excerpt – Elder Statesman
Throughout his life, J. Reuben Clark had ambivalent attitudes about the interplay between the life of the mind and the life of faith. He treasured the world of “facts” but recognized their insufficiency as a way of life. He was an avid reader and researcher but was convinced that a total commitment to intellectual inquiry led inevitably to atheism. He urged the primacy of faith but was uncomfortable with overly spiritual people. He expected others to consider his pleas to abandon their inadequate secular and religious positions, but he declined to read anything that was contrary to his own views. He was appalled by the confidence of the ignorant and suspicious of the smugness of the intellectual. He was a living exemplar of higher education but preferred limited education in LDS colleges and at Brigham Young University. He defended total freedom of thought but frequently decided that censorship was necessary. He relied on the scriptures for doctrine but resisted doctrinal dogmatism. Prior to becoming a general authority, he had rejected unquestioning obedience to decisions of the LDS president. As a First Presidency counselor, he urged unquestioning obedience to the prophet, while reminding everyone that the church president could also be mistaken. As a private person and as a member of the First Presidency, he sought a conservative balance between the imperatives of reason and revelation.
People often referred to his brilliant intellect, but he felt uncomfortable with the description. As a freshman member of the State Department in 1906, he wondered if such praise was really a form of mockery. His wife, Lute, replied: “I believe you get a wrong idea of the things people say about you. I sincerely think they are all meant.” Then she added, “Never mind. Honey, you can’t help being bright; only don’t get the big head.”2 After he became a member of the First Presidency, many Mormons expressed awe at his knowledge. Others leveled anti-intellectual criticism at him. His sister Esther reported in 1940 that a young man told a ward Sunday School class that “Pres. Clark knows too much for one person.” She commented, “I guess he thinks there should be a more even distribution of brains.”3
Part of his discomfort with the popular view of him as a gigantic intellect was his recognition that he was not a Renaissance man of learning. For example, he tried to make his personal library a self-contained collection of “the greatest minds of all history that have left records, both in the religious and the secular worlds.”4 BYU president Ernest L. Wilkinson described it as Reuben’s “famous library (certainly, there is none other like it between Chicago and the West Coast).”5 Nevertheless, his library and his personal research focused primarily on international law. Communism, politics, Constitutionalism, biblical studies, religion, Judaism, and LDS scripture. He never claimed extensive understanding in other areas of knowledge.6
Even when he published a book that distilled his years of research into the Higher Criticism of the Bible and the importance of the King James Version (KJV), he admitted that ignorance of biblical languages and lack of rigorous training in the field left him very much a novice.7 When those at Deseret Book Company chided him for being overly modest, Reuben sent his secretary, Rowena Miller, to his library “for copies of the books [he had cited] to show what scholarship was.”8
However, this modesty was combined with his lifelong self-confidence as a researcher. When University of Utah president A. Ray Olpin congratulated him on his books research, President Clark replied: “I did not get it by socializing.”9
Nevertheless, he readily admitted that he did not have an insatiable thirst for knowledge, even in those areas in which he was vitally interested. One of his “fundamental rules” was “that I never read anything that I know is going to make me mad, unless I have to read it. To this rule I have added another, which is applicable here: I read only as time permits materials which merely support my own views.” This stunned fellow lawyer Wilkinson to whom he wrote this explanation, “You do not have to get very far down in any article before you can tell whether or not the fellow is writing or saying something that is generally along the line of your own beliefs.”10 More often he did not bother to read publications before dismissing their significance.11
Thus, he could draft a two-page list of general criticisms about Fawn M. Brodie’s biography of Joseph Smith and write a proposed review of the book even though he had not read it. In this letter to his brother Frank, Reuben explained that he circulated his proposed review among trusted friends “who have read the book.” They told him that his sight-unseen evaluation “more or less characterizes the whole treatment” in Brodie’s No Man Knows My History. For example, his proposed review stated:
While the book seems popularly to be appraised as a chronicle of new and hitherto unpublished documents giving a true picture of the Prophet Joseph, the fact is it is almost wholly a rehash of charges against the Prophet that began to be made over a hundred years ago, which, being then discarded, were buried as base falsehoods. Since then they have from time to time been dug up and paraded again, only to be reburied because again found false. They are now dug up again and re-paraded from motives that are quite apparent from the book itself. … There is very little material used or cited that has not been already published. The book has a veneer of pseudo-scholarship.
That was a remarkable set of observations by someone who had not actually read the book he was formally reviewing.12
When he authorized Apostle Mark E. Petersen, his protégé, “to publish the review of the Brodie Book” in May 1946,13 it now had dozens of brief quotes from the book. This more-than-two-page anonymous “Appraisal of the So-Called Brodie Book” in the Church News had Reuben’s often-used “so-called” in its title, his legalistic references to much of his phrasing, as well as his comparison of her approach with that of a biblical scholar. However, the review’s quotes demonstrate that there were additions by someone who had actually consulted this controversial biography.14 Reuben might have made these additions himself but, due to his above “rule” for reading, it is more likely that one of his trusted friends “who have read the book” provided them for publication.
Even after receiving favorable comments from an associate he had asked to read and evaluate another book, he could still confidently dismiss it as insignificant without reading it himself. Concerning Sterling M. McMurrin’s Philosophical Foundations of Mormon Theology, the First Presidency’s assistant secretary, A. Hamer Reiser, informed Reuben: “In fact, I finished the reading feeling that he has done rather well by Mormonism. He made me aware, with increased clarity and conviction, of a quality in the Gospel, as we teach it, which transcends the philosophies of men … [which has] a sturdy independence and substance of its own, which deserves the respect of thoughtful people.” Reuben referred to Reiser’s evaluation in writing to the president of the University of Utah, which had published the book. In this letter to Olpin, he dismissed McMurrin’s analysis in this way: “I am not worrying about the mysteries, and the little I am able to do, which is very small, I try to do with the one idea of building up our simple faith. A lot of people are troubled about a lot of things about which they know nothing.”15
In shunning the designation intellectual, Reuben was not simply being modest but was acknowledging fundamental limitations. First, as already noted, he would not consider views that were contrary to his own. Second, he had difficulty comprehending abstract ideas even though he was a master of researching and categorizing mountains of facts and concrete data. “I can hardly get through a couple of verses of Paul and not get lost,” he once wrote to BYU religion professor Sidney B. Sperry. “I know this is my fault, because Paul’s logic and reasoning are all too subtle and refined for me. I can do a little better with Peter.”16 He gave up trying to understand the writings of Mary Baker Eddy because he found her ideas of Christian Science “entirely beyond the powers of my mind and my reasoning powers.”17 Secretary Rowena Miller observed that he likewise shunned discussion of Asian religions because “they involved an understanding of abstractions that he, personally, did not understand.”18
Beyond religious abstractions, he had difficulty comprehending complex secular thought. When the president of Equitable Life sent him a copy of a speech, Reuben replied that he nearly drowned trying to understand it, “but I sort of held my breath and struggled to the top.” He concluded his letter to Thomas I. Parkinson, “I accept your conclusions whether or not I fully understand the reasons, and I congratulate you on another fine speech.”19
Despite the brilliance of his mind and speech, J. Reuben Clark shrank from the complex and abstract. After his crisis of faith in the 1920s, he manifested little of what is called intellectual curiosity. Likewise he felt a lifelong estrangement from those he referred to as “so-called intellectuals” and “so-called liberals.”20
In fact, his distrust of Mormon intellectuals was a result of his own spiritual-intellectual crisis in earlier life. In the attempt to rationalize and intellectualize the LDS gospel, he found himself heading toward absolute skepticism. In letters to non-LDS friend Cloyd Marvin, he said that he avoided atheism only by refusing to question fundamental gospel principles.21 He expressed to the Latter-day Saints his gratitude that he had the “sixth sense” that “enables him. to believe in Mormonism.”22 He assumed that his own experience had universal application and told a general conference, “I have come to feel that there is none who can safely rationalize.”23
He would probably have agreed immediately with a subsequent Pulitzer Prize-winning book that there is an essential difference between a “mental technician” and an “intellectual.”24 Reuben was a mental technician and would have understood why 92 percent of surveyed Mormons who held Ph.D. degrees did not list him among “the five most eminent intellectuals in Mormon history.”25
Likewise, when a man asked him to identify which LDS leader after Joseph Smith contributed most to the intellectual life of the church, he replied, “I am not sure that I can see in what way the answer to the question would materially help us in solving the problems of daily life, after all, is the prime consideration in any study of the Gospel.”26 He often told LDS members that he kept his faith simple.
A significant example was his attitude toward proving the historicity of the Book of Mormon.27 During the intellectual inquiries of his earlier life, he had once written that it “might be interesting to trace … the evolution of the Book of Mormon.” He had written this while commenting about a published revelation of Joseph Smith, “Did he not evolve this out of his own consciousness?”28 Because this religious inquiry had led him to the brink of atheism, he now avoided such questions like the plague.
As First Presidency counselor, he approached the Book of Mormon only from an orthodox perspective. In 1946 he wrote, “While I doubt if any discoveries will ever be made which will enable us to say this definitely proves the Book of Mormon is true, nevertheless, I know that there are very, very many evidences in the ruins of Mexico and Central and South America that go to sustain the truthfulness of the book.” Archaeological evidence was an obvious approach, but he suggested another in this same letter to J. Willard Marriott:
It has been my feeling that if someone, who could get the confidence of the Indians, could get out among them, he would find in their [oral] traditions other and better evidences as to the accuracy and truthfulness of the Book of Mormon than will be found even in the ruins. But that would be a work practically of a lifetime by someone who would be willing to put up with all the inconveniences of living among the Indians, of gaining their confidence, and of practically becoming one of them, and that is a big order.29
For the next decade, Reuben continued to say that it was important to investigate archaeological parallels, yet repeated that these would always be inconclusive.30 Eventually, he regarded the oral traditions of Native Americans as inconclusive as well. For example, he wrote to Thomas Stuart Ferguson, founder of the New World Archaeological Foundation: “It will be necessary to be most careful to see that these traditions of the Indians are not the result of the early teachings of the Catholic priests.” However, 450 years after European conquest, Reuben regarded such verification as an impossibility because an Indian “would not be able to distinguish between what a real tradition was and what was a tradition in his own mind.”31 Thus, while he viewed Meso-American archaeology and folklore as significant, he regarded a spiritual testimony of the Book of Mormon as sufficient.
