Confronting those in need of comfort

My reaction to John’s reaction to the LDS reaction to the FLDS situation was a little different. I really don’t think that we’ve been overly apologetic, as a people, for polygamists. In fact, I find it horrifying how quickly church members and leaders were to throw those folks under the bus.

The most prominent reaction comes from Elder Quentin L. Cook, a recently-sustained member of the Twelve. In a smiling, amiable, six-minute video (available through the church website), he sets out a number of points. He starts out on some overall concerns:

-Confusion (a term Elder Cook uses repeatedly) about the difference between LDS and FLDS does not serve the church.
-News readers potentially misunderstand the difference, and this is confusing to the public.
-It’s a concern to the church. Our members are not polygamists.
-The media uses the term “Mormon” without always clarifying the difference.

Elder Cook makes an “appeal to the media” not to say Mormon while referencing polygamists. From there, he goes into a discussion of differences between the LDS church and FLDS and other offshoots:

-The church has 13 million members. These sects are small.
-The church is worldwide and has many converts.
-The church is “mainstream” (a word Elder Cook uses repeatedly).
-Church members are educated and encouraged to get an education.
-We don’t practice arranged marriage.
-We have a number of occupations.
-We’re not separate communities; we’re mainstream; we’re not isolated.
-We don’t dress funny or have weird hair styles.

Finally, he reiterates that news stories that don’t adequately distinguish between the two groups are “of great concern to members of the church.”

The Press Room also released a short summary of Elder Cook’s remarks. The press release noted:

Elder Cook said it is very confusing to the public when some media use “Mormon” to describe the Texas-based polygamous group that is currently under investigation for possible incidents of child abuse. He reiterated that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with over 13 million members worldwide, is not connected in any way to sects that practice polygamy.

Drawing contrasts between the Church and polygamists, Elder Cook said that Church members do not live in isolated compounds, arrange marriages, dress in old-fashioned clothing or wear unusual hairstyles.

Rather, they are participating members of the communities in which they live throughout the world, get married at the average age of 23 and are well educated. In fact, 60 percent of Church members in the United States have some college education, which is 10 percent above the national average.

A similar quote is given by church public affairs rep Mike Otterson. He’s quoted as saying, “We don’t look like these people, we don’t dress like these people, we don’t worship like these people, we don’t believe in the same things as these people.” That’s the end of the quote.

This reaction — the only official church reaction I’ve seen to the whole FLDS situation — is something we ought to be ashamed of.

The FLDS raid was an abomination. An increasing number of news reports about the FLDS raid paint the scene as nothing short of horrifying. Hundreds of children were torn from their parents; little children were brutalized, crying for help, wandering helplessly; desperate mothers were torn from their nursing infants. (It brings to mind Christ’s words about the Abomination of Desolation — “woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days.”) News stories (like this and this) chronicle the environment:

A boy estimated at age 3 walked along a row of cots asking for someone to rock him after he was separated from his mother, one employee wrote. Two CPS worker trailed the youngster taking notes but not helping him. His brother, age 8, eventually took the child into his arms and sat with him in a rocking chair.
“That little boy will always be in my mind,” the employee wrote. “How can a beautiful, healthy child be taken from a healthy, loving home and forced into a situation like that, right here in America, right here in Texas?”

And the first (and only!) thing that the church formally says about it is, “hey, don’t confuse those guys with us.” To add further insult, this is done in the most belittling way possible — “look, we have much better hair than those guys. We’re not freaks like they are.”

Similar attitudes are echoed in the membership. I received multiple copies of a horrible e-mail, juxtaposing pictures of Steve Young and Ken Jennings with news shots of traumatized FLDS moms waiting outside a courtroom to plead for their children. “This is what a Mormon looks like” (Steve Young picture). “This is not what a Mormon looks like” (FLDS moms). Shudder.

(Not all members have been so cavalier. Guy Murray — blessings on him — has done an admirable job from the beginning of chronicling and protesting the horror, over at Messenger and Advocate. Others, like Ardis Parshall, have also consistently spoken against the abuse.)

As a press strategy, the church’s approach seems to have worked pretty well, at least in the short term. Every CNN story I read about the raid contained a disclaimer, like “The FLDS, which teaches that polygamy brings glorification in heaven, broke away from the mainline Mormon church, which disavowed polygamy more than a century ago.”

If that’s the payoff for throwing our FLDS brothers and sisters under the bus, then we sold our birthright for a mess of pottage.

I can’t help but wonder if the church was given a test — and failed. We had an unprecedented opportunity here to stand up against injustice and oppression. We had a chance to truly comfort those in need of comfort. This opportunity was particularly relevant, because the oppressed FLDS were suffering for exactly the same beliefs that we once claimed, and that we were persecuted for — a persecution that retains an important place in our memory as a people.

And yet, when a similar persecution comes up in modern days, all that the church can do is to (quickly!) say, “hey, those folks aren’t us.” Instead of making appeals to the media that they not confuse our names, why not make an appeal to the media that they blow the lid off this horror?

In the past, our ancestors has faced brutal oppression for the very same practice, and called out for help to others, and most others simply stood impassively by. Now, when the tables are turned, we’ve shown that we’re capable of impassive bystanding, too.

Isn’t there something in our history, doctrine, or culture that should make us want to stand up for the oppressed FLDS families? Hell, doesn’t the Proclamation’s language on families suggest that the church ought to have formally said something about this massive attempted sundering of families? Even while maintaining our differences, can’t we stand together as brothers and sisters?

What would have happened if the church had made an official statement like,

“The reports coming out of Texas about treatment of FLDS children are horrifying. Simply mind-boggling.

Now, to be clear, we are not FLDS. They split with us over polygamy, nearly a century ago.

But we absolutely stand beside them in condemning this harsh state action. The state must stop actual abuse, but no abuse has been shown individually. And the state should not break up families — including FLDS — over mere religious belief. We condemn in the strongest terms the district court decision that upheld this action.”

Instead, we waited until the moment passed. And now, it’s too late. Moral guidance now comes from others, like the ACLU, which recently released a (belated) statement condemning the raid. Legal guidance comes from an appellate court decision reversing the lower court. And barring further misadventure, FLDS families will be reunited soon. Meanwhile the sole guidance church members have gotten from our leaders about this topic is a talk about how our hair is better than theirs.

I wish we had done more. I really don’t like the way pottage tastes.

Comments

  1. Well said. Horrifying, to say the least.

  2. As I noted on Guy Murray’s site when the official reply came out, it seems geared solely towards distinguishing LDS from FLDS. Ultimately that’s important, particularly in an international context, but at the same time I fear we have missed an opportunity — and perhaps a duty — to serve those who are suffering.

  3. StillConfused says:

    -We don’t dress funny or have weird hair styles. Yeah right. Guess they haven’t seen a number of the teenagers at Church recently!!

  4. Thank you, Kaimi. I’ve found myself particularly uncomfortable at, for example, a mass-circulation email I received contrasting the weird, freaky hairstyles and long dress of the FLDS with the trendy dress and grooming of modern, hip famous Mormons.

    The question of how far to embrace the world is one that confronts all religions. Obviously, the answers and degrees of compromise are legion. But I find it disturbing when members of my own faith hurtle after the modernity bus, tripping all over themselves and panting to point out our trendy hairstyles and hip clothes in order to be accepted as one of the “cool kids.”

    It’s one thing to distance ourselves from doctrines and practices. I think it’s another to titter in contempt at the hairstyles and clothes of others. The Book of Mormon seems to have rather a lot to say about people being lifted up in pride at one’s own fine attire and making a mock of others whose attire isn’t quite so fine.

  5. I’m torn. As an individual member, I felt entirely free and obligated to say what I thought: that despite my religious opposition to polygamy and my human opposition to underage marriage, spousal abuse, whatever else was rumored (but unproven), the state overreaction, based as it was on abhorrence to a despised religion, was a danger that faced ME, as well as an obvious violation of constitutional protections.

    But I’m not sure what the church itself really should have done. It *is* an important matter that we be distinguished from the FLDS, and the institutional concern against confusion is justified. And after having posted comments in a lot of places about my fears of government overreaction, and was wrongly accused in just as many places of being sympathetic to FLDS polygamy and in favor of the foulest crimes, I’m not sure I would want the church to be charged with those accusations.

  6. I don’t know we should expect the Church to be a civil rights advocacy organization and publicly comment on state violations of civil rights of unaffiliated citizens. I can’t think of any instance in my lifetime when the Church has done that sort of thing and I don’t know why they would start now. I’m much more disappointed in the muted response from the ACLU.

    I have been concerned all along that the civil rights of some of my fellow citizens who happen to be FLDS were being violated and I have expressed as much around the blogs. My concern is as a fellow citizen, though, not as a member of a religion with some shared history.

  7. Hear, hear, Ardis.

  8. The Book of Mormon seems to have rather a lot to say about people being lifted up in pride at one’s own fine attire and making a mock of others whose attire isn’t quite so fine.

    Exactamondo!

  9. Kaimi,

    While I also abhor the cavalier and misinformed reaction of the State of Texas over the FLDS compound in Eldorado, that will sort itself out (indeed, already a Texas appeals court has overturned Judge Barbara Walther’s initial handling of the case). Yes, we all ought to be vigilant about government overstepping its bounds and trampling over individual liberty and rights, but I don’t think the Church should have done anything more than they currently have done. An official statement expressing sympathy for the FLDS from our church’s official spokespersons only further confuses the issues, and blurs the lines between us and the FLDS.

    The church is being accurate when they say that we don’t do the majority of things that the FLDS believe in or practice. Yes, many of these women and children are innocent victims, but I believe, even in Texas, justice can still be had. If we believe in D&C 134 and sustaining the rule of law, the Church has no place in this argument. Do we want to be seen as having sympathy for what potentially could be criminal charges of the worst kind?

    I can see why individual members might want to get involved or express support for whatever reason, but in my view, the Church has acted prudently, and I suspect that we will see over time, prophetic insight.

  10. Kevin and Ardis,
    I think Kaimi’s point here is that the Church did not just remain neutral here. In an effort to emphasize distinction, Elder Cook and others focused on things like bad hair and weird dress. Just sayin’… When christlike behavior runs the risk of bad publicity, is not Christ’s Church still under some obligation to just, ya know, suck it up?

  11. I agree in theory, but not in practice. By making a statement about the legality of the situation or the horrifying aspects of it, the church makes a link between itself and th FLDS church — unless they make similar statement about illegal and horrible political situations in general, which I certainly hope they won’t do.

  12. sister blah 2 says:

    What kevinf said.

