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David O. McKay Diaries – “Mormonism”

Below you will find diary entries on the topic of “Mormonism.” You can view other subjects here.

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Thur., 3 Mar., 1955

“January 2, 1955 to February 15, 1955.

Thursday, March 3, 1955.

Report to 


March 3, 1955 President David O. McKay made the following

report of a public meeting he held January 25, 1955 at 

Hastings, New Zealand.

In a public meeting we held at Hastings, New Zealand, January 25, 1955, reference to which I have already made here, where we had the Mayor, the Chairman of the County Commissioners (they had no such title there), a member of the local Parliament, and Superintendent of Public Instruction, all of whom made complimentary speeches, the Superintendent of Public Instruction in his remarks, intending to pay compliment to the Mormons, made some such remark as this:  that generally the leading scientists and leading men of the world look upon the followers of Christ as not being among the most intelligent of the people of the world, implying that they were somewhat inclined to believe in things supernatural generally rejected by the intelligentsia.

I took occasion to refer to his remark, bearing witness to the divinity of the Christ; that we accepted him as the Son of God; and that we take the opposite view.  I said the most intelligent people in the world, the leading scientists among others, accept Jesus, if not as a divine personage as we do, at least as the greatest man that ever lived on earth, and directed my sermon along that line.

I noticed after the meeting that he made it a point to come through the crowd, as we walked out to the auto shaking hands with people, and to shake hands and say, ‘I did not mean what I said in just the way that you seem to have taken it.’

I said, ‘I appreciate your mentioning this because I understood you to imply that the believers in Christ were not the leading and strongest men of the world.’  He said, ‘I did not mean that.’  I said, ‘I am glad that you made the remark that you did, because it gave us the opportunity to place our stand and belief in the divinity of the Savior before the audience.’  I was glad he did not go away offended in what he intended to be a complimentary welcome, but clearly he probably unconsciously showed his attitude toward the divinity of the Savior, which is all too general among the Christian sects today.

Our mission to declare Christ’s divinity, his Sonship, and the one who stands at the head of his Church, one of the Godhead, I think is greater today than ever before in the history of the world because of the tendency of Christian ministers to slight, if not deny, the principle of Christ’s divinity; and a question that was asked by almost every newspaper audience in one way or another was this:  ‘In your opinion, is belief in the Christian religion becoming stronger or weaker?’  The reporters seem to feel that there is a lack of emphasis on the divinity of Christ at this day.  Invariably, I answered that recently I think the tendency is to accept the Christian religion more definitely than ten or twenty years ago.  I believe that among the people that is right, notwithstanding the leaders themselves, the ministers, are shirking their duty of declaring the divine Sonship of the Christ.

I repeat, our responsibility to declare Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World, the Son of God, our Father, is greater today than ever before.  I pray that the Lord will help us to discharge that responsibility in an effective manner before the world.  In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Thurs., 5 May, 1955:

“*Today at Council meeting President McKay made the following significant statement:

‘President McKay referred to the recent showing of ‘Day of Triumph’, a new film portraying the life of the Savior.  Some of the Brethren had seen the presentation, and thought it was well done, and that there was nothing objectionable to it.  President McKay stated that he felt sure that all the Brethren more and more felt the responsibility that is ours to uphold the divine Sonship of our Lord and Savior; that no other Church now is doing that.  He said:  ‘This is the Church of Jesus Christ, and it is our obligation to preach to the world that he is the Son of God, our Redeemer and Savior, not just a great teacher, but in reality the Son of our Father in Heaven, and the Redeemer of the world; that he has broken the bonds of death and brought the resurrection, and through him and obedience to this Gospel we will gain eternal exaltation in His Kingdom.’  President McKay concluded by saying:  ‘May the Lord give us that power, and increase our ability so to represent Him to the world, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.'”

Sat., 14 Dec., 1957:



Salt Lake City, Jan. 11. –

(INS) – David O. McKay, 84, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, says he is afraid an apparent religious revival in recent years may be ‘only on the surface.’

