After nine people belonging to a Mormon offshoot community were killed in Mexico this week, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued a short statement expressing sympathy for the victims while clarifying that they didn’t belong to the mainstream church.
Religion experts say that the faith widely known as the Mormon church would feel the need to make such a clarification amid a tragedy underscores the conundrum the church faces when big news happens with splinter groups that practice polygamy. Plural marriage was key during the faith’s founding days, but the Utah-based church denounced it more than a century ago.
The victims’ connection to Mormonism featured prominently in headlines this week about the drug cartel attack on a caravan of American Women and Children living in Mexico, though there’s no indication they were targeted for their religion.
Funerals for some of the victims were held Thursday in Mexico.
A religious scholar says church leaders want to end widespread confusion among outsiders about the faith’s stance on polygamy and links to the offshoots.