  13. Thanks for the comments so far, all. I appreciate the different perspectives.

    Eve writes:

    It’s one thing to distance ourselves from doctrines and practices. I think it’s another to titter in contempt at the hairstyles and clothes of others. The Book of Mormon seems to have rather a lot to say about people being lifted up in pride at one’s own fine attire and making a mock of others whose attire isn’t quite so fine.

    Amen, Eve.

    It’s interesting because so much of the press coverage was about dress and hair. I can see where the impulse came from. But just because it’s a natural impulse (distancing us from those weirdos) doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

    Ardis writes:

    But I’m not sure what the church itself really should have done. It *is* an important matter that we be distinguished from the FLDS, and the institutional concern against confusion is justified. And after having posted comments in a lot of places about my fears of government overreaction, and was wrongly accused in just as many places of being sympathetic to FLDS polygamy and in favor of the foulest crimes, I’m not sure I would want the church to be charged with those accusations.

    I understand that concern, Ardis. There is a real, intellectual-property-like, protecting-the-brand concern here. It’s a legitimate concern.

    I don’t think it should be the only concern, though. I don’t even think it should be the primary concern. But even if it’s primary, there should be _some_ reaction against the family break-ups.

    What’s really more horrible — the fact that a few media stories said “Mormon” while showing an FLDS mom, or the fact that 450 kids were taken from their parents, including 18-month-old toddlers?

    If we need to make a protecting-the-brand statement, that’s fine. But let’s not make it our first priority — much less our _only_ priority.

    Tom,

    I don’t know we should expect the Church to be a civil rights advocacy organization and publicly comment on state violations of civil rights of unaffiliated citizens. I can’t think of any instance in my lifetime when the Church has done that sort of thing and I don’t know why they would start now.

    How’s about this line:

    “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother . . .

    We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets. We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

    Kevinf,

    “If we believe in D&C 134 and sustaining the rule of law, the Church has no place in this argument.”

    And yet it _does_ get involved, a lot. (See, e.g., same-sex marriage.)

    Why not here?

    Brad writes,

    When christlike behavior runs the risk of bad publicity, is not Christ’s Church still under some obligation to just, ya know, suck it up?

    Amen, brother. :)

  14. Mark IV says:

    Show of hands –

    Is there anyone reading this thread who has NOT occasionally been guilty of weird hair or funny clothes?

  15. Norbert writes,

    By making a statement about the legality of the situation or the horrifying aspects of it, the church makes a link between itself and th FLDS church — unless they make similar statement about illegal and horrible political situations in general, which I certainly hope they won’t do.

    You’re right, that the church doesn’t often weigh in on politics.

    But there are counter points.

    First, the church does wade into politics sometimes. From alcohol sales to same-sex marriage to nuclear waste disposal and Mark IV missiles, the church isn’t exactly a pure non-participant in politics.

    And second — once the church starts talking about the FLDS situation, hasn’t it voluntarily taken upon itself the responsibility to address important issues?

    By the discussion and lack of discussion, isn’t there an implication that the rights of these moms and kids don’t matter? They’re not worth talking about? Because, clearly there’s a sense that some things (brand protection) _are_ worth talking about.

    Once you open that can of worms, you’re making a statement on politics, one way or the other, whether you want to or not. By omitting any discussion of the rights of FLDS moms and kids, the implication is clear — those rights don’t really matter. They’re not things we’re going to talk about — instead, we’ll focus on brand protection.

    Even a nod — “there are complicated issues with these kids; we recognize that; our hearts and prayers are that these families will have peace, although we take no position on the legal propriety of the raid” — would have been better than the silence, and the implications of that silence.

    Hell, man. In the past month, there have been separate church press releases about the Osmond family and about American Idol. Isn’t the family integrity of several dozen of our religious and genetic cousins at least as important as the goings-on in a damn television show?

  16. Brad,

    Perhaps, but I take issue with Kaimi’s thoughts about what the church might have said:

    The state must stop actual abuse, but no abuse has been shown individually. And the state should not break up families — including FLDS — over mere religious belief.

    .

    If I recall, the Appeals court decision was based on lumping together all 400+ “children” as members of one household, not that there doesn’t seem to be any abuse going on here. Arranged marriages of teens, seemingly random reassignments of wives, all smack of at least the abuse of power, if not actual sexual abuse.

    I’ll grant that some in Texas may have had religious motivations, to “save” those poor FLDS folks. Well, I tend to believe they needed saving from Jeffs and his power elite, but that the State of Texas really fumbled this one badly. I have sympathy for fellow citizens feeling the boot heel of government intrusion, but I have less for their warping of doctrine and history into the mess that the FLDS exhibit. The ACLU and citizen groups are the best sources for criticizing Texas CPS and the courts.

    I’ll also grant that taken out of context (I haven’t had a chance to watch the video of Elder Cook’s statement), the comments about dress and hair appear an unfortunate choice of words. The dress and hair, though, represent an objectification of women as cheap, fungible property, rather than necessarily as sexual objects; however, that may still be at the core of all of this. I guess that I have been surprised at the sudden jump by many in the Church to come to the defense of the FLDS. I’ll toss out a hypothetical that is sure to earn me some scorn and derision (perhaps even deserved), but by this logic, should the church have spoken out in defense of the Catholic church over the priest sex abuse scandals? I know it’s not the same, but then, really, how different is it?

  17. I think that the primary reason why the church approached this matter in the manner it did was the fear of being perceived as sympathetic to the doctrine of the FLDS. As most of the world perceives the church as not actually differing at all from the FLDS, I can see their desire to distance themselves. I don’t know that it is admirable; but it is understandable.

    Just think of it this way. With the church officially being entirely unsympathetic, it was nonetheless widely speculated that our lack of sympathy was just some sort of public relations ploy. Imagine the commentary if actual sympathy had been expressed…

  18. I guess that I have been surprised at the sudden jump by many in the Church to come to the defense of the FLDS. I’ll toss out a hypothetical that is sure to earn me some scorn and derision (perhaps even deserved), but by this logic, should the church have spoken out in defense of the Catholic church over the priest sex abuse scandals? I know it’s not the same, but then, really, how different is it?

    It’s hugely different. We aren’t defending FLDS actions any more than we would be defending the actions of abusive Catholic priests. What we *are* defending is the FLDS right to the same legal protections we expect ourselves.

    For there to be an analogy in the Catholic episode, some state would have had to take all altar boys (current, past, and prospective) into custody as if they were all in imminent harm from all priests. Plus their sisters, just in case. The state would have had to refuse to return the children until the families abandoned Catholicism, or at least agreed not to take their children to church as long as the Catholic church allowed men to serve as priests — what with their pervasive system of indoctrination and perpetratorhood, doncha know.

    I don’t understand why those of us who have protested Texas strongarm tactics must continually state that “we do not condone abuse or endorse FLDS religion,” but apparently we have to do that — even within the Bloggernacle.

  19. Mark, Brad,

    As a member of the follically-challenged class myself, I rejoice in the possibility that my own future will involve horrible crimes against coiffure. I think I’ll soon be debating between a Giuliani-esque combover, or a more extreme Lobot approach (remember, the guy who helps Lando escape from Cloud City?).

  20. 17: Yes. As I said, complaining about Texas legal abuse is misunderstood as sympathy for FLDS doctrine. It’s annoying to constantly have to say otherwise, but I’ll survive the inconvenience. I have no doubt that similar expressions by the church would be similarly misconstrued, with far greater consequences than I’m likely to face.

  21. Kaimi,

    The Church does wade into the political waters from time to time. While I am not a firm supporter of some of the church’s activity in regards to same sex marriage, it obviously is viewed as a moral issue.

    The MX missile issue is harder to read (however, I have been thinking about Mark IV building rockets in his basement :)). Given the scope of that project, and it’s location in proximity to the Wasatch Front, I can also see a moral component to what was at least overtly a political action that I applauded at the time, and still do.

    If there is a moral issue here, it is probably the question of abuse, and the church’s position is clear here. From a civil and religious rights issue, it’s not so clear that the church has a valid role to play. While many will see this as strictly a church PR ploy, i really do understand the reluctance to speak out on the legal proceedings in Texas. Even filing a friend of the court brief is perilous, in my view. The church has nothing to gain, and much to lose. Should the courts eventually prosecute and convict some of the male members of the FLDS for child sexual abuse, we’ll get painted with that broad brush regardless of the church’s PR statements.

    When I spoke of respect for the rule of law, we can all hope that Texas gets a huge black eye over this, and that there is not a repeat of this, just as there has not been a repeat at Colorado City/Hildale of the Short Creek raid from Utah or Arizona law enforcement. Quiet, patient restraint is called for here.

  22. sister blah 2 says:

    Oh man, this really hurts to argue with one of my favorite blogpeople :-( but here goes…

    Kaimi, I don’t like your response to Tom. I think he made some good points. It’s not as if the church had been issuing press releases on the infringement of privacy and civil liberties of everyone from Guantanamo detainees to Eliot Spitzer, and then glaringly ignored the FLDS. Invoking the PotF against Tom seems like an emotionally heavy-handed argument in this context. So that’s my beef with the style of your response. On substance, does trying to root out abuse in the FLDS really relate to what the PotF was talking about in that passage? Do not the FLDS under Warren Jeffs do plenty of their own breaking up of families–wife and children reassignment, late-night eviction from homes, child marriages, etc. If anything, those things seem themselves to be the kind of thing that the PotF speaks out against. (Sure, sure, fixing those problems specifically didn’t have to take the form of taking ALL the kids, but like kevinf said, the law is starting to sort itself out with our nice system of checks and balances and appeals and all that.)

    Brad’s “suck it up” sentiment has enormous sway with me. But…I dunno…I just still have real hesitation with the idea that in order to be christlike the church really has any kind of obligation to be going to bat for the FLDS. The separation will have been nightmarish for the kids, but the lawyers are on the job, and having the church make a big fuss doesn’t seem like it would even be helpful at this point, regardless of PR prudence.

  23. StillConfused says:

    I think the Church should avoid making statements regarding actions in the legal system whenever possible. On the extreme, becoming too vocal could subject the charitable exemption of the Church to scrutiny by the IRS. In any event, Church and politics just don’t mix well. I personally think the FLDS folks got a bum deal but I don’t project that feeling onto associations with whom I affiliate.

