The following message (though not this picture) was posted yesterday on the Mormon Church’s public affairs blog. It explains the group’s unhappiness with recent news reports that refer to “splinter groups” which hive off from the Salt Lake City-based “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (AKA “the Mormon Church”) as “Mormons.”
These splinter groups (AKA “Mormon Fundamentalists”) assiduously devote themselves to the practice of the doctrine of polygamy (which was renounced by THE Mormon Church in 1890) and around whichever Viagra-addled alpha male has set himself up as the prophet, seer, and revelator for that particular harem.
Yes, it’s kind of weird, especially since the real Mormon Church used to officially teach (and practice with gusto) the doctrine of “plural marriage” (c.f., D&C 132:51-52, 61-64). But when you consider this issue from the standpoint of the LDS Church, their concern makes sense. And in any case, I personally find the whole wild and wonderful world of Mormonism rather fascinating anyway.
During the past few years most journalists in the U.S. have done an excellent job in clarifying the differences between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and small, polygamist, splinter groups that often call themselves “Mormons” but have no connection with the Church. Since these groups are covered in the press frequently, we appreciate journalists’ efforts to make this distinction.
However, today The Times in London ran a story about a polygamist group, not at all associated with the Church, with the headline “Mormon polygamist Raymond Jessop on trial after raid on sect’s compound.” Journalists who use the word “Mormon” in relation to polygamist groups unassociated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cause enormous amounts of confusion in the minds of their readers. Particularly internationally, readers do not distinguish between these groups and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which there are over 13.5 million members worldwide.
A few weeks ago I was in Korea and spoke with some of the Church’s Public Affairs media representatives there. They expressed frustration with international wire services that inappropriately use the term “Mormon” in their stories in association with fringe polygamists groups. The Korean press often reruns these stories with the wire service inaccuracies. The effect of such misinformation in Korea, and other countries where the Church has fewer members and is less well known, is much greater. . . . (continue reading)