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Why does Mormonism arouse such animosity among so many?

W. John Walsh
Joseph Fielding McConkie

by W. John Walsh

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faces extreme opposition from others for a variety of reasons, including our missionary program and our beliefs and doctrines.

Our Missionary Program

Other denominations often attack Latter-day Saints because they feel threatened by us.  The Church is one of the fastest growing denominations in the world.  The Encyclopedia of Mormonism states:

"Although projections based on current growth rates are usually not precise predictions of the future, such projections do indicate future possibilities. Using past patterns of growth as a baseline, religious sociologist Rodney Stark has projected an LDS population of 265 million by the year 2080. Using this projection, Stark has predicted that the LDS Church will become the next major world religion. If growth rates for the total membership observed between 1980 and 1989 remain constant, the membership will increase to 12 million by the year 2000, to 35 million by 2020, and to 157 million by the mid-twenty-first century (Fig. 2). But some regions are growing faster than others. If regional rates of growth remain constant, growth will be even more dramatic in some areas." (See Vital Statistics)

Other denominations are well aware of these trends and equally aware that these 265 million members will have to come from somewhere.  They are deathly afraid that our missionaries will "steal" their members. Instead, of attempting to retain their membership levels by showing their adherents the good qualities about their own beliefs, these other denominations often focus their efforts on attacking Latter-day Saints, often through fabrications and distortions of our beliefs.  To me, this proves that the other denominations don't have anything worth following.  They seem terrified about comparing our beliefs to theirs in an open, honest, and fair way, and then letting people choose for themselves.

In countries dominated by one religion, it is very common for the leaders of that religion to attempt to restrict LDS missionary efforts through legal restraints.   These other religions do not believe in allowing people the freedom to worship God as they see fit.  On the other hand, freedom of religion is a basic tenants of the LDS faith.  Our Articles of Faith state:

"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

Our Doctrines and Beliefs

Latter-day Saints take moral stands on many different issues.  In fact, we take so many stands on so many issues it seems like we offend everyone, including our own membership.  Whether it's their conscience that's bothering them or something else, many people seem unable to "agree to disagree" and feel the need to strike out and attack us, often in mean and spiteful ways.  To me, this bitterness is evidence of the correctness of our position.  When I meet someone who shares different values from me, I do not feel threatened by their views.  I know I have been taught correct principles so why should it matter if someone does not accept them?   Others, however, do not seem comfortable in their own beliefs and cannot tolerate an opposing view.

by Joseph Fielding McConkie

Although the religions of men are often tolerant of each other, they cannot abide the presence of living prophets and the truths of salvation. Their bitterness and opposition toward Mormonism are an essential witness of its truthfulness. Validity draws the fire. If Mormonism is true, then those of all other faiths are in need of repentance and baptism; they must conform to the teachings of living prophets, and they must dissociate themselves from things that are of the world. We would not suppose that such a message could go unopposed. If our message does not give offense to that which is ungodly, it has no claim on that which is heavenly. It has been properly said that light and darkness will never meet and that Christ and Satan will never shake hands.

If Mormonism were not true, it could be ignored. The fact that Satan and his cohorts cannot leave it alone is an evidence of its truthfulness. There is no neutrality where the truths of salvation are concerned. A man by the name of Behunnin once told the Prophet Joseph Smith that if he were ever to leave the Church, he would not do as others had done and turn and fight against it. "I would," he said, "go to some remote place where Mormonism had never been heard of, settle down, and no one would ever learn that I knew anything about it." Joseph Smith's response was immediate: "Brother Behunnin, you don't know what you would do. [Then, referring to apostates who were fighting against the Church, he said:] No doubt these men once thought as you do. Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant" (Juvenile Instructor 27 [15 August 1892]: 492).

The creeds of Christendom describe God as an incomprehensible mystery while declaring that revelation has ceased. Mormonism, on the other hand, declares that the heavens are open and that both God and the truths of salvation can be known with perfect surety. There is no common ground here, which is obvious to them, if not to us.

Answers: Straightforward Answers To Tough Gospel Questions
Copyright by Deseret Books

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