Monday, September 1, 2008

Why Does The LDS Church Object To Referring To FLDS As "Mormons"?

The Mormon Times has published a good article by Edwin Slack of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR). Entitled "Why is it OK for the LDS to call themselves "Christian" and not ok for the FLDS to call themselves "Mormon"?", the article offers an explanation of why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints objects to the use of the term "Mormon" to describe the Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints (FLDS) denomination. The FLDS prefer to identify themselves as "Mormon fundamentalists. There are two primary reasons for LDS objection:

(1). Trademark Protection: In many nations, the term "Mormon" is a registered trademark of the LDS Church. To protect that trademark, the Church, like any other entity using a trademark, is required to actively discourage its use elsewhere. This is similar to using the term "Scotch tape" to refer to any brand of cellophane tape or Xerox to refer to copying something. Those companies must actively discourage such use of their name or they may lose the right to protect their name.

(2). Avoid Confusion: During the Texas FLDS crisis, many confused the FLDS with the LDS. Individual mainstream Latter-day Saints would be criticized for belonging to a church which practices plural marriage, although the mainstream LDS indefinitely suspended the practice as a result of the Manifesto of 1890 issued by President Wilford Woodruff. This manifesto is incorporated into the Doctrine and Covenants as "Official Declaration 1". Once critics were informed of the difference between the two denominations, criticism abated.

Because the practice of plural marriage was indefinitely suspended by revelation in 1890, marriage to more than one spouse, consider bigamy under criminal law, is considered adultery by the LDS Church and results in excommunication. Therefore, the FLDS Church is officially considered "apostate" by the LDS Church. However, withholding the designation of "Mormon" from the FLDS is not intended to be considered perjorative; the LDS neither hate the FLDS nor are taught to do so.

Read an official LDS news release entitled "Proportion and Perspective on Polygamy Reporting", dated July 10th, 2008, for more official LDS prespective on this question.

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