Mormon and Jewish Parallels

The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported on a lecture given in Salt Lake City’s Jewish Community Center by LDS speaker Mark Paredes. A blogger for the online Jewish Journal, Mr. Paredes believes “Mormons have much more to say to Jews than do other Christians.” He sees parallels between Mormonism and Judaism “everywhere and on every level.” One such parallel Mr. Paredes detailed in his lecture was persecution. The Salt Lake Tribune reported,

“The two faiths also have suffered at the hands of various Christians.

“’History shows that the nearly 14 million members of our church, which has been the most persecuted major religion in American history,’ Paredes said, ‘do have special feelings for the 13 million members of the most persecuted religion in world history [the Jews].’

“In 2007, a Christian ministry distributed 18,000 anti-Mormon DVDs to homes throughout Arizona. The only non-LDS group to denounce the effort was the Jewish Anti-Defamation League in Phoenix. When Paredes, who was working with the LDS Public Affairs Council at the time, called the ADL’s regional office to offer thanks, one of the leaders remarked, ‘They can’t fool me, Mark. I know that the anti-Mormons of today were in many cases the anti-Semites of yesterday.’”

Does he have a modern Christian version of Kristallnacht in mind here? Is there really a parallel between the persecutions of the Jews and the Mormons? Think of the WWII concentration camps, the German gas chambers, the pogroms of Russia and Eastern Europe that resulted in the deaths of six million Jews within a span of ten years; now consider the distribution of 18 thousand DVDs in Arizona.

Within the greater context of Mormon history, Latter-day Saints have suffered true persecution for their chosen religion and political views. As Bill McKeever pointed out in a previous thread here on Mormon Coffee, Mormon historians have suggested that the number of LDS deaths due to persecution amount to “dozens” or “more than 50.” While there is no justification for religious persecution, and any loss of life is reprehensible, how can one compare fifty+ with millions?

Regarding Mr. Paredes remarks about anti-Semitism, the Salt Lake Tribune reported,

“State-sponsored anti-Semitism began, according to Paredes, in the fourth century at the Council of Nicaea. The assembled Christian bishops proclaimed that Jews are ‘odious,’ ‘detestable’ and ‘blind,’ Paredes said. ‘It is not a coincidence that the same council that condemned Jews also proclaimed the false doctrine of the Trinity, a three-in-one god that does not exist. Both Jews and Mormons reject the Trinity, and we both reject anti-Semitism as a departure from true faith in God.’”

Christians are obligated by Scripture to reject anti-Semitism as well. Anti-Semitism exhibited by Christian bishops or anyone else is wrong. Period.

However, Mr. Paredes was rather quick to cast stones at “other Christians.” Back in December, Bill McKeever participated in a discussion at Mr. Paredes’ blog. Responding to the statement that Mormons accept Jews as their “brothers and sisters in Israel,” Bill provided a couple of comments by early Mormon leaders demonstrating the early LDS view regarding the Jewish people. In hindsight, Bill says he should have prefaced his Brigham Young quote with a question asking people how they would explain the Mormon prophet’s words. This may have diffused a little of the harsh criticism Bill received merely for quoting Brigham Young. As it was, though, not one Mormon – not even Mr. Paredes – condemned Brigham Young’s comment; instead, Mormons made excuses for Young’s words.

This is what Brigham Young said:

“I would rather undertake to convert five thousand Lamanites, than to convert one of those poor miserable creatures whose fathers killed the Savior, and who say, ‘Amen to the deed,’ to this day. Yea, I would rather undertake to convert the devil himself, if it were possible. Then I say to the Elders in those regions, be not astonished if you have to see hard times. And if I had a voice that would reach the ears of all those Elders, I would say, LEAVE THEM, AND COME HOME, THE LORD DOES NOT REQUIRE YOU TO STAY THERE, FOR THEY MUST SUFFER AND BE DAMNED. Now, sisters, write to your husbands who are in regions where the Gospel has been preached anciently, to come home; and I say to all the Elders who are in lands where the Gospel has been preached previous to our day, come away from that people, and leave them to live and die in their sins and ignorance. For the sins of their fathers are a sweet morsel to them, and they take pleasure in their wickedness; therefore, let them alone, and come home, and preach to the Lamanites” (Brigham Young, December 3, 1854, Journal of Discourses 2:143. Caps in the original).

