Continuing our series on facts about the Latter-day Saints, here are 18 more facts that aren’t as easily categorized. Enjoy!
100 YEARS OF FAMILY FOCUS – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints introduced Family Home Evening – a program to encourage regular family togetherness and shared experiences – over 100 years ago. (Smith, Lund, & Penrose, 1915)
WORKING WITH OTHER FAITHS TO ENCOURAGE BELIEF – The Church has joined with several other religions to form faithcounts.com – a program dedicated to enhancing the faith of all people, no matter their religious background. (Faith Counts, 2019)
OPPOSED TO SLAVERY FROM DAY 1 – Joseph Smith ran for president on a platform to abolish slavery 17 years before the civil war. (Blacklds.org, 2018)
PIONEERS IN WOMEN’S RIGHTS – Women’s right to vote in Utah was given to them by a Mormon-dominated legislature 50 years before the right was given nationally. The church and its members continued to push women’s suffrage in the Utah territory and state even after the Federal government disenfranchised women. (Ulrich, 2017) The first female state senator in the US was a Mormon woman, (Wikipedia, 2018) and the first all-female town council was in a Mormon settlement. (Davis & Fields, 2018)
EMPOWERING WOMEN – Women in the church were taught they had the right to choose who they wanted to marry, and the territory of Utah was the first place in the US to grant women the right to “no fault” divorce, along with the right to own their own property and income, giving women unprecedented freedom and flexibility in determining their own destinies in a time when most women could only have security through their husbands. (Ulrich, 2017)
BRINGING IMMIGRANTS HOME – The church created the perpetual emigration fund, used to help even the poorest of people make the trip to America to fulfil their dreams. This fund assisted over 26,000 immigrants come to the United States from other nations and kept operating for over 30 years. (Jensen, 2018)
FOCUSED ON FAIRNESS FOR ALL – When an lgbtq-focused non-discrimination bill seemed doomed to failure in the traditionally conservative Utah legislature, the church used its political influence to revive the bill and help it pass. (Bever, 2015)
FACING THE DARKNESS – In the spirit of transparency and truth the church published the most thorough and accurate book on the Mountain Meadows Massacre ever written through Oxford University Press, even though it would more fully bring to light the darkest period of Latter-day Saint history. (Walker, Turley, & Leonard, 2008)
EMBRACING THE HIGHEST SCHOLASTIC STANDARDS – Unwilling to accept faith-positive histories only, the Church initiated the Joseph Smith Papers project and sought endorsement by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, a division of the National Archives, to ensure research is conducted according to the highest scholarly standards and is free of bias. It has been called a “model of modern documentary editorial practices” by the Chief of the Library of Congress’ Manuscript Division, and received accolades from scholars all over the world. (The Joseph Smith Papers Project, 2019)
PREACHING AGAINST PREJUDICE – Multiple members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have spoken out against prejudice in general conference, calling on members to “eliminate any prejudice, including racism, sexism, and nationalism.” (Anderson, 2017)
“…The Joseph Smith Papers Documents series is a triumph of meticulous scholarship… This project remains the gold standard in the field of historical documentary editing.” —Thomas P. Slaughter, Arthur R. Miller Professor of History, University of Rochester
REJECTING THE NUCLEAR ARMS RACE – The church officially opposed and spoke out against the MX Missile program and the nuclear arms race during the height of the Cold War. (the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981)
BRINGING AN END TO SLAVERY IN UTAH – When it became clear that the territory of Utah would need to allow slavery in order to become a state, they submitted to the requirement, but Brigham Young and the state leadership enacted a law that would require families to be kept together, the children of slaves to be set free and their education to be provided for by their parents owners, a roundabout way to attempt to end slavery within a generation. Moreover, the law said that if an owner abused his
slave that slave would be set free immediately. (Christopher B. Rich, 2012)