As a general authority, he adopted a double-edged educational philosophy. He regarded all highly educated people, particularly intellectuals, as atheists in embryo. He therefore insisted that, to justify their existence, LDS educational institutions must provide the rudiments of college education within a religious atmosphere that gave priority to faith and diminished intellectuality. Even prior to entering the hierarchy, he voiced this concern to BYU president Franklin S. Harris. This was in response to Harris’s talk in praise of the higher educational backgrounds of some LDS leaders.32
In 1938 President Clark stated his educational philosophy explicitly to church educators in the Aspen Grove talk, “The Chartered Course of the Church in Education”:
You do not have to sneak up behind this spiritually experienced youth and whisper religion in his ears; you can come right out, face to face, and talk with him. You do not need to disguise religious truths with a cloak of worldly things; you can bring these truths to him openly, in their natural guise.33
In succeeding decades, LDS leaders have often quoted and referred to this talk. For example, a later acting president of the Twelve, Boyd K. Packer, regarded it as the “measuring rod for religious views, philosophies, and teachings.”34 Appointed a general authority just days before Reuben’s death. Elder Packer printed the full text of this talk in his own Teach Ye Diligently.35
By contrast, after listening to Clark deliver these instructions, one teacher had a different view. Sterling McMurrin condemned the Aspen Grove talk as a “notorious address” which said that “there is to be no freedom in matters pertaining to religion and morals.”36 With respect to “academic freedom,” McMurrin accurately interpreted Reuben’s talk and general views.
As an outgrowth of this emphasis. President Clark became the prime mover in 1944 to establish at BYU what he called a “School of Theology,” a “post-graduate school in gospel,” or a “divinity school.”37 As expressed in a First Presidency letter he formulated, this postgraduate program would be “only for the purpose of developing and demonstrating the truth of the Restored Gospel and the falsity of the other religions of the world, and thereby up build the faith and knowledge of post-graduate scholars.”38 When this program evolved during the 1950s into a traditional graduate school with degrees in secular fields, he opposed this intellectualizing development.39 The other members of the First Presidency outvoted him.
Reuben voiced his dissatisfaction to President Wilkinson:
I assume that I am an apostate, that I am no friend of higher learning, that I am just a low-down ignoramus, but in that ignorance I want to say to you that I am not at all concerned with the relative fewness of our attendance at the Y who are graduate students. In this ignorance of mine, I have a feeling that the mission of the Brigham Young University is not to make Ph.D.s or M.A.s, but to distribute among as wide a number as possible the ordinary collegiate work leading to Bachelor Degrees and to instill into the students a knowledge of the Gospel and a testimony of its truthfulness.40
He was never reconciled to the enlarged enrollments and educational programs at this church school. He consistently opposed the physical, academic, and financial expansion of BYU that occurred during the last years of his life.41
Nevertheless, he simultaneously chafed against what he perceived as mental laziness and conformity among Latter-day Saints. In 1947 he wrote, “Too many of our people have quit thinking–Politically–Socially–Spiritually.”42
For example, he believed that the intelligent thinking of a community is both expressed and encouraged by its newspapers. In 1936 he said, “I am most anxious to make our paper [the Deseret News] do for our Church what The Christian Science Monitor has done for the Christian Science Church.”43 However, his hopes in this regard were unrealized throughout his life. Twenty years later Wilkinson, a member of the Deseret News board of directors, despaired that they would ever achieve the goal of getting “into the News of some of the qualities of the Christian Science Monitor.” He explained that the rest of the News board failed in its “duty to raise the standards of its readers rather than just give them what they want; such as funnies [i.e., comic strips] and pages of sports news.”44
Moreover, President Clark was not absolute in his warnings against intellectualizing the gospel and delving into its mysteries. He regarded those efforts as legitimate, even if they were dangerous. In writing a 1941 response to a philosophical treatise by N. L. Nelson, he observed at the outset, “You have thought deeply and it seems to me, in the main, logically, about many fundamental matters, most of which I assume would be classified as ‘mysteries,’ [for] which you have thought the little we are told through to a conclusion.” Reuben concluded his six-page, single-spaced, typed analysis of Nelson’s manuscript with the words, “Praying that the Lord will bless you in your labors of strong, vigorous, creative thinking.”45
So there were limits to the pressures he was willing to exert against Mormon intellectuals. When Apostle Petersen asked for permission to excommunicate those he suspected of having disloyal and apostate attitudes, “Pres. Clark cautioned that they ought to be careful about the insubordination or disloyalty question, because they ought to be permitted to think, you can’t throw a man off for thinking.”46
At its most extreme, the insistence on spiritual and mental conformity in the church resulted in what Reuben classified sarcastically as “the Celestial Kingdomers.” These Latter-day Saints accept “only those who believe and act as they do: They have narrow rules; narrow principles. The Prescriptions of the Talmud are of their kind of thinking. They cut off men who do not follow them.”47 This restated Brigham Young’s sentiment: “It floods my heart with sorrow to see so many Elders of Israel who wish everybody to come to their standard and be measured by their measure. Every man must be just so long, to fit their iron bedstead, or be cut off to the right length.”48
Rejection of religious narrowness led Reuben to tolerate the views of some with whom he might otherwise disagree. A few years before his own call to the hierarchy, he advised his missionary son, Reuben III, “The philosophy of the Gospel is so deep and many sided, its truths are so far reaching [that] it is never safe to dogmatize, even about the most elemental principles, such as faith.”49 In his official capacity, he advised LDS members: “We ought not, therefore, to get discouraged because somebody sees a revelation in a different light from the way in which we see it. We are entitled to our opinion; the other man is entitled to his opinion, but the revelation stands until God changes it in the regular way.”50
Even though “the revelation stands,” President Clark regarded written revelations as guidelines for the prophets, who then exercise their freedom and common sense. He told a temple meeting of the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve that “the Lord gave these general instructions, and the brethren more or less floundered about within broad limits as to the details of the situation which they set up.” In church administration, he did not regard written revelations as ironclad limitations.51
Because he disliked religious dogmatism, Reuben was able to be remarkably noncommittal when asked about deeper aspects of doctrine. This was especially true concerning the nature of God. To one inquirer, he wrote that “it does not make any difference to your service nor to mine, whether God is progressing or whether He has come to a stand-still.”52
Even though the official position of the First Presidency was to classify the “Adam-God theory” as heresy and to deny that Brigham Young had advocated it,53 Reuben adopted a less strident approach. To someone who inquired about it, he replied, “It is my understanding, which may be erroneous, that the Brethren have always differed as to that doctrine–even in Brother Brigham’s time.”54 To an advocate of the doctrine, he wrote, “I understand that in the days of President Young, this I controversy raged with considerable fury, but I believe with no casualties I and with no one winning a decision.” He concluded: “I am equally sure that none of us can understand it because we are dealing with matters of infinity and we are only finite. The Lord has not revealed these mysteries to us.”55
This non-committal approach was undoubtedly influenced by the statement which was in Reuben’s copy of Discourses of Brigham Young: “It is as much my right to differ from other men, as it is theirs to differ from me, in points of doctrine and principle, when our minds cannot at once arrive at the same conclusion.”56 Utah’s pioneer prophet emphasized that there could be loyal opposition within the LDS church and even affirmed that it was the right of faithful Mormons to disagree with the church president’s doctrinal pronouncements. This may have provided the context for Reuben’s seemingly contradictory views about LDS loyalty and about dissent from the doctrinal statements of living prophets in the twentieth century.
Even in religious disputes about which he had pronounced personal opinions, he avoided setting himself as the arbiter of what was possible for God. For example, he had deep prejudices against Roman Catholicism and publicly condemned Mariolatry, the adoration of the Virgin Mary.57 Nevertheless, he was unwilling to denounce reported visions of Mary as false or devilish. In one of the most famous of these reported experiences, a fifty-year-old Mexican Indian saw a vision on 9 December 1531. The result was the “cult” of Our Lady of Guadalupe.58 Reuben wrote his reaction to this story in a letter to Joseph T. Bentley, president of a Mexican mission:
I have always had a natural interest in the story of Juan Diego and the “visitation” to him of the Virgin Mary. I have always been a little more tolerant toward the concept of some sort of vision on the part of Juan Diego, or somebody else, because, though the Spaniards were trying to set up a Christian concept and practice that we know to have been false, nevertheless that concept, whatever it was, was far ahead of the cannibalistic worship of sacrifice which the Aztecs held. I have always felt that perhaps the Lord permitted something in order to add an appeal to the Mexican mind that was not embraced in the concepts which the Spaniards were trying to give of Christianity. However, this is my own idea.59
His acceptance of the possibility of such a vision may have been linked with the transition in his attitudes toward the Mexican people. (See chapter 10.)
To young missionaries who might be tempted to give authoritative answers to obscure or unimportant doctrinal questions, he advised them to answer simply “I do not know.”60 He followed his own counsel. When a guide at Temple Square “wanted to know when the spirit entered the body and whether the still-born child had a spirit–Pres. Clark sent word that that is one of the mysteries.”61 When a church member asked about the fate of “the Sons of Perdition,” he merely observed that he was “trying never to become one.”62 With good humor and an emphasis on the importance of simple faith, he sidestepped doctrinal speculations that others felt compelled to embrace or battle against.
When Apostle Harold B. Lee asked whether the gift of the Holy Ghost existed in the days of Adam, “Pres. Clark said he did not know.”63 He answered likewise when a church member asked if amputees will be resurrected with their limbs fully restored, then added, “and I do not know to what I could direct you to get an answer.”64 He apparently chose not to refer this Mormon to Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith’s confident answer to this question five years earlier in the church’s magazine. Prior to Reuben’s correspondence about this matter, general authority Bruce R. McConkie had reprinted Smith’s answer as one of the Doctrines of Salvation.65 Although Reuben’s children regarded Elder Smith as a Clark man because the two were like-minded in many ways, these two leaders clashed over doctrinal dogmatism.
After declining to make an inflexible pronouncement about a doctrine he considered debatable, Reuben told one church member that there were other general authorities who “would probably be happy to give you the advantage of their opinions.”66 In view of his objections to their published expressions of dogmatism, his comment undoubtedly referred to Smith and McConkie.
