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David O. McKay Diaries – “Polygamy”

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

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Wed., 12 Jan., 1944:

“Special meeting with Elders Kasper Fetzer, Cornelius Zappey, and Bishop Fred Curtis–special missionaries.  Advised them not to be too active during the next month–to await developments concerning the agents of the law and excommunicants for violations of the marriage laws.”

Mon., 14 Jul., 1947:

“[Telephone call]  Mr. Bell of ‘Time’ Magazine.  He asked the following questions:

. . . .

c. Did the end of polygamy come as a result of divine revelation, or as a manifesto to President Woodruff.

I answered:  President Woodruff stated that it came to him as a revelation; that he prayed, and then he issued the Manifesto.

d. I understand that the Welfare Program started in 1936, and that it came as a revelation to President Heber J. Grant.

I answered:  It was not a revelation; it is just a program of the Church.”

Mon., 20 Sep., 1948:

“At 8 o’clock this morning, met by appointment Brother and Sister Harry Clarke–discussed, (first) Mrs. Clarke’s alleged marriage to John Burt, and its effectiveness in the Hereafter.  I said–It would absolutely have no effect in the Hereafter; that in the first place, it was unauthorized; in the second place, Mr. Burt was excommunicated, and if at any time in the future, he is reinstated in the Church, that sealing will not stand, because in 1906, years before, President [Joseph F.?] Smith recalled any authority that had been given to any man to seal in the Temple [plural wives?], and had that authority cancelled from that day on.  I heard President Smith say that when the authority was recalled any man who has officiated since has done so without authority.

(Second) Brother Clarke feels that he hasn’t been recognized in the Church.  I asked him if being chosen as one of six to act as co-ordinators for the thousands of our young service men, was not an outstanding distinction.  Told him that the service he had rendered in that field alone would bear fruit throughout Eternity.  I also said that the service he is rendering now in public speaking in the various wards, giving comfort at funerals, etc., merits the fulfillment of the promise–‘inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my servants, ye have done it unto me.’

I think Brother Clark, who has been greatly downcast the past several weeks, went away from the office feeling encouraged and a feeling of hope within him.”

Wed., 2 Nov., 1949:

“Kasper Fetzer telephoned.  Said there is a man by the name of Willis Leland Rasmussen who lives in Veyo, St. George, who sent money to a German girl and brought her here to marry her.  Upon arrival, the girl found that Mr. Rasmussen is already married, and is prcticing polygamy.  The girl left immediately, and is now working in the Genealogical Society.  Brother Fetzer asked if he should turn this man over to the F.B.I.  I said by all means that they should hunt him up and prosecute him.”

Wed., 25 Apr., 1951:

“Mr. Jester of the Associated Press called and asked for a sttement regarding the Church’s views on Communism, missionary work, etc. (see notes attached):

Mr. Jester:  Would like a story on the L.D.S. Church for use in papers in England.

Is the Church expanding?

Pres. McKay:  By leaps and bounds.

Mr. Jester:  Is it expanding in interest?

Pres. McKay:  That is illustrated by the number of prominent men from the different parts of the United States and America in expressing their interest in the reorganization of the First Presidency.  Have had a great many comments from leading business men, leading statesmen, ministers of other religions; the interest seems to be general.

Mr. Jester:  Have you had comment from England and countries in Europe?

Pres. McKay:  Only from members and officers there; there has scarcely been time to receive comments from others.

Mr. Jester:  Regarding expansion of the church–are you continuing to expand?

Pres. McKay:  We have already organized a Branch in China, but due to the present emergency we have transferred headquarters back to San Francisco.  We have in mind entering India and establishing an Indian Mission–that is under consideration.  We have no missionaries there at present, but have had requests for them.

Mr. Jester:  How about Europe?

Pres. McKay:  There will be no more expansion under present conditions.  However, we have missions in three South American Countries, West Germany, East Germany, Holland, France, Great Britain–Czechoslovakian Mission has recently been closed.  Our missionaries are carrying on as usual, but we cannot increase the number at present because of the Draft Ssituation–we are not calling our young men at present.  There are about 5,000 missionaries returning within the next 18 months, and they will enter the draft immediately upon their return.  We shall replace them, but of course not in equal numbers.

Mr. Jester:  What effect do you think your missionaries will have in establishing peace and in counteracting Communism?

Pres. McKay:  Our missionaries are the real peacemakers.  They are abroad proclaiming peace, founded on the firm foundation of peace as established by our Lord and Savior.  We do not in any way affiliate with Communism.  Communism pretends to foster democratic principles, while in practice it is the most cruel of modern dictatorships.  Our missionaries are preaching individual freedom; Communism robs a person of his free agency, and makes the individual a mere puppet of the State.  In a true democracy the State exists for the protection and welfare of the individual.  In a Communistic State, the individual exists for the welfare of the State.

Mr. Jester:  Do you feel that your missionary program slows down the effects of Communism?

Pres. McKay:  Our missionaries are told not to enter into any politics, and to take no part whatever in national politics.  They are sent out to teach the principles of true Christianity, and to teach the people that these principles are fundamental in the establishing of peace.  As a matter of fact no [person can be a] member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and be a Communist at the same time,–the two are diametrically opposed.

Mr. Jester:  What do the missionaries emphasize in their work?

Pres. McKay:  They preach adherence to the first principles of the Gospel as preached by the Savior when he was on earth two thousand years ago.  You may say it this way:  We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost; We believe in the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ; in baptism, and in the living of a clean, righteous life.  They preach the universl brotherhood of man in the truest sense of the word.  Furthermore, each missionary pays his own expenses, or his parents.

Mr. Jester:  ‘Why do they do it?’

Pres. McKay:  They do it out of love for Truth, and that is one of the great secrets of their success, and they do it of their own free will.

Mr. Jester:  I believe you have given me just what I will need. Is the Church panning anything special for the Festival which is to be held in Great Britain in the near future?

Pres. McKay:  The President of the British Mission–President Stayner Richards–is planning a program, and will participate with the government in this celebration.

Mr. Jester:  Are any persons from this country attending the celebration?  How about you?

Pres. McKay:  I think I shall not attend.  I cannot say for sure about any one else.  A visit of a General Authority will be after the celebration, probably sometime the latter part of June.

Mr. Jester:  What is the present attitude toward polygamy?

Pres. McKay:  You know the attitude of the Church concerning this question; that it has not been practiced since 1890.  The less you say about this question the better.

Mr. Jester:  Does the church enforce the law regarding a violation with respect to polygamy?

Pres. McKay:  Any man who enters into it is excommunicated from the Church.”

