30) ZION: Should a Zion people have their own schools, with their own books and their own teachers?

Prophetic Statements

Millenial Star

The disciples should lose no time in preparing schools for their children, that they may be taught as is pleasing to the Lord, and brought up in the way of holiness. Those appointed to select and prepare books for the use of schools will attend to that subject.[1]

Brigham Young

The Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, shall be the standard text books, and shall be read and their doctrines inculcated in the [Brigham Young] Academy, and further no book shall be used therein that misrepresents, or speaks lightly of, the Divine mission of our Savior, or of the prophet Joseph Smith, or in any manner advances ideas antagonistic to the principles of the Gospel. [2]

I cannot say that I would recommend the reading of all books, for it is not all books which are good. Read good books, and extract from them wisdom and understanding as much as you possibly can aided by the Spirit of God. [3]

John Taylor

We assembled together to fulfill the revelations of the Great Jehovah, to bring about the dispensation of the fulness of times, to build up a Zion to the Most High; that he might be glorified. We assembled here to bring about great events. [4]

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. [5]

We believe in celestial glory; and we believe in terrestrial and telestial glory; or in other words, we believe there will be a separation finally of the good from the bad. Now we are engaged gathering together, or separating ourselves from the world. [6]

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. [7]

You mark my words, and write them down and see if they do not come to pass. You will see the day that Zion will be far ahead of the outside world in everything pertaining to learning of every kind as we are today in regard to religious matters. God expects Zion to become the praise and glory of the whole earth, so that kings hearing of her fame will come and gaze upon her glory…[8]

Joseph F. Smith

Brethren, there is too little religious devotion, love and fear of God, in the home; too much worldliness, selfishness, indifference and lack of reverence in the family, or these never would exist so abundantly on the outside. Then, the home is what needs reforming. Try today, and tomorrow, to make a change in your home by praying twice a day with your family; call on your children and your wife to pray with you. Ask a blessing upon every meal you eat. Spend ten minutes in reading a chapter from the words of the Lord in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, before you retire, or before you go to your daily toil. Feed your spiritual selves at home, as well as in public places. Let love, and peace, and the Spirit of the Lord, kindness, charity, sacrifice for others, abound in your families. Banish harsh words, envyings, hatreds, evil speaking, obscene language and innuendo, blasphemy, and let the Spirit of God take possession
of your hearts. Teach to your children these things, in spirit and power, sustained and strengthened by personal practice. Let them see that you are earnest, and practice what you preach. Do not let your children out to specialists in these things, but teach them by your own precept and example, by your own fireside. Be a specialist yourself in the truth. Let our meetings, schools and organizations, instead of being our only or leading teachers, be supplements to our teachings and training in the home. Not one child in a hundred would go astray, if the home environment, example and training, were in harmony with the truth in the gospel of Christ, as revealed and taught to the Latter-day Saints. Fathers and mothers, you are largely to blame for the infidelity and indifference of your children. You can remedy the evil by earnest worship, example, training and discipline, in the home. 1

Joseph Fielding Smith

Another article was entitled, “Common Schools.” It was the will of the Lord, made known shortly after the organization of the Church, that steps should be taken to have the children of the members taught in schools conducted under the influence of those who had faith in the Gospel. Not only for the children but for the Elders; of this, however, we will speak in latter lessons. In June, 1831, William W. Phelps was called by revelation to assist Oliver Cowdery in selecting, printing and writing books for schools in the Church, “that little children also may receive instruction before me as it is pleasing unto me.” [9] Schools were established for the benefit of the children of the Church. In this article the writer calls attention to the fact that there should be no time lost in preparing schools for the children, “that they may be taught as is pleasing unto the Lord, and brought up in the way of holiness.” The promise was made that those appointed to prepare books for the use of these schools would do so at the earliest opportunity. The enemies of the Church have deliberately falsified the record, and have declared that the Church was opposed to education. Lying ministers have declared that the Church was opposed to education. Lying ministers have declared that it was left for the “Gentiles” who came to Utah to establish the first schools among the “Mormon” people. The history of education in Utah and among the Latter-day Saints is a most interesting study, and shows that the Church has always stood for education of the proper kind. The very foundation of the Gospel requires it. [10]

Spencer W. Kimball

Here there should be loyalty at its ultimate best. Loyalty is the stuff of which great souls are made. I would expect that no member of faculty or staff would continue in the employ of this institution if he or she did not have deep assurance of the divinity of the gospel of Christ, the truth of the Church, the correctness of the doctrines, and the destiny of the school. The BYU is dedicated to the building of character and faith, for character is higher than intellect, and its teachers must in all propriety so dedicate themselves. That goal is the same as that of our Eternal Father: “To bring to pass the eternal life of man.” Every instructor knows before coming to this campus what the aims are and is committed to the furthering of those objectives.