In fact, Reuben regarded it as a serious problem when other general authorities seemed eager to make authoritative pronouncements. He tried to discourage BYU administrator Harvey L. Taylor from publishing current talks of general authorities to the student body “upon important matters” because “some matters have come to my attention where the Brethren not only differ among themselves, but where they differ with the First Presidency.”67 He told Apostle Petersen of his own opposition to answering doctrinal questions in print because “the First Presidency receives some pretty tough questions sometimes; and they don’t always agree in the Quorum.”68 Three weeks later he again told Petersen that “the First Presidency have so many questions coming up they have to side step. … [and] what he [JRC] is fearful of is religious [doctrinal] questions, and suggested that in view of what Pres. [George Albert] Smith said, they confine their religious questions [in the Church News] very narrowly, and for the present at any rate do not discuss any doctrinal question.”69
One such difference surfaced in May 1953 between President Clark and Elder McConkie, at that time a member of the First Council of Seventy. The Church News published Reuben’s talk to BYU students wherein he stated that in the pre-mortal state Satan and Christ presented two different plans for the conduct of mortality and that Christ’s plan was chosen. By contrast, the church’s Improvement Era published in the same month an article wherein McConkie stated that such a claim for two plans “does not conform to the revealed word.”70 When a puzzled member of the church asked about this contradiction, Clark answered that “the difference may be merely one of interpretation.” His secretary, Rowena Miller, explained that he “sees no reason for changing his own views nor his nomenclature. As long as he remembers, there have always been two Plans spoken of.”71
He devoted far more space to commenting on a fundamental disagreement between himself and a senior member of the Quorum of Twelve. Since the 1930s, Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith had been locked in a controversy concerning his scripturally fundamentalist denunciation of organic evolution. The apostle had criticized the willingness of other general authorities to advance evolution as God’s method of creation.72 Reuben himself had questioned the consistency of scientific theory in a 1915 sermon, “Evolution,” but since 1924 had made occasional statements in public and private that the method of creation was unimportant.73 As first counselor in the church presidency, he intended to make that point specifically in a major address to the Relief Society in 1946. He sent an advance draft of the talk to Elder Smith, who wrote a detailed critique of the talk’s references to the creation.
In a lengthy reply to Smith, President Clark observed, “Much of your argument loses significance when we cease to give highly technical meaning to general terms.” He continued his letter:
You seem to think I reject the scriptures, or some of them. I do not intend to do so, but obviously I am no more bound by your interpretation of them than you are by mine. …
You observe, “Reason teaches us that the Lord worked during the creation on his own time.” The point has no significance to my subject, but reason does not teach me that. Reason teaches me that in the infinite, finite time of any measure has little if any importance or value. Indeed, from our mortal point of view, there probably is no time as we know it, in eternity, either simple or in multiple, [emphasis in original]
The periods of temporal creation are of no importance to my subject.
You quote from Section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants. I do not get from that section the meaning you give it.
Apparently the basic difference between us is this: you do not accept the scriptural record as given in historical sequence; I do. …
Now, as to what the earlier brethren have said–where they have declared themselves as speaking under inspiration and by the authority of the Lord, I bow to what they say. But where they express views based on their own understanding and interpretation, then none of us are foreclosed from exercising our own reasoning powers, inadequate though they may be; but the earlier views do not foreclose us from thinking. This is particularly true, where we come to interpreting their interpretations.74
Having said this much in rebuttal, Reuben defused their private controversy by omitting from the text of his talk the words which most offended Apostle Smith: “So far as the record goes, the temporal creation in which Adam took part might have worked through one million or many millions of years.”75
He was willing to let the matter rest without public comment until 1954 when Smith made a public issue of the conflict between his own scriptural views and the scientific theories of creation. The First Presidency had instructed him in 1931 to “leave Geology, Biology, Archaeology and Anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church.” Nonetheless twenty-three years later, the apostle published a book attacking scientific theories of evolution as inconsistent with LDS faith. By that time, all members of the First Presidency who had instructed him to stop his anti-evolution campaign were dead, all of the scientifically trained apostles with whom he had waged a quiet controversy had passed on, and Elder Smith himself was next in line to be LDS president.76 He anticipated that his book would create some controversy when it went on sale in April 1954, and he wrote the following inscription in the copy of Man: His Origin and Destiny that he gave to Reuben: “Hoping that you can tolerate a part of this if not all.”77
President Clark had outlined in the 1946 letter his difficulty with the inflexible doctrinal assumptions of the apostle toward organic evolution. Now Elder Smith was publishing them to the world as though they were the authoritative statements of the church. Reuben decided to counter this in an indirect manner.
More than two months after publication of the book, he gave an address to LDS religion teachers at BYU about the physical attributes of the human body. Concerning early biological development, he said that “man, monkey, elephant, turtle, snake, are of one kind, indistinguishable,” and commented that the human embryo “develops and matures upon some principle of ‘evolution.’”78
Whether or not Apostle Smith regarded this as a challenge, four days later he gave a talk to the same group of teachers in which he promoted his book as the doctrinal answer to evolutionary theory. He told the educators that LDS doctrine refuted such other scientific views as the assertion that the sun was gradually cooling in temperature. On 28 June he gave a second talk to LDS educators in which he gave a detailed doctrinal denunciation of evolution and geologic time.79
Reuben did not want to challenge Smith’s dogmatic rejection of evolution in the way other general authorities did in the 1930s. They had published contrasting views on the specific topics that Joseph Fielding Smith addressed.80 Nevertheless, President Clark did want to clearly establish an essential principle of church doctrine.
Nine days after Smith’s second anti-evolution talk, Reuben spoke to this same group of LDS educators about “adventurous expeditions of the brethren into these highly speculative principles and doctrines.” In such cases, he noted, honest differences of interpretation were possible. He commented that sometimes general authorities and other prominent priesthood leaders had spoken “out of turn” about matters in which the revelations of the Lord were not conclusive and about which the LDS president had not declared the official doctrine of the church. He observed that these leaders still declared their doctrinal views “with an assured certainty that might deceive the uniformed and unwary.” This remarkable address continued to demonstrate the main theme:
When any man, except the President of the Church, undertakes to proclaim one unsettled doctrine, as among two or more doctrines in dispute, as the settled doctrine of the Church, we may know that he is not “moved upon by the Holy Ghost,” unless he is acting under the authority of the President.81
Although he did not refer to specifics. President Clark knew that Elder Smith had not published Man: His Origin and Destiny with the authorization of the church president. In fact, David O. McKay decided with his counselors to deny requests that the book be used as a text in LDS seminaries and institutes.82
President Wilkinson wrote, “The conflict between President McKay and President Smith was on a question of doctrine [organic evolution] which, to my mind and the mind of President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., was entirely irrelevant to the Church.”83 McKay dismissed the significance of Man: His Origin and Destiny in letters to rank-and-file members. The earliest explained that “the Church has not approved of the book; and that so far as evolution is concerned, the Church has not made any ruling regarding it, and that no man has been authorized to speak for the Church on it.”84
Reuben would have preferred that the apostle had never published this anti-evolution book,85 but he did not make any effort to challenge it directly or to restrict its availability to the public. The views both men expressed in 1954 entered the LDS marketplace of ideas with relatively equal success. Elder Smith’s book went through several printings, while President Clark’s talk, “When Are Church Leader’s Words Entitled to Claim of Scripture?” was published in the Church News in 1954, republished in pamphlet form by the LDS Department of Seminaries and Institutes in 1966, and included in the lesson manual for Melchizedek priesthood quorums in 1969. Ten years later. Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought reprinted it, followed shortly thereafter by a BYU reprint.86
On occasion, however. President Clark was willing to employ censorship because he wanted to avoid the spiritual equivalent of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. To counter what he regarded as the longstanding infusion of liberal theology in LDS lesson manuals, he urged the establishment of a “Literature Censorship Committee” in 1940.87 He formulated the purposes of the subsequently designated Committee on Publications in a 1944 letter he drafted for the First Presidency:
The function of this Committee is to pass upon and approve all materials, other than those that are purely secular, to be used by our Church Priesthood, Educational, Auxiliary, and Missionary organizations in their work of instructing members of the Church in the principles of the Gospel and in leading others to a knowledge of the Truth. …
To meet such required standards for use by Church organizations, such materials must:
1. Clearly set forth or be fully consistent with the principles of the restored Gospel.
2. Be wholly free from any taint of sectarianism and also of all theories and conclusions destructive of faith in the simple truths of the Restored Gospel, and especially be free from the teachings of the so-called “higher criticism.” Worldly knowledge and speculation have their place; but they must yield to revealed truth.
3. Be so framed and written as affirmatively to breed faith and not raise doubts. “Rationalizing” may be most destructive of faith. That the Finite cannot fully explain the Infinite casts no doubt upon the Infinite. Truth, not error, must be stressed.
4. Be so built in form and substance as to lead to definite conclusions that accord with the principles of the Restored Gospel which conclusions must be expressed and not left to possible deduction by the students. When truth is involved there is no place for student preference or choice. Youth must be taught that truth cannot be blinked or put aside, it must be accepted.
5. Be filled with a spirit of deepest reverence. They should give no place for the slightest levity. They should be so written that those who teach from and by them will so understand.
6. Be so organized and written that the matter may be effectively taught by men and women untrained in teaching without the background equipment given by such fields of learning as psychology, pedagogy, philosophy and ethics. The great bulk of our teachers are in the untrained group.88
This directive was a distillation of his often-expressed views about LDS instructional materials. The philosophy, even the words, he used in drafting this letter became the charter of what was later known as Church Correlation.89
Although President Clark wanted everything in LDS instructional manuals to “breed faith and not raise doubts,” his preferences for the public image of Mormonism varied. Sometimes he made bald-faced admissions to newspaper reporters. At other times he suppressed embarrassing information.
