Led by a controversial prophet. Seen by their neighbors as antagonistic to traditional Western ideals. Driven from one declared promised land to another, until finally accepting that the only hope for peace was to leave their country for a safer political climate. Deprived of their property by a government that declared them not to be an actual religion. Persecuted and arrested for their religious practices. Embarrassed by “fundamentalists” who profess to be part of their faith but represent them in no form or fashion.

Such is the history of the Mormons.

I’ve been more than a little dismayed in recent days by comments I have seen from members of the Church in response to terrorist attacks… I get the outrage. I share it. I kind of wish that Mormons believed in a traditional concept of Hell so that we could dispatch ISIS there. But what concerns me is when we paint with a broader brush and start to condemn Islam as a whole. Mormons, of all people, should know better.

Mormons, like Muslims, have had more than their share of kooky cousins. We have at least one violent incident in our history, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, in which we clearly were the aggressors and which we have spent more than a century trying to explain away or forget. It was an aberration. It doesn’t reflect our values. But our critics bring it up relentlessly, and we are judged (rightly or wrongly) by what happened there.

We also have our “Fundamental LDS” apostates who skew outsiders’ views of both our morality and our fashion sense. (Note to the polygamists: “Homespun” is not the new black). I don’t know about other Mormons, but I’m worn out from explaining to people that no matter what the FLDS call themselves, they aren’t part of our religion and don’t represent us. But again, rightly or wrongly, they are part of the baggage that Mormonism carries with it, and they will influence society’s perception of us whether we like it or not.