First Presidency Message on Communism, July 1936

Published in the Improvement Era, August 1936.

Warning to Church Members

First Presidency (1936), from left to right: J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Heber J. Grant, David O. McKay

With great regret we learn from credible sources, governmental and others, that a few Church members are joining directly or indirectly, the Communists and are taking part in their activities.

The Church does not interfere, and has no intention of trying to interfere, with the fullest and freest exercise of the political franchise of its members, under and within our Constitution which the Lord declared: “I established . . . by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose,”(D&C 101:80) and which, as to the principles thereof, the Prophet, dedicating the Kirtland Temple, prayed should be “established forever.”(D&C 109:54)

But Communism is not a political party nor a political plan under the Constitution; it is a system of government that is the opposite of our Constitutional government, and it would be necessary to destroy our government before Communism could be set up in the United States.

Since Communism, established, would destroy our American Constitutional government, to support Communism is treasonable to our free institutions, and no patriotic American citizen may become either a Communist or supporter of Communism.

To our Church members we say: Communism is not the United Order, and bears only the most superficial resemblance thereto; Communism is based upon intolerance and force, the United Order upon love and freedom of conscience and action; Communism involves forceful despoliation and confiscation, the United Order voluntary consecration and sacrifice.

Communists cannot establish the United Order, nor will Communism bring it about. The United Order will be established by the Lord in His own due time and in accordance with the regular prescribed order of the Church.

Furthermore, it is charged by universal report, which is not successfully contradicted or disproved, that Communism undertakes to control, if not indeed to proscribe the religious life of the people living within its jurisdiction, and that it even reaches its hand into the sanctity of the family circle itself, disrupting the normal relationship of parent and child, all in a manner unknown and unsanctioned under the Constitutional guarantees under which we in America live. Such interference would be contrary to the fundamental precepts of the Gospel and to the teachings and order of the Church. Communism being thus hostile to loyal American citizenship and incompatible with true Church membership, of necessity no loyal American citizen and no faithful Church member can be a Communist.

We call upon all Church members completely to eschew Communism. The safety of our divinely inspired Constitutional government and the welfare of our Church imperatively demand that Communism shall have no place in America.

First Presidency:

Comment on Communism

The foregoing statement on Communism by the First Presidency of the Church has been received thankfully and with fervent approval, both within and without the Church, by Americans who love America. Typical of the resultant reactions is an editorial which appeared July 8, 1936, in the Salt Lake Tribune, a newspaper published by interests not of our Church. At the suggestion of President Heber J. Grant, The Improvement Era’s Editor-in-Chief, the editorial referred to is here reproduced in full:

“Enemies Within Our Gates”

There is both reason and logic in the recent pronouncement of the Mormon Church against communism. The statement is more than a religious document because it warns of a menace that drives at the very foundations of American life. Communism has nothing in common with the Mormon Church or any other, this government or any other, this people or any other. It is an enemy to religion, to freedom, and to civilization.

The warning of the First Presidency is timely and to the point. It distinguishes between communistic enterprise and free political discussion within the bounds of the Constitution. It recites forcibly that communism is not freedom but serfdom, not the exponent of new political rights for the people, but the enemy of existing governmental guarantees to them.

“The statement says:

“‘Communism is not a political party nor a political plan under the Constitution; it is a system of government that is the opposite of our Constitutional government, and it would be necessary to destroy our Constitution before communism could be set up in the United States. Since communism, established, would destroy our American constitutional government, to support communism is treasonable.’

“Communistic preachment, first of all, is a means to an end. It is an essential step in the overthrow of established government. Once the people are disarmed there is no turning back. They become slaves under a rule of force, which tolerates no interference or resistance, be it peaceful or violent. Russia is the outstanding example of an enslaves people. The roseate promises held out to accomplish the revolution are forgotten, the fanciful ideals are repudiated and the rule of a designing leadership is made absolute.

“Established communism endures no criticism of its course. Such activities as the Mormon Church warns against would be punishable as treason in Russia. Only the other day, Joseph Stalin declared that the Soviet Union will avoid any electoral system under which any part could defeat the government and take its place Why should the American people be more tolerant of the enemies within their gates?  Why should they hold out the guarantees of Constitutional government to men and women who seek to destroy them? Why should not allegiance or subscription to principles conceived and designed to destroy the Constitution be sternly punished?

“We do not abandon our homes to the burglars. No more should we tolerate the activities of those who seek to destroy the foundations of our homes and our civilization. Constitutional government. Spies and traitors to the trust of our government are handled without gloves. Why should any more consideration be shown those who would destroy the government itself?

First Presidency, “Warning to Church Members,” Improvement Era, August 1936, 488.

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