Friday, August 7, 2009

AP issues a rare "Oops" in deference to the LDS church

What: The Associated Press issued a correction for its criticized use of the term "Mormon" to refer the anti-crime activist who was killed in northern Mexico.

Quote: "The Associated Press erroneously referred to the dead man and members of his community as Mormons. They identify themselves as Mormons but belong to the Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times, which uses the Book of Mormon but is not recognized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Reaction: It seems to me that a lot of media outlets pooh-pooh this distinction. It's nice to see the AP make an effort.


  1. I would submit that fundamentalist Mormons have every right to label themselves as they see fit.
    It is sad that the mainstream Church, who whinned about not being called "Christian", would turn around and try to inflict the same indignity on fundamentalists.
    We all remember Hinkley saying that it was a "contradiction to use the two terms together". This was about the same time that he attempted to play down the idea that "as man is God once was....etc.". I realize that he was getting old but someone should have checked his notes for him. It was Mark E. Peterson that first coined the phrase "fundamentalist Mormon", not us.....and, with respect to our fellow Mormons, we will keep the label.

  2. I went to the LDS Newsroom to look for this quote: "While the term "Mormon Church" has long been publicly applied to the Church as a nickname, it is not an authorized title, and the Church discourages its use."

    What I discovered is that they had changed the page(Good thing I found an old copy). What I found interesting was this addition:

    "When referring to people or organizations that practice polygamy, the terms "Mormons,""Mormon fundamentalist,""Mormon dissidents,"etc. 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."

    This quote is interesting. I'll get the obvious out of the way. As Bruce said, it was LDS leadership that coined the term "Mormon fundamentalist".

    The next thing I noticed is how the Church statement refers to the Associated Press Stylebook. Just how do we think the Associated Press Stylebook came up with this? Are we to think that the Church's constant complaining about being associated with the fundamentalist, played no role in the AP's Stylebook? Yeah right.

    The next thing I noticed is how inaccurate the statement is. There were no fundamentalist until around the Heber J. Grant administration. Before that the fundamentalist were still in the Church. It's not honest to imply that fundamentalism started with the death of Joseph Smith. That's not where fundamentalism had it's beginning.

  3. Re Bruce,

    Pres. Hinckley never said it wasn't doctrine. He said he wouldn't say it/speak of it. He played it down because it was not an appropriate forum in which to discuss it.

    Re Brent,

    I fail to see your point. The AP Stylebook and the other sources you quote are intended to accurately identify The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as it is today, not as it was in the past. The term "Mormon Fundamentalist" isn't properly attributed to other churches because the term "Mormon" most often refers to members of the official church. It's not a matter of history or doctrine, just semantics and accurate reporting.

  4. Bob,

    Is it a true statement to say that fundamentalist Mormon sects "resulted from the split after [Joseph] Smith's death"?

    I would normally leave this as a rhetorical question, but I feel that the obvious may go unseen with you. The correct answer is NO.

    The LDS Newsroom is knowingly putting out false information. Why?

    It's also a false statement to say that Hinckley didn't downplay the "as man is God once was" doctrine. The quotes are there for everyone to see.

    Do you see my point now, Bob? You and the Church seem to have a problem with honesty reporting the facts.

    But what do I know. I'm that which does not exist. A fundamentlist Mormon.

  5. Here's an interesting link. I'll forward it to the AP as well.

    I really thought this arguement was long over.

    Apparently not.

  6. I fail to see what the problem is. If two different churches are called by the same is appropriate for the press to try to distinguish between the two. Perhaps the objection is the statement by the press that calling them mormons was "erroneous"? Or perhaps because they said the New Mexico church was "not recognized" by the LDS church. When they, apparently, would like to consider us "fellow Mormons". Very intersting.

    Also interesting the term "Mormon" is trademarked for
    "Educational services, namely, providing classes, conferences, and institutes in the fields of history and religion"