Why don’t Mormons wear the cross or display it on their churches? This is a common question we are asked. Some people assume that Christ’s death on the cross does not matter to us or we must not be Christians.
On the contrary, it bears great significance, but we believe that His suffering on the cross was one element of The Atonement and He endured even greater pain in Gethsemane as He bled from every pore, suffering for the sins and afflictions of every person who lived or ever would live. Jesus Christ also lived for us, teaching us by His perfect example, atoned for our sins, died for us, and overcame death and Hell for us. To us, the cross is a symbol of Christ’s death and we rejoice in His resurrection.
In a message from President Gordon B. Hinckley, one of our prophets who passed away not too long ago, he said:
Following the renovation of the Mesa Arizona Temple some years ago, clergy of other religions were invited to tour it on the first day of the open house period. Hundreds responded. In speaking to them, I said we would be pleased to answer any queries they might have. Among these was one from a Protestant minister.
Said he: “I’ve been all through this building, this temple which carries on its face the name of Jesus Christ, but nowhere have I seen any representation of the cross, the symbol of Christianity. I have noted your buildings elsewhere and likewise find an absence of the cross. Why is this when you say you believe in Jesus Christ?”
I responded: “I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian colleagues who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the Living Christ.”
He then asked: “If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?”
I replied that the lives of our people must become the most meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship.
We are not offended by those who choose the cross as a symbol of their faith, but we do not feel it is a requirement to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.