Recent media coverage of the government raid on the FLDS compound in Texas has sparked a lot of discussion of the LDS Church. Some of it has been evenhanded, and some writers seem to be gleefully falling all over themselves in their attempts to ridicule Mormons at all costs, even at the expense of the truth. All this was to be expected.
But what has shocked and saddened me recently is the response from the LDS world. While I did not expect Mormons to be pleased at the attention drawn to a socially unsavory part of our history that most of us don't understand and would like to forget, I have been surprised by the violence of the attempts that some of our number have made to distinguish themselves from these people. I hear them called "weirdos," "backwards," and "child molesters." I hear their character maligned by those who should know better. While I cannot support their doctrine, I cannot stand to see them mocked by those whose ancestors were tormented and mobbed for the crime of being different.
Let's do better. Let's not make fun of the FLDS people. They've been raised in their faith and in their culture, and teenage girls becoming plural wives is just as normal to them as soap operas and TV dinners are to us. Most of them are just honest, good people trying to live their religion. Many of them don't know any better. While some of their leaders may be dishonest or poorly motivated, their followers are mostly honest and sincere--and they are our brothers and sisters.
The prophet Jacob spoke to his people about their tendency to believe that because they had the true gospel, they were better than their Lamanite brethren. But he made it clear that how we live the gospel is more important than which tribe we belong to or which traditions we have been taught, "Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and their husbands and their wives love their children; and their unbelief... is because of the iniquity of their fathers; wherefore, how much better are you than they, in the sight of your
great Creator?" (Jacob 3:7)
The FLDS people have had their children taken from them. They have been subjected to public ridicule and government persecution, much as the early Mormon Saints were. Though we may not agree with their doctrine or their lifestyle, they deserve our love, not our scorn.