Today’s guest post is from The Captain. The urban dictionary defines the term persecution complex as follows:
One of the top fifteen factors that can transform a reasonable, amiable, friendly person with reasonable, friendly beliefs and ideas into a ranting, screaming, judgmental zealot with poisonous, nauseating, self-righteous dreck for beliefs.
A member of the Church cannot go many Sundays without hearing about the fortitude of early Saints in overcoming persecution. A fast and testimony meeting often includes statements about persecution against the Church in the past or present.
Persecution, persecution, persecution!
When Joseph Smith was murdered, the New York Herald printed:
The death of the modern mahomet will seal the fate of Mormonism. They cannot get another Joe Smith. The holy city must tumble into ruins, and the ‘latter-day saints’ have indeed come to the latter day.
Little did the New York Herald and many of the Church’s critics know that persecution and tragedy can bring a people closer and make them stronger.
Such is the case with Mormonism. While there were divisions and schisms (schisms which included many prominent members), the majority of the early Saints followed Brigham Young after Joseph Smith’s death, building a strong and unified Church in the mountains of Utah.
The writings of Brigham Young and Church leaders found in the Journal of Discourses and other sources are filled with rants about the persecution the Church suffered. It was a constant subject that was no doubt continuously on the minds of the entire Mormon Church. This is understandable, as the Church was continually subject to misconceptions, unwarranted criticism and unfriendly government intervention. They were living through persecution.
However, as the Church became more and more accepted by others and granted equal rights, the constant banter of persecution did not cease. And even today, with the Church enjoying many of the rights and privileges early Saints could only dream of, the Church continues to complain about persecution or reflect on past persecution.
With an “us vs. them” attitude, members will cry injustice or discrimination at the drop of a hat. Some allow this attitude to grow into arrogance and bitterness toward others.
I have seen cool-headed members blow their tops at protesters at Temple Square. I have seen missionaries jump into attack mode at the slightest mention of criticism from those they teach.
Does the church suffer from persecution complex? And are the side effects of a persecution complex in some ways as dangerous as persecution itself? What do you think?