Another prominent Mormon said,

“The Jews have been trampled under the feet of the Gentiles for 1800 years, and they are to-day being persecuted in European nations. Why? Because that curse of God rests upon them and will rest upon them until Shiloh comes, until they are regathered to Jerusalem and re-build the city in un-belief. You cannot convert a Jew. They will never believe in Jesus Christ until he comes to them in Jerusalem, until these fleeing Jews take back their gold and silver to Jerusalem and re-build their city and temple, and they will do this as the Lord lives” (Wilford Woodruff, June 12, 1881, Journal of Discourses 22:173. On the Jews and Mormons blog, Bill accidentally attributed this statement to Heber C. Kimball.).

As is often the case, Mormons have failed to recognize (or in the case of Mr. Paredes’ lecture at the Jewish Community Center, disclose) the skeletons in their historical and doctrinal closets. Anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head in Mormonism’s history.

Furthermore, do Mormons really believe their own history of religious persecution, as opposed to that endured by “other Christians,” more closely parallels the persecution of the Jews? Christian persecution is strong and continuing even today. While “persecution of Mormons” can be seen as rampant only when Mormons redefine the word “persecution” to be akin to criticism, it is estimated that tens of thousands of Christians around the world have been — and continue to be — martyred each year for their Christian faith. Even so, I wouldn’t be comfortable drawing a comparison between Christian and Jewish persecution. Mormons and Christians both suffer for what they choose to believe; this is not parallel in any way to the organized attempted annihilation of an entire race of people.

Bill McKeever has said the comparison Mr. Paredes (and other Mormons) make between Mormon and Jewish persecution only serves to demean the awful atrocities against the Jewish people. I would have to agree.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Early Mormonism, Mormon History and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Mormon and Jewish Parallels

  1. mantis_mutu said

    In this blog Sharon was guilty (as she very typically is) of drawing sensational correspondence between things — as I pointed out in my response.

    In this blog Mormons are guilty (as they are typically) of avoiding questions and running away, as I have pointed out more times than I can count on ten people's fingers and toes. So just remember, you guys avoid more honest hard hitting questions than any other group alive, and always reply to or jump on things that pale in comparison. And if you say it's not true and I'm lying, I would be more than happy to refresh people's memory's with LDS names and specif questions that were dodged and topics in which they can be found.

  2. falcon says:

    Cults are really good at using the perceived threat of persecution to solidify the group and keep people from venturing out. It's a scary world out there for folks who aren't accustomed to thinking for themselves and allow the cult to do their thinking for them. Persecution is also effective in making people think that the cult has the truth and they are being attacked for this.
    Jesus said that He had come that people might be free. People in cults are not free but are subjected to "persecution" and control from right inside the group. Jim Jones got nine hundred and some people to drink the Kool-Aid because he had convinced them that a threat from the outside was imminent. David Koresh led people to die in a fiery inferno.
    Jesus said that people should know the truth. Cults use false teachings, doctrines and claims of extra-Biblical revelation to enslave people. In today's world, I would say that Mormons are subject to more persecution from within their own ranks than from outside threats. At the very least the bullying tactics are used to keep the faithful in-line paying their 10%, enslaved to perform work for the cult, all in order to be qualified for a false promise of eventual deification.

  3. Sharon Lindbloom says:

    Once more we disagree, Mutu. You think I’ve engaged in sensationalistic deception and I think I’ve presented a reasoned and logical set of ideas. Mr. Paredes mentioned the persecution of Mormons “in American history” and the persecution of the Jews “in world history.” To me, that includes all of it and I find no reason to exclude the depredations against the Jews during WWII. It was the Salt Lake Tribune report of Mr. Paredes’ lecture that placed the Arizona DVD distribution in the immediate context of Mr. Paredes’ remarks regarding parallels between Jewish and Mormon persecutions (parallels between Jews and Mormons “everywhere and on every level”). My point was that “a comparison between Mormon and Jewish persecution only serves to demean the awful atrocities against the Jewish people.” I stand by that.

    As for the anti-Semitic quotes you supplied, as I said in the original post, “Christians are obligated by Scripture to reject anti-Semitism as well. Anti-Semitism exhibited by Christian bishops or anyone else is wrong. Period.” It was wrong for Martin Luther, and it was wrong for Brigham Young.

