33) COMMUNISM: What guidance have leaders of the Church given in regard to the threat of Socialism and Communism?
False Political Isms
We again warn our people in America of the constantly increasing threat against our inspired Constitution and our free institutions set up under it. The same political tenets and philosophies that have brought war and terror in other parts of the world are at work amongst us in America. The proponents thereof are seeking to undermine our own form of government and to set up instead one of the forms of dictatorships now flourishing in other lands. These revolutionists are using a technique that is as old as the human race—a fervid but false solicitude for the unfortunate over whom they thus gain mastery and then enslave them.
They suit their approaches to the particular group they seek to deceive. Among the Latter-day Saints they speak of their philosophy and their plans under it as an ushering in of the United Order. Communism and all other similar isms bear no relationship whatever to the United Order. They are merely the clumsy counterfeits which Satan always devises of the gospel plan. Communism debases the individual and makes him the enslaved tool of the state to whom he must look for sustenance and religion; the United Order exalts the individual, leaves him his property, “according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs,” (D&C 51:3) and provides a system by which he helps care for his less fortunate brethren; the United Order leaves every man free to choose his own religion as his conscience directs. Communism destroys man’s God-given free agency; the United Order glorifies it. Latter-day Saints can not be true to their faith and lend aid, encouragement, or sympathy to any of these false philosophies. They will prove snares to their feet. 1
I attended a second lecture on Socialism, by Mr. Finch; and after he got through, I made a few remarks… I said I did not believe the doctrine. 2
David O. McKay
President David O. McKay, Statement on position of the Church on Communism, 1966, Read in Joseph Smith Forum Docs
First Presidency Message on Communism, 1936 Read in Joseph Smith Forum Docs
Russia enveloped with communism – a new religious freedom must come. God will overrule it, for that people must hear the truth, and truth in simplicity. Truly there is much for the church to do in the coming century.” 3
Howard W. Hunter
“You were given a great message by Elder Marion G. Romney which was inspiring and profound. He compared socialism with the United Order. I encourage you to study carefully that message. He gave much of the basic theory, the principles, the similarities and the differences between these two basically conflicting systems. As I accept his premises, logic, and conclusions, with your permission, at this time, I would like to use his message as a springboard for my own. The basic principle in his message is the same principle in mine, as already discussed – the principle of the Law of the Harvest – As a Man Sows, So Shall He Reap.
“From my own experience in business and as a lawyer and church worker, and from my firsthand observations in this country and other countries of the world, there appears to me to be a trend to shift responsibility for life and its processes from the individual to the state. In this shift there is a basic violation of the law of the harvest, or the law of justice. The attitude of “something for nothing” is encouraged. The government is often looked to as the source of wealth. There is a feeling that the government should step in and take care of one’s needs, one’s emergencies, and one’s future. Just as my friend actually became a slave to his own ignorance and bad habits by refusing to accept the responsibility for his own education and moral growth, so, also, can an entire people be imperceptibly transferred from individuals, families, and communities to the federal government…
“What is the real cause of this trend toward the welfare state, toward more socialism? In the last analysis, in my judgment, it is personal unrighteousness. When people do not use their freedoms responsibly and righteously, they will gradually lose these freedoms…
“If man will not recognize the inequalities around him and voluntarily, through the gospel plan, come to the aid of his brother, he will find that through “a democratic process” he will be forced to come to the aid of his brother. The government will take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots.” Both have last their freedom. Those who “have,” lost their freedom to give voluntarily of their own free will and in the way they desire. Those who “have not,” lost their freedom because they did not earn what they received. They got “something for nothing,” and they will neither appreciate the gift nor the giver of the gift.
“Under this climate, people gradually become blind to what has happened and to the vital freedoms which they have lost.” 4
Socialist and Communist Statements
Bruce R. McConkie
Next Moroni turns the key so that all who have ears to hear can understand what the secret combination is and can identify those who build it up. ‘For it cometh to pass,’ he says, ‘that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries.’ This is a worldwide conspiracy. It is now entrenched in many nations, and it seeks dominion over all nations. It is Godless, atheistic, and operates by compulsion. It is communism. 5
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
I voiced a warning against what we then knew as Bolshevism and Socialism, and what we now know as Communism. I thought I saw it coming, and it came.…And there is nothing that we should not do to preserve this country, and its liberties, and its free institutions.
…if [the conspiracy] comes here it will probably come in its full vigor and there will be a lot of vacant places among those who guide and direct, not only this government, but also this Church of ours. 6
- A message from the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, delivered in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah, Monday, April 6, 1942, during the closing session of the 112th Annual General Conference of the Church. The message was published in Conference Report, Apr. 1942, 88-97. ↩
- Joseph Smith, History of the Church 6:33 ↩
- David O. McKay, At Brigham Young University, reported in Church News, May 28, 1960. ↩
- Speeches of the Year 1965-1966, pp. 1-11, “The Law of the Harvest.” Devotional Address, Brigham Young University, 8 March 1966. ↩
- McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, p. 66 ↩
- J. Reuben Clark, Conference Report, p. 80. April 1952 ↩