Mexican killings spotlight Mormon history with polygamy

FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, file photo, Austin Cloes points to a photo of his relative Rhonita Miller and her family, who were killed in Mex...
FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2018, file photo, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Russell M. Nelson prays during the church's twice-a...
FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2017, file photo, women, who are members of a community on the Utah-Arizona border that has been home for more than a century ...
FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2017, file photo, a woman and a young girl hold hands for a photograph, in Colorado City, Ariz. They are members of a communit...
FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2017, file photo, Kody Brown, left, from "Sister Wives," a popular TV reality series about a polygamous family, marches during...
FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2015, file photo, people attend a memorial service in Hildale, Utah, for 12 women and children swept away in a deadly flash f...
FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2015, file photo, community members from Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., attend a memorial service in Hildale, Utah,...

FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, file photo, Austin Cloes points to a photo of his relative Rhonita Miller and her family, who were killed in Mex...

FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2018, file photo, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Russell M. Nelson prays during the church's twice-a...

FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2017, file photo, women, who are members of a community on the Utah-Arizona border that has been home for more than a century ...

FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2017, file photo, a woman and a young girl hold hands for a photograph, in Colorado City, Ariz. They are members of a communit...

FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2017, file photo, Kody Brown, left, from "Sister Wives," a popular TV reality series about a polygamous family, marches during...

FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2015, file photo, people attend a memorial service in Hildale, Utah, for 12 women and children swept away in a deadly flash f...

FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2015, file photo, community members from Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., attend a memorial service in Hildale, Utah,...

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The slaying in Mexico of nine people who belonged to a Mormon offshoot community where some people practice polygamy spotlights the mainstream church's struggle to distance itself from its history with plural marriage.

The victims' connection to the faith featured prominently in headlines this week about the attack on American women and children living in Mexico. There's no indication they were targeted for their religion.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement Tuesday expressing sympathy for the victims, while pointing out they didn't belong to the mainstream church.

Church scholar Patrick Mason says the faith was likely hoping to end confusion that's common when news breaks about polygamous sects.

Early church members practiced polygamy in the 1800s, but the church disavowed the practice in 1890.