FLDS and LDS Express Complaints

A couple of interesting stories appeared over the weekend in the Salt Lake Tribune and in Deseret News. Both are related to the FLDS situation that continues to dominate headlines these days.

The Salt Lake Tribune article is an opinion piece written by Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint Maggie Jessop. She begins, “So, you want to hear from the FLDS women, huh? OK, you asked for it.” Mrs. Jessop writes with biting sarcasm in an effort to debunk the media stereotype of FLDS “uneducated, underprivileged, information-deprived, brainless, spineless, poor, picked-on, dependent, misled class of women identified as ‘brain-washed.'” A couple of Mrs. Jessop’s arguments sound somewhat familiar to me. Consider this:

“I have never been guilty of intentionally breaking the law, never been in a courtroom, never even spoken to an attorney.

“In the face of the holocaust going on, most people want to know the truth, right? Well, do you get truth from liars? Come on, John Doe-Head, do you revel in crude and erroneous sensationalism? What kind of a person are you, anyway? Isn’t it better to get the truth from those who really know?

“…I have broken no law. I have never abused my children. I have injured no one in the choices I have made.”

I’d like to mention two observations regarding Mrs. Jessop’s article. The first is her interesting claim of being innocent of intentionally breaking the law. Though illegal activities allegedly take place regularly in the FLDS community (“spiritual” marriage of young girls to older men, sexual assault of children, polygamy, etc.), as a representative of FLDS women, Mrs. Jessop suggests they are, nevertheless, guiltless. This reminds me of an 1844 public declaration by LDS Prophet Joseph Smith, then husband of thirty-four women:

“What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.

“I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them [his accusers] all perjurers” (History of the Church 6:411).

Classic Ford Hood OrnamentAnother observation about Mrs. Jessop’s article has to do with her assertion that the only place to get accurate information about the FLDS is from the FLDS themselves. I can almost hear her say, as I so often hear Latter-day Saints say, “You wouldn’t go to a Chevy dealer to get accurate information about a Ford, would you?”

I find this type of cultural similarity between the FLDS and the LDS intriguing. Are Latter-day Saints able to see the parallels? If so, does it cause them to ponder these things in their hearts and minds?

I’m saddened to think that Mormons probably can’t see themselves at all in the FLDS story. They are too distracted by a concentrated effort to make sure nobody draws any comparison between LDS and FLDS — which brings me to the Deseret News.

Joseph A. Cannon wrote a Deseret News editorial for Sunday (May 11, 2008) titled, “Adoption of FLDS name is akin to identity theft.” Here Mr. Cannon argues that it is not only improper to join the word “Mormon” to “Fundamentalist,” but that is also wrong to join “Fundamentalist” to “Latter Day Saint.” He writes,

“…much misidentification simply results from the confusion between the terms LDS and FLDS.

“Not only are many of the FLDS teachings in conflict with, and repugnant to, the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but, in fact, a person who believes in or practices the teachings of the fundamentalists would be excommunicated from the LDS Church.

“While not strictly speaking identity theft, the adoption of FLDS by this group at best is confusing and at worst undermines the credibility of the Latter-day Saints and tarnishes the LDS ‘brand.’ Sometimes damage to a brand or a trademark has been called attempted identity theft at the corporate level.”

After providing an analogy to illustrate his argument, Mr. Cannon attempts to further distance the LDS Church from the FLDS Church by subtly questioning the latter latter-day church’s true origin:

“Similarly, this group which claims to be a break-off of the LDS Church is, as noted, utterly different in its beliefs and practices.” (emphasis mine)

Finally, Mr. Cannon concludes,

“Whatever their motivation, the consequence of this group’s adoption of the name FLDS has damaged the LDS Church’s identity, brand name and reputation.”

