“Mormon” History

The LDS Church continues the effort to distance itself from Mormon Fundamentalists. In a July 10, 2008 article printed in the Salt Lake Tribune, LDS spokesperson Scott Trotter is quoted as saying,

“there is no such thing as a Mormon fundamentalist or a Mormon polygamist. Regrettably, those who suggest otherwise only add to the confusion we are trying to clear up.” (Brooke Adams, “Fundamentally, we’re Mormon, coalition asserts”)

Confusion? How’s this for confusion:

At the General Conference of the LDS Church in April 1990 apostle Russell M. Nelson spoke about the divinely revealed name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He explained that the revelation naming the LDS Church (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4) did not say, “Thus shall my church be named,” but rather, “Thus shall my church be called.” Mr. Nelson discouraged the use of any nickname for the Church, specifically mentioning a directive from Church leadership issued in 1984 against the too frequent use of the term “Mormon Church.” (Ensign, 5/1990, page 16)

But then in September 2000 the LDS Church issued a press release that stated in part:

“The term Mormon is a nickname applied exclusively to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or to that church (see The Associated Press Stylebook). It is not accurately applied to any other person or organization… Since those who practice polygamy today are not affiliated with ‘the Mormon church,’ and since they are not ‘Mormons,’ a more accurate and less misleading description of them in the media would be polygamist, or polygamous sect,…” (Excite News, 9/13/00)

Following this, on February 20, 2001, the Salt Lake Tribune reported,

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wants to jettison its best-known nicknames — the Mormon church and LDS Church — in favor of one that leaders believe more accurately reflects its spiritual identity.” (Peggy Fletcher Stack and Bob Mims, “Church Moves To Adjust Use Of Its Name”)

The new nickname desired by the LDS Church was “The Church of Jesus Christ.” The article quoted LDS apostle Dallin Oaks:

“I don’t mind being called a Mormon, but I don’t want it said that I belong to the Mormon church.”

This 2001 Salt Lake Tribune article stated that since 1982 LDS public relations had pressured Church members and media journalists “to replace ‘Mormon’ with ‘LDS Church’ or ‘Latter-day Saints.'” With the new 2001 twist toward replacing “LDS” with “The Church of Jesus Christ,” the newspaper said Mr. Oaks indicated that “Mormon leaders [were not worried] about possible confusion with more than 20 other American denominations with ‘Church of Jesus Christ’ in their corporate names.”

The Arizona Republic interviewed non-Mormon religion scholar Jan Shipps for its story on this issue. Ms. Shipps believed the LDS move away from “Mormon” was an effort to put distance between the LDS Church and the modern-day polygamous splinter groups that were so frequently cropping up in the news even then. (Kelly Ettenborough, “Church hopes ‘Mormon’ will fade from its identity,” February 18, 2001)

In another article, published by The New York Times, Mr. Oaks was quoted,

“This decision [to change the nickname] is right-oriented, not result-oriented,” Elder Oaks said. “We’re only trying to do what the Lord wants us to do.” (Gustav Niebuhr, “Adapting ‘Mormon’ to Emphasize Christianity,” February 19, 2001)

Moving ahead, on September 5, 2002, the LDS Church filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to legally mark (service mark) the word “MORMON.” (A service mark is a word intended to be used, in commerce, to identify and distinguish the services of one provider from the services provided by others, and to indicate the source of the services.)

The “goods and services” to which the mark would apply were described as:

“religious services [Class 45], namely, operating places of assembly for worship and gatherings; ministerial services, namely, providing religious worship services and conducting church sponsored programs” (find this application document at uspto.gov)

The application was denied. The examining attorney for the USPTO found the term “MORMON” to be “a generic name for services” and therefore not able to be registered on the Principle Register. After several rounds of arguments between the examining attorney and the law firm representing the LDS Church (Kirton & McConkie in Salt Lake City), on November 1, 2005 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office sent the applicant this notice:


“The proposed mark, “MORMON,’ is incapable of serving as a source-identifier for applicant’s religious services…

“Generic terms are by definition incapable of indicating a particular source of the services, and cannot be registered as trademarks; doing so ‘would grant the owner of the mark a monopoly, since a competitor could not describe his goods as what they are.'”

Having hit a wall on the effort to service mark “MORMON” as a Class 45 mark, on September 6, 2006 the LDS Church revised and divided its application, eventually receiving the service mark rights for “MORMON” in Class 41 (educational services) and Class 42 (genealogical services) on May 8, 2007.

In his last-ditch effort to win the Class 45 service mark, however, the attorney for the Church argued,

“In the case at hand, the term MORMON is utilized only in association with services provided by the Applicant [i.e., the LDS Church]. The term MORMON is never utilized to describe or utilize religious services provided by another source…

“Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists and/or any other religious service provider do not use the mark MORMON as an identification of the goods or services rendered by those organizations. The only source utilizing the mark, or for which the mark is utilized, is the Applicant.”

The examining attorney was not persuaded.

This brings us up to the present. To recap the history:

  • April 1990 – An apostle in General Conference calls for no nicknames for the Church, specifically calling out the term “Mormon.”
  • September 2000 – The LDS Church issues a press release stating they are the only ones rightly called “Mormon.”
  • February 2001 – The Church directs media to stop using the nickname “Mormon” and instead adopt the new nickname, “The Church of Jesus Christ.”
  • September 2002 – The LDS Church applies for exclusive rights to the mark “MORMON” in a religious services class.
  • September 2006 – Notwithstanding the constant efforts of the LDS Church to publicly distinguish itself from the media-grabbing self-named Fundamentalist Mormons, the attorney for the LDS Church argues that “the only source” using “MORMON” to describe or utilize religious services is the LDS Church.

