Unholy Devotion

Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle ran a lengthy article about Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In “A Prophet in Purgatory” journalist Don Lattin examines Mr. Jeffs’ history, leadership and behavior as the Prophet-leader of the FLDS Church. A significant question asked by Mr. Lattin is this: “Will throwing the book at polygamist Warren Jeffs bust up his sect or be a boon to it?” In exploring possibilities, Mr. Lattin writes:

Breeding LoyaltyWarren Jeffs’ battle to practice polygamy and lead his earthly domain as he sees fit is just the latest chapter in the 150-year-old saga of Mormon polygamy in the West.

His sect — which also has members in Canada, Mexico, Texas and elsewhere in the United States — sees itself as the true continuation of a religious tradition dating back to the spiritual revelations and sexual lifestyle of Joseph Smith, the 19th century founder of the Mormon faith. In 1890, the mainline Mormon Church officially suspended the practice of polygamy in a deal that allowed the Utah Territory to join the United States. Today, the 12.3-million strong Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints excommunicates members who openly practice plural marriage.

But that does not stop an estimated 37,000 Latter-day Saints who see the taking of multiple wives as one of the central tenets of the Mormon religion.

One of them is Marvin Wyler, who cites Mormon scripture to back up his belief that Latter-day Saints must practice polygamy to rise into the upper reaches of heaven, where Mormons believe man can “be like God.”

“In order to obtain the highest level in the celestial kingdom you have to live in plural marriage,” Wyler said. “They (the mainline Mormon Church) gave that up. It was too hard for them.”

According to historians, Joseph Smith had taken 33 wives by the time he was murdered by an angry mob in Carthage, Ill., in 1844. Among those women taken as wives by the founding prophet were the already-married wives of his top male lieutenants, a practice anthropologists say can actually breed loyalty among the tribe.

It comes as no surprise that pressure and duress often act to strengthen groups rather than weaken them. We’ve seen it in Jonestown and we’ve seen it in Waco. It was evident in the early LDS Church, too. Even today the Mormon Church leverages a myth of continuing persecution to strengthen and unite Latter-day Saints in an us-against-them worldview — the same worldview fostered by Warren Jeffs among his own Latter-day Saints.

Another article about the FLDS Church appeared in today’s Salt Lake Tribune. “Guiding principles all-important for Jeffs” also notes the presence of strong loyalty among the members of Mr. Jeffs’ church. The article’s sub-title reads, “FLDS followers remain devoted despite strict guidelines that often separate their families.” Journalist Brooke Adams reports:

For three decades, first as a school principal and later as a sect prophet, Warren S. Jeffs has acted with a singular purpose: To prepare a perfect people for God.Jeffs has pursued that goal through unyielding standards and swift repercussions for those who don’t measure up in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a polygamous sect of about 6,000…

Despite the seeming harshness of his faith, the majority of Jeffs’ followers remain devoted to him and his 19th-century version of Mormonism.

He is seen, according to sources, as a modern-day John Taylor, the third president of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who spent two years in hiding to avoid prosecution for polygamy.

In the spring of 1880, nearly five years before going into hiding, John Taylor said at the Church’s 1880 General Conference:

“Has God given us a law? Yes! Have they made a law to punish us for obeying His law? Yes. All right we will get along and do the best we can, but we won’t forsake out god[;] and all those who are willing to abide by the law of god signify it by raising the right hand” (Deseret News Weekly, 12 May 1880; quoted in Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History, 115).

Later, while hiding out from Federal authorities in 1886, President John Taylor received the following revelation in response to his query about the possibility of the LDS Church giving up polygamy:

“All commandments that I give must be obeyed unless they are revoked by me or by my authority and how can I revoke an everlasting covenant for I the Lord am everlasting and my everlasting covenants cannot be abrogated nor done away with but they stand forever. I have not revoked this law nor will I for it is everlasting and those who will enter into my glory must obey the conditions thereof, even so amen” (John Taylor Letter File, LDS Archives; quoted in Mormon Polygamy, 128).

There sure are a lot of similarities between early Mormonism and the FLDS Church. It’s just as King Solomon said: “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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15 Responses to Unholy Devotion

  1. Anonymous says:

    There sure are a lot of similarities between early Mormonism and the FLDS Church.

    Hmmm… I guess really that can be said of most any religion. Afterall, all Christian sects (accept for the Mormons) are really apostate groups from the Catholic Church. (aka Protestants: Those who protested the Catholic church and started their own faith.)

