David O. McKay

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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.


  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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Cleon Skousen

This last week I happened across an article by Brian R. Mecham which contained Thomas S. Monson’s comments at the funeral of W. Cleon Skousen in January 2006.1 At the time of the funeral, Thomas S. Monson served as the First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

W Cleon Skousen So, as I read Mr. Mecham’s article and listened to some audio excerpts from President Monson’s funeral address, I wondered why such a man should be pilloried as Mr. Skousen has been of late in the media.2

Mr. Skousen rose to national prominence with the publication of The Naked Communist which was originally published in 1958 at the request of David O. McKay3, then the President of the LDS Church. The book quickly became a national bestseller despite never being reviewed by the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune or the Saturday Review.

According to Earl Taylor, Jr. the following is an excerpt of how Mr. Skousen came to write this book,

Shortly after we moved to Utah in 1952 and joined the faculty of Brigham Young University, I was asked to give talks on the threat of Communism as I encountered it in the FBI. There were two of us who specialized in this subject and we were the only ones allowed to speak on Communism in case Mr. Hoover could not take the talks himself.

Read the rest of this entry »

  1. An Open Letter to Latter-day Saint Detractors of W. Cleon Skousen and His Works“. 22 Oct 2009. Latter-Day Conservative. 15 Nov 2009.
  2. See, for example, Zaitchik, Alexander. “Meet the Man Who Changed Glen Beck’s Life”. 16 Sep 2009. Salon. 15 Nov 2009. See also, Kristine. “Skousen in Dialogue”. 16 Sep 2000. Common Consent. 15 Nov 2009.
  3. Mecham. “W. Cleon Skousen Is Asked to Write the Naked Communist”. Nov 1998. Latter-Day Conservative. 15 Nov 2009.

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The video below is an excellent description of the republican form of government as it was created by the Founding Fathers in America. Last year as I was talking to a colleague at work, I slipped up and mentioned that our government was a form of democratic government. As soon as those words passed my lips, I knew I had made a mistake and my friend kindly corrected me.

One reason I added this video to our blog is because over the course of time, words have often been misappropriated in order to popularize social mores and push forward various political agendas. One of these phrases that has been misappropriated is the meaning of the American form of government.

Which is it? Is it a democratic form of government or is it a republican form of government? The following video explains the subtle nuances in meaning between these types of government and others.

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Many years ago, Ezra Taft Benson saw as inevitable the conflict that is brewing between those who stand for the rule of law under a republic versus those who advocate a change in America’s governing structure. He wrote:

To all who have discerning eyes, it is apparent that the republican form of government established by our noble forefathers cannot long endure once fundamental principles are abandoned. Momentum is gathering for another conflict—a repetition of the crisis of two hundred years ago. This collision of ideas is worldwide. The issue is the same that precipitated the great premortal conflict—will men be free to determine their own course of action or must they be coerced. We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: “Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction” (Church Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City, July 19, 1840).1

As if to warn of impending danger, David O. McKay said in 1962:

Force rules the world today. Individual freedom is threatened by international rivalries and false political ideals. Unwise legislation, too often prompted by political expediency, if enacted, will seductively undermine man’s right of free agency, rob him of his rightful liberties, and make him but a cog in the crushing wheel of regimentation.

It is well ever to keep in mind the fact that the state exists for the individual; not the individual for the state. Any form of government that destroys or undermines the free exercise of free agency is wrong. Liberty becomes then license, and the man a transgressor. It is the function of the state to curtail the violator and to protect the violated.2


  1. Benson, Ezra Taft. Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988. 623-624. See also the post Constitution to Hang by a Thread.
  2. Newquist, Jerreld L., ed. Prophets, Principles and National Survival. Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1964. 137; italics in original.

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Partakers of the divine nature is a phrase from the second epistle of Peter in the New Testament in which is recorded:

Divine Nature - The Creation of Adam by Michaelangelo Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:1-4; emphasis added).

A number of years ago, while studying this apparent state of being, I came across this story in the Improvement Era:

On May 5, 1961, Mr. John Cook, a newspaper feature writer, was granted an interview with President McKay. Toward the close of the interview he said that he hoped the President wouldn’t mind if he asked a question, and said that the President wouldn’t need to answer the question if he felt that he shouldn’t but for his own information, not for publication, he would like to know if President McKay had ever seen the Savior.

President McKay answered that he had not, but that he had heard his voice, many times, and that he had felt his presence and his influence. He then told about Peter (saying that he was his favorite among the apostles, even more so than Paul with all his education and learning – that Peter was a rough simple man, but sincere) and he told how Peter had spoken of being partakers of the divine spirit, of a divine nature, and explained what he felt that to mean.

Then he told how some evidences were stronger even than that of sight, and recalled the occasion when the Savior appeared to his disciples and told Thomas who had doubted, “Reach hither thy finger and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless but believing.” And then President McKay said that he liked to believe Thomas did not actually look up, but knelt at the Savior’s feet and said unto him, “My Lord and my God.” And then President McKay repeated the words of the Master, “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” President McKay then smiled and said, “That is quite a testimony I have given you. I do not know when I have given this before.”

Mr. Cook was visibly moved, and after leaving the office said it had been the greatest experience of his life, that President McKay was like no other man he had ever seen or heard. He was so greatly moved that tears were in his eyes as he left President McKay.1

I was deeply humbled to have come across this experience.


  1. McKay, David O. Improvement Era. (September 1963): 785-786.

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True Education

What is the aim of “true education”? David O. McKay taught:

David O. McKay Character is the aim of true education; and science, history, and literature are but means used to accomplish the desired end. Character is not the result of chance work but of continuous right thinking and right acting. True education seeks, then, to make men and women not only good mathematicians, proficient linguists, profound scientists, or brilliant literary lights, but also honest men, combined with virtue, temperance, and brotherly love—men and women who prize truth, justice, wisdom, benevolence, and self-control as the choicest acquisitions of a successful life. It is regrettable, not to say deplorable, that modern education so little emphasizes these fundamental elements of true character. The principal aim of many of our schools and colleges seems to be to give the students purely intellectual attainments and to give but passing regard to the nobler and more necessary development along moral lines.1


  1. McKay, David O. Gospel Ideals: Selections from the Discourses of David O. McKay. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1953. 440-441.

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