church. Thanks for a very insightful post.

Corrine said...

thanks for writing that very well written and explained, wish I had read this yesterday before sitting in the dentist's chair for 2 .5 hours getting a crown as he asked about this whole mess, expecting me to answer while drilling away at my nasty tooth.

Corrine said...

i hope you don't mind that I also post a link to your article..thanks

Tristi Pinkston said...

Wow, Corinne -- he should have given you novacaine for the uncomfortable questions, too! :)

Jen said...

THANK YOU Tristi!

I linked to your article as well.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I am so gald you wrote this. Now if I am asked I can just give them the link to this article.

Rebecca said...

Found this from Jen's post. Very informative and well written! I hope many people read this and become informed properly.

zen = running in circles, right? said...

Very well written post! While I was aware that the two werent remotely related, I have heard (just today actually) someone make a reference to the two. Sadly, this means there are many uninformed people still out there. Mind if I link you?

Tristi Pinkston said...

Sure, Zen, link away.

violetlady said...

I am catching up on everyone's blogs. I have been thinking about your opinion on this entire FLDS thing. Thank you for sharing the real information, Tristi.

Belladonna said...

WELL DONE my friend. This is important work.

Anna Maria Junus said...

Great post!

I had always assumed that this was a group that splintered when WW abolished polygamy.

Thanks for clearing this up.

Don Mills Diva said...

Here via Jen's blo - very interesting post - thank you.

Carrie said...

To be fair, the reason people associate the two groups is because the FLDS believe pretty much EXACTLY what Joseph and Brigham taught.

When you call them weird and strange and freaky - you're pointing that finger right at Joseph. Might want to watch what you say when you call them sick.

And no, I'm not FLDS, LOL.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Carrie,

I didn't call anyone weird, freaky or sick. That's putting words in my mouth. And the only time I used the word "strange" was when I referred to the perception the world has of Mormons. I understand that you're concerned that people not be mislabled, but I didn't do that.

Additionally, yes, the FLDS Church does teach many of the same things as taught by Brigham and Joseph, but they picked and chose what to follow and what to discard. They discarded quite a bit.

Amanda said...

You know, living in Texas, I've never once heard anything about that compound as being related at all to the LDS church. With every single news article on TV, the announcers ALWAYS say FLDS and never LDS, and the majority of the time they mention that the FLDS religion has "no relation to the mainstream LDS (Mormon) church, which renounced poligamy" X-years ago. If people not in the know are making a connection between the two here, it's not because of the media. Well, at least not the channel I watch. I suppose one of the other channels might be bad.

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