    I’m not sure why you feel that statement has any meaning to it. That’s like saying, There sure are a lot of people who believe in Jesus Christ.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Even today the Mormon Church leverages a myth of continuing persecution to strengthen and unite Latter-day Saints in an us-against-them worldview

    Why do you call this a myth? This blog is one of many examples of the persecution the LDS Church faces. For further examination, if the persecution is a myth, then why would Illinois appologize to Mormon officials?

    I think the myth is in your mind. Just like some of the other things that are invented on this blog.

  3. Sharon says:

    Chuck wrote: “This blog is one of many examples of the persecution the LDS Church faces.”

    Last August I blogged about a Mormon who was outraged over the criticism the LDS Church received during the Sacramento Temple open house. This Mormon wrote, “[The critics] might be exercising their right to free speech, but their goal is to deny us our freedom to practice our religion. Shouldn’t all Americans be as outraged over [filtered profanity or slur]ism as over anti-Semitism?”

    I commented: “Is this [people handing out critical literature] a description of persecution? Should America be outraged over non-Mormons publicly questioning the theological claims of the LDS Church? Are the peaceful, respectful actions of LDS critics equivalent or comparable to anti-Semitism?”

    Obviously not. Chuck thinks Mormon Coffee is an example of “persecution.” To me, his assertion supports my thesis that the idea of continuing persecution against Mormonism is but a myth. Public disagreement or a public call to accountability is not persecution.

    Former Mormon Stacey Speck has written an insightful article (in 2002) on the topic of public accountability. I encourage you to read the whole article; in the meantime, here’s a short teaser excerpt:

    “Just as President Clinton must be held accountable for his behavior, so must the LDS Church. The fact that Mormonism is a religion does not alleviate this responsibility. Unlike the case of the secular office of president, the actions of the LDS Church require an even higher degree of accountability as it claims to be God’s representative on earth.”

  4. Anonymous says:

    You said: Public disagreement or a public call to accountability is not persecution.

    You cannot make things up about a religion, mingle it with half-truths, publish them in an open forum and call it a ‘public call to accountability.’ Let me remind you what the definition of presecute is:

    1. to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, esp. because of religion, race, or beliefs; harass persistently.
    2. to annoy or trouble persistently.

    That is exactly your intent. You want to criticise people of the mormon religion because they do not accept your beliefs. Let me quote from your parent organizations web site, it says your purpose is ‘to critically evaluate the differences between Mormonism and biblical Christianity‘.

    You also claim Our goal is not just to give compelling arguments that show Mormonism to be in error, but to be used by the Holy Spirit to see lives changed for God’s glory.

    How can you call this blog inspired by the holy spirit? God does not teach people to act like you are acting. You know in your heart the whole purpose of this blog is to persecute the LDS belief system. So why not the Catholics? Why not the Jews? Why not the Muslims? Why not the Atheists? Nearly everything on this blog is a direct attack to Mormons.

    Listen, I believe in free speech as much as the next person, but I also feel its wrong to attack someone because of their religion; unless it directly affects the freedoms of other individuals. And that is exactly what this blog is doing, attacking the mormon religion because of their beliefs.

    Rick has made mention on this blog of false prophets, wolves in sheeps clothing, this is a prime example of wolf in sheeps clothing. You can keep telling yourself you are not persecuting, but you are trying to tell the world that blue is really red. You cannot hide the fact of the matter. You can quote all the outside sources you want. You can attempt to sugar coat the issue by saying you are trying to hold the mormons accountable. But any way you slice it, when you bash on a religion, it is persecution.

    And that is why this blog is a blog of persecution, and you still want to call that a myth?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Chuck, were Joseph Smith and Brigham Young persecuting Christians when they talked about the “Great Apostasy”, or when they said the LDS Church is the only true church? Are Mormons persecuting Christians when they belittle “sectarian” ministers in the Temple ceremony? You have the right to question the tenets of Christianity just like we have the right to question the LDS Church. The fact that you are so defensive suggests that this blog hits a little to close to home for you.

