James R. Clark, Salt Lake City, Bookcraft, 1965
Our school books should not be imported from abroad. They should be compiled and published here, and they should contain those lessons that would have the effect to teach the children the true principles in regard to our Father in heaven and his Son Jesus Christ, our Savior, and all true sciences. We trust the day is not far distant when we shall have school books of this kind. In the meantime we suggest that as few as possible of the kinds now in use be bought for our children.
In Idaho Territory the usurpations of the officers have gone from bad to worse. They there out-Herod in their disregard of the people's liberties. One of the latest movements has in view the revocation of all certificates given to school teachers who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ, which means the placing of our children, by the help of our taxes, under the tuition of those who would gladly eradicate from their minds all love and respect for the faith of their fathers. The duty of our people under these circumstances is clear; it is to keep their children away from the influence of the sophisms of infidelity and the vagaries of the sects. Let them, though it may possibly be at some pecuniary sacrifice, establish schools taught by those of our faith, where, being free from the trammels of State aid, they can unhesitatingly teach the doctrines of true religion combined with the various branches of a general education. And in this connection permit us to urge upon the Saints in all the Stakes of Zion the necessity of caring well for the education of our youth. If we are to be a powerful people in the near future, wielding potent influence for good among the peoples of the earth, we must prepare ourselves for those responsibilities, and not expect that ignorance will avail us in that day; but a knowledge of true principle, of doctrine, of law, of the arts and sciences, as well as of the Gospel, will be urgently necessary to enable to fulfill, to God's glory and the renovation of the world, the responsibilities which we believe will, by right of our calling, at that time be most assuredly ours.
If the threats which are uttered and the war that is made against the Latter-day Saints were made against any other people, they would become unsettled and discouraged. A session of Congress has not been held, and scarcely a President's message been published for years, without some threatening and inimical action or words against the majority of the people of Utah. But we have had this kind of opposition in various forms to contend with from the beginning. We should scarcely have built a house, planted a tree, opened a farm or formed a settlement, if we had allowed menaces or attacks to have deterred us. We have had to live by faith, as all the just must do. The present persecution should not be allowed to weaken us in our exertions to improve. We should live together in love; there should be union in every family circle, and harmony in every neighborhood and city. We should be cleanly in our persons, in our dress and in our habitations and surroundings. Industry should be habitual with the adults of our community, and the rising generation should be taught its lessons and be impressed with its value as a means of happiness. God has given us the earth as a dwelling place, and when mankind live as they should do, it is a delightful residence. It is our duty to adorn and beautify it to make it so lovely and attractive that angels may condescend to visit it. We should, therefore, have fruitful farms, choice orchards, well arranged gardens, and if every dwelling is surrounded by flowers it will neither detract from its beauty in the eyes of visitors, nor make it less attractive as their home to the children of the household.
In some quarters there has been ruinous neglect on the part of parents in making their homes attractive to their children. A well-ordered, lovely home, in which peace and good-will prevail, is a place of perpetual delight to those who reside there, whether old or young. Where such homes exist the young who live there are not found loafing at street corners or stores, nor spending company at late hours. Books and musical instruments are now furnishing means of instruction, amusement and enjoyment at their children to them by bonds of affection that can never be broken; and in after years those children will think of that home as the brightest and dearest spot in their memories; in their minds it will always be surrounded by a heavenly halo.
It is pleasing to notice the increased feeling of anxiety on the part of the Saints to have their children educated in schools where the doctrines of the Gospel and the precious records which God has given us can be taught and read. Our children should be indoctrinated in the principles of the Gospel from their earliest childhood. They should be made familiar with the contents of the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. These should be their chief text books, and everything should be done to establish and promote in their hearts genuine faith in God, in His Gospel and its ordinances, and in His works. But under our common school system this is not possible.
In Salt Lake City, we understand, an effort is now being made to establish a school of this character, and, we are informed, the prospect for its success is very encouraging. The Brigham Young Academy, at Provo, and the Brigham Young College, at Logan, are both doing excellent work in this direction and should be patronized and sustained by the Latter-day Saints. In no direction can we invest the means God has given us to better advantage than in the training of our children in the principles of righteousness and in laying the foundation in their hearts of that pure faith which is restored to the earth. We would like to see schools of this character, independent of the District School system, started in all places where it is possible.
