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 away 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 fees 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! That is not in keeping with the nature of our work; we should be as one family, our hearts and hands united in the bonds of the everlasting covenant; our interests alike, our children receiving equal opportunities in the schoolroom and the college.
We have today, more children between the ages of 5 and 20 years, who can read and write, than any State or Territory of the Union of a corresponding number of inhabitants. This is not exactly sustained by the statistics published of a few of the States, but from what we know of them we believe it to be the fact.
On the whole we have as good schoolhouses as can be found, and it is our right to have better ones, and to excel in everything that is good (Journal of Discourses, volume 18, 6 April 1877).
I want to say a word or two here with regard to our schools. There are many of our people who believe that the whole Territory ought to be taxed for our schools. When we have means, that come in the proper way, we can make a fund to help the poor to school their children, and I would say amen to it. But where are our poor? Where is the man or the woman in this community who has children and wishes to send them to school, that cannot do it? There is not one. When the poor complain and say, “My children ought to be schooled and clothed and fed,” I say, no sir, not so, you ought to yield your time and talents to the kind providences of our Father in the heavens according to the dictation of his servants, and he will tell each and every one of you what to do to earn your bread, meat, clothing, schooling, and how to be self-sustaining in the fullest sense of the word. To give to the idler is as wicked as anything else. Never give anything to the idler. “The idler in Zion shall not eat the bread of the laborer.” Well, they do eat it; but it is a commandment and a revelation as much as any other, that the idler shall not eat the bread of the laborer in Zion. No, let every one spend every hour, day, week and month in some useful and profitable employment, and then all will have their meat and clothing, and means to pay teachers, and pay them well. Not that they should receive more pay than others. If men have learning, and they have the faculty of imparting it to others, and can teach children to read and write, and grammar and arithmetic, and all the ordinary branches of a common school education, what better are they than the man that plows, hoes, shoves the plane, handles the trowel and the axe, and hews the stone? Are they any better? I do not know that they are. What better is the man that can dress himself nicely and labor in a schoolhouse six hours a day, than the man who works ten or twelve hours a day hewing rock? Is he any better? No, he is not. Are you going to pay him for his good looks? That is what some of our Bishops want to do. If they can get a man, no matter what his moral qualities may be, whose shirt front is well starched and ironed, they will say—“Bless me, you are a delightful little man! What a smooth shirt you have got, and you have a ring on your finger—you are going to teach our school for us.” And along comes a stalwart man, axe in hand, going to chop wood, and, if he asks, “Do you want a school teacher?” Though he may know five times more than the dandy, he is told, “No, no, we have one engaged.” I want to cuff you Bishops back and forth until you get your brains turned right side up.
Here I am talking to thousands of men and women who know that if we are ever helped we have to help ourselves, with what God does for us. We have heard considerable from some parties in this city about what they call free schools, which they say they have established here. I say, now, come out, and be as liberal as you say you are, and teach our children for nothing. If they knew the “Mormons” were willing to accept of their charity and send their children to these so-called free schools, their charity would not weigh much. Their charity is to decoy away the innocent. Send your children to their schools and see how far their charity would extend. We sent to them when we were in the wilderness without bread, without shoes, without coats, and ploughing our way through to get away from our murderers, and asked them for help. No, they would not give us anything to save the lives of women and children in the wilderness. When we were right in the midst of Indians, who were said to be hostile, five hundred men were called to go to Mexico to fight the Mexicans, and said Mr. Benton—“If you do not send them we will cover you up, and there will be no more of you.” I do not want to think of these things, their authors belong to the class I referred to yesterday—the enemies of mankind, those who would destroy innocence, truth, righteousness and the kingdom of God from the earth. We sent these five hundred men to fight the Mexicans, and those of us who remained behind labored and raised all that we needed to feed ourselves in the wilderness. We had to pay our own schoolteachers, raise our own bread and earn our own clothing, or go without, there was no other choice. We did it then, and we are able to do the same today. I want to enlist the sympathies of the ladies among the Latter-day Saints, to see what we can do for ourselves with regard to schooling our children. Do not say you cannot school them, for you can. There is not a family in this community but what we will take and school their children if they are not able to do it themselves; and we do not do it through begging in the East and telling what others have told there about this people, and about their own efforts to establish free schools here. I understand that the other night there was a school meeting in one of the wards of this city, and a party there—a poor miserable apostate—said, “We want a free school, and we want to have the name of establishing the first free school in Utah.” To call a person a poor miserable apostate may seem like a harsh word; but what shall we call a man who talks about free schools and who would have all the people taxed to support them, and yet would take his rifle and threaten to shoot the man who had the collection of the ordinary light taxes levied in this Territory—taxes which are lighter than any levied in any other portion of the country? We have no other schools but free schools here—our schools are all free. Our meetings are free, our teachings are free. We labor for ourselves and the kingdom of God. But how is it with others? Have they a meeting without a plate, basket, box or hat passed round? And, “Have you got a sixpence for us? Put in your sixpences, your half dollars, your dollars, or your five dollars.” No, it is beg, beg, beg from one year’s end to another. Ever see this in a “Mormon” meeting? I don’t think you have in this city, if you ever did anywhere else. Are the “Mormons” eternally begging and sending round the hat and the plate, and asking every stranger, “Have you a sixpence for me?” No, we do not want your money, we have enough of our own, and we earned it and got it honestly, we have not stolen it nor lied for it either. Now that I am upon free schools I say, put a community in possession of knowledge by means of which they can obtain what they need by the labor of their bodies and their brains, then, instead of being paupers they will be free, independent and happy, and these distinctions of classes will cease, and there will be but one class, one grade, one great family.” (Journal of Discourses, volume 16, 7 April 1873).
