I found some interesting quotes from church leaders over the last 150 years or so. They have different opinions about what persecution and acceptance really mean. Everyone has his or her own opinion. See what you think.
“When the spirit of persecution, the spirit of hatred, of wrath, and malice ceases in the world against this people, it will be the time that this people have apostatized and joined hands with the wicked, and never until then; which I pray may never come.” President Brigham Young, May 31, 1857, JD4:327
“The Lord says, ‘Woe unto you when all men speak well of you.’ Sometimes I have known the papers say this and that good thing about the ‘Mormons,’ and I have said, ‘What’s up? Are we getting wicked, that the world loves us?’” George A. Smith, First Counselor in the First Presidency, November 20, 1870, JD 13:297
“The great change that has come about since the days of my boyhood in the general attitude toward this people is almost beyond contemplation or expectation. I can remember when I was the junior member of the Council of the Twelve, forty-eight years ago this month, that during my first trips away from home, almost invariably, wherever I went I found opposition. I found ill-will toward the Latter-day Saints. I found men so full of bitterness toward us that they said if they had their way the "Mormons" would be shut up in their tabernacle and the guns of Fort Douglas be turned upon them. Today, wherever I go I find the opposite feeling; I find good-will; I find kindness; I find readiness and willingness on the part of newspapers to give us favorable public notices. Anything we wish to say they are willing to print. . . . Today, we are getting very favorable publicity. . . . To have over three thousand newspapers; to have the Associated Press; to have the Hearst papers, and to have western papers—especially in Utah and in Idaho—the newspapers generally, give us such extended and favorable articles as this immense volume contains, is a cause of deep gratitude on my part and that of my associates of the General Authorities of the Church.” President Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, October 1930
“Ours is the blessing to live in a better season. The terrible persecutions of the past are behind us. Today we are looked upon with respect by people across the world.” PresidentGordon B. Hinckley, October 5, 1996
“Those who observe us say that we are moving into the mainstream of religion. We are not changing. The world’s perception of us is changing. We teach the same doctrine. We have the same organization. We labor to perform the same good works. But the old hatred is disappearing, the old persecution is dying. People are better informed. They are coming to realize what we stand for and what we do.” Gordon B. Hinckley, October 6, 2001
Now in the year 2012, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson is one of the 10 "Most Admired Men," according to an annual poll of Americans by Gallup.
Some of the church leaders quoted above indicate public respect or acceptance means apostasy. On the other hand, some believe public popularity, favorable notice, and publicity means righteousness and a better season. I wonder which is true?
We, as a church, are moving into the mainstream of religion, at least from the view of those who observe us from the outside. If we are moving into the mainstream of religion and following the trends of society, how could we possibly be teaching the same doctrines that Joseph Smith restored? How could we be living the doctrines of Christ and yet fit in so well with the world?
Is the church really the same as it was 180 years ago, or is it just following the world? Are we more accepted because the world is becoming more righteous? Or are we apostatizing from the truths that used to bring persecution?
What do we stand for now that causes the world to like us so much? If we are currently teaching the same gospel that Joseph Smith restored, why does the world admire us today, but persecuted the saints in former times?
Why was Joseph Smith hated, despised, and persecuted? Why was his life taken? Through all generations, why were prophets of God reviled, rejected, persecuted, or killed? The world didn’t seem to like Jesus either; even His life was sacrificed.
Why is the church more respected and well liked by the world today? Why has President Thomas S. Monson been chosen as one of the 10 "Most Admired Men," according to the Gallup poll? Does any of these trends seem to alarm or cause concern to anyone? Do we live the gospel of Jesus Christ or follow mainstream religion? How do we know? Are there any indicating signs?
Jesus declared, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also”. John 15:18-20