Wed., 22 Oct., 1952:

“[Clare note]  A young man by the name of De Cheminant of Las Vegas, Nevada (2nd Ward) called at the office for a consultation with President McKay regarding the subject of polygamy.  Has had ‘visions’ or ‘revelations’ that the Church is out of line by hnot practicing polygamy.  I advised this brother to talk to his local authorities.  He answered that he did not want to do that; that he must see the head of the Church.  As President McKay was out, he left stating that he send a letter.”

July 28, 1953:

Telephone Conversations

“1.  Mr. Ward Holbrook of the Public Welfare Commission called relative to the people of Short Creek, Arizona who recently have been arrested by Arizona State officials for their polygamous activities.  He stated that their welfare supervisor in that area had just received a telephone call from the Attorney General of the State of Arizona who informed him that I had made a statement to the effect that the Church was assuming the responsibility of the minor children.

I told Brother Holbrook that I had never made a statement to that effect–that the Church does not want to be associated with this group in any way–that those of this ‘cultist’ group who belonged to the church have been excommunicated.

Brother Holbrook said that there are a number who live in Utah, and the needy children are under the Welfare of the State of Utah, and the State will have to render aid to them.  I asked whether there are children left without mothers, and Brother Holbrook said that none of the younger children have been taken away from their mothers–some of the older women have been arrested, but the young mothers with children have not been taken.  Said that the State is sending to Short Creek a Welfare representative to look after things.

I asked Brother Holbrook to keep in touch with us.

Fri., 3 Feb., 1956:

“First Presidency’s meeting 

Article in ‘Truth’ Magazine:  I called attention to the latest issue of ‘Truth’ magazine which caricatures the Church for condemning Russia and yet countenances the stealing of children from their mothers in Utah.

Plural marriage:  In this connection I explained that it was my understanding regarding plural marriage that the having of more than one wife is not a principle but a practice.  The principle of the eternity of the marriage covenant revealed to the Prophet and all the blessings pertaining to that may be obtained by a man with one wife.”

Wed., 29 Feb., 1956:

“First Presidency’s Meeting

A discussion came up regarding a book that is being prepared for publication by Clare Wilcox telling of a dialogue between Joseph Smith and Willard Richards regarding the taking of other wives and urging that the matter be concealed.  President Richards said that the author is a relative of his and he thought we should resist the publication of such material.  In this connection President McKay gave the following:

Statement by President McKay on polygamy:

President McKay stated that his understanding of the revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, contained in the 132nd Section of the Doctrine and Covenants is as follows:  That the revelation was regarding the eternity of the marriage covenant; it was not on polygamy.  And the Lord revealed to the Prophet that a man who conforms to that revelation, that is, who enters into the eternity of the marriage covenant, receives every blessing pertaining to the salvation and exaltation of man.  No blessing is withheld.  The part of the revelation pertaining to the marriage covenant pertains only to one man and one wife; and then, after the Prophet received it, he asked the Lord what about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had more wives than one.  And then follows the answer of the Lord that, if a man marry another wife and she is given to him as this wife is given to him, he does not sin, but he does not get a higher glory.  There are one or two verses which will lead one to think that this refers to the plurality of marriage.

Plural marriage as a practice is not a principle.  We have not abrogated the principle of the marriage covenant and we never will, and the practice of plural marriage is contrary to the law of the church and the law of the land.  President Richards said he agreed with this understanding one hundred per cent.

President McKay said that some of our people taught it as a principle, which was not correct.

Tues., 30 Oct., 1956:

“2.  Sisters Sophia Roundy and Joanna Roundy called by telephone this morning.  On December 11, 1955 they wrote a letter to me asking if they could be sealed as wives to Brother Francis Tracy Bailey who passed away 13 years ago last October in his 79th year.  They stated in their letter that Brother Bailey had asked them if they would have this sealing done if he should pass away first.  Brother Bailey was a married man, but he had no children.  Sisters Roundy said that neither one of them had ever married.

I told these sisters that I could see no objection to their going ahead with this sealing.  They asked if it would be necessary for them to give President ElRay L. Christiansen a letter giving them permission to go ahead with this sealing, and I told them that if President Christiansen had any questions, he could call me for approval.”

Wed., 14 May, 1958:

Wednesday, May 14, 1958


5.  Admissibility of children of polygamous sects to LDS Seminaries.

I informed President McKay that the Board of Education, during his absence, had decided, subject to his approval, that no children of polygamous sects should be permitted to enroll in Institutes and Seminaries without each individual case having received the approval of the Board of Education.  President McKay inquired as to whether we had had any real difficulty with these children.  I told him that my reports were that we had had not difficulty but that the students themselves had been cooperative and had ordinarily been good students, although generally they did not readily mix with the other students in the Seminaries.  He commented that he thought the decision of the Board of Education was proper, but that when individual cases were brought before the Board, he thought we ought to be very careful before barring any from attending.


Present:  President David O. McKay, President Joseph Fielding Smith, Elders Henry D. Moyle, Richard L. Evans, Hugh B. Brown; Assistants to the Twelve ElRay L. Christiansen and Gordon B. Hinckley; Bishop Thorpe B. Isaacson.

Elder Edward O. Anderson, Architect, was asked by President McKay to be present to participate in the consideration of the condition of the Swiss Temple.  Elder A. Hamer Reiser was present as Secretary.


President McKay:

‘The third point is regarding the most unfortunate condition in France.  Brother Moyle, will you please make a statement regarding it.’

Brother Moyle:

‘I think Brother Brown, who has been in Paris, and I have not, should speak.  I held some meetings last Saturday, and Sunday, in Brussels.’

Brother Hugh B. Brown:

‘Well, while in Basel, President Milton L. Christensen of the French Mission called me on the phone and said that there was very serious trouble, and asked me if I could come over.  I was just leaving for Rome, but I flew to Paris and he told me the nature of the trouble when I arrived.  He said that there was a group of missionaries who were preaching polygamy and a lot of other things, donouncing the Manifesto and circulating literature sent to them by the Fundamentalists.’

Question by President McKay:

‘Why did he permit it?’

Brother Brown:

‘It seemed to have been going on for some time.  They had been meeting secretly.  They had been holding protected meetings–a group of the leaders–Elders.  They would admit only those whom they thought worthy of ‘higher things.’  A man who went home just before Brother Lee was released had apparently been doing some of this, but he left, and upon arrival home he sent a whole package of this Fundamentalist literature back to his companion, including a 100-page letter setting out the troubles the church is in, and the solution of them all.  It was sent to the counselor of the Mission President, a missionary by the name of Tucker.  Tucker, with this material, called in a few of his close associates and companions and began to teach it to them.  That went on before the President discovered it.  Tucker was the counselor in the Mission Presidency.  He traveled over the Mission.  He was leaving some of this literature.  When I arrived in Paris, he, (President Christensen) told me the situation, and I asked where Tucker was; and he said he was down in Geneva on an assignment, and I asked him to phone at once and bring him into the office, which he did.

