07) COMMUNAL: Should the word “communal” or “communism” be used when describing the Lord’s Law of Consecration and Stewardship or the United Order?


Prophetic Statements

Brigham Young

“We have enough and to spare, at present in these mountains, of schools where young infidels are made because the teachers are so tender-footed that they dare not mention the principles of the gospel to their pupils, but have no hesitancy in introducing into the classroom the theories of Huxley, of Darwin, or of Miall, and the false political economy which contends against co-operation and the United Order. This course I am resolutely and uncompromisingly opposed to, and I hope to see the day when the doctrines of the gospel will be taught in all our schools, when the revelation of the Lord will be our texts, and our books will be written and manufactured by ourselves and in our own midst. As a beginning in this direction I have endowed the Brigham Young Academy at Provo.” [1]

David O. McKay

The position of this Church on the subject of Communism has never changed. We consider it the greatest Satanical threat to peace, prosperity, and the spread of God’s work among men that exists on the face of the earth. In this connection, we are continually being asked to give our opinion concerning various patriotic groups or individuals who are fighting Communism and speaking up for freedom. Our immediate concern, however, is not with parties, groups, or persons, but with principles. We therefore commend and encourage every person and every group who are sincerely seeking to study Constitutional principles and awaken a sleeping and apathetic people to the alarming conditions that are rapidly advancing about us. We wish all of our citizens throughout the land were participating in some type of organized self-education in order that they could better appreciate what is happening and know what they can do about it. . . . No member of this Church can be true to his faith, nor can any American be loyal to his trust, while lending aid, encouragement or sympathy to any of these false philosophies, for if he does they will prove snares to his feet. [2]

Joseph Fielding Smith

Communism as it is practiced relieves the individual of all his inherent rights bestowed upon him by divine agency. It makes of him a pawn of the state and removes from him his freedom. He is denied the right of independent action. Even his home life is disturbed and is controlled by the state. All freedom of expression is gone and fear takes the place of love; obedience is forced, not voluntarily given. In the Lord’s plan, the inalienable rights of the individual are strictly and jealously protected. What he does he does voluntarily, not by force. His stewardship is given into his own hands and is of his own choice. His wants are carefully guarded and he is at liberty to surround himself with such comforts and conveniences as suit his fancy. His work is entirely voluntary and what he does is based in love of his fellow man. Such a plan naturally is for the salvation, temporally and spiritually, of man, and to the glory of God. 1

Harold B. Lee

Many years ago when I, under assignment from the First Presidency, accompanied Elder Melvin J. Ballard of the Council of the Twelve throughout the Church to make the initial announcement of the movement known as the Church welfare plan, he was asked everywhere: “Is this the beginning of the united order?” And to all such questioners Brother Ballard’s answer was the same: “No, it is not the beginning of the united order, but it may be that in this movement the Lord may be giving His people an examination to see how far they have come toward a condition where they might live as one.”

As I have thought about that question, and as I have thought about his answer, I have had difficulty understanding how a people who are not able to sacrifice to a point where they can pay a tenth of their interest annually and abstain from two meals on the first Sunday of the month and pay that as an offering for the care of the needy can believe that we are more than 10 percent ready for the united order.

Furthermore, I have difficulty understanding that they would be able to live in the united order were it to be instituted in this day. I also have grave doubts that prosperous times will make possible that happy day spoken of. I fear we must yet see more difficult and trying times than any we have passed through before such a day can come. . . . Our present welfare plan could well be the “setting-up” exercises to see how prepared this church is to live this plan [the united order]. [3]

There are some things of which I am sure, and [one] is that contrary to the belief and mistaken ideas of some of our people, the united order will not be a socialistic or communistic setup; it will be something distinctive, and yet it will be more capitalistic in its nature than either socialism or communism, in that private ownership and individual responsibility will be maintained. I am sure also that when it comes it will come from the leaders of this church whom you sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators, and will not come from a man who does not occupy that position. It will not come as a political program, legislated by men not possessed of that authority. I am also convinced that the time is here when Zion must put on her beautiful garments preparatory for the second coming of the Savior, and I believe firmly that that preparation is in progress. I am likewise persuaded that the Church welfare plan is contributing mightily to that preparation. [4]

The Lord established the united order; then after the people had shown that they were not righteous enough to live the law, He withdrew it until after the redemption of Zion, as you find in D&C 105 . So the Lord will do with principles and practices which He has set up when the people are no longer able to abide them, because it would seem that it is better we should lose the blessings of obedience than that we should incur the penalties of disobedience. After any such withdrawal, the Lord Himself, through His appointed mouthpiece, will declare the restoration at the proper time. [5]