  6. Anonymous says:

    No where in the LDS faith are we taught to persecute anyone because of their religion. It’s ludicrous to believe that it’s ok to stand behind Christianity as your defence to persecute another religion. I think it is absolutely paramount that people question other religions. But that is not what is happening here. The purpose of this blog is clear. Even when a mormon answers a question, they continue to criticise. No answer is ever good enough. Not to mention, they take the answers of ex-members and people who know mormons as doctrine over what active members and the prophets say. You call that questioning? There is a big difference between questions and criticism. They are out to smear the LDS Religion any way they can. If they hear a story, however they can relate it to the Mormons, they will. Take this post for example. The LDS Church has nothing to do with the FLDS Church. So if that is a fair statement, then why did you fundamentalist catholics leave the cathalic church and make up your own religion?

    Of course it hits close to home. Anyone who is presecuted with defend themselves. Nobody should be treated like that because of their religion. You would be defensive too if people were slandering and spreading lies and rumors about you and your beliefs. If I started slapping your family around, would you be defensive or just let me do it? You already know the answer to that. So why does it suprise you? Do you really believe I should just take it? Would you?

    I find it interesting that Jesus said preach my Gospel, and all this blog can do (as most blogs like it) is find ways to criticise the mormon religion. That isn’t preaching. That isn’t the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s not what Jesus taught at all. Preaching is sharing the truth of the gospel with the world. If you have the truth, why do you have to tear down another religion to get your point across? Why do you have to attack? Jesus never did. The LDS Church doesn’t.

    The LDS Church sends out missionaries to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They don’t do that by bashing other religions on everything they find erroneous.

    You can choose to be offended by the fact that the LDS Church is the true church of Jesus Christ as he established while in the flesh. That is completely different from what is being written of here.

    So craig, I ask you. If I started a blog bashing your family, criticising everything you did, lied about you, and compared you to things that are intended to portray you in a bad light falsely, you are telling me you wouldn’t care? What would you suggest?

  7. Anonymous says:

    read 1 nephi 14:10 “Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.”
    According to Mormonism, God said this. Chuck here is one example of God, not Jesus calling people names in regaurd to my other reply.

    Then, you talk about us persucting you, but LDS do not do that to us, what about this? I quote B Young: “with a regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called christian world” (Journal of Discourses 8:199). I quote 3rd president John Taylor (Brigham Young quotes Mr Taylor) “brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell, the eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and kicked onto the earth” (J.o.D 6:176). I quote Heber C. Kimball “christians-those poor, miserable priests brother Brigham was speaking about-some of them are the biggest whoremasters there are on the earth. Yep you guys never do anything wrong. Rick b

  8. Anonymous says:

    Rick, again, there is a difference between truth and fiction.

    Are you telling me that there is more than one true church? Will you tell which ones they are? It says in Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism.

    So where is it? Who has the right one? If this scripture you quote is God calling names (heaven forbid he offend the followers of satan), then where is the true church as Jesus Christ established? If you claim to have the truth, then how does this affect you. God isn’t calling his children names, he is chiding satan. Do you disagree?

    Let see… Next, you said, quoting Heber C. Kimball :some of them are the biggest whoremasters there are on the earth. Again, truth is not persecution.

    For example, what is this about.

    Church forces out Haggard for ‘sexually immoral conduct’
    .

    You wouldn’t call that a whoremaster? Wow! I have heard of liberal views, but certainly every christian believes that homosexuality is a sin, don’t they? It says so right in the bible. So how is the truth persecution?

    To clarify, persecution means:
    to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, esp. because of religion, race, or beliefs; harass persistently.

    How is something these prophets said years ago persuing with harassing or oppresive treatment; harassing persistently? Can you explain how these quotes even qualify as persuing with harassing or oppresive treatment; harassing persistently?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Chuck, You claim us Non-LDS Who feel you are wrong in Doctrine, and we tell you why, and supply the Doctrine and issues is a form of Persuction towards you. So using your Logic, I simply quoted from your Prophets.

    Then you ramble on about Homosexuals, and you say You wouldn’t call that a whoremaster? Wow! I have heard of liberal views, but certainly every christian believes that homosexuality is a sin, don’t they? It says so right in the bible. So how is the truth persecution?

    As far as your quote here goes Are you telling me that there is more than one true church? Will you tell which ones they are? It says in Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism.

    If your trying to imply because their are many demonations with in the Christian Church, theirfore were wrong, what About the RLDS, or THE FLDS, And the Prophet who Uses Your Word of God, D and C 132 to support his view and takes many wives and marries little girls. What was that about the one true Church you were saying?

