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Prophetic Statements

First Presidency

We feel it our responsibility to warn our people against the present-day wave of musical performances which are aimed at the destruction of sacred principles, which form the very foundation upon which we stand.

One of these is the rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar.” We consider this musical a profane and sacrilegious attack upon true Christianity. It strips Jesus Christ of His divine attributes. It’s prevailing theme presents the falsehood that our Lord is “. . . just a man . . . just the same as anyone I know.” To the dismay of those who worship Him as the Savior of mankind, as the divine Son of God, He and His apostles are portrayed in earthly roles living below Christian standards.

We encourage members of the Church and good men everywhere to oppose this type of entertainment. [1]

Harold B. Lee

Some music aims to destroy sacred principles. Today we have had to come out as a First Presidency and make a declaration. There is going to be put on the screens one of the most dangerous, insidious things that has ever come to try to downgrade the sacred name of the Lord and Master, Jesus Christ—Jesus Christ Superstar. Now, I suspect when I say this, probably it is going to increase the box-office sale. I would pray earnestly that it wouldn’t be from this congregation.

This is what we have said : “We feel it is our responsibility to warn our people against the present-day wave of musical performances which are aimed at the destruction of sacred principles which form the very foundation upon which we stand. One of these is the rock opera, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ We consider this musical a profane and sacrilegious attack upon true Christianity. It strips Jesus Christ of His divine attributes. Its prevailing theme presents the falsehood that our Lord”—and this is quoting from a statement of one of the characters—”is ‘ just a man just the same as anyone I know,’ ” and picturing Him absolutely as consorting, as all other men, with women of questionable repute. “To the dismay of those who worship Him as the Savior of mankind, as the divine Son of God, He and His apostles are portrayed in earthly roles living below Christian standards. We encourage members of the Church and good men everywhere to oppose this kind of entertainment.” [2]

Why? The prophecy was made by the prophets in olden times, as contained in the Book of Mormon: “Beware of him who says all is well in Zion. Zion prospers, all is well. For thus the devil cheateth our souls and leadeth us away carefully down to hell.” [3] Now, this kind of musical performance has sweet-sounding music, but the words are the vicious, profane, sacrilegious declarations sweetly, by the musical score, leading us to try to downgrade faith in the Master of the world. [4]

Music can activate the Spirit. I have a conviction that without beautiful and appropriate music our sermons would not be what the Lord would want them to be. The beautiful singing today has been the kind of accompaniment that sermons need in order to activate the Spirit as well as the letter of the word. [5]

Choose appropriate music for Church meetings. I would like to speak first of the lack of reverence—a lack of reverence for houses of worship, a lack of reverence for the Sabbath day, a lack of reverence for sacred things and for time-honored institutions that have been given us by our ancestors. When I speak of these things to you, I am not talking about something of which you are not aware. These things are very present and very real.

And I would like to suggest some basic things to impress the importance of reverence. What kind of songs do you choose to sing in your worshiping meetings? I was quite distressed, in attending a large stake gathering where the children were to sing in a sacred meeting, to observe that the leader of those children had chosen an English hunting song, a Norwegian folk song, and something about “Put Me to Sleep” when the opportunity had been there through songs to have impressed the spirit of reverence, which could have well been done by an appropriately chosen song. [6]

Spencer W. Kimball

Musical sounds can be put together in such a way that they can express feelings-from the most profoundly exalted to the most abjectly vulgar. Or rather, these musical sounds induce in the listener feelings which he responds to, and the response he makes to these sounds has been called a “gesture of the spirit.” Thus, music can act upon our senses to produce or induce feelings of reverence, humility, fervor, assurance, or other feelings attuned to the spirit of worship. When music is performed in Church which conveys a “gesture” other than that which is associated with worship, we are disturbed, upset, or shocked to the degree with which the musical “gesture” departs from or conflicts with the appropriate representation of feelings of worship. …

When people are invited to perform special numbers in sacred meetings, whether ward members or others, it is important to know in advance what numbers will be given and that they are devotional in character and in keeping with the spirit of worship. To be avoided are love songs, popular ballads, theatrical numbers, and songs with words not in harmony with the doctrines of the Church. Persons invited to perform should be specifically urged to remain throughout the service. [7]

The responsibility for producing, selecting, and performing music for the Church requires discrimination, taste, knowledge, and the proper spirit; in short, it requires the best efforts that our best musicians can give inasmuch as we are using gifts which the Lord has given us for the purpose of building up his kingdom and as a demonstration of our faith and love for him. We are in a position, as musicians, to touch the souls of those who listen. [8]

