Do Mormons view Catholics and people of other faiths as “abominable?”

I have done a fair amount of research on your faith and have found it to have many merits. My question has to do with Joseph Smith’s revelation that all denominations were “abominations” in the eyes of God. From further readings it appears that Joseph Smith singled out the Roman Catholic Church as the “worst” of the denominations.  Yet I came across an article in a Catholic magazine that had an interview with the Catholic bishop of SLC and the President of LDS, who described their denomination’s relationship with each other as good, and noted that the LDS church assisted Catholic Charities in aid projects.  Does the LDS Church still teach that other churches are an abomination?  Is this still a key tenet of the faith?  

Sincerely,

K

With the Romney campaign rolling along, lots of non-Mormons are wrestling with what it would mean to have a Mormon president—and it’s certainly fair to ask if you might be electing a man who thinks you are, well, abominable.

There’s a passage in the Book of Mormon—1 Nephi 13—that talks about a “great and abominable church,” a passage interpreted by some early Church leaders as a reference to Catholicism. It’s possible to view this as a reflection of anti-Catholicism pervasive in Joseph Smith’s 19th century America.  But like other prejudices, it obtained a foothold in LDS thought. A nineteenth-century Mormon thinker named Orson Pratt reiterated the link between Catholicism and “the great and abominable church” in 1854. Another major LDS thinker named B. H. Roberts rejected the idea outright in 1906.  New life was breathed into it when in the 1950s, an LDS Church leader named Bruce R. McConkie published a book entitled Mormon Doctrine that was regarded decades as an unofficial guide to Mormon theology, even though it contained some very hurtful non-doctrinal assertions, including a passage in which McConkie famously linked Catholicism to the “great and abominable church” described in the Book of Mormon. That reference was edited out by the time its second edition appeared in 1966, and the whole book was removed from publication and circulation just a few years ago.

So given this conflicting record, what do Mormons really believe?  Mormon thought rolls along through a process Church members describe as “continuing revelation,” and different teachings emerge or fade into the background over time.  We are not a creedal religion–there’s no uniform statement of belief Mormons around the world recite on Sundays—so it can be difficult to know which beliefs are “really” still held as doctrine, and different Mormons will answer some questions differently.  Generally, though, canny observers of Mormonism note that if the Church’s top leaders have not discussed an idea at the Church’s semi-annual General Conferences for more than a few decades, it may no longer hold a central place in the doctrine.  That’s not an official rule, but it can be a help to understanding what matters in Mormon doctrine today.

There’s a nifty on-line tool at Brigham Young University in which you can track the actual usages of terms in Conference talks from the 1850s onward.  Find it here.  And using this tool, I see that it’s been a long time since anyone talked about a “great and abominable church” in General Conference—as in 1988, when Boyd K. Packer used the phrase, but insisted that it applied to anyone who opposed the work of God.  And before that, it was 1949, when, yes, J. Reuben Clark strongly hinted that the “great and abominable church” was the Catholics.  But that was 60 years ago.

I’m sure you can find older Mormons who, when pressed, will take a J. Reuben Clark / Bruce R. McConkie approach to Catholicism and other religions.  There were shades of that in my own Mormon upbringing, but they always felt mean and rude, and so I set them aside.  The fact is that most Mormons today live in places where we are a small minority, and we live our lives getting along with and looking for the best in others, even when there are elements in our religious tradition that suggest a harder line position on other faiths.  Indeed  there may be some older Mormon types out there who might cough up a grouchy line from Bruce R. McConkie.  But when pressed, even very orthodox LDS types will likely say that they believe the LDS Church has the most “complete” truth of any religion on earth—skipping that whole grisly “abomination” bit.  And Mitt Romney did, after all, pick Paul Ryan, a Catholic, as his running mate.

It’s funny what gets remembered from a religion’s history.  Because the same Joseph Smith who reported that God told him other “creeds” were an “abomination” also said this:  “Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, &c, any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true ‘Mormons’” (History of the Church, 5:517).

That’s a definition of “true Mormon” I strongly prefer.

What do you think, readers?  How were you raised to regard other faiths?  How thick is anti-Catholicism in Mormon thought and culture to this day?

