Letter from President David O. McKay to Ernest L. Wilkinson and the BYU Faculty

Letter from President David O. McKay to Ernest L. Wilkinson and the BYU Faculty.

Dear President Wilkinson:

Recent disturbing events in our country–such as an alarming increase in nearly all categories of crime, divorce, juvenile and adult delinquency, riots at colleges, strikes of school teachers, civil disorders which go far beyond “peaceable assemblies,” the resurrection of a pagan philosophy that God is dead, demoralizing movies, television programs which encourage lewd and lascivious conduct, and now a report of a national committee on law enforcement which, instead of recommending the enforcement of our criminal laws, would surrender to the forces of evil by eliminating from the category of crime nearly all sex offenses–have given me great concern and prompt me to write you as to measures which I hope you, as President of Brigham Young University, and the faculty will follow to make sure that the thousands of students under your supervision are receiving the proper teaching and training. I want them to be protected from the seriously increasing evils of the day which past prophets have indicated would come to pass, and which are now upon us.

(1) I want, first of all, to congratulate you, the faculty, and the students of Brigham Young University upon the fact that we have had no riots or other serious disturbances at the “Y” such as have tarnished the reputations of other institutions and brought down public condemnation upon them. In view, however, of current trends and pressures on our young people, as reflected daily by the public press, I wish that you and the faculty would be even more vigilant than you have been in the past to see that only students of acceptable spiritual and academic standards are admitted and retained, and that the reputation of Brigham Young University as a university where the “glory of God is intelligence,” and where high standards of moral conduct, sobriety, and order are ever present, are not only maintained, but increasingly improved and enhanced.

(2) In these days when not only religious standards but some of the Ten Commandments themselves are under attack, I hope that you and the faculty will go the extra mile in seeing that the religious doctrines of our Church are taught in their fullness so that students will have proper religious convictions for all decisions which they have to make. The trends of the time in the opposite direction are so strong that it will require extraordinary vigilance on the part of all of us to resist them.

I have been happy over the years to know that the faculty itself some years ago resolved that the first qualification for appointment to the faculty of Brigham Young University is that of an “attitude toward and adherence to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” I am happy, also, to know that a very large number of faculty members are now serving with general boards, or as stake presidents, bishops, and high council members, and in other Church positions. I would urge all members of the faculty, whether they have a Church position or not, to teach the principles of the Gospel and standards in every class whenever the opportunity arises, whether that class be a class in theology or otherwise.

(3) I cannot help but think that there is a direct relationship between the present evil trends which I have above indicated, and the very marked tendency of the people of our country to pass on to the state the responsibility for their moral and economic welfare. This trend to a welfare state in which people look to and worship government more than their God, is certain to sap the individual ambitions and moral fiber of our youth unless they are warned and rewarned of the consequences. History, of course, is replete with the downfall of nations who, instead of assuming their own responsibility for their religious and economic welfare, mistakenly attempted to shift their individual responsibility to the government.

I am aware that a university has the responsibility of acquainting its students with the theories and doctrines which are prevalent in various disciplines, but I hope that no one on the faculty of Brigham Young University will advocate positions which cannot be harmonized with the views of every prophet of the Church, from the Prophet Joseph Smith on down, concerning our belief that we should be strong and self-reliant individuals, not dependent upon the largess or benefactions of government. None of the doctrines of our Church gives any sanction to the concept of a socialistic state.

It is part of our “Mormon” theology that the Constitution of the United States was divinely inspired; that our Republic came into existence through wise men raised up for that very purpose. We believe it is the duty of the members of the Church to see that this Republic is not subverted either by any sudden or constant erosion of those principles which gave this Nation its birth.

In these days when there is a special trend among certain groups, including members of faculties of universities, to challenge the principles upon which our country has been founded and the philosophy of our Founding Father, I hope that Brigham Young University will stand as a bulwark in support of the principles of government as vouchsafed to us by our Constitutional Fathers.

Again, may I express my gratitude for all that you and members of the faculty have done to give Brigham Young University the reputation it now has. May God bless you to carry it to still greater heights, in the “Mormon” tradition I have set forth above. I remain

Sincerely yours,

David O. McKay



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