However, the silver-haired, twinkling-eyed McKay, beloved religious leader of nearly 1 1/2 million Mormons, said he hoped his fears were groundless and that the resurge of religious interest is a true indication of greater faith.

In an interview with International News Service, the church leader said that man’s heart must be changed unless he destroy himself.

The tall, alert, spiritual leader has traveled some 500,000 miles visiting church stakes and missions throughout the world since he was ‘sustained’ as president in 1951.  In the following interview, he gives his impressions of what he has seen and heard in his extensive travels, and clarifies some facts about the Mormons.


Q.  President McKay, do you think people are becoming more religious at the present time or are they drifting away from religion?

A.  ‘Recently there has been the general opinion there has been a great increase in interest in religion and there has been a reported increase in membership in the various churches.  I am of the opinion this may be more or less on the surface, and that the increase in church attendance is more social than religious.  Religion must come from within.

‘Outward acts do not indicate a true conversion within the soul.  Enmity still exists among nations and indications are that we are not making the advance among nations that we should.’

Q.  What has been the response to the Mormon Church mission program?

A.  ‘This is one of the things that gives me the greatest hope.  Never before has there been such progress in the missions as there has been in the past 10 years.  Growth of the church has been remarkable and at the present time 500 chapels are under construction or being remodeled.’

Q.  Is present day materialism affecting tithes and offerings?

A.  ‘There never has been a greater response in the payment of tithes and offerings to the church, and again, this is another indication of the growth of faith.  These payments are in addition to the payments church members make toward chapel construction.’

Q.  Do you think people work hard enough at the present time or is there too much leisure time?

A.  ‘I believe it is a God-given privilege to work and am a great believer in giving an honest day’s work for a day’s pay.  It is true that inventions have made possible shorter working days and man should use his increased leisure time for spiritual, educational and cultural purposes.’

Q.  Are people reading as much religious material at the present time or do they expect to be ‘spoon-fed?’

A.  ‘I’m afraid people are not studying the religious works as they did 50 years ago, including the Bible, and they are not reading enough good literature.  People devote a lot of time to television and radio and while these are truly great means of useful learning there still is a lot of trash carried on the programs.

Q.  What do you consider are the principal doctrines that distinguish the Mormon religion from others?

A.  ‘The first distinctive feature is divine authority by direct revelations.  For example – two leading Christian churches trace their authority to original apostles – the Roman Catholic to Peter, for example.  The Mormon religion believes that authority was lost during the dark ages and that it could be restored only by Jesus Christ himself.

‘The Mormon Church received its authority by direct revelation to the prophet Joseph Smith, who founded the church in 1830.  Its organization is distinguished in that it is set up as it was in the days of the Saviour.

‘Another distinguishing feature is the eternal nature of the covenants and ceremonies.  For example, temple marriages are not ‘until death do you part,’ but are ‘for time and all eternity.’

‘The Book of Mormon is another principal distinguishing feature as the history of God’s dealings with man on the American continent, just as the Bible is concerned wtih God’s dealings with man in the old world.  We accept the Book of Mormon as we do the Bible, as the Word of God.  Another feature is that the church is a lay church, there are no paid members of the clergy.’

Q.  What is the church doing about the problems of youth?

A.  ‘The church has a primary interest in the welfare of youth as shown in its many organizations, such as the primary organization, which has a program for children from the ages of 4 to 12; the Mutual Improvement Assn. whose special duties are to enroll and assist in education and training of young people from 12 to 25.

‘In addition to these there is the Sunday School organization whose primary duty is to educate in religious matters, the Women’s Relief Society which teachers and aids young wives and mothers, and the various priesthood quorums which includes all male members of the church.  We have social activities, cultural activities, sports activities and other group interest projects.’

Q.  Ezra Taft Benson, secretary of agriculture, is a member of the church’s Council of Twelve Apostles and is very much in the news these days.  Would you comment on his political activities and his political future?

A.  ‘We in the church council believe Elder Benson is doing a good job in the post of secretary of agriculture and apparently the president thinks so too.  As far as church officials are concerned, Elder Benson will serve as long as the president wants him.’

The Denver Post, Sunday, January 12, 1958″