Does this clear up the confusion?

On June 26, 2008 the LDS Church sent a letter to media outlets asking them to stop referring to the polygamous members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as Fundamentalist Mormons. The letter stated in part,

“Over the years, in a careful effort to distinguish itself, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has gone to significant lengths to protect its rights in the name of the church and related matters. Specifically, we have obtained registrations for the name ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,’ ‘Mormon,’ ‘Book of Mormon’ and related trade and service marks from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and corresponding agencies in a significant number of foreign countries.

“We are confident that you are committed to avoiding misleading statements that cause unwarranted confusion and that may disparage or infringe the intellectual property rights discussed above.”

The letter closed with a request that it be shown to each organization’s editorial staff and legal counsel.

“Legal counsel”? In the letter the LDS Church asserted its ownership of the service mark “MORMON’ and suggested journalists would not want to “infringe the intellectual property rights discussed above.” Is this meant to be a threat of some sort? It’s interesting that, in reality, the LDS Church only controls the term “Mormon” in regards to educational and genealogical services; there is no trademark infringement when someone uses the word in relation to the FLDS Church or its members. In fact, what the LDS Church is attempting to do is specifically what the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was guarding against when it refused the LDS request to service mark “MORMON” in Class 45; “Doing so would ‘grant the owner of the mark a monopoly, since a competitor could not describe his goods as what they are.'”

The LDS Church published an article on their LDS Newsroom web site on July 10, 2008, again trying to establish their position and reasons for it in regards to “Mormon” and “Fundamentalist Mormon.” Acknowledging that the LDS Church and other Mormon groups may share some history and theology, the article argued,

“Furthermore, all Christian denominations have some historical and theological connection to Catholicism. Nevertheless, this does not authorize them to use the word ‘Catholic’ in their official name. Lutherans and Methodists do not call themselves ‘Catholic fundamentalists.’ Nor did the early Christians call themselves ‘reformed Jews.’

“Likewise, it just doesn’t seem right that the FLDS can overturn more than a century and a half of common usage simply by virtue of the fact that it established itself a century and a half after the Mormon faith was born, and adopted many of its early principles. By declaring that any group professing Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon can rightly be called Mormon is akin to declaring that any Christian group that professes the Bible can rightly call itself Catholic.” (“Proportion and Perspective on Polygamy Reporting”)

To say that religious movements didn’t call themselves after the name of another is not to say that they couldn’t have if they had so chosen. As a matter of fact, many denominations share a foundational, basic element of their official names with others. For instance, there is the Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Members of all four of these organizations are called Lutherans. There is the Baptist General Conference, the Southern Baptist Convention, the American Baptist Church, etc. Members of all are called Baptists. If further distinction is required or helpful, members will state they are WELS, Southern Baptist, or whatever.

In the same vein, LDS Mormons and FLDS Mormons are distinguishable by being precise – by employing terms that are perhaps similar, but definitely different. We find Latter-day Saints, Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, and, formerly, Reorganized Latter Day Saints (to name but a few). All are, at some level, Latter-day Saints or Mormons. After all, as Ken Driggs told the Salt Lake Tribune, they really are just “different evolutions of the Joseph Smith tradition.”

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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33 Responses to “Mormon” History

  1. falcon says:

    Who said “a rose is a rose is a rose” or was it “a rose by anyother name is still a rose”? The Utah Mormons appear to be trying to coop the Morman “brand” but as it is with other matters Mormon, they’re all over the block on this one. It is true, there are different kinds of Mormons just like they’re are different kinds of Lutherans. There’s even one in our area called the Church of the Lutheran Confession and another called the Lutheran Breatheran which comes out of the Norweigan Lutheran Church. Not to mention the Swedish Lutherans. I have a general idea of what they all believe but if I want to get specific, I look it up.

    Mormons are tied to polygamy….period. It’s their distinctive. It’s still on the books. They believe they will practice it in the Celestial Kingdom. The FLDS connection, and there is one, hurts the Utah Mormon brand. They’ve been trying to look like Lutherans or some type of protestanism since 1890. The fundamentals are holding fast to the Mormon faith. They’re “originalists” sticking to Joseph Smith Mormonism. I’ve seen an estimate that there is a 98% agreement between FLDS doctrine and Utah Mormonism. So I guess it’s like having a renegade relative with the same last name. They’re stuck with it. Suck it up!

  2. germit says:

    Please: someone call the WAMBULANCE. this article is either very sad or very funny, flip a coin. I’ve seen the word ‘catholic’ worked into several church titles as I’ve driven thru the inner city, I’m not going to google this, unless provoked, and as Sharon said, “Lutheran” is part of several denominations, and we could go on and on. What (or perhaps WHOM) gives the LDS folk the right to grab the supremacy of the “mormon” moniker over the 100 MORMON groups extant (all of whom believe just as fervently that they are the original and true sustainer of the one true faith) How arrogant to deny them the right to use “MORMON” as part of their title. And threatening legal action if journalists and those in the public arena don’t toady up and kiss the ring (pardon the catholic metaphor, I will send royalties to my cardinal) There are idealogical and theological fights worth fighting: give the boys in Salt Lake more to do, their brains are going slack. GERMIT PREDICTS: the LDS will pursue the “church of Jesus Christ” thing, or something like it for the same reason that Mr. Sweaty was pushing the elder brother/younger brother connection, and the RLDS name change to Community of Christ: better PR and evengelism. Most people have no idea what the LDS church is all about. Better to fit in, on the outside, and work for mainline status. The name thing is just part of that effort.