PROTECTING THE NATIVE AMERICANS WITH THEIR LIVES – Even when slavery was allowed in the territory, Brigham Young banned slave traders from entering the territory and mobilized the militia to enforce the ban, driving out some slave traders who commonly raided the Ute tribes for slaves. (Nichols, 1995)
ANTI-WAR – Through political leaders of all stripes, the church has repeatedly and clearly opposed war. (Grant, Clark, & McKay, 1942)
FAMILY AND LOVE COME BEFORE POLITICS – The church has repeatedly called for compassion in immigration laws, encouraging laws that keep families together and condemning aggressive and racist statements by officials. (Church News, 2018)
REHABILITATION, NOT JUST PUNISHMENT – Joseph Smith campaigned to abolish debtors’ prisons, and instead replacing such institutions with an educational system that would help people become more enlightened and able to support themselves. (Roberts, 1900)
OBEY THE LAW – When Same-Sex Marriage was legalized, church leaders immediately condemned those who chose to break the law through civil disobedience fighting against such marriages. Instead we are instructed to obey and uphold the law and seek fairness for all. (Walch, Elder Oaks makes national news with statement on gay rights, religious liberty, 2015)
TOLERANCE OF ALL FAITHS – When Nauvoo was built, one of the first city ordinances passed was one which required equal privileges and toleration for any and all religions, not just Mormonism. (Church, 1845)
Anderson, N. L. (2017, 10). The Voice of the Lord. Retrieved from LDS.org: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/the-voice-of-the-lord?lang=eng
Bever, L. (2015, 03 12). Utah – yes, Utah – passes landmark LGBT rights bill. Retrieved from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/03/12/utah-legislature-passes-landmark-lgbt-anti-discrimination-bill-backed-by-mormon-church/
Blacklds.org. (2018, 11 17). Presidential Platform. Retrieved from Black LDS: http://www.blacklds.org/platform
Christopher B. Rich, J. (2012). The True Policy for Utah: Servitute, Slavery, and “An Act in Relation to Service”. Utah Historical Quarterly, 54-74.
Church News. (2018, June 18). Church Calls for Unity, Compassion in New Statement on Immigration. Retrieved from LDS.org: https://www.lds.org/church/news/church-calls-for-unity-compassion-in-new-statement-on-immigration?lang=eng
Church, L. (1845). History, 1838–1856, volume C-1. Nauvoo: LDS Church.
Davis, P., & Fields, L. (2018, March 22). How Kanab’s 1911 all-women town council went from ‘disgusted’ to making history. Retrieved from Deseret News: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900013673/how-kanab-s-1911-all-women-town-council-went-from-disgusted-to-making-history.html
Faith Counts. (2019, 01 30). About Us. Retrieved from Faith Counts: https://faithcounts.com/about-us/
Grant, H. J., Clark, J. R., & McKay, D. O. (1942). First Presidency Message. Salt Lake City: Improvement Era.
Jensen, R. L. (2018, 11 17). Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company. Retrieved from Utah History to Go: https://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/pioneers_and_cowboys/perpetualemigratingfundcompany.html
Nichols, J. D. (1995, April). Slavery in Utah. Retrieved from Utah History to Go: https://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/pioneers_and_cowboys/slaveryinutah.html
Roberts, B. H. (1900). The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo. Salt Lake City: The Deseret News.
Smith, J. F., Lund, A. H., & Penrose, C. W. (1915, June). Family Home Evening. Improvement Era, pp. 733-34.
the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (1981, 5 5). First Presidency Statement on Basing of MX Missile. Retrieved from LDS.org: https://www.lds.org/ensign/1981/06/news-of-the-church/first-presidency-statement-on-basing-of-mx-missile?lang=eng
The Joseph Smith Papers Project. (2019, 2 3). Endorsements. Retrieved from The Joseph Smith Papers: https://josephsmithpapers.org/articles/endorsements
Ulrich, L. T. (2017). A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism. Knopf.
Walch, T. (2015, October 21). Elder Oaks makes national news with statement on gay rights, religious liberty. Retrieved from Deseret News: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865639614/Elder-Oaks-made-national-news-because-LDS-Church-position-on-gay-rights-is-a-significant.html
Walker, R. W., Turley, R. E., & Leonard, G. M. (2008). Massacre at Mountain Meadows. Oxford University Press.
Wikipedia. (2018, 11 17). Martha Hughes Cannon. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Hughes_Cannon#Political_career