Okay. If use of the terms “Fundamentalist Mormon” or “Polygamist Mormon” generate too much confusion, and we can’t use the FLDS’ own name or initials without thoughtlessly damaging the LDS brand name, what should we call the FLDS? In his editorial Mr. Cannon provides no alternative suggestions. Maybe you folks reading Mormon Coffee have some ideas…

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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18 Responses to FLDS and LDS Express Complaints

  1. falcon says:

    I think some group already tried the “restored” LDS label and then changed to Community of Christ. But the CoC dumped a lot of the Utah LDS doctrine. So the FLDS are really practicing “original” Mormonism. But I can’t work “original” into a label. There is no doubt that the FLDS have held fast to the teachings of the “prophet” Joseph Smith. Maybe they should be called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Utah Mormons should get a new name. I think the Utah group should be called “The Reformed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” because they threw Smith and Young under the bus in 1890. And since then, due to societal and government pressure, they’ve gotten rid of a lot of the original doctrine. They did go through an internal reformation, I take it, because Joseph Smith and B. Young had strayed from the original intent of the restoration. So “reformed” best describes the Utah Mormon church. So that’s what it will be. I have spoken!

  2. Anubis says:

    I’ll take a go at that renaming thing;

    1. The church of Joseph Smith of original latter day saints – Of course that “damage”‘s the Joesph Smith “trademark” and name but I guess the main LDS faith could drop him altogether for more distance.

    2. The “ORIGINAL” church of Jesus Christ of later day saints. Of course this version takes on the same damaging effect.

    3. Joseph Smith’s original Book of Mormonites – Whosp we damaged the Book of Mormon on that one.

    4. The undefiled teachings of Joseph Smith of later day saints. – Now I’m attacking later prophets doctrine.

    5. The original Mormons? – to easy.

    You know there’s just no way to separate Joseph Smith’s teaching from the FLDS…. They carry the Book of Mormon, follow the prophets teachings, and live the doctrine.

    In every sense of the word FLDS are Mormons.

    My final thought would be to ask Mormons what teachings besides polygamy are different then current Mormon practices?

    AHHHH number 6. “The church of Jesus Christ of latter day polygamists”, “Polygamist Mormons” or PLDS. There I just made the separation.

    Anubis

  3. lillym says:

    well, Mormonism is in every sense a uniquely American religion. Founded in America, by an American, and mostly kept in America. (A bit like Scientology, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Science. But I digress.)

    So maybe the FLDS could be called “American Polygamists”, or the ‘Church of the AP’. ?

  4. eric017 says:

    Speaking of identity theft, I think many Christians would agree that “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” contains some identity theft. Especially since the Gospel it preaches will not lead one to salvation. How about we call the FLDS “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who actually practice what Joseph Smith taught”, and we call the LDS church “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who changes the public perception of it’s doctrine every few years or so and hense has the most adherents, many of whom never learn what Joseph Smith actually taught.”

  5. subgenius says:

    falcon, anubis, lillym, and eric017
    Wow, your scathing wit is remarkable. How similar to a Bible story you must be. But since you have judged, therefore you being similarly judged becomes inevitable.
    Do you abide by every lesson from the Bible? are you free from any prejudice associated to your “denomination”? While you sit high and point finger at the “offense” of polygamy, you condone your own bigotry. Your own congregation produces abortion-clinic bombers and killers of doctors, allows for hungry people to starve in your own backyard. Your attitudes would have been adored by those who arranged the “Inquisition”; which was completely rationalized by people of faith, such as yourselves.
    Pertaining to the above article and comments:
    The obvious difference between the FLDS and LDS are obvious, even to the simple-minded. The most blatant being the practice of polygamy, the second being the FLDS has a preferred position of maintaining a dramatic isolation from contemporary society and culture-and with venom like yours, who can blame them.

  6. eric017 says:

    subgenious,

    In the Bible, is it considered Christian to stand aside and not defend the Gospel, when a counterfiet gospel is presented as truth? Is it Christian to not be honest? Is it more important to play nice, when we believe that some of the most wonderful people in the world (i.e. Mormons) are decieved? Does the ninth commandment (of the 10) read “thou shalt not bear false witness, unless it the truth hurts someone’s feelings or is not faith promoting.”

    I contend that if I did not tell the truth about what I know as a former member of the LDS church, I would be living a very un-Christian life indeed.

