Jesus’ Prayer for Unity
(President David O. Mckay, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. Jesus’ Prayer for Unity. General Conference, October 1939.)
Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me that they may be one as we are.
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
That they all may be one: as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe in us. (John 17:11–21.)
As nearly all of you readily recognize, I have quoted from one of the most sublime prayers ever offered among men. It is an Intercessory Prayer. The occasion makes the things prayed for most significant. In it Jesus makes unity preeminent among his followers.
Unity and its synonyms, harmony, goodwill, peace, concord, mutual understanding, express a condition for which the human heart constantly yearns. Its opposites are discord, contention, strife, confusion.
Unity in the Home
I can imagine few if any things more objectionable in the home than the absence of unity and harmony. On the other hand, I know that a home in which unity, mutual helpfulness, and love abide is just a bit of heaven on earth. I surmise that nearly all of you can testify to the sweetness of life in homes in which these virtues predominate. Most gratefully and humbly, I cherish the remembrance that never once as a lad in the home of my youth did I ever see one instance of discord between father and mother, and that goodwill and mutual understanding have been the uniting bond that has held together a fortunate group of brothers and sisters. Unity, harmony, goodwill are virtues to be fostered and cherished in every home.
Unity in Church Organizations
In branches and wards, there is no virtue more conducive to progress and spirituality than the presence of this principle. When jealousy, backbiting, evil-speaking supplant confidence, self- subjection, unity, and harmony the progress of the organization is stifled.
Unpatriotic Activities a Menace to Free Government
However, what really prompted me to emphasize this principle is the presence in our own United States of influences the avowed object of which is to sow discord and contention among men with the view of undermining, weakening, if not entirely destroying our constitutional form of government. If I speak plainly, and in condemnation lay bare reprehensible practices and aims of certain organizations, please do not think that I harbor ill-will or enmity in my heart towards other United States citizens whose views on political policies do not coincide with mine. But when acts and schemes are manifestly contrary to the revealed word of the Lord, we feel justified in warning people against them. We may be charitable and forbearing to the sinner, but must condemn the sin.
Timely references and appropriate warnings have been given during this Conference on the danger and evils of war. There is another danger even more menacing than the threat of invasion of a foreign foe. It is the unpatriotic activities and underhanded scheming of disloyal groups and organizations within our own borders. This country is so situated geographically that there need be little fear of invasion by an outside enemy. Furthermore, the government knowing who and where the enemy is can make ample preparation to meet his attacks. But the secret, seditious scheming of an enemy within our own ranks, hypocritically professing loyalty to the government, and at the same time plotting against it, is more difficult to deal with.
Disintegration is often more dangerous and more fatal than outward opposition. For example, an individual can usually protect himself from thunder showers, and even from tempests, from freezing weather or intense heat, from drought, or floods, or other extremes in nature; but he is often helpless when poisonous germs enter his body or a malignant growth begins to sap the strength of some vital organ.
The Church is little if at all injured by persecution and calumnies from ignorant, misinformed or malicious enemies; a greater hindrance to its progress comes from fault-finders, shirkers, commandment-break-ers, and apostate cliques within its own ecclesiastical and quorum groups.
So it is in government. It is the enemy from within that is most menacing, especially when it threatens to disintegrate our established form of government.
Washington’s Greatest Trial
Perhaps the most gloomy, discouraging period of the American Revolution was when General Washington’s army was in Winter Quarters at Valley Forge. He had fewer than 10,000 men. Soldiers were thinly clad, some half naked, others with no clothing but tattered blankets wrapped around them. “So many were sick as the result of privation,” writes one commentator, “so many were without coats, blankets, hats, or shoes that one wonders how the army held together at all.” Critical and desperate as were these conditions, a greater trial and sorrow, I surmise, came to Washington when some of his friends such as John Adams and Richard Henry Lee turned against him; when General Gates insulted him by sending reports direct to Congress instead of to Washington, his superior officer. As carrion hawks hover around dying creatures, so in Washington’s dire calamity came men to seek to crush him-men who formed what has been called the “Conway Cabal,” a contemptible attempt to dishonor Washington and to supplant him by a self-assrting, arrogant schemer. This internal discord, and such disloyalty from one-time friends were more crushing than were the attacks of the opposing army.