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow @askmormongirl on Twitter.

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48 Comments

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48 responses to “Do Mormons view Catholics and people of other faiths as “abominable?”

  1. Being LDS in South Texas, you are surrounded by other faiths, particularly Catholics. There are many opportunities to interact and should one choose, to discuss these doctrinal differences. I would say as a whole that both the leadership and the faithful view each other as good people who have differences. Most Catholics have trouble distinguishing the LDS from other faiths that knock on doors.

    Also, culturally with Hispanics in South Texas the Catholic Church has such a strong presence that many LDS who are Hispanic (Mexican-American, etc.) are almost “insiders” into both Churches teachings and traditions (Mass, weddings, Quinceneras). That all leads to a comfort level that while it may not bridge doctrine, leads to a farmiliarity and far less suspicion than an outsider might expect based on some of the quotes you included.

    The Sunday School teachers manual that is currently in use (The BOM Gospel Doctrine- the pink trim) has a paragraph in it that is very telling of what the LDS Church is thinking when it come to that passage :

    “Emphasize that the great and abominable church is a symbol of apostasy in all its forms. It is a representation of all false doctrine, false worship, and irreligious attitudes. It does not represent any specific church in the world today.” (Lesson 4- BOM Gospel Doctrine Teacher Manual)

    Knowing that this manual is used weekly, at most levels from teen to adult, It would seem clear that the LDS church is trying to distill falsehoods among the faithful and trying to get us away from those things that keep us from the path we need to hold tight to.

    Thank you for you blog, your curiosity, and your faith.

    • Grandy12@aoo.com

      Your “continuing revelation can rather be called reaction to changes in society, something Scripture calls on us to resist. For instance, LDS rejected polygamy only when it was necessary for Utah to become a State. Also, your acceptance of black persons as equals came upon the rest of society, in a slow recovery from slavery, has done the same. As a Presbyterian, let me refer you to the Westminister Confession of Faith, which in 1647 outlined the understanding of God and Jesus as reached after centuries of revelation from Him, and is still the basis of our understanding. And this without accepting a nes “prophet” with all his errors.

      • Veronica Heap

        I grew up in the LDS Church and though I may not be an active, faithful member now I think that other members might direct you to something like this to answer your question. In 1996 our then Prophet & President of the LDS Church was posed a similar question in a 60 minutes interview:
        (http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1996/10/this-thing-was-not-done-in-a-corner?lang=eng&query=polygamy)

        Question: “As you know, some skeptics say that major changes in Church policy have come from political pressures, not necessarily as revelations from God. For example, the business of ending polygamy, say the skeptics, wasn’t because it was revelation but because Utah wanted to become a state.”

        Response: “One of the purposes of a prophet is to seek the wisdom and the will of the Lord and to teach his people accordingly. It was the case with Moses when he led the children of Israel out of Egypt. It was the case for the Old Testament prophets when people were faced with oppression and trouble and difficulty. That is the purpose of a prophet, to give answers to people for the dilemmas in which they find themselves. That is what happens. That is what we see happen. Is it a matter of expediency, political expediency? No! Inspired guidance? Yes!”

  2. I was raised in a home that I am now realizing was both orthodox and eclectic. I did grow up with the sentiment that the Catholic Church WAS (past tense) the “abominable” church, but it had to do with dark ages corruption and the attempt to keep the word of God and personal revelation away from people. My dad taught me it made Heavenly Father sad that people were made to feel they couldn’t pray to Him and they didn’t have access to His answers through the scriptures and attempting to keep people from a personal relationship with God is abominable. That no longer is the case with Catholicism. That said, my dad often took us to various church services, including Catholic Mass. It was important for him to have us understand and respect the truth that other churches have and where and how our beliefs fit in. We were also raised with regular references to Apocryphal scriptures, encouraged to read the Q’ran and books by the Dali Lama. With all this it would be easy to think my dad to not really be a “True Believing Mormon”, but he is probably one of the strongest in the faith I know.

  3. Mark

    My life at an early age saw that the other school children were unaccepting of other church’s especially if they didn’t let them have play dates with the other kids on the sabbath. with that said my mind then looked at the different religions that were around I was wanting peace for us and them my Mother told me we can live peaceful but we can not control others. I thought if only I could grow up and be some sort of a ambassador someday and bring us all together as children of God!