Ezra Taft Benson

Encourage our people to have music that contributes to spirituality and worship, whether it be prelude music or the songs that are selected. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be appropriate to have a patriotic song, such as “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” [9] “America” is also a hymn [10] Music is such an important part of our service. [11] [12]

And now a music scholar points to—

a new direction in the rock-drug culture [which is] hailed by many ministers and the music industry as a silver lining in the clouds of gold. Religious rock is climbing up the “Top Ten” charts. The growing resistance to the rock-drug scene is being diverted by this wholesome-appearing retreat from the new morality. But a review of religious rock materials unmasks an insidiously disguised anti-Christ. By reducing revealed religion to mythology, rock assumes the mantle of righteousness while rejecting the reality of sin. Without sin the new morality can continue in its Godless revel behind the pretense of religious robes. By reversing the roles of Jesus and Judas, one fast-selling album fits perfectly the warning of Isaiah 5:20 : “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness.” [13]

Little wonder that the leadership of the Church felt impelled to speak out against this sacrilegious, apostate deception by calling this wickedness to the attention of the members of the Church in a special item in the Church Priesthood Bulletin of August 1971.

Yes, we live in the best of times when the restored gospel of Jesus Christ brings hope to all the world. And the worst of times, for Satan is raging. With relentless vigor he plunges in the harvest. [14]

Supporting Statements

Boyd K. Packer

Prelude music, reverently played, is nourishment for the spirit. It invites inspiration. That is a time to, as the poet said: “Go to your bosom . . . and ask your heart what it doth know.” Do not ever disturb prelude music for others, for reverence is essential to revelation. “Be still,” He said, “and know that I am God.”

Now a warning! Some music is spiritually very destructive. You young people know what kind that is. The tempo, the sounds, and the lifestyle of those who perform it repel the Spirit. It is far more dangerous than you may suppose, for it can smother your spiritual senses.

The reason we have not yet produced a greater heritage in art and literature and music and drama is not, I am very certain, because we have not had talented people. For over the years we have had not only good ones but great ones. Some have reached great heights in their chosen fields. But few have captured the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the restoration of it in music, in art, in literature. They have not, therefore, even though they were gifted, made a lasting contribution to the onrolling of the Church and kingdom of God in the dispensation of the fulness of times. They have therefore missed doing what they might have done, and they have missed being what they might have become.

. . .There have been a number of efforts to take sacred gospel themes and tie them to modern music in the hope of attracting our young people to the message. Few events in all of human history surpass the spiritual majesty of the First Vision. We would be ill-advised to describe that event, the visit of Elohim and Jehovah, in company with rock music, even soft rock music, or to take equally sacred themes and set them to a modern beat. I do not know how that can be done and result in increased spirituality. I think it cannot be done.

When highly trained artists insist, as they occasionally do, that they receive spiritual experience in tying a sacred gospel theme to an inappropriate art form, I must conclude that they do not know, not really, the difference between when the Spirit of the Lord is present and when it is not.1

Kathy Gileadi

[what] about what we call “gospel rock” or “gospel pop” music. We even hear it often in our churches, the rock rhythms and harmonies expressing religious ideas. Some say that it is better for the young people to hear than the worldly rock, but I am not so sure. I always conjure the image of a sinful woman dressed in Sunday clothes giving the Sunday School class on morality. No matter what the dress, she cannot hid what she really is. In the same way, the musical content of rock music, quite apart from the words, is self-indulgent, sensual, oriented to pleasure and eroticism. That is why it appeals so. Can you testify of Christ with such vocabulary?2


  1. The First Presidency: Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee and N. Elden Tanner, Daily Universe, v23 no. 189, 11 Oct. 1971
  2. Deseret News, 9 October 1971, p. A-1
  3. 2 Nephi 28:21
  4. Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 624
  5. Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 468
  6. Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 202
  7. Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 519
  8. Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 519
  9. Hymns, 1985, no. 60
  10. Hymns, 1985, no. 339
  11. Salt Lake City, Utah, 3 October 1978
  12. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 324
  13. Richard Nibley
  14. Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 249
  1. Boyd K. Packer, “The Arts and the Spirit of the Lord,” Ensign, Aug. 1976, 60 and General Conference, November 1994
  2. Kathy Gileadi, Homeschool Genesis, p. 162

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