  3. Jeffrey says:

    What is the doctrinal differences between FLDS and LDS anyways? I don’t know much about the FLDS besides that they practice earthly polygamy, but do they not believe in the same tenets the LDS church has?

    Anyone know any differences besides polygamy? Do they even do the endowments and everything? Like I said, I am in the dark on those guys.

    I think the LDS church trying to distance themselves from them might work against them. Because then maybe people will start asking why are they trying so hard? Is there something about both of the faiths I should know about?

    Maybe I’m just being too optimistic.

  4. Ralph says:

    I see a major example of hypocrisy on both sides from this article – ie both those who support the article and the LDS who will possibly try and defend it.

    All on this site and many Christian groups are saying that groups like LDS, JW, Church of God, etc are not Christian and try to say that we cannot use that term to describe what we believe in even though we believe in Jesus Christ, just in a different manner. There are many on this site who discount the Roman Catholic church as Christian even though many in the Christian community agree that it is Christian. Whereas there are many in the non-Christian communities that group all of these (ie Catholic, LDS, JW, etc) as Christian. I am not bringing up the old “are we or are we not Christian” at this point in time, I am just pointing out the similarities between what is being said in this article about the LDS church trying to monopolise on the word “Mormon” to control its use and the groups in the Christian community who try to do the same.

    Big question to demark this point – what do you say about the Evangelical Christians who are calling for polygamy to be legalised? Who use the Bible to support their ideology that polygamy is from God? Are you going to try and stop them from calling themselves Evangelical Christians? Are you going to say that you do not accept them as either Evangelical or Christain? If you do think/act like this then you are just doing what you are accusing the LDS church of doing in this article. If you don’t believe that there is a group like that, google evangelical polygamy and see for yourself.

    And as others have pointed out, and I do agree they have a point, it can be seen as hypocritical of the LDS church to try and stop the FLDS church as well as the others of using anything like the word Mormon to describe their belief, while the LDS church is trying to be seen as Christian.

  5. Ralph says:


    I like your comment ”Mormons are tied to polygamy….period. It’s their distinctive. It’s still on the books. They believe they will practice it in the Celestial Kingdom.”

    The Protestants are also tied to polygamy. Don’t you remember the conversation about it back in one of the other blogs. Martin Luther sanctioned polygamy. Protestant men were allowed up to 10 wives at one point in time. Then as I mentioned in my last post, there are Evangelicals who are calling for polygamy to be legalised so they can practise it. So what is the difference between the LDS church and these Christians?

    I guess that we already ”…look like Lutherans or some type of protestanism since 1890” to use your words. We did have polygamy, we now renounce (since 1890) it but some of us believe it will be a practise in the future.


    I do not know what the difference in doctrine is between the 2 religions other than the current practise (note practise not belief in, we still believe in it) of polygamy.

    Last post for the day. It’s a lovely Wednesday arvo over here and I wish I was down at the beach eve though its winter. The surf looks nice in the sun – my office is right across the road. We watch the whales migrate around this time of year from our windows.

  6. Michael P says:

    Ralph, I appreciate your bringing out the debate over the term “Christian”. Here is one key difference, and its pretty significant: are we in court fighting the battle for rights to the name?

    No, we are not, and for good reason. While we object to others calling themselves Christians when their beliefs differ significantly, I would argue most true Christians acknowledge a right groups like yours to choose a name. We object to the doctrine behind the name, and hence the confusion people will get when Mormons use it so confidently but are so radically different.

    Thus, the difference is actually two fold: first, we are not in court, and second, when comparing beliefs, Mormons (of all sorts) are much more different from tradition Christian faiths than differing sects within Mormonism. (I know, I am using a term discouraged by the LDS faith per the article, but it makes the point, I think.)

    Sounds like a great view you have…

  7. germit says:

    RALPH: not much gets by you, my friend, and once again we are, in part, in 1000% agreement, christians one and all should make far less of what LDS or any one else wants to proclaim publicly about their NAME. BIG DEAL: the most ridiculous “truth” claim that I’ve heard yet (and I think Ralph, you might agree on this one) about the LDS is that “we’re the right church, we even have JESUS CHRIST in our title….WOW, what an apologetic peice of work that is. Back on topic: praise God that we live in a land that (for now) all manner of nut jobs can jump up and call themselves JESUS CHRIST SUERSTAR…BLAH,BLAH,BLAH that freedom is GREAT,I will fight and die for it. And then the AARONS and FALCONS of the world have the right to jump up and expose them for the false prophets/messiahs/superstars that they are. And we are back to the early church days. Let me be clear: IT SHOULD NOT BE ILLEGAL TO BE A HERETIC, UNLESS YOU DO SOME (USUALLY PHYSICAL) EGREGIOUS HARM TO OTHERS, and then the ‘crime’ is the egregious harm, not the heresy. This ‘name’ thing is much ado about nothing. Call yourself what you want, unless it is out and out copyright infringement: and the MORMON thing does NOT count, all 100 plus groups have a dog in that race. God is not impressed by names or titles. I contest the belief, and truth claim, no matter what the title. Let freedom ring: GERMIT

  8. Anonymous says:

    this has nothing to do with your post, but I was wondering if you have any posts on witnessing to Mormons?