  4. I remember several times on my mission my companions would talk about certain investigators being evil because they were Evangelical, Hindu, or Muslim. That kind of talk was always uncomfortable for me. I prefer to think of other religions as trying their best to get the gospel right. And even if that certain religion doesn’t believe in Christ, they are still taught loving and good principles that in no way seem evil to me.

    I agree with Joanna that there are times when we have to ignore comments about Catholics being an Abomination. To me, those members are misguided and I am more comfortable following the attitudes of the contemporary general authorities who only speak of other religions with respect.

  5. ItsJustJon

    Great answer, loved the quote at the end.

  6. Eric

    Thanks for the post. A good question. As a Mormon having heard of these connections, even when it came from someone who felt there was a specific connection to the Catholic church, it always seemed to be given with the impression that an organization might be “abominable” but that individual members of any organization are subject to their own agency and to be loved as children of God — not condemned because of their association with a group that may be missing parts of the truth. Any hints at “abomination” were referred to an organization, not people. In my own experience I’ve never seen it play out as a specific prejudice against Catholics or any other group (I’m sure it has — but if so I don’t think it’s systematic or doctrine-based).

    The message coming from LDS church leadership today is more along the lines of “We cherish all truth and invite those of other faiths, thoughts, and convictions to come and partake of the truth and light that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has to offer, above what truth they have found elsewhere.”

    • John

      Hey Eric,

      I think your assessment is right that we were taught not to hate the people only the institutions. However, what are institutions but people and their ideas past and present? Some are closer to the centers of power than others. With all of that I remember a fear was instilled in me towards other churches when I was younger, probably because my father was pretty convinced of the McConkie idea about the church. I think I grew out of it though. The line between culture based ideas and “official church doctrine” is not well defined. We are taught in D&C section one that when a man speaks by the spirit it is the same if God were speaking, and we are also told that the only official church doctrine is the canonical scriptures and the words of the current prophet. So many contradictions. It would be nice though if the church is more willing to admit publicly that our practices and beliefs have evolved.

  7. Garth Sager

    In 2002 for World Youth Day held in Toronto, the youth of the Toronto Stakes helped with the food distribution. I believe that wouldn’t have occurred if we still thought the Holy Father (who was in attendance) and the Church he guides is “abominable”.

  8. Questions about Mormon views are problematic because the LDS Church is not a static thing. More than most churches, LDS is characterized by its ability to shed previous adaptations and evolve to survive in its environment. Whereas traits like anti-Catholicism and polygamy worked at one time to form a group strengthened by an “us-against-them” mentality, Mormon positions changed relatively rapidly. Mormonism tends to look forward and make changes without directly addressing the past. For instance, in 1890, nobody said, “Ok, polygamy degrades women, sorry about that, we’ll stop.” it was more like, “Attention–the captain has turned on the no-polygamy sign for now.” Similarly, the church has been moving to a policy pointed towards universal acceptance, with just a vague mention of “any racism” in the past. The evolution through a brief flirtation with anti-slavery, to slavery accommodation, to entrenched doctrinaire racism is all just “old news” that nobody is supposed to talk about.

    Currently the church has gone on a public relations campaign, somewhat muted recently (presumably because the timing looks rather political). In any case, playing nicely with other religions makes the church look good. It would be nice if the church would say, “Yeah, we used to be anti-Catholic; that was hypocritical.” It would also be nice if the church would address racism and, for instance, rename Brigham Young University after somebody who wasn’t such a virulent racist. The problem however is that churches are generally about having an exclusive monopoly on the truth. If you start apologizing for things, then your whole “we have the best channel to God” posture becomes suspect, which is not good when you are competing for converts. Better just to move in a new direction and sweep everything under the rug…including the anti-Catholicism that no longer serves an evolving church.

    Does some anti-Catholicism remain in LDS? Perhaps, but it is like a vestigial tail on an ape that has adapted to bipedal motion. The church may not acknowledge evolution through natural selection, but they do apply the principle. Mitt Romney has also moved in this direction and, as MormonGirl notes (more or less), he is now skipping along hand in hand with a Catholic VP choice. Darwinism applies to religion and politics; it is all about survival of the fittest (even if would-be veep, Paul Ryan, did lie about his “under 3 hour” marathon times).