Anti-Americanism Sowing Discord
Today there are in this country enemies in the form of “isms.” I call them Anti-Americanisms. Only a few of the leaders fight openly-most of the army carry on as termites, secretly sowing discord and undermining stable government. Of the truth of this statement recent investigations made by a committee of the United States Senate bear ample evidence. Of the menace of one of these, Dr. William F. Russell, Dean of Teachers’ College, Columbia University, in an address “How to Tell a Communist, and How to Beat Him,” is one of the many authorities whom we might quote as to the pernicious activity of these groups.
A Statement As to Communism
Communist leaders have steadily insisted that Communism cannot live in just one country. Just as we fought to make “the world safe for democracy,” so they are fighting to make the world safe for Communism. They are fighting this fight today. Every country must become Communistic, according to their idea. So they have sent out missionaries. They have supplied them well with funds. They have won converts. These converts have been organized into little groups called “cells,” each acting as a unit under the orders of a superior. It is almost a military organization. They attack where there is unemployment. They stir up discontent among those oppressed. * * * They work their way into the unions, where they form compact blocks. They publish and distribute little papers and pamphlets. At the New York Times they pass out one called “Better Times.” At the Presbyterian Hospital it is called “The Medical Worker.” At the College of the City of New York, it is called “Professor, Worker, Student.” At Teachers College it iscalled “The Educational Vanguard.” These are scurrilous sheets. In one issue I noted twenty-nine errors of fact. After a recent address of mine they passed out a dodger attacking me, with a deliberate error of fact in each paragraph, These pamphlets cost money-more than $100 an issue. The idea is to try to entice into their web those generous and public-spirited teachers, preachers, social workers and reformers who know distress and want to do something about it. These Communists know what they are doing. They follow their orders. Particularly they would like to dominate our newspapers, our colleges and our schools. The campaign is much alike all over the world. I have seen the same articles, almost the same pamphlets, in France and England as in the United States.
You see, when it comes to fighting Communists I am a battle-scarred veteran. But after twenty years I cannot tell one by looking at him. However, only the leaders proclaim their membership. The clever are silent, hidden, anonymous, boring from within. You can only tell a Communist by his ideas.
Their method of working their way to the seizure of power he describes as follows:
Talk about peace, talk about social equality, especially among those most oppressed. Talk about organization of labor, and penetrate into every labor union. Talk on soap boxes. Publish pamphlets and papers. Orate and harangue. Play on envy. Arouse jealousy. Separate class from class. Try to break down the democratic processes from within. Accustom the people to picketing, strikes, mass meetings. Constantly attack the leaders in every way possible, so that the people will lose confidence. Then in time of national peril, during a war, on the occasion of a great disaster, or on a general strike, walk into the capital and seize the power. A well-organized minority can work wonders.
Warning to Latter-Day Saints
I have been informed from several sources that some of these spurious political growths are sprouting here in our own midst, that members of these groups have even received instructions regarding what to do in case this country should become involved in war. The nature of these instructions savors very much of the diabolical gun-powder plot n the time of James the First of England.
Latter-day Saints should have nothing to do with secret combinations and groups antagonistic to the Constitutional law of the land, which the Lord “suffered to be established,” and which “should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.
And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood. (Doc. and Cov. 101-77, 80.)
Of course there are errors in government which some would correct, certainly there are manifest injustices and inequalities, and there will always be such in any government in the management of which enter the frailties of human nature. If you want changes go to the polls on election day, express yourself as an American citizen, and thank the Lord for the privilege that is yours to have a say as to who shall serve you in public office.
Importance of Upholding the Constitution
Next to being one in worshiping God there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States.
May the appeal of our Lord in his Intercessory Prayer for Unity be realized in our homes, our wards and stakes, and in our support of the basic principles of our Democracy.
In the words of John Oxenham:
God grant us wisdom in these coming days,
And eyes unsealed, that we clear visions see
Of that new world that He would have us build,
To life’s ennoblement and His high ministry.
God give us sense,-God-sense of Life’s new needs,
And souls aflame with new-born chivalries-
To cope with those black growths that foul the ways,-
To cleanse our poisoned founts with God-born energies.
To pledge our souls with nobler, loftier life,
To win the world to His fair sanctities,
To bind the nations in a Pact of Peace,
And free the Soul of Life for finer loyalties.
Not since Christ died upon His lonely cross
Has Time such prospect held of Life’s new birth;
Not since the world of chaos first was born
Has man so clearly visaged hope of a new earth.
Not of our own might can we hope to rise
Above the ruts and soilures of the past,
But, with His help who did the first earth build,
With hearts courageous we may fairer build this last.
God guide this Church, and particularly the Priesthood, in building according to God’s plan, and in establishing his kingdom on earth, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.