If you haven’t read “What’s in a Name (Part 1)”, follow the link below.
“Are we Mormons? Are we LDS? Are we FLDS?”
A common question/complaint/misunderstanding that we’ve seen floating around since our public debut has been what our relationship is to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the group known as the FLDS. After the premier of the show, we saw in a few places that people were pretty bent out of shape that we referred to ourselves as Mormons and discussed our background in the LDS church. I remember seeing one comment where a lady who I’m sure is very sweet and not a busy-body at all stated that she was going to call “church headquarters” and report us. I’m still not sure what she thought that would accomplish. We don’t live in a day anymore where churches are allowed to carry out sentences of capital punishment on heretics and apostates. All of this does bring up a fairly good discussion though. Are we Mormons? Are we LDS? Are we FLDS? In part II of this blog post, I’m going to discuss this topic.
“…with time doctrines and practices began to change.”
When you think of polygamy and Mormonism, a more easy way to relate to it may be to think of the changes in Christianity since Christ founded his original church. It has a longer history that people are probably more frequently aware of. After the founding of the original Christian Church, with time doctrines and practices began to change. Some accepted these changes; some resisted them; some went back after several decades or centuries and tried to fix the changes. Which is why there is now a Roman Catholic Church, the various Orthodox churches, Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Non-denominational believers and others. They all fall under the umbrella of Christianity, but their various denominations and interpretations of their religion are different.
We are former members of the LDS church, and now we are non-denominational Mormon Fundamentalists
It’s similar in Mormonism. Tami and I were raised in the mainstream LDS church, which has made several changes in doctrine over the years. As those changes have occurred, there have been some who have been resistant to those changes and some who have embraced it. For some, the changes haven’t been radical enough. So just as it is in the greater Christian community, so it is in Mormonism. We have several different denominations and schools of thought/belief. We are no longer mainstream members of the LDS church since our excommunication over a year ago. Our position to the LDS church is that we are former members, now conscientious objectors.
For us, we don’t believe that it’s right to jettison doctrine because we face persecution for it and we don’t believe the more convenient modern narrative surrounding the changes that occurred in the LDS church at the end of the 19th century. In a world that is struggling with religion, I can understand why the leadership of the LDS church feels the need to do all that they can to save face and continue to grow and retain their membership. In fact, they now are counseled to no longer refer to themselves as Mormons. We will continue to claim the title of Mormons and consider ourselves Mormon Fundamentalists (non-denominational, currently). As such, we don’t feel that we can follow a religion that claims to be outside of the influences of “the world” and instead remains just far enough behind the world to seem like they aren’t part of it to their believing membership.
Who are the FLDS?
The FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints) are a denomination within Mormon fundamentalism, particularly noted for following Warren Jeffs, but they are by no means the only Mormon fundamentalists and in fact are not even in the majority of them. The FLDS get a lot of notoriety, as well as some other groups, because of the heinous abuses that have occurred in those communities.
I’m not really sure what the officials in Utah and Arizona thought was going to happen when they persecuted and forced people into the darkness on the fringes of society, but it definitely opened the way for monsters to come into those communities and prey on good, but vulnerable people.
It’s a tragic situation. There are many Mormon fundamentalists, my family included, that absolutely abhor any abuse in relationships and any coercion. The development of the group that is the FLDS is actually a fairly recent development in the history of Mormon fundamentalism. Prior to Warren Jeff’s ascendency to power and even prior to his father’s, they were a group that looked quite different.
We’ll save a post on the history of Mormon fundamentalism for another time, however.
So to sum all of this up, our family identifies ourselves as Mormon fundamentalists.
We have no connection to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (also known as the LDS church or frequently referred to as the “mainstream church”) other than our background while growing up and prior to our choice to live in the principle of plural marriage. We also are not FLDS. That is a different branch of Mormon fundamentalism. We view them overall as good people that were forced over the past century into a situation that made them vulnerable to the leadership of wicked men. We have no connection with them, other than the fact that we all fall under the large umbrella of Mormon fundamentalism and then under the even larger umbrella of Mormonism.
We should allow all men to worship how, where, or what they may
We have no ill-will or bitterness towards any of our fellow believers in Mormonism, whether they’re mainstream, fundamentalist, reorganized, or whatever they may be. We believe firmly in the counsel given by Joseph Smith when he said that we should allow all men to worship how, where, or what they may. We will support those who view us as apostates in their belief. We will support those who agree with us. We will support those who believe that we are nuttier than a pack of squirrels, because at the end of the day, our religion is a religion of agency. We are all free to choose how we will seek out a relationship with God and how we will walk in the path we feel that he has laid out for us. We certainly appreciate those who have advocated for our freedom to do the same. The backbone of our great nation is the God-given rights that we all enjoy. Rights like freedom of religion and freedom of speech. We hope that someday soon we can all join together and collectively decide that those rights are worth defending and protecting for all of us. Not just for those who are popular or are more outspoken.