In my office, I have six crucifixes on the wall. It started years ago when I ran into an man in a very isolated locale in central Arizona that was making primitive crucifixes. He said that they were in the style of Coptic iconography. (Apparently he had been to Egypt.) This was such a bizarre explanation, I purchased one. Since then, I have purchased crosses in Albuquerque, NM, Toledo, Spain, and Uganda.
There has lately been a push in at least 2 recent sessions at Sunstone symposiums to reevaluate the Mormon stance on symbolic crosses (discouraged, if not forbidden). In the July 2011 Ensign, a LDS General Authority gave the church’s official response. According to Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer (Of the Seventy):
All of us have passed by churches that have a cross on their steeples or cupolas, and we’ve all seen people wearing a necklace with a cross, indicating they are Christian or a member of a certain Christian denomination. Some of our new members may even continue to wear a cross, feeling that it connects them with their past or other religious traditions.
We may wonder why we Latter-day Saints don’t place a cross on our churches or wear a cross to show that we are Christians, thereby making it easier for others to identify in whom we believe. Is the cross important to our faith?
The answer is an unequivocal yes!
But . . . .
The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes what happened on the cross, but this message and meaning is within each of us and requires no external symbol to manifest our faith. Our cross is the giving up of worldly sins and following the Savior with a humble heart and an obedient spirit.
I’m not totally sure I understand this last statement. The LDS Church is full of “external symbols.” Think “CTR” rings and the “Christus” statue. Mormon kitsch is everywhere. I was recently in Spain, home of one the principal makers of the “Christus.” At a Lladro store in Madrid, there was not only a “Christus,” but a ceramic model of a Mormon temple plus a figurine of 2 Mormon missionaries.
The Ensign article provides a sidebar quote from the late President Gordon B. Hinckley to further explain the Mormon position:
I do not wish to give offsense 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. . .