Aside from his well-known frankness in talking with church members about himself and problems in LDS administration, he could be equally candid with non-Mormons. When reporters for Time, Inc. assumed in 1936 that President Grant went “to a room for [prayerful] communion and reflection” before making administrative decisions, Reuben replied “that we did not do our Church work in that style.”90 When a representative of Look asked him in 1942 about church divorces, he replied: “Our divorces are piling up, we are influenced by the same waves of emotion and sociological elements as affect the whole country. We are just all mixed up, but I think that still our divorce rate is lower than the average.”91 When a reporter for the Wall Street Journal asked in 1943 if there had been divine instructions to “the Church leaders regarding the post-war world,” he replied, “I am not aware that any such revelations or visions have been received by any of the leaders.”92
On the other hand, Clark was willing to use his influence against Utah writers who presented Mormonism in what he regarded as an unfavorable light. In 1949 he used an intermediary to urge the Guggenheim Foundation to drop its support of Dale L. Morgan’s projected multi-volume history of Mormonism. Otherwise “the Guggenheim Foundation and the Guggenheim interests [would come] into ill repute in this area.”93 This referred to the Guggenheim investment in the Kennecott Copper Mine.94 Four years earlier Reuben may have similarly encouraged the LDS president to write a letter to Apostle John A. Widtsoe “in regard to a forthcoming book by Miss Maurine Whipple, uncomplimentary to the Church and the State, and asking him to take up the matter with the Governor and the officials of the two counties named in the book.” This involved her book, This Is the Place: Utah, by New York publisher Alfred Knopf.95
In 1951 he successfully interceded with representatives of the motion picture industry to cancel a projected film on the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre. Warner Brothers studio was basing the movie on Juanita Brooks’s scholarly study published by Stanford University.96 She had already complained in print that “President Clark had decided that they [the affidavits regarding the massacre] should not be made available … The most difficult thing to understand about all this is not so much the refusal to show the affidavits as the consistent and repeated refusal to discuss the question.”97 As Reuben wrote in 1951 to express his unwillingness to discuss a subject about which he already disagreed, “it is a waste of lather to shave an ass.”98
However, it was not possible to control the national press. “Your article is hopelessly inadequate and almost completely distortional of Mormon life,” he wrote in a 1954 letter to Life magazine’s assistant publisher, Hud Stoddard. In this letter, which he ultimately decided not to send, he vented his frustration with the media:
I am looking forward to the time (I may not live to see it) when someone will come from some of your magazines who, first, knows something about the Mormons, and secondly, who will try to tell the truth about us and fairly report us in word and picture. We Mormons are not grotesque[--]either in our appearance or our living. We are not freaks. We are not ignoramuses and the records of educational and scientific activities and achievements of America will show this. We are not priest-ridden.99
In other cases where the agency of individual Mormons conflicted with President Clark’s sense of propriety, he declined to use his powers to impose censorship. At the same time, he left no uncertainty about his expectation of self-censorship. The best example of this occurred in 1957 when he learned that BYU professor James R. Clark was planning to publish an article about the defunct and little-understood Council of Fifty in LDS history. Reuben tried to dissuade his nephew by saying that the fact of their family relationship would make it appear to members of the church that the article had President Clark’s approval. He told Professor Clark, “You are telling a lot of things you don’t know anything about” and that “I don’t think any good Churchman should do it,” that “I think it is unwise.” Yet when his nephew asked if he was specifically telling him to discontinue the project, Reuben replied: “I think you should not touch it, but you can if you want. I am not going to tell you not to do it, but I think you will make a mistake if you do it.”100
In 1958 Professor Clark published the first-ever article about the theocratic Council of Fifty.101 This did not harm his church status nor his reputation at headquarters. With the permission of the LDS president, he subsequently edited a multi-volume publication of First Presidency messages and official statements.102
The principle of personal freedom was too important an issue to J. Reuben Clark for him to use his administrative powers against ordinary members of the church who chose to write and publish things he preferred left alone.103 Nonetheless, he was more willing to consider the suppression of publications by general authorities if he felt they were inadvertently creating problems for the church.
His earliest comments about such matters involved the writings of Apostle Widtsoe and his wife, Leah, a granddaughter of Brigham Young. In 1944 Reuben opposed her intention to include chocolate and cocoa in a discussion of the “Word of Wisdom” in a church magazine for children. Concerning a 1947 meeting. Apostle Lee wrote: “John A. Widtsoe and Pres. Clark clashed on the subject of whole wheat bread. Bro. Widtsoe, in an insinuating manner, told Bro. Clark that if he were informed he would know the importance of whole wheat bread, to which Pres. Clark replied that others, who were as equally informed as he (Bro. Widtsoe), disagreed with him.”104
In October 1948 Apostle Albert E. Bowen referred to Widtsoe’s complaints that the church newspaper advertised cola drinks. Because of their caffeine, Widtsoe regarded them as a violation of the Word of Wisdom, which prohibited coffee and tea. President Clark wrote, “I said John and Leah had stirred up more trouble with their dietary ideas than any one else and that except for my affection for them I would have urged the Brethren to restrict their activities.”105
His reaction was so negative because of another incident involving the Widtsoes earlier that same year. Their book on the Word of Wisdom was cited as the first footnote in a physician’s article in the Improvement Era, which began, “Excessive use of refined sugar in the United States has become a serious nutritional problem.” This eight-page scholarly article created a public relations problem for the church’s sugar company, of which Reuben was an executive director.106 Aside from Widtsoe’s book serving as the inspiration for this article, he was co-editor of the magazine and may have encouraged the author to write this. Reuben therefore commissioned another author to write a refutation. “Pres. Clark suggested that he make no reference to the previous one in the Era, but cite the authorities and the results of experiments on the value of sugar as a food.”107
When a committee headed by Apostle Widtsoe published a Year Book of Facts and Statistics in 1949, President Clark suggested to LDS president George Albert Smith that “this booklet contained some information that would be better not circulated.” As a result, the president asked Widtsoe to withdraw it from circulation.108
First counselor Stephen L Richards and Apostle Petersen recommended in 1955 against reprinting a 1921 article about the temple’s ordinances by the now deceased Widtsoe. Reuben agreed that the article should not be reprinted. But as second counselor, he disagreed with their proposal to publish it in altered form: “I did not think we were justified in re-writing articles that had been prepared by men who were dead.”109
In the matter of restricting the publications of general authorities, Reuben became most involved with the writings of Elder McConkie. In December 1955 Salt Lake publisher Bookcraft advertised an upcoming McConkie publication. Sound Doctrine: The Journal of Discourses Series. The First Presidency had future advertisements withdrawn.110 After Reuben read 150 pages of the first manuscript volume of this projected series, he recommended that the First Presidency stop its publication altogether. He explained his reasons to Elder McConkie in person:
I said [to him that] I assumed that he would not print, that is, was not proposing to print the sermons of the other [deceased] brethren, that is, the early brethren, on such matters as the Adam-God theory, so-called, and the sermons on plural marriage. He said that was his idea. I said that I personally[,] and I thought the other brethren [of the current First Presidency] agreed with me, felt it would be unwise to issue a Journal of Discourses with those sermons omitted[--]inasmuch as that would give the [Fundamentalist] cultists an opportunity for attack which might increase our present difficulties instead of mollifying them. …
I mentioned the fact that the title he had given to the collection “Sound Doctrine,” implied that there was other doctrine [in the Journal of Discourses] that was unsound and that perhaps it would not be wise to give forth that implication. He seemed to agree with that idea. …
I said I felt that we were having a great many books published now by some of the leading Brethren; that these books did not always express all the sentiment of the other Brethren, at least some of them, and might be contrary to it; he admitted that.
I also called attention to the fact that it would have been better if he had conferred with the Brethren before he began the printing of his book, instead of afterward, and he admitted that that was a mistake which he had made.
Clark expressed the hope that he “should not suffer any undue loss” financially by ceasing publication of Sound Doctrine.111 Because it had been advertised in advance. Elder McConkie’s unauthorized book never reached the bookstores.
The First Presidency thought they had resolved Elder McConkie’s misunderstandings about publishing books for LDS readers. However, the question thrust itself on Reuben again less than three years later. In mid-1958 Bookcraft suddenly released thousands of copies of Elder McConkie’s 776-page book, Mormon Doctrine. This volume announced the authors position as a general authority and the author’s preface described the book as the “first extensive compendium of the whole gospel.” He noted that the scriptures were “the chief source of authority quoted” and that any interpretations were “from such recognized doctrinal authorities as Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Joseph F. Smith, Orson Pratt, John Taylor, and Joseph Fielding Smith.”112
Although the implication of the title and preface was that this was an authoritative and comprehensive statement of LDS doctrine, the author had not informed the First Presidency or even fellow members of the First Council of Seventy that he intended to publish it. His own father-in-law, “Joseph Fielding Smith[,] did not know anything about it until it was published.”113 By keeping his upcoming book a secret, he successfully prevented the hierarchy from again stopping publication.114 This clearly contradicted his previous acknowledgment that it was “a mistake which he had made” in not “conferr[ing] with the Brethren before he began the printing of his book,” Sound Doctrine.
