In April 2014, President Thomas S Monson spoke in LDS General Conference on the topic of courage. This talk highlights teachings from both modern-day leaders as well as scripture on the topic and example of courage. The talk quotes President J. Reuben Clark as saying:
Not unknown are cases where [those] of presumed faith … have felt that, since by affirming their full faith they might call down upon themselves the ridicule of their unbelieving colleagues, they must either modify or explain away their faith, or destructively dilute it, or even pretend to cast it away. Such are hypocrites.
Later he touches on the example of Daniel, who had the courage to continue praying despite a governmental decree forbidding prayer. Daniel prayed despite the risk of being cast into a den of wild lions. Ultimately Daniel was spared, but his courage to do what was right regardless of the consequence is one to be emulated.
So I ask, has the church always lived up to this demand for courage?
Studying church history recently, I stumbled upon a the sad truth for which I believe the church should have eternal shame. The church’s relationship with Nazi Germany. In December of 1933 the Deseret News published an article praising Hitler and Nazi Germany. Below is the clip from the newspaper:
What I find particularly disturbing with this article is the enthusiasm displayed regarding the genealogical work that was enhanced because the Germans wanted to prove they weren’t Jewish.
Below is the transcription of the last two paragraphs of the article:
Many of those who felt the greatest anxiety about being able to carry on their religious activities are finding that at least one branch of their church work as received its greatest boon since Germany’s adoption of Hitlerism. It was always difficult for Genealogical workers to get into the archives of the recognized church to trace back family records. When the pastor learned of the intention, access to the records was often denied. Now, due to the importance given to the racial question, and the almost necessity of proving that one’s grandmother was not a Jewess, the old record books have been dusted off and stand ready and waiting for use. No questions are asked. In fact, some of the Saints instead of being refused by the pastors now have received letters of encouragement complimenting them for their patriotism.
All genealogical workers who are interested in tracing back family history in Germany should take advantae of the present unusual opportunity.
The author of this article clearly understood that Nazism had relegated multiple religious peoples to a lower status. In fact, we are now fully aware of the severe persecution the Jews received. Members of the LDS Church today like to compare the persecution in Missouri to that which was inflicted upon the Jews in Nazi Germany. First there is no comparison. Second, the Church should be ashamed for supporting the very tyrant who committed these atrocities.
If the Church claims prophetic insight, where was the courage to defy Hitler? Where were the calls for religious freedom in Nazi Germany? Mormon Think provides a summary of some of the interactions between the LDS Church and Nazi Germany. Included is the quote from President Heber J Grant:
Stay here. Keep the Commandments. Try to get along the best you can, even under some limitations. We want to keep the Church intact and the missionaries working.
From this quote I become dismayed by the clear lack of understanding by a man who claimed to be a Prophet of God. If God does not communicate with these leaders on that which matters most, why should I believe he is communicating with them at all.