    • bekah

      Like you I wish for more honesty in the church about their past. If the lds Faith is correct why is so much hidden? Perhaps their exist many paths to the one true God.

  9. I don’t remember my parents ever teaching me to disrespect other faiths but my mother did have some reservations about Catholicism. Islam is a different issue alltogether but that never came up in my childhood. I think abomination would be a use they would use to describe it today. As a Pagan I feel confident that is how Romney views me and I certainly don’t trust him to treat my beliefs like they deserve consitutional protections. I doubt highly that most LDS folks would characterize other faiths that way in broad sense but I’m guessing there is a scale of which faiths are more and less abominable with Judaism and most Christian faiths being OK but a large percentage viewing Islam, Paganism, etc… as evil. On a recent trip to Spanish Fork I visited the Sri Sri Radha Krishna temple there and was told about how helpful BYU was in getting the temple built including both financial and volunteer labor support.Based on that it seems that the church has a more live and let live approach to other faiths at least in some cirucmstances. The 11th article of faith seems very clear on extending to others the room and respect they need to practice their own faiths and for my part the largest share of my Mormon friends and family have extended me that courtesy.

  10. mapman

    I think that there is more bad feeling towards Evangelicals these days due to their anti-cult efforts. I haven’t ever observed any anti-Catholic sentiment during my time in the church.

  11. str8 wife

    Depends on which Mormon you ask.
    These days, ask a Catholic if their church is “abominable” and many would agree. Ask someone who is gay and LDS if they feel the same way about their church. Sadly, you may get the same answer.
    All disappointing. No church has the whole truth (dodging lightning bolts). It so incredibly arrogant and completely counter to truly being Christlike.

    • Sam Butler

      Exactly!!! Rather than believing in “one true church”, is it possible that God wants us all to learn from each other? Find where God is calling you, and do your best for the full body of Christ. If that’s in Mormonism, great! If it’s elsewhere, that is fine too!

      I will say this — Mormonism is more “Catholic” (as in one true church-pushing) than most other Christians. By that, I mean that when all is said and done, they teach that someone should become a Mormon specifically because of their taught necessity to receive certain ordinances the Mormon way, by the Mormon authority. It could be in this life or the afterlife, but they believe their denomination is required, not just a good way to live. Also, until relatively recently, Mormonism had an ordinance they teach as essential that made it quite clear that non-Mormons are deceived by the devil. (I will not go into more detail here, though.) That is no longer present, though. I also remember occasional Sunday School lessons where the Catholic church was specifically brought up as an example of why they were wrong. Protestants were disregarded through the First Vision (none of them were right), and teaching they clearly had no authority…they were misguided, even if they tried to take a few good steps to correct things — that was the impression I got.

      That said, in Mormonism, things change, as others have said.

      I spent most of my life as a Mormon, went to BYU, and recently converted to United Methodism. I really feel a much stronger call where I am now, without having to give up the good I found in Mormonism. There is no push for denomination, it is a push for Christianity as a whole, and to learn from each other…including learning from Mormons, Catholics, or other denominations. One of the best religious commentary books I’ve read is called “Christianity’s Family Tree” by Adam Hamilton. Major mainline Christian denominations are examined from the perspective of “What can we learn from them?” The Catholic and Orthodox also have things we can learn, as do all.

      Finally, I will say that mileage varies a LOT with member. MANY faithful Mormons I have met truly do believe all denominations have a lot of good to offer. What I have stated above is my best attempt to find the OFFICIAL teachings, but many members do not buy that hook, line, and sinker. So, just like it’s important for Mormons to not judge Catholics or Protestants or others as harshly as has sometimes occurred in the past, it is equally important for non-Mormons to not judge Mormons as harshly as has sometimes occurred in the past as well. I’ve met many good, faithful, loving people in Mormonism…and many of them do not buy the party line on everything — in fact, the denominational superiority issue is probably the most frequently disagreed upon major doctrinal teaching, based on my 30+ years as a Mormon living in several different parts of the United States.