All of this violated every rule President Clark had observed in his own publications about LDS topics. For example, he did not publish his decades of biblical study without the specific and repeated permission from the church president. (See chapter 8.) Even then, the first words of Why the King James Version? were: “For this book I alone am responsible. It is not a Church publication.”115
Reuben needed only to see the title page and read a few pages of Elder McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine to cause him to bring the matter to President McKay’s immediate attention. “I was urgent in saying I did it only because I felt he must know,” he wrote. “I was sure we had to do something because this book would raise more trouble than anything we had had in the Church for a long while.”116
After some delay in deciding what to do about this runaway bestseller, the First Presidency appointed apostles Petersen and Marion G. Romney to scrutinize the content of the book.117 As protégés of President Clark, both reviewers shared his disdain for doctrinal dogmatism. Elder Petersen found “errors and misstatements” on nearly every page, and Elder Romney wrote a letter to the president summarizing areas needing deletion or revision.118
McKay arrived at the conclusion which Reuben had decided at the outset. In a statement to the author’s father-in-law and the rest of the Twelve, the church president said “that Brother McConkie’s book is approved as an authoritative book, and that it should not be republished, even if the errors (some 1,067 of them) are corrected.”119
The president retreated from the First Presidency’s initial decision that Mormon Doctrine “should be repudiated.” McKay decided against requiring McConkie to make a public apology because “it might lessen his influence” as a general authority.120 Instead, the president simply decided to write private letters denying that it was “an official publication of the Church.”121
However, five years after Clark died, President McKay reconsidered the decision to prevent further publication of the book. By then, Joseph Fielding Smith was his assistant counselor. The president decided to allow his counselor’s son-in-law to publish a revised and expanded edition.122 In fulfillment of Reuben’s worst fears, the dogmatic Mormon Doctrine gained the stature among many Latter-day Saints as the authoritative expression of official doctrine.123
In all of Reuben’s attitudes toward the relationship of intellect, scripture, doctrine, and faith, there were three fundamentals: his unwavering testimony, his insistence on freedom of intellect, and his loyalty to the role of the church president as prophet of God. He told the general conference of April 1949: “The priesthood never compels. God himself does not compel the intellect, nor does he attempt to overthrow it.” In a second sermon to that same conference, he added: “I bear my testimony that I know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ and the first fruits of the resurrection. I know that the gospel and the Priesthood were restored through the Prophet Joseph.” To him, all other considerations were secondary to that testimony.124
For example, he said that Mormons should not expect democratic rights in the LDS church. He told the general conference of 1945, “We are democratic in our concepts of the Church, but we are not a democracy; we are a kingdom, the Church and kingdom of God on earth.”125 He later explained this to a missionary meeting: “I hope Brother [Mark E.] Petersen will pardon me–but this is not a democracy; this is not a republic; this is a kingdom of God. The President of the Church is his premier, if you will, his agent, his possessor of the keys. Our free agency which we have does not make us any more nor less than subjects of the Kingdom and subjects we are,–not citizens, Brother Mark.”126 As a reflection of his suspicions about intellectuals, Reuben affirmed that only the LDS president “has the right to rationalize”127 and that only he “has any right to change or modify or extend any revelation of the Lord.”128
He assured the general priesthood meeting in October 1946 that the Latter-day Saints could always follow the LDS prophet who will never lead them astray: “The Lord has never permitted it and He never will, because that would be an act of deceit of which He is incapable.”129 However, like others who have expressed this view. President Clark did not explain how this was consistent with the founding prophet’s published revelation providing for the excommunication of the church president. His sermon also contradicted other official statements that the prophet is capable of apostasy and can lead the Saints astray.130 As stated in Reuben’s copy of Discourses of Brigham Young, “I would beseech and pray the people to live so that if I do not magnify my office and calling, you will burn me by your faith and good works, and I shall be removed.”131
In fact, Reuben had already told the general conference of April 1940 that the First Presidency “is not infallible in our judgment, and we err.”132 He reminded the membership in April 1949 that the LDS president “was a prophet only when he spoke with the spirit of prophecy,” paraphrasing a statement by founder Joseph Smith.133 Reuben instructed LDS educators in 1954 that “even the President of the Church has not always spoken under the direction of the Holy Ghost.” As in his earlier talk to general conference, he told the religion faculty that it was only by diligent study, earnest prayer, and faithful listening to the promptings of the Holy Ghost whereby a person could know when the LDS president or any other general authority was acting according to the will of God.134
This was his restatement of published sermons by an earlier prophet. Reuben’s copy of Discourses of Brigham Young proclaimed: “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation.”135 Young further warned against what he had heard from some members: “‘I do not depend upon any inherent goodness of my own,’ say they, ‘to introduce me into the kingdom of glory, but I depend upon you, brother Joseph, upon you, brother Brigham … I believe your judgment is superior to mine, and consequently I let you judge for me.’” Rather than praising their faith in the living prophet. Young warned them: “Now those men, or those women, who know no more about the power of God, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, than to be led entirely by another person, suspending their own understanding, and pinning their faith upon another’s sleeve, will never be capable of entering into the celestial glory, to be crowned as they anticipate; they will never be capable of becoming Gods.”136
As stated at the beginning, J. Reuben Clark sought a conservative balance between the imperatives of reason and revelation. The issues were sometimes difficult to resolve, but he did the best he could as both church spokesman and church administrator.
2 Lute to JRC, 23 Aug. 1906, box 328 JRCP.
3 Reported in Lute to JRC, 14 Apr. 1940, box 338, JRCP.
4 JRC dictation, 1 Sept. 1956, transcript, box 225, JRCP.
5 Ernest L. Wilkinson diary, 28 Mar. 1956, photocopy, JWML.
7 JRC, Why the King James Version? (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1956), vii-viii.
8 JRC office diary, 7 July 1955, JRCP. This conversation occurred while Deseret Book was preparing to publish his study.
9 JRC office diary, 5 June 1956.
10 JRC to Ernest L. Wilkinson, 8 Feb. 1950 (first set of quotes) and 28 Feb. 1950 (second set), both in fd 18, box 382, JRCP.
11 See discussion and quotes for notes 12 and 15.
12 JRC to Frank R. Clark, 4 Mar. 1946, with manuscript draft (12 Jan. 1946) of Clark’s general observations about Brodie’s biography, plus a proposed review (18 Feb. 1946) other book, all in box 234, JRCP. Cf. Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945); Marvin S. Hill, “Brodie Revisited: A Reappraisal,” Dial 7 (Winter 1972): 72-85; Newell G. Bringhurst, “Fawn M. Brodie, ‘Mormonism’s Lost Generation’; and No Man Knows My History; JMH 16 (1990): 11-24; William O. Nelson, “Anti-Mormon Publications,” in EM 1:50; Bringhurst, “Fawn McKay Brodie,” in U, 58.
13 JRC office diary, 9 May 1946; also Peggy Petersen Barton, Mark E. Petersen: A Biography (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985), 75-76: “President Clark kept his eye on the young man. He chose Mark Petersen as a protege, and Mark cherished this great man as teacher and example.”
14 “Appraisal of the So-Called Brodie Book,” CN 11 May 1946, 1, 6, 8.
15 A. Hamer Reiser memorandum to JRC, 15 May 1959, and JRC to A. Ray Olpin (president, University of Utah), 30 May 1959, attached to Olpin’s presentation copy of McMurrin’s The Philosophical Foundations of Mormon Theology, along with Olpin to JRC, 11 May 1959, in Clarkana.
16 JRC to Sidney B. Sperry, 11 Jan. 1956, fd 7, box 39, JRCP.
17 JRC to Nephi Jensen, 13 Dec. 1940, fd 2, box 362, JRCP. Clarkana has Septimus J. Hanna, Christian Science History … (Boston: Christian Science Publication Society, 1899); also Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan: The Conflict of the Ages in the Christian Dispensation (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing, 1911); also The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed., 30 vols. (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1998), 4:364 (for Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science). Neither the Britannica nor EA has an article about Ellen G. White, the “prophetess and co[-]founder” of Seventh-day Adventism. See Ronald L. Numbers, “White, Ellen Gould,” in Mircea Eliade, ed., The Encyclopedia of Religion, 15 vols. (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1987), 15:337-79.
18 Rowena J. Miller to Mrs. Walter H. Durrant, 27 Oct. 1959, fd 7, box 405, JRCP; Clarkana has Edwin Arnold, The Light of Asia; Or the Great Renunciation … Being the Life and Teachings of Gautama, Prince of India and Founder of Buddhism … (New York: A. L. Burt, 1879); Religions in Japan (Tokyo: General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, Civil Information and Education Section, Religions and Cultural Resources Division, 1948).
19 JRC to Thomas I. Parkinson, 11 July 1947, fd 16, box 376JRCP.
20 For example, Marion G. Romney diary, 16 Jan. 1959, private possession; also President Clark’s negative comment about “intellectuals” in Conf, Oct. 1956, 96. The only publications titled intellectual, intellectuals, intellectualism, liberals, or liberalism in Reuben’s personal library focused on socialism or Communism, both of which he despised and feared. Clarkana has the following: Paul Lafargue, Socialism and the Intellectuals, trans. Charles H. Kerr (Chicago: C. H. Kerr, 1900); Santeri Nuorteva, An Open Letter to American Liberals … (New York: Socialist Publication Society, 1918); George H. Soule, The Intellectual and the Labor Movement (New York: League for Industrial Democracy, 1923); Frank S. Bell, The New Deal: The Masque Torn Off: The Issue, Americanism vs. Communism Masquerading under the Term Liberalism (Twin Falls, ID: by the author, 1934); Joseph Stalin, Marxism vs. Liberalism (New York: International Publishers, 1935); V. J. Jerome, Intellectuals and the War (New York: Workers’ Library Publishers, 1940); Carey McWilliams, The Liberals and the War Crisis (Los Angeles: Southern California Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, ); Howard Fast, Intellectuals in the Fight for Peace (New York: Masses and Mainstream, 1949). The Communist Party’s publishing houses often had “international” or “worker” in their names.
21 JRC to Cloyd H. Marvin, 1 Dec. 1956, 9 Dec. 1959, binder of JRC-Marvin correspondence, box 189, JRCP; originals of JRC letters in Marvin papers, Archives, George Washington University, Washington, D. C.
22 Conf, Oct. 1954, 38; JRC, “Our Priceless Special Blessings,” Improvement Era 57 (Dec. 1954): 879.
23 Conf, Apr. 1952, 95; JRC, “Our Destiny was Planned,” Improvement Era 55 (June 1952): 412.
24 Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963), 27.
25 Leonard J. Arrington, “The Intellectual Tradition of the Latter-day Saints,” Dial 4 (Spring 1969): 22n22; cf. Richard F. Haglund, Jr., and David J. Whittaker, “Intellectual History,” in EM 2:689 (for “J. Reuben Clark, Jr., in international affairs”).
26 JRC to Ormand Coulam, 3 Sept. 1938, fd l, box 359, JRCP.
27 The Book of Mormon. For recent works on the historicity of the Book of Mormon, see D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, rev. and enl. ed. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1998), 352nl01.
28 JRC memorandum #3, fd J9, box 90, JRCP.
29 JRC to J. Willard Marriott, 6 Mar. 1946, fd 2, box 347, JRCP.
30 JRC office diary, 22 Aug. 1959.
31 JRC to Thomas Stuart Ferguson, 16 May 1957, box 340, JRCP; his letter to Ferguson on 29 March 1957 referred to “this Catholic veneer (box 340); see also Stan Larson, Quest for the Gold Plates: Thomas Stuart Ferguson’s Archaeological Search for The Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Freethinker Press, 1996), with specific references to JRC on 18, 37, 47, 72-73.
32 Ernest L. Wilkinson and Leonard J. Arrington, eds., Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years, 4 vols. (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1975-76), 2:224.
33 JRC, “The Chartered Course of the Church in Education,” in CN, 13 Aug. 1938, 6; in Improvement Era 41 (Sept. 1938): 572; in Wilkinson and Arrington, eds., Brigham Young University, 2:246; with full reprint in SR, 243-59.
34 Lucile C. Tate, Boyd K. Packer: A Watchman on the Tower (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1995), 199; also David E. Buchanan, “An Analysis of the Immediate and Long-Range Implications of Three Speeches Delivered by J. Reuben Clark, Jr.,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1976, 22-39 (for “The Chartered Course of the Church in Education”); Bruce C. Hafen, “J. Reuben Clark: The Man and the Message,” BYU Today 42 (Sept. 1988): 3; Bryan Waterman and Brian Kagel, The Lord’s University: Freedom and Authority at BYU (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1998), 443-45.
35 Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1975), 307-21.
36 Sterling M. McMurrin and L. Jackson Newell, Matters of Conscience: Conversations with Sterling M. McMurrin on Philosophy, Education, and Religion (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996), 115.
