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Is the Symbol of the Cross a Cultural or a Doctrinal Taboo?


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16 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

Actually, I believe the truth is that you don't think much about what the cross symbolizes to Christians and Christianity, then foist off your ignorance onto us by telling us that we don't think about it. The symbol of the cross is absolutely pervasive in Catholicism and has been written about, thought about, preached about, and etched into our religious rites. Not so with you. We have spent much more time thinking about the cross than you have. If you want to learn what we think about it, try doing a little research instead of attributing your interpretation onto us.

I mean, that's what you ask non-LDS to do, right? To not tell you what you believe or what you think or how ignorant you are, but instead to research out what you actually think and believe? Grant us the common courtesy of doing the same.

I understand that you and other Christians believe the cross is a symbol of how Christ was put to death and that you are trying to make lemonade from lemons by thinking there was something good that came as a result of Christ being put to death.  I once thought that as a Christian, before I joined the Church I am in now,  and I can still remember thinking that way. Now I prefer to think of how Christ lived and continues to live now, and how I can live now, without thinking about the fact that he was sentenced to die on a cross because people wanted to kill him that way.

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It is strictly a cultural position within the Church. There is no doctrine that supports or negates the wearing of a cross.

I just want to clarify this. Indeed for us it does symbolize those things -- hence the crucifix. But the reason for that is that we believe His suffering and death is what redeems us. It's what is abl

Bold mine. CFR There is basically no cross on any building or person in the LDS faith. I see no cross ANYWHERE. If there is a cross in the temple, it certainly cannot be greater than the focus on

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11 minutes ago, Ahab said:

It is his life that saved and saves us.  He died/was killed/murdered by being hung on a cross by people who wanted to kill him.

I guess we differ in our understanding. I believe His death was essential to our salvation. It appears you might believe otherwise.

13 minutes ago, Ahab said:

And if I had been there in the town square of Jerusalem, on that day, I would not have assented to his death.

I hope I would have done the same. Perhaps I would have been like Peter, defending Him with a sword. More likely I would have been like Peter, denying that I knew Him to save myself. But I know that here and now, I am grateful for that He sacrificed Himself for me and for all.

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8 minutes ago, Ahab said:

there was something good that came as a result of Christ being put to death.

Do you not believe that something good came from Christ's death..?

ETA: I find the belief that something good came from His death to be pretty foundational to Christianity.

Edited by MiserereNobis
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33 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

On one hand: 🙄

On the other hand: I am beyond grateful that Christ offered Himself up for us, that He suffered and, yes, died for us. Without His death, we would all be lost.

I agree wholeheartedly. I also believe that choosing not to wear or display a physical representation of a cross does not diminish that testimony in any way. Would you agree?

Edited by Bernard Gui
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4 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Personally, I believe the Church's firm rejection of the cross (David O McKay era) was due to a personal issue/preference which has turned into a cultural taboo which is often conflated with doctrine.

Choosing not to display or venerate the physical representation of a cross does not mean one diminishes or rejects the meaning and efficacy of Jesus’ death on the cross.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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4 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

I agree wholeheartedly. I also believe that choosing not to wear or display a cross does not diminish that testimony in any way.

I also agree. I honesty don't wear a cross very often, though I do carry with me a rosary with a crucifix on it. There are also crucifixes in my house.

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10 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

I also agree. I honesty don't wear a cross very often, though I do carry with me a rosary with a crucifix on it. There are also crucifixes in my house.

Thank you. I respect your desire to do that. It is a wonderful exhibition of faith.

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3 hours ago, Ahab said:

It depends on what the symbol is used to symbolize, I suppose.  Or what one thinks the symbol symbolizes.  The cross where Jesus was hung by people who wanted to kill him?  A symbol of his suffering and death?

I would much rather think of him living, and continuing to live.  Do you know of any symbol I could wear to symbolize his life, rather than his death?