    • bekah

      Agree wholeheartedly. Wish the brethren would let go of their arrogance

  12. HappyLife

    Has there ever been anything within Catholicism’s history that could be considered abominable, thus explaining such a declaration?

    • hawkgrrrl

      If you’re looking for actual “abominable” history, the “bad Popes” (e.g. the murderous Borgias), the Crusades and the Inquisition come to mind. But that’s not really what is meant within the LDS church. The “abominable” church is one that places focus on riches rather than on humility. Because of the wealth of the Catholic church and its opulent cathedrals and the priceless artwork of the Vatican, people like Bruce R McConkie assumed that it was the church of wealth prophesied in the Book of Mormon. In reality, there are plenty of humble Catholics and plenty of prideful Mormons, and vice-versa. A more modern interpretation of those verses in the Book of Mormon is that they refer to a type of person, not an actual specific church. Mormons are just as likely as anyone to place their heart on riches.

  13. S. Mark Barnes

    In the 1980s a change was made to remove a part of the temple endowment, which could have been interpreted as anti-Catholic. I would say that was a definite sign that the official doctrine had changed.

  14. cldstar

    @Eric Devries
    Why is Islam “a different issue altogether”? Isn’t it a religion with its own adherents who range from inattentive to fanatical, just like Mormonism or Catholicism or whatever?

    Although I can imagine that I’m overreacting to your statement, I wonder if it doesn’t mask a deep (and, for many people, mostly ill-informed and illogical) distrust of Islam that arises out of the actions of the few rather than of the majority. My limited study of the Koran reveals a religion deeply invested in kind, charitable, and compassionate treatment of one’s fellowmen. Those who practice terrorism are NOT Muslims in the best sense of the faith.

    Of course, if you didn’t mean that Islam is evil, then I apologize.

    • I meant specifically in my household, I’m pro Islam, have no axe to grind at all and have had nothing but positive experiences with Muslims. Think the national attitude towards Islam is largely bigoted, hateful and disgusting. We Pagans take an occasional beating but it’s nothing like Muslims have had to endure in this country.

  15. SLG

    As someone who will be received into the Roman Catholic Church in a month or so, one of my best friends who is LDS has been extremely supportive. I honestly see way more anti-Catholicism in my evangelical background then I do in my LDS friends (even though I realize it is a small sample and I live on the east coast). Many of my evangelical friends have no problem stating that Catholics don’t go to heaven. I remember reading that verse in the BOM about other churches being an abomination and being offended. After I thought about it, I realized that the LDS church today probably sees those verses as a reflection of the culture of the time (similarly to how other Christians view the verses on men not being able to have long hair). My understanding is that Joseph Smith was heavily influenced by the break away Protestant sects at the time … and those groups would be have seen the RCC has an abomination. *Correct me if I am wrong about that*

    • RachelJL

      SLG: growing up, I always thought of the definition of “churches” as people teaching things that were evil or wrong, like selfishness or dishonesty. In the Book of Mormon it also states (just like in the Bible) that “everything that is good is of God.” Much the same as in how Isaiah used certain words to represent things the best he could, I thought the authors of the Book of Mormon did the same. My views haven’t changed. It probably helped that my father felt that way, and I think my grandfather did too. (My mother passed away when I was young, and I don’t recall discussing it with my grandmother.) That was likewise how I viewed the “Great and Abominable Church.” It was not a church in the sense of a modern, established organization, but rather as people who work together to get personal gain, even at the expense of others. Thus, it behooves everyone (including Mormons) to analyze their own actions, and decide which of the two “churches” they belong to depending on their current actions and trajectory in life. (In the Book of Mormon, it discusses the world as having only two churches….so our current definition wouldn’t fit anyway.) Just my view of things. :)

  16. Traci

    I was raised to honor all religions as valuable. Growing up I was the only Mormon in a sea of Catholics, Lutherans, Protestants, Born-Agains and Jewish people, just to name a few. My Mom was sure that my sister and I viewed all religions with an open mind and respect. And my husband and I make sure our 2 children are raised the same. This was especially fun and wonderful during my son’s 13th year, when we hit the bar mitzvah circuit with 5 of his friends. It seemed like we were attending a bar mitzvah every month.

