Modern Mormons often claim to be philo-Judaic through kinship claims and belief in a shared persecuted history. However, we have also inherited a Christian tradition of anti-Judaism which is pervasive in the church. Our insulation from larger trends in Christianity has also made us less reflective about our language about Jews and Judaism as other Christian denominations (though certainly not all) have reeled from the scandal of WWII and the role that Christian theology, supersessionism, and Biblical scholarship played in that scandal and propped up the scientific racism of the 19th and early 20th century.
Mormon anti-Judaism plays out in a number of different ways, but one of the most pernicious is the treatment of the Judaism of the New Testament, especially the Pharisaic rivals of Jesus in the Gospels. Sunday School is one anti-Jewish remark after another. In Mormon NT discussions, the Pharisees embody all that is wrong with Judaism (made worse when the Pharisees are seen as either the antecedents to or identical with Rabbinic Judaism). Jesus is depicted as the first Christian. He got rid of those silly laws. Jesus’s Judaism is maybe acknowledged, but the impact of this historical insight is rarely understood. Jesus is seen as having been born a Jew, but he died a Christian.
Mormon anti-Jewish language is used in the rhetoric for constructing “good” Mormonism. Liberal Mormons are most often guilty of depicting their conservative kin as “pharisaic,” or, too Jewish. The Jew represents what is wrong with some versions of Mormonism, a degenerate, backward form that misses the true light. But liberals are by no means the only ones guilty of this kind of language. Institute manuals, NT commentaries, and other LDS official and unofficial resources rely heavily on a particularly protestant narrative which is rooted in anti-Judaism. We need to start to be critical of the ways that we have inherited and continue to deploy such language in our self-construction and historical memory.