Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The FLDS church and mainstream Mormonism

Unless you live under a rock, you have either heard of or read about the raid on the polygamist compound in Texas. Over 400 kids were taken, many of whom were sexually abused. Any time something like this happens, everyone I know asks me about it and I have always wondered why. Having put distance between me and the Mormon church, I am beginning to understand.

When Mormons hear about the FLDS practices, they usually dismiss them because they do not consider that religious group part of Mormonism. I know that because I did it myself for many years. My canned response to such questions would always go something like this.

“While the LDS church once practiced polygamy, they no longer condone it and anyone that is found practicing it is excommunicated. So, the “Mormons” spoken of in this case are not really Mormon and have nothing to do with the church I belong to.”

That would be the end of the conversation and I would think nothing of it. Since then, I have become a bit more enlightened on the subject and have realized that this kind of attitude is dangerous. LDS members seem to ignore the fact that those in the FLDS religion are actually following the teachings of Joseph Smith very closely. They believe that he was a prophet, and they follow the Book of Mormon and other revelations, just like mainstream Mormons do. They have the same roots and their basic tenets come from the mouths of early LDS leaders. They have chosen to stay with those doctrines while mainstream Mormonism has, in many cases, gone in a different direction.

If Joseph Smith lived today, would Mormons think the same way about him as they do Warren Jeffs? If you compare the actions of the two men, they are very similar. They both forced women and underage girls, through coercion, to marry them. They provided the same service to other men who proved their loyalty to them. They both had sex with those women against their will and held their victims hostage through threats of eternal damnation and physical punishment if they were not obedient.

While the church stopped the practice of polygamy back in 1890, there were actually still other plural marriages that were permitted by the prophet up until around 1904. The belief in plural marriage still exists in the Morg and it is my contention that if they had not received so much social and political pressure to change, they would still be practicing it today.

Here’s the question that comes to mind when I think about this topic. If the Mormon church had not stopped the practice of polygamy, would I have ended up like one of those poor kids? As a grown man, would I have been a participant in something so degrading and hurtful to women and children? It is a question worth thinking about because it is my opinion that most Mormons don’t understand how close they were to being put into the same situation.


  1. You might say that the FLDS are consistent mormons.

  2. wow anon #1 hit it out of the park....warren jeffs has been compared to being more like joseph smith then current lds prophets. He follows the earlier more pure form of the restored gospel.

  3. Your insight is such a learning experience for me. I have never been much exposed to the LSD church and this is very eye-opening. Anyway, just want you to know that I'm still here. Praying for your broken heart. :)

  4. Julie,
    This has been an eye opening experience for me as well. Once I got to the point where I allowed myself the freedom to think and ponder the real doctrines of the church, I found a whole new sub-religion I never really new existed. It is like I am re-discovering real Mormonism for myself.

    I’m very grateful to have people like you and the many other readers to share my experience with. I definitely do not feel alone in my journey anymore.

  5. Soy Yo,

    I grew up in St. George, Utah and I have relatives who came from Colorado City, basically where Warren Jeff's lived. Its always intrigued me to think about how the polygamists live their lives. They beleive in Joseph Smith, they beleive in the BofM, Book of Commandments, stuff like that. I've thought about the same things you explain in this post and thats exactly why I have such a problem with the early church.

    I think the LDS church's stance on the issue is a PR stunt. They just don't want to deal with explaining their history. They would rather just say that we don't do it so just leave us alone already!

    If you can't look at the FLDS church and say to yourself "Yes, I beleive that I could be a member of that church", then you have no business being a member of the LDS church.

  6. Paranoid,

    That last statement you made really says it all. Thank you for your insight into this topic that obviously comes close to home for you.

  7. Warren Jeffs more like Joseph Smith??? Are you kidding??? You obviously don't know much about Joseph Smith. What about Smith's devotion to missionary work? His joking, fun loving nature? When did he ever hold little girls upside down to "shake the sin" out of them? And most importantly, where is his witness of Jesus Christ that Joseph gave constantly? Jeffs is a wannabe anything, focusing on the least fundamental part of Smith's teachings - get over the one verse in the D&C - it doesn't apply to the 21st century, just like we don't do animal sacrifice anymore! Anyone who uses this drivel for a learning experience on LDS people needs to look at more credible sources than a bitter former Mormon.

  8. You think you're telling me things about Jos. Smith I haven't heard before? I think your problem while you were LDS was you were like the FLDS - only wanting to hear good things about their "prophet" - a lemming who didn't look at both sides. It sounds like you found the first good excuse to leave, like some fourth-hand story prattled off by Fawn Brodie or the Tanners. Have you checked their sources? I have - they're pretty weak. If Jos. Smith was sleeping with all those girls, WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN??? There isn't even ONE documented case of a child by them from JS. He was never convicted BTW, unlike Mr. Jeffs. Again, back to my point that polygamy was a principle for a place and time, and sounds like it was really important at the time, like animal sacrifice in the Old Testament. As far as FUNDAMENTALS, you can't truthfully say it is - those are in the Articles of Faith - you know that. Anyway, enjoy your new-found freedom.

  9. I find it amusing you think I only want to see one side of Joseph Smith. You need to look in the mirror. All my life, I was only shown the good side of his life so I think I know that part pretty well. The other side that LDS leaders don’t want you to see is rather damning and now I know why they only want part of his life taught in church.

    Members of the LDS church are told to study only the manuals and literature the church puts out so they can edit and censor it however much they want. A great example of this is the current Relief Society/Priesthood manual “Teachings of Presidents of The Church – Joseph Smith”. In it, the teachings about polygamy are virtually nonexistent. The movie shown at Temple Square about Joseph Smith portrays him as only having one wife and we all know that is not accurate. The same manual with the teachings of Brigham Young was compiled using a censored version of his sermons, many of which appear in the Journal of Discourses. Anything that could be considered damaging or controversial was conveniently left out. If I only saw one side of these men, it is because that is the only information I was permitted to see. If you mention anything negative about a prophet, no matter how true it is, you are accused of using false, “anti-Mormon” information. I took it upon myself to investigate what the church was hiding and now I know why they try to suppress it.

    For the record, I have avoided anything written by Fawn Brodie and the Tanners because I know Mormons don’t have a good opinion of them. I also avoid “The God Makers” for that same reason. If you took the time to look at my sources you would know that.

    If you read the journal accounts from Joseph Smith’s wives, there is little doubt he consummated his marriages. You make the assumption that having sex automatically leads to having a child. You could not be more wrong. I know quite a few women who are unable to have children but maintain a healthy and satisfying sex life. To say no sex was involved because there were no children is flawed reasoning.

    Animal sacrifice was a law given to the Jews as a symbol of Christ and his sacrifice for their sins. It ended because Jesus fulfilled the law, not because of social and governmental pressure, like polygamy.

    No where in the Articles of Faith does it talk about Temple worship but without that, a person can not reach exaltation. I would say that is a fundamental piece of doctrine. After all, that is one of the main things that separate Mormons from other churches. It does mention “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” But if you consider that the “catch-all” then that would also include the doctrine of plural marriage, which is still practiced in the Temples today.

    Thank you for the well-wishes, I have found my exit from Mormonism to be quite liberating and worth the pain it has caused me. I should have done it years ago.