  17. I found growing up that my elders felt one of two ways about those of other faiths, either they were abominable and the miracles testified to by many were works of Satan or they had the attitude of ‘bless their hearts, they just dont know any better’ so to me it seemed as if they felt they were either evil or stupid. But these attitudes have faded away to a large degree and it seems that the attitudes I describe were more common in Utah than elsewhere in LDS culture. Thankfully people are more accepting now than ever before and there is a very good piece called ‘the priesthood ban’ at ldsviews.blogspot.com for those interested about the issue.

  18. Lindsay

    The [LDS] church may not currently preach other churches are necessarily abominations, but it does believe that it has the restored gospel and hence the most truth. Which by nature, does seem to put the LDS faith looking down upon others.

    • Lindsay, isn’t your comment about superiority true for all marketing? If you have a product, you try to tell a story that pushes it to the top of the heap. We offer the most truth, the genuine original flavor, the fastest connection (to god or internet), the crispiest fries, the only product that will really restore hair growth, the only effective “male enhancement,” the only true prophet, etc.

  19. Tom Rich

    I grew up in Salt Lake and was raised Presbyterian. In the mid 1960s, a grade school classmate and neighbor of mine, who was LDS, said to me: “Mormons are the best. Presbyterians are second best. Catholics are the worst”. I doubt he came to this conclusion on his own.

  20. Carole

    Stephen Robinson wrote a really good article (here: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=7&num=1&id=168) about how the “Great and Abominable Church” described in the Book of Mormon has two distinct meanings. In 1 Nephi 13, it refers to a specific institution that no longer exists, and in 1 Nephi 14, it refers to any organization that fights against the work of God.

    I think most Mormons today tend to understand the Great and Abominable church passages to refer to ‘apostacy in all its forms,’ as described in the Gospel Doctrine manual referenced in that first comment from Daniel Palomo. When I read 1 Nephi 14:10, I also think of the Church of the Lamb of God as being any and every organization that works to do the work of God, which I believe includes most if not all churches.

    • I, too, read and appreciated that article! It was enlightening and cleared up a lot of misconceptions, in my opinion. I was just about to share that link but you beat me to it:).

  21. Jason M

    I think Joanna made some key distinctions with older and orthodox Mormons more likely to still hold the Catholic and all other denominations as “abominable”. I would add that geography matters as well. In Utah and SE Idaho (where there are lots of older and very orthodox Mormons) this is still common and I hear it spoken not infrequently.

    I’m surprised no one has referred to LeGrand Richards’ book A Marvelous Work and a Wonder. In the ’80s it was required reading for missionaries and while he toned down the meanness the whole book is basically an us vs them (Catholics vs Mormons). Either they have an unbroken line of authority to lead God’s church or that authority was lost and had to be restored. Again, the tone not as mean, but a very clear battle over who is right.

    My experience in the church informs me that if a GA were pressed in a media interview on the topic they would dismiss it, not as gracefully and honestly as Joanna has, but they would play it down as 19th century, non-doctrinal language. That same GA sitting in an Elder’s Quorum meeting or High Priest Group meeting would simply nod and as some orthodox Mormon rails on the “great and abominable church”.

    • RachelJL

      Jason: How do you know they would do that? Most of today’s General Authorities are very good friends with leaders of other churches. It would be really difficult to honestly hold that opinion and be able to work with others who are not LDS in that way. I have known a few GA’s, and to me they came across as more open and forgiving in those areas than most of the “old school” Utah Mormons with little experience with the outside world. Most of the current Quorum of the Twelve have lived outside of Utah at one time or another. Try not to make assumptions and then pass them along as truth.

  22. B-Happy

    I did not know that Mormon Doctrine had been removed from circulation. Thank the good Lord. Next up, I hope, is Doctrinal Commentary on the New Testament…. we can all dream, can’t we!?

  23. Great article, but I’m surprised that Joanna left out the idea that criticizing other religions is taboo for Mormons. Certainly you hear people mention certain religions for particular reasons, but we don’t have official stances on other religions and we teach anything officially about any other religion. Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley’s quote “bring with you all the good that you have, and then let us see if we can add to it” is much more a part of our ethos than the relatively obscure quote about the “abominable church”

    • That is, we DON’T teach anything officially about any other religion.

