Tuesday, May 6, 2008

They Can’t Have It Both Ways

A friend of mine asked that I write a post about this topic so, Lunar Quaker, this one is for you.

For the past few years the LDS church has really made a strong push to promote themselves as being part of Christianity.

According to Webster, Christianity is…

"the religion derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture, and professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant bodies."

Those who are part of Christianity are referred to as “Christians”.

Mormons claim to be “Christian” because they believe in Jesus Christ but those in the Christian community point to many reasons they should not be considered as such and by pure definition, Webster agrees. That is not the topic of this post but definitely worth further discussion in the near future.

This post is actually being written to talk about the LDS church and how they have responded to the FLDS issue that is going on in my “backyard”. Below, are two clips from LDS spokesmen regarding the separation they wish to make between themselves and the fundamentalist groups that practice polygamy.

In both statements, the men have asked for total separation of the term “Mormon” from that of any fundamentalist or polygamous sect. It is important to note that there are over 200 religious groups, which are recognized by the US Government, that follow the teachings of Joseph Smith and consider the Book of Mormon to be scripture. The term “Mormon” obviously comes from the idea that the LDS church has an additional book of scripture that sets them apart from other churches. They are often called Mormons because of that simple fact. Why is it then that other churches that use the Book of Mormon can not be referred to by that name as well?

On the church website, they have listed guidelines for how they should be referred to in publications.

"While the term 'Mormon Church' has long been publicly applied to the Church as a nickname, it is not an authorized title, and the Church discourages its use.

When referring to people or organizations that practice polygamy, the terms 'Mormons,' 'Mormon fundamentalist,' 'Mormon dissidents,' etc. are incorrect. The Associated Press Stylebook notes: “The term Mormon is not properly applied to the other ... churches that resulted from the split after [Joseph] Smith’s death.”

I have two main questions regarding this issue:

1. The Mormon church wants to called “Christian” because they think they share the same basic beliefs as the groups that make up Christianity but they do not want churches who have the same beliefs as them to be referred to as “Mormon”. Does anyone else see the hypocrisy in this besides me?

2. If the LDS church discourages the use of the term “Mormon” even when referring to themselves, why all the fuss when another group claims a term they don’t really like anyways?

No matter what the church does, it will never be able to separate themselves from polygamy and those sects that split from them that still practice what Joseph Smith taught. If the LDS church wants to really make a statement regarding polygamy, they need to revoke section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants which gives the eternal law of polygamy and speaks of the fact that polygamy will be practiced in the Celestial Kingdom (the highest level of Heaven). Until they do that, they will always be known as the church that practiced polygamy and still practices celestial polygamy.

As for me, from now on, I am only going to refer to the FLDS group as “Mormon Fundamentalists”.
To deny the connection is to deny reality.


  1. The term "Mormon" is a fine one to describe a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but not members of break-off groups. It is the Associated Press style guide, not the church, that makes this distinction since the predominant group is identified separately by the public. As for the "fundamentals" of the LDS church, plural marriage is not one of them - those are the articles of faith. If you count plural marriage as one of them you would have to count thousands of policies (which change even in the scriptures). The immutable truth that we believe Jesus is the Christ does not change. Thus a "Fundamentalist Mormon" would really describe a member of the 12 million+ member church who truly believes in Christ.

  2. Mormonism is typically considered a Protestant religion by non-Mormons. Its only Mormons that would really make the point of a restoration of pre-Catholic Christianity. Thus Webster actually does include Mormons as Christians.

  3. Webster defines Protestant as:
    ”a member of any of several church denominations denying the universal authority of the Pope and affirming the Reformation principles of justification by faith alone, the priesthood of all believers, and the primacy of the Bible as the only source of revealed truth.”

    That would consist of those churches that came about as a result of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. Unless, Mormon doctrine has really changed, they do not share those save views. Even if they did, the claim by the LDS church of the “restoration” would have taken away any ties between them and another religious group.

    Mormons stand alone!

  4. I was reading somewhere that there are a multitude of mormon splinter groups that use that name in one way or another. Do "mormons" pay any attention to these other groups? Are they all at odds with one another?

    The only ones I know of are the FLDS, from the media and the RLDS.

  5. There is a large number of sects that broke off from the LDS chruch at one point or another. Not all of them still follow the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon but the majority claim some part of his doctrine.

    The LDS church tries very hard to distance themselves from any and all splinter groups.

  6. "The LDS church tries very hard to distance themselves from any and all splinter groups."

    that's the same way christians feel about the mormons..christians will never ever believe mormons are a form of christianity.
    mormons are nothing more then wolves in sheep's clothing...something appearing good on the outside, but once you look deeper it is nothing you expected.


  7. So then any church before the mormons is wrong because they have the "restored gospel" and any church that leaves them is wrong. And since they claim to have direct revelation from God some other group could not claim that.

    It sounds to me that they believe they are the one and only true church, whether they admit to it or not.

  8. They openly admit to that belief.
    D&C 1:30 says the following...

    And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, **the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased**, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually—

    That is something this is regularly spoken of and it leads to the condescending attitude of most Mormons when speaking of other churches.