    I have witnessed other Mormons who, like you, try to make excuses for Brigham Young’s comment. You claim it is not anti-Semitic; I disagree. Brigham Young called for the missionaries to “leave them…for they must suffer and be damned…. come away from that people, and leave them to live and die in their sins and ignorance. For the sins of their fathers are a sweet morsel to them, and they take pleasure in their wickedness.” Brigham Young is speaking of an entire race of people here. They take pleasure in their wickedness? The sins of their fathers are a sweet morsel to them? Mutu, do you really want to argue that Brigham Young was “likely speaking from first-hand experience”?

    At any rate, my point was not, as you claim, that Mormonism has a history of anti-Semitism, but rather, as I said, that Mormonism has anti-Semitism in its history. There is a difference. And again, I stand by that.

  4. falcon says:

    Mormons are in a tough spot. There's just too much for them to try to defend and they get rather silly in their attempts to do it. I rather appreciate the attitude of the Community of Christ Mormon sect who, it seems to me, have come to grips with Mormonism's tawdry and unacceptable past and moved on. I've read their guidelines for studying the early history of their faith and they seem to have a more healthy approach to confronting it than do the SLC bunch.
    The SLC Mormons just can't bring themselves to admitting the obvious and in so doing, get themselves out from under all of the embarrassment. But then they are the true believers, incapable of anything but 100% commitment and loyalty to a religion that promises to make them gods. Funny thing, the CoC and the Temple Lot group don't have the bizarre beliefs and doctrines of the SLC Mormons so I'm guessing that that frees them up from having to defend the nutty stuff.
    I'm thinking that these other groups are also not saddled with the champion of the odd and peculiar, Brigham Young. Remember, he was also the guy that insisted that Adam was God, that God the Father had actual sex with the Virgin Mary, and the wonderful ritual of blood atonement that required the shedding of the blood of the sinful offender of certain crimes. So whatever old Brigham said about the Jews can be chalked-up by the SLC Mormons as one more indelicate utterance by their crazy (prophet) uncle who lives in the attic.

  5. f_melo says:

    " It was wrong for Martin Luther, and it was wrong for Brigham Young."

    That´s something Mutu can´t do. Christians are free to point out Martin Luther´s mistake without undermining his importance and influence. That´s not the same for Mormons and their prophets that supposedly have special Holy Ghost Priesthood powers and should be the people nearest to God – to criticize them would be almost the same as criticizing God and when you point that out they change their rhetoric and start talking about how prophets are fallible men. As soon as you turn your back though, they get back to their prophet-worship practices.

  6. mantis_mutu says:

    (part a)

    Sharon, thanx again for your response.

    I honestly wouldn't bother criticizing your blog if I didn't think you were a smart enough person to know better. But you insist on using your intelligence to foster confusion & deception in the aim of prejudice, rather than light & clarification in the aim of understanding.

    For instance, you point to Mr. Paredes's direct comparison between Mormons as "the most persecuted religion in American history" to the Jews as "the most persecuted religion in world history." Your (& Bill's) contention here is that Mormons like Paredes are trying to equate Mormon persecution with Jewish persecution, & that in this they are guilty of slighting the immensity of Jewish persecution. But let's look at Mr. Paredes's comparison again. Is he suggesting that Mormon & Jewish persecution is at all equal? Absolutely NOT! The last I checked, the world population is a whole lot more than the US population (more than 20x more, I'm pretty sure), & the length of world history trumps the length of US history by an even greater margin. In this comparison Mr. Paredes has in no way been guilty of piggybacking the severity of Mormon persecution onto the severity of Jewish persecution. Not by a long shot. As far as the world goes, the US has been quite tolerant of variant religious expression, so as bad as the Mormons have had it at certain points in their history, it absolutely pales in comparison to the religious persecution felt by other groups within just the last few decades, if we take the entire world into account. Of that we are in absolute agreement, Sharon. However, nothing in Mr. Paredes's comparison suggests differently. Only in your own prejudiced mind, & consequently, in the twisting of his comparison.