  24. Ardis,
    Your point is well taken. You should be able to object to the legal abuse without being accused of poly-envy.
    I wonder, though, if this problem isn’t due to the sort of halfway attempts of our church over the years to draw this distinction. Let me give you an example:
    My aunt was married to a man for whom she bore 11 boys. She was ready to call it quits around 7, but he insisted that she not curb the Lord’s will. This all occurred in consultation with church authorities. To top it off, my former uncle tells her that he’d received a revelation that he would take one of the girls from the high school basketball team that he coached as a wife. Apparently, the actual marriage was to take place in the next life, but he was to court the girl here.
    My aunt insisted on another consultation with authorities, and guess what they told her? That’s right. They told her to trust her husband’s priesthood authority.
    Now clearly, this is anecdotal and far from widespread–I hope. However, maybe we haven’t quite drawn the line well enough?

  25. Ardis,

    I knew that I shouldn’t have gone there about the Catholic church, and I apologize, but then I set myself up for that going in, and recognized it.

    I really, really, understand Brad’s comment that we should just “suck it up” and come to the defense of the FLDS; after all, is it so far fetched to think that if Texas gets away with this, then we’re next?

    I truly understand that we are under obligation as individuals to “mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort”. I am also starkly aware of our charge in Matthew 25 about compassion for the naked, hungry, thirsty, sick, and in prison.

    But somehow, I just can’t advocate that the church cross this particular bridge, at this time. It just doesn’t feel right to me.

  26. Show of hands –

    Is there anyone reading this thread who has NOT occasionally been guilty of weird hair or funny clothes?

    Heh, heh, Mark. My entire life is a parade of weird hair and funny clothes. I’m basically a walking “what not to wear” display. Or so I fear.

  27. The disappearance of my (admittedly mean-spirited) link to a certain GA’s comb-over has helped to drive home an important point. The inappropriateness of making fun of the man’s hair is exacerbated by the hypocrisy of my including it in a comment where I laud the imperatives of Christ-like behavior.

    I’ll eat crow publicly by freely admitting that it is not ever appropriate to demean the appearance of others, regardless of the importance of the point one is trying to make.

  28. Brad’s just saying that because he looks funny.

    :P

  29. Latter-day Guy says:

    I, like several of the commentators here, feel very conflicted on this issue. On the one hand, I do think it important to make a clear differentiation between the LDS and the FLDS, and I think that we should bear in mind that there has been very real abuse taking place. On the other hand, the abuse perpetrated by the state has been no less destructive. It’s an ugly, awful problem, for which the victims, the children, bear no responsibility. However, I have not yet heard a solution that makes sense; i.e., one that deals with the crimes but creates no new wounds in the process.

  30. Let me just reiterate that the problem here is not that the Church didn’t send Elders Wickman and Oaks to defend the FLDS pro bono. The problem is that Church leaders tried to distance “us” from “them” by, in part, basically making fun of the weirdness of their lifestyle and aesthetic appearance. That is the shameful part, not the remaining neutral stuff.

  31. Steve Evans says:

    Ardis: “I don’t understand why those of us who have protested Texas strongarm tactics must continually state that “we do not condone abuse or endorse FLDS religion,” but apparently we have to do that — even within the Bloggernacle.”

    Ardis, I can sympathize. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say the vast majority of Bloggernacle participants do not condone abuse or endorse the FLDS religion. I would feel some real relief to leave those constant disclaimers behind — I don’t think they help at all.

  32. sister blah 2 says:

    #26–Let’s just say that my childhood through early teen years were nearly destroyed by the fact that my grandmother’s cosmetology license outlived her knowledge of current styles by many years. (Bless you, Grandma, you know I love you!! But those perms were just. not. right.)

  33. Ardis, Kaimi, Brad,

    First, on a lighter note. I think I’m often guilty of, as Frank Zappa said, of not being dressed to kill, but for social suicide. And I went through my Prince Valiant hair phase during and after college.

    Second, the initial efforts of the Texas courts and CPS were a big miscarriage of justice, but is gradually, I believe, being sorted out successfully.

    Third, I haven’t accused anyone here of hidden sympathy for FLDS doctrine, nor confused their concern over how legal authority and the courts have been misused with sympathy for the FLDS in any more than a normal compassionate concern for anybody whose rights have been abused.

    I stand convicted of not being as compassionate for others, with myself as chief witness. I recognize the fault, and I am trying to do better each day. My personal compassion, however, cannot be confused with what the Church should do in an obviously emotionally charged and sensitive environment. I will not project my personal failings on the church. I suppose that a plea on my part for LDS families in Texas to offer their services as foster families would sound hollow if I did not do the same myself in Washington. Kaimi, I respect your concern, but don;’t share it the same way myself.

  34. 24: There’s no way for anyone to make a relevant comment on that, other than I’m dead certain that some key detail has been omitted.

  35. kevinf, no, you haven’t made any untoward accusations. I’m reacting in part to a lot of the nonsense that has appeared in comments on M&A, usually days after anybody with an informed interest in the matter has moved on to more current posts. Poor Guy has been hit by a lot of goofy readers from the general public.

  36. Ardis,
    Unless my aunt’s lying, the only detail I left out is that she divorced him.
    My point, though, is that maybe due to our fence-sitting on the issue in the past, the church doesn’t have political capital to spare in defense of the FLDS.

  37. Researcher says:

    I don’t have the time or patience to get deeply involved in this discussion, but I do want to say that I feel that the church had no responsibility in any way to remark on any possible civil rights infringements against an apostate group.

    I realize that calling the FLDS “apostate” is not politically correct blogese, but I just don’t see that the church would be able to accomplish anything positive and they stand to lose a lot more than they already have because of the actions of these polygamous groups. I was a missionary in Western Europe and had to frequently discuss the polygamous groups and differentiate between them and us. That is a huge cost that the church is already bearing.

    Let the church try and differentiate without criticizing them for not standing up for a group that they are not responsible for. They have a much greater responsibility for the missionary work and keeping the church free of taints of polygamy, a practice that was discontinued a century ago.

  38. Ardis,
    Sorry if I’m coming off as confrontational or whatever. I would really like to see the church take a stand on this and other civil rights abuses (sister blah–Why not start here?). I honestly don’t think that the church has enough public toleration to spare to stand up for the FLDS.
    Brad’s right, we should suck it up, but by Brad’s own admittance (I’m thinking of the podcast on patriarchal blessings), he’s too invested in his convictions to ascend to a leadership position.
    I think that this is as clearly a case of PR trumping compassion. Regrettably so.

  39. And I’m trying not to be confrontational, too, blt, so we’ll give each other the benefit of any doubt on that, okay?

    I don’t accuse your aunt of lying. The omitted information may be as simple as a definition of “authority” or “trust” — I don’t believe any church leader, in a matter of polygamy (yes, in other matters that may come across as boorish, but not in a question of polygamy) simply told your aunt, like the Delphic oracle, to “trust your husband’s priesthood,” period, no explanation, no limitations, no questions. So I say that some crucial detail has been omitted.

    The church’s efforts to draw a clear line between LDS and FLDS can be called PR, of course, but the way you say it, it appears that PR is nothing but a matter of whether or not TV viewers get a warm and fuzzy feeling when they see an ad for a free Bible. It’s so much more than that, though. People who conflate LDS with FLDS don’t speak to missionaries. Maybe some of them, drunk and belligerent, attack a pair of missionaries because they’re those bleeping sons of bleeps, and here in Redneckville, by bleep, we bleeping know how to handle little bleeps like them. In other contexts, maybe they’re on planning boards and deny permits to build LDS chapels. Or they’re minor foreign government functionaries who decide whether missionaries get their visas.

    So like I’ve said, I understand why the church is concerned about making the distinction, and after what I’ve seen on the blogs I think they’re wise in not going farther.

    *You* can go farther. You don’t have to wait for the church to do the talking for you.

  40. Last Lemming says:

    I don’t know we should expect the Church to be a civil rights advocacy organization and publicly comment on state violations of civil rights of unaffiliated citizens. I can’t think of any instance in my lifetime when the Church has done that sort of thing and I don’t know why they would start now.

    They would not be “starting now.” Anybody remember Oregon Employment Division v. Smith? The Church was openly rooting for the drug users in that case. Elder Ballard had this to say at the time (in the October 1992 Ensign, Religion in a Free Society)

    Is it any wonder, then, that religion now finds itself under attack in legislative assemblies and in the courts? In fact, the United States Supreme Court recently discontinued the time-honored judicial standard that gave considerable legal latitude to the free exercise of religion. Allowing people of faith to practice their religion free from the burdening effects of public policy is, according to the court, “a luxury that can no longer be afforded.” While the justices acknowledged that the ruling would “place at a relative disadvantage those religious practices that are not widely engaged in,” they said it was “an unavoidable consequence of a democratic government.” (Oregon Employment Division v. Smith, 1990.)

    I do not promote the religious practice that was in question in that case but I am concerned with the long-term implications of the decision. Wherever religious groups are in the minority and are not considered part of the mainline religious community, the potential for state intrusion upon their religious practices is real. With legislative bodies responding most often to the will of the majority, the free exercise of religion by minority faith groups is in peril.

    So the Church has experiencing handling this kind of situation. But I guess we are more comfortable being associated with potheads than polygamists.

  41. Researcher says:

    I would also add that trying to create a public policy recommendation from a single instance that someone has seen part of, particularly a divorce where details can get obscured, conveniently ignored or misrepresented, and personalities and statements exaggerated or taken out of context, is a dangerous precedent. Even if no willful misrepresentation has occurred, there may be mitigating factors that are not seen from a single vantage point.

    Of course, it’s so much fun to extrapolate public policy from the sufferings and sensational life events of someone near and dear to us.

  42. Ardis,
    Regarding the aunt: I could try to buy that.
    Regarding PR: My experience tells me otherwise. Most of the people I tried to preach to didn’t ever think of Mormons, much less the sectarian nuances. Well, that’s not true; they thought of them about as much as I think about the difference between Episcopalian and Catholic mass prayers. The people who were open-minded enough to let us in usually had such a tentative trust in our message that they would listen to us up to tithing or maybe apostasy. Generally, even a mention of polygamy caused a major problem in the process.
    I think that the church is vehemently trying to avoid having to reveal openly that we believe in post-mortal polygamy.

  43. I’ve already suggested this on another blog, but one way of helping is to donate money to Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, which is representing many of the mothers. You can contribute at TRLA.org.

  44. I feel that the church had no responsibility in any way to remark on any possible civil rights infringements against an apostate group.

    For the umpteenth time — no one’s demanding that the Church take an affirmative position in support of any and all things FLDS. But wishing that in an effort to “differentiate” the good guys from the apostates, Church leaders could still refrain from acting like 8th graders making fun of the way they dress or comb their hair is not the same as “criticizing” the Church for “not standing up for a group that they are not responsible for.”

  45. Mark IV says:

    Brad,

    Right on.