‘I sat down and talked to Tucker for three hours.  I talked with him and used every method that I could think of, persuasion and prayer.  I wept with him.  He sat there looking me in the eye.  He did not take his eye off me while I talked with him.  I said, ‘Do you accept the Manifesto?’  He said, ‘I do not.’  ‘Do you believe that polygamy should be practiced now?’  He said, ‘I know that there are righteous men who are practicing it with the knowledge of the General Authorities.’

‘Do you believe that President McKay is two-faced and is talking out of both sides of his mouth and not telling the truth?’

‘I believe just that.  But I do not and I would not know until the Lord reveals it to me.’

‘I said, ‘I am here representing the General Authorities looking into this matter, and I am telling you that you are wrong.’

‘He said, ‘I do not accept you as an Apostle.  I take my direction from the Lord and only from Him.’

‘I won’t take too much of your time.  I made no impression whatever on Tucker.  I was impressed that I should instruct the President to send him home at once, but with this meeting coming up, and inasmuch as there was another of the Brethren on assignment, I did not want to overstep my bounds.

‘I told him to stop his operation, and that we shall not allow him to meet with any missionaries again until we can have the meeting here.

‘Two other young men had been affected, and they had already made arrangements to go home.  Apparently they were of the same opinion.  Brother Hinckley had talked with the President about them and they had gone home.  Still two others with whom I had talked had the same attitude.’

Brother Hinckley said:

‘The first indication was about ten days ago.’

Brother Brown:

‘There were two other men who had talked the same way.  One was stony-faced.  I asked when they got their first impressions and they refused to answer.  They said they would not implicate anybody.  One young woman nearly 30, a fine woman, had also become so imbued with it.  This young woman was ready to go into polygamy.  She was waiting for an opportunity.  I talked with her for some time, but I think she has completely changed her mind.  Tucker–the counselor to the President–has almost put them under covenant not to tell, but she broke down and told me the whole thing.  She said she had lost confidence in the General Authorities of the Church and thought that they were two-faced, and she said, ‘After hearing you, I ask forgiveness.  I thank God you came and I want to tell you I will never have anything to do with this again.  I will personally accept your statement.’

‘There were two other ladies in the French Mission–American missionaries–who I think will have to go home.  I think someone must see them individually and decide each individual case on its merits.  They are saying there are two Priesthoods, and John the Revelator is the man who presides over you and he has given them instructions through this man Tucker that he does not need to ask for instructions from you or me or anyone else.  I have never in my life run into anything quite like it.  I had all those cases in Granite Stake under Dr. Talmage.  We handled cases of those polygamists, including John Burt.  Tucker is a missionary from home.  He is a brilliant young man, too brilliant for his own good.  He is the most defiant, self-opinionated person I have ever met.’

Brother Moyle:

‘President Christensen and his wife, if they said it to me once, they said it a half a dozen times:  ‘They hated to do anything with Tucker because they had learned to love him?

‘President Christensen came into the mess and he did not know what he ought to do with it.  He evidently did not know it existed until ten days ago.’

Brother Hinckley:

‘About ten days ago, President Christensen phoned the Bishop of these two boys.  The boys’ parents had received requests for money for the boys to come home, so the boys’ Bishop called, and he sent a cable to President Christensen asking for a report on the situation.  President Christensen cabled, and then telephoned and said these boys had no faith and no testimony.  They were determined to come home.  I told him I would talk with a member of the Presidency, if they were insistent on coming home; he could hold them there.  Brother Brown would be there in Paris in a few days.  The parents sent money to one of the boys, but the other boy’s parents sent no money.  Then President Christensen called to make a plea for the London meeting, and I talked with President Clark and he said we shall approve the London meeting, and we sent a cable to that effect.

‘President Christensen did not say that polygamy was in it at all.  These two yung men had lost their faith.  He said they were getting wonderful results in the French Mission, and the devil was really at work.  Not only these two young men, but about ten others.  I suggested that he talk with Brother Brown and gave him the word of the London meeting, and you (President McKay) would be here and the matter could be resolved at that time.  That was about ten days ago.’

Henry D. Moyle:

‘This last Sunday, they held a public meeting down in Brussels.  They had a wonderful conference.  I spent all Saturday with the Elders and President Christensen, but did not know how far this group of Elders had been affected.  They had some 37 Elders from the Brussels and Liege Districts, which goes as far as Lille in France.  After a whole day’s work interviewing them and talking to them, they held a testimony meeting.

‘I did not attend the testimony meeting.  That was held Sunday night after three big meetings Sunday called by President Christensen.  It was a regular District Conference.  Testimony meeting was a continuation of the Saturday meeting.  The upshot of the matter is that the Elders of these two districts are all right.  At 10 o’clock President Christensen came to my room in the hotel and said he had a report from Nancy, France, District Headquarters, that they had a big meeting at which the District Supervising Elder had publicly, from the pulpit, preached these Fundamentalist doctrines.  All the Elders from Nancy seemed to be affected.  So far as he knew, it was the first time it had broken out in public.

‘Another thing–I met with all the Elders in West Germany in the meeting that we held in Dusseldorf where there were 57 Elders present.  The spirit was pretty good, but I think there is something there that needs pretty careful attention.

‘When I got to Stuttgart, I felt the very devil himself was there.  There was not anything I could pinpoint, but I think a feeling that there might be some relationship between the feeling I had at Stuttgart and in the French Mission.

‘I am sure that is the French situation.  The first thing after I talked with the Elders, instantly they started to ask me about the Manifesto and Brother Taylor and Brother Cowley.  I cut them off pretty short.  I told them that they were not in their missions to discuss that question.  I am afraid it has affected some others.  It is pretty hard to keep it confined.  They correspond with one another.’

Brother Isaacson:

‘I was in Paris and I met Brother Brown.  I was not staying at the Mission Home.  The next morning, President Christensen and his wife went to Brussels and they volunteered to have the missionaries take me to the plane.  We were staying at the hotel and one of the missionaries whom I had interviewed for his mission came.  The other man is a son of a very fine stake president, Elder Hart from Idaho Falls.  I had been to their home twice, and I knew this boy, when he was about 14 and again about 19 or 20.  So I took another walk in Paris.  I was astounded at how reluctant they are to tell anything.  I said to Hart:  ‘You are all right, Brother Hart; knowing your father like I do, they could not mix you up, could they?’