    Remember, this guy uses your Scripture, and it was YOUR PROPHET JS and his god and your god who did give the prophet the revelation of D and C 132. rick b

    You imply I said or teach this. I never said this, you did, please dont put words in my mouth saying I said things I never did. That my little friend is called Deception. You want to be viewed as a deciver?

  10. Anonymous says:

    You said: you claim us Non-LDS Who feel you are wrong in Doctrine, and we tell you why, and supply the Doctrine and issues is a form of Persuction towards you.

    So where is the doctrine? You have yet to show me any.

    What you did say is the equivalent of saying, “Followers of Satan were once Christians. So now you as a christian are associated with Satan.” How rediculous. Just because an apostate group breaks off from the LDS Church does not mean they are lumped in with the LDS Church, although your demagogy would try to lead people to believe that. They are not denominations of the LDS Church. They are apostate groups. There is a big difference. Do I need to define apostate?

    As far an them using our scriptures, you use them too. You quote from the Book of Mormon and the D&C all the time. Are you now saying you are affiliated with our religion too?

    Just answer the question without the rhetoric Rick. You can continue to avoid the question, but I will continue to ask until you answer. You can skirt the issue and dance around, continually thowing out rhetoric and demagogy that has nothing to do with the subject, and that is fine. But to the question at hand:

    How is something these prophets said years ago persuing with harassing or oppresive treatment; harassing persistently? Can you explain how these quotes even qualify as persuing with harassing or oppresive treatment; harassing persistently?

    I understand, you cannot answer, because it’s not! It is completely different than the intentions of blogs like this one, and you know it.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Chuck, read what I wrote, I did answer your question, you simply dont like my answer. then about the issue of, show us our error, these blogs and websites are full of the problems we find in the LDS church. if you wont read the issues we right about on our various blogs, webites and book, then I cannot help you. Rick b

  12. Anonymous says:

    See, just answer the question Rick? Waht are you afraid of. Show me the truth. Don’t give up.

    How is something these prophets said years ago persuing with harassing or oppresive treatment; harassing persistently? Can you explain how these quotes even qualify as persuing with harassing or oppresive treatment; harassing persistently?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Chuck,
    You believe what you want to, your just going to simply ignore all the facts to believe what you want. THis is my last reply to this topic, no matter what your reply is.

    The Bible is clear, it is both used for correcting error, showing truth, and helping the lost find salvation. If the Bible tells us, we can rebuke people, we must search the scriptures, and we are to turn sinners from the error of their ways, then I will do so.

    You claim people like me and blogs like this persecute you. Tell us how with very detailed examples. EVen the BOM says to search the scriptures. Jesus and the apostles told us, not to be ignorant, and not to believe every spirit or wind of doctrine.

    I myself, show LDS and people in general what I feel are problems with mormonism, and problems with contradictions. You claim this is persecution.

    I am no more persecuting you. from doing as the scriptures tell me, than BY and others were persecuting me for saying what they did, that was my point. I strongly believe you understand fully my answer, you just don’t like my answer.

    THen, lets remember, Why is it, ok, for the LDS to tell me I am wrong in what I believe, as I showed with the examples of BY and Others.

    Then, in the 1958 edition of mormon doctrine, (I own a copy of the origanal) Bruce M, said such evil hateful things, they needed to issue a sanitized version, and the LDS bend over backwards to distance themselves from what he said.

    Why is it OK, for LDS to knock of my door, tell me what I believe is wrong and when I do that with them, they cry persecution?

    Don’t tell me, the LDS don’t tell me what I believe is wrong. First off, BY and others did already with the Verses I quoted, Bruce M also said so, in the book Mormon doctrine. The BoM teaches their is only one true Church, So simply by default, you tell me if I don’t belong to your Church I am not part of the true Church. So in a not so bold way, LDS claim I and others are wrong.

    Chuck, you said
    Let see… Next, you said, quoting Heber C. Kimball :some of them are the biggest whoremasters there are on the earth. Again, truth is not persecution.

    You said: Truth is not persecution! If I purposely spread lies, that is one thing, but to say for example, Hey everyone, Joseph Smith made a rather bold claim, He said, THe book of mormon IS the Word Of God, And JS said, a man can get nearer to God by reading the BoM over any other Book. Yet I come along and say, if this really is true, give me a list of ten things found in the BoM not found in the Bible that will get me nearer to God as your Prophet Said, tell me why their are at least 10 Major core Doctrines not found in the BoM and why their are at least 4,000 changes made to the most Correct book of any. No LDS as of yet has given me the list I asked for, you know why Chuck? Because it is not possible to do so.