    In the first place, let’s remember that we are adherents of a religion that sees nothing wrong with dressing its 19 y.o. young men in IBM junior exec suits in combination with Doc Martens, for crying out loud. One would hope that we would know better than to point the finger of scorn in an attitude of mocking at anybody else.

    In the second place, lots of LDS women (granted, mostly older ones)wear their hair in a style reminiscent of FLDS. The producers of What Not to Wear could save themselves a fortune in production costs just by filming outside one of our chapels each Sunday as we enter and leave.

    In the third place, it bugs me that we are focusing only on the appearance of FLDS women.

    In the fourth place, we shouldn’t toot our mainstream horn too loudly on Monday when we know that on Wednesday we will turn around and remind everybody that we have a style of our own, and that we are proud to be peculiar people.

    Kaimi/Kevinf,

    The principle of Mutually Assured Destruction prevents me from either confirming or denying the presence of missiles in my basement. Maybe I have WMD, maybe I don’t. Let’s just say that anybody who has designs on the wheat or powdered milk in our food storage is in for a nasty little surprise.

  46. I wish the Church statements had not included reference to appearance (especially since some LDS actually DO dress like that).

    I am glad the Church statements did not appear to support the FLDS in any way – even legally.

    I’m super-glued to this fence.

  47. sister blah 2 says:

    Brad, I hear you. But listening to the audio, I’d be hard pressed to call that “making fun” and is certainly not 8th grade style. The quote was to the effect that LDS don’t as a whole have clothing styles or unique hairstyles that noticeably differentiate us from other people. It was very innocuous I thought.

  48. #13 “… Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother. … ”

    That, and several other statements in the Proclamation on the Family argue against the communal child-rearing practices of the FLDS.

    That gives the Texas authorities no excuse, but the church would need some other grounds for intervention.

  49. blt, now I see where your real ax lies. You’ll excuse me from further discussion, I’m sure.

  50. Mormongirl says:

    Just wanted to note that as Quentin L. Cook was drawing distinctions between the LDS and FLDS church…he actually said that we “don’t dress a certain way or wear unique hairstyles.” That feels very different to me than the way it was mentioned in the original post.

  51. blt,
    I’m afraid I’m with Ardis here. I think you’re tilting at windmills. The Church would not have made Elder Nelson — the only living Apostle sealed to two separate women — its spokesman for ecumenical outreach to other Christian groups that oppose gay marriage if it was trying to keep the fact of our, ahem, limited practice of polygamy firmly under wraps. E. Nelson was an ever so subtle thumb in the eye of people who use the specter of re-legalized polygamy as a trump card in the traditional-marriage debate.

  52. Brad and Ardis,
    I’m sort of unwittingly pushing this toward a discussion of the doctrine of polygamy. Sorry. I only meant to express that I don’t think that the church hierarchy believes it has enough public sympathy to do anything other than distance itself from an issue that hits so close to home.
    Brad–My guess is that the mention of celestial polygamy to the average investigator is quickly followed by a polite but deliberate backing out of the room.
    Which is what I’ll do now. Ardis is right. I’m way too axe-grindy to look at this one clearly.

  53. PS–The backing out of the room would quickly result in an awkward reentry and “This is my house. You leave.” ala Keeping the Faith.

  54. I’m tempted to try and figure out my reaction to Kaimi’s reaction to John’s reaction to the official LDS reaction to the FLDS mess … but I think I’ll just note that the FLDS and guardian ad litem attorneys have done pretty well on their own. It’s not clear that any official LDS statement of support would have made any difference, and given the view most Texan Christians have of Mormons it might have made things worse.

  55. I find myself completely in line with Ardis on this one.

  56. Brian T says:

    Kaimi

    I read the thread and find your thoughts and this discussion to be similar to discussions my wife and I have had about the FLDS in TX. I finally went to the Church’s website and watched the video.

    At best your description of Elder Cook’s statement is a mischaracterization. I found nothing belittling or disrespectful about what he said or how he said it.

    I think your post here damages your credibility as a contributor to BCC. I haven’t been reading BCC long enough yet to understand where you are coming from generally; but so far, I think you probably have a problem with the church leadership based on the way you approached this topic. It seems like it is more about you than the FLDS or The Church.

  57. Geraldine says:

    #51, not to hijack the thread, but the last I heard Elder Dallin Oaks is still living! You mentioned that Elder Nelson is the only living apostle sealed to two women. I think you would probably find that Elder Oaks is also a living apostle sealed to two women. Just saying!

  58. It has nothing to do with whether or not we think young girls should have arraigned marriages with older men, it has every thing to do with law, religious rights and freedoms.

    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.
    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.
    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.
    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I wasn’t a Jew.
    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.
    Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

  59. So many comments, so little time to respond. Apologies for the abbreviated responses, all.

    Sister blah 2 writes,

    Kaimi, I don’t like your response to Tom. I think he made some good points. It’s not as if the church had been issuing press releases on the infringement of privacy and civil liberties of everyone from Guantanamo detainees to Eliot Spitzer, and then glaringly ignored the FLDS. Invoking the PotF against Tom seems like an emotionally heavy-handed argument in this context. So that’s my beef with the style of your response. On substance, does trying to root out abuse in the FLDS really relate to what the PotF was talking about in that passage? Do not the FLDS under Warren Jeffs do plenty of their own breaking up of families–wife and children reassignment, late-night eviction from homes, child marriages, etc. If anything, those things seem themselves to be the kind of thing that the PotF speaks out against. (Sure, sure, fixing those problems specifically didn’t have to take the form of taking ALL the kids, but like kevinf said, the law is starting to sort itself out with our nice system of checks and balances and appeals and all that.)

    You’re right. The church should condemn anti-family practices among the FLDS (and it does!). By all means, mention that concern, too.

    However, I’m very sad that the _only_ thing said, when there were documented reports of major abuse by the state, was “don’t mix us up with those guys.”

    Kevinf notes,

    “I am also starkly aware of our charge in Matthew 25 about compassion for the naked, hungry, thirsty, sick, and in prison.”

    Exactly. What did we do when we saw Christ in prison? We said, “don’t mix that guy up with us, please.”

    Kevinf writes,

    “My personal compassion, however, cannot be confused with what the Church should do in an obviously emotionally charged and sensitive environment.”

    That’s a good question. I’d say, when we venture in to the arena, we take a certain responsibility on ourselves. Talking about nomenclature with no recognition of immediate and ongoing abuse is like focusing on the Myanmar/Burma name issues without mentioning that there’s a major human rights violation going on right now.

    Researcher writes,

    “Let the church try and differentiate without criticizing them for not standing up for a group that they are not responsible for. They have a much greater responsibility for the missionary work and keeping the church free of taints of polygamy, a practice that was discontinued a century ago.”

    Um — so if the church says, “we condemn the seizure of kids,” church members will flock to the polygamous banner?

    You’d better watch out for that Guy Murray character. He’s probably livin the principle . . .

    Last lemming (re potheads case) writes,

    “But I guess we are more comfortable being associated with potheads than polygamists.”

    Right. We _do_ get involved politically, for a bunch of different causes. Even potheads. But not toddler children of FLDS moms.

    MX missile writes,

    In the first place, let’s remember that we are adherents of a religion that sees nothing wrong with dressing its 19 y.o. young men in IBM junior exec suits in combination with Doc Martens, for crying out loud. One would hope that we would know better than to point the finger of scorn in an attitude of mocking at anybody else.

    In the second place, lots of LDS women (granted, mostly older ones)wear their hair in a style reminiscent of FLDS. The producers of What Not to Wear could save themselves a fortune in production costs just by filming outside one of our chapels each Sunday as we enter and leave.

    In the third place, it bugs me that we are focusing only on the appearance of FLDS women.

    In the fourth place, we shouldn’t toot our mainstream horn too loudly on Monday when we know that on Wednesday we will turn around and remind everybody that we have a style of our own, and that we are proud to be peculiar people.

    Can I just pre-agree with any comment Mark makes? You know, like they pre-bless food in the temple cafeteria?

    Sister Blah 2 writes,

    “It was very innocuous I thought.”

    Well, maybe.

    Elder Cook’s remarks were summarized by the official press release as,

    “Drawing contrasts between the Church and polygamists, Elder Cook said that Church members do not live in isolated compounds, arrange marriages, dress in old-fashioned clothing or wear unusual hairstyles.”

    I’m not the only one who thinks he’s saying they have funny clothes and hair; that’s pretty much the official summary. And it’s immediately spun into horrible chain e-mails by members who internalize exactly that message.

    (I read that official summary before listening to Elder Cook’s remarks. And perhaps that influenced my own summary — that Elder Cook said, in effect, “we don’t dress funny or have weird hair styles.”)

    Brian writes,

    “At best your description of Elder Cook’s statement is a mischaracterization. I found nothing belittling or disrespectful about what he said or how he said it.”

    What would you say about the official press release summary of his remarks (quoted above)?

    Dave writes,

    “It’s not clear that any official LDS statement of support would have made any difference.”

    I don’t think we should have done it to help them. I think we should have done it to help us.

    If Christ is in prison and we mock Him — he’ll get out anyway, won’t He? But our action of mockery or support will affect us.

    Earl,

    Thank you. I had that same poem in mind.

    Other commenters had a lot of very interesting comments — I particularly liked Ardis’s points. Sorry I don’t have more individual replies — I really have to stop blogging and work, now. :(

  60. By the way, speaking of missionary work and impressions, I’ve had non-member colleagues and friends ask, “what has the church said about the FLDS seizure?”

    And what can I say to that, exactly?

    “The official church position is, ‘Those folks who are being abused aren’t Mormons, and please don’t use that word when describing them. That’s all.'”

    _That’s_ a good way to make an impression among non-members.

  61. Kaimi why not just say they haven’t addressed the issue and then ask if the FLDS aren’t LDS why should they? Should they comment every time any religion has a run-in with the law?

  62. Put more clearly, why should the FLDS get special treatment? And if you think they shouldn’t, do you think the LDS should issue an official statement on all religions in the news?

  63. “Drawing contrasts between the Church and polygamists, Elder Cook said that Church members do not live in isolated compounds, arrange marriages, dress in old-fashioned clothing or wear unusual hairstyles.”

    I’m not the only one who thinks he’s saying they have funny clothes and hair; that’s pretty much the official summary. And it’s immediately spun into horrible chain e-mails by members who internalize exactly that message.

    He probably assumes that the FLDS dress that way for reasons similar to the Amish. (For the record I have no idea why they dress that way)

    The point is that LDS don’t really have a dress code like that. Other than a strong suggestion to dress nice and the discouragement of pant suits for women at church, there’s really not much by way of a dress code. (Beyond immodesty but that’s not really followed by many young kids)

    I honestly don’t see what the uproar is here.

