Chain The Dogma August 8, 2011
Book of Mormon fundamentalists and polygamists are Mormons too
by Perry Bulwer
The headline for my last article on this blog was deliberately provocative, as is much of what I write here. When I wrote, "Mormon pedophile polygamist, Warren Jeffs, guilty of raping girls for God" I had in mind a recent report that a Mormon Defense League (MDL) has been formed to monitor media reports on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Modelled after the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, the group wants
to help journalists "get it right," said Scott Gordon, FAIR’s president who will direct the new project.
If the MDL notices a misstatement or mischaracterization, the group will first contact the journalist, Gordon said. But if a pattern of misrepresentation emerges, the defense league will "go after the writer" by posting the piece or pieces on its website (mdl.org) and pointing out the errors.
The timing of this effort is likely connected to the two LDS candidates in the U.S. presidential campaign and criticisms from other Christians that they belong to a cult. The fact that fundamentalist Mormon, Warren Jeffs, has been almost continually in the news for several years now might also be connected to this, as almost all of the media reports on his child abusing cult make some connection to the mainstream church, if only to clarify the differences.
Mormons, like most believers, do not like their group referred to as a cult, whether the word is used in a theological, sociological or popular culture context. But mainstream Mormons also hate to be linked in anyway to fundamentalist groups or individuals who practice polygamy. They claim that there is no such thing as a fundamentalist Mormon, that the only true Mormons are those who subscribe to LDS dogma, which rejected polygamy long ago for political rather than religious reasons.
I anticipate that the MDL will be targeting anyone who writes that the LDS is a cult or Mormons are not Christian, or who describes polygamists as Mormon fundamentalists.
Joanna Brooks, a Mormon writer who teaches English and comparative literature at San Diego State University, believes it will be good for the LDS Church "not to be the one to respond every time a crackpot takes a shot at the church," and she applauds the move for "an independent voice to respond to crude anti-Mormonism" in any media report.
Perhaps Brooks should apply some of her knowledge of comparative literature analysis to the Book of Mormon. If she did, and applied a little critical thinking on top of that, she might realize that it was Joseph Smith who was the crackpot. And I wonder what she means by "crude anti-Mormonism". Is there a refined form of anti-Mormonism and if so, what does that look like? I would like to give that a try.