A piece in USA Today looks at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' new PR campaign to distance itself from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It seems that the Mormon church is concerned about all the ugly publicity surrounding the recent raid on the FDLS compound in West Texas and the subsequent grand jury probe into whether the polygamist sect had indeed been committing atrocities against young girls. 

Fair enough. Considering the two groups' similar names and shared theological roots, one would certainly expect Mormon leaders to feel the need to draw such a distinction. But this just makes church leaders' tepid statement on the issue all the more disappointing:

"People have the right to worship as they choose, and we aren't interested in attacking someone else's beliefs," LDS church apostle Quentin Cook said in a statement. "At the same time, we have an obligation to define ourselves rather than be defined by events and incidents that have nothing to do with us."

While the back half of that statement seems completely reasonable, the first half is a pathetic cop out. "People have the right to worship as they choose"? "We aren't interested in attacking someone else's beliefs"? 

Well why the hell not? I say, attack away. After all, we're not talking about a sect that believes clothing should be optional or groundhogs are divine prophets. This is a group of degenerate nutters who think it's a-ok to raise young girls to believe that if they don't willingly submit to being part of some bizarro harem for disgusting old men they will burn in hell for all of eternity. (One can only hope former church leader Warren Jeffs is experiencing all of the joys the Utah Department of Corrections has to offer.) If that's not worthy of  some full-throated, heart-felt condemnation, I'm not sure what is.

The Mormon church knows it has a problem; much of the country thinks it's odd, if not downright creepy. To aggressively combat that image, it might want to consider taking a less wussy stance when it comes to commenting on truly revolting religious practices. Otherwise, some folks might get the idea that the church is vaguely sympathetic. And then poor Mitt Romney will never get another shot at the presidency. 

--Michelle Cottle