  64. It really steams me the Church has repeatedly attempted to disassociate themselves with the term “Mormon,” asking us as members to gargle the words “IbelongtotheChurchofJesusChristofLatterdaySaints” rather than identify themselves by it–but now no one else can use this derided term?? I thought it was a word used for those who believed in the Book of Mormon?

    And as to the PR angle, here in SA where we are absolutely forbidden to proselyte and missionary work is blocked, I have had more contacts with people wanting to know about my faith since this debacle than ever in my life—but if I respond to their questions by saying that we don’t believe in polygamy now, the interest suddenly flags. Saudis want to know more about an American group that believes in plural marriage.

    Anyway, thanks for the post, Kaimi, I’m all in agreement.

  65. Ugh. I’ve seen several variations on the “don’t confuse us with them” post on various mommy blogs and it just sickens me.

  66. (I’m referring to the email Eve spoke of in #4 – that is both a widely forwarded email and a post people are passing around. Yuck.)

  67. MarkinPNW says:

    Earl in #58, thank you for Martin’s Quote.

    And Mark IV in #45, now that I’ve figured out your nasty little surprise, thanks for the chuckle.

  68. I can understand why the church wants to reinforce our differences from the FLDS. My husband has been asked how many wives he has several times by people in this area. I even had someone where I work ask if we believe in arranged marriages like those people in Texas.

    The church probably should become involved if the rights of the FLDS church organization, or any church organization, are violated. It seems to me that the rights of the individual members are what is at issue here and those of us who object to their treatment need to protest at the individual level as well rather than at institutional level.

  69. It’s disturbing that Kaimi equates the Church’s rejection of the FLDS with “throwing them under the bus,” as if there was some close relationship of mutual support that recently became inconvenient for the LDS Church. The FLDS are apostates; their grandparents were excommunicated; if any of them wish to be baptized, special approval will be required to assure that they have forsaken their parents’ apostasy. The special relationship between the LDS and FLDS is specifically that we reject one another.

  70. Mark IV says:

    John,

    I can’t speak for Kaimi, but I don’t think LDS rejection of FLDS in itself is what disturbs him, it was the superficial manner in which it was done. I have no problem at all with the church drawing some very bright lines here. A few short sentences outlining our basic differences, as you just offered in your comment # 69, would have been much more productive than the focus on appearance.

    And in fact, the focus on appearance is not even factually accurate, because only a small minority of polygamists look like the YFZ people. Many more of them live in suburbs of SLC, like Bountiful and Sandy, and are indistinguishable from the LDS neighbors.

  71. Looking afresh, I have to agree that Elder Cook’s statements can be read as relatively innocuous. However, the Church’s PR statement summarizing Elder Cook

    Drawing contrasts between the Church and polygamists, Elder Cook said that Church members do not live in isolated compounds, arrange marriages, dress in old-fashioned clothing or wear unusual hairstyles.

    as well as Mike Otterson’s statement

    We don’t look like these people, we don’t dress like these people, we don’t worship like these people, we don’t believe in the same things as these people

    have a very juvenile, self-satisfied, us-versus-them feel to them.

    Proper lines can be drawn without demeaning those from whom we wish to differentiate ourselves. Period.

  72. I am pretty confident that the official line in SLC needs to be an attempt to draw the distinction between the FLDS and the LDS. If we ally ourselves with the FLDS in an attempt to provide cover for them for humanitarian reasons I think the public perception of our disavowal of polygamy could be questioned.

    That said as this case unfolds I am increasingly disgusted with the Texas CPS. They have acted in bad faith and I think that the FLDS will soon be in a positon for a series of lawsuits targeting CPS officials. I have been wondering for a few days now if its possible that kidnapping charges could be filed on behalf of the numerous adult women who were ID’ed as adults and put in state custody. Perhaps one of our numerous attorneys here can address this issue.

    Also it appears to me that the FLDS will emerge strengthened from all of this. Just like after the Short Creek raids.

  73. Brad, I agree. The manner of making distinctions was not very carefully stated and can be seen as insensitive.

    But the ‘Period’ is not in Kaimi’s post. He’s asking the church to take ‘moral guidance’ and ‘stand up for’ the FLDS. I still don’t see this. Kaimi’s examples of the church’s political comment in the past are either local to Utah policy making and/or regrettable and should not become a pattern regardless of the political position they reflect.

  74. The church has, multiple times in the past, filed amicus briefs in court hearings involving other religions when matters that affect us would be at stake — as in the 1988 tax case of the Moonies, and, I think, the more recent case in Texas involving school prayer (the one where, ironically, we were against school prayer, because of the way it was being used by Evangelicals to beat up LDS kids in class). In cases like those, there is a very practical role for the church, and a very specific forum in which to participate.

    In the current FLDS matter, there is no practical role for the church to defend parental rights or religious liberty, and no specific forum for them to engage in such a fight. They’re doing what is necessary — responding to confusing press reports, in the press, endeavoring to straighten out the press, but not trying to go beyond that (i.e., not trying to influence the legal process). Nor should they, now; in the future, should some court case arise out of this where the church can speak to principles that affect us — which is very different from involving themselves in any of the current FLDS cases involving specific parents and children but not general religious rights — maybe they will get involved.

    I admit — have admitted it over and over — that my outrage, no matter how often or where I express it, has no effect beyodn the possibility of persuading some other blogger. It has no practical effect, does not offer comfort to the families torn apart, does not influence Texas courts or bureaucrats, achieves nothing practical. That’s okay for me, if I want to indulge. I don’t think I want the church in the same powerless, meaningless, impractical, confrontational role that I have assumed.

    Not yet. Maybe in the future, if some action is filed that could have an effect, good or bad, on the rights of Mormon parents. That’s soon enough for me to be puzzled, concerned, possibly upset, if they *don’t* then get involved.

  75. Last Lemming (#40):
    Based on the citations in the excerpt, Elder Ballard’s Ensign article was published two years after the court’s decision. That hardly serves as a precedent for the Church entering the fray on an ongoing incident of presumed civil rights violations. In addition, it looks like he mentions the case as part of a broader discussion of religious liberty. It doesn’t looks like the Church offered any public support for the potheads as the situation was unfolding.

    So my point stands. Issuing a public statement in support of the FLDS and decrying Texas’s civil rights violations would clearly be a break from the Church’s usual practice. Clark puts it nicely in #62: “Why should the FLDS get special treatment?” Should the Church have publicly supported the Branch Davidians in Waco when they suffered abuse at the hands of the government? Should the Church keep an eye on Pennsylvania and issue statements when issues of Amish civil rights come up?

  76. Researcher says:

    Well, Kaimi calls the FLDS “our religious and genetic cousins” (15). Aren’t we responsible to sit in court if our cousins are hauled in for something and make sure that their rights are being respected at every point?

    (I’ve actively avoided getting involved in anything relating to certain of my cousins and aunts’ legal problems. There is no point at which I could help. They have their own lawyers. I also avoid gossiping about them and how they are wearing their hair, which, to be honest, is more than I’ve done with the FLDS. However, some of the relatives that are closer, such as parents and siblings have gotten involved.)

  77. As I was typing my #75 Ardis brings up some examples that do serve as precedent for the Church entering the fray on ongoing civil rights issues. But as she points out, those were legal cases whose outcome had direct potential impact on the Church itself. So maybe the answer to my question about the Amish is yes, the Church should keep an eye on the Amish insofar as the legal questions at play may affect us. But I think the answer about the Branch Davidians is no, the Church didn’t have a moral obligation to speak out and express concern for the Branch Davidians as the situation was unfolding.

  78. CS Eric says:

    There are a lot of things about the raid that bother me, but the one that stands out the most is that it all started out as a result of a hoax phone call. The call wasn’t even placed from the state of Texas, for goodness sake. What kind of investigation were they running?

    I know it’s only TV, but in nearly every TV show where a victim places a call for help on a cell phone, the investigators get the phone records and trace the call. Does that technology only exist on TV? On TV, they can trace that call to a street address. A simple trace of the call that started this would have led the investigators, not to the FLDS compound in Texas, but to an apartment complex in Colorado Springs.

    The Texas authorities were simply looking for an excuse to stage the raid. The fact that it was started by a hoax phone call should embarrass them to no end, but it doesn’t bother them a bit. Texas staged the raid because the FLDS don’t dress like other Texans, don’t look like other Texans, don’t worhip like other Texans, and don’t believe the same things as other Texans. If there was abuse, and I believe there probably was, find and prosecute the abusers. Leave the rest of them alone.

  79. Aren’t we responsible to sit in court if our cousins are hauled in for something and make sure that their rights are being respected at every point?

    Umm. What?

    With respect to the analogy, of course not.

    But the analogy fails since a group that broke off from us 100 years ago and were considered apostate aren’t cousins.

  80. Researcher says:

    Oh boy. I forget that being facetious does not always transmit over the wires. I was actually agreeing with Tom who was agreeing with you, Clark.

    I was disagreeing with Kaimi who was trying to make the point (as I read it) that we have some historical responsibility to the FLDS as our “cousins.” My point was that even if they are our “cousins,” that does not make us responsible to assure that their rights are being taken care of if they have their own lawyers and resources.

  81. I’ve been thinking of the way the church responded to the judge’s request for the local LDS to help monitor the prayers of the women & children in San Angelo. The stake president responded by saying:

    “They think we’re the same ones because we use the Book of Mormon,” said Charles L. Webb. “I’m dumbfounded they would suggest that.”

    The church later officially declined to assist.

    Filing amicus briefs, as Ardis points out, may not have been wise and there may not now be an appropriate legal forum to stand up, but it would have seemed much more Christlike to have said something like…..

    “….as the judge in this case has acknowledged, we are not the ‘same ones’. But, consistent with our mission of proclaiming and living the gospel of Jesus Christ, we stand ready and willing to help the families and children of FLDS sect members in any way that we are legally/reasonably permitted. Likewise, we stand ready and willing to help the families and children of any other denomination in need – inclding baptist families and their children, Catholic families and their children, and any other member of our human family who are in need of comfort, aid or relief from distress. Such is our god given mandate…..”

    Perhaps it would have been inappropriate for the church to monitor prayers, etc….but I thought it was a bit, I don’t know, harsh to respond first by saying “we’re not the same ones” instead of “how can we help take care of these families – what would Jesus do.”

    It seemed a bit like when the popular high school kid refuses to give his next door neighbor a ride home from school because said neighbor is a member of the chess club.