    Look in the mirror. While crying bigotry in the public square, every fast and testimony meeting every month, LDS members condemn every other religion and denomination except your own. Mormons who can barely talk to ones who can no longer walk parrot “the church is true” implying every other believer in Christ is decieved. I’m sorry if you are offended from my defending Christ and his Gospel in the face of what I see as an imposter. But the command from God to be fishers of men, doesn’t have the caveat “unless it makes them feel bad” attached to it.

  7. eric017 says:

    subgenious,

    I’ll add one more point to your reply. You suggest that there are obvious differences between the FLDS and the LDS. This is true, but the two points you said were the most obvious speak directly to this criticism. First I think we all agree that both the LDS church before the manifesto and the current FLDS church practice(d) what they see(saw) as divinely inspired polygamy. But your second point of cultural isolation is interesting. Yes the FLDS church has isolated itself. But, wasn’t the colonization of Utah done under the exact same premise? Brigham Young set the LDS church on a course to political and social isolation that wasn’t turned around until after the manifesto (actually after all the people who still lived polygamy died). Brigham Young wanted Utah to be completely independent from outside influence. This explains why the word of wisdom is so important, but few in Joseph Smith’s time actually practiced it. The things in the WoW weren’t strictly forbiden until Brigham Young realized that the church couldn’t grow grapes and tobacco in Utah’s Dixie. For years and years, until the 1940s really Utah was seen as backwater and strange the same way the FLDS are seen by the current LDS and the rest of America today. So really, your pounded the point of the NYTimes article home which said, that the FLDS give us a glimps of what life would have been like for members of the Mormon church for the first 100 or so year of it’s history. What I said when I suggested the names of two churches doesn’t seem to have venom in it, rather truth.

    Again, I’m sorry if you feel personally offended at what I see as speaking the truth. I’m sorry if the truth stings. I know I felt the same way when I began to realize that I had been decieved my whole life and one of the most important thing I was raised with (i.e. Mormonism) was built on a house of cards.

  8. lillym says:

    Sub –

    I don’t fear your rebukes, judgment, or your religion. I have nothing to fear from Mormonism at all. So go ahead and judge me. At least we will be talking about Mormonism in the process.

  9. subgenius says:

    lillym
    why would you bring up fear?
    eric017
    to not “bear false witness” does not necessarily mean that you should “bear” anything at all. Ask yourself why would not this commandment be a simple “always tell the truth”? is it because you may not always be capable of discerning the truth? or perhaps because it is not your place to be a giver of truth? (surely you do not fancy yourself as a prophet?)
    additionally, do you not think there is a touch of isolationism when you decide to name your denomination. I guess the Utah settlers were akin to the Puritans settling America?
    lillym and eric017
    thanks for the reply, it was nice to see you on the defensive for once. next time, do not make it so easy.

  10. Vicki says:

    Seeing,as, the FLDS church is holding true to the teachings of Jos.Smith…I believe the FLDS church should change its name to the original name “The Church of Latter-day Saints” that Jos. Smith revealed.

  11. eric017 says:

    Subgenious,

    I didn’t really feel on the defensive, rather I think people are rather tired of ad-homonim attacks of “venom”, “bigotry” or “[filtered profanity or slur]” that really don’t speak critically to what might be wrong with our comments. Second, I don’t think that cultural/social isolation is necessarally wrong (i.e. God commanded the Isrealites in the Bible to isolate themselves from the Canonites to avoid picking up polytheistic tendencies {hmm…interesting}). Rather I was pointing out that you yourself brought the subject up, yet failed to make the comparison between the FLDS and early LDS church. (The two really are more alike than you think).

    Last, I’m not sure where you are going with the truth/prophet thing. First, I will admit that truth can be a hard thing to truly grasp. And I will admit that there are certain times when we should hold our tongues, but if God convicts us to speak, should we not speak? Further, are you suggesting that because I’m not a prophet I can’t be honest? Or are you suggesting that because I’m not a prophet I can’t possibly know the truth about things? Or are you suggesting that I can’t dissern truth because I don’t think Joseph Smith was a prophet? BTW, Christians believe in the gift of prophecy, but I personally think it is rediculous to assume on face value that one becomes a prophet only after rising through the ranks of some beaurocracy.

