Following the distribution of the Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD last month, there have been many conversations and opinions published online regarding the Christian outreach effort. One exchange took place on the Salt Lake Tribune’s public forum.
A Catholic woman, who believes in “love and charity to all” wrote to express her dismay over the DVD distribution, ending her letter with a kind hope that Latter-day Saints had been able to enjoy their Church’s General Conference despite the “sport” engaged in by “anti-Mormons.” Perhaps this was not the most charitable and loving letter “to all” in consideration of the nature of her concerns.
At any rate, this letter brought a thankful response from a Latter-day Saint who wrote:
As an active Latter-day Saint and a returned missionary, I have gotten in more than my share of arguments with the so-called “Christians” who feel a compulsion to build their own insecure beliefs (and yes, often they were insecure) by tearing others’ beliefs down. So when I read S.J. Moormeister’s kind comments (“Anti-LDS DVDs,” Forum, April 3) I was reminded why I always liked Catholics so much during my mission.Two years and I never once had a Catholic tell me I was going to hell for my beliefs; rather, they were always kind and generous to us. Ms. Moormeister does a service to herself and to the parish that she attends. Thank you so much for not participating in the bigotry that is so common these days. I did enjoy conference very much. Thank you again.
Mr. Call’s experience with Catholic folk was perhaps more magnanimous than he realizes, given the historic position towards Catholicism expressed by LDS leaders through the years. Consider these public declarations offered without apology (then or now):
Q. Is the Roman Catholic Church the Church of Christ?
A. No: for she has no inspired priesthood or officers…Q. How long since the Roman Catholic Church lost the authority and ceased to be the Church of Christ?
A. She never had authority and never was the Church of Christ…
Q. Who founded the Roman Catholic Church?
A. The Devil, through the medium of Apostates… (The Seer, 1854, 205)
LDS Apostle Daniel H. Wells:
I would rather preach the Gospel to a people who have not got any religion than I would to a people who have got a great deal of religion. You take the Catholic world. What impression can the truths of the Gospel make upon them as a people? Scarcely any impression at all. Why? Because they are satisfied with what they have got, which we know is an error, and which is not calculated to stem the tide of wickedness and corruption which floods the world. It never will convert the world to God or His Kingdom, or convey a knowledge of God unto the children of men, and it is life eternal to know Him, the living and true God. (Journal of Discourses 24:320, 1883)
LDS Apostle Hyrum M. Smith:
Christianity, as it is known in the world today, has fallen far short of the accomplishment of what might have been expected of it. It has failed in establishing those principles which Christ taught among the children of men. The great Catholic division of the Christian world, the Catholic church, is a national liability to any country. It wields a great power over the minds and the hearts of the children of men, but it is a power for evil rather than for good. It brings countless thousands regularly to confession; it rarely brings a single man to repentance and the abandonment of his sins. (Conference Report, October 1916, 42)
At one time it grieved me to know that this Church was not numbered among Protestant churches. But now I realize that the Church of Christ is more than a protest against the errors and evils of Catholicism.” (Conference Report, April 1927, 105)
LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie:
It is also to the Book of Mormon to which we turn for the plainest description of the Catholic Church as the great and abominable church. Nephi saw this “church which is most abominable above all other churches” in vision. He “saw the devil that he was the foundation of it” and also the murders, wealth, harlotry, persecutions, and evil desires that historically have been a part of this satanic organization. (Mormon Doctrine, 1958 edition, 130)
Apparently, sometime around 1960 LDS leadership decided they ought not to say these sorts of things in public if they want to make friends in the world. If Orson Pratt and David O. McKay, et. al., publicly expressed their religious convictions today, would we find the Anti-Defamation League releasing a statement condemning their remarks as “nothing more than [Catholic]-bashing… hate directed at all of us”? And would Mr. Call agree with that? I wonder if he would rebuke his Church leaders for “build[ing] their own insecure beliefs” by “tearing others’ beliefs down.”