Are Mormons Zionists?


I guess it all depends on what you mean by Zionist. If you define Zionism as an international political movement that supports a homeland for the Jewish People in the Land of Israel, then you will have to ask each individual member their opinion. The church does not take sides. Personally, I’m all for the state of Israel having a right to exist. Other Mormons do not feel this way.

Consider this oft-quoted statement from President Howard W. Hunter on the subject: “We do not need to apologize nor mitigate any of the prophecies concerning the Holy Land. We believe them and declare them to be true. But this does not give us justification to dogmatically pronounce that others of our Father’s children are not children of promise. … Both the Jews and the Arabs are children of our Father. They are both children of promise, and as a church we do not take sides. We have love for and an interest in each.” (Devotional speech BYU 1979)

The future of Israel

I have written previously about the future history of Israel and why Mormons are so interested in the events in that Jewish state. “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes.” (Tenth Article of Faith). But is the literal gathering of Israel defined as a gathering of the Jews to the Holy Land or a gathering of the Saints to the Stakes of Zion? Is a ‘literal gathering’ to be interpreted as a political establishment of the state of Israel?

Members of the church have long anticipated a return of the Jews to Palestine as part of Israel’s gathering. The Prophet Joseph Smith sent Orson Hyde, an apostle, to Jerusalem, where in October 1841 he dedicated the land and prayed “for the gathering together of Judah’s scattered remnants” (HC 4:456). Some members of the Church are confused as to how this prayer is to be understood. Is this evidence that we are in support of Israel’s right to exist as a nation?

Differences of opinion

Even modern apostles have expressed differences of opinion on if Zionism is the same as the ‘literal gathering’ of Israel. Elder LeGrand Richards identified Zionism and the State of Israel as the expected “return,” the physical prelude to the spiritual “gathering.” Others, such as Elder Bruce R. McConkie, wrote that the Zionist ingathering was not that “of which the scriptures speak…. It does not fulfill the ancient promises.” He saw it as a “gathering of the unconverted” but “nonetheless part of the divine plan” (Millennial Messiah, Salt Lake City, 1982, p. 229).

To read several in-depth articles from an official church source that considers the subject, read the May 1972 Ensign which is all about Israel and the Holy Land. In there you will find this: “Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ have been to the Holy Land and have dedicated that country for the return of the Jews; and we believe that in the due time of the Lord they shall be in the favor of God again. And let no Latter-day Saint be guilty of taking any part in any crusade against these people.” (President Heber J Grant, General Conference, April 1921)

Conclusion

What do you think? Is Zionism officially recognized and endorsed by the church or is support for Zionism strictly a personal matter to be left up to the individual members?

7 Responses

  1. I think certainly we are. The question is does the gathering of Israel to Jerusalem mean creating a Nation-state now or just migrating and waiting for the Messiah to return? On that question I think you can find educated opinions on both sides. I am kind of torn on this right now.

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  2. I think the Mormon leaders are Zionists. This article proves it, despite what seems like this guy’s attempt to hide that, even though he admits to being one………

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  3. If any educated person looks closely into the situation in Palestine/Israel, looking beyond the horribly biased American media, it will be observed that the state of Israel is formed unjustly and by brute force, where impoverished Palestinians are fighting both against Israelis and America – a combined enormous enemy. All they can resort to now is improvised bombs and suicide bombs vs. jets given by America dropping bombs on them, as well as tanks, etc., etc. It is a shame for Mormons to blindly support the state of Israel, in the name of supporting “the gathering of Israel”, repeated ad infinitum in Mormon scriptures and hymns. It should be the duty of church authorities to state that “political Israel” and “spiritual Israel” are not the same. Political Israel is a blood thirsty, selfish, inhumane political entity. True Zion (or “spiritual Israel”) as stated in the Pearl of Great Price is “of one heart and one mind, with no poor among them”. Does this describe the political state that is killing Palestinians and stealing or destroying their homes? No! Wake up, Mormons. The two are not the same. Otherwise, give up the title “Christian” if you believe in supporting such. Additionally, as far as I know, the Mormon church is apolitical – thus how can it support the state of Israel?! Also, even orthodox (true) Jews do not support the state of Israel. Search the web yourself, be educated and no longer follow blind, biased ideas and call them from God. Such a God is not just and loving. P.S. I am Mormon and I am offended by other Mormons who are unwise enough to support the state of Israel and disregard their humble, Palestinian brothers suffering ever since 1948.

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  4. Thank you for this article. I found it intensely interesting. I have just made a video on this subject, and I would appreciate the feedback of any LDS person, here or on YouTube. I use YouTube more often though. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PjtVskhR5sI have set it so if you answer this thread, I will get an email, so feel free to answer me here if it is your preference.