    If you want to challenge Mr. Paredes's comparison along fair & rational lines, Sharon, then I suggest you take the more difficult route of proving that the Mormons have not been the most persecuted religious group in US history. While that statement by Paredes is debatable, no doubt, if you exclude small, congregational-sized movements (such as the Camp Dravidian Adventists), as well as tribal/national ethnicities such as Amerindian groups, captured African slaves, & early Chinese immigrants, I think you have a very hard case arguing that another religious group has faced greater persecution in US history than the Mormons. American Jews, for instance, while certainly facing their share of persecution challenges in our history, as a group can claim nothing which I'm aware of that approaches the forced Missouri exile of the Mormons (in the dead of winter) & the Federal appropriation of LDS Church properties & the Utah territory in the late 19th century. Like most religious movements, the US government & people have been relatively kind to the Jewish people.

    As for Brigham’s opinion of the Jew’s spiritual predicament, you say:

    “Brigham Young called for the missionaries to “leave them…for they must suffer and be damned…. come away from that people, and leave them to live and die in their sins and ignorance. For the sins of their fathers are a sweet morsel to them, and they take pleasure in their wickedness.” Brigham Young is speaking of an entire race of people here. They take pleasure in their wickedness? The sins of their fathers are a sweet morsel to them? Mutu, do you really want to argue that Brigham Young was “likely speaking from first-hand experience”?

  7. mantis_mutu says:

    (part b)

    Sharon, how can you foster your opinions on the spiritual predicament of Mormons as you do on this board, & honestly have a problem with Brigham’s opinion of the Jews’ spiritual plight? Part of the problem here, I think Sharon, is that you are wrongly reading Brigham’s judgment of the Jews here as a general denunciation of their religion, lifestyle, &/or ethnicity. A careful reading of your posted quote reveals that BY is condemning specifically one thing of the Jews: their continued rejection of Christ, just as their fathers had done. I will agree that BY’s correlation between modern Jews & the NT Jews is too simplistic here, as was typical of nearly all Christians of the 19th century. Too often then (& even now) Jews are assumed to be direct descendants of the scribes, Sadduccees, & Pharisees of the NT. But we know that is not necessarily or even likely true. Judaism was a populous religion spread around the Mediterranean rim by the time of Jesus’ birth, with populations in Egypt & Babylonia rivaling that in Judea. If Brigham had a better grasp on history I certainly hope he would’ve thought twice before tying the modern Jews so directly to those who rejected & killed Christ. But given Brigham’s often overly idealistic judgments of people, there’s a good chance it wouldn’t have mattered. Even still, if you give BY’s words a fair reading you will see that unlike Luther he is not blaming the Jews for Christ’s death. Instead, he is blaming them only for taking honor in Christ’s death by continuing to reject him (as in not so much as entertaining the message of Christianity when it is presented to them). This act of rejecting Christ is specifically the “sweet morsel” of “wickedness” that BY says the Jews continue to participate in with their fathers. And it is this reason alone for Brigham’s pronouncement of condemnation upon them. (And given Brigham’s theology, unlike Luther, his pronouncement of "damnation" does not assume the Jews eternal place in hell with the devil.)

    Now I realize, Sharon, that you too may not see eye-to-eye with Luther’s theology, but do you not more or less agree with Brigham that the Jews choice of not entertaining the Christian message in their hearts is bringing them the same damnation as their Jewish predecessors who had rejected Jesus in the flesh?
    Like you, BY saw eternal, redemptive significance in accepting Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Yes, the details of that significance, as he saw it, differ a bit from the significance as you see it; but like you, he did not believe he could be cleansed from his sins & return to his Father in Heaven without faith in Christ, & in his sacrifice & resurrection. The long-engrained religious prejudices of the Jewish people (justified or not) kept them from opening their hearts to the Christian message in Brigham’s day, just as they still do for many Jews today. Do you, Sharon, not also believe that Jews stand condemned (damned) in this life & potentially the next because their religious prejudices keep them from accepting Christ as their Lord & Savior? Your language is actually suggesting that you somehow don’t believe the Jews are bringing condemnation on their souls for such a rejection, so in light of what you do on this blog I think you may want to reevaluate your religion & make sure it’s established on principle rather than convenience. Truth is, your predecessors in the conservative Protestant faith were at least as bulldoggish in pointing out the failings of others’ religion as you are – only they were less socially circumspect in their craft. Back before WWII, before it became politically incorrect in the extreme to castigate Jewish religion, counter-Jewish efforts absolutely parallel to this counter-Mormon blog were commonplace in certain conservative Protestant regions of the country. And, yes, the Jews considered such ideological “criticism” to be “persecution,” just as Mormons (including myself, quite often) consider much of the subject matter, attitude, & conversations of this blog to be a nascent form of persecution. Good luck trying to maintain a board like this against Judaism, nowadays, though. If there is any way to find yourself legally prosecuted for maintaining a blog like this, that would be the sure way to find out.