  82. A simple way to have accomplished what Kaimi is advocating without dragging in the Church officially would have been if a prominent private Church member had spoken up. News organizations are always looking for talking heads to dispute what other talking heads are saying on a story. On this one all of the talking heads were people who were professioanlly anti-FLDS and sympathetic to the state’s action. I’m sure someone questioning the appropriateness of the state’s action on civil liberties grounds would have been welcomed by the media. Such a person could have also pointed out the counter-productive nature of the raid in providing evidence for the FLDS leaders for their argument to their followers that the outsiders are out to get them, as happened with the 1953 raid.

    The problem is that there are apparently no prominent Church members who are active in reaching out to the FLDS. No effort that I am aware of to help the lost boys, no effort to proselytize dissident FLDS and bring them to the true Church. A Church member active in such efforts would have had great media cred to make the arguments that Kaimi suggests. However, there don’t seem to be any Church members in that position. It’s hard to reach out to them now when active LDS people previously seem to have been following the Church’s lead in ignoring the whole FLDS situation and wishing it would just go away.

    In the apparent absence of Church members with credible histories of outreach to the FLDS, perhaps a law professor at a prestigious law school could have said something to the media.

  83. More evidence that the church _does_ talk about the specifics of these kinds of cases, when it wants to:

    “The Church has long been concerned about the continued illegal practice of polygamy, and in particular about reports of child and wife abuse emanating from polygamous communities today.”

    (From Press Release, Nov 2006: http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/use-of-the-word-mormon-in-news-reports ).

    “The Church has long been concerned about the illegal practice of polygamy in some communities, and in particular about persistent reports of emotional and physical child and wife abuse emanating from them. It will be regrettable if [Big Love], by making polygamy the subject of entertainment, minimizes the seriousness of that problem and adds to the suffering of abuse victims.”

    (From http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/church-responds-to-questions-on-tv-series

    (Hat tip to Justin, who pointed these out in a comment at M&A).

    Plus, there is extensive discussion of the church, legal status of polygamy, and polygamous communities, at:

    http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/polygamy-questions-and-answers-with-the-los-angeles-times

    All of which suggest that the idea of “we don’t talk about these kinds of things” seems inaccurate.

  84. Kaimi,
    You really think that the Church entering the fray at this point and issuing public statements supporting FLDS victims of Texas CPS would be in line with the Church’s usual practice?

    I think it would be a dramatic break from the Church’s usual practice. None of what you cite is an example of that kind of activity. The closest thing that has been mentioned are the amicus briefs that Ardis brought up in #74 and I think she does a good job pointing out how that is different from what you are criticizing the Church for failing to do.

  85. Duhwayne says:

    Until the mainline Mormon church repudiates the doctrine of polygamy, the primary difference between these two groups is that one practices it and the others don’t. Before you say that FLDS twist the practice, recall Fanny Alger, the reassigned spouses and the marriages of men and women already married. The church’s official communications about all this were understandable but I don’t think it showed our church at its best.

  86. Duhwayne,
    The primary difference between the two groups isn’t that one practices polygamy and one doesn’t. There are several other huge differences that are as dramatic as that one. For example, one isolates itself from society, one doesn’t. One enforces strict uniforms for women, one doesn’t. One practices arranged, underage marriages, one doesn’t. And so on. Religion isn’t just what books you use; it’s also what kind of life you lead. The lifestyles of FLDS and LDS are as dissimilar as the lifestyles of FLDS and Catholics.

  87. Duhwayne, re Tom’s comment # 86,

    The FLDS also do not extend the priesthood to blacks. They don’t actively engage in missionary work, and they are not involved in some of the major humanitarian efforts that have characterized the LDS church for the last half century or so. Apart from the Book of Mormon, not much else in common there that I recognize.

  88. MikeInWeHo says:

    Just a few questions:

    Is the FLDS church growing?
    If so, is this primarily the result of childbirth?
    If not, who are their converts?
    Whence cometh these polygamists in 2008?

    FWIW, Kaimi, I think you might more accurately describe the FLDS as estranged cousins.

  89. Hind-sight says:

    I think it would seem to have been better to have the church say something along the lines of, “we suffered unjust punishments in our history for polygamy as well and therefore hope that the state of Texas will make amends for this inhuman act.” But, by doing so you do just the opposite of draw a line and you even encourage misrepresentation b/c you can’t quickly also say that we didn’t do all the crap that the FLDS supposedly do…the best bet is to say little and have the members be more Christ-like in their efforts rather than sitting by and expecting the church to do it all.

  90. Duhwayne says:

    Thanks Tom and kevinf for your replies. Best I can tell the biggest difference is 80 years; that one implements the doctrine on the books and the other is moderating to fit in better while doing its best not to call prior oddities a mistake. They do what our prophets said.

  91. Hind-sight, exactly (and I mean specific examples) would you suggest that a member like me DO to be more Christ-like in the situation? I’m open to suggestions for EFFORTS and not just talk.

    (Besides, “we suffered unjust punishments in our history for polygamy as well” isn’t at all what I protest. My outrage has nothing to do with polygamy, and your misunderstanding, your lumping together of polygamy and unconstitutional state behavior, is a great barrier to anybody doing or saying anything — you put me right back in the position of having to say yet again, “I do not endorse/defend polygamy!!”)

  92. Duhwayne, though you may not believe it, OD-1 is the doctrine on the books. We do what our prophets said. If you don’t follow OD-1, then you are not following the same prophets, and you should be up-front about being a fundamentalist instead of talking about “our church.” Stop trying to describe the FLDS position on polygamy as “implementing the doctrine on the books;” I have no patience today and BCC is not a podium to justify FLDS practices.

  93. Ardis, re: efforts: why not open your home as a potential foster parent to one of these children? Now THAT’s a heckuva effort.

  94. Duhwayne,
    The primary difference between the two groups isn’t that one practices polygamy and one doesn’t. There are several other huge differences that are as dramatic as that one. For example, one isolates itself from society, one used to but still wears its peculiarity as a badge of honor. One enforces strict uniforms for women, one does for church attendees, bishops, and college students. One practices arranged, underage marriages, one used to. And lets not forget those unusual hairstyles. Religion isn’t just what books you use; it’s also what kind of life you lead. The lifestyles of FLDS and LDS are as dissimilar as the lifestyles of 19th-century LDS and 20th-century LDS!

    On a more serious note, the FLDS do what our prophets said. LDS do what our prophets say.

  95. Actually, the people who do what our prophets say are the Jews. Sheesh. Doesn’t anyone pay attention to Deuteronomy anymore?

  96. Hind-sight says:

    Ardis, I used a broad brush and did not intend to include saints such as yourself in that statement. I meant that towards those who have been so quick to pass judgment on the FLDS. So, specifics would include making posts such as this one, doing what you have done, keeping negative comments about the FLDS to ourselves despite our insecurities with our own polygamous past…

    FWIW, in relation to #93 I actually did mention that to my wife for us to consider and should the opportunity arise, we would seriously look into it.

  97. Steve is an enemy of The Principle. But one of these days, the One Mighty and Strong is going to come kick his a**. And then BCC will be all fundamentalism, all the time. Just you wait.

    Start sewing your bonnet now, Brad Kramer.

  98. I’m already sewing a bonnet, Kaimi. But it’s for Ronan.

    That accent…

  99. Damn you, Brad, Ronan’s already spoken for. You can’t have him for a plural husband, no matter how many bonnets you sew.

  100. Overall, I’m in between on this topic. I disagree with Kaimi that we ought to be proactively committing tons of resources to defend against what happened, but I am disgusted by the email campaigns and even the press statements with the whole “us-versus-them” mentality. It doesn’t require an enormous leap of logic to connect the vicious emails with Elder Cook’s original statement, no matter how technically innocuous.

  101. John Mansfield writes,

    It’s disturbing that Kaimi equates the Church’s rejection of the FLDS with “throwing them under the bus,” as if there was some close relationship of mutual support that recently became inconvenient for the LDS Church. The FLDS are apostates; their grandparents were excommunicated; if any of them wish to be baptized, special approval will be required to assure that they have forsaken their parents’ apostasy. The special relationship between the LDS and FLDS is specifically that we reject one another.

    So it’s okay if government abuses take place, as long as the people they’re abusing are apostates?

    Tom writes,

    Issuing a public statement in support of the FLDS and decrying Texas’s civil rights violations would clearly be a break from the Church’s usual practice. Clark puts it nicely in #62: “Why should the FLDS get special treatment?” Should the Church have publicly supported the Branch Davidians in Waco when they suffered abuse at the hands of the government? Should the Church keep an eye on Pennsylvania and issue statements when issues of Amish civil rights come up?

    The FLDS are being prosecuted for exactly the same things the church was prosecuted for, back in the day — and that early prosecution plays a continuing role in our narrative as Mormons.

    Let me ask this:

    1. When government officials broke up families in the 1880s, threatened to jail men, took young children from mothers, was that action:

    (a) Right
    (b) Wrong
    (c) We don’t care

    2. Now, When government officials break up families in the 2000s, threaten to jail men, take young children from mothers, is that action:

    (a) Right
    (b) Wrong
    (c) We don’t care

    Are the answers different, between (1) and (2)?

    I really don’t think one has to be a fundy (hi Duhwayne) to suggest that there’s some similarity between the two sets of government action.

    Like MikeInWeHo says, these guys are our (estranged) cousins. It’s not like the government is going after Zoroastrians here.

  102. I’ll admit to having a pretty low opinion of the FLDS, but fortunately, I have not seen the kinds of email campaigns that have been described here, which I would find distasteful and insulting. I wish them no harm. I hope the courts will make some good decisions here, and do what is best for the kids. But if all the smoke really does indicate a fire (in the form of abuse), I hope they find and prosecute Jeff’s disciples that are perpetuating the problem. I have no tolerance for abuse, religiously motivated or otherwise.

  103. Hind-sight says:

    Kaimi,
    To me the big difference, although it doesn’t justify what has been done, is that we weren’t so strongly accused of raping young girls, committing incest, etc. Big difference there.

  104. But if all the smoke really does indicate a fire (in the form of abuse), I hope they find and prosecute Jeff’s disciples that are perpetuating the problem. I have no tolerance for abuse, religiously motivated or otherwise.

    Agreed, completely.

  105. To me the big difference, although it doesn’t justify what has been done, is that we weren’t so strongly accused of raping young girls, committing incest, etc. Big difference there.

    Not true. There is not a substantive difference between the accusations made or the media-generated hysteria against us then and against them now.

  106. Brad,
    I’m not sure what point you’re making in #94. If it’s that today’s Church is very different from the 19th century Church, I agree. It has changed so much that it is a different religion, as far as I’m concerned. I doubt Brother Brigham would be able to pick us out of a lineup. I do think the changes have been necessary and divinely sanctioned, though.

