Clipper News Editor
LAYTON — False stereotypes about the LDS Church and polygamy still exist today, fueled by the media in news reports on fundamentalists and television shows.
Layton resident Craig Foster will discuss the misconception during his address, “Like Two Crazy Aunts in the Attic: Latter-day Saints and Popular Polygamy Stereotypes,” at this year’s FAIR (the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) conference planned for Aug. 5-6 at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy.
The annual conference will feature 16 speakers, three from Davis County, speaking on important issues confronting members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“We look at the good, the bad and the ugly. We don’t put a fluffy frosting on, but tell it like it is,” Foster said.
Among speakers this year will be Royal Skousen, editor of the Book of Mormon critical text project.
Foster’s address will mix humor with scholarly research looking at the stereotypes that exist to this day about the LDS Church and its long banned practice of polygamy.
Foster said his presentation is part of a longer essay which will be included in three volumes on plural marriage he’s co-editing with Newell Bringhurst on “The Persistence of Polygamy.” The first volume may be out this fall.
Foster, whose great-grandparents were polygamists, said even though the LDS Church banned polygamy in 1896, many people still associate polygamy with the church because of television shows like the HBO series “Big Love,” and the raid of the fundamentalist “Yearning for Zion” ranch in Texas two years ago.
“That brought a lot of negative press to the church,” he said. “It confirmed in the minds of many that we’re an odd cult and that the church encourages marriage to young girls in their early teens.”
Foster said that following the raid, particularly in Europe, people mistook the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the LDS Church.
Along with that, were the mistaken ideas that Mormon women and girls wore long, plain dresses and wore their hair up and that in Mormon households there were “wild orgies” going on where husbands would have three or four wives in bed at the same time.
Foster said that idea was perpetrated by television in the 1980s when former Mormon and polygamist Tom Greene went on television and a French magazine did a story with a photo showing him sitting on a big bed with his wives. Even though they were all fully clothed, that type of publicity still reinforced the stereotype, Foster said.
Foster chose the name “Like Two Crazy Aunts in the Attic,” because a lot of Mormons are uncomfortable with the church’s polygamist past, and when people were uncomfortable with unbalanced relatives, like a crazy aunt they would hide them in the attic. “Because this is discussing polygamy, I made it two crazy aunts in the attic,” he said.
The conference begins each day at 9 a.m. and ends at 5:45 p.m. Registration is before the first session each day. For those who preregister by July 28, lunch will be included. Lunch will not be included for those who register after, or for walk-ins.
Check the website, www.fairlds.org for information on ticket options.