‘He is a fine chap.  I do not think they have hurt him, but I did not get a positive answer.  He said, ‘No, they could not hurt me, but there is a lot of teaching going on that you do not know what to think.’

‘While I think that they have not touched him, I think they have him disturbed.  This man Tucker was with him.  This boy Hart is a fine boy, but someone will have to reinforce him.  I think every missionary over there will have to be reinforced and put straight.’

Brother Moyle:

‘All those 37 missionaries need something to support and sustain them.  President Christensen is absolutely lost.’

President McKay:

‘Where is Tucker from?’

Answer:  ‘From California.’

Hugh B. Brown:

‘He is from President Hunter’s Stake–Pasadena.  He was a companion of Elder Shore.  Elder Shore is the one who started this, yes, beginning the last few months.  He is a student going to school.’

Question:  ‘Is Tucker an unmarried man so far as you know?’

Answer by Brother Brown(?):  He says he is unmarried.  And Shore is an unmarried man, so far as I know.’

‘They have all kinds of mysteries–the Adam-God idea.  They are talking about many things that I have not heard of.  He said, ‘You are not up-to-date.’  President Hunter will be here Sunday.  Tucker is from his Stake.  (Insert by Brother Reiser–By the way, I think Brother Brown said all these things although my notes do not indicate it definitely.  But I am quite sure it was Brother Brown.)

‘He (Tucker) pledges them to say nothing about it.’

President McKay:

‘Now, Brethren, we had better call a meeting of the Mission Presidents tomorrow, Saturday, at 10 o’clock.

‘Our Elders in Europe, as indicated here in France, are preaching the eternity of the marriage covenant as being plural marriage itself.  They are misled.  They should get clearly in mind the thought that the principle of that great revelation is the eternity of the marriage covenant, and what that principle is, the Prophet Joseph explains clearly.  The marriage bonds of man and wife will last through the eternity–just as plain as the English language can express it.  When the Prophet Joseph received the great revelation on the eternity of the marriage covenant, he asked the Lord about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and David and Solomon, each of whom had more than one wife; and then the Lord explained that ‘If I give to him a virgin by this same covenant, he has not sinned because I have given her to him.’  That is marriage under the covenant.  ‘If he has ten virgins, and he is married under the covenant, it is right because I have blessed it, and if he does not have them given under the covenant, he is committing adultery.’  Marriage with more than one wife is just as legal as with one wife because it comes under the eternity of the marriage covenant.

‘But the Church did away with the practice of plural marriage because of the law.  President Woodruff said he was going to do away with that practice, but he did not deny the principle of the eternity of the marriage covenant.  It is in force today as it has always been in force, but the practice of plural marriage is not permitted, and anybody who indulges in it or permits marriage into it, has violated the law of the Church and merits excommuncation.

‘In the Book of Mormon times, they had the same experience.  The Lord called the plurality of wives an abomination, but that did not do away with the eternity of the marriage covenant, for it is an eternal principle.  The ‘Cultists’ think with polygamy they will receive greater blessings in the Hereafter, and that the Authorities of the Church are deluded.  They do not understand the difference between the eternity of the marriage covenant, and a practice of plural marriage.’

Brother Brown:

‘They are reading into it that you must be in polygamy to get to the highest degree of glory.’

Brother Hinckley:

‘A meeting of the French missionaries is scheduled for Wednesday.  President Christensen would like some of the Brethren present Wednesday at 10 o’clock.  He would like some of the Brethren to meet on that occasion.  They have Ravenslea Hall lined up for the meeting on September 10th.  All the French missionaries are coming, and he hopes this thing will be nipped at that time.’

Brother Hugh B. Brown:

‘I wonder whether we ought to see these brethren separately rather than to open up with all the missionaries.

Brother Moyle:

‘When Brother Christensen said that he had authority to bring all his missionaries, I felt sorry that that authority had been given.  I would like to see that cancelled.  I do not believe it would be good to have them come.  I think it is a matter which has got to be handled on an individual basis.  They are coming tomorrow.  I would not have them come to the Temple.’

Brother Hugh B. Brown (I believe this statement was made by him, although I am not sure):

‘I think Brother Moyle is exactly right.  I think there are too many polluted.  They are not worthy to go through the Temple.’

President McKay said:

‘It is 10 o’clock.  We will adjourn this meeting, and if you will just wait here in the hotel, we will reassemble after we get through with this appointment.  We will decide on the action pertaining to these missionaries.  They should not come.  You meet the Mission Presidents and present this matter to them.

‘If they are coming, we should interview everyone of them singly.’

Wed., 10 Sept., 1958:

“Pres. McKay in Europe–see notes following.

(See letter following from Elder Milton L. Christensen, President of the French Mission regarding the excommunication of nine French missionaries for apostasy.)  (also see September 17 and 18, 1958.)

Wednesday, September 10, 1958.

The following is a copy of a letter sent by Elder Milton L. Christensen, President of the French Mission to all stake presidents, bishops, and parents involved in the excommunication of nine French missionaries guilty of apostasy for their association with groups known as ‘Fundamentalists’ who practice polygamy.

Wednesday, September 10, 1958.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

French Mission

    3 Rue de Lota, Paris 16,


September 13, 1958



Dear Brethren:

I am writing this letter following in explanation of the telegram sent to you by my office on September 11.

On September 10, an Elder’s Court was held in London at 50 Princes Gate, under instructions by President David O. McKay and under the direction of Elder Henry D. Moyle.  This Court consisted of the following Elders:

Henry D. Moyle

Hugh B. Brown

Thorpe B. Isaacson

Milton L. Christensen

Douglas W. Owens

Vernon B. Bangerter

Don C. Jensen

H. Ray Hart

The following missionaries were found guilty of apostasy and were accordingly excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

William P. Tucker

Bruce Wakeham

Stephen Silver

Daniel Jordan

Loftin Harvey, Jr.

Niel Poulsen

Juna Abbott

Marilyn Lamborn

Eunice Fulk

These nine missionaries, together with another sister missionary who has since asked to return home with them, will sail from LeHavre, France on the Greek Line ‘NEW YORK’ on September 16, 1958 and arrive in New York City on September 26.

Briefly here is an outline of what happened preceeding the above action:  Recently some of our missionaries have been studying and delving into teachings not in accordance with the accepted doctrine of the Church, and widespread and painstaking labor has been done to stamp this out.  These teachings, however, were of a very secret nature, and because of this, it was not until towards the end of the month of August that we were able to pinpint where the trouble was stemming from and to extract from some of the above named missionaries the confession that they believed these teachings, basically those of the widespread groups known broadly as ‘fundamentalists’.