"Our children should be indoctrinated in the principles of the Gospel from their earliest childhood. They should be made familiar with the contents of the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. These should be their chief text books, and everything should be done to establish and promote in their hearts genuine faith in God, in His Gospel and its ordinances, and in His works. But under our common school system this is not possible." (See full text of Epistle earlier in this volume.)
The First Presidency also had commended Brigham Young Academy in Provo and Brigham Young College in Logan for their excellent work and had called for the establishment of a Church School system "independent of the District School system, in all places where it is possible."
We feel that the time has arrived when the proper education of our children should be taken in hand by us as a people. Religious training is practically excluded from the District Schools. The perusal of books that we value as divine records is forbidden. Our children, if left to the training they receive in these schools, will grow up entirely ignorant of those principles of salvation for which the Latter-day Saints have made so many sacrifices. To permit this condition of things to exist among us would be criminal. The desire is universally expressed by all thinking people in the Church that we should have schools where the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants can be used as text books, and where the principles of our religion may form a part of the teaching of the schools. To effect this it will be necessary that funds be collected. The Church will doubtless do its share; but it cannot carry the entire burden. The Saints must be appealed to. There are hundreds of liberal-minded people among us who will be willing to contribute to this worthy object when they find the subject is receiving proper attention, and that definite and permanent arrangements are being made to establish academies of this character.
A mission call to the Southern States Mission is here changed to a call to serve in the Church School system. This letter therefore would emphasize the importance to the Church of the newly established Church School system of which Karl G. Maeser was the administrator.
It has been represented to me that your labors are needed in the Church schools that are now being established throughout the Stakes of Zion, and that your services in that direction will be more valuable to the cause of truth than a mission. I have decided to honorably release you from the call made upon you to go to the Southern States, so that you may place yourself at the disposal of Prof. K. G. Maeser, in some one of the Church Academies.
Please communicate with him, and he will inform you where you are most needed.
Your Brother, WILFORD WOODRUFF
(This circular letter to Presidents of Stakes, Bishops, and all whom it may concern marks the establishment of the week-day religious education program of the L.D.S. Church. The classes called for "a short time each afternoon after the close of district school, or for a longer time on the Saturday only wherein the first principles of the Gospel, Church history and kindred subjects shall be taught." This week-day religious education program here inaugurated has grown into the present (1966) vast Seminary and Institute program of the L.D.S. Church, including the released-time program, early morning Seminary programs, and now the Indian Seminary program of the Church. At first this program was called simply, "Religion Classes.")
(The motivation for the establishment of this program to supplement and "counteract the tendencies that grow out of a Godless education" was probably the passage on February 18, 1890 of Utah's first free public school law. This law, written by C. E. Allen, prominent member of the Congregational Church and chairman of the standing committee on education of the House of Representatives of the Territory of Utah, was in some respects, an answer to the question of religion in the public schools.)
(A debate had been going on for some time in Utah circles. Mormon and non-Mormon, as to the proper place of religion in the schools. In a convention called by the Salt Lake Ministerial Association in April, 1888 Reverend C. L. Libby, Pastor of the Methodist Church, had said: "If the Bible should not be in the public schools ... we are no more a Christian nation than we are a Pagan ..." Dr. J. F. Millspaugh, another prominent non-Mormon educator and Principal of the Salt Lake Collegiate Institute, had added: "How is the State to prevent men from becoming bad? Science will not do it ... Civilization will not do it ... What then is to be done? I answer, the State's only power in this direction, comes through careful moral training in the public schools; and this in turn, never has been, and never can be effectually carried out, except by the Christian method, with the Bible as the corner stone of all character building.")
(Utah's public schools were now (1890) to be non-denominational and secular, hence the issuance of this circular letter establishing the L.D.S. week-day religious education program and system.)
The all-absorbing motive that led the great majority of the Latter-day Saints to forsake their homes in the various nations to dwell in these mountain valleys was an ardent desire to serve the Lord more perfectly and with a better understanding. In too many instances, in the course of the years, this grand object has been lost sight of in the toil for daily existence, and less noble aims have largely taken the place of the endeavor to learn the ways of the Lord and of the efforts to walk in His paths. This benumbing influence on our spiritual life is widely felt in our homes, and more particularly affects our children, whose faith in the great latter-day work has not been developed and strengthened by the experience which their elders have had in lands beyond the borders of Zion. Nor does the training which our youth receive in the district schools increase their feelings of devotion to God and love for His cause, for, as is well-known, all teachings of a religious character are rigorously excluded from the studies permitted in these institutions.
