Warning on Communism
Messages of the First Presidency, vol. 6 - July 1936
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Heber J. Grant First Presidency

Heber J. Grant First Presidency

July 3-Deseret News, July 3, 1936; Salt Lake Tribune, July 4, 1936; News release draft, Clark papers, Brigham Young University Library; Improvement Era, 39:488, August, 1936; see also Editorial,
Deseret News, November, 1936.

This "Warning to Church Members" on the dangers of Communism is one of a series issued over the years but is one of the most succinct. It warns that at least Communist sympathizers were found in the ranks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

According to the Columbia Encyclopedia. 1950: "In 1935, following the new line laid down at the Seventh World Congress of the Comintern of that year, the U.S. Communist Party began 'cooperating' with liberal groups. It set up, or infiltrated into, all sorts of organizations concerned with various aspects of American life."

The awareness of the First Presidency of the Church, and particularly President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., of this threat is demonstrated in both his public and his semi-public papers.

Accompanying the news release draft of this message in the Clark papers are Associated Press news releases from across the nation. One news release quotes N. M. Hubbard, president of the Navy League, as warning that "3,000,000 of our children are under active tutorage in Communism."

Following the appearance of the warning by the First Presidency in the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune, the Socialist Party of Utah passed the following resolution addressed to the First Presidency of the Church:

"To the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

"Gentlemen:

"Resolved, by the Socialist Party of Utah in convention assembled, that we do hereby protest to the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the 'Warning' issued in the Friday. July 3 issue of the Deseret News and in the Saturday, July 4 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune in which the First Presidency made certain general undefined statements in opposition to what they term 'Communism.'

"The Socialist Party of Utah wishes to draw to the attention of the First Presidency of the L.D.S. Church the fact that 'Communism,' as a name, is generalized, and may be interpreted as referring to many movements or any movement professing a belief in the social ownership of the means of production and distribution.

"The Socialist Party of Utah begs to differ with the First Presidency of the L.D.S. Church in their assumption that a declaration against what they term Communism is free from any political, personal, or special interest.

"The Socialist Party of Utah respectfully submits its belief that a church or religious group founded on principles of welfare and brotherhood is acting entirely outside its province in so furthering the forces of reaction which are today moving toward the elimination of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, and which are vitally endangering the principle of intelligent thought and action, freely expressed and executed, which is intended to further the welfare of the American people and of the citizens of the State of Utah and the Intermountain area.

"Respectfully submitted The Socialist Party of Utah"

From the first paragraph of the "Warning" it would seem that the U.S. Communist Party was seeking Mormons as either "fellow travelers" or as members and that a "few Church members" were joining "directly or indirectly." The Communist "line" in this case seems to have been that the Mormon "United Order" and Communism were synonymous.

The First Presidency or its members, and in particular President David O. McKay, repeatedly reiterated the "Warning." See: David O. McKay, CR, October, 1939, pp. 103-104;1 CR, April, 1951, pp. 96-97;2 CR, April, 1960, pp. 25-26;3 BYU Address, May , 19604.

Two other Messages in this volume should be read carefully in connection with this "Warning," namely those for June, 1939 and April 6, 1942.

WARNING TO CHURCH MEMBERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Furthermore, it is charged by universal report, which is not successfully contradicted or disproved, that Communism undertakes to control, if not indeed to proscribe the religious life of the people living within its jurisdiction, and that it even reaches its hand into the sanctity of the family circle itself, disrupting the normal relationship of parent and child, all in a manner unknown and unsanctioned under the Constitutional guarantees under which we in America live. Such interference would be contrary to the fundamental precepts of the Gospel and to the teachings and order of the Church.

Communism being thus hostile to loyal American citizenship and incompatible with true Church membership, of necessity no loyal American citizen and no faithful Church member can be a Communist.


We call upon all Church members completely to eschew Communism. The safety of our divinely inspired Constitutional government and the welfare of our Church imperatively demand that Communism shall have no place in America. HEBER J. GRANT, J. REUBEN CLARK, JR., DAVID O. MCKAY, First Presidency.

» References

  1. David O. McKay, CR, October, 1939, pp. 103-104 Document Available
  2. CR, April, 1951, pp. 96-97 [No Reference Yet]
  3. CR, April, 1960, pp. 25-26 [No Reference Yet]
  4. BYU Address, May , 1960 [No Reference Yet]