An important consideration for any symbol is its interpretation.  There isn't going to be just one interpretation.  My contention from the start of this thread, is that our cultural shunning of the cross as a symbol, and as outlined by Reed's article, is based upon only one accepted LDS interpretation of the cross, that of suffering.  The cross as a symbol also represents the resurrection, eternal life, and the living Christ (the bare cross).  As LDS people, we have a significant amount of symbolism in our temple worship.  Society, as a whole, has lost site of the purpose of symbols and their meaning.  Consider the destruction of monuments in the middle east a few years ago and the current assault on our monuments presently in the US.  This loss of understanding of symbolism within our own American culture is, unfortunately,  also present within the church.  Many new members who enter the temple are "freaked out," because they are coming from a society and a church culture with no deep appreciation or understanding of symbolism, into a temple environment steeped in symbolism.  One response is to change the temple to fit our ignorant culture, which has been the usual response.  The other would be to open the minds of Latter-Day Saints to a broader understanding and appreciation of symbolism while they are outside the temple and throughout their church participation to better prepare them for the temple, as well as understand other religious traditions through their use of symbols.

Edited by Urloony
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1 hour ago, MiserereNobis said:

I also agree. I honesty don't wear a cross very often, though I do carry with me a rosary with a crucifix on it. There are also crucifixes in my house.

MN hey. Christ told us to take up our crosses and follow Him. Our crucifixions will not be as agonizing as His. But the symbol of the Cross reminds us of the Catholic truth that if we would reign with Him, we must suffer with Him.

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A faithful saying: for if we be dead with him, we shall live also with him. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.

---2 Tim 2:11, 12

This does not mean that we have to wear a cross. I have never worn a cross or a crucifix in my life. But it means that we should deliberately think about the cross of Christ and that is the reason why I have crucifixes in my house too. Not that I don't forget about the crucifixes, and fail to notice them. Sadly, I do. But once in a while, I will look at one or another of them and ask myself if I am carrying my cross. We need a visual aid once in a while. Many of the saints were careful to surround themselves with these visual reminders of Christ's suffering. The Church knows all of our frailties. She is well aware of our tendencies to forgetfulness and thanklessness. She recommends them to us, knowing that God in His good mercy has often used them as instruments of His grace. This is why Catholics have crucifixes. We know we are weak and need help with remembering amidst all the distractions of life, our primary purpose for being on earth instead of heaven. God help us to remember St. Paul's faithful saying. As bad as we Catholics are about it, trying to escape our crosses, I sometimes think that non-Catholics, because of a cultural antipathy for such a "Catholic" practice, deny themselves of a practical aid that would help them remember the potential value of suffering, and in the possibility of rejoicing in suffering, remembering it is the good will of our good God. It is hard and we need all the helps we can get.

-----   

Bishops have a big pectoral cross, but it isn't very practical for people in the world to be adorned with something like that on the outside of their clothing. I have seen a teenage boy wear a big wooden cross that made me wince a little, but I admired him for it, and was glad that my son wasn't ashamed to be identified with the Cross. I did not need to correct him. Of course, he eventually realized that it wouldn't be practical for work situations and everyday life, especially in the Marine Corps! I don't remember when he stopped exactly. I am thankful that he still has the faith and goes to the Traditional Mass with his wife and our grandchildren. Other than my boy and our bishops, I cannot ever remember seeing any Catholic wearing a medal, a scapular, a cross, or a crucifix over their garments.

I wonder if perhaps the practice might also be discouraged because we don't want to give scandal, wearing ostentatious advertisements of our faith, and then possibly behaving in ways contrary to our outer "habit". I know that they say that a scapular represents for a lay person what the habit represents for a religious. I suppose if it were customary among Catholics I might try to defend public displays on our person. But since it is NOT customary I think it is more appropriate for us lay folk to have our "habit" as a private witness to ourselves and heaven rather than the public witness of sacrifice that a cassock or religious habit represents. 