To lessen this great evil, and counteract the tendencies that grow out of a Godless education, the Church schools of the Saints have been established. But while these accomplish great good, the sphere of their usefulness does not cover the entire field. There are many places where Church schools cannot, at present, be established; and also many Saints in those places where such schools exist who, for various reasons, cannot send their children thereto. For these causes we have deemed it prudent to suggest to the various local authorities other measures which, while not occupying the place of the Church schools, will work on the same lines, and aid in the same work in which the Church educational institutions are engaged.
We suggest that in every ward where a Church school is not established, that some brother or sister or brethren and sisters well adapted for such a responsible position by their intelligence and devotion, as well as their love for the young, be called, as on a mission, by the Bishop, after consultation with the President of the Stake, to take charge of a school wherein the first principles of the Gospel, Church history and kindred subjects shall be taught. This school to meet for a short time each afternoon after the close of the district school, or for a longer time on the Saturday only, as may in each ward be deemed most consistent with the situation of the people and most likely to secure a good attendance of the children. In some cases it will be found that the children are too wearied after their usual daily studies to take interest in a class of this kind; in others Saturday may prove to be an unsuitable day.
Where arrangements can be made it will, as a general thing, be well to secure the district school room for this purpose, so that when they take place in the afternoon, these exercises can commence immediately after the regular sessions and before the children scatter; but where this is done care must be taken to keep the two entirely separate, so that the law may not be infringed upon. Where the regular school room cannot be obtained, some building conveniently situated and as near as possible, should be secured in its stead; the object being to secure the attendance, as far as possible, of the children of all the Latter-day Saints; a strenuous effort should likewise be made to gain the hearty co-operation of the parents, as without their aid the school will measurably fail in the object of its creation.
We deem it desirable that every school thus established should be under the guidance and direction of the General Board of Education; and those brethren and sisters who accept this call will receive a license from that board to act in this capacity. Suggestions with regard to the studies, etc., will also be issued by the general board, and other means be adopted to place these classes in harmony with the method of the Church school system, of which, in fact, they will form an important part. Where it is found necessary to pay the teacher a small stipend for his services, the General Board of Education should be consulted through the Stake Board; but it is thought that the incidental expenses for fuel, etc., may, without inconvenience, be met by the ward, or by the people whose children are benefitted.
With a constant desire for the progress of all true education, We remain, with much respect, Your Brethren in the Gospel, WILFORD WOODRUFF, GEORGE Q. CANNON, JOSEPH F. SMITH
(This circular letter was designed to inaugurate a church-wide teacher training course for Sunday School teachers centered at Brigham Young Academy (now Brigham Young University) at Provo and then expanding through other Church academies to the Stakes of the Church. It is interesting for a number of reasons. Attendance at the teacher training course was to be equivalent to a call to a foreign mission. Centering the program at one institution in its initial stages would provide opportunity for experimentation with this new Church educational venture and allow for the establishment of a uniform system or method before expansion from the experimental stage. The training was not to he confined to classroom teachers but was to include Sunday School administrators and teachers of music.)
DEAR BRETHREN: During the last few years the advance made in the principles of secular education has seemed to demand like progress in the methods employed in our Sunday Schools in imparting that most important part of all true education -- indeed, its foundation and finish -- a knowledge of God and His laws. We found, however, that owing to the varied conditions by which the Sunday Schools of the Saints were surrounded and influenced, it was the wiser policy to "make haste slowly," and not to attempt to bring about too radical changes as a beginning. One step, nevertheless, seemed imperative if the schools were to progress, and that was the introduction of greater uniformity in the manner in which they were to be conducted. To effect this, an experimental normal course, with classes of five weeks' duration, was established in connection with the Brigham Young Academy of Provo. Four different classes of this course have successively met and through experience therein gained, a point has now been reached when it is deemed prudent to take the preliminary steps to extend this system to all the Stakes of Zion.