37 JRC office diary, 21 Apr., 27 Apr. 1944, 4 Mar. 1946, 21 Apr. 1950.
38 Heber J. Grant, JRC, and David O. McKay to Committee on Publications (Joseph Fielding Smith, John A. Widtsoe, Harold B. Lee, and Marion G. Romney), 9 Aug. 1944, LDSA, quoted in M 6:208-11.
39 Wilkinson and Arrington, eds., Brigham Young University, 2:261, 3:139-40. JRC office diary, 21 Apr. 1950, expressed his first objection to “a postgraduate school at the BYU.”
40 JRC to Ernest L. Wilkinson, 17 Nov. 1956, fd 5, box 15,Wilkinson papers, HBLL; quoted in part in Wilkinson and Arrington, eds., Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years, 2:651.
The previous quotes highlight the decades-old conflict between Mormons like Clark who want BYU to be an LDS “divinity school” for all its students versus those who want it to become a “real” university of both committed faith and rigorous academic freedom like Notre Dame, the country’s pre-eminent Catholic university. BYU came closest to the latter synthesis while Dallin H. Oaks was its president from the early 1970s to early 1980s, but in recent years administrators and trustees have enforced the kind of emphasis that Clark advocated. See Gary James Bergera and Ronald Priddis, Brigham Young University: A House of Faith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 32-40, 342, 357, 367, 385n69; Waterman and Kagel, The Lord’s University; Martha C. Nussbaum, Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Education (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 257-99 (for specific comparison of BYU and Notre Dame), reviewed by BYU and Notre Dame graduate R. Dennis Potter, “Religious Education in a Liberal World,” Sunstone 22 June 1999): 64-69.
41 Ernest L. Wilkinson diary, 6 Jan., 24 Feb., 28 Apr., 7 Sept., 19 Oct. 1960; JRC office diary, 13 Feb. 1960; Gary James Bergera, “Building Wilkinson’s University,” Dial 30 (Fall 1997): 125-26, 128, 128n98.
42 JRC pencil notes, marked “draft not used,” attached to October 1947 conference fd, box 159, JRCP.
43 JRC to Frank L. Perns, 29 Jan. 1936, fd l, box 354, JRCP.
44 Ernest L. Wilkinson diary 18 July 1956.
45 JRC to N. L. Nelson, 24 June 1941, fd 2, box 363, JRCP. JRC was outraged when Nelson used quotes from this letter to advertise his book. See JRC to Nelson, 5 Feb. 1942, fd 2, box 365, JRCP; also Davis Bitton, “N. L. Nelson and the Mormon Point of View,” BYU Studies 13 (Winter 1973): 157-71.
46 JRC office diary, 16 Apr. 1948. Petersen was specifically mentioned in the first draft I submitted in 1981 for review by LDS administrators. The 1983 printing changed the reference to “someone.” Elder Petersen was then a senior member of the Twelve and died in 1984.
47 JRC pencil notes, “draft not used,” attached to October 1947 conference folder; also Susan Easton Black, “Celestial Kingdom,” in EM 1:259-60; Shamma Friedman and Leib Moscovitz, “Talmud,” in R. J. Zwi Werblowsky and Geoffrey Wigoder, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 669-72. Clarkana has the following: Michael L. Rodkinson, New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, 2d ed., rev. and enl. (Boston: Talmud Society, 1918), including JRC underlinings and marginal notations; Hebraic Literature: Translations from the Talmud, Midrashim and Kabbala (New York: Tudor Publishing, 1936); Eugene N. Sanctuary, The Talmud Vnmasked: The Secret Rabbinical Teachings Concerning Christians (New York: N.p., 1939); Charles L. Russell, The Babylonian Talmud: In Selection (New York: Philosophical Library, 1944).
48J 8:9 (B.Young/1860).
49 JRC to J. Reuben Clark III, 23 May 1929, box 355, JRCP.
50 Conf, Apr. 1949,187.
51 JRC statement to temple meeting of the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve, 8 Apr. 1943 (quote), transcript in “Budget Beginnings,” bound volume, 15, box 188, JRCP; also “A Conversation with Elder Neal Maxwell,” in Hugh Hewett, Searching for God in America (Dallas, TX: Word, 1996), 128; “Tactical Revelation,” Sunstone 19 (Dec. 1996): 80.
52 JRC to M——R. R–, 24 Sept. 1953, fd 8, box 389, JRCP. For statements by LDS apostles and prophets about God as a progressing personage, see Gary James Bergera, “Does God Progress in Knowledge?,” Dial 15 (Spring 1982): 179-81; E, 757, 763, 764, 803, 846, 874. Cf. Bruce R. McConkie, “The Seven Deadly Heresies,” in 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year: BYU Devotional and Fireside Addresses (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1981), 75: “Heresy One: There are those who say that God is progressing in knowledge and is learning new truths. This is false–utterly, totally, and completely.”
53 M 4:266-67. For studies of the complexity of this matter, see Rodney Turner, “The Position of Adam in Latter-day Saint Scripture and Theology,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1953; David John Buerger, “The Adam-God Doctrine,” Dial 15 (Spring 1982): 14-58; Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, 234, 304.
In 1992 EM adopted a curious approach to this matter. The index (4:1776) stated: “Adam-God. See God,” but there was no reference to Adam under God, God the Father, Godhead, nor Godhood (4:1799-1800). Volume one had: “ADAM-GOD. See: Young, Brigham: Teachings of Brigham Young.” In that entry (4:1611) Hugh Nibley did not cite the First Presidency’s official statement but instead referred to this well-documented doctrine/theory in an oblique manner:
“Brigham Young recognized that many people were not prepared to understand the mysteries of God and godhood. ‘I could tell you much more about this,’ he said, speaking of the role of ADAM; but checked himself, recognizing that the world would probably misinterpret his teaching (J 1:51).” Aside from the fact that Brigham Young did talk about Adam as God in this 1852 sermon and in increasing detail for twenty-five years afterward, Nibley’s approach allowed his readers to conclude that Adam was actually God the Father.
54 JRC to D—- C. L——, 2 July 1946, fd 1, box 374, JRCP.
55 JRC to G——E.W——–, 28 Oct. 1936, fd 2, box 354, JRCP. The controversy among general authorities in the nineteenth century concerning the Adam-God doctrine is discussed in Gary James Bergera, “The Orson Pratt-Brigham Young Controversies: Conflict within the Quorums, 1853-1868,” Dial 13 (Summer 1980): 7-49.
56 John A. Widtsoe, ed., Discourses of Brigham Young, Second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book/copyrighted “by Heber J. Grant for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” 1925), 99, in Clarkana. Widtsoe was quoting from J 2:123.Cf. M. Russell Ballard, “Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers,” Ensign 29 (Nov. 1999): 64: “However, in the Lord’s Church there is no such thing as a ‘loyal opposition.’”
57 Clark, On the Way to Immortality and Eternal Life, 314-35.
58 New Catholic Encyclopedia, 15 vols. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967), 6:821-22 (“Guadalupe, Our Lady of” and sub-heading “Cult and Its Extension”).
59 JRC to Joseph T. Bentley, 26 Sept. 1956, fd 2, box 395, JRCP.
60 JRC to missionary meeting, 5 Apr. 1957, transcript in April 1957 conference fd, box 166, JRCP; also SR, 182-83, as “I don’t know.”
61 JRC office diary, 28 Apr. 1952; also Jeanne B. Inouye, “Stillborn Children,” in EM 3:1419, “the Church has made no official statement on the matter.”
62 Rowena J. Miller to L—- R—-, 25 Aug. 1953, fd 3, box 389, JRCP; also Rodney Turner, “Sons of Perdition,” in EM 3:1391-92.
63 JRC office diary, 24 Jan. 1950. Cf. Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, Volume II, comp. and ed. by Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1958), 159, for “Was the Holy Ghost on the Earth before the Time of Our Savior?” Elder Smith gave this condescending answer: “A little ordinary thinking would reveal to us the fact that the ancient prophets could not have spoken by prophecy and revelation unless they were in possession of this great gift.”
64 JRC to LeRoie Woolley, 5 Nov. 1959, fd 22, box 406, JRCP.
65 Joseph Fielding Smith, “The Perfect Resurrection,” Improvement Era 57 (Feb. 1954): 78. To a member’s question, “If we lose a part of the body, like a hand, arm, or leg, will we be made whole?” Apostle Smith appealed to common sense and scripture to conclude: “All deformities and imperfections will be removed.” Reprinted in Bruce R. McConkie, comp., Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955), 2:289.
66 JRC to Ivan E. Lawrence, 20 May 1957, fd 16, box 399, JRCP.
67 JRC to Harvey L. Taylor, 2 Jan. 1957, “Copyrights” fd, box 277, JRCP.
68 JRC office diary, 1 June 1948. For discussion of the historical nature of doctrinal differences among members of the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve, see M 2:214-23, 229-40; Brigham H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church … 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1930), 4:61nl6, 5:269-271; Bergera, “Orson Pratt-Brigham Young Controversies”; Donald Q. Cannon, “The King Follett Discourse: Joseph Smith’s Greatest Sermon in Historical Perspective,” BYU Studies 18 (Winter 1978): 191-92; Thomas G. Alexander, “The Reconstruction of Mormon Doctrine: From Joseph Smith to Progressive Theology,” Sunstone 5 (July-Aug. 1980): 27-31; 7:259-306.
69 JRC office diary, 21 June 1948.
70 JRC, “Jesus Christ–Our Head,” CN, 23 May 1953, 3; Bruce R. McConkie, “Who Is the Author of the Plan of Salvation?” Improvement Era 56 (May 1953): 322.
71 Rowena J. Miller to Ernest C. Cook, 26 Jan. 1954, fd l, box 388, JRCP. By contrast, LDS headquarters, through pre-publication approval and editing of its official encyclopedia, followed McConkie’s rejection of the term “plan” when referring to Lucifer’s alternative. See Gerald N. Lund, “Plan of Salvation, Plan of Redemption,” and Brent L. Top, “War in Heaven,” in EM 3:1088 (“the Father’s plan” and Lucifer’s “proposal”), 4:1546 (“God the Father instituted the eternal plan of salvation” and “Lucifer’s proposal”). President Clark regarded this as a semantic distinction without a difference.