Rory 

Edited by 3DOP
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5 hours ago, Ahab said:

I do not support or approve of a cross, especially not the cross our Savior was hanged on by people who wanted to kill him, so I don't wear a cross and I think wearing a cross is one of the most un-Christian things a person can do.

Many of our critics accuse of us of being unchristian because some of our buildings and temples have pentagrams.  Are they right?  After all, the pentagram is a symbol of Satanism.

basigil.jpg

Nauvoo+history+star+windows.jpeg

nauvoo+temple+star+window+history.jpg?fo

 

 

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2 hours ago, Ahab said:

I understand that you and other Christians believe the cross is a symbol of how Christ was put to death and that you are trying to make lemonade from lemons by thinking there was something good that came as a result of Christ being put to death.  I once thought that as a Christian, before I joined the Church I am in now,  and I can still remember thinking that way. Now I prefer to think of how Christ lived and continues to live now, and how I can live now, without thinking about the fact that he was sentenced to die on a cross because people wanted to kill him that way.

But if you are a Christian you are supposed to take up your cross and die too.

"For I, through the law, am dead to the law, that I may live to God: with Christ I am nailed to the cross." Gal. 2:19

"A faithful saying: for if we be dead with him, we shall live also with him." 2 Tim. 2:11

 

Edited by 3DOP
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51 minutes ago, Urloony said:

...the current assault on our monuments presently in the US.  This loss of understanding of symbolism within our own American culture is, unfortunately, 

I don’t think the current assault on a certain set of monuments in the US is due to a loss of understanding of symbolism. I think there is a strong awareness of what was meant to be symbolized when they were constructed as well as what they symbolize now. 

(trying to avoid being political while making my point, which is below)

I do agree that symbolism is often misunderstood or not respected in the US, but I think combining issues of symbolism is detrimental to resolving them. 

Edited by Calm
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7 hours ago, 3DOP said:

Other than my boy and our bishops, I cannot ever remember seeing any Catholic wearing a medal, a scapular, a cross, or a crucifix over their garments.

I remember see quite a few up to high school of my female friends wearing simple cross necklaces outside of their shirt or dress. I don’t see that any more and if I see any, it is the more ostentatious kind that qualify as ‘bling’ (do they still use that term?). Makes me wonder if those who wear the cross as a quiet declaration or reminder of faith don’t want to be confused with those who appear to be wearing crosses more as decorative accessories rather than devotional.  I am remembering the shift or at least my perception of a shift as in the 80s, but that may be because of Madonna. It may have happened earlier or later. 

Edited by Calm
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45 minutes ago, Calm said:

I don’t think the current assault on a certain set of monuments in the US is due to a loss of understanding of symbolism. I think there is a strong awareness of what was meant to be symbolized when they were constructed as well as what they symbolize now. 

(trying to avoid being political while making my point, which is below)

I do agree that symbolism is often misunderstood or not respected in the US, but I think combining issues of symbolism is detrimental to resolving them. 

You're right about trying to avoid politics, and I will try to do the same.  My analogy is attempting to point out that the current destruction of US monuments is based upon one perspective of what a particular statue or symbol represents (religious symbols are now also under attack).  Opponents to the destruction of those monuments would disagree with the reasoning of the vandals and argue a different symbolic meaning for those statues and symbols.  One symbol, two opposite interpretations, with the potential of both interpretations being correct.

Edited by Urloony
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2 minutes ago, Urloony said:

You're right about trying to avoid politics, and I will try to do the same.  My analogy is attempting to point out that the current destruction of US monuments is based upon one perspective of what a particular statue or symbol represents (religious symbols are now also under attack).  Opponents to the destruction of those monuments would disagree with the reasoning of the vandals and argue a different symbolic meaning for those statues and symbols.  One symbol, two opposite interpretations, with the potential of both interpretations being correct.

Thanks for the clarification 

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1 hour ago, 3DOP said:

But if you are a Christian you are supposed to take up your cross and die too.

