No Such Thing as a "Polygamous" Mormon

RECEIVED Tue., Aug. 2, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Re: “Meet the New Neighbors,” News, July 29: Quoting from a news release by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "the Mormons" – "Recent news reports regarding various issues related to the practice of polygamy, especially focusing on groups in Southern Utah, Arizona and Texas, have used terms such as 'fundamentalist Mormons,' 'Mormon sect' and 'polygamous Mormons' to refer to those who practice polygamy.”
    There is no such thing as a "polygamous" Mormon. Mormon is a common name for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church discontinued polygamy more than a century ago. No members of the church today can enter into polygamy without being excommunicated. Polygamist groups in Utah, Arizona, or Texas have nothing whatsoever to do with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
    When referring to people or organizations that practice polygamy, terms such as those listed above are incorrect. The Associated Press Stylebook notes: "The term Mormon is not properly applied to the other ... churches that resulted from the split after [Joseph] Smith's death."
    Its distressing to me that this article has misrepresented who this group is – they are not "Mormons" and you have misled your readership as to who they really are.
Dianne Kerr
   [Associate News Editor Lee Nichols responds: While The Austin Chronicle often uses the AP Stylebook, we do not allow it – or any particular group (or church, as the case may be) – to firmly dictate our language choices. While the LDS church may want to disassociate itself from splinter groups, the fact remains that they, the FLDS, and other groups all sprang from a common root in the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. To this end, the word "Mormon" serves our readers as a convenient reference, regardless of whether the "Mormons" in question belong to the dominant branch of that faith. As for "misleading" our readership, the article makes it quite clear that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is separate from and does not recognize the legitimacy of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.]
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