  9. mobaby says:

    If you’ll be my bodyguard
    I can be your long lost pal
    I can call you Betty
    And Betty when you call me
    You can call me Al

    Or Alfred but not Fred
    If you call me Fred, that’s OK
    but just don’t call my buddy Fred
    and whatever you do call me Alfred
    or Al not Fred

    If you call by Buddy Fred
    I will SUE YOU Betty
    for my name is Al or Fred
    But you should only call me Al or Alfred
    I am the only one who goes by Fred

    Sung to the tune of “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon

  10. GRCluff says:


    All the evidence I have found says that Christ accepted Abraham as a true prophet.

    A true prophet who practiced polygamy.

    That is still on the books too. Or in the good book I should say. Doesn’t that mean that Christians, Jews and Muslims for that matter must embrace polgamy?

    In case you are missing my point– If Mormons must embrace polygamy because of Joseph Smith or Brigham Young, then Christians, Jews AND Muslims must embrace polygamy because of the prophet Abraham. Well, at least some of the Muslims are following your advice.

    Also, I think we would prefer to look a bit more like Abraham than Martin Luther. Martin never claimed to be a prophet. We like real prophets– so Abraham from the Bible is more our style.

  11. Jeffrey says:


    Difference between Joseph Smith/Brigham Young and Abraham is that they commanded it be practiced in order to become exalted, and those who denied it can basically go straight to hell.

    Did Abraham declare polygamy as a doctrine and commandment from God? If you know somewhere in the Bible where him or any other prophet made that revelation, let me know when you find it, alright?

    Abraham was a sinner, Joseph Smith was a sinner. All prophets on this earth have been human, and all humans are sinners. I don’t expect perfection even from prophets..

    HOWEVER, I do expect them to teach sound doctrine. That’s why God put a tight standard to hold prophets to. So the real question is, is whether that was truly a revelation from God. From Mormon Author Todd Compton’s book “In Sacred Loneliness”, it would seem as if Joseph Smith didn’t have much of a problem taking on more wives, and even keeping those “relationships” hidden from Emma. Does that sound trustworthy?

    You’re point you make isn’t valid. Mormons must embrace polygamy because Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets taught that they need to. Christians, Jews, and Muslims don’t because no biblical prophet has taught it. Some may have practiced, but that doesn’t mean its taught. If a prophet commits murder, does that mean its okay and doctrine to commit murder as well? God already revealed that that doesn’t fly well with Him. But hey, I guess you have ongoing revelation, so who cares what God has already told us, what’s he gonna tell us next?!

  12. germit says:

    Is anyone else having trouble with the ‘comments’ for the temple thread?? ANON: were you talking to me or ?? GRCluff: “we like real prophets, so Abraham from the bible is more our style…” that comment is revealing, yes, I think JS fancied himsself quite like Abe, Moses, or Jacob. The whole plural marriage thing didn’t take off until he meditated deeply on the OT, coming to all the wrong conclusions. GRC: HE SHOULD HAVE STARTED WITH JESUS. I know you think he did with the 1820 vision and all, but really, think of all the time effort and energy we’ve spent on the blog in the past month talking about which prophet did what to whom. the polygamy thread alone (one of them) went to 122 posts. I don’t know why God allowed (not endorsed) all the prophets to do what they did in the OT. Frankly, some of it is hard to comprehend, as Ralph has noted, but I would rather pattern my life around Jesus, who did NOT make marriage a big deal (clearly was not even married himself, except to HIS bride the church), was never even ACCUSED, let alone convicted, of ANY sexual sin of ANY kind, and used power in the role of a servant. I know you see JS and Jesus as largely alike: to me and many others, the differences are glaring. Frankly, the differences between ME and Jesus are glaring, but I never pretended to be a big deal prophet/seer/revelator. You might want to consider trading in your current ‘living prophet’ for a better model. Thanks for posting: we are wearing poor DOF to death, I think. Blessings on all who post at night. GERMIT

  13. Ralph says:

    Jeffrey and Germit,

    Here are 2 websites which say that polygamy is from God (ie He did not just allow it but endorsed it) and they are Christian websites using only the Bible – truthbearer.org/reading and biblepolygamy.com. They have links to other Christian sites supporting polygamy from God sola scriptura. And again, in the early days of the Protestant movement, men were allowed up to 10 wives, and this was also based entirely sola scriptura. if you read these sites, the churches practising include Lutheran and Methodist as both Martin Luther and Wesley (just found out about him today) supported polygamy.

    Germit, who said Jesus did not marry? Many Biblical scholars believe that there is more evidence that He was married than to the contrary. It was a Jewish custom in those days for young men to be married. When Jesus was performing His mission He was never once questioned why He was not married. There is nothing in the Bible saying that He was or was not married, so you cannot state straight out that He was not. Just to note, I am not saying either/or at this point in time, I am just making an observation about your comment. I have heard that there was a small Jewish sect/law (can’t remember which) that allowed men to remain unmarried, but again, there is no evidence of Jesus either being married or unmarried in the Bible.

