SALT LAKE CITY — 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.

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