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  5. I have heard this doctrine in church many times. That when Jesus returns, the Mormon Church will become the government of the world ruling from the city of Zion, which will be somewhere in Missouri and Jesus will live in Jerusalem and be the religious leader of the world. Hmmmm, nothing zionist about this, huh?I think the bigger question is this: are the House of Israel really God’s chosen people or rather did they create him (in their own somewhat hawkish image) because they could conveniently justify a multitude of sins? They could take other people’s lands, kill untold innocents, even rule the world, because, hey, God said so!If you read the Old Testament, the “God” they’re writing about often sounds more like Satan in his demeanour and behaviour. Take animal sacrifice for instance. In the Bible it says God commanded that men sacrifice animals to him and burn their innards on the altar because it was “a sweet savour to him”. Do you really think the burning flesh of innocent baby animals would be something God finds sweet? Do you really think a supremely intelligent being whose purpose is to create life and whose love fills the universe, is nevertheless so insecure and egotistical that he requires innocent blood be sacrificed to him? No. Its an entirely different kind of being who requires this sort of thing.The litmus test is this: that which creates and preserves life is of God and that which destroys life is not. Pretty simple, no politics or religion necessary.

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  6. I wrote this essay about a year ago and yet it continues to rank high on the list of my most read essays. I suppose it is because it is a bit of a controversial subject even within the church. I didn’t think so growing up but I do now. I suspect that it will continue to get traffic as the world’s attention continues to focus on the ongoing unrest in the Middle East – and on Israel’s existence.Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the current president of Iran, has made it clear that he does not believe that Israel has a right to exist as a nation. He has also said that Israel must be exterminated. He voices the opinion of many in the Middle East that there can be no co-existence of the proposed nation of Palestine as long as Israel is recognized and upheld by the nations of the world.Zionism, as I understand it, is the recognition and support for the state and nation of Israel as a political entity. It started long before the actual creation of Israel by the United Nations after World War II. Zionism today is often used pejoratively to describe those who oppress the people of Palestine or of the Middle East in general. I did not hear the word Zionism growing up in the church.What I did hear often, and I mean very often, was the word Zion, as in the land of Zion, which was used synonymously for Israel. We sing about Zion and Israel. Our scriptures are replete with references to both. We are commanded to become a Zion people, and we do indeed believe that Zion will be built here upon the American continent. But I think that references to Zion in our church are made more in a spiritual sense.So Zionism as a worldwide political movement that created and upholds the nation of Israel, while “building up Zion,” as we commonly use the phrase in the LDS Church, are two different things, at least in my mind. And yet, we do believe that the New Jerusalem will be established here in America, so in that case, we are Zionists because we as a people will create and uphold a new government here in America.That’s an amazing thing to contemplate. We believe that the government of the United States will eventually collapse, along with the rest of the governments of the earth. I hope that day is far off, but it is a part of our theology. TrueReviews09 summarized it well in the opening paragraph of his comment. So I guess Mormons are Zionists in the sense that we believe in creating and upholding Zion.

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  7. To TrueReviews09: Although it is not really central to the dialog about Zionism, I want to respond separately to your summary assertion that God does not destroy life. God has specifically said in both ancient and modern revelation that he can and does destroy life. You can read that in Genesis 6:7 and Moses 8:26.I think I understand your point that it seems illogical and unreasonable to our minds that a loving God would kill or command his people to kill. This dichotomy has long been discussed by religious people the world over. In our modern revelation, the Book of Mormon, the difficulty was well presented when Nephi was commanded to kill Laban.In the Book or Revelation we read that the angels await the command of God to go forth and reap the earth with the plagues, desolations and catastrophes that they hold in their vials. We are also taught and believe that even the great destroyer Satan operates within the bounds that the Lord has set. In other words, God allows destruction.I don’t pretend to understand all the reason why the law of animal sacrifice was instituted in the Old Testament times. I do know that it points to Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that he would make for us. No, it does not seem fair or just to sacrifice animals but then it does not seem fair or just that a perfect and innocent Savior was sacrificed for our sins.Yes, the house of Israel is really God’s chosen people. He has said so in ancient and in modern times. No matter how rebellious and unrepentant they or we are, we are indeed His chosen people. Does that mean we get special treatment or unique opportunities? You’ll have to decide that for yourself. I believe that some blessings in mortality are based on our faithfulness in the world before.Yes, God can and does destroy life. I have seen it in a spiritual and emotional sense, but also in a physical manifestation. I have watched as once righteous people depart from the ways of God and degrade themselves in the ways of the world, become very wicked and yes, evil in the process. They suffer terrible effects of their sin, some of which cause much sickness and even death. I have seen people destroyed in this way.Would God command a people to destroy another people? He did in the Old Testament times. It sounds as if you do not accept the record of the conquest of Canaan by Israel as being accurate or based on revelation. Again, I don’t understand the way things worked back then, but I believe that God did indeed command that the idolatrous people of the land be destroyed before ancient Israel could inhabit the land.

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