--originally published on Waters of Mormon on April 25, 2008--
We have been told to gather our personal family histories, to be familiar with our ancestors and their lives. Because I have obeyed, I see the egregious error in Egan's logic when he claims that the LDS church ought to apologize for its polygamist roots. I know that my ancestors lived in pastoral Virginia, where the brides were not only young, but related to their husbands. I know that they were farmers that owned multiple slaves.
I have come to terms with the lives of my ancestors, and I understand that while their lives have influenced my family, they are no sin of mine. The social conventions of the past, while our current lifestyles and biases condemn them, have no influence on the truth of any church's message. If such a connection was valid, no church would stand blameless before God. Such an egregious logical fallacy, obvious even to a high school student, should reflect upon Egan for what it is: his personal ignorance and bias, not truth.
In the Church, we have also been taught to know our history; contrary to Egan’s claim “of the wealthy, modern Mormon church to leave a big part of its past behind.” While Egan may praise Fawn Brodie and her claims about Joseph Smith--that no man knows his history--this claim couldn't be further from the truth. It is because I know the history of my Church and the Prophet Joseph Smith that I converted to the LDS Church. Because I have read the personal accounts of those who knew Joseph Smith--in mediums where no reason to lie would taint their honesty--I am familiar with his character. Because I have read his personal writings, I see the way he viewed himself and those around him. I might add that not only was Joseph Smith an active man--constantly busy, serving his fellow man and erecting the Church--he was too illiterate to fabricate the Book of Mormon, even to "let his libido lead him into trouble," as Egan claims so disrespectfully.
(Anyone seeking to familiarize themselves with Joseph Smith--as opposed to the enigma that he has become both to history and critics--I would suggest reading Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman. He places Joseph Smith within his cultural context without expecting him to apologize for that context; providing, more than many other biographies, a more genuine perspective of the Prophet's life.)
And because I've obeyed the commandment the LDS Church has been given to read and be familiar with our scriptures--including the Doctrine and Covenants cited by Egan--I understand the importance of "worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may," as stated in our 11th Article of Faith. In a society that has been so intolerant to the differences of its own people in regards to race, gender, and creed, one would expect for the American government and its people to celebrate any creed that preaches tolerance. Unfortunately, that continues not to be the case.
Perhaps before Egan calls for an apology from the LDS Church for its past, he should familiarize himself with the execution order from Lilburn Boggs. According to Egan's logic, the state government of Missouri would owe our Church an apology and restitution for the grievances committed against us by the execution order that left many pioneer LDS women and children destitute. But we expect no such apology and restitution. We expect our government, the protectorates of Justice--to learn from their experiences with us, that the sufferings of our early church are not repeated.
But as the case against the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-day Saints in Eldorado, Texas continues to unfold, it does not appear that the American government has learned anything from the mistakes of its past; including the creation of broken homes by needlessly dividing the participants of polygamist unions. And while Egan may praise the results of Buchanan’s invasion in the 1850’s to enforce laws against polygamy, I find it interesting that Egan compares the Texas raid to another raid that was conceived just as dishonestly as the Eldorado raid.
Buchanan replaced Brigham Young as Utah’s governor without informing him, then shut down the mail routes to Utah to keep him from finding out about his replacement. If Brigham Young was truly unfit to be governor of Utah, why not pursue him under the law, instead of sneaking after him? If the children of the Yearning for Zion are truly in danger, why deny their parents fair trials? Why hinder their lawyers in defending their clients? Why deny the FLDS women the ability to contact their lawyers? If the evidence is so overwhelming against the FLDS, why does the state of Texas refuse to allow Constitutional due process?
Oh. That’s right. Buchanan’s raid was ill-contrived, and looks really bad on paper in hindsight; as the Eldorado raid does already.
“Sometimes, the faith of our fathers is better left to the revisionists.”
Is that so?
Well Mr. Egan, I think the LDS Church and its membership would prefer to speak for themselves. We need no revisionists to apologize for us, especially in regards to polygamy. I think its safe to say we have more experience with polygamy than our critics; enough to state that anyone who views polygamy as a completely abominable practice--as something for which an apology must be given—does not understand polygamy.