Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Cross In Utah

By Fr. Erik Richtsteig at Orthometer

A common experience for Catholics and other who wear a cross or a crucifix in Utah goes something like the following:

Mormon: Why do you wear THAT?
Crossie: Wear what?
Mormon: That cross thing.
Crossie: Because Jesus died on it.
Mormon: Well if you mom was shot would you wear a gun?

It could be noose, electric chair, or guillotine, but you get the point: Utah and its majority religion are not cross friendly. Moreover, verbal attacks, teasing, and bullying of young people by classmates can be especially brutal.

But why the aversion to what orthodox Christians see as a sign of Christ's triumph over the Devil? There are several possibilities as Mormon doctrine and theology is nothing if not fluid. First, according to the Mormons Jesus is not God incarnate. He is merely our elder brother and savior. It has been taught that He didn't atone for our sins by dying on the Cross, but by weeping blood in the garden. Second, there has historically been an aversion to anything that smacks of traditional Christianity; think Protestantism on steroids. Third, a couple of years ago, The Salt Lake Tribune published an interesting article concerning some research by a professor at Cal State Sacramento. His thesis is that the extreme anti-cross attitude can be traced to President David O. McKay's virulent anti-Catholicism. My personal opinion is that while this may have intensified the opposition, it had been very present before. I base this upon anecdotes heard from both Catholics and Mormons that predate McKay.

Anyhow, this is yet more evidence that Mormonism cannot be considered Christian in an orthodox theological sense. (Also, interesting parallels can be drawn to the hatred of the cross that one finds in Islam.)

"But God forbid that I should glory except in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." -- Galatians 6:14.

(Image: murals in the sanctuary in the Cathedral of the Madeline, Salt Lake City.)

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