Is it true that Mormon’s believe the Catholic Church is the church of the devil? Didn’t Joseph Smith claim that the other religions were all corrupt and an abomination in the sight of God?
Thank you for your questions.
The direct answers are:
No, and that is not what he said.
The fallacy that the Catholic Church is the church of the devil is rooted in an all too convenient misinterpretation of 1 Nephi 13 & 14. In those chapters of the Book of Mormon, Nephi is shown a vision in which he sees the world, it’s kingdoms, the Church of God, and the great and abominable church of the devil.
*“And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” *(1 Nephi 14:10)
Nephi notes that the church of the devil:
]Slays the saints of God]Desires the wealth of the world*]Takes away parts of the Gospel*]Perverts the ways of the Lord*]Blinds the eyes and hardens the hearts of men*]Gathers multitudes to fight the Lamb of God
“While the book of Revelation does not use the exact phrase “great and abominable church,” both John and Nephi use a number of similar phrases to describe it. They call it the “Mother of Harlots, and Abominations,” “mother of abominations,” and “the whore that sitteth upon many waters.” (Rev. 17:1, 5; 1 Ne. 14:10–11.)…
In either the apocalyptic sense or the historical sense, individual orientation to the Church of the Lamb or to the great and abominable church is not by membership but by loyalty. Just as there Latter-day Saints who belong to the great and abominable church because of their loyalty to Satan and his life-style, so there are members of other churches who belong to the Lamb because of their loyalty to him and his life-style. Membership is based more on who has your heart than on who has your records.
Some Latter-day Saints have erred in believing that some specific denomination, to the exclusion of all others, has since the beginning of time been the great and abominable church…some have suggested that the Roman Catholic church might be the great and abominable church of Nephi 13. This is also untenable, primarily because Roman Catholicism as we know it did not yet exist when the crimes described by Nephi were being committed…
Actually, no single known historical church, denomination, or set of believers meets all the requirements for the great and abominable church…Rather, the role of Babylon has been played by many different agencies, ideologies, and churches in many different times…” Stephen E. Robinson, “Warring against the Saints of God,” Ensign, Jan 1988, 34
As the Lord has said,
*“But it is they who do not fear me, neither keep my commandments but build up churches unto themselves to get gain, yea, and all those that do wickedly and build up the kingdom of the devil—yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that it is they that I will disturb, and cause to tremble and shake to the center." *(D&C 10:56)
The LDS view the Catholic Church, and all other churches seeking to do right, as part of the Church of the Lamb of God. The LDS Church says, as did Christ:
*“For he that is not against us is on our part.” *(Mark 9:40)
For the second question, a number of ministers visiting an LDS temple open house made “a demand for President Hinckley to justify the declaration mentioned in Joseph Smith’s testimony, as he beheld the Father and the Son, that those professors of religion were all corrupt. President Hinckley responded that the Lord did not say that.
…By reading the passage carefully, we find that the Lord Jesus Christ was referring only to that particular group of ministers in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s community who were quarreling and arguing about which church was true…Wm. Grant Bangerter, “It’s a Two-Way Street,” Ensign, July 1986, 66
To new converts of the LDS Church this month, President Hinckley said:
“You know and we know that there are many good people in other churches. There is much of good in them. Your family and your prior religious traditions may have taught you many good things and established many good habits. As the Apostle Paul said, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thes. 5:21). Bring the good things with you, keep them, and use them in the Lord’s service.” "A Perfect Brightness of Hope: To New Members of the Church,” Ensign, Oct. 2006, 3