  14. germit says:

    Ralph: g’day (probably midnight oil) mate: You have two posts from me that will land either tomorrow (Sat) or Sunday. One will be on this “protestant polygamy” thing that you are touting. If ‘this dog can hunt’ I would be shocked out of my skull, I’ll check the posts you referred to. Again, thanks for giving us something to go on. There is, for all interested, a pretty good review of John Cairncross’s book on ‘polygamypage’ Can’t remember if that’s .org or .com; there is a lot more smoke than fire reg. Protestant polygamy, but I will summarize that book review (out of print, by the way) when I post later this weekend. TWO: I’ll respond to the “Jesus as married” thing, which will be a tar baby for you Ralph: going down that road (which JS compels you to logically trod, I suppose) will cause more apologetic woe than it will solve, but JS stance on the importance of marriage pushes you into that argument, like it or not. Just curious Mr.Ralph: what is your personal view about the Manifesto of 1890?? Was that God saying 1)Poly. is evil; 2)Poly for this age is evil; 3)we won’t practice poly , for now, because the Gentile law of the land makes that unworkable; or 4)some other option not yet mentioned. OH: and who are some of these “MANY BIBLICAL SCHOLARS” who think the evidence for Jesus being married is so sound? That claim does not shock or surprise me… Last comment: “what is the diff.between the LDS and these Christians (who promote polygamy)..?” I’d say: both seriously in error and in BIG trouble, again, God is not fooled by someones titleor religious resume: talk is cheap as brother James tells us. Blessings: GERMIT

  15. GRCluff says:


    Yeah, what IS he going to tell us next. I can’t wait to find out.

    I do think that the Mormon prophets have been just as consistent as ancient ones on the subject of polgamy. Abraham and David said it was OK, Isaiah and Jeremiah said not so much. Joseph and Brigham said OK, but later prophets continue to say no way.

    Regardless, I really don’t think I will go to hell for following today’s prophet rather than the dead ones. The threats from Brigham Young came in a time when the church was isolated from the rest of the world in Utah, and when good women who wanted and needed families for their own exaltation were being denied. It is God who makes those kind of decisions, not a prophet.

  16. Jeffrey says:

    Ralph, I reviewed the first link you provided just a little, but read into the second link some more. I am still not swayed. I don’t see anywhere where it was commanded still. Maybe you can point out a single argument in there that you find to be most effective for your point?

    Why do you even bother mentioning what some “protestants” have allowed. Men are sinners, and can and will say many things to justify their actions. They can even claim it is from God, but that doesn’t make it necessarily true.

    Granted, unless someone can correct me, there is no crystal clear direct commandment from God saying “do not have more than one wife.” But on the other side, there is no Biblical prophet claiming this commandment either. GRCluff, once again, it does not matter if Abraham and David said it was fine, what does God’s Word say?

    Something interesting to note. God created only one woman for Adam. Why would a supposed polygamous God, knowing full well that one of his own doctrines (taught by Joseph Smith) is that to have more than one creates a better exaltation for you. Why would he hold Adam back from practicing it? It sure would have sped up procreation no doubt.

    Let me ask you Ralph, and please answer. I assume you’re married. Would you want more than one wife? Would your wife be happy with other women around partaking of your time and body? – After reading “In Sacred Loneliness” by Todd Compton, I read his mention of the fact that a man involved in polygamy typically has a “favorite” and all other women feel neglected, un-loved, and they lose their self worth.

    Do you think God wants his faithful to lose their sense of self worth? Wanting as big a reward in the Celestial Kingdom as possible, would you personally be okay with taking women, and not being able to provide for them emotionally and physically as if they were your only wife?

    For once, I hope you are using your heart on this. Does it seem right for you to do that to women, and to your wife?

  17. GRCluff says:


    Gods word on the matter is found in the Book of Mormon as follows:

    Jacob 2:24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.
    25 Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.
    26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.
    27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;
    28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.
    29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
    30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.

    So, according to God’s Word, polygamy is an abomination. It is a rule with an exception. The exception is based on God’s intervention. He wanted Abraham’s seed (descendents) to be numerous. He apparently wanted early converts to Mormonism to be numerous in a similar fashion. When the need for seed was exhausted He command the practice to cease in both cases.

    I would say you have the concept backwards. The benefit to single women who would otherwise remain childless and become old maids far exceeds the burden to women who often loose interest in their husband after a few years anyway.

    Maybe an example can clarify the concept:. We “shall not kill” except in times of war when god commands us to defend our freedoms. In a like manner we “shall not practice polygamy” except in times of few men when god commands us to defend the rights of women to be married and have children.

  18. Arthur Sido says:


    Interesting thesis, but the problem is that God did not command Abraham to take an extra wife. That was his wife’s idea, in direct opposition to the promises God had made him. It drives me nuts when mormons cite Abraham as a defense of polygamy, when God never commanded polygamy from Abraham. The Bible describes many things but that does not mean that it commands them for obedience. The other bogus claim is the need for multiple wives to speed up population growth in early mormonism, especially since Smith was taken as wife a number of women who already had husbands. It was never about early mormons being numerous, it was all about the lust for women and power of Smith and his cronies.

  19. germit says:

    Arthur: Spot on; and (although I readily admit I can’t prove this) I would say it worked as a ‘loyalty test’ of sorts, if a man will give up his wife and or teen daughter, to a man already wed, then I’d say you’ve pretty much got him. GRC: What else is your God willing to do to get His requisite “numerous seed”?? If this isn’t some kind of ends justifying the means, I’d say your God is sick.

  20. Jeffrey says:


    Arthur was kind enough to even give you the benefit of the doubt that the BoM is scripture. For me however, you can’t quote that as Biblical support.

    As far as it being more beneficial to women to feel worthless and loveless instead of being old, single and childless, we will have to agree to disagree on what is better for a woman. Perhaps being that we are men, we should get the point of view from a few women on that. I would think though that someone would rather be happy and alone instead of miserable with a spouse.

