The Mormons were first persecuted upon the founding of their church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in the nineteenth century. Instances of Mormon persecution have occurred in the twentieth century and are still occurring today.

Today the main persecutors are associated with the Evangelical Christian Church; they are known as anti-Mormons. There are two kinds of anti-Mormons that exist, traditional anti-Mormons and new age anti-Mormons. Traditional anti-Mormons are those who argue that Mormonism is untrue and incompatible with the Bible. Among the most prominent of the traditional anti-Mormons are Jerald and Sandra Tannerwho were both former members of the Mormon Church. The Tanners converted to Evangelical Protestantism and in 1964 founded the Modern Microfilm Company to document problems with the claims of Mormonism and compare Mormon Church doctrines with Christianity. Perhaps the most controversial of the traditional anti-Mormons was Walter Martin. He saw Mormons as deceivers who pose as Christians. He called them, “anti-Christian” and claimed they “secretly harbor a deep contempt for Christians.” Next are the new age anti-Mormons, who admit the presence of supernatural events in the founding events of the Mormon Church and are quite willing to acknowledge continuous supernatural influence in the life of the Church today. However, unlike traditional anti-Mormons new age anti-Mormons see the supernatural agents involved in the founding and progress of the Mormon Church as demonic. The most prominent of the new age anti-Mormons is Ed Decker. He is the producer of The God Makers and The God Makers II. These films are considered tainted and misleading and have even provoked bomb threats against Mormon Church meetinghouses and death threats against members. Other new age anti-Mormons have called the Mormons “pagans” and Mormonism a “fountain of slime.”

Tangible acts of violence against the Mormons are considerably less common in the United States today than they were in the nineteenth century. However, one major event related to the persecution of the Mormons is the murders of two Mormon missionaries in La Paz, Bolivia in May of 1989 by a terrorist organization called the Zarate Willka Liberation Armed Forces. On May 28, 1989, in the lugubrious half-light and narrow, cobble-stoned streets of La Paz, Bolivia's cemetery district, two Anglo Mormon missionaries were smoothly and cruelly assassinated. For the first time, Guerrillas deliberately stalked and struck at representatives of the Mormon Church. It could have been predicted that it would happen sometime. What could not be predicted was where it would happen and why. Nevertheless the missionaries' death has had serious implications for the Church's presence. Suddenly the Mormon Church was forcefully and openly brought into politics as never before. When guerrillas target it directly and prominently, they drew the Mormon Church into their struggle. The church’s institutional and personal presence within these countries has become a political issue, despite its best efforts to appear non-political. The assassination in Bolivia occurred within a context of increasing violence against Mormon Church property in Latin America. Since 1983, when two Colombian meeting houses wee bombed eight times by the Ejrcito de Liberacion Nacional (National Liberation Army), as a sequel to its recent kidnapping of the brother of then Colombian President Betancur ostensibly to obtain wage hikes, a price freeze on commodities of prime necessity, and a reduction in the cost of public services; the Church has been increasingly targeted by the militant left. Following the missionaries' deaths a spate of articles surfaced for a time with contradictory, incomplete and somewhat misreported information. If nothing else they indicate the seriousness of the challenge facing the Church, even if they failed to provide a thorough portrayal of the numbers of bombings, of the groups claiming responsibility, or police and intelligence efforts to apprehend the guilty. The missionaries’ murders are just one major event related to the persecution of the Mormons. There are many more specific examples.

Other events related to the persecution of the Mormons were in the 1980s, anti-Mormon protestors stood outside a Denver temple and threw stones, and a firebombing scare was also reported there. Another Bolivian terrorist group, the Tupac Guerrilla Army, claimed responsibility for two attacks against Mormon chapels. The Latauro Youth Movement in Chile conducted twenty seven small-scale bombings against Mormon churches in 1992 as well. It has been reported that a total of one hundred and forty nine individual attacks have been carried out against Mormon targets in Latin America since 1983.

Some of the reasons why the Mormons are persecuted are because they are believed to be linked with Satan. Anti-Mormons believe that the Mormons are evil. Part of this belief may come from the fact that the Mormons practice polygamy. There is also the fact that many anti-Mormons are actually ex-members of the Mormon Church, and strive to show the church in the worst possible light. As a result of the persecution of the Mormons, anti-Mormon protestor groups have been formed. One major anti-Mormon protestor group is a non-profit organization caleed the Mormonism Research Ministry.


Other Instances of Mormon persecution:

By Kelley

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