72 Duane E. Jeffery, “Seers, Savants, and Evolution: The Uncomfortable Interface,” Dial 8 (Nos. 3/4,1973): 63-65; Richard Sherlock, “A Turbulent Spectrum: Mormon Reactions to the Darwinist Legacy,” JMH 5 (1978): 33-46; Sherlock, “‘We Can See No Advantage to a Continuation of the Discussion’: The Roberts/Smith/Talmage Affair,” Dial 13 (Fall 1980): 63-78; Truman D. Madsen, Defender of the Faith: The B. H. Roberts Story (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980), 344-45; First Council of Seventy minutes, 20 Sept. 1928, 12 Feb., 9 Apr. 1931, LDSA; George F. Richards diary, 21 Jan., 7 Apr. 1931, LDSA; James E. Talmage diary, 2, 7, 14, 21 Jan., 7 Apr., 5, 17, 21 Nov. 1931, HBLL; Heber J. Grant journal sheets, 25 Jan., 23 Feb., 30 Mar. 1931, LDSA.
73 JRC notes for talk, “Evolution,” 29 Nov 1915, box 90, JRCP; JRC notes for talk, “Science Truths–Theory vs. Fact,” 7 Sept. 1924, box 114, JRCP.
74 JRC to Joseph Fielding Smith, 2 Oct. 1946, marked “Not sent,” in fd for Relief Society conference of Oct. 1946, box 158, JRCP. Five years before his exchange of letters with Apostle Smith, Reuben wrote that “there are absolutely no time periods or limitations for the material creation, the creation of the material world and its living beings” (JRC to Frank R. Clark, 3 Mar. 1941, fd 1, box 363).
75 Second draft of JRC talk, “Our Wives and Our Mothers in the Eternal Plan,” fd for Relief Society conference of Oct. 1946.
76 Previous note 72; also quoted in William E. Evenson, “Evolution,” in EM 2:478.
77 Author’s presentation copy of Man: His Origin and Destiny in Clarkana. For reference to part of the controversy the book caused, see Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. and John J. Stewart, The Life of Joseph Fielding Smith, Tenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1972), 319; detailed references in Joseph Fielding Smith typed diary, 2 Apr., 28 Aug., 7 Sept., 29 Dec. 1954, LDSA.
78 “Pres. Clark Talks on ‘Man–God’s Greatest Miracle,’” CN, 10 July 1954, 9; also full text in SR, 113-29.
79 “Our Relationship to God–Theme of BYU Lecture,” CN, 17 July 1954, 2, 10-11; “Pres. Smith Lectures at BYU: Discusses Organic Evolution, Opposed to Divine Revelation,” CN, 24 July 1954, 4, 13-15; Joseph Fielding Smith typed diary, 28 June 1954; Francis M. Gibbons, Joseph Fielding Smith: Gospel Scholar, Prophet of God (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992), 241.
As an example of Apostle Smith’s rejection of science, he instructed a stake conference in 1961: “We will never get a man into space. This earth is man’s sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it. The moon is a superior planet to the earth and it was never intended that man should go there. You can write it down in your books that this will never happen.” See E, 848 (entry for 14 May 1961), with commentary a few days later in George S. Tanner diary, JWML. Smith wanted this view to be taught to “the boys and girls in the Seminary System.” However, U.S. astronauts walked on the moon six months before he became president of the church in January 1970.
80 See previous note 72.
81 “President Clark’s Lecture: When Are Church Leader’s Words Entitled to Claim of Scripture?” CN, 31 July 1954, 10-11.
82 David O. McKay office diary, 18 Aug. 1954, LDSA.
83 Ernest L. Wilkinson diary, 10 Mar. 1960.
84 David O. McKay office diary 29 Dec. 1954. President McKay expressed the basic ideas of his December 1954 comments in a letter to William Lee Stokes on 15 Feb. 1957, widely circulated and published in Stokes, “An Official Position,” Dial 12 (Winter 1979): 90-92; also David O. McKay to Dr. A. Kent Christensen, 3 Feb. 1959, quoted in E, 844.
85 Quotes and discussion for previous notes 74-75, 77-78, 81-82.
86 JRC, When Are … (Provo, UT: Department of Seminaries and Institutes, 1966); Melchizedek Priesthood Course of Study, 1969-1970: Immortality and Eternal Life (Salt Lake City: First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1969), 215-25; Dial 12 (Summer 1979): 68-81; SR, 95-112. The tide of this talk has varied in these publications.
87 JRC office diary, 29 Mar. 1940.
88 Heber J. Grant, JRC, and David O. McKay to Committee on Publications (Joseph Fielding Smith, John A. Widtsoe, Harold B. Lee, and Marion G. Romney), 9 Aug. 1944, quoted in M 6:208-ll; also JRC office diary, 10 Jan., 12 Jan., 28-29 June 1944.
89 H, 363-77, 519; Richard O. Cowan, The Church in the Twentieth Century (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985), 305-17; James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, 2d ed., rev., enl. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992), 593-623; Frank O. May, Jr., “Correlation of the Church: Administration,” and James B. Allen and Richard O. Cowan, “History of the Church: 1945-1990,” in EM 1:324, 2:642-43; Jan Shipps, “Making Saints in the Early Days and the Latter Days,” in Marie Cornwall, Tim B. Heaton, and Lawrence A. Young, eds., Contemporary Mormonism: Social Science Perspectives (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 77, 80.
90 JRC to Heber J. Grant and David O. McKay, 1 Dec. 1936, fd 1, box 355, JRCP.
91 JRC office diary, 26 Jan. 1942.
92 JRC to Louis F. Thomann, 18 Oct. 1943, fd 3, box 367, JRCP.
93 JRC office diary, 1, 14-15 Nov. 1949; with quote from JRC to D. D. Moffatt, 21 Nov. 1949, one of several related documents in fd 5 (labeled “Dale Morgan”), box 8, CR 1/19, LDSA; also John Philip Walker, ed., Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism: Correspondence and a New History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986).
94 Thomas G. Alexander, Utah, the Right Place: The Official Centennial History, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: Gibbs-Smith Publisher/Utah Division of State History, 1996), 228, 409; also Leonard J. Arrington, “The Richest Hole on Earth”: A History of Bingham Copper Mine (Logan: Utah State University Monograph Series, 1963).
95 Heber J. Grant journal sheets, 13 Jan. 1945; cf. Maurine Whipple, This Is the Place: Utah (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945); also Jessie L. Embry, “Maurine Whipple: The Delicate Dissenter,” in Roger D. Launius and Linda Thatcher, eds., Differing Visions: Biographical Essays on Mormon Dissenters (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 310-18. Contrast JRC’s censorship with his response to the proposed biography of Apostle John W. Taylor. Taylor was dropped from the Quorum of Twelve in 1906 for marrying polygamously after the 1890 Manifesto, then excommunicated in 1911 for marrying yet another plural wife. See chapter 8.
96 JRC office diary, 8, 13 Nov 1951.
97 Juanita Brooks, The Mountain Meadows Massacre (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1950), 165n9 (last para.); also Levi S. Peterson, “Juanita Brooks: The Mormon Historian as Tragedian,” JMH 3 (1976): 47-54; Peterson, Juanita Brooks: Mormon Woman Historian (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1988); Peterson, “Juanita Brooks,” in U, 58-59.
98 JRC to John M. Riggs, 12 Mar. 1951, fd 6, box 384, JRCP. Unwillingness to discuss Higher Criticism was consistent with Clark’s “fundamental rules” against reading anything he thought he would disagree with.
99 Unused draft of JRC to Hud Stoddard, undated, regarding Life magazine’s issue of 16 September 1954, fd 6, box 391, JRCP.
100 JRC memorandum, 19 Oct. 1957, unnumbered box, JRCP.
101 James R. Clark, “The Kingdom of God, the Council of Fifty and the State of Deseret,” UHQ 26 (Apr. 1958): 131-48; cf. D. Michael Quinn, “The Council of Fifty and Its Members, 1844-1945,” BYU Studies 20 (Winter 1980): 163-97; Andrew F. Ehat, “‘It Seems Like Heaven Began on Earth’: Joseph Smith and the Constitution of the Kingdom of God,” BYU Studies 20 (Spring 1980): 253-79; also O and E (consult index). Although deeply flawed in interpretation and with gaps of significant evidence, Klaus J. Hansen’s Quest for Empire: The Political Kingdom of Cod and the Council of Fifty in Mormon History (Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1967) continues to be the only book on this subject.
102 M 1:viii.
103 In case current readers assume this statement is a reflection of my 1993 excommunication from the LDS church, it was in the 1981 draft I submitted to LDS administrators and in the 1983 book as published by BYU Press.
104 Harold B. Lee diary, 28-29 Jan. 1944 (concerning Leah), 10 Oct. 1947 (concerning John, with commas added for clarification), private possession; also E, 714-16 (summary of John’s activities in education, business, politics, government, and LDS administration); see John A. Widtsoe and Leah D. Widtsoe, The Word of Wisdom: A Modem Interpretation (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1937); Ralph B. Simmons, ed., Utah’s Distinguished Personalities: A Biographical Directory of Eminent Contemporaneous Men and Women Who are the Faithful Builders and Defenders of the State (Salt Lake City: Personality Publishing, 1933), 216, for her sketch.
105 JRC office diary, 18 Oct. 1948. For the introduction of tea and coffee into the “Word of Wisdom” and transition to a commandment, see Leonard J. Arrington, “An Economic Interpretation of the Word of Wisdom,” BYU Studies 1 (Winter 1959): 37-49; Lester E. Bush, Jr., “The Word of Wisdom in Early Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” and Thomas G. Alexander, “The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to Requirement,” Dial 14 (Autumn 1981): 47-65, 78-88; T, 258-71; Joseph Lynn Lyon, “Word of Wisdom,” in EM 4:1584-85.
106 Harold Lee Snow, “Refined Sugar: Its Use and Misuse: A Summary of Scientific Evidence,” Improvement Era 51 (Mar. 1948): 140 (I quote the article’s first sentence. The second reads: “One hundred years ago less than one-tenth as much sugar per capita was consumed as food in this country, as compared with today.” Widtsoe and Widtsoe, The Word of Wisdom, is the only source given [176nl] for these statements); Leonard J. Arrington, Beet Sugar in the West: A History of the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, 1891-1966 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1966), 179, for JRC position.
107 Improvement Era 51 (Mar. 1948): 130 (Widtsoe as co-editor); JRC office diary, 12 Apr. 1948 (quote); also Reed Millard, “Sugar Goes to Work for Science,” Improvement Era 53 (June 1950): 492, 520, which the editors introduced, contrary to President Clark’s intent, as a response to the March 1948 article.
