I’ll admit it… I’m fascinated by Mormons. No, strike that: I’m fascinated by Mormon Fundamentalists. No, to be fair, I’m fascinated by *any* kind of religious fundamentalism. And I find polygamy interesting.
But all this coverage of the Warren Jeffs scandal is becoming a little much.
I first read about Jeffs compound in Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. Framed by a violent murder in one of the fundamentalist sects, this book is a great overview of the history and controversy of the Mormon church, with an emphasis on fundamentalism and polygamy. Krakauer is a great non-fiction writer. He also wrote Into the Wild, on which the Oscar-nominated movie was based and Into Thin Air, a fascinating look at a failed Mt. Everest expedition.
But I digress. As interesting as I find fundamentalism, polygamy, and Mormonism in general, the hype surrounding the story has really gone over the edge. In their never ending quest to report “fresh” content, the media are parading a number of former FLDS church members, families, etc. and interviewing them from every angle possible. I can’t help but think that this has to have a negative impact on the LDS Church.
The “real” Mormon church denounced polygamy a LONG time ago, and now people are inundated with images of FUNDAMENTALIST Mormons, in their prairie skirts and long hair. Even worse, many of these people appear on TV as shell-shocked, un-educated and downright BACKWARDS.
While this might say something about the minority of Mormons who live on compounds, what kind of effect does this have on regular Mormons? Many people don’t know the difference between the LDS and the FLDS church and might think that all Mormons are fundamentalists. Or that they all practice polygamy, which just isn’t the case.
More than that, though, I just feel like these people are being exploited by the media. Yes, there’s serious allegations of abuse. And that should be investigated, but do we have to parade these people out as if they are some sort of freak show attraction?
[stepping off soapbox now]