(As is evidenced by a careful reading of the text of this announcement, the Church University referred to was neither the Brigham Young Academy (now University,) which the L.D.S. Church had established in 1875 in Provo, nor the Latter-day Saints College which the Church had established in Salt Lake City but a projected Church University which it was planned should become "the head of our Church School system." Evidently this Church University, according to this announcement had a short life of one academic year after which this announcement marked its demise. The L.D.S. First Presidency thereupon announced their support of the University of Utah, a "State" institution which had been funded by the "Mormons" less than three years after their arrival in Utah under the title of the University of Deseret.)
For several years past, the Presiding Authorities of the Church, acting in conjunction with the General Board of Education, have operated toward the establishment of a Church University, this institution to become the head of our Church School System, and to be equipped for the work of higher instruction. During the past two years, steps were taken toward founding and endowing such an institution as would meet the needs of the people of Utah, and particularly of the Latter-day Saints, as a denominational school of high grade; and on the 8th of September, 1893, a circular was issued announcing the opening of the Church University. The work of the institution was conducted during the academic year 1893-4, with abundant proofs of success; and all connected with the management of the Church University had reason to anticipate for the school a brilliant future.
There was no intention on the part of the promoters of the Church University to arouse any unfair competition or rivalry between that school and the University of Utah; nevertheless, the existence of two institutions in the same city, with many courses in common, rendered the paralleling of work, and the consequent duplication of expenditure, absolutely unavoidable. Time has very plainly demonstrated the fact that Utah, while abundantly able under present conditions to maintain one well equipped institution for higher instruction, cannot adequately support many such, either in material supplies of means, or in students prepared for university courses of study.
After due consideration of the present conditions and future prospects of educational affairs in Utah, the presiding quorums of the Church have deemed it wise to bring the work of the Church University to a close, that greater energy, resulting from concentration of effort, may be devoted to the development of our Territorial University. Toward the University of Utah our people may properly indulge a feeling of pride; the institution was established in the early days of Utah's history; it was incorporated, indeed, under the name of the University of Deseret within less than three years after the first settlement of this region. It has grown in spite of the numerous difficulties incident to pioneer existence, to its present fair proportions, and to the attainment of its forty-fifth year, with a steady and healthful progress which inspires strong confidence for its future. Utah has need of such an institution of learning; indeed there appears no reason why our University should not become the great inter-mountain center for the diffusion of knowledge in advanced and specialized branches. We hope that the day is not far distant when the youth of Utah will no longer need to journey afar in search of professional instruction; but that our own State will offer her sons and daughters ample facilities in all departments of intellectual progress.
We recommend to the Latter-day Saints that they faithfully devote their influence and energy, such as might have been claimed by the University of the Church, had wisdom dictated the continuance of that institution, to the University of Utah. We trust that our people will sustain the Territorial University by their good words and works, and particularly by their patronage in sending thither their sons and daughters who are prepared to become students in the institution, which by law is constituted as the head of the public school system of Utah.
We feel assured that the moral influence of the University will prove of salutary effect, and that all due attention will be paid to the training of students in the studies of true moral citizenship as well as in the subjects of purely secular instruction. However, as the University is a public possession, the property of people of many sects and creeds, it would be manifestly improper to allow any species of sectarian religious instruction to be imparted within its walls, or under its auspices. In view of these facts, and knowing, as we do, that many of the Latter-day Saints are imbued with a strong desire to have their youth instructed in theological tenets co-ordinately with secular training, we call your attention to the fact that the Latter-day Saints' College, an institution which stands among the foremost of our Church Schools, is conducted in close proximity to the University, and that the very full courses of daily instruction in Theology will be offered at such hours, and under such conditions, that Latter-day Saint students who are attending the University, and others not regularly attending the College, may pursue in the latter such of these sacred studies as their ability and opportunities will permit. It is the aim of our local and general educational boards to strengthen the theological department of the College, increasing and augmenting the courses, to meet all requirements.