On August 23, Elder Hugh B. Brown of the Council of the Twelve Apostles arrived in Paris, and interviewed four of our missionaries.  We found them to be in an apostate condition, and two of them, after requesting permission, were allowed to return to the United States.  Upon arriving the following week in London, and after reporting to President McKay and President Smith, Elder Brown called to say that it had been decided that all missionaries would be interviewed by one of the General Authorities Tuesday morning, September 9 before being allowed to attend the morning session of the dedication of the Temple.

This was accomplished early that morning, with interviewing being done by the following members of the General Authorities:  Joseph Fielding Smith, Henry D. Moyle, Richard L. Evans, Hugh B. Brown, Thorpe B. Isaacson, ElRay L. Christiansen, and Gordon B. Hinckley.  It was found at that time that ten of the French Missionaries were in an apostate condition, and should not be admitted to the Temple.  Nine of them requested that they be excommunicated, and requested also that it be done together.

Hours were spent that day and the following morning by the above named authorities and by Sister Christensen and myself in laboring and pleading with these young men and women, asking that they repent and come back to finish the fine work that they had started in the mission field.  This work, however, was in vain, and although exceeding love was shown by all those who plead and reasoned with them, they stood firm.  Again they requested excommunication, and that this action be taken with them as a group.

The above named Elder’s Court was then called, and these nine missionaries were excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, for apostasy.  This action was based on their negative answers, given independently to the question of whether or not they sustained David O. McKay as a Prophet, Seer and Revelator.

Our hearts go out to these young men and women, to their parents and families, for we know that they have taken a step which will adversely affect their eternal progress.  They were among our finest missionaries, until they came under the influence of these teachings.  We pray that some day in the near future they may be loosened from this diabolical power, and that they might again seek baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Sincerely your brother,

/s/ Milton L. Christensen

President of the French Mission


Wed., 17 Sept., 1958:

“The following matters were discussed during the First Presidency’s Meeting this morning:

Excommunication of Nine French Missionaries

President McKay reviewed the apostasy of nine missionaries in the French Mission, and their excommunication in London on Wednesday, September 10, 1958.  It had been reported that a David Shore of Rosemary Ward, Calgary Stake, Canada, who had been a missionary in that mission, but released earlier in the year, had sent back to his companion, Elder Tucker, the literature of the Fundamentalists and that Tucker, counsellor to the mission president, had circulated it among the missionaries.  (also see September 10, 1958.)”

Fri., 19 Sept., 1958:

Telephone Call

President Stephen L. Richards called regarding Elder Harvey William Harper, one of the French missionaries who came home before the excommunication of nine of his fellow-missionaries who have become associated with the Fundamentalist Group.  (see following notes of conversation–see also Sept. 10 and Sept. 23 for further notes regarding this matter.)

Telephone conversation with President Stephen L. Richards.

President Richards:  Brother McKay, Brother LeGrand Richards and Brother Richard L. Evans have interviewed one of those French missionaries* by the name of Harvey William Harper who lives in California who came home before the excommunication took place in London.  Brother Richards and Brother Evans feel that he is fully repentant.  He served fifteen months of his mission and came home on his own accord.  The Mission President reports that he was a good missionary.  He got mixed up with these people.  He has been with LeGrand this morning in his office.  A few minutes ago I told LeGrand that we should have to be extremely careful because if we let one missionary return to the mission field even though he hasn’t been excommunicated, the parents of the other missionaries may object.

President McKay:  This boy has not been excommunicated?

President Richards:  No, he has not, but he got mixed up with these Fundamentalists, and he confesses that he was persuaded in part.  However, he found himself in time, but I do not think it would be well for him to go back into the mission field without a little probation, would you?  They think perhaps he has repented.  I am not in favor of sending him back to the French mission.  He should complete his mission elsewhere.  But I think if the people heard of that they wouldn’t understand all the circumstances.  They might think we were discriminate.  Would it not be better to put him on probation for a few months before he goes out in any mission field, or do you think one of us ought to interview him before we give approval?

Brother Richards and Brother Evans think his former Bishop who lives in Salt Lake now and heard of it has done a good job in straightening the boy out.  If we want, we can take the recommendation of two of the Twelve that he be permitted to go forward and complete his mission.  He served fifteen months.

President McKay:  He is from California?  Are his folks here with him?

President Richards:  No, I think they are not here with him.  I asked whether or not they are both good members of the Church.  Bro. Richards did not know whether he came from a good strong family or not.  His bishop thinks well of him.

President McKay:  I am inclined to be charitable to these boys when they do come and confess and see the light.  I do not know whether much would be gained by sending him back.  I would rather notify the mission President of the condition.  I believe I would let him go to some other mission.  I would not send him back to France.  Hasn’t he been home?

President Richards:  He would like to get out of the embarrassment of going home.  He just left the mission of his own accord and the President did not give him a release.

President McKay:  His Bishop does not know about it?

President Richards:  Yes, he does now.

President McKay:  Does his parents know about it?

President Richards:  They may know about it, but this Elder has not gone back to his own ward.  He just came here from France.  He left before the trouble developed there.  He acknowledges that he was influenced by them.  He said that if he hadn’t left, he would have been called in with the rest of them, and he would have been excommunicated.  He would have stood with them.  He got out of it before that time came, and says that he has come to his senses.  He realized how wrong he was.  He would like to get out of the embarrassment of going home.

President McKay:  I think I would like to talk to that boy.

President Richards:  I see, he will be in Brother LeGrand Richards’ office when Bro. Richards comes back from the University appointment to which you assigned him.  He is going to meet with him again.

President McKay:  I should like to see him about 4:30 this afternoon.**

President Richards:  All right, I shall tell LeGrand to have him come.  I am sure he can get him and have him there.

President McKay:  Have the boy and Brother LeGrand Richards come together.

President Richards:  All right, I shall tell him.

President McKay:  All right, thank you.

*This refers to nine French missionaries who were excommunicated while Pres. McKay was attending dedicatory services of the London Temple.  These missionaries had been contaminated by one of their number who is a ‘cultist’ or ‘Church of the first born’ as they call themselves.  It is a polygamist group.  Four girls and five young men were included in this group.

**(Later, this appointment was changed to Tuesday morning, September 23, 1958 at 8:30 o’clock)”

Tues., 23 Sept., 1958:

“8:30 a.m.  Elder LeGrand Richards and I had a conference with Elder Harvey William Harper this morning at 8:30 o’clock.  Brother Harper gave up his mission in France and came home because he had become confused over his association with a group of missionaries who had been secretly teaching polygamy and had joined with the ‘Fundamentalists’ under the leadership of Elder William P. Tucker* a member of the French Mission Presidency who had come from California as a fully authorized missionary of the Church.

