First Presidency Letter to U.S. Treasury in 1941

Tonight I came across Connor Boyack’s post that contains the full text of a First Presidency letter to the United States Treasury in 1941. This is one of those rare posts which deserve to be read top to bottom, given its length. Here is how it begins:

US_Treasury_building For several years I have been citing a quote in various posts, emails, discussions, and other settings, allegedly from the First Presidency in 1941. This quote is both potent and largely unprecedented, and its implications are especially interesting.

The quote is as follows:

The Church as a Church does not believe in war and yet since its organization whenever war has come we have done our part … we do thoroughly believe in building up our home defenses to the maximum extent necessary, but we do not believe that aggression should be carried on in the name and under the false cloak of defense. We therefore look with sorrowing eyes at the present use to which a great part of the funds being raised by taxes and by borrowing is being put … We believe that our real threat comes from within and not from without, and it comes from the underlying spirit common to Naziism, Fascism, and Communism, namely, the spirit which would array class against class, which would set up a socialistic state of some sort, which would rob the people of the liberties which we possess under the Constitution, and would set up such a reign of terror as exists now in many parts of Europe. . . .1

A must read if you have the time.

Sources:

  1. A Letter to the Treasury from the LDS First Presidency in 1941”. 16 Nov 2009. Connor’s Conundrums. 19 Nov 2009.

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  1. Dan’s avatar

    so… the church was against a war that was run by Democrats in the 1940s. And then in the 2000s when a Republican pushed for wars, the church was all for it. (see Hinckley in October 2001 and April 2003). Very interesting indeed.

  2. Greg’s avatar

    According to the 1941 statement, the First President statement makes it very clear that the Church does not believe in war regardless of political party. And President Hinckley’s statement appears devoid of partisanship (9/11 and the Gadianton Robbers). Choosing to view these statements through a political lens only seems unwarranted.

  3. FRances’s avatar

    Thank you for sharing this. I had been looking for it.

  4. Greg’s avatar

    You’re welcome FRances. I hope it is helpful.

  5. Chris H.’s avatar

    Given that Pearl Harbor does not happen until Dec. 7 of that year, my guess would be that this letter is not against the FDR-led WWII, but instead it reflects the isolationist view that was widely held within the USA at this time. The idea that Hilter’s Germany was not a real threat is pretty silly look back on it now, but it was widely held. Luckily for the rest of the world the British were holding off the Germans (the Russians sacrificed much as well on the Eastern front) while the US ignored the world. Not our brightest momemt.

  6. Greg’s avatar

    Or the entire letter simply reflects the principled teaching that the Church does not believe in war and so they warned government leaders about the consequences of adhering to principles which would undermine those liberties vouchsafed by the United States Constitution. Based on subsequent events, it would appear that the principles advocated by these groups and introduced through “gradualism” (Proposition 8, Mormons, and the New Statesman) have become quite popular.

  7. Dan’s avatar

    Or the letter simply reflects the view of the church leadership (who at the time were strongly anti-Roosevelt— J Reuben Clark is reported to have quipped upon hearing of Roosevelt’s death that finally God did what American voters could not do, remove Roosevelt from office) who distrusted Democrats generally. Note how easily President Hinckley deferred to government and military leaders to know what was right in regards to Iraq. Ha!

  8. Greg’s avatar

    Dan – You’re nothing if not persistent. You’re insistence on viewing these types of statements in a Democrat vs. Republican political lens has already been noted.

    The statement of President Hinckley’s to which you refer subsequent to 9/11 is as follows:

    Those of us who are American citizens stand solidly with the president of our nation. The terrible forces of evil must be confronted and held accountable for their actions . . . We of this Church know something of such groups. The Book of Mormon speaks of the Gadianton robbers, a vicious, oath-bound, and secret organization bent on evil and destruction. In their day they did all in their power, by whatever means available, to bring down the Church, to woo the people with sophistry, and to take control of the society. We see the same thing in the present situation. (9/11 and the Gadianton Robbers).

    Far from “deferring”, President Hinckley expressed support for the current U.S. President to hold those accountable for the events of 9/11 and referred to them as Gadianton Robbers. And as already been mentioned, it would be helpful if you could link to your sources.

  9. Dan’s avatar

    Greg,

    http://www.lds.org/pa/library/0,17905,4880-1,00.html

    “But as citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally”

    That would be the April 2003 when he approved of the war in Iraq for this very reason. He deferred to our respective national leaders because he believed they had access to better intelligence than regular people do. That is a grave mistake.

  10. Greg’s avatar

    Dan – Are you sure you know what President Hinckley “believed”?

  11. FRances’s avatar

    I have been observing the responses. Is there any credence given to the fact that we believe the article of faith: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” Would Pres. Hinckley do differently? Or am I missing a point somewhere.
    Frances

  12. Greg’s avatar

    Thank you FRances. I was going to refer to the same article and think it very applicable. In fact, it is found directly below the quote “But as citizens we are all under the direction…” to which Dan referred above. It is an excellent article on this topic. Thanks for linking to it Dan.

  13. Greg’s avatar

    Connor has posted a copy of these letters here.

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