Beloved Brethren and Sisters in Turkey:
It is probable that before long some elders will be sent there again to labor, and we hope you will receive them as the servants of the living God sent to you to minister in the ordinances of life and salvation for your good and for the good of the nations in that far off part of the world. For the Gospel of Christ must be preached in all places according to the will of the Father before the end will come. Dear Brethren and Sisters, you are inclined to be impatient, as though you alone had troubles to endure. This you should not be. The saints have troubles in all the world, some more, some less, but all have to exercise patience and by so doing show their devotion to God and His cause, and their works will in time shine forth out of the darkness that surrounds the world. God will be glorified through our labors and our love of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
Satan is pressing the saints everywhere possible. He knows his time is short and he loses no opportunity to oppress the saints and if possible to overcome. This we know he cannot, but he will try, and we must resist evil and do good, labor faithfully and diligently and never tire, and although we cannot do as we like, let us not forget that this work is of God. He guides and he will inspire his servants to move at the right time and in the right place. Wherefore, let us love, respect and pray for His servants that they may have the Holy Spirit to guide them and that the saints may have the Comforter to help them to understand their counsels and to carry them out. This work is great. We mean the work of redemption, and the laborers, are few in comparison to the greatness of the work. Calls for elders and Gospel knowledge are extensive and where the nations seem ripe to harvest many are sent and many precious souls are redeemed from the false doctrines and traditions of the world and as soon as the way seems clear the work in Turkey will be pushed forward. For, to the land of Palestine are made great promises, and if you remain faithful you will be instrumental by your prayers, faith and works to help fulfil many of the glorious promises.
Teach your children as best you can the Gospel of Christ, so that when they are eight years old they can be baptized and confirmed members of His Church, for so has God commanded us in these days. And until you can be gathered to one place where you can have the home rule, the laws and privileges of the country affords, let your children attend the Protestant schools and learn to read and write and do the best you can for them, and God will give the children sufficient of His Spirit to discern good from evil. Let father and mother teach and exhort them at home about the Gospel, and the Protestants will have no power over the children to lead them astray. God has much good among all nations and this he will consecrate for the upbuilding of His kingdom. We are all His children and He has joy in the good works and in the progress of His children and the saints above all should be fully tolerant and observant, and kind and good, always speaking the truth, do right, and above all, be virtuous in thought and deed.
I am directed by the First Presidency to enquire if it would be agreeable to your feelings and consistent with your circumstances to fill a mission of about one year's duration, not in a foreign land, but in the educational interests of the youth of Zion. The proposition is this, that you accept as a mission the duty of acting as an instructor in the Academy of the Oneida Stake of Zion for the school year 1898-9 (which commences on the second Monday in September) that you do so without other pay than that your board and lodging will be provided, and your labors will be accounted so much missionary work to your credit in building up the kingdom of God on the earth. Kind]y give this your prayerful consideration and answer as promptly as your circumstances will permits.
(Teachers for Church schools and Church organizations needed training as teachers. This should be accomplished in Church schools.)
We are seriously impressed by the circumstances that we are unable to secure a sufficient number of teachers for our schools, and in view of the fact that the demand is so greatly in excess of the supply, we deem it wisdom to urge upon Stake Presidents the necessity of encouraging as many of the Saints as can to send their sons and daughters to our Church Schools that they may be educated in them.
This matter should be brought before the Bishops of the wards that they also may make special efforts to secure for these schools as many students as they can in order that the number of teachers among us may be increased.
There is a growing demand for a higher grade of teachers than we have and we therefore urge upon the brethren of the Priesthood that they encourage young people to remain in our schools, if they possibly can, until they have finished their course.
(This letter of announcement to the L.D.S. Church members indicates that since a ruling of the Attorney General of Utah and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction had made the use of public school buildings for religious instruction classes unconstitutional, officers and members of the Church having charge of such religious education programs were to comply with the law. A separation of Church and State in education is here again confirmed by the First Presidency.)
In answer to inquiries that have been made relative to our attitude in relation to the holding of religion classes in the public school buildings, we deem it proper to put forth the following statement:
To begin with, we wish it distinctly understood that we are not in favor of, but are emphatically opposed to, denominational teachings in our public schools. We are proud of that splendid system of schools, and do not desire that they should be interfered with in any way whatever. For religious and devotional training, other institutions are provided, by our Church as well as by other churches, and we cannot too strongly urge that the two systems continue to be kept entirely separate and apart.
The religion classes instituted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are designed as auxiliaries of our Church schools, in which, along with the usual branches of learning, the principles of the gospel are inculcated; the object being to add to, not take from, the education received in secular institutions; moral, devotional and faith-promoting training that cannot, and must not, be included in the curriculum of the public schools; but which the Saints desire their children to receive.