I did that already and am now a new man, and have been since I was born again.  And instead of reflecting on that day when I left my old life behind I now walk on in my new life and in my new and better way of doing things.

One thing that was a big difference for me though was that I didn't have to actually die.  I didn't have to actually be hung up on a cross to die a mortal death.  And I don't believe Christ had to do that, either, or that it was a good thing that some other people wanted to kill him and sentenced him to death on that cross.  So instead of remembering the instrument of his death, or the fact that those people killed him by hanging his body up on that cross, instead I prefer to reflect on how Christ lived back then and continues to live even now.  The cross points me backward to a bad thing, his death, and for me it is better to just remember his life while I try to live as he lived and continues to live.

 

1 hour ago, 3DOP said:

"For I, through the law, am dead to the law, that I may live to God: with Christ I am nailed to the cross." Gal. 2:19

"A faithful saying: for if we be dead with him, we shall live also with him." 2 Tim. 2:11

Paul had a strange way of saying things sometimes, and I probably do too.

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1 hour ago, Urloony said:

An important consideration for any symbol is its interpretation.  There isn't going to be just one interpretation.  My contention from the start of this thread, is that our cultural shunning of the cross as a symbol, and as outlined by Reed's article, is based upon only one accepted LDS interpretation of the cross, that of suffering.  The cross as a symbol also represents the resurrection, eternal life, and the living Christ (the bare cross).  As LDS people, we have a significant amount of symbolism in our temple worship.  Society, as a whole, has lost site of the purpose of symbols and their meaning.  Consider the destruction of monuments in the middle east a few years ago and the current assault on our monuments presently in the US.  This loss of understanding of symbolism within our own American culture is, unfortunately,  also present within the church.  Many new members who enter the temple are "freaked out," because they are coming from a society and a church culture with no deep appreciation or understanding of symbolism, into a temple environment steeped in symbolism.  One response is to change the temple to fit our ignorant culture, which has been the usual response.  The other would be to open the minds of Latter-Day Saints to a broader understanding and appreciation of symbolism while they are outside the temple and throughout their church participation to better prepare them for the temple, as well as understand other religious traditions through their use of symbols.

If we can be that free to interpret symbols, we can probably interpret symbols in any way we want to.  We could use them to represent any idea, even if some other people interpreted them in some totally different way.

So in the final analysis I would just wonder if there were any good ways to interpret symbols, and/or any bad ways, and then disregard or shun any way that I personally did not see as a good way to interpret those symbols.

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3 minutes ago, Ahab said:

If we can be that free to interpret symbols, we can probably interpret symbols in any way we want to.  We could use them to represent any idea, even if some other people interpreted them in some totally different way.

You're more correct than you think.  History is replete with "hijacked" symbolism, the swastika being a prime example.  Now that Godwin's law is in full effect, my aim is to point to historic examples of symbolic interpretation, not necessarily those chosen on a whim.

8 minutes ago, Ahab said:

So in the final analysis I would just wonder if there were any good ways to interpret symbols, and/or any bad ways, and then disregard or shun any way that I personally did not see as a good way to interpret those symbols.

Absolutely, we do it all the time.  No one is saying "you're wrong" for interpreting the cross or any symbol in a particular way.  I'm simply suggesting that there are meanings for symbols that may not have been considered.  In Reed's article that was linked earlier, he mentions a story of missionaries teaching a family that had a cross displayed in their home.  The missionaries asked if they could have the cross and so the family gave it to them, thinking they would enjoy it.  When it was given to them, the missionaries destroyed it.  It never occurred to the missionaries to consider a different interpretation of the cross as a symbol from the one they were raised to believe, that of suffering or worse.  The real test of bravery would have been to ask: "what does that symbol mean to you?"       

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1 hour ago, Ahab said:

I did that already and am now a new man, and have been since I was born again.  And instead of reflecting on that day when I left my old life behind I now walk on in my new life and in my new and better way of doing things.