I asked Elder Harper when he was first approached with the idea that it is right to practice polygamy now and that those who oppose it have apostatized from the Church.  He answered that he got that information while serving as a missionary in the French mission.

I then asked him when he changed in his thinking and when he came to the conclusion that the General Authorities of the Church are the authorized representatives of the Church.  He answered:  ‘I knew it in the Mission Field, but I did not know that I knew it.’

Elder Harper bore his testimony to me that he knows that he has made a grave mistake; that he does have a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, and would like to make restitution for what he has done and also to finish his mission.

At 4 p.m. I had a consultation with Gordon Hinckley, Assistant to the Twelve, who had been appointed by me while in London to go to France and investigate conditions at Mission Headquarters.  He said that he had spent hours going through mission files and correspondence, and that he could find nothing that would lead to a suspicion of what was going on — that Elder Tucker and his followers were sworn to secrecy.

Brother Hinckley said that he had gone to the dock to see the nine missionaries who had been excommunicated while in London who were living on a Greek liner for New York.  He told them he did not come to preach to them; that they had had better men than he talk to them (Elders Joseph Fielding Smith, Henry D. Moyle, Richard L. Evans, Hugh B. Brown, Bishop Thorpe B. Isaacson) but that he had come in the interest of their parents to see that they had enough money to get home safely; that he also wished to bear his testimony to them and to say to them that they would live to regret what they were doing on that day — leaving the mission field, probably for Mexico to practice their mistaken ideas.

Brother Hinckley said all the missionaries, excepting Elder Tucker and one of the girls, seemed morose and down-cast.

I told Brother Hinckley that after talking today to Elder Harper, I am inclined to let him return to the mission field – not to the French Mission – but to receive a transfer to the Eastern States.  I told him that I had talked to President Stephen L. Richards about it, and that he was in agreement with this plan.  Brother Hinckley will now effect the transfer to the Eastern States Mission.  I also instructed him to get in touch with President Jacobsen, President of that Mission, and let him know the whole story about Brother Harper so that he may watch the situation.

*(See diary Sept. 10 and also report of meeting with General Authorities in London about this matter)

Tues., 10 Feb., 1959:

“8:30 a.m.  – Attended the regular meeting of the First Presidency.

Dr. Kimball Young’s book – ‘Isn’t One Wife Enough?’

I took into this meeting a report from Elder LaMar S. Williams of an audition of a tape recording of a radio broadcast given by Martin Malone of the Speech Department of the Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, of a book by Dr. Kimball Young (head of the Department of Sociology of Northwestern Universtiy) entitled ‘Isn’t One Wife Enough?’, being an attempt to ridicule and slander the Church through the polygamy issue.  The review had been broadcast as one of a series in the University’s Americana programs.  After reading Brother Williams’ report of the radio broadcast, it was decided to refer the material to President Edmunds of the Chicago Stake, with the request that he look into the matter for the Church.

Tues., 18 Sep., 1962:

“NOTE: Today I autographed my photograph at the request of Elder T. Bowring Woodburv, formerly President of the British Mission, and also one for Dr. E. Sarofim, an Egyptian, who is now teaching at the London University. He is the man who cabled to me some time ago, and asked if he could be baptized. I turned the matter over to President Woodbury, who was then serving as President of the British Mission, inasmuch as Dr. Sarofim was then teaching at the University of London. This man has not yet been baptized, because he has the problem of having two wives, whom he married under the Egyptian Law. I sent word to President Woodbury at the time that Dr. Sarofim would have to tell his Egyptian wife of his marriage to the woman from Switzerland. This he has done, and now President Woodbury says he is coming to Salt Lake City soon, and wishes to be baptized when he arrives here.

Both the photographs were sent by Dr. Sarofim from London, and is a picture of me standing at the pulpit of the Hyde Park Chapel at the time it was dedicated (See diary of September 19, 1962, for discussion regarding Dr. Sarofim.)”

Wed., 19 Sep., 1962:

Dr. Ebeid Sarofim, Egyptian, and Two Wives

I inquired as to the status of the matter presented by President Woodbury relating to the baptism of Dr. Ebeid Sarofim, the professor at London University, who is married to two wives.

The correspondence on this case was reviewed, including the opinion of the London solicitors to the effect that no legal action in the matter would likely be taken in Great Britain since the marriages were performed in Egypt where they are legal. The correspondence indicated also that President Tanner was to receive an oral reply to his question as to whether or not Dr. Sarofim may be baptized, a memorandum stating that the oral permission would be given.

I said, “I have heard, incidentally, that this man is coming here to visit us.”

President Moyle remarked, “That will give us something; it will go through every newspaper in America.”

I said that President Tanner has not been notified earlier.

Review of the correspondence disclosed that Dr. Sarofim was legally married to both wives in Egypt, and one daughter came to England to attend Oxford University. President Woodbury was informed that Dr. Sarofim should inform his first wife of his marriage to a second wife. The file also indicates Dr. Sarofim had complied with this instruction. President Moyle commented that the opinion given by the London solicitors controls was that the marriages were legal in Egypt. Both marriages are recognized as legal in the country of which he is a citizen. I presume the same rule would apply in the United States. Our courts have uniformly held that the law of the domicile of the marriage controls. I said that if he has done that, and married them legally, we will have to recognize them just as we must next November when we send missionaries to Nigeria.

Comment was made upon an earlier ruling in the matter of Indians who had married more than one wife, and it was decided that they may be baptized if they were legally married according to their tribal custom.

I said, “I do not see anything else to do. Let the chips fall where they may. A Nigerian priest, to become a member of the Church, was told that he could not be baptized lest he did away with one of his wives. He slept on it over night, and came the next morning and told Brother Williams that he had decided to let one of his wives go back to her father. That is a cruel thing to do.”

President Moyle said that the Manifesto does not apply because these are not marriages under the New and Everlasting Covenant. These are marriages under the law of the land where they live.

President Brown asked “What will you do when this man wants to take one of his wives to the Temple?”

I replied, “Let him take both of them. You will have to let both of them. “

To this, President Brown asked, “If he can, why not I?” and President Moyle answered, “Because, your wife won’t let you.”

I said that it is prohibited just as it was in the days of the Book of Mormon.

President Moyle commented, “The way I look upon the Manifesto, is that

it prevents anyone from entering upon a plural marriage without the consent of the President. The President was told not to use the power he had. That is the way I look at the Manifesto. It is not to be used, or any power of the Church. “

President Brown said “The statement of President Joseph F. Smith in 1904 is pretty sweeping. I am wondering what position we are going to be in if you say to these people we will let you join the Church and let you become members and have the privileges of the Church, including the Temple. I wonder how we are going to differentiate from those who are married legally.”