In a number of settlements these classes have been held in public schoolhouses, especially where the population is largely Latter-day Saints, but there has been no intention to introduce religious teachings in the public schools, nor has it been so introduced. The use of the school buildings was merely for the sake of convenience, and to facilitate the assembling of the classes, many of whose numbers were students in the schools. The question involved was submitted to the State Superintendent of Schools, also to the Attorney-General, and they were requested to give their opinions upon the matter of holding these classes in the school buildings after the schools were dismissed. Those officials were of the opinion that the statutes gave trustees the right to let the schoolhouses for other than school purposes when it would not interfere with the regular school work. Our instructions to those in charge of the religion classes have always been to allow sufficient time to intervene between the dismissal of the schools and the opening of the classes, so as to avoid any infringement upon the regular school work, and give all a chance to withdraw who did not desire to attend the classes.
The State Superintendent of Schools has since expressed the view that the statute on the subject of letting school buildings for other than school work is unconstitutional, and many of our fellow citizens, it seems, have become alarmed lest the public schools should be endangered by the religion classes. While we regard this fear as groundless, and are not conscious of having done anything by instructions previously given, or otherwise, to imperil in the least the independence of the schools, we do not wish to cause our fellow citizens any uneasiness upon this score, and we desire, as ever, to be in harmony with the statutes of our state and nation. We therefore advise the workers in the religion classes to withdraw from the public school buildings, wherever they are being used by them, and hold such classes in other places that may be available.
We sincerely hope that this will not retard or hinder the work being done in these classes. We desire to encourage the religion class workers to continue their praiseworthy efforts to teach our children the saving principles of the gospel of Christ and likewise how to "pray and walk uprightly before the Lord." The bishops should use their best endeavors to provide suitable places wherein these classes can meet and to make them more than ever an aid to the spiritual and moral education of the children of the Latter-day Saints. JOSEPH F. SMITH, JOHN R. WINDER, ANTHON H. LUND, First Presidency.
It has been charged that "Mormonism" is opposed to education. The history of the Church and the precepts of its leaders are a sufficient answer to that accusation. Joseph Smith, the first President of the Church, founded schools, and attended them as a student, as did many of his followers under his advice and influence. Brigham Young, who succeeded Joseph Smith, emulated him as a founder and patron of schools; and every subsequent President of the Church, his associates, and the people generally, have been equally zealous in that cause. In the course of their exodus from Illinois, our people built log school houses while halting on the Missouri river, then the frontier of the nation; and after they had traversed a thousand miles of wilderness, and planted their infant colony in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, school houses were among the first buildings they erected. Such has been the course pursued in every "Mormon" colony.
The State of Utah, now dotted with free schools, academies, colleges, and universities, institutions which have given her marked educational prominence, furnishes indisputable evidence that her people -- mostly "Mormons" --are friends and promoters of education. To the Latter-day Saints, salvation itself, under the atonement of Christ, is a process of education. That knowledge is a means of eternal progress, was taught by Joseph Smith: -- It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance. -- A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge. The glory of God is intelligence.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds to the doctrine of the separation of church and state; the non-interference of church authority in political matters; and the absolute freedom and independence of the individual in the performance of his political duties. If at any time there has been conduct at variance with this doctrine, it has been in violation of the well-settled principles and policy of the Church.
We declare that from principle and policy, we favor:
The absolute separation of church and state;
No domination of the state by the church;
No church interference with the functions of the state;
No state interference with the functions of the church, or with the free exercise of religion;
The absolute freedom of the individual from the domination of ecclesiastical authority in political affairs;
The equality of all churches before the law.
The re-affirmation of this doctrine and policy, however, is predicated upon the express understanding that politics in the states where our people reside shall be conducted as in other parts of the Union: that there shall be no interference by the state with the Church, nor with the free exercise of religion. Should political parties make war upon the Church, or menace the civil, political, or religious rights of its members as such, against a policy of that kind, by any political party or set of men whatsoever, we assert the inherent right of self-preservation for the Church, and her right and duty to call upon all her children, and upon all who love justice and desire the perpetuation of religious liberty, to come to her and to stand with her until the danger shall have passed. And this openly, submitting the justice of our cause to the enlightened judgment of our fellow-men, should such an issue unhappily arise. We desire to live in peace and confidence with our fellow-citizens of all political parties and of all religions.
