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When establishing Brigham Young Academy, the forerunner of Brigham Young University, Brigham Young stated clearly his purpose in its endowment:

“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.” (Brigham Young, Letters of Brigham Young to His Sons, p. 200)

President Young saw the dangers of false philosophies and desired Church schools to combat them. The two primary concerns that rested upon President Young from the above statement are Darwinism (Darwinian evolution) and Marxism (socialism/communism). The Presidents of the Church have continually warned of the dangers of teaching that man descended from lower forms of life and President Young was no exception. President Young felt that the theories of Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley, who was known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his advocacy of the theories of organic evolution, were corrupting the youth among the Saints in his day. Because of this, he used his own financial means to create an academy where these false philosophies could be refuted. Additionally, President Young felt that socialism, the political outgrowth of evolution, should also be countered.

Currently, there is no institution of higher learning in the world today dedicated to the refutation of these dangerous philosophies using the doctrines of the gospel as contained in latter-day revelation. President Young envisioned schools that fit these criteria:

  1. False philosophies, including Darwinism and Marxism, should be expressly countered.
  2. The doctrines of the Gospel, as contained in Latter-day revelation, should be used to counter these false philosophies.
  3. The primary text of the school should be the standard works of the Church, and no doctrines contrary to the scriptures should be promoted.
  4. All textbooks or teaching materials would be created by individuals with complete faith in the doctrines of the Gospel as contained in the scriptures and taught by latter-day prophets of God.
  5. All teaching materials would be manufactured by the Saints assuring that all of the above criteria were met.

The Joseph Smith Foundation is dedicated to materials that support and sustain the teachings contained in latter-day revelation. Currently we do not have the resources to found a university to help fulfill President Young’s dream, but technology has made possible the dissemination of information for those who are interested in this vision. This site contains the writings, images and video materials of Latter-day Saints and those of like mind dedicated to President Young’s vision. Contributors come from various backgrounds including education, engineering, science, agriculture, the arts and more importantly, individuals dedicated to upholding the family. If you are interested in contributing please contact us.

Related article: The History of Brigham Young Academy

If you are looking for an online education resource with a similar mission to that of the original Brigham Young Academy, please visit: Joseph Smith Academy, a division of Joseph Smith Foundation, is a free educational resource for families and individuals dedicated to “scholarship founded on revelation”. The Internet is filled with information, some critical to understand, most non-essential and the balance very destructive. Of the critical information, that which is most often overlooked is the inspiring and sacred. Joseph Smith Academy has a team of individuals dedicated to finding and organizing uplifting materials from across the world and then making these materials available to families in their own home using the latest Internet technologies. These materials include: interactive timelines, maps, wikis, audio and so forth. All free and available online on your computer or from your iPad or mobile phone.

One thought to “Brigham Young’s Vision for Education”

  • Dave Loper

    As the quote points out, it is the “theories of Huxley, of Darwin, or of Miall, AND the false political economy”. Your conclusion decouples this and introduces Marxism as the target of Brigham Young’s thought. Marx had already released his manifesto when Brigham Young gave this quote. The implicit inference that Marx is the target of Brigham Young is unfounded.

    It wasn’t the theory of evolution that was the problem. Evolution does not contradict the United Order, but the political economy of introduced by some as an application of evolution is wrong.

    Hugh Nibley points this out in his evaluation of this quote that Brigham Young is specifically addressing the false political economy borne out of the theories of Huxley, Darwin, and Miall. Young is specifically addressing the application of philosophies like ‘survival of the fittest’ to the cultural and political ethics and morals. Nibley correlates the outcomes of this political philosophy with the likes of John D. Rockefeller, who, for example, in his lecture about the American Beauty Rose talks about the application of pruning out the weak for the benefit of the strong. This philosophy led to eugenics and some of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.


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