… Now a final word about one of the great dangers of some of the widely disseminated doctrines of the enemies of freedom, which in essence have been characterized by our beloved prophet-statesman, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., as but ‘a clumsy attempt of Satan to counterfeit the Lord’s plan of the United Order, as defined in the Holy Scriptures.’ Our present welfare plan could well be the ‘setting-up’ exercises to see how prepared this church is to live this plan, so that, as was the joyous realization of a people on this continent, as recorded in an ancient scripture we call the Book of Mormon, after they were all converted to the Lord, ‘there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all … partakers of the heavenly gift’ and ‘surely there could not be a happier people’ on the face of the earth (4 Ne 1:3,16), by living fully the law of sacrifice and consecration. 2

Ezra Taft Benson

It has been erroneously concluded by some that the united order is both communal and communistic in theory and practice because the revelations speak of equality. Equality under the united order is not economic and social leveling as advocated by some to day. Equality, as described by the Lord, is “equal[ity] according to [a man’s] family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs” [6].

Is the united order a communal system? Emphatically not. It never has been and never will be. It is “intensely individualistic.” Does the united order eliminate private ownership of property? No. “The fundamental principle of this system [is] the private ownership of property” [7]. [8]

“Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom” (D&C 105:5). Much has been written about this law and its attempted implementation in the early history of the Church; and much deception has taken root, even among some of our members, because of misinformed opinion or misguided interpretations. Some view it as merely an economic alternative to capitalism or the free enterprise system, others as an outgrowth of early communal experiments in America. Such a view is not only shortsighted but tends to diminish in importance a binding requirement for entrance into the celestial kingdom. The law of consecration is a celestial law, not an economic experiment. [9]

Opposing Statements


Supporting Statements

George Q. Cannon

At the present time, in the western States especially, men are greatly concerned about the element known as Communism, which has taken possession of the minds of a numerous class of the people. The working classes are becoming very dissatisfied, and men are trembling for fear of what will come upon the nation. One of the strongest arguments that was made in favor of keeping up the United States army up to its present numbers was, that there would probably be riots in large cities and in populous centres, which would require the presence of the military acting as police to quell. And had it not been for this evil the army would have been cut down. But a good many men were anxious to have it increased, deeming it necessary for the preservation of life and property. When we reflect upon this it shows how changed have become the affairs of our nation, when it is deemed necessary to appeal to military power to maintain good order in the Republic. There can be no surer sign of the decay of a republic than when human life and property and liberty cannot be sustained by the masses of the people, and the military power, the ranks of which are filled with hired soldiers, has to be appealed to sustain good order in the midst of the people. Let such a state of thing continue and there would soon be an end of true republicanism.

In this respect we also have our difficulties. The business of furnishing employment for our poor people so that our streets shall not be filled with idle men and boys, has no doubt pressed, and will continue to press itself upon the minds of the leading men of this Territory. But in comparison with the magnitude of this question elsewhere, it seems to sink into insignificance here. It is a matter of small moment, comparatively speaking, in this Territory; because the great bulk of the people have employment, and can easily furnish themselves with employment. However, this is a matter that should receive attention and from those, too, who care for the people and have their welfare at heart. No doubt everything will be done that should be to preserve good government throughout this Territory, and throughout all these valleys which are inhabited by the Latter-day Saints. The fact is, the time will come, concerning which there has been so much said in the past, when it will devolve upon the people of these mountains to maintain good government, to uphold constitutional rights; and we are receiving the training necessary to fit and prepare us for that great and glorious destiny. I have no doubt that the day will come, and come speedily, when Utah will be looked to, as an example of good government, and that the condition of affairs in this Territory will be pointed to as a example for other communities and other societies to imitate with advantage to themselves and the country at large. There is every inducement therefore for us, as Latter-day Saints, to continue to persevere in the direction in which we are going. [10]

  1. Brigham Young, Letters of Brigham Young to His Sons, p. 200
  2. David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1966, pp. 109-110
  3. Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 317
  4. Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 317; Conference Report, October 5, 1941:pp. 110-116
  5. Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 318
  6. D&C 51:3
  7. J. Reuben Clark, Jr., CR October 1942, p. 57
  8. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 122; “A Vision and a Hope for the Youth of Zion,” in 1977 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo, Utah: BYU, 1978], p. 74
  9. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 121; “A Vision and a Hope for the Youth of Zion,” in 1977 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo, Utah: BYU, 1978], p. 74
  10. George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses 20:35-36
  1. Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 2: 75.
  2. Harold B. Lee, Conference Reports, Oct 1972, pp. 61-64
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