It is sometimes urged that the permanent realization of such a desire is impossible, since the Latter-day Saints hold as a principle of their faith, that God now reveals himself to man, as in ancient times; that the priesthood of the Church constitutes a body of men who have, each for himself, in the sphere in which he moves, special right to such revelation; that the President of the Church is recognized as the only person through whom divine communication will come as law and doctrine to the religious body; that such revelation may come at any time, upon any subject, spiritual or temporal, as God wills; and, finally, that, in the mind of every faithful Latter-day Saint, such revelation, in whatsoever it counsels, advises or demands, is paramount. Furthermore, it is sometimes pointed out, that the members of the Church are looking for the actual coming of a Kingdom of God on
earth, that shall gather all the kingdoms of the world into one visible, divine empire, over which the risen Messiah shall reign.
All this, it is held, renders it impossible for a "Mormon" to give true allegiance to his country, or to any earthly government.
We refuse to be bound by the interpretations which others place upon our beliefs, or by what they allege must be the practical consequences of our doctrines. Men have no right to impute to us what they think may be the logical deduction from our beliefs, but which we ourselves do not accept. We are to be judged by our own interpretations and by our own actions, not by the logic of others, as to what is, or may be, the result of our faith. We deny that our belief in divine revelation, or our anticipation of the coming kingdom of God weakens in any degree the genuineness of our allegiance to our country. When the divine empire will be established, we may not know any more than other Christians who pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven;" but we do know that our allegiance and loyalty to our country are strengthened by the fact that while awaiting the advent of the Messiah's kingdom, we are under a commandment from God to be subject to the powers that be, until He comes "whose right it is to reign."
"Mormonism" is in the world for the world's good. Teaching truth, inculcating morality, guarding the purity of the home, honoring authority and government, fostering education, and exalting man and woman, our religion denounces crime, and is a foe to tyranny in every form. "Mormonism" seeks to uplift, not to destroy society. She joins hands with the civilization of this age. Proclaiming herself a special harbinger of the Savior's second coming, she recognizes in all the great epochs and movements of the past, steps in the march of progress leading up to the looked for millennial reign. "Mormonism" lifts an ensign of peace to all people. The predestined fruits of her proposed system are the sanctification of the earth and the salvation of the human family.
And now, to all the world. Having been commanded of God, as much as lieth in us, to live peaceably with all men, -- we, in order to be obedient to the heavenly commandment, send forth this Declaration, that our position upon the various questions agitating the public mind concerning us may be made known. We desire peace, and will do all in our power on fair and honorable principles to promote it. Our religion is interwoven with our lives, it has formed our character, and the truth of its principles is impressed upon our souls. We submit to you, our fellow-men, that there is nothing in those principles that calls for execration, no matter how widely in some respects they may differ from your conceptions of religious truth. Certainly there is nothing in them that may not stand within the wide circle of modern toleration of religious thought and practice. To us these principles are crystallizations of truth. They are as dear to us as your religious conceptions are to you. In their application to human conduct, we see the world's hope of redemption from sin and strife, from ignorance and unbelief. Our motives are not selfish; our purposes not petty and earth-bound; we contemplate the human race -- past, present, and yet to come -- as immortal beings, for whose salvation it is our mission to labor; and to this work, broad as eternity and deep as the love of God, we devote ourselves, now, and forever. Amen. JOSEPH F. SMITH, JOHN R. WINDER, ANTHON H. LUND,
Bless your soul, there is not, I suppose, an organization having for its purpose the education and instruction of the people, and especially of their young, who award to their children greater liberty and freedom for proper exercise, freedom of will, or freedom to do that which is right, than this Church does. But not freedom to do evil, to waste their precious moments, not freedom to learn evil deeds and to inculcate evil thoughts, and to build up pernicious and wicked character! No time should be allowed for that.
Let us see to it that our children are so taught by their parents on the Sabbath day, that they will hold sacred everything that is intended for the public good. Let us teach them that that which belongs to another belongs to another, and not to them. Let us teach them that they must not do what I observed being done on one occasion. A gang of boys walking along past a widow's home, one of them with a cudgel in his hand. In a spiteful, contemptuous way, he walked up to the few pickets that remained on the fence, and ripped them off. He found some flowers where he could reach them from the fence, and pulled them down and marred the vines. They would steal into the orchard of their neighbors and rob it of its fruits. They considered it perfectly right to use their freedom to go into their neighbor's melon patch, and not only take what they could eat, but destroy as many more melons as they desired. These are things our children should not do.