One thing that was a big difference for me though was that I didn't have to actually die.  I didn't have to actually be hung up on a cross to die a mortal death.  And I don't believe Christ had to do that, either, or that it was a good thing that some other people wanted to kill him and sentenced him to death on that cross.  So instead of remembering the instrument of his death, or the fact that those people killed him by hanging his body up on that cross, instead I prefer to reflect on how Christ lived back then and continues to live even now.  The cross points me backward to a bad thing, his death, and for me it is better to just remember his life while I try to live as he lived and continues to live.

 

Paul had a strange way of saying things sometimes, and I probably do too.

Not strange at all for someone who has been endowed and sealed in the temple.

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On 8/3/2020 at 1:57 PM, Ahab said:

I think a lot of Christians just don't think much about what the cross actually symbolizes, which is actually a symbol of death or how some people are put to death.  Like a hangman's noose symbolizes that form of death or execution.

A fish is a much better symbol of a Christian to most other Christians, I think.  Something like this:  

image.png.ae68af58cd78b814b7e0721bfd1387bc.png

 

 

 

Vesica piscis.

Edited by mfbukowski
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5 hours ago, 3DOP said:

As bad as we Catholics are about it, trying to escape our crosses, I sometimes think that non-Catholics, because of a cultural antipathy for such a "Catholic" practice, deny themselves of a practical aid that would help them remember the potential value of suffering, and in the possibility of rejoicing in suffering, remembering it is the good will of our good God. It is hard and we need all the helps we can get.

This is where I would have to part company. As a Latter-day Saint, I have such  reminders next to me 24/7, and I take a sacrament each Sunday in which I promise to take his name on me, always remember him, and keep his commandments. Sadly, just as you point out, those things can be taken for granted, but even so they also can be there as constant reminders of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

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17 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Choosing not to display or venerate the physical representation of a cross does not mean one diminishes or rejects the meaning and efficacy of Jesus’ death on the cross.

I never said it did.

However, choosing not to display the cross is a modern development in the church, which was brought about largely (in my opinion) by the personal preferences of a couple of leaders. Those personal preferences do not equal a doctrine about rejecting the cross as a symbol.

Rejecting the most accepted symbol of Christianity does draw a division between the church and other Christian denominations. If that's what the church is going for, congratulations. They've succeeded.

13 hours ago, Ahab said:

I did that already and am now a new man, and have been since I was born again.  And instead of reflecting on that day when I left my old life behind I now walk on in my new life and in my new and better way of doing things.

One thing that was a big difference for me though was that I didn't have to actually die.  I didn't have to actually be hung up on a cross to die a mortal death.  And I don't believe Christ had to do that, either, or that it was a good thing that some other people wanted to kill him and sentenced him to death on that cross.  So instead of remembering the instrument of his death, or the fact that those people killed him by hanging his body up on that cross, instead I prefer to reflect on how Christ lived back then and continues to live even now.  The cross points me backward to a bad thing, his death, and for me it is better to just remember his life while I try to live as he lived and continues to live.

 

Paul had a strange way of saying things sometimes, and I probably do too.

The cross is also a reminder to every follower to take up their cross and follow Jesus. Seems like a positive reminder to me.

Interpreting the symbol of the cross in the way you do is purely a personal choice. You can do that if you want, but denigrating the positive ways others utilize the symbol is counter productive. You've made a couple of statements on this thread I find pretty strange, eg the "bad thing" of Christ's death. His death was both tragic and necessary. It was part of God's plan. Is God's plan a "bad thing"? The cross has been a positive symbol of Christianity for many centuries. Choosing to look at it as a negative is your issue.

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15 hours ago, Urloony said:

You're more correct than you think. 

You don't know who you're talking to here because that is never a possibility.

15 hours ago, Urloony said:

History is replete with "hijacked" symbolism, the swastika being a prime example.  Now that Godwin's law is in full effect, my aim is to point to historic examples of symbolic interpretation, not necessarily those chosen on a whim.

