For the third time in the past two weeks, leaders of the LDS Church have asked media outlets to refrain from incorrectly mistaking the Salt Lake City-based faith with a polygamous sect now under legal fire in Texas.
Elder Quentin L. Cook, an apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, appears in a video clip posted on the church's Web site www.newsroom.lds.org appealing for a clear distinction between Latter-day Saints and members of the Fundamentalist LDS Church.
A story accompanies the clip, lauding reporters who are making the differences clear between the two, but expressing concern about others who are "perpetuating mistruths about the church" through their reporting on the saga playing out in Eldorado, Texas.
The church also has posted the video clip of Elder Cook on the popular Web site youtube.com/watch?v=uUtjsdtDOkQ.
On the site, Elder Cook said "it is very confusing to the public when some media use 'Mormon"' to describe the FLDS group that is currently under investigation for possible incidents of child sexual abuse.
Church officials have emphasized that Latter-day Saints "do not live in isolated compounds, arrange marriages, dress in old-fashioned clothing or wear unusual hairstyles," like FLDS members do.
The LDS Church has more than 13 million members in more than 100 nations worldwide. Its members marry at the average age of 23 and are well-educated, Elder Cook said, noting 60 percent of Latter-day Saints in the United States have some college education 10 percent higher than the national average.
"We recently had a telephone call from a major news organization asking for permission from us to allow them to film in a temple of a polygamist sect we have absolutely no connection with," Elder Cook said in the video clip. He said another "highly respected news organization" ran a picture of the Salt Lake LDS Temple with a story about the FLDS Church.
"It's of great concern to the church because our members don't engage in polygamous conduct. ... Most of these polygamous sects are very small ... and (the confusion between the two) is not helped when people put 'Mormon' in the title" of news stories about the Texas sect.
Elder Cook appealed to media "not to include 'Mormon' with the word polygamous."
Perpetuating the confusion "is of great concern to the members of the church," he said.
The Web site statement and video are dated April 17. They follow a similar plea from officials with LDS Public Affairs, who posted a Web site statement on April 10 detailing the mistakes some media outlets had made, and lauding those who make the correct distinctions. That statement referred to an April 6 statement the church issued on the weekend the raid took place at the FLDS ranch in Texas, where 416 children were removed after allegations of child sexual abuse.