    In all reality, those women aren’t alone. God loves them and can provide more for them then some husband unable to fill the many needs of a married woman. They are not alone. In fact, after reading Romans, you begin to see that people that are single are in no way lacking anything, in fact its wonderful that they can focus on serving the Lord, concerned unto Him, instead of being concerned with serving her Husband. (I’m paraphrasing some scripture there, so I’m suggesting you read it).

    Life may be tough on a single/childless woman back in the day, but I don’t see how taking the chance away from a woman to have one single husband, able to be in love and cleave only unto each other and no one else, is doing them any favors. Also, how can you explain that is the reasoning for marrying women when some were married to other men already, and able to fend for themselves as a couple.

  21. Ralph says:

    Jeffery, I never said that polygamy was a commandment, I said that those sites believe that the Bible shows that God endorsed polygamy and that it is not a sin.

    As far as me and my marriage, one wife is more than enough problems. Despite this, no I would not want another, but if I was commanded I would take another wife.

    Germit, Reread what I have written. I tried to keep it equivocal on both points. I was just saying that you cannot state outright that He was not married when there are many Biblical scholars (NOTE again many, not all) who believe that He was.

    As far as the LDS church official doctrine stands, if I remember correctly we do not teach either way. However, (and I think many of you would try to point this out so I will try and nip it in the bud now) many past church leaders have given thier opinions about this and many members believe that He was married. But it is their own opinion. We teach that marriage is an essential part of this life and eternities so as I said many members believe that He was married. Also if He was married we do not know who to. One past leader (back in JS/BY times) said that it was Mary Magdeline, and the sisters Mary and Martha, making Jesus a polygamist – but that is his opinion. Many have said Mary Magdeline, but Bruce R McKonckie wrote in his ‘Mortal Messiah’ series that it could not be her. So before any of you go off the cuff about me saying that OFFICIAL DOCTRINE (as far as I know) does not state if Jesus was married or not – I am discussing OFFICIAL DOCTRINE, not a general idea taught by many members as though it is doctrine.

  22. germit says:

    GRC: WOW: this is a paraphrase: your ‘I get my information from the Holy Spirit, not the wisdom of men…’ is a GREAT trump card, right up there with the ‘personal testimony’ trump card. In this case, AARON’s evidence surrounding the Nicean Creed DOESN’T EVEN MERIT A RESPONSE. Nice. You could,I suppose, use this card anytime you want, anytime the discussion doesn’t seem to be going your way: the Holy Spirit showed me something different, something better. What can I possibly respond to that?? You’ve got me, I’ll just have to tap out on that one. Keep that card, you may need it again. THANKS for the info on the book, I’ll try to get it, or something like it thru a library: the book is, I believe, 519 pages long. I don’t suppose you’ll want to tell me which pages are pertinent to our discussion here ?? I’m a fairly quick reader, but if I can save an hour here or there, that’s good stewardship. Ralph: I’m reading some of the polygamy stuff tonight, sorry to make you wait. Post coming. The thought hit me today how inspired is God’s SILENCE regarding Jesus’ marital state (you are right, or course, the Bible says ZIP, one way or another). To me it underscores how little a person’s marital position is to God (and this is echoed by Paul, whose big deal is to “secure undistracted devotion to the Lord”, something that BOTH classes of people can do equally. How brilliant of the Father to neither throw the ascetics undo attention by underlining Jesus single state, IF He was single, OR throwing groups like the LDS (and the Unification church) undo credibility, IF He was married. Instead, it is a big fat non-issue, which to the Jewish mind set was a huge surprise, but hey, God is like that. Whether or not Jesus was married, and even though your church does not have an official position on it, the emphasis on marriage as ‘an essential part of this life’ is distorted enough (from what the bible does say about marriage) to warrant opposition. About the Manifesto,what say ye ??

  23. Nathan16 says:

    I realize the discussion has gone far past what I’m commenting here. Just want to comment on the article:
    “By declaring that any group professing Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon can rightly be called Mormon is akin to declaring that any Christian group that professes the Bible can rightly call itself Catholic.”
    Where on Earth did this guy get his information? I know a lot of groups that call themselves Catholic in a form or fashion, and yet are not Roman Catholic. In the creeds, the original statement was that we believe in the “holy catholic Church”, catholic here meaning universal, not the church of Rome. This is often replaced with “Christian” to avoid confusion, but you see what I mean. I also know several very small Lutheran Synods that prefer the term “evangelical catholic” over “Lutheran”, because they maintain a Roman Catholic style with Lutheran doctrine, and this was the term that Luther probably preferred. And I like the analogy with ELCA, LCMS, and WELS. As a member of an LCMS church with both ELCA and WELS friends, I have no issue if they call themselves Lutheran. If distinction has to be made, we say “ELCA Lutheran”, “Missouri Synod Lutheran”, or “Wisconsin synod Lutheran”. We’re all called Lutheran, because we realize that we are all of the same origin, though we’ve diverged somewhat. The only difference I see here is that we don’t declare each other to be apostates of “true Lutheranism”, and that none of the synods practice polygamy. It might be harder for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to feel comfortable being grouped together with polygamists and apostates. But the idea of placing legal trademark on “Mormon” when there are so many other groups using the same name is as ludicrous as McDonald’s trademarking the name “hamburger”.

  24. Ralph says:


    Sorry about the wait but we have been having problems with the computors at work the last couple of days.