I said, “I think we will have to differentiate. These men practicing it now are against the law. They are law breakers against the law of the land and the law of the Church;” that this man in Egypt obeyed the law, but he cannot go through the temple in this country.

President Brown asked, “Can he go in England or Switzerland?”

I answered, “No, we will have to draw the line there. That is our only safeguard .”

President Moyle asked, “Would you let him take his first wife through?” to which I answered, “No.”

President Moyle said, “We always have the out that the work can be done for them vicariously;” to which I replied, “Yes, that’s the stand we will have to take, Brethren, and make a note of it.”

President Brown said, “That is the only safety;” and President Moyle added, “Yes, we could not make it otherwise.””

Tues., 2 Oct., 1962:

“8:45 – 10:00 a.m.

Attended the regular meeting of the First Presidency. After considering a number of official matters, I asked Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner to come into the meeting. We discussed with him matters pertaining to Dr. Ebeid Sarofim, Egyptian, now teaching at the London University, who by Egyptian law, is married to two women, and who is converted to the Gospel and seeking baptism.

President Tanner said he had tried to communicate with Dr. Sarofim before he left London, but had left with President Marion D. Hanks of the British Mission the matter of following it up. I said that the latest information is that Dr. Sarofim’s first wife had come to England and had not met with the second wife. President Tanner said that is something he does not know, and that when he returns he will pursue the matter. He said he thinks it is a good thing to let the matter rest to see what Dr. Sarofim’s attitude is. I said that for the present, we had better let it remain as it is until we learn more about the relationship. I said it is a question as to whether or not we should begin to press the matter or wait for him to do this. President Tanner said that he had applied for baptism with President T. Bowring Woodbury, formerly President of the British Mission, and that Dr. Sarofim was told that President Woodbury could not go forward until President Woodbury has authority to do so because of the plural marriage, and that is the way it stands. President Tanner said that Dr. Sarofim has applied for baptism and is left with the understanding that we would notify him. President Brown said that he understood it would be in order to go ahead with the baptism if there was no objection; that the attorney’s opinion in writing had been received. However, I said that we shall wait until after Conference, and that we would see Brother Tanner again.”

Tues., 9 Oct., 1962:

7:30 – 8:15 a.m. 

Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner called in company with Dr. Ebeid Sarofim, an Egyptian, Professor of Law at the London University, who is visiting Salt Lake City. He has attended all sessions of the Conference. He is here at the invitation of President T. Bowring Woodbury, formerly President of the British Mission.

Our conversation was along general lines. He is a Coptic Christian, and belongs to the Coptic Christian Church. We talked about John Mark who was the founder of the Coptic Christian religion in Africa. I recounted having met a prominent man at the University who lectured on the Coptic religion.

I tried to avoid saying anything to Dr. Sarofim about his family relations, feeling that as President of the Church I should not talk about his having two wives whom he has married under Egyptian law; but when he said he wanted me to give him a blessing on his family relations, or a blessing because he is going to be baptized into the Church, I said, “I am very glad to hear of your conversion, and the Lord bless you in your association in seeking the truth.”

Dr. Sarofim presented me with a very old edition of the “Koran”, in Egyptian hyroglphics. [sic]

He then left the office, and President Tanner remained and said he would like to speak to me about this man. I said that I had tried to get him last night, and that I did not know whether or not I should talk to him about the matter. He said that he had spoken to President Moyle about it. I said, “Is there anything I should know,” and President Tanner said that he is not sure whether Dr. Sarofim has spoken to his first wife, who is in Egypt, about his marriage to the second wife, and that that is the condition to be complied with before he can be baptized into the Church.

Later, when I took this matter up at the meeting of the First Presidency, President Moyle said that he had talked with President Tanner confidentially, and that he felt there should be a condition of Dr. Sarofim’s baptism, and that so long as his first wife is alive he should not come to America (he having applied for a position at the Brigham Young University — see notes from President Wilkinson following).

I said that he has not Conformed to the first condition, and there should be no baptism here, and that President Woodbury should know that; that I had told President Tanner that the matter is now in his hands. I told him not to hurt the young man, but to handle it wisely. I think he could not be in better hands than with President Tanner, and that it ought to turn out all right. Dr. Sarofim’s first wife is a daughter of an aristocractic Egyptian family, and she can not leave Egypt without risking loss of family property; the second is a woman whom he met in Switzerland, and has taken her to London with him. The two marriages — according to legal opinion — are lawful under Egyptian law.”

Thur., 11 Oct., 1962:

“Held our regular meeting of the First Presidency.

President Moyle: There is one thing not clear in my mind about Dr. Sarofim. I do not believe that the second marriage took place under the laws of Egypt. I doubt very much that it is legal if it was performed under the laws of Switzerland.

President Brown: I think our record shows that we got a report, I do not know that it is correct.

President McKay: He cannot go back to Egypt. He has never taken his second wife back to Egypt. That makes his marriage under the English law illegal. I am so glad we did not approve of his being baptized here.

Statements were read from the correspondence as regards the legality of the second marriage to the effect that it was in Egypt and legal under the laws of Egypt. This was read from a letter of President Woodbury to President Tanner. President Moyle said there could not be a marriage take place in Switzerland under the law of Egypt. It would have to be in Egypt to have the marital status fixed under the Egyptian law. This marriage took place when he was banished from Egypt and after he escaped from Egypt and he had never been able to get back there since.

Dr. Sarofim is a lawyer by profession and he would naturally do things in a legal manner. From the letter was read the statement that a passport had been issued by the Egyptian government to the woman under her married name and Egypt was referred to as the land of the birth of the second wife. They have issued her a passport.

President Brown: We ought to check this and see if it is correct. I have some reservations. I do not know from what source we get that information. The letter of Devonshire and Company with relation to plural marriages and their status in England was read. President Moyle said the statement is made on the assumption that the marriages were performed in Egypt. President McKay said now we need to have confirmed the statement that he married his second wife in Egypt.

President Moyle: She has an Egyptian passport and that would be prima facie evidence of it at least, and it may be conclusive.

President McKay: We shall ask President Tanner to investigate that and find out because we have confirmed his suggestion that we do not baptize him here, that he go back and be baptized.

President Brown: Dr. Sarofim was at the theatre and he said he would be leaving for London. He left on the midnight plane.

President Moyle: Brother Woodbury took him to the airport during the performance. He did not see it all.

President McKay: That’s all right. So far we are cleared.

. . . .

At Council Meeting today, we discussed the case of Dr. Ebeid Sarofim, an Egyptian who has requested baptism. It was agreed by all present that this is a matter that should be handled in the British Mission, and that he should not be admitted into the Church by baptism here inasmuch as he has two wives, even though they were both married under Egyptian law (see Council Minutes of this day for details).

