Because of persistent misunderstanding about the distinction between the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints, LDS Church authorities have released a new video in which the distinctions are better explained, without demonizing the FLDS or implying that they are "heretics". Full story published June 25th, 2008 by the Deseret News.
Although in my own personal observation as a blogger, I find that the overwhelming majority of the media now understand the distinction and adequately reflect it in their reportage, a survey commissioned by the LDS Church reveals that the general public is not as well-educated on this topic. Specifically, the survey of 1,000 people revealed the following:
• 36 percent of those surveyed erroneously thought that the Texas compound was part of the LDS Church.
• 6 percent said the two groups were partly related.
• 29 percent correctly said the two groups were not connected at all.
• 29 percent were not sure.
The survey also found that 30 percent of respondents believe polygamists belong to the LDS Church, 14 percent said polygamists are FLDS, 6 percent said they are "Mormon fundamentalists" and 44 percent were unsure.
Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge is cynically exploited by anti-Mormon activists, many of who have been excommunicated for cause and who use anti-Mormon activism to get back at the Church in order to sow further doubt, confusion, and hostility against the LDS community. Consequently, it is necessary for the LDS Church to spend time addressing this issue in order to prevent further misrepresentation, although by their own admission, they would prefer to be spending the time preaching the Gospel instead.
Although the LDS Church previously issued a statement on April 24th distinguishing between itself and the FLDS, more was needed. Consequently, the church has just released a series of videos to promote greater understanding about mainstream Latter-day Saints. Latter-day Saints featured on the new videos include former Brigham Young University and Houston Oilers quarterback Gifford Nielsen, a director of community theater, an orthopedic surgeon, a justice of the peace, Texas news anchor Tracy Kennick, and a young woman with aspirations for medical school. This video, along with others, are accessible at this page of the LDS website. Although they are supposedly embeddable, they don't embed successfully on this blog.
All those featured live in Texas and the young people talk about growing up there as Latter-day Saints. With the video segments came yet another written appeal to news media — particularly in Texas — to outline the distinctions between Latter-day Saints and members of the FLDS polygamous group in Eldorado, Texas.
Here's the YouTube video from April 17th, 2008 where Apostle Quentin Cook explains the distinctions between the LDS and the FLDS:
In 1890, after a protracted struggle with the Federal government over polygamy, in which Congress passed the infamous Edmunds-Tucker Act specifically targeting the Church for disincorporation and dismemberment if the Church persisted in the practice. Church President Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto of 1890 which indefintely suspended the practice of plural marriage. The Church pledged not to perform or sanction any new plural marriages. This post on SignatureBooks.com provides an excellent perspective on the political battles leading up to the Manifesto. However, for reasons of conscience, several prominent Latter-day Saints chose not to accept the new policy, and several were excommunicated, so ultimately they grouped together and formed what is now known as the FLDS.
The Manifesto of 1890 has been canonized and is now officially incorporated into the Doctrine & Covenants as Official Declaration 1.