    I challange you to supply that list, I bet you either will simply ignore my challange or make up a really good story as to why you cannot, but you wont provide the list of TEN THINGS TAUGHT IN THE BoM that are not taught in the bible that will get me nearer to god as JS said.

    Then you come along and say, Rick your a liar. Explain how I just lied, It is well documented within the LDS church that JS said these things and their are 4,000 changes to the BoM. I spoke the truth, you don’t like it, so you cry PERSECUTION, THEIR PERSCUTING ME, BOO HOO, BOO HOO. Should I give you a pacifier and blankey and put you down for a nap, chuck? Rick b (Not one to shy away from being BOLD).

  14. Anonymous says:

    Rick. You feel trapped. That is why you replied the way you did. That’s not being BOLD… it’s called avoidance.

    You said provide the list of TEN THINGS TAUGHT IN THE BoM that are not taught in the bible.

    Do you realize what you are saying? You are saying exactly what the Mormons have been saying since the Book of Mormon has been made available. It teaches the same things found in the Bible. We have been asking for years for somone to show a teaching in the book of mormon that is not found in the bible to try to discredit it. So you are right! I cannot provide a list of 10 things taught in the Book of Mormon that are not found in the bible because the teachings are the same as the Bible! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the same. You have, as a Christian, testified that the Book of Mormon is not any different than the Bible. This provides evidence that it is true. If that is not the case, then you provide 10 differences. If you cannot, then the Book of Mormon stands true.

    The Book of Mormon, being scripture, will help man come closer to God because it helps to clarify the Doctrine of the Gospel.

    So you are right and correct when you say No LDS as of yet has given me the list I asked for, you know why Chuck? Because it is not possible to do so. No non-LDS has been able to do it either! BECAUSE IT’S TRUE! (How’s that for being BOLD).

    As for the changes, it says right in the front of the Book of Mormon:
    And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God…

    There have been changes to the Bible too. For centuries the bible has been changed, retranslated, etc. You know that as well as anyone (or at least you should). So why should the Book of Mormon be any different. Joseph Smith did not say “It’s the only PERFECT book in the world.” He said it is “the most correct of any book on earth and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than any other book.” You again can misinterpret that, with your limited understanding, to mean he is saying the the book is PERFECT. But that is not what he is saying.

    As for the changes you bring up. Quoting your very words from your blog, you said: Then their are some verses in the JST where their is only one single letter added or on single word changed, and it still works out to saying the same exact thing.

    anyone simply could argue in favor of either version that the single letter added or removed is nothing more than a typo

    So why the big hoopla about the changes? The changes were just that. Nothing changed the Doctrine. Corrections of mis-spellings, puncuation, etc. C’mon Rick, you can’t have it both ways. Either it is significant, or it is not. Which is it?

    As far as this being your last post on the subject, that is called surrender. You give up. That’s ok. The truth is hard to disprove. I would give up too, if I were you.

    I answer your questions and continue to provide feedback, but all I get from you is demagogy. You have yet to show any error; nothing founded to provide. You simply jump from point to point trying to make an arguent that exists only in your mind.

    You said You claim people like me and blogs like this persecute you. Tell us how with very detailed examples. EVen the BOM says to search the scriptures.

    Are you even reading the same blog? This entire blog is put together to criticise mormons. That’s their words, not mine. You call that showing error? Is that how Jesus taught, by criticising people? That’s not searching the scriptures.

    So I pose my question again. And you will continue to avoid a response like you always do.

    How is something these prophets said years ago persuing with harassing or oppresive treatment; harassing persistently? Can you explain how these quotes even qualify as persuing with harassing or oppresive treatment; harassing persistently?

    But, since the best you can do is refer to juvenile taunting as boldness, I understand now that your postings match the depth of your intelligence. That’s ok. I won’t hold it against you.

  15. Anonymous says:

    If I was Satan, I would carefully lead people into thinking that they were following the doctrines of Jesus when in reality they were really following my own doctrines that I would have them believe.

    Can anyone here grasp that and follow the logic?

    And BTW, Warren Jeffs is not LDS. There are no factions of the LDS church. You would have to be a fool to link Mr. Jeffs’ behavior with the doctrine of the LDS church. RLDS and FLDS and if there are others are no more affiliated with the true LDS church than Catholic or Baptist, etc.

    So many fallacies, so little time…

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