Joseph F. Smith
There are three dangers that threaten the church from within, and the authorities need to awaken to the fact that the people should be warned unceasingly against them. As I see them, they are flattery of prominent men in the world, false educational ideas, and sexual impurity (Gospel Doctrine p. 312-313).
Do not let your children out to specialists . . . but teach them by your own precept and example, by your own fireside. Be a specialist yourself in the truth. Let our meetings, schools and organizations, instead of being our only or leading teachers, be supplements to our teaching and training in the home. No child in a hundred would go astray, if the home environment, example and training were in harmony with the truth of the gospel of Christ, as revealed and taught to Latter-day Saints (Gospel Doctrine, p. 302).
I believe that we are taxing people more for education than they should be taxed. This is my sentiment. And especially this is my sentiment when the fact is known that all these burdens are placed upon the tax payers of the state to teach the learning or education of this world. God is not in it. Religion is excluded from it. The Bible is excluded from it. And those who desire to have their children receive the advantages of a moral and religious education are excluded from all these state organizations, and if we will have our children properly taught in principles of righteousness, morality and religion, we have to establish Church schools or institutions of our own, and thus the burdens of taxation are increased upon the people. We have to do it in order that our children may have the advantages of moral training in their youth. I know that I shall be criticized by professional “lovers of education” for expressing my idea in relation to this matter (Conference Report, October 1915, p.4).
Any man who will question the divinity of the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ, or will deny the so-called miracles of the scriptures is unfit to be a teacher of Latter-day Saint children (Improvement Era, volume 21, p. 104).
Ezra Taft Benson
I feel to warn you that one of the chief means of misleading our youth and destroying the family unit is our educational institutions. There is more than one reason why the Church is advising our youth to attend colleges close to their homes where institutes of religion are available. It gives the parents the opportunity to stay close to their children, and if they become alerted and informed, these parents can help expose the deceptions of men like Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, John Dewey, John Keynes and others. There are much worse things today that can happen to a child than not getting a full education. In fact, some of the worst things have happened to our children while attending colleges led by administrators who wink at subversion and amorality. 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” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 307).
There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution which authorizes the federal government to enter into the field of education. Furthermore, the Tenth Amendment says: “The powers not delegated to the United States Government are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nothing could be more clear. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to exercise any powers over education (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 298).
From the 5th grade through the 4th year of college, our young people are being indoctrinated with a Marxist philosophy and I am fearful of the harvest. The younger generation is further to the left than most adults realize. The old concepts of our Founding Fathers are scoffed and jeered at by young moderns whose goals appear to be the destruction of integrity and virtue, and the glorification of pleasure, thrills, and self-indulgence (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p 321).
The world worships the learning of man. They trust in the arm of flesh (see D&C 1:19). To them, man’s reasoning is greater than God’s revelations. The precepts of man have gone so far in the educational system that in many cases, a higher degree today, in the so-called social sciences can be tantamount to a major investment in error. Very few men can build firmly enough on the rock of revelation to go through this kind of indoctrination and come out untainted. Unfortunately, of those who succumb, some use their higher degree to get teaching positions even in our Church Educational System, where they spread the falsehoods the have been taught. President Joseph Fielding Smith was right when he said that false educational ideas would be one of the threats to the Church within (God, Family & Country, p. 258).
The tenth plank in Karl Marx’s Manifesto for destroying our kind of civilization advocated 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 party in the State has the right 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 (Conference Report, October 1970, p. 25).
[We should] reassert the primary right and responsibility of parents for the total education of their children, including social values, religious convictions, and political concepts. . . . Parents should stand firm on this and not be intimidated by professional educators. After all, it’s their children and their money (An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 231).
The phrase federal aid to education is deceptive and dishonest. What is really meant is “federal taxes for education.” The federal government cannot “aid” education. All it can do is tax the people, shuffle the money from one state to another and skim off its administrative costs from the top. Only the people can aid education. They can do it safer, faster, and cheaper within their local communities than by going through the middleman in Washington. Federal taxes for education means federal control over education. No matter how piously the national planners tell us that they will not dictate policies to local school systems, it is inevitable that they will in the long run. In fact, they already are doing it. Whenever the federal government spends tax money for any purpose, it has an obligation to determine how and under what conditions that money is used. Any other course would be irresponsible (An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 231).