  8. mantis_mutu says:

    (part c)

    But how BY’s criticism (really, his judgment) of the Jews differs from the criticism levied on this board against Mormons (& from earlier Protestant criticism of Jews) is that BY did not sustain & develop his criticism as a characterizing polemic against the Jewish people. Instead, he condemned them specifically for one action: rejecting the message of Christ, as had their fathers. And then he left it at that. He didn’t draw attention to Jews in either a derisive or destructive manner. He simply called (in strong terms) for Mormons to leave the Jews alone. Which is exactly what the Jews wanted; particularly the Orthodox Jews, who made up the majority in Europe at the time. I’m sorry, Sharon, but while these comments by Brigham on Jews smack of in-house bigotry, they do not qualify as “Anti-Semitism.” Nice try at finding such an obscure quote to satisfy an agenda that just is not warranted by a careful analysis, or a full look at Brigham's speeches or Mormon history.

    And with that, I’ll have to end. Sincerely, mutu.

    P.S. The offense you seemed to have taken at Mr. Parades’s projection of Anti-Semitism from the Council of Nicaea onto Christianity generally (& exclusive of Mormonism) in my opinion is a fair offense to be had. While Constantine’s reign & his councils did bring increased persecution to Roman Jews just as they did to the many Christian groups identified as heretical, those events happened a long, long, long time ago, & should never be attached to Christians of the present day. That Mr. Paredes also used it as an example of lifting Mormons up contra other Christian groups, I find quite deplorable. If you had criticized those statements rather than taking the route of slinging unwarranted mud at the Mormon faith & at Brigham Young, then your case would’ve been justified & strong, Sharon. Personally, I gotta hope Mr. Paredes was taken aside by a Church authority & verbally reprimanded for his strained & bigoted analogy on that front. I honestly found it offensive. And not in a small way.

  9. f_melo wrote

    Cleon Skousen…teaches that the British are descendants of the ten tribes of Israel that migrated to Europe


    I'm British.

    That's fantastic news!

    Because of my ancestry, I am guaranteed a place in the Kingdom of God. I feel like I've just won the lottery! Sorry about everyone else, who didn't get themselves born into the right family. Maybe you can earn yourself in by doing a whole bunch of good works. As for me, I'm set, unless someone can undo my genes, which, I understand, is impossible.

    Can I have permission to gloat?

    Then again…

    …maybe I should listen to Paul, when he writes

    …the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen…Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children….but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.

    Romans 9:4-5, 7, 31-32 (NIV)

    Sigh. It seems that it doesn't matter who your ancestors are; the only way you can be part of the People of God is by faith, even if you've got the right genetic legacy…

    (and if you're relying on that legacy, you'll find yourself tripping up on the "stumbling stone", which is Jesus)

    …which is Good News for those of us who aren't "purebloods". And it's even Good News for those who are, because God demonstrates that He is just and true, and He is not beholden to a person's ancestry.

    It's an intriguing question about where the lost 10 tribes went (in all probability, the majority would have been assimilated into the surrounding cultures). However, if I found that I did have some remote connection to them, I still would not be entitled to God by virtue of my ancestry. My only claim to God rests entirely and solely on Jesus Christ, which discounts anything in me in this respect, even my (alleged) family connections.

    Sorry to rant; but it's by faith not by family.

  10. f_melo says:

    That was pretty funny!

    Great point! The whole Zionism/British Israelism is just a scheme to try to get Christians and jews to acknowledge their "divine" right to rule the world… it makes good fiction.
    If i remember right, Josephus talks about the ten tribes, so they were not lost as of the time of Christ – and i believe you´re correct when you say they were assimilated into the surrounding cultures. Btw, none of them went to America…

    It´s interesting that in Romans Paul also makes the point that Abraham´s blessings were given him by God as a promise, before there was even a law, and that promise Abraham obtained by faith.

Leave a Reply