If one cannot conscientiously accept the policies and program of the institution, there is no wrong in his moving to an environment that is compatible and friendly to his concepts. But for a Ford employee to downgrade his company or its products; for a General Electric man to be unappreciative of his company; for an employee of a bank to discredit that institution would be hypocrisy and disloyalty. There are ways to right wrongs, to improve services, to bring about proper changes. To set about to counter the established policies or approved interpretations of the doctrines of the Church would be disloyal and unbecoming of anyone.

No one could justifiably accept salary or favors from an institution, the policies of which he could not in principle accept and defend. This is an institution peculiar and different from all others. Other schools have been organized by states, countries, churches, groups and individuals. This great University was organized by the Lord God. [11]

We come to realize our responsibility at BYU becomes greater and greater. We must carry the torch and light the way, and this faculty and staff must stand like a concrete wall to prevent these strange, worldly ideologies and concepts from invading this, one of the last bastions of resisting strength. . . .

BYU certainly must continue to be the greatest university, unique and different. In these fields and in many others, there should be an ever widening gap between this school and all others schools. The reason is obvious. Our professors and instructors should be peers or superiors to those at any other school in natural ability, extended training, plus the Holy Spirit which should bring them light and truth. . . . What is the future for BYU? It has long had a strong music department, but we have hardly begun the great work that could be done here. [12]

The uniqueness of Brigham Young University lies in its special role–education for eternity–which it must carry in addition to the usual tasks of a university. This means concern–curricular and behavioral–for not only the “whole man” but for the “eternal man.” Where all universities seek to preserve the heritage of knowledge that history has washed to their feet, this faculty has a double heritage– the preserving of knowledge of men and the revealed truths sent from heaven.

While all universities seek to push back the frontiers of knowledge further and further, this faculty must do that and also keep new knowledge in perspective, so that the avalanche of facts does not carry away saving, exalting truths from the value systems of our youth.

In addition, this faculty must aid the youth of the kingdom in establishing yet another educational expectation–that there are yet “many great and important things” to be revealed which require an intellectual and spiritual posture of readiness and openness. Where other institutions of higher education aim, in part, at educating and training students for various careers, this faculty must do that vital job and do it superbly well, but it must do far more. It must train a cadre of committed, educated youth who can serve effectively, not only in the world of work, but in the growing kingdom of God in which skilled leadership is such a vital commodity.

This time of intellectual testing must also be a time of equivalent testing and flexing in things spiritual too. “The spirit giveth life” is so true in so many ways. When there is an inner-emptiness in the life of man, his surroundings, however affluent, cannot compensate. When there is a crisis of purpose, nothing will really seem worthwhile or meaningful. When man’s relationship with God has been breached, we will be as Isaiah said, “restless as the ‘sea which cannot rest’!”

A university or an individual can have all the surface signs of secularity and yet still be empty inside. You must fill the classrooms and halls of this campus with facts, but fill them also with the spirit of the Master Teacher who said to the Nephites of the things He had done: “Even so shall ye do unto the world.” “Education for eternity” is not the kind of phrase one would expect to have carved in the stone of a new secular university; it is not the kind of commitment that would be widely shared in the retreat from real religion we see around us in the world. Yet it is a task for which we do not apologize. [13]

Opposing Statements


Supporting Statements

Times and Seasons

While the Saints were preparing to move west, Heber C. Kimball reminded the that “of great importance to all who [had] families [were] school books printed for the education of our children which [would] not be according to teh Gentile order [14]

  1. Millenial Star, June 1832
  2. Brigham Young, Cited by J. Reuben Clark Jr. in Messages of the First Presidency, vol. 6, pp. 228-239. (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1975), p. 237
  3. Brigham Young, Cited in Susan Young Gates. Life of Brigham Young. (Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1971), p. 218
  4. John Taylor, History of the Church, 7:289-290. October 6, 1844
  5. John Taylor, General Conference, October 1886. Messages of the First Presidency 3:86
  6. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses:107, December 8, 1878
  7. John Taylor, General Conference–March 1887, and Messages of the First Presidency 3:58
  8. John Taylor, sermon, Sept. 20, 1857; see The Messenger, July 1953
  9. D&C 55:4
  10. Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, vol. 2: p. 98-99, note 4
  11. Spencer W. Kimball, Education for Eternity, speech given at BYU Annual Faculty Conference, Sep. 12, 1967
  12. Spencer W. Kimball, Education for Eternity, speech given at BYU Annual Faculty Conference, Sep. 12, 1967
  13. Spencer W. Kimball, Education for Eternity, speech given at BYU Annual Faculty Conference, Sep. 12, 1967
  14. Times and Seasons, Vol. 6, p. 1015
  1. Improvement Era, Vol. 7, Dec., 1904, p. 135. Also, Gosepl Doctrine p.301-2
Filter by Categories

Explore our newest project!

Unlock a treasure trove of FREE resources! Dive into engaging videos, lesson plans, activities, and much more—all perfectly aligned with Come Follow Me 2024.

Join our email newsletter!
Latest News