108 George Albert Smith diary, 1 July 1949, in George A. Smith Family papers, JWML.
To understand why Clark thought the information “would be better not circulated,” I examined the Year Book of Facts and Statistics: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: “Council of the Twelve,” 1949), copies located in LDSL and Clarkana. Besides discrepancies in the figures reported for temple “ordinations” and “endowments,” page 25 showed that Latter-day Saints were not always healthier than non-Mormons: they had a higher mortality rate than Utahns generally for “diseases of the circulatory system” and a higher rate than either Utahns or Americans generally for “diseases of the respiratory system.” Moreover Clark may have been perturbed that page 30 gave the illegitimate birth rate for Utah and Idaho, even though it was 1/4 the national rate and the unidentified author, John A. Widtsoe, specifically used these statistics to praise the LDS membership’s higher morality. Widtsoe’s authorship is known only through the above entry in Smith’s diary.
109 JRC office diary, 26 Sept. 1955. This referred to John A. Widtsoe, “Temple Worship,” in The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 12 (Apr. 1921): 49-74, which has recently been reprinted as an appendix in James E. Talmage, The House of the Lord (1912; Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1998), 185-97.
110 The first advertisement appeared in the Improvement Era 58 (Dec. 1955): 882. The book was not included in the publisher’s Christmas advertisement in DN, 13 Dec. 1955, B-4. When I submitted this narrative for review by LDS administrators in 1981, Elder McConkie was a member of the Quorum of Twelve. He died in 1985.
111 JRC office diary, 16 Mar. 1956. Slightly less than twenty years after the First Presidency stopped this series, McConkie, now an apostle, had his oldest son, Joseph F. McConkie, publish the 1955 book under the title Journal of Discourses Digest, Volume 1. This had little better success than the earlier effort, and no subsequent volume was published.
112 Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1958), 3-5.
113 David O. McKay office diary, 7 Jan. 1960.
114 See also E, 846 (entry for 7-8 Jan. 1960).
115 JRC, Why the King James Version?, preface.
116 JRC memorandum, 9 July 1958, unnumbered box, JRCP.
117 Marion G. Romney diary, 16 Jan. 1959; David O. McKay office diary, 5 Mar. 1959.
118 David O. McKay office diary, 7 Jan. 1960.
119 David O. McKay office diary, 27 Jan. 1960, with parenthetical statement in the original.
120 David O. McKay office diary, 7 Jan. 1960 (first quote), 28 Jan. 1960 (second quote); both quoted in E, 846 (entry for 7-8 Jan. 1960).
121 David O. McKay to Dr. A. Kent Christensen, 3 Feb. 1959, quoted in E, 844; also 844-45 for McConkie’s effort on 17 February 1959 to prevent the suppression of Mormon Doctrine by making public disclaimers, to which the First Presidency replied the next day that “you cannot be disassociated from your official position in the publication of such a manuscript” and that “pending the final disposition of this problem[,] no further edition of the book be printed.”
122 Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966); Gibbons, Joseph Fielding Smith, 391 (McConkie as son-in-law and compiler), 437-38 (Smith as additional counselor). David O. McKay’s office diary (7 Jan. 1960) did not list all 1,067 “errors and misstatements” but did give thirty-six objections. With reference to those, the second edition deleted McConkie’s ecclesiastical position from the title page and eliminated his description of the work as a “compendium of the whole gospel,” stating instead that it was an expression of scriptures and prophetic interpretation.
The second edition dropped such cross references as (1958 ed., 108) “Catholicism. See Church of the Devil.” It dropped articles on Eternal City, Indulgences, Penance, and Supererogation. It deleted the Catholic church from articles on Abominations, Agency, Babylon, Church of the Devil, Exorcism, Harlots, and Magic. It toned down references to Catholicism in entries for Extreme Unction and Inquisition. It eliminated the word apostate from entries on Church, Cross, Deaconess, Epiphany, Kingdoms of Glory, Priests, Protestants, and Sacred Grove. It toned down the article on Palm Sunday and references to other churches in Ministerial Tides and Prayer. It tempered its RLDS church reference in Article on Marriage and Josephites. It dropped organic evolution and evolutionists from the entries on Animals, Civilization, Devil, and Evil Spirits. It deleted the earth’s age in the Creation section. It qualified references to the status of animals and plants in the Garden of Eden in the Animals entry. It dropped the statement that reading a prepared sermon was “a mockery of sacred things” under Sermons. It mitigated instructions on the conduct of family prayers in Prayer, and it dropped that article’s reference to resumption of the School of the Prophets.
Due to oversight, negotiation, or some other reason, the second edition failed to delete or modify references to the following items specified as either objectionable or doctrinally false by President McKay in 1960: the RLDS church (Common Consent), Christian churches (Clergy), the Catholic church (Immaculate Conception), organic evolution (Believers), the entire article on evolution (E volution), pre-Adamites (Adam; First Flesh), the status of animals and plants in the Garden of Eden (Animals), the time of creation (Day), Moses as a translated being (Elijah; Moses), the origin of individuality (Life), marriage out of the temple as a defilement of one’s priesthood (Melchizedek Priesthood), literal intercourse part of Christ’s conception (Only Begotten Son), stillborn children being resurrected (Stillborn Children), Old Testament baptism (Brazen Sea), one’s calling and election confirmed (Calling and Election Sure), Paul’s marriage (Celibacy), unspecified errors (Church of Enoch; Consecration of Oil), councils and schools among gods (Council in Heaven), Sunday observance (Family Reunions), the earth’s geological changes (Flood of Noah), the Holy Ghost as a spirit man (Holy Ghost), specific conduct (Hosannah Shout), women as gods (Queens), the interpretation of D&C 93:1 (Revelation), interpretation of D&C 93:38 and the status of children in the Celestial Kingdom (Salvation of Children), climatological changes after Noah’s flood (Seasons), interpretation of 3 Nephi 21:20 (Second Chance Theory), and the “discourteous” use of the word apostate (Christendom; Ethics).
123 Citing the First Presidency’s objections to the book in 1958-60, Armand L. Mauss, The Angel and the Beehive: The Mormon Struggle with Assimilation (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 162-63, noted the irony of its current status within LDS culture: “At the Mormon grass roots, it is considered authoritative, if not definitive, and easily ranks alongside the older Articles of Faith by Talmage in its importance as a quasi-canonical source for popular reference. There is a tremendous irony in this fact, one that shows clearly how the persistence of one strong-willed leader with fundamentalist leanings can prevail against the preferences of other leaders, even some of the most powerful, in a lay ministry with ambiguous limits to legitimate authority.”
124 Conf, Apr. 1949, 162 (first quote), 187 (second quote).
125 Conf, Apr. 1945, 55; JRC, “Postwar Planning,” Improvement Era 48 (May 1945): 237; SR, 196.
126 JRC to missionary meeting, 4 Apr. 1960, transcript, 1, box 151, JRCP.
127 Conf, Apr. 1952, 95.
128 Conf, Apr. 1949,187.
129 JRC to general priesthood meeting, Oct. 1946, transcript, box 151, JRCP.
130 I was unable to say in the biography I submitted for official review that JRC’s 1946 statement contradicted his own private views and the revelations of the first LDS prophet, Clark sometimes regarded the decisions of three living prophets as simply wrong or contrary to his own understanding of God’s will. He thought that several of President McKay’s financial decisions were clearly leading the church “astray.” He advised one general authority what to do if the LDS president “asks you to do anything which is wrong” (Marion G. Romney diary, 9 Apr. 1951). See also chap. 5.
The 1951 revision of Doctrine and Covenants Commentary by Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and Marion G. Romney referred, in its discussion of D&C 43:3-4, to the possibility that the LDS president could be in a “fallen condition” due to “apostasy.” All three apostles were closely aligned with President Clark. See Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary [cover tide], rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1951), 241.
Another revelation (D&C 107:82-84) provided for the trial and excommunication of the president in such a circumstance. The church’s official centennial history stated, “Therefore if the time should ever come that the church should be so unfortunate as to be presided over by a man who transgressed the laws of God and became unrighteous, a means in the church system of government is provided for deposing him without destroying the church, without revolution, or even disorder” (Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 2:376). In other words Joseph Smith’s revelations maintain that there are no limits to the ability of the LDS president and prophet to be in error and to commit sin.
This leaves two options. Either what Reuben publicly stated in 1946 was a claim that he knew to be false or he did not specify the context for his claim that God would not allow the LDS prophet to lead the church “astray.” I believe that his seemingly unconditional statement in 1946 must be understood within the emphasis of his 1949 conference address about a prophet being a prophet “only when he was acting as such.” By a legalistic interpretation of that statement. President Clark apparently concluded that (when functioning as God intended) “the Prophet” could never mislead the Latter-day Saints, but that the same man could mislead them in his capacity as “President of the Church.” By that convoluted logic, when the church president was not speaking or acting as God intended, the man ceased to be “the Prophet” and thus could lead the LDS church astray.
In an 1890 sermon Wilford Woodruff was the first LDS president to claim infallibility. His exact words were: “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty” (DN, 11 Oct. 1890, 2). This was his defense against widespread criticism of his Manifesto which officially ended LDS plural marriage. Unlike Clark, President Woodruff did not refer to Joseph Smith’s statement that “a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such” because that would have invited members to question whether he issued the Manifesto as a prophet or not. Nevertheless, the LDS church has virtually canonized Woodruff’s statement by including it in the D&C (for example, 1981 edition, page 292).
As indicated above. Woodruff’s claim contradicted the founding prophet’s revelations, including the doctrine of free agency. For example, “Men and women may not evade or escape their freedom, for reality always appears as a set of choices informed by some kind of understanding of good, the outcome of which defines in some measure the course of human events,” in David Bohn, “Freedom,” in EM 2:525; also “Man’s Free Agency,” in James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith: A Series of Lectures on the Principal Doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints … Written by Appointment; and Published by the Church (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1899), 54-57; “Agency,” in McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (1966), 26-28.
131 Widtsoe, ed.. Discourses of Brigham Young, 214, in Clarkana. Widtsoe quoted, J 7:281.
132 Conf, Apr. 1940,14.
133 Conf, Apr. 1949,186; previous note 130; cf. Joseph Smith Jr., et al., 7 vols., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2d rev., B. H. Roberts, ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1960), 5:265, that the founding prophet “visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet’; but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.”
134 “President Clark’s Lecture: When Are Church Leader’s Words Entitled to Claim of Scripture?” CN, 31 July 1954,11.
135 Widtsoe, ed.. Discourses of Brigham Young, 209, in Clarkana. Widtsoe quoted J 9:150.
136 J 1:312 (B. Young/1853).<