    This whole excercise is like the matching game for kids; putting like with like. If we don’t make any a priori assumptions, I think we all can say that the FLDS is much more like the LDS church before the manifesto than the current LDS church. Why is this so hard for you to admit? Is it because if we put like with like, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young suddenly become suspect? Do you avoid the possiblity that Smith and Young could have possibly gotten some things wrong, because the whole house of cards may come tumbling down? Or is there some other reason why you fail to see the similarities?

  12. Michael P says:

    Eric,

    The link below gives some insight, I think, into why Mormons are hesitant to call out Joseph Smith and other leaders.

    http://www.i4m.com/think/intro/mormon_leaders.htm

    I’d be curious the response Mormons would give to these thoughts.

    But to expand on the idea of isolationism, I am not a Bible historian, but one I think could argue the earliest Christians isolated themselves. More recently, this country was first settled by religious groups looking for isolation to worship as they pleased.

    As to bearing false witness, we are also to correct incorrect doctrine and behavior. A quick read of Proverbs gives us insight into this. I’d also refer you to 2 Tim 3:16 and 2 Tim 4:2.

    (4:2 is interesting because in its context, we also see that many will follow other teachers because these guys give them what they want to hear. The good feeling from the burning in the bosom? Just a thought…)

  13. lillym says:

    Subgenius,

    I do not lie here or anywhere else. Your tactic of calling me a liar is just an attempt to bully me into not saying anything critical of Mormonism – at least that’s how it appears. That’s why I said I don’t fear your judgment. I don’t think you know what the truth is, if you can believe in Smith anyway.

  14. lillym says:

    oh – something else you said about prophets made me remember another thought. I wish a Mormon could explain to me how they, as Mormons, discern between false prophets and the real thing.

    For instance, I’m sure Mormons feel that the Islamic prophets are false. But how did they come to this conclusion? Is it purely based on the burning feeling? Or is there another standard? (this may have been discussed on this blog before, but I can’t go through the entire archives at the moment – if anyone has a link I’d appreciate it)

  15. traveler says:

    Eric,

    Thanks for the great link – it’s this sort of revisionistic historicism which is one of the most troubling issues that I have found in my limited experiences amongst the LDS.

    I once stated to the elders who came to visit me, “All the “scrying stones”, visions, mystical toads and salamanders and “occult circles” to conjure up riches at midnight, are FINE by me- but I don’t see why you lot bother calling yourselves ‘christians’… Just admit that this is a new religion and stop hiding your history.”

    If people in the LDS are ashamed of Joseph Smith’s actions, then the church should either reform without him – or accept his magical activities as an aspect of their belief.

    T

  16. eric017 says:

    Traveler,
    It wasn’t my link, rather it was Michael P’s. And thanks, Michael P, for the link and the insight. Those quotes are amazing, really. They really explain a lot why Mormons are to spend any time or energy really asking hard questions. Thier leaders have insulated themselves from criticism through quotes like these, I think. In essence these quotes say to me that the leadership is saying, “your eternal salvation depends on your willingness to be a ‘yes-man'”. Again, on face value, it appears that the number one criteria for becoming a prophet in the Mormon model is willingness to be a yes-man. Indeed, at least since Brigham Young anyway, it appears that the LDS prophets spend thier lives as the consumate yes-men, until they find themselves at the top. One must ask, who have(are) they said(saying) yes to?

  17. eric017 says:

    I hit ‘submit’ too soon. A sentence above should read: “They really explain a lot why Mormons are reluctant to spend any time and energy asking really hard questions.”

  18. traveler says:

    Eric017 stated sussinctly,-“In essence these quotes say to me that the leadership is saying, “your eternal salvation depends on your willingness to be a ‘yes-man’”.”

    How frightful and irrational, but insiteful this is – and, how happy I am, that I’m not a believer.

    t

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