Glaring Evils of Our Day and a Warning to Youth

Wed., Apr. 5, 1967, Hon. George Hansen of Idaho—quotes CR

[A1693] Mr. HANSEN of Idaho. Mr. Speaker, President David O. McKay of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, delivered a thoughtful and thought-provoking address at the opening session of the 137th annual conference of the Church held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, Thursday, April 6.

With increased youthful crime and the decline of youthful morals among a considerable segment of our young people so very much in the news these days, I believe President McKay's remarks on the subject will be of interest to all.

The speech follows:

Glaring Evils of Our Day and a Warning to Youth

My dear brethren and sisters: It is with mixed feelings that I greet you this morning, and with all my heart bid you welcome you who are assembled in the Tabernacle and all who are listening in to this opening session of the 137th Annual Conference of the Church.

I acknowledge with deep gratitude the blessings of the Lord, and express profound appreciation to the members of the Church throughout the world for their prayers in my behalf, which have upheld and sustained me. I am grateful for your loyalty and devotion, and I know that our Heavenly Father is pleased with the unselfish service of the officers and teachers of the stakes and wards, and of every man and woman who is helping to advance the cause of Truth. You are truly fellow servants of the Lord, and I extend my blessings and love to all of you.

It is a great privilege to join with you and partake of the inspiration of a General Conference of the Church. The proceedings will be widely disseminated, and I am pleased to announce that during this Conference we will usher in the use of space-age communications in carrying the messages of the gospel.

For the first time, a radio broadcast of the Sunday Morning Session of this Conference will be sent overseas via the Lani Bird Satellite, in orbit 22,000 miles above the Pacific Ocean. This historic broadcast will be heard in Hawaii, its destination, six-tenths of a second after our voices are uttered here in the Tabernacle, after traveling over 100,000 miles through space. Thus, we begin to utilize another great communication tool in the work of our Heavenly Father.

It is estimated that the April Conference will be seen and heard by the largest audience ever to witness the proceedings of a General Conference of the Church.

We are truly living in a marvelous age of history, and the work of the Lord is being carried forward throughout the world in wondrous ways. We acknowledge His goodness and His blessings to this people.

However, as I read in the daily press and national magazines of the conditions that are existing in the world about us, I become greatly concerned. I wonder whether we are so absorbed in our personal, and too-often-selfish pursuits that we have forgotten what God has done for us, and what He has said about this country. Have we forgotten the promises He has made which will bring us both victory and peace over evil if we will but accept the Lord at His word?

It seems to me that never before have the forces of evil been arrayed in such deadly formation as they are now. Few will question the fact that we are living in critical times, and that many people have lost their moorings and are being "tossed to and fro, . . . with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (Ephesians 4:14). Satan and his forces are attacking the high ideals and sacred standards which protect our spirituality, and as one of our Brethren just recently stated:

"He is encompassing us round about by encircling us with allurements and temptations which already have destroyed high standards among many people of the world, and by which he now hopes to infiltrate our ranks. By making sin popular with the world, he hopes to make it equally popular among us. In the world about us, high standards are falling, and lower ones are being set up. Some efforts are being made toward no standards at all" (Editorial, Church News, January 14, 1967).

Among the glaring evils of our day are two which seem to be most detrimental, and which must be curbed if we would preserve true Christian ideals. These are [as follows]: first, an increasing tendency to dishonor the marriage vow; and second, the moral decline and the mounting juvenile delinquency.

I am very happy and deeply grateful for the high type of young manhood and womanhood being reared in the Church, and I acknowledge that there are many worthy young men and young women throughout the world. It is because I adore youth and earnestly desire that their lives be directed along the pathways of righteousness, success, and happiness, that I call attention to to [sic] the threatening dangers that are clearly on the horizon. One cannot help being alarmed to note in local newspapers and national magazines the ever-increasing crime wave. Even children are being corrupted by it, and youth are caught in its whirlpool and are being contaminated overwhelmingly by it.

J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has repeatedly warned the nation of the spiraling crime wave in this country, calling attention to the fact that youthful offenders are responsible for 72 percent of the total arrests for crime, and that the cost of crime has reached the staggering sum of over 27 billion dollars a year!

I again call attention to Mr. Hoover's statement given at a dinner held in his honor in Chicago, Illinois, on November 24, 1964:

"What a grim and unhappy commentary on the moral climate of this great nation! The moral strength of our nation has decreased alarmingly. We must return to the teachings of God if we are to cure this sickness. These shocking statistics, together with the public's apparent indifference to them, are indicative of the false morality we are tolerating today. It is a false code which is based on the worship on things of man's own creation. It is as imperfect and feeble as a man himself! However captivating to the senses, this type of moral climate cannot give the support nor the strength which is so vital to our national survival. This breakdown in our moral standards can only render us impotent as a people and [A1694] as a nation" (end of quote). And this is from a man who is probably our nation's leading authority of crime.

Many citizens are deeply troubled over the increase in crime, the high divorce and illegitimacy rates, the increasing incidents of venereal diseases, the scandals in high office, and other symptoms of private and public dishonesty.

Is there a moral breakdown? Is there cause for alarm? The world is all about us, and the statistics we read about are frightening indeed, and they are a necessary warning. I believe that all loyal Americans are seriously concerned over the immorality, the disregard for law and order that are weakening this great land of ours.

The mission of the Church is to minimize and, if possible, eliminate these evils from the world. It is evident that we are in need of a unifying force to eliminate these evils. Such a uniting force, such an ideal is the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. It explains man's life and purpose, and has within it the vital saving elements, noble ideals, and spiritual uplift for which the heart of man is yearning.

Right-thinking, upright men and women everywhere are desirous of eliminating from our communities evil elements that are constantly disintegrating society: the liquor problem with its drunkenness, the narcotic habit with all its attendant evils, immorality, poverty, etc. The Church is seeking to make both home and community environment better and brighter.

The enemy is active. He is cunning and wily, and seeks every opportunity to undermine the foundation of the Church, and strikes wherever it is possible to weaken or to destroy. To every normal person God has given the freedom of choice. Our moral and spiritual progress depend upon the use we make of that freedom.

In the most impressive prayer ever offered, Jesus prayed for His disciples on the night that He faced Gethsemane, saying to His father,

"And Now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, . . . and I come to thee. . . .

"I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

"I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil"(John 17:11, 14–15).

Nor did He pray for His disciples alone, but, as He said:

"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their (the disciples) word."

David O. McKay