    If you’re trying to chastise me for belittling the FLDS, that wasn’t my intent. My intent was to refute Duhwayne’s assertion that FLDS and LDS are similar. We aren’t similar.

    Or maybe you’re saying that we can’t draw contrasts and distance ourselves from FLDS without effectively disowning our ancestors. I would disagree with that for reasons that I can’t articulate briefly (or maybe at all, seeing as how I’m not very articulate).

  107. Hind-sight says:

    Not true. There is not a substantive difference between the accusations made or the media-generated hysteria against us then and against them now.

    If you are right then maybe my modern impression of the criticism towards us is tainted by the fact that we didn’t do those heinous things, but we do have to struggle w/ the gender equality issues of polygamy.

  108. Kaimi,
    I’ll break from internet tradition and offer a direct answer to your questions:

    1. When government officials broke up families in the 1880s, threatened to jail men, took young children from mothers, was that action:

    (a) Right
    (b) Wrong
    (c) We don’t care

    Wrong, insofar as it was done contrary to the law of the land.

    2. Now, When government officials break up families in the 2000s, threaten to jail men, take young children from mothers, is that action:

    (a) Right
    (b) Wrong
    (c) We don’t care

    Wrong, insofar as it is done contrary to the laws of the land.

    I do care about what Texas is doing. It frightens me that so many fellow citizens, as well as prominent media figures, have expressed support for Texas’s unlawful actions. As fellow citizens we should oppose the unlawful actions and it would be good to offer material support to victims if we’re in a position to do so, but I wouldn’t get on any individual citizen’s case, be they LDS or Catholic, if they didn’t take action to support the FLDS. People have to prioritize and everybody can’t address every injustice that arises. The same goes for institutions. The LDS Church doesn’t have a greater moral obligation to support the FLDS than the Catholic Church has. And neither LDS citizens nor the LDS Church has greater moral obligation to support FLDS than they have to support Branch Davidians.

    So I see no more reason to chastise the LDS Church for failing to supporting the FLDS than to chastise the Catholic Church for the same failure. And I see no more reason to chastise the LDS Church for failing to speak out against Texas’s crimes against the FLDS than to chastise the Church for failing to speak out against Texas’s crimes against the Branch Davidians.

  109. “I’ll break from internet tradition and offer a direct answer to your questions.”

    Thanks! :)

    “The LDS Church doesn’t have a greater moral obligation to support the FLDS than the Catholic Church has. And neither LDS citizens nor the LDS Church has greater moral obligation to support FLDS than they have to support Branch Davidians.”

    I tend to agree.

    But then, the LDS church hasn’t issued press releases saying “please don’t mix us up with the Branch Davidians.” And the Catholic church hasn’t issued press releases saying “please don’t mix us up with the FLDS,” have they?

    “So I see no more reason to chastise the LDS Church for failing to supporting the FLDS than to chastise the Catholic Church for the same failure. And I see no more reason to chastise the LDS Church for failing to speak out against Texas’s crimes against the FLDS than to chastise the Church for failing to speak out against Texas’s crimes against the Branch Davidians.”

    But the church _has_ gotten involved. It _has_ voluntarily put its nose into the whole FLDS mess, with multiple press releases and discussions.

    And one we put your nose into the mess, it’s awfully conspicuous if we _don’t_ mention the huge problems of mothers separated from children, and so on.

    So that’s perhaps where we differ. I agree, there’s no compelling reason to start getting involved. But the church _already_ decided to start getting involved. And once that decision was made — well, in for a penny, in for a pound.

  110. Commander Keen says:

    Kaimi’s proposal in fact is rather ridiculous. Why would the church make a statement about the raid? The church doesn’t get involved in public affairs, so you shouldn’t be so surprised that they didn’t say anything about whether the FLDS ranch should or should not have been raided. Not to mention that the raid on the ranch has absolutely nothing to do with the LDS churhc, other than that many people confuse the two.

    Kaimi you should be careful about critizing LDS leaders, that’s how all apostates get started. First you stop following the teachings of men that have been hand picked by Christ himself, and pretty soon you are protesting General Conference with a big sign at temple square.

    Also, it is sad that what has taken place at the FLDS compound has been allowed to go on for so long. Why would the LDS church support Warren Jeffs and the FLDS in their efforts to destroy families. JEffs and other FLDS leaders can “re-assign” mothers to different men as they please. They can and have forced underage girls to have sex with them even before these poor girls knew what sex even was.

    If this country continues to cater to the whims of the liberal media who cries “FOUL” everytime the country isn’t protecting criminals more than the innocent, than a lot of our freedoms to protect the innocent will be destroyed.

    Please try and help stop statutory rape and forced marriages. Would you like it if you were forced to marry and have sex with a man that is 60 years older than you, when you are just 14 years old??? How tramatic would that be to have the first time you find out about sex, be a night in bed with a perverted 75 year old?

  111. Given the LDS Church’s history of being labeled by others as a “cult,” I don’t think that we should be endorsing the comments of those who refer to the FLDS in that manner. For that reason, I see the recent church statement on the difference between the LDS Church and the FLDS as a mistake.

    Scholars Provide Clarity on Polygamy Story

    SALT LAKE CITY 13 May 2008 There’s a hint of clarity in relation to the news about polygamy. Two observers — both university professors — see a limit to the confusion about “FLDS” and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    In a story primarily about potential political consequences, the Deseret News quotes Matthew Wilson, professor of religion and politics at Southern Methodist University, and Robert George, law professor at Princeton.

    “Wilson said most voters won’t connect the actions of a ‘self-contained cult,’” the article reported, “with the LDS Church membership of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.”

    The Deseret News continues: “George, the director of Princeton’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, says, ‘I think that the vast majority of the American people, even if they’re not very familiar with Mormonism, even if they’re suspicious of Mormonism, fully recognize that the LDS Church is not to be confused with wild, cult-like organizations.’”

    Some clarity from educated onlookers. In time, suspicion will fade away as well.

  112. But it’s complicated by the fact that the Church does have a compelling reason to differentiate ourselves from the FLDS. People are getting us confused. They weren’t getting us and Branch Davidians confused. So, while it would not be wrong to do so, we have no particular moral obligation to support the FLDS, and we have good reason to pipe up and clear up confusion between us and a group whose leader is in jail for accomplice to rape. So I can’t see this as putting PR above a moral obligation since there is no moral obligation in play. It’s being attentive to PR, period, which is a legitimate and important function of the Church.

    If people were conflating Branch Davidians and the LDS Church, I would expect the Church to have stepped in and cleared things up. I wouldn’t mind if at the same time they chastised Texas for its conduct and expressed sympathy for the victims, but I don’t think they would have been obligated to do so. So yeah, that’s where we differ.

  113. Kaimi,
    One point where I do agree with you and others is that as we make clear that we are separate and distinct from the FLDS, we shouldn’t belittle them for their manner of dress, or even for their polygamy or isolation from society. And I agree with Justin that we should avoid using “cult.”

  114. Robert George, law professor at Princeton.

    Yikes!

    Robert George is a very smart guy, who has written some influential things — but he’s a political philosopher, not a law professor. (His work does often deal with law.)

    Princeton doesn’t _have_ a law school.

    Edit: It appears that he’s officially housed in the Politics department. See http://www.princeton.edu/politics/people/bios/index.xml?netid=rgeorge

  115. Duhwayne says:

    For Steve Evans, the impatient. OD-1 is a pragmatist’s epiphany received when the church became imperiled by polygamy–despite hiding out in the desert and waging disinformation campaigns to keep it under wraps. D&C 132 is still canonized scripture. We still practice “spiritual polygamy” when it comes to remarriage when a man is a widower, something that has driven my otherwise happily un-liberated wife around the bend. Not an easier way to roust a good argument with your Mormon wife than to say you can’t promise you won’t be sealed to someone else after she’s gone…

    Contrary to your apparently ad hominem portrayal of my comment as an FLDS in sheep’s clothing, I’m a Mormon on the other boundary. I think polygamy was a terrible mistake from the beginning and the church should find a way to say so. We’ve removed or edited or explained away items in latter-day scripture before…

  116. re 82: A prominent LDS talking-head to support the FLDS
    I nominate Kaimi.
    I’ll bet they would interview you on CNN. Seriously, put your money where your mouth is.

  117. Commander Keen says:

    No let’s not make fun of them for those things I completely agree. The FLDS woman are more victims here than they are to blaim.

    Although how a mother could stand by and let their daughters get raped is beyond me.

    But I don’t think it is such a far cry to call them a ‘cult’ with all the coersion and secrecy, lies and lawbreaking.

    The fact is the law is not being enforced there. People are getting away with things that in other communities they wouldn’t.

    If my religious belief is statutory rape, it doesn’t make it right, just because it is part of my religion.

    If my religious belief is to falsly get government welfare, it doesn’t make it right, just because I believe it.

    If my belief is to oppose and break the laws of a nation, I should not be allowed to prosper in that nation, living off of those that are actually making a positive contribution to society rather than being a dishonest parasite.

    These FLDS woman get government aid, based on being single mothers.

  118. Duhwayne, indeed I am impatient, especially with someone who believes OD-1 is nothing more than a pragmatist’s epiphany. I turn you over to the buffetings of Stapley.

  119. Great post, btw. I’m highly tempted to paste your text into my email and hit “reply to all” on those emails of the attractive Mormons and the unattractive FLDS.

  120. How, may I ask, do all of you get on these bizarre emailing lists, btw? (Or should I just stay quiet and thank my lucky stars that nobody has included me on one of them?)

  121. Sam B., don’t you have an otherwise outstanding mother-in-law?

  122. adcama,
    She’s pretty computer-illiterate; is that the saving grace for my inbox?

  123. Actually, Jess, my money is telling me to get back to grading exams. It’s my mouth that would rather keep blogging. :P

  124. polloloco says:

    Maybe I missed something. The only legs I see sticking out from under the bus are poor Elder Cook’s.

    Elder Cook states (quote) “[LDS members] don’t dress a certain way or have unique hairstyles or anything else that would distinguish them from the communities in which they live.”

    Some unknown person edits Elder Cook’s comments for the Church’s website and substitutes the unfortunate words “old fashioned” and “unusual”.

    Kaimi then edits the edit and clarifies that what Elder Cook really meant is that LDS members do not “dress funny” and “have weird hairstyles” like those FLDS people do. He goes on to add not only more of his own word choices to the bonfire, but Kevin Barney’s as well, and soon Elder Cook’s remarks were not only “insulting” but spoken in “the most belittling way possible- “look, we have much better hair than those guys. We’re not freaks like they are.” In the end, he suggests that Elder Cook shares a “similar attitude” with those who create repulsive emails comparing LDS Church members with FLDS Church members.