    Your question about the Manifesto – As far as I know we still teach ‘pro-polygamy’, ie we still believe in it. We teach that God is the only one who can tell a man to have more than one wife. Ao all of the men in the past who had more than one wife had to get ‘permission’ (for want of a better word) from God, if they didn’t then it was a sin. Since the Manifesto we believe that God has not told anyone to take another wife and to do so is sin. If you go to those websites I referred you to on Protestant/Evangelical Christian Polygamy you will find them teach that polygamy will most likely become legal in the future referencing a verse in the Bible where it discusses the last days before Jesus’ 2nd coming stating that 7 women will lay hold of one man and beg him to marry them so they can have children. So to summarise – we still believe in polygamy, BUT it is from God who and when, not up to individuals. So if God is not telling anyone today to take another wife then we wont.

    Now about the Biblical silence on Jesus’ marital status – I understand your argument, and it is one given on a number of other sites. How’s this argument ‘for’ – Jesus’ marital status was not commented on to protect His wife (if He was married). You saw what one LDS did to Aaron on another article – personally I think Aaron was very well controlled in letting it pass as he did, BUT he did make comments to protect and defend his wife. In the case of Jesus possibly having a wife, would it not be easier just to have no mention about her so there are no slanderous attacks directed towards her. There is also a possibility that He was widowed young because when the Bible mentions His family it only mentions mother and brothers/sisters, no wife. But as you said and I agree, His marital status has nothing to do with our salvation, so unless I am neither for nor against.

  25. germit says:

    Ralph: thanks for waiting, I\’ll comment on the two websites you mentioned, and on a future post touch on John Cairncross and his book. Let me start with a quick story. There is, within hours of where I live, one Fred Phelps, who is some kind of \’baptist\’ or says he is, and he and his band of not-so-merry men and women are known nationwide for picketing gay funerals, telling all involved that so and so is going to hell, and that the U.S. will be judged for its role, blah,blah,blah. Do I have to make a defense of Mr.Phelps behavior because he SAYS (very loudly, and through a bullhorn) he is not only a christian, he is one of the VERY FEW christians in all of america, much more a christian, Ralph, than you or me?? At least that is his persistent claim. Well, both web site directors make a claim to christianity, and that their polygamous teachings are some kind of restored christianity that the mainline church has squelched, but shouldn\’t have (I\’ve heard that before, but
    where.?) Bottom line: I AM NOT COMPELLED TO ‘OWN’ EITHER ONE OF THESE GUYS, JUST AS I’M NOT COMPELLED TO ‘OWN’ MR.PHELPS. The truthbearer.com guy was a man not only deeply in error, but in need of mental and emotional healing, but that part is my assessment is a little off the point: they can call themselves christians, YOU can claim them as some kind of ‘protestant’ (they aren’t catholic, but then neither are YOU, are YOU ‘protestant’??), but I really don’t care, the NAME someone wants to slap on themselves means little to me. Neither one of these guys made AnY kind of appeal from modern history: no claim that the church from say Constantine on, were involved with polygamy. I know Cairncross has an argument there, I’ll get to him later. Those interested can follow out the beyond pitiful biblical arguments

  26. Jeffrey says:

    I wonder if an LDS man were to say he received personal revelation from God to take more than one wife, the LDS church would allow him to without ex-communicating him. Granted, he will probably be in some legal trouble. However, if the LDS can claim they receive personal revelation, I would think the LDS church higher ups couldn’t excommunicate him for it because God had commanded he himself to do it. Just some food for thought.

    Ralph, about Jesus being married thing. I understand what your saying, and it is a lot like what the LDS believe about “Heavenly Mother” it seems. However in the case of Jesus having a wife, you would think there would be at least a smidgeon of mention in the NT from one of the authors. After all, Jesus didn’t write the NT himself did he? Do you think he told every single author “Hey, don’t write anything about my wife, alright?” – I dont know, to me the argument just seems a little far fetched.

  27. Ralph says:


    ”After all, Jesus didn’t write the NT himself did He?” I thought you believe that scripture was “God breathed” to holy men. If so, then you should believe that Jesus (God) did write the NT through these men. So yes, in this instance He could control all the writers not to write about whether or not He was married as He was the author. A smidgeon can be something like John21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. can’t it?


    ”…I AM NOT COMPELLED TO ‘OWN’…” That is a theme I see running through all of the Ev comments. Things like ‘our founding fathers may have believed in this or said that but that was their opinion and I don’t have to believe all of what they said’ is an easy cop-out. It means that you have no history to stand for. Go ahead and say that you have the Biblical history and martyrs, etc, but many other Christian groups which you do not wish to define as Christian also claim that privilege, including us LDS. We have something to stand for, a history and an organisation which we believe was organised by God Himself. Many on this site say that to be a true Christian all you need is the core doctrine – Trinity; Faith only in Jesus; sola scriptura doctrine: after that one can shop around to find a group that believes the same as themselves with which to worship. The people who wrote the polygamy pages as far as I know believe in exactly that, and have found polygamy sola scriptura. Why aren’t they Christian? This also begs the question, if Luther and Wesley believed in polygamy and by this you say they cannot be Christian, then does this not condemn them to hell? How many other ‘founders’ of your faith do you condemn to hell because they do not believe the same way as you?

  28. jackg says:


    God did not dictate verbatim what the biblical authors wrote. You see, the miracle is that God works through a humanity that is imperfect; however, the gospel message still gets through. I’m an imperfect vessel, but God still uses me to proclaim Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected, and that man is justified by faith alone. What’s God-breathed is His Spirit that gives life to all things, including His word (scripture) and my very transformation and existence as a Christian.

