Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


LDS Upset With Media's Reporting Of Mormonism

LDS Church Is Upset With Media's Reporting Of Mormonism And Warren Jeffs

By John R. Llewellyn
May 12, 2006

When Warren Jeffs surprisingly made the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted list it galvanized a frenzy of national media attention about a man who is the leader of Utah's largest mind control cult. From Warren's point of view, he is merely doing what Mormon polygamist do - bootlegging plural marriages.

On May 10th CNN's Anderson Cooper hosted a two hour special about Warren Jeffs and Mormon polygamy - one of the better documentaries. During the final minutes he conducted two important interviews with the Salt Lake LDS Temple clearly in the background. Using the LDS Temple as a backdrop caused the General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to protest.

In a morning radio news report, May 12, 2006, the Church owned KSL radio station announced its objection to the use of the word "Mormon" and using the Temple as a backdrop when referring to Warren Jeffs and polygamy. The criticism that appeared in the Church owned Deseret Morning News, that same morning, was even more stern:

"Refer[ring] to these groups as 'Mormons' or 'Mormon sects' ... are "misleading and confusing to the vast majority of audiences who rightfully associate the term 'Mormon' with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

When CNN "superimposed the face of Jeffs over an image of the LDS Church's Salt Lake Temple," the Church said it "is not just careless editing but highly offensive to members of the LDS Church."

The article made reference to a 1998 statement made by Church President Gordon B. Hinckley on Larry King Live, "the Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy and excommunicates members who do."

The Deseret News went on to say, "there is no such thing as a 'Mormon fundamentalist,' nor are there 'Mormon sects.' The inclusion of the word 'Mormon' is misleading and inaccurate."

The concern of the LDS Church is understandable. But CNN did make it clear that Warren Jeffs and the rest of the polygamists were not associated with the LDS Church. The Church would like to separate itself from Warren Jeffs and everything he represents, but can it really?

What words other than 'Mormon fundamentalist' would be more appropriate in describing or identifying Warren Jeffs? He relies upon the same scriptures as the LDS Church. Both the LDS Church and Warren's church, The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, [FLDS] worship Joseph Smith as the author of the Book of Mormon and founder of the Church of Christ, later changed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ever since the Book of Mormon was published, those who believed it was historical fact have been known as Mormons.

For over fifty years the members who splintered from the mother Church have been allowed to organize unimpeded by Church or government. As a consequence they have bred like rabbits, sunk their roots deep, and founded incorporated priesthood owned towns. Mormon fundamentalism is now a valid subculture with its own heroes, literature and symbols. The polygamists call themselves "Mormon fundamentalists" because that is what they are, and claim to be more Mormon than the mother Church which has discontinued practicing what was once essential Mormon beliefs. What other terms can the media use? From a historical point of view the media is right on target.

To say there is no connection between the fundamentalists and the LDS Church is simply not accurate. The primary difference between the two is authority. In Mormon scripture, only "one man" on earth at a time has the authority to act for God and seal plural marriages [Doctrine & Covenants, Section 132, Verse 7]. There are several fundamentalists leaders besides Warren Jeffs who claim to be that "one man." All factions, including the LDS Church, believe plural marriage is a correct principle, but only the Church has withdrawn the authority to practice plural marriage.

In addition to the above, consider the following: There is currently in Utah a growing movement to decriminalize polygamy and present polygamy as an acceptable form of marriage and an alternative lifestyle. Neither the LDS Church or Utah Government, primarily the Utah Attorney General, has voiced opposition to this movement. In fact, the Utah Attorney General has made the statement at a Town Meeting in St. George, Utah, that he will not prosecute a religious tenet. Polygamy, as defined in the bigamy statute, is an LDS religious tenet.

Government and media have focused on Warren Jeffs but he is not the only ruthless, tyrannical leader in the Mormon fundamentalist subculture. For some reason, the pro polygamists and polygamy sympathizers think that decriminalization - making polygamists less accountable - will make them more law abiding. It won't work! Mormon fundamentalists are uncompromising. Polygamy is the only marital relationship their God will recognize. In other words, polygamy is at war with monogamy. Mormon fundamentalists only recognize that marital relationship that is sealed by proper priesthood authority, making all other women fair game. In their eyes, a civil marriage is invalid, therefore, it is no sin to take the wife of another man - if he can convert her.

Mormon fundamentalism is a reflection of the LDS Church prior to 1890 when polygamy was discontinued. Mormon fundamentalism is a "tar baby" that the LDS Church is stuck with and will ultimately have to deal with. Its not going away.


John R. Llewellyn is the author of four books dealing with Mormon polygamy. His latest is Polygamy's Rape of Rachael Strong, A Protected Environment for Predators.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news