    Kaimi states at one point

    “This reaction — the only official church reaction I’ve seen to the whole FLDS situation — is something we ought to be ashamed of.”

    The Church (through Elder Cook) did not issue an official statement on the FLDS raid, governmental abuses of religious freedoms, or babies being ripped from their mother’s arms. The Church issued Elder Cook’s videotaped appeal to the media titled “Clarifying Polygamy Confusion” in which he responds to the question posed to him- “Why does it disturb you when you hear those who practice polygamy referred to as “Mormons”?

    Kaimi says at a later point

    “But the church _has_ gotten involved. It _has_ voluntarily put its nose into the whole FLDS mess, with multiple press releases and discussions.”

    So, which is it? One shameful reaction or multiple, voluntary nose puttings, releases and discussions?

    In the past, our ancestors has faced brutal oppression for the very same practice

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has NEVER engaged in the “very same practice” of plural marriage that the FLDS Church members living in Texas currently do. If you believe that, you haven’t done your homework, and such comments only cause further damage and confusion to the public being fed a steady stream of media reports about the strange and abusive tactics used by certain leaders within that FLDS compound.

    Kaimi: “I agree, there’s no compelling reason to start getting involved.”

    Maybe that is why the Church has chosen not to?

  125. Commander Keen says:

    Allright crazy chicken! Someone with some sence has spoken!

    See Kaimi, you don’t want to get caught up quoting the media. You might start believing the things they say. Just listen to Polloloco, he is smart, smart guy.

    Elder Cook is wise and an incredibly great guy, no wonder he is an apostle.

    I’m sure Elder Cook has a greater love, even for the FLDS then you can even imagine. It’s just that the church will not get involved in these sorts of things. Not only has it been a commandment not to, but also because it isn’t really any of the churches business to get involved anyway.

    Please turn away from critizing the apostles I don’t want to see you with one of those big signs on temple square come October.

    Oh, and by the way, in my earlier post I didn’t mean the literal meaning of “catering”, in case you didn’t catch that. And no I don’t really care for the Ultra-Conservative media like Sean Hannity either. I believe in moderation and balance. Great sense of humor with the whole catering thing, why did you remove the post?

  126. polloloco, a few questions, in reverse order of importance:

    1. Why do mention Kevin Barney? So far as I can tell he has said nothing on this thread at all.

    2. You ask, “So, which is it? One shameful reaction or multiple…” Why do you ask this question? Are you genuinely curious, or is this a rhetorical technique to try and show that Kaimi’s post is incorrect or misleading?

    3. You state, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has NEVER engaged in the “very same practice” of plural marriage that the FLDS Church members living in Texas currently do. If you believe that, you haven’t done your homework.” Is this so? I humbly suggest that you might want to do some homework yourself. There is every indication that some of the bemoaned hallmarks of the FLDS practice — underage marriage, arranged marriage, etc. — did indeed occur in our Church as well (albeit a century ago).

    4. Are you trying to reason with Kaimi, or are you simply trying to refute him? If it’s the latter, then I believe you have mistaken the way that conversations are meant to be held. The overall tone of your comment seems combative, and that’s simply not welcome here.

    Thanks.

  127. Kristine says:

    Commander Keen,

    We don’t let commenters pass judgment on people’s worthiness around here. Feel free to argue with Kaimi’s ideas, but leave the worries about apostasy to his bishop, or you’ll find yourself wearing a big sign that says “Banned at BCC.”

  128. OK, catching up again. Only on #95, so . . .

    “the FLDS do what our prophets said.”

    No, Brad, they don’t. Some polygamists do what our prophets said; the FLDS abuse what our prophets said in very important ways. They are NOT what we were before the Manifesto.

  129. #101- Kaimi, the main difference, as it relates to this post, is that WE were the “estranged cousins” of the RLDS. I’m certain they wanted nothing less than total distance from us, and I’m sure they weren’t releasing public statements of sympathy.

    If they had issued public statements (and maybe they did), I think they would have said, “They aren’t us! PLEASE, don’t think they are us! Pretty please!!”

  130. #131 – My boss is Jewish and won’t hire long haired hippie types. I don’t think it is just the church!

  131. Thanks for the post Kaimi. I was also very saddened that the only response taken by the Church was to request the media not to confuse the LDS with the FLDS. It was disappointing to see PR trump championing the due process and religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.

    I never expected to see the Church defend the FLDS substantively. To the contrary, I fully expected the Church to withold judgment as it is not wise to draw conclusions before the facts are known. What I would have found ideal, however, was for the Church to take the role it so desperately needed someone to take in the 1840s — someone with some influence to stand up not substantively in favor of the practices at issue but in favor of the rule of law and rights provided for in the Constitution.

    In studying our history, I have always been impressed with the few individuals who did not share our beliefs — indeed who very likely found them to be extremely repugnant — but who nevertheless did the right thing by speaking on our behalf when we were being persecuted by governments and quasi-governmental militias.

    Despite its history on the receiving end of this stick, the Church did not voice official concern or objection to the abuses of constitutionally protected rights and freedoms that the FLDS were experiencing, opting instead to make a statement focusing on PR. I find that unfortunate.

  132. The ACLU has filed its amicus brief in the FLDS case, arguing that Texas has abused procedures safeguarding the rights of children and parents.

    http://www.aclu.org/religion/gen/35468prs20080529.html

  133. polloloco says:

    1. I mentioned Kevin Barney because Kaimi’s original post contained a link to Kevin’s thread called “Freaks and Geeks” when he compared Elder Cook’s remarks to saying “look, we have much better hair than those guys. We’re not freaks like they are.”
    2. I asked because Kaimi stated one thing, and then moments later stated the opposite. In order to sympathize or disagree with his point of view, I need to determine which statement is correct because both cannot be.
    3. “Some of the bemoaned hallmarks” does not translate into “the very same practice”. There are many doctrines espoused by FLDS members that were not the doctrines of the early LDS Church such as-plural marriage being applied to the entire church body, plural marriage is the only way to obtain exaltation and having a minimum of 3 wives. The early LDS Church did not require every member to participate, nor did it excommunicate large numbers of young men so that every older male could meet the three wife+ requirement. One church holds the Priesthood keys and authority to govern plural marriage as directed by God and the other does not. If the FLDS church’s system of plural marriage is not authorized by God nor practiced in the manner He directs, then it cannot be “the very same practice”. (Ray put it well when he said “They are NOT what we were before the Manifesto”)
    4. I am merely trying to understand Kaimi’s reasoning that the LDS Church’s response to the FLDS situation has been to “throw [FLDS members] under the bus” as evidenced by Elder Cook’s “shameful” remarks. I also do not understand why Kaimi would claim that completely benign words directed at media distinction were insulting and belittling regarding the dress and culture of the FLDS and then turn around in posts #97 and #99 and joke “Start sewing your bonnet now” and tease about who gets “Ronan” for a plural husband.

    Of course, not knowing Kaimi, all I have to go on are his words. I simply pointed out that some of his words are inconsistent and that I feel his interpretation of Elder Cook’s words and/or intentions is misleading. No combat or rhetoric intended.

  134. Kaimi,

    Thanks for this post. I feel torn as to what to expect form the LDS church on this, though I’m pretty sure pointing out how they lack our hip, modern, mainstream style could have been left out.

    As for individual members, I have been terribly saddened by the reactions I’ve heard. I have cried over children be torn from their parents. I have cried for parents worried for their children. I have felt sick to see the callousness of my LDS neighbors toward these people. They too seem so worried about setting themselves apart that they cannot stop to empathize or have compassion.

    Beyond that, I am amazed at how readily people accept the termination of others’ rights without a thought to the long term effects of such actions.

    I’m glad you used your voice on this one.

  135. polloloco says:

    Kaimi

    Not to pick on you, but in #114 you are correct that Princeton does not have a law school, but it does hire law professors. Robert P. George is a McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton.

    To all-News reports this afternoon indicate that SOME of the children are being released back into their parents custody.

    I abhor government abuse almost, but not quite, as much as I abhor child abuse, and if the State of Texas has more than a shred of evidence that any kind of abuse was taking place on that compound, they had a legal obligation to step in to investigate. They attempted to interview compound members on site for 2-3 days before the logistics became too much and they moved a small group of under aged females to another location because they were confident they were at risk. Things unraveled from there, but CPS did the same thing to the FLDS member families that they would have done to ANYONE involved in suspected child abuse, it was just on a much larger scale and involves a large religious group of people. The phone call may have been a hoax, but what the State found on site and through interviews with SOME of the women and children living there was serious enough for them to act. The Texas CPS website details every step of their actions since the April raid if anyone cares to read their side of things.

    That said, isn’t the most important issue in the whole matter is the safety and protection of the innocent-those who cannot stand up for their own legal rights either because they are too young, or too afraid?? Do we ignore the fact that Warren Jeffs had no problem permanently breaking up families by banishing men and boys from the compound? Should we pretend that those photos of Warren Jeffs french kissing his 12 year old bride depict a “normal”, healthy marriage? Do we extend to all citizens the “right” to collect welfare money and food stamps, or to participate in other kids of fraud and obstruction of justice?

    The parents and adults living in that compound KNOW they are breaking laws and they know that doing so puts them at risk for legal action that involves losing their children. They either voluntarily do it anyway or are being brainwashed/coerced/forced to. If they were voluntarily participating in criminal behavior, and raising their children to do the same, they should be subjected to the same consequences as any other citizens behaving criminally. If they were forced to participate, they deserve to be freed and protected from religious/social/and patriarchal oppression and threats of harm or damnation if they choose not to.

    No one with a heart or soul would ENJOY watching children be taken from their mothers or be happy that innocent people might be living in worry and uncertainty. But by the same token, is it right to stand by and do nothing if there is evidence that children are being raped and abused or women are being dominated by fear of both man and God? Which does more emotional/spiritual/physical damage…a few weeks/months separated from loving parents while (hopefully)capable people watch over you or a lifetime of abuse, fear, domination and guilt?

    It has not been determined exactly WHAT was occurring in Texas and how many families were involved, or if nothing was happening at all; yet half the world is babbling about injustice and religious persecution while pointing snide fingers at the other half that is babbling about cults and perverts and sinners. I personally thank GOD that the LDS Church has had the dignity to stay away from both sides and pray that they continue to in the future.

  136. Steve Evans says:

    polloloco, you need to find your own blog where you can write at length about these issues.

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