    With regard to Jesus being married, He will be married when the Church is presented to Him as His bride, but then this is metaphorical language. God uses things that are human to teach us about things spiritual. Now, I can understand why the idea of Jesus being married is more than an opinion in the LDS Church, especially in light of the LDS teaching that marriage is prerequisite to eternal life. But, eternal life does not come through anyone other than Jesus Christ. A wife is not dependent on her husband to call her through some veil with her new name (and hope he remembers it)to gain entrance into God’s presence for eternity. Each person is dependent on Jesus Christ ALONE.

    One last thing: where do you get that Luther and Wesley believed in polygamy? If there’s evidence, please present it because I am Wesleyan in my theology, and have never heard that. Thanks.

  29. Ralph says:


    Martin Luther endorsed and performed the plural marriages of one of the nobel men in his time. This can be found if you google ‘Luther’ and ‘polygamy’.

    As far as Wesley goes I will apologise and say that the site I was reading that day was wrong. As I said in the earlier post, I had just learned about Wesley. After more reading this is what I have found – Charles Wesley’s sister married a polygamist, and either Charles’ son or grandson (the other sites I read are a little confusing as there appears to be 2 Charles Wesleys; father and son) practised polygamy. The original site I read mentioned that it was Charles Wesley’s son who was the polygamist and that Charles said nothing to the contrary about it but supported it. Most of the other website I have since read do not give this opinion. All the websites say that John Wesley, Charles’ brother, openly spoke out against polygamy. So that first site I read gave their opinion about the supposed silence from Charles about polygamy and his son/grandson.

    I am trying to do the research but its hard when I can only do it at work.

  30. Arthur Sido says:

    Ralph, it what you are saying is true (BIG IF) the Luther was wrong to do so. Luther was not a prophet, anymore so than any of the other men who authored books on my shelves. Where Calvin was wrong, I say he is wrong. Where Spurgeon is wrong, I say he is wrong. They are not infallible, they knew themselves to not be infallible and no one thinks they are. Smith on he other hand claimed to be the prophet of the restoration, and was a liar, a scoundrel and a womanizer.

  31. germit says:

    Ralph: On the 24th you wrote that “those (polygamous) sites believe that the Bible shows that God endorsed polygamy and that it is not a sin” To repeat the theme of my post: SO WHAT?? These men can say or believe all they want, the KKK opens up their meetings with the big, fat bible on the podium, and we could go on and on. As for Luther, are you refering to his involvment with Philip the Landgrave of Hesse?? I haven’t done the homework on that yet, but is that all you’ve got for Luther’s ENDORSEMENT idea? Did Luther ever teach, preach, or write about polygamy ? Did he ever say it was commanded by God, that it was necessary for holiness, etc.? Let’s assume for a second that he was totally complicit in doing a polygamous marriage. I’d say he would be 100% wrong, but is that really a fair comparison to JS if there is nothing in Luther’s teaching and writing to push polygamy forward. This doesn’t look like ‘apples to apples’ to me, Ralph. “Endorses” means more to me than “tripped up over a sin”. And as it has been mentioned several times, I have NO PROBLEM understanding that Luther was a sinner. Your earlier post to me above asked some VERY good questions, by the way, I’m not blowing you off, questions like that are worthy of a thought out post: your stuff is a cut above. BLESSINGS, Germit.

  32. jackg says:


    Thanks for the clarification on Wesley. I didn’t remember falling asleep in class, but who knows? 🙂 Anyway, I respect that you corrected the error. Thank you. As for Luther, well, he had his issues. But, one thing to remember, and I’ve said it before, God works through a broken humanity. Luther definitely wasn’t perfect, but God still used Him to bring forth truth (naturally, Catholics will disagree with this). His 95 theses was remarkable. Another thing to remember is that men like Luther worked from within the framework of the Bible, not outside it as I believe JS did. So, there is a big difference here.

    As for John Wesley, he was a remarkable man and his brother, Charles, wrote a great majority of the hymns Christians have sung for centuries, now. Wesley focused on Christian perfection, which is rooted in loving God and loving humanity. He taught entire sanctification, that humanity can become perfect in love through the working of the Holy Spirit, and achieve entire sanctification in this life time, that man does not have to remain in bondage and does not have to sin. Did he get everything right in his theology? No, but everything he espoused worked from within the framework of the Bible. Anyway, I think studying his life and theology will be interesting for you. Though not a prophet, he was a servant of the LORD who loved God and his fellowmen, and made great personal sacrifices to bring the gospel to others.

  33. germit says:

    Ralph: tying up part of loose end here, your patience is JOB-esque. Since the Manifesto God has not told anyone to take more than one wife.. but obviously, not because polygamy is wrong, just wrong for now (until God gives the OK). Doesn’t it seem less than 100% true for your leaders to blare out early and often: “we have absolutely no connection whatsoever with polygamy..” Is that something on my glasses, because I see a current connection that is ‘on hold’. Can we both agree that there are people and groups that we both ‘don’t own’. You don’t own the FLDS and 100 plus offshoots of the original LDS church. I’ll accept that. I’m not given the same leeway because….?? Sure, your prophet and heirarchy told you (by revelation) who was in and who was out. I’m tuned to the bible channel and my cable package doesn’t get the ‘prophet/seer/revelator channel. Are we really that different?? We are BOTH making choices: you are deferring that responsibility to the guys with the direct line to God. OK. I’m not subcontracting that job out. I don’t see a fundemental difference as far as we BOTH are making a decision that NOT everyone who says they are either ‘LDS’ or “orthodox” are the real deal. Does this help??

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