Wed., 31 Oct., 1962:

“8:45 – 10:30 a. m. Was engaged in the meeting of the First Presidency. Among important official Church matters taken up were the following:

(1) Nigeria — Missionaries to 

I discussed the suggestion of Brother LaMar Williams to send a Brother and Sister Goodrich with him to Nigeria. I sent for Brother Williams to come into the meeting. I commented upon the fact that the Nigerians, according to their law, may marry in polygamy, and said that we shall leave that matter to their government, but these people, when they become members of the Church, may not enter into polygamy.

When Brother Williams came into the meeting, he said that President Tanner of the West European Mission wants him to leave Salt Lake City on November 27, and that President Tanner plans to go back to London by January 1. He will leave there about December 14 and go back to London. He in planning to spend two weeks in Nigeria. I asked Brother Williams what he knows about the missionary couples who have been recommended and he said he does not know Brother and Sister Goodrich personally, but that he and Brother Hinckley carefully went over recommendations of missionary couples regularly recommended and singled out Brother and Sister Goodrich for consideration. Other than this, Brother Williams said he had found no one.

President Moyle recalled a missionary couple who had been considered for a full-time missionary service — a Brother and Sister Erbin Beach. He is age 30. His wife is Norma Lavell Rigby Beach, age 26. Information from the missionary applications of this couple was reviewed.

I stated that I think it would be all right to call them for six months, and then let them come home or have the mission extended if they wish. I instructed Brother Williams to meet these couples (Brother and Sister Goodrich and Brother and Sister Beach) and ask them if they will go down to Nigeria for six months with him. I stated that the mission will be called the Nigerian Mission, and it will be conducted under direction of the West European Mission President. I asked Brother Williams to report back to me, and that thereafter consideration would be given to issuing the calls. I then said to Brother Williams, “You have been appointed bv the First Presidency to go down and to open up this mission with two missionary couples. Ask these couples if they will go with you for that purpose for six months, if thev are called by the First Presidency.”

Brother Williams repeating said, “I shall find out if they will accept a call there to the Nigerian Mission from the First Presidency.”

Brother Williams then said, “We run into the polygamy situation. There are many who want to come into the Church but they do not want to lose their families and their wives.” I said that we would give him instructions on that later.

Tues., 5 Feb. 1963:

“9:45 a.m.

Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Council of the Twelve came in to report a telephone conversation he had had with President Moyle from London last evening.  President Moyle feels well.  He said that Dr. Ebeid Sarofim, who was in Salt Lake City last October applying for baptism, has been to Egypt and consulted with his first wife, and has met all the conditions which were laid down prerequisite to his baptism.  President Moyle indicated that he feels well about permitting Dr. Sarofim to be baptized, and suggested if it meets with my approval, that I cable authorization to President Mark E. Petersen to act in the matter.  It was decided to send a cable to President Petersen giving him authority to take the proper action.

Fri., 14 Feb. 1964:

Temple Sealings Involving Polygamous Marriages

President Tanner presented to me for my clarification the case of Ammon Meshach Tenney.  Prior to the marriage in question, this man had been married twice and both of his wives were living and married to him when he married the third wife in Mexico.  This sealing was supposed to have been performed by A.F. Donald and cannot be confirmed by official records.  In such cases the usual procedure is to encourage the family to have the sealing done again, wives to husbands and children to parents, with the notation on the bottom of the sheet that the family has record of the sealing, but it cannot be verified from official records.  It was explained that in this case the family is willing and ready to perform the requested sealings for the purpose of having an official record.  The question is raised:  Should this be done because it is a polygamous marriage.  Brother Christiansen of the Genealogical Society indicates that it is his interpretation of  my ruling heretofore made that when no official record exists of a polygamous marriage in the Church no action is to be taken to perform sealings even if the sealings were performed before the Manifesto.  President Tanner said that this ruling, as he understands it, pertains to the United States, but that so far as Mexico is concerned, it was his understanding of my ruling that if it was a polygamous marriage before the Manifesto and there was no official record the work should be done again.  He asked if his understanding was correct.  I said I think that is the safest thing to do, so that there would be a proper record of the sealings.”

Wed., 23 Mar. 1966:

Plural Marriages – Joseph E. Robinson Case

Attention was called to the application of Sister Inex Robinson Preece for permission to do the sealing work in the Temple for her father, Joseph E. Robinson, and his three wives.  Their names and dates of marriage are as follows:  ‘Minnie Ann Knell, December 21, 1891; Willmia Brown, April 7, 1901; and Harriet Spencer, October 3, 1901.  Attention was also called to a ruling made by me on March 3, 1964, to the following effect:  ‘When no official record exists of a polygamous marriage performed in the United States, no action is to be taken to perform the sealings even though the sealings were claimed to have been performed before the Manifesto.  But in the case of polygamous marriages performed in Mexico before the Manifesto, and there was no official record, the work should be done again.’

President Tanner said that having in mind the earlier decision on this matter, Brother Howard Hunter and Brother Theodore Burton had felt that if an exception were made in this particular case, it would open the doors for all similar cases.  President Tanner mentioned that Sister Preece had spoken to various of the Brethren in regard to this matter, appealing for the work to be done for her father and his wives, and that a letter from Sister Preece addressed to me had been handed to him by Brother Hunter indicating that she had seen me and that I had told her that I would sign the papers authorizing this work to be done if she would send in the sheets which she has now submitted.  (These papers were submitted by Sister Preece to President McKay’s secretary, who turned them over to Paul Royal of the Genealogical Society for further checking.)

I stated that if the polygamous marriage took place prior to the statement by President Joseph F. Smith in 1904 to the effect that polygamous marriages could not be solemnized anywhere in the world, one of two things might be done:  The work could be performed for the parties concerned, or the President of the Church could ratify the marriages that had been performed.  It was agreed that the simpler way would be to ratify the marriages, and I said that that is the action that should be taken in this case.

Tues., 12 Apr. 1966:

“Plural Marriages – Joseph E. Robinson Case

We reversed the decision made in our meeting of March 23, 1966, and ruled that it would be inadvisable to ratify purported sealings performed for Joseph E. Robinson and three women.  In giving this matter further consideration, we had in mind that were the Church to adopt the policy of ratifying polygamous marriages that took place prior to the announcement by President Joseph F. Smith in 1904 that polygamous marriages should not be solemnized anywhere in the world, it would let down the flood gates and descendants of many polygamous marriages performed after the Manifesto would make application for permission to have the purported sealings of their parents or grandparents ratified, and perhaps in