Okay.

15 hours ago, Urloony said:

Absolutely, we do it all the time. 

I'm not surprised.

15 hours ago, Urloony said:

No one is saying "you're wrong" for interpreting the cross or any symbol in a particular way. 

Uh, I think some people actually were, even if not phrasing their thoughts in that particular way.  Or perhaps I should say not with those particular symbols.

15 hours ago, Urloony said:

I'm simply suggesting that there are meanings for symbols that may not have been considered.  In Reed's article that was linked earlier, he mentions a story of missionaries teaching a family that had a cross displayed in their home.  The missionaries asked if they could have the cross and so the family gave it to them, thinking they would enjoy it.  When it was given to them, the missionaries destroyed it.  It never occurred to the missionaries to consider a different interpretation of the cross as a symbol from the one they were raised to believe, that of suffering or worse.  The real test of bravery would have been to ask: "what does that symbol mean to you?"       

Yes and if I were ther I would have probably also asked what the cross being on fire meant to them.  The idea of the destruction of a cross, the act of destroying a cross, would have occurred to me.

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2 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

However, choosing not to display the cross is a modern development in the church, which was brought about largely (in my opinion) by the personal preferences of a couple of leaders. Those personal preferences do not equal a doctrine about rejecting the cross as a symbol.

Rejecting the most accepted symbol of Christianity does draw a division between the church and other Christian denominations. If that's what the church is going for, congratulations. They've succeeded.

I have been reviewing references to the cross in the Journal of Discourses and Conference talks from the 1800s. So far there have been no references to it as a material object of veneration, something to wear or display in a home or put on buildings. Almost all are in reference to Christ’s suffering, narratives about the crucifixion and resurrection, and discussions on the Atonement. I have found one reference in which Brigham Young was critical of making the sign of the cross.

This is typical...

Quote

...the Bible is true and the people must believe it. Let us believe it, and then obey it; for Jesus says, " If ye love me, keep my commandments. " I do not know anything about loving God and not keeping His commandments. I do not know anything about coming to Jesus only by the law he has instituted. I do know about that. I know of the bright promises which he gave to his disciples anciently. I live in the possession of them, and glory in them and in the cross of Christ, and in the beauty and holiness that he has revealed for the salvation and exaltation of the children of men. I do wish we would live to them, and may the Lord help us. 214438 Remarks by President Brigham Young, Our Present Life -- The Spirit World At the Funeral Services of Miss Aurelia Spencer, in the 13th Ward Assembly Rooms, September 16, 1871.

I don’t believe it is on the list of The Top 100 Things Wrong With Mormonism. In my experience, most non-LDS would not even be aware that using a physical representation of the cross is not a feature of our worship unless it were pointed out by critics. Besides, there are other Christian sects that do not use the cross. 

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1 hour ago, Bernard Gui said:

I have been reviewing references to the cross in the Journal of Discourses and Conference talks from the 1800s. So far there have been no references to it as a material object of veneration, something to wear or display in a home or put on buildings. Almost all are in reference to Christ’s suffering, narratives about the crucifixion and resurrection, and discussions on the Atonement. I have found one reference in which Brigham Young was critical of making the sign of the cross.

This is typical...

I don’t believe it is on the list of The Top 100 Things Wrong With Mormonism. In my experience, most non-LDS would not even be aware that using a physical representation of the cross is not a feature of our worship unless it were pointed out by critics. Besides, there are other Christian sects that do not use the cross. 

Just because there aren't affirmative statements about using the cross as a symbol on clothing or buildings says nothing about the acceptance of early saints using the cross. I've seen pictures of LDS church buildings with cross' and of course there are images of individuals like Brigham Youngs wife wearing a cross. The book I referenced earlier by Michael Reed goes into a great deal of history about the use of the cross in the church prior to the McKay era.

Many Christians of other sects consider Mormons to be non-Christian. I can't imagine the church's rejection of the cross helps correct that impression.

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