It was a wise action to place this reform movement under the immediate charge of the Relief Societies -- the mothers in Israel. For upon them, the burden of dress reform, at least, if not of social dancing, must necessarily rest most effectively. They are the managers, the exemplars, in this matter. It is the home influences that, above all others, should direct in moral, social and dress reforms. The home should lead in the work being done by the organizations which are only auxiliary to the home. They exist for the sole reason that it is necessary that the home should be helped in a great measure in the care and education of the children. Schools are instituted to help the home, not to domineer and direct it. But the home must be what it should be, and not as it is in hundreds of cases. It is almost past belief that there should be mothers who take pride in seeing their daughters go dressed immodestly, if not indecently, but there are such mothers, and their actions are astounding if not execrable.
We complain that our daughters marry men who are not worthy of being married in the only right way -- in the temple. The home is at fault. Our daughters are permitted to mingle with men who are not worthy to go into a temple.
We complain that our daughters go, shall I say, half-naked before the public. It is an outrage, and should not be tolerated by Latter-day Saints under any conditions. But the home is at fault again. There is neglect in the home, and the principal part of that neglect, in my opinion, is due to the disregard of the mother, and the crudeness of the care for her daughter.
Fathers and mothers in Israel, will you try to teach your children that there is no other name given under heaven by which we have such a glorious hope of the resurrection from death to life, or assurance in the principle and promise of eternal exaltation in the Kingdom of God but that of Jesus Christ, the Son of God? We are a Christian people, we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and we feel that it is our duty to acknowledge him as our Savior and Redeemer. Teach it to your children. Teach them that the Prophet Joseph Smith restored again to the earth the priesthood that was held by Peter and James and John, who were ordained under the hands of the Savior himself. Teach them that Joseph Smith, the Prophet, when only a boy, was chosen and called of God to lay the foundations of the Church of Christ in the world, to restore the holy priesthood, and the ordinances of the gospel which are necessary to qualify men to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Teach your children to respect their neighbors. Teach your children to respect their bishops and the teachers that come to their homes to teach them. Teach your children to respect old age, gray hairs, and feeble frames. Teach them to venerate and to hold in honorable remembrance their parents, and help all those who are helpless and needy. Teach your children, as you have been taught yourselves, to honor the priesthood, which you hold, the priesthood which we hold as elders in Israel. Teach your children to honor themselves, teach your children to honor the principle of presidency, by which organizations are held intact and by which strength and power for the well-being and happiness and upbuilding of the people is preserved. Teach your children that when they go to school they should honor their teachers in that which is true and honest, in that which is manly and womanly and is worth while; and also teach them to avoid the bad examples of their teachers out of school and the bad principles of men and women who are sometimes teachers in schools. Teach your children to honor the law of God and the law of the state, and the law of our country. Teach them to respect and hold in honor those who are chosen by the people to stand at their head and execute justice and administer the law. Teach them to be loyal to their country, loyal to righteousness and uprightness and honor, and thereby they will grow up to be men and women choice above all the men and women of the world.
(In 1938 the First Presidency had expressed their concern over some of the content of educational materials and presentations in the classrooms of the Church and had expressed that concern through the instructions given at Aspen Grove in Provo Canyon on August 8, 1938, which instructions appear earlier in this volume.)
"As forecast by President Clark, speaking for the First Presidency at Aspen Grove on August 8, 1938, the First Presidency has, after careful and mature deliberations, reached the following conclusions."
"1. Institutes and Seminaries will hereafter confine themselves exclusively to the following work."
"a. Fostering and promoting the work of the auxiliary organizations of the Church. . . ."
"b. Teaching the principles of the Gospel as set out in the doctrines of the Church."
In this work the teachers will use, -- The Old and New Testaments The Book of Mormon The Doctrine and Covenants The Pearl of Great Price
"These four constitute the `Standard Works of the Church' and are the ultimate authority on all matters of doctrine, save where the Lord shall have given or shall give further revelation through the prescribed source for such, the President of the Church."
"Teachers will do well to give up indoctrinating themselves in the Sectarianisms of the new Divinity School Theology. . . ."
"In their teaching, the teachers will use verbiage and terminology which have become classic in the Church. . ."
"Furthermore, teachers will not advance their own theories about the Gospel or Gospel principles."