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.