Anti-Mormonism: The Last Acceptable Bigotry?
Journalists had a hey-day in 2011 as the Republican primaries loomed and two American presidential candidates turned out to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, Jr. For several years prior, two television shows had brazenly depicted members of the Church of Jesus Christ—often erroneously referred to as Mormons—as practicing polygamy (which they don't), even showing a corrupted portrayal of sacred Latter-day Saint temple rituals. The Book of Mormon Musical also lambasted Latter-day Saints in perhaps the most irreverent and obscene musical ever to hit Broadway. The interesting thing is that the most prestigious publications in America joined the feeding frenzy, with nary a few hinting that what we were seeing was bigotry in action. Respected publishers published diatribes against Latter-day Saints and their beliefs, more typical of nineteenth century fantastic sensationalism than modern investigative journalism. Virtually everyone seemed to think it was OK.
The Wrong Kind of Minority
Mona Charen is a Jewish writer for the Washington Examiner. Noting the widespread acceptance of bigotry against members of the Church of Jesus Christ in a column dated December 29, 2011, she wrote,
- "If Mitt Romney is nominated and elected, he will be the first member of a highly persecuted American minority group to be so honored. Yet no one is celebrating the possibility of the first Mormon president. Anti-Mormon bias, which has proved remarkably persistent over decades, is scarcely ever condemned.
- "Outsiders can surely be fair-minded enough to acknowledge that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gets results. Utah has the nation's lowest levels of welfare dependency, child poverty and single parent homes. Its students are among the top scorers in the nation, despite relatively low levels of education spending. It ranks highest for contributions to charity by the wealthy and among the lowest for incarceration and cancer rates. Prominent Mormons established the Marriott hotel chain, Jet Blue and Bain Capital (of course). Mormon Americans invented the television, word processing and the hearing aid, among other things. Mormons have distinguished themselves in entertainment, sports and politics — where they have risen to prominence in both parties."
- "Mormons are obviously the wrong kind of minority. Oh, they've been persecuted. But through a strong work ethic, self-discipline, traditional morality . . . and group cohesion, they have triumphed for themselves and for the country. The first Mormon president would be a milestone. But don't hold your breath for the applause." (Read more at the Washington Examiner.)
No Strangers to Persecution
Latter-day Saints have been persecuted since before the Church of Jesus Christ was formally organized, since fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith reported having seen God the Father and Jesus Christ. The Doctrine and Covenants, a canonized collection of revelations, contains many indications that persecution against the Church of Jesus Christ and against its leaders would continue, until Christ Himself would finally intervene, something reiterated by modern prophets:
- Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them. But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves. And those who swear falsely against my servants. . . . Behold, mine eyes see and know all their works, and I have in reserve a swift judgment in the season thereof, for them all. (Doctrine and Covenants 121:16–18, 24).
- For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction, and this grieveth my soul (2 Nephi 26:11).
- ". . . the Lord has clearly indicated that His purifying and sifting judgment would begin first at the house of God and then proceed outward to the world. (See 1 Pet. 4:17; D&C 112:25.) Just what this sifting will consist of is not now clear, what special pressures—combined with the ongoing and demanding rigors of “taking up the cross daily”—we know not. (See Luke 9:23.) We do know that the tempter’s triad of tools, identified by Jesus as temptation, persecution, and tribulation, will be relentlessly used. (See Matt. 13:21; Luke 8:13.)
- Much sifting will occur because of lapses in righteous behavior which go unrepented of. A few will give up instead of holding out to the end. A few will be deceived by defectors. Likewise, others will be offended, for sufficient unto each dispensation are the stumbling blocks thereof! A few will stumble because, in their preoccupation with the cares of the world, they do not have oil in their lamps. And, again and again, those who refuse to eat their spiritual spinach will come off second when they wrestle with the world. Some, because of the scorn of the world, will grow ashamed and let go of the iron rod. (See 1 Ne. 8:28.) A few who have not been Saints, but merely tourists passing through, will depart from the path. A few, failing to be of good cheer, will even charge God foolishly. (See Job 1:22.) 
Thus, antagonism toward the Church makes some members of the Church of Jesus Christ fall away, and this is part of the process the Lord will use to separate the chaff and wheat.
- But the hypocrites shall be detected and shall be cut off, either in life or in death, even as I will; and wo unto them who are cut off from my church, for the same are overcome of the world. Wherefore, let every man beware lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me (Doctrine and Covenants 50:8, 9).
- Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord. And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord (Doctrine and Covenants 112:24–26).
However, the Lord has also said,
- "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" (See Matthew 18:7.)
Why Persecution of Members of the Church of Jesus Christ Will Increase
With brief periods of calm, persecution of all types against Latter-day Saints will increase.
Increased persecution will come as the result of increased polarization between those on the Lord's side and those who oppose Him, no matter what their reasoning (those antagonistic toward members of the Church because Latter-day Saints uphold traditional marriage; those antagonistic toward the Church because Latter-day Saints have more scripture than the Bible, etc.):
- "As this work progresses in its onward course, and becomes more and more an object of political and religious interest and excitement, no king, ruler, or subject, no community or individual, will stand neutral. All will at length be influenced by one spirit or the other; and will take sides either for or against the kingdom of God” (James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–75, 1:257).
- "That day is now here. Opposition has been and will be the lot of the Saints of the kingdom in any age. The finger of scorn has been pointed at us in the past, and we may expect it in the future. We also expect to see men in high places defend the Church; there will also be “pharaohs” who know neither Joseph nor his brethren. The seed planted and watered in 1830 has now matured to a fully grown tree for all to see. Some will seek the refuge of its shade in the heat of the day, but none will be neutral in their appraisal of its fruit.
- "The Church will continue its opposition to error, falsehood, and immorality. The mission of the Church is to herald the message of salvation and make unmistakably clear the pathway to exaltation. Our mission is to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord. As the world drifts further away from God and standards of virtue and honor, we may expect opposition to the work of the Church. We may expect to see the time, as the Book of Mormon forecasts, when “multitudes . . . among all the nations of the Gentiles [will gather] to fight against the Lamb of God” (1 Ne. 14:13). The power of God and the righteousness of the Saints will be the means by which the Church will be spared (see 1 Ne. 14:14–15)."