    • Sam

      Surely you don’t believe this is true. After all, Mormons believe they are they only ones that have the proper authority to perform required ordinances to get in to the best parts of heaven. That sounds to me like a teaching about other religions. Also, the temple ceremony was pretty darn explicit until 1990 teaching about other religions. Finally, as Joanna quoted, canonized scripture in Mormonism says others are wrong and an abomination, and in particular the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians are specifically named by Joseph Smith himself as being wrong, and as not to be joined.

      So, if you ignore canonized scripture, historical required temple ordinances that were around as recently as when my parents went through, and the current teaching that only Mormons can unlock the doors through required ordinances that everyone must choose whether or not to accept (either now or in the future), then and only then can you state Mormonism doesn’t have any official statements about other religions.

      Don’t get me wrong — like I said in my reply, I think a large number of members (perhaps even the majority) do not hold such a staunch view–and instead hold a view closer to what you state. But I think it is disingenuous to say there is not any official teachings regarding other religions.

      How would a Mormon react if someone left Mormonism for another Christian sect…Methodism, for example? I can tell you the official doctrine is to declare that person’s baptism null and void, along with any other ordinances they have received. That is what happened when I left Mormonism to become a United Methodist…even though I solidly declared my testimony in Jesus Christ is stronger than ever. That said, I can also tell you personally that many (but not all) members have not been nearly as harsh to me when I made that conversion in my life.

      To me, it IS the official doctrine that is harsh…but the standard member doesn’t buy into the official doctrine completely.

      • Sam, I appreciate your response, because there certainly are more distinctions to be made. You are certainly right that we believe our church to be pretty darn special. For example, one of the first revelations that Joseph Smith received was that he should not join any existing church, because they were all wrong, and that he should organize his own, better church. However, I don’t think I was as specific as perhaps I ought to have been, and maybe I can clarify my intent. It has long been a practice of Church leaders and other members not to spend time denigrating other religions, but rather focus on what we ourselves teach. So it is certainly against our policy and practice to say something like “Religion A is terrible because of doctrines X, Y, and Z.”

        Now, I have admittedly heard on very few occasions that our members will say specific negative things about other churches for various reasons, some more excusable than others. And of course we have teachings about the exclusivity of our priesthood authority that make it absolutely clear that we don’t recognize the authority of any other church.

        But that’s not what I’m trying to get at. What I am saying is that we don’t teach about the doctrines of other churches. Missionaries and church leaders are directed to avoid teaching about the doctrines of any other church, so rather than saying “Church B will teach you all these terrible things about the next life, and that’s wrong because…” they would focus on what we in particular teach about it, and leave those churches to teach what they teach.

        Almost no church believes in the universality of all doctrines, and most have some sort of teachings that exclude people from particular blessings, be it in this life or another. Does that mean that they all teach how terrible all other churches are that disagree with them? No, in many cases, and I would would like to believe in most cases. Like many other churches, we try to build on common ground and not focus on what’s wrong with others.

        So just because our teachings are not compatible with many other teachings in other churches, that does not mean that we have free reign to diss them. I have a friend who was LDS at one time, who was first introduced to the Church by members of another church that taught various things about Mormonism. He was suspicious about the veracity of those claims and ended up joining our church instead. The other church meant well, but we feel it disregards the elements of their teachings that are in common with ours. Not to mention counterproductive, as in my friend’s case.

        You will not see criticism of other churches in any official church materials, such as church leaders’ words at General Conference. If our members have spoken disparagingly about particular churches or their doctrines to you or around you at any point before or after joining the United Methodist Church, I am truly sorry, because that is implicitly and explicitly discouraged. I hope that the members you may come in contact with in the future avoid such unproductive negativity. And of course I wish you the best in your path. You’re like a better Methodist than I am a Mormon.

        “Friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’.” – Joseph Smith, Jr.

