As confusion continues worldwide about the connection between the Salt Lake City-based LDS Church and the FLDS polygamist group in Texas, LDS officials released a new series of videos on its web site today to try to clarify that their members have nothing to do with plural marriage. The videos can be seen at http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/.
Distinguishing the 13-million member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the few thousand members of the FLDS Church has proven to be an ongoing challenge for the church, which has issued at least three different statements distancing itself from the Texas group in recent months.
Latter-day Saints featured on the new video interviews 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.
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.
The church also commissioned a survey of 1,000 adults in the United States last month, seeking to determine how widespread public confusion between Latter-day Saints and the FLDS Church is. According to a press release, the survey shows:
• More than a third of those surveyed (36 percent) 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.
Elder Quentin L. Cook, an LDS apostle, said the results of the survey confirm what church leaders and members in Texas and elsewhere are seeing with respect to the confusion.
"We'd much rather be talking about who we are than who we aren't," Elder Cook said. "While many news reporters have been careful to distinguish between our church and this small Texas group, a lot of confusion still remains."
"People have the right to worship as they choose, and we aren't interested in attacking someone else's beliefs," Elder Cook said. "At the same time, we have an obligation to define ourselves rather than be defined by events and incidents that have nothing to do with us. It's obvious we need to do more to help people understand the enormous differences that exist between our church which is a global faith and these small polygamous groups."The LDS Church banned the practice of polygamy in the late 19th century and excommunicates any of its members who practice it.