Anti-Mormon Acts

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Joseph Smith, Mormon Prophet

Anti-Mormon Acts have been perpetrated with more or less severity since before Mormonism was established as the restoration of Jesus Christ's primitive church. No sooner did Joseph Smith procure the Gold Plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon [1], then the forces of hell were unleashed against him. Mobs and killers were ever after him, and he was wrongfully arrested and finally martyred with his brother, Hyrum Smith.

The early Latter-day Saints [2] were driven out of New York state, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. They managed some protection in remote Utah Territory (originally Mexico Territory), but because of their brief practice of polygamy, acts passed by the U.S. Government attached all their assets, removed their rights, imprisoned their fathers and husbands, and even sent an army in an effort to destroy the Church. Prophet Wilford Woodruff [3] received a vision from God showing him that, indeed, the Church of Jesus Christ would be crippled and destroyed, if polygamy were not abandoned, leading to his manifesto renouncing the practice.

Mormonism has been lied about, vilified, and its members persecuted to a greater or lesser degree even since. The "Mormon Moment" came about after years of increased acceptance, when the Book of Mormon Musical was staged on Broadway and Mitt Romney [4] became the Republican presidential nominee in 2012. This "moment" gave occasion to even reputable and respected publications shredding Mormons and Mormonism in what one journalist called "the last acceptable bigotry." He was not the only one who noticed that things said about Mormons in jest or slander could never be said about Jews or Moslems or any racial group in these modern times.

Although Mormons were not the biggest donors to Proposition 8's support in the state of California, the lists of donors were published (but not the lists of opponents who donated for their cause), and Mormons lost jobs because of their support of the proposition. Mormon properties have been vandalized in many instances. Since gay rights activists call Mormons "haters," this is all the more ironic.

Arson for an Arizona Mormon Chapel

A 50-year-old meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tolleson, Arizona, located some 13 miles west of Phoenix was destroyed by fire early Friday morning, 29 June 2012. The building, which was established in the 50's, was the meetinghouse for three congregations, which total approximately 1,400 members.

It is estimated that the flames shot through the roof 10 to 30 feet into the air. The fire completely gutted the building and caused the roof to collapse. The structure was reported as a total loss, but there were no injuries or casualties reported as a result of the fire.

One of the members who attended worship services in the building for the past 40 years stated, "Our faith remains strong, probably stronger than ever. We will rebuild. It's only a building. These things happen." [1] Another member, Miriam Sugura, who teaches seminary, stated: "What's done it done, whether somebody set it on fire, whatever happened. It doesn't matter. It just needs to be rebuilt. we just need to go forward." [5]

President Ronald Waldron, president of the church's Phoenix Arizona Maricopa West Stake made the following comments:

This is a tragedy, a great loss to members of the church in Tolleson. We have members of the church in Tolleson who have been worshipping in that building ever since it was built in the late 1950s. This was back in the days when members of the church did most of the fundraising and much of the construction for new meetinghouses, so we have members here who remember working on the building with their own hands. This will be a great loss to them. The building has been a prominent landmark in the community as well, with many community events and recreational activities taking place there through the years. I have already received calls from city officials and from school district administrators, expressing their concern and offering facilities and other assistance that might be needed. We appreciate the concern and support. [6]

President Waldron also stated that the construction of a new meetinghouse to hold the three congregations (1,400 members) who were attending will take approximately between 18 months and two years to complete. The plan for the meetings that Sunday was to divide the 10 wards in the stake between the two other meetinghouses in the stake. All of the wards will hold Sacrament Meeting (the congregational worship service during which the sacramental communion is offered) only, and would exclude Sunday school classes and instructional meetings for children, youth and adults which are also a part of the regular three-hour meeting time.

Investigators have determined that the fire was the work of an arsonist. Tolleson Police Chief Larry Rodriguez stated on Friday, 6 July 2012: "Right now the only people that know where and how the fire was started are the (Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco) investigators and the people who started the fire. There was unauthorized entry and vandalism." [7]

President Waldron said that he is urging stake members to remember a sermon that was delivered during a recent stake conference:

A convert to Mormonism spoke about "hating" Mormons during her high school years. In fact, during her talk she confessed to throwing a big cup of soda on a bicycling LDS missionary as she and her friends drove past him in their car.

"Her message was simple: people change," Waldron said. "Just a few years ago she was persecuting our missionaries, and today she is a member of the church herself. We need to remember that. Whoever did this, we need to remember that people can change. Our job is to serve and to forgive and to love those involved, and to let the police do their job with the arson investigation." [8]

Faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ have faced a tragic loss in the destruction of their meetinghouse, but they continue to remain strong in the faith, pressing forward, doing those things which the Lord has called them to do. All the while they also understand the healing power of forgiveness and harbor no malice in their hearts towards the person and/or persons responsible for this malicious act.

Additional Resources