  24. Scripture focus

    Interesting that Joe Smith joined a Methodist Sunday School class after he was supposedly told by “god” to join none of the Christian Churches. He was kicked out of the Methodists when he refused to repent of his involvement in the occult. Smith was an occultist from the get go, and Mormolnism has many connections with spiritism.

  25. Scripture focus

    And by the way “Mormon girl,” I don’t expect you to post my statements, since Mormons can’t handle legitimate criticism.

    • Scripture focus– Actually, MormonGirl has shown that she CAN handle plenty of legitimate criticism of Joseph Smith and of Mormonism. However, her love of free speech is strained when you explode HER favorite theory and show that feminism and Mormonism are fundamentally irreconcilable. You know you have triggered the typical “pretend it never happened” response when she censors one of those posts. By “typical,” yes I do mean that sweeping things under the rug has been a pattern within the LDS church, though of course there are many exceptions, particularly within this blog.

      • just an fyi–the only reason i’m not publishing your comments is because you’re writing so much and so insistently it feels like you need your own blog. work on getting audience there.

      • Thanks, AMG. I guess I could do my own blog, but I’m trying to subvert the dominant paradigm, not form a little band of NonMormonBoys. You have so many readers who are right on the cusp of laying down their burden, so the temptation to help is irresistible. I do appreciate that censorship is intended for my own good and I will try to learn not to be so insistent. So call me…maybe.

  26. Jacie

    Every year growing up my ward always advertised the Catholic’s Cinco de Mayo festival and sometimes Easter and Christmas Pageants (if it didn’t interfere with our celebrations or the Sabbath) during sacrament meeting. If we really viewed the Catholics as abominable I’m sure they wouldn’t have encouraged us to go.

  27. SharonGoldstein

    Judaism doesn’t have much to say about other religions as far as not “approving” them. All our rules, such as the dietary laws (kashrut) are for us only, and don’t confer any special benefit aside from being a common practice which has helped keep us together as a people down the centuries. Mainstream Judaism certainly doesn’t view other religions as abominations.

  28. rebecca l

    I’m coming late to this conversation. I grew up a member of the church, in a small town. I knew about the Bruce R. Mckonie, Mormon Opinion book My dad even had a copy of the first edition. But we were raised with tolerance for all religions around us. We were a handful of members out here, and it wasn’t unusual for us to face some anti stuff. I credit my parents’ teaching me to be tolerant with my love of other faiths.
    I was thrilled when in Institute we studied the Religions of the World course, which was built on finding the commonalities between faiths and our own. (My daughter attended her first orthodox passover when she was just a few months old, an exoerience and memory that I treasure. I intend on raising her with a loe and respect of other faiths. There is beauty everywhere.)
    I hold to the later statement in the Mormon Opinion book, that the Great and Abominable church is any church or entity that draws people away from God. I think anyone who holds to ascribing a certain faith is the Great and Abominable Church is missing the point on so may levels… how can we work together, in love and patience with others, if we are busy looking down our noses at them?

  29. The only Christianity Christ can recognize as His own is the Christianity He founded. No substitute religion can have any value in His eyes. And again and again it has been suggested in the preceding evidences that true Christianity is identical with Catholicity, that Catholicity which is in communion with the Bishop of Rome.

    For, indeed, it is impossible to revise, reform, or change any doctrine in Christianity. Men may accept the doctrine Christ taught or reject it. But if they alter it, it ceases to be the Gospel of Christ. Humanity must conform to God’s teachings, not adjust those teachings to suit itself. The Church grieves that so many who should still be Catholics are not. But, to win them, she cannot change the doctrines Christ committed to her keeping. It is useless to convert people to a faith that has changed; to a faith that is completely Christian no longer, and to which the promises of God were never made.

    In the meantime, the unyielding Catholic Church, and that Church alone, still stands with the evidence of God stamped upon her. Hers is a wonderful unity of doctrine and practice, a great power of enkindling holiness, a regular descent through the ages from the Apostles and from Christ Himself, a world-wide appeal to all nations. And she alone, coming from the beginning, and being the lineal descendant of the Apostles, inherits the promise of prevailing till the end of time.

    And is it not striking that none but the Roman, Catholic and Apostolic. Church claims to be the exclusive ambassador of God, behaving, moving and speaking as if conscious of divinity?

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