The Book of Mormon
and the Constitution

Chapter 25: Public Schools

Scope of Chapter

      The last violation of constitutional principles which we will discuss is that of government schools. The institution of public education is so universally accepted today that many readers are apt to scoff at the idea that the control of education by government and the use of public funds for its support is contrary to moral law. Before rejecting the idea as absurd, one might ponder these facts which will be discussed more fully herein:

1.       Point number ten of the Communist Manifesto contains the following proposal:

Free education for all children in public schools. (App. III)

2.       When public education was first proposed in the state of Utah, the leadership of the Church was unalterably opposed to it.

Education Is a Huge Enterprise

      By any standard, education is one of the largest ventures not only in the United States but in the world. Furthermore the great bulk of it is public education. There are an enormous number of people whose income is derived from the taxes imposed to support this activity. Not only are there millions of teachers, administrators, janitors, food handlers and other types of direct employees, but there are many others who receive their income from building and maintaining school buildings and related facilities. There are those who spend endless hours writing text books and manuals for use by the students. There are others who manufacture and sell a wide variety of equipment for transportation of students, laboratories, sports, music, art, drama, etc. [p. 182]

      The clientele for this enormous enterprise is, of course everyone. It is rare indeed to find in western countries at least, a person who has not received formal training in either private or public schools.

      History records that in prior dispensations there were church sponsored programs for adults engaged in learning about religion, and sometimes these programs were financed by public funds. But government programs for taking children out of their homes and giving them years of training in secular subjects at public expense seems to be novel to this generation.

Does the Concept of Public Education Agree with the Golden Rule?

      Typically, public education laws adopted in the United States provide that parents, under threat of punishment for not doing so, must send children between the ages of six and sixteen, to some school there to be taught courses prescribed by the state. In the overwhelming majority of cases the school is a government school whose teachers and administrators are state employees and the course work is almost exclusively secular in nature. For all practical purposes, the teaching of religion in public institutions is forbidden. Taxpayers, whether they patronize the system or not, are compelled to finance the operation.

      Any moral person would be horrified at the proposal that he do personally that which the proponent of public education does through government. The very idea of going to a neighbor and threatening him with punishment unless he sends his children to school at a certain age is repulsive to most people. Then to specify the type of instruction the child must be given, and finally tell him he must finance the scheme with his own funds—this would usually be considered one of the most obvious violations of human rights and of the rules of common decency of which one is capable.

      It would be a forcible violation of two of the human rights which people hold dear above all others—the right of personal liberty and the right of property. Children are not to be allowed to use their time as they or their parents want it spent. But they must use it getting an education, and it must be the particular type of education which professional educators dictate. They might contend that this enslavement of the child is for [p. 183] his benefit, but they cannot logically deny that if it were done outside of government, it would constitute the crime of enslavement.

      Parents are not to be allowed to spend their money as they choose, but they must spend it as educators consider best. They might contend that this is for the child’s best good and that the particular type of education they have selected is indispensable for their welfare. But they cannot deny that if they were to do this directly, it would constitute a despicable crime against the right of private property.

      Or let us suppose that you are a public school teacher or administrator. Can you imagine yourself gathering your neighbors together and threatening them with violence unless they patronize your school and pay your salary? Suppose that a chain of food stores claiming to have a necessary brand of children’s food were to induce the government to issue a decree that all parents must feed their children that particular brand of food or else. Furthermore suppose that the law specified that even though the parents bought this particular food from some other source, they must nevertheless support the X chain of food stores with their tax money. Would you agree with such a law?

      Most people would probably agree that the foregoing examples would be completely unjustifiable intrusions into the most sacred of family relationships. They would obviously constitute serious violations of the Golden Rule. Will anyone seriously admit that he would be willing to have his neighbor do these things to him outside of government? But does it alter anything when done by a group in the name of the state?

Can Men Alter Moral Law by the Passage of Man-made Laws?

      Even if there is no moral justification for individuals using force on one another to compel children to be educated in a certain manner, can we justify government doing these things? It may be contended that the Golden Rule does not apply to actions committed through government and that some different standard must be used when men act in concert. Others may believe that even though the same moral laws apply to groups as to individuals, the individual is not held morally accountable for what government does. Let us examine these arguments.

      Everyone will agree that the consequence of using force is not [p. 184] altered by changing the number of people who are engaged in using it. A person is just as surely bereft of his life, liberty or property when they are taken from him by a group as when they are taken by an individual. Neither does the passage of a law legalizing the use of force alter the consequences of its use. Clothing force in the robes of legality may disguise its nature but it does nothing whatsoever to change the effect of the force on the one against whom it is used.

      It should also be apparent to anyone that if it is wrong or evil to put a person to death, enslave him, or deprive him of his property, the immoral nature of the act cannot be changed by man-made law. Men are as powerless to alter the laws of morality as they are to alter the laws of physics or chemistry. If the use of force on a person is evil, it remains so regardless of the fact that some legislature, dictator, or democratic majority has formally declared it to be otherwise.

      On the other hand if a person deserves to be put to death, jailed or fined, such punishments would be just even though the law declared otherwise. The principles of justice are eternal, unchanging and everlasting and are completely beyond the power of man to change.

      The final question we must answer then is whether the individual members of society are answerable for evil done in the name of government. It is first observed that the organization called government cannot be held morally accountable. The actions of governments are the actions of men, performed by men at the command of men, and only they can be either rewarded or punished for what governments do. Among the beliefs of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is this:

We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them for the good and safety of society. (D&C 134:1)

      While the foregoing scripture states that the Lord holds men accountable for the actions of government, it does not specify which men. Since God is just, those who commit or cause the actions, or who fail to do their political duty, must be held accountable. There are scriptures such as the twenty-ninth chapter of the Book of Mosiah which explain upon whom political responsibility rests. Under a monarchy, major credit or blame for what government does may rest upon the king [p. 185] and his appointees. However under a government subject to the voice of the people, responsibility for what government does or fails to do, rests directly on the voting citizens.

      If the foregoing analysis is correct, a person should test the rightness or wrongness of any act of government by asking if it would be moral for the individual to commit the act himself. If it would be immoral for the individual to control the education of children, it is no less wrong for him to do so in cooperation with others and by using the power of government.

What Do the Scriptures Sat about Public Education?

      Let us first note that the Lord holds parents personally accountable for the teaching of their children and if they fail to discharge this duty properly, the sins of the children rest upon the parents. (D&C 68:25; 2 Ne. 4:5, 6) If parents are to be held accountable, then they must be given the right to control what is taught to their children and who teaches them. Both of these rights are denied under the typical laws providing for public schools.

      If parents permit others to help train their children, they certainly should have the right to determine who they are and should follow the scriptures in making the choice. The following scriptures state who might safely be trusted to teach children:

And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments. (Mosiah 23:14)

. . . and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach. (D&C 42:14)

He (the Lord) commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.

      Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing . . . (2 Ne. 26:29, 30)

      Inasmuch as socialized education allows parents virtually no control over who teaches their children, they cannot insure that those who do so have the Lord’s approval. [p. 186]

The Scriptures and Teaching Children

      The following scripture states the distinction between what should, and what should not be taught:

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; . . .

Cursed is he that . . . shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost. (2 Ne. 28:30, 31)

      Another scripture which underlines the danger of the precepts of men, even to the humble followers of Christ, is this prophecy concerning latter day conditions:

They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men. (2 Ne. 28:14)

      Apparently these humble followers of Christ who do err in so many instances are being taught by teachers who do not have the power of the Holy Ghost. Another scripture which speaks of the effect of the evil influence of the precepts of men in these latter days is this:

And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel;

But they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men. (D&C 45:28, 29)

      The precepts of men, as being taught in these latter days, are having an evil effect upon everyone including the humble followers of Christ. Everyone is falling victim to Satan’s cunning plan which is to give men learning, make them proud and unwilling to hearken unto the counsel of God. The awful consequence of this plan is that it’s victims perish.

      Not only did Nephi prophesy universal pride and deception in these latter days, but Moroni who also had a vision of latter-day conditions saw the same situation: [p. 187]

Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.

And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts,

O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? (Morro. 8:35, 36, 38)

      That both Nephi and Moroni were speaking of members of the Lord’s Church in these prophecies there can be no question. Neither can one doubt but that Moroni saw priestcraft and false teaching in the Holy Church of God. The following prophesy of the Lord confirms the existence of pride, priestcraft and a multitude of other sins among the Gentile members of His Church in these latter days:

And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all these things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them. (3 Ne. 16:10)

      From the above scriptures it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that public education laws which compel the teaching of the precepts of men while prohibiting the teaching of the counsels of God in connection therewith, is implementing Satan’s cunning plan. According to the foregoing scriptures the victims of this plan will be cursed and will perish unless they receive spiritual enlightenment from some other source and humble themselves sufficiently to accept it.

      To forcibly subject little children to this risk by placing them under the tutelage of those who do not teach by the “power of the Holy Ghost,” and who are not walking in the ways of the Lord nor “keeping his commandments” is a sin of great magnitude. The Book of Mormon relates an example of the teaching of the precepts of men without the precepts of the Lord, and the result was fatal to the eternal welfare of the learners. (Mosiah 24:1-7) [p. 188]

The Danger of Being a Teacher

      In former dispensations there were relatively few teachers who taught for money. Especially was this true of the teaching of children which was done largely by parents in the home. The organized teaching of children only is not discussed in the scriptures.

      The establishment of an organization for the specific purpose of teaching was probably never considered. Not only because the taking of children from parents was considered a deprivation of one of the greatest blessings of parenthood but because the hiring of teachers to train children was far too costly for anyone except royalty. Parents training children to work because of the contribution they could make to the family while learning a trade or skill probably was the norm.

      Today all that is changed. Ofttimes both father and mother work outside the home at jobs which do not permit the training or even the presence of children. The majority are being reared by day care centers, T.V. and public schools where religious teaching is forbidden by the supreme court. The following scriptures indicate that there is no profession of greater danger to the welfare of the human soul than that of teaching lit-fie children. Matt. 18:1-9 indicates that to teach falsehoods to adults is one thing, but to teach falsehoods to little children—can there be a greater sin than to receive pay for destroying the faith of a little child who believes in Christ? Better for such a person that he be drowned in the depths of the sea with a millstone about his neck.

The Lord’s Commandments Regarding Teachers

. . . and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach. (D&C 42:14)

      If this is the law of the Church, why is it? Everything you teach is either true or false. Without the spirit you cannot tell the difference. If you teach falsehoods, whether false facts or false laws you are promoting the work of the devil. That you are teaching falsehood in ignorance will not save you. If you are doing this you are teaching the false traditions and creeds of men which is the mainspring of all corruption. If you teach falsehood for hire you are subjecting yourself to the influence of Satan as have so many other groups throughout history. Brigham Young [p. 189] said we were not to even teach the ABC’s without the spirit. Nephi said,

Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his ann, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost. (2 Ne. 28:31)

      Jacob described the cunning plan of the evil one.

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. (2 Ne. 9:28)

Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh. (Matt. 18:7)

      Can those who desire to use force to prevent parents from having freedom to rear their children expect to be parents in the eternities or even to live in a society where there are children?

      Would you call it evil if a person or a group of persons set up a private school outside of government and used force and the threat thereof to compel people to send their children to their school and compel the parents to pay the cost thereof?. What is the difference? Not only that, but suppose they compel neighbors to help pay their expenses whether or not they sent children into the system. Nehor, Amlici, the Zoramites, the Priests of King Noah, etc. did this with adults. They had a religion they wanted to establish. We don’t know much about it except its doctrine that religious freedom would be abolished. There would be only one type of doctrine taught which of course was false because the Lord’s doctrine is that there should be freedom of worship.

      But the type of religion being taught in our public school system is far worse than any type known because instead of teaching freedom of worship, it teaches that everyone must support a religion the worst feature of which is the use of force to compel attendance and compel every taxpayer whether a believer in socialism, atheism, enforced priestcraft, etc. to support the system and impose it on little children. It teaches only the precepts of men, evolution, a false interpretation of history, and no faith in God, all of which destroy faith. Is there any scheme more evil than this cunning socialist scheme? [p. 190]

Modern Day Prophets Have Identified Satan’s Cunning Plan

      The last of the ten points of the Communist Manifesto contains this provision:

Free education for all children in public schools. (See Appendix III)

      In a general conference address given to the Priesthood of the Church in the General Conference of April, 1966, the late President David O. McKay gave the following warning:

The entire concept and philosophy of Communism is diametrically opposed to everything for which the Church stands.

No member of this Church can be true to his faith . . . while lending aid, encouragement or sympathy to any of these false philosophies; for if he does, they will prove snares to his feet. (See Appendix I)

      After comparing Satan’s cunning plan of free education today with the plan of enforced priestcraft described so often in the Book of Mormon, can it be doubted but that the Lord has placed those many stories in there to warn us against a danger we have succumbed to? Both plans provide for government control of education. Both plans force taxpayers to pay the cost of implementing them. Both prohibit the teaching of the gospel.

      When we compare the two plans, we see that the principle differences between them are that Satan’s plan today is aimed primarily against little children rather than adults, and that in countries like the United States and Russia, the falsehoods being taught are the precepts of men, including organic evolution, rather than the teachings of a corrupted religion. Both plans are specifically prohibited by the Lord, and for the same reasons as are indicated by the Book of Mormon definition of priestcraft:

He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing . . . (2 Ne. 26:29, 30) [p. 191]

      It is not at all unlikely that the massive destruction of faith in God, and the acceptance of false beliefs in the world today is largely attributable to the massive substitution of public education for that of the parents. D&C Section 123 attributes the very mainspring of all corruption to:

. . . the influence of that spirit which hath so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion . . . (v. 7)

      Then in D&C Sec. 93 we find this:

And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers. (v. 39)

Modern Day Prophets Have Condemned Socialized Education

      It may come as a surprise to some that in the early days of the Church when the concept of public schools was being demanded by the Federal Congress as one of the prices for statehood, Church leaders vigorously condemned the entire concept of public education. One can see many examples of this by studying the discourses of the brethren during this period. We provide the following statement by President Brigham Young as an example of that opposition:

Many of you may have heard what certain journalists have had to say about Brigham Young being opposed to free schools. I am opposed to free education as much as I am opposed to taking property from one man and giving it to another who knows not how to take care of it . . .

But when you come to the fact, I will venture to say that I school ten children to every one that those do who complain so much of me. I now pay the school fee of a number of children who are either orphans or sons and daughters of poor people. But in aiding and blessing the poor I do not believe in allowing my charities to go through the hands of a set of robbers who pocket nine-tenths themselves, and give one-tenth to the poor. Therein is the difference between us. I am for the real act of doing and not saying. Would I encourage free schools by taxation’? No! (JD 18:357; see also JD 19:248; 20:48, 60, 107-8; 22:222, 315; 24:168, 352; 26:97, 112; CR Oct. 1915:4) [p. 192]

      Since the people of the State of Utah were forced to accept the concept of free education as a price of statehood, and since it has for many years been the law of the land, Church leaders have largely remained silent about the matter. It may also be of interest to many to know that when the idea of a national university was proposed in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, it was turned down by the delegates.

Words of Ezra Taft Benson

      Said Karl G. Maeser, “I would rather have my child exposed to smallpox, typhus fever, cholera, or other malignant and deadly diseases than to the degrading influence of a corrupt teacher. It is infinitely better to take chances with an ignorant but pure-minded teacher than with the greatest philosopher who is impure.”

      The tenth plank in Karl Marx’s Manifesto for destroying our kind of civilization advocates the establishment of “free education for all children in public schools.” There were several reasons why Marx wanted government to run the schools. Dr. A.A. Hodge pointed out one of them when he said:

It is capable of exact demonstration that if every part in the State has the fight of excluding from public schools whatever he does not believe to be true, then he that believes most must give way to him that believes least, and then he that believes least must give way to him that believes absolutely nothing, no matter in how small a minority the atheists or agnostics may be. It is self-evident that on this scheme, if it is consistently and persistently carried out in all parts of the country, the United States system of national popular education will be the most efficient and widespread instrument for the propagation of atheism which the world has ever seen.

      After the tragic prayer decision was made by the U.S. Supreme Court, President David O. McKay stated, “The Supreme Court of the United States severs the connecting cord between the public schools of the United States and the source of divine intelligence, the Creator, himself.” (Relief Society Magazine, December 1962, p. 878)

      Does that make any difference to you? Can’t you see why the demands of conscientious parents is increasing the number of private Christian- and Americanist-oriented schools? (Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country, p. 225-226) [p. 193]

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