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A new age where Christians can be openly persecuted in Western society is now upon us.
(For example, see this treatment)

We know from the Book of Mormon that Christian reaction to persecution can span the spectrum between returning railing for railing or refusing to do so (3 Ne 6:13). And we are also given advice of the Lord in D&C 50:32-33 to the end that “you may chase darkness from among you” (D&C 50:25).

How should we interpret these and other scriptures concerning how CoJC members should conduct themselves under persecution? How can we fortify ourselves and our families against the day of ever more open and more intense persecution?

Full Citation for this Article: Editorial Board, SquareTwo Journal (2019) "Readers' Puzzle Spring 2019, Preparing for Persecution," SquareTwo, Vol. 12 No. 1 (Spring 2019), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleReadersPuzzleSpring2019.html, accessed <give access date>.

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COMMENTS: 1 Comment

I. Kathy Bence

As I looked at this important question of how to react to persecution in the Book of Mormon, I found a spectrum (as the puzzle calls it) of examples that might fit. Not only do the responses to persecution vary, but also the level of persecution being endured. I'll use three examples.

First, in Mosiah 27, before Alma and the sons of Mosiah are converted, there is persecution described as great persecution, but they have freedom and the persecuted Church members are likely the majority. These Christians complain to their leaders; the leaders listen, and act and make laws on behalf of their constituency.

1 And now it came to pass that the persecutions which were inflicted on the church by the unbelievers became so great that the church began to murmur, and complain to their leaders concerning the matter; and they did complain to Alma. And Alma laid the case before their king, Mosiah. And Mosiah consulted with his priests.

2 And it came to pass that king Mosiah sent a proclamation throughout the land round about that there should not any unbeliever persecute any of those who belonged to the church of God.

3 And there was a strict command throughout all the churches that there should be no persecutions among them, that there should be an equality among all men;

4 That they should let no pride nor haughtiness disturb their peace; that every man should esteem his neighbor as himself, laboring with their own hands for their support.

Second, in 3 Nephi 6, the Nephites still have freedom, but they are the minority being persecuted by other church members who are acting less than Christian. The passage doesn’t tell us what they did (it never indicates they did nothing), but the example is that whatever is done or said, it’s best to be humble and not rail (or revile and hate).

10 But it came to pass in the twenty and ninth year there began to be some disputings among the people; and some were lifted up unto pride and boastings because of their exceedingly great riches, yea, even unto great persecutions;

11 For there were many merchants in the land, and also many lawyers, and many officers.

12 And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches.

13 Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God.

Third, In Mosiah 24, Alma’s people are being persecuted by Amulon and are powerless, with guards overseeing them and the threat of death if they are caught praying. In this example, the persecuted Christians silently pray and the Lord makes their burdens seem light and eventually frees them from bondage.

9 For Amulon knew Alma, that he had been one of the king’s priests, and that it was he that believed the words of Abinadi and was driven out before the king, and therefore he was wroth with him; for he was subject to king Laman, yet he exercised authority over them, and put tasks upon them, and put task-masters over them.

10 And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God.

11 And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.

12 And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.

13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

I suspect we are somewhere near the persecution level of the Nephites in the second example. The Christians in Western Society still have most freedoms, but may be the minority (or at best a silent majority) who are being persecuted. Regardless, all three examples give us direction:

1.“Murmur” or “complain” to the opinion leaders and elected officials who can do something. This may be the only time murmuring is encouraged, but it got results for the these Nephites. We must find ways for our voice to be heard such as voting, writing letters, making calls, using our purchasing power, making donations, and convincing others to do the same.

In the linked article, Ryszard Legutko (the polish politician who lived under communism, and was not allowed to speak at Middlebury College because of threats from violent students) said: “It all starts with overcoming fear. Of course, fear under hard totalitarianism is of a different kind than fear under soft despotism in liberal democracy, but it is fear all the same…the most eye-opening discovery is that with the absence of fear not only many problems that we had disappear, but that it is we who become a serious problem to the guardians of the totalitarian system, to all those politruks, to ideological hoodlums, to cowardly bureaucrats. The moment we cease to be afraid of them, we see that they begin to be afraid of us. And this is a reward that has no price.”

2. Do not rail, or revile and hate. Despite our need to speak up, we should show respect and love like the more righteous Nephites did. The importance of showing love was beautifully stated in BYU’s April commencement speech: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/arthur-c-brooks_more-love-less-contempt/

3. Pray (and thankfully not under threat of death like Alma’s people).

Sadly, Christians in some parts of the world today are facing genocide (see https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6986565/Persecution-Christians-modern-day-genocide-says-report.html ). Edmund Burke's statement made in the 18th century applies: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” If good people do nothing to stem the persecution of Christians in Western Society--we stand to lose almost everything and pass a miserable life onto our children.