(By Our Salt Lake City Correspondent, Fred L. W. Bennett)
Utah is the only place in the world where the Jew is a Gentile!
The Mormons, or Latter-day Saints, regard themselves as “Of Israel” and those of the state not of their faith as Gentiles. They do not deliberately speak of the Jew as a Gentile: it is the other people who do this. The situation has given rise to a standing joke in Utah which is enjoyed immensely by all creeds. Tourists are told about it and enjoy it, too. Sometimes one hears the expression, “Mormon, Jew and Gentile.” A group of jewelers organized for social purposes call themselves “The Mormon, Jew and Gentile Club.”
The Mormon is the only Christian who does not want to convert the Jew, or, at least, thinks he should be converted before he can be of much use from a religious standpoint. Without giving an inch of ground in their stand for the orthodox Christian story relating to the birth of Jesus and his life, the Mormons, strange as it may seem, regard the Jew as headed, one might say, for Salvation. The Mormon religion teaches that the Jews will eventually gather to Palestine and become once more a mighty people. They are more orthodox along Jewish lines than many of the Jews themselves! One of their apostles–the official title of their church is “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” and they have apostles, bishops, prophet, etc., as in the original Christian church–was sent to Palestine in the early days of the organization and dedicated the land for the gathering of the Jews!
Not infrequently do Mormons in their sermons make complimentary references to the Jewish people, and some years ago when Henry Ford launched his attack on the Jews, a prominent official of the church stated in the big Tabernacle that the Mormon Church was the friend of the Jew. Jewish rabbis have discussed their ideals in Mormon churches with Mormon leaders on the stand and with big sendoffs from them.
No 100 per cent, or 85 per cent Mormon will tolerate an attack on the Jew. When former Governor Bamberger was elected to the office of chief executive of Utah, in 1916, one of his most prominent supporters was a stalwart in the Mormon Church, B. H. Roberts, orator, journalist, former U. S. war chaplain and at present head of the Mormon mission in the Eastern states, with headquarters in New York City.
The position of the Mormon regarding the Jews, speaking from the religious standpoint, is interesting to the Jew, even if he has no patience with it. It is this: the Mormon believes the Jews of 2,000 years ago were mistaken through worldly pride in denying Jesus. They believe they were scattered on this account as a punishment, but that, being chosen people of God they are to be forgiven and to eventually come into their own. Disagreeing with the Jews in regard to the question of Jesus, they think of course, that he will yet come again. They also believe naturally that he is also coming to themselves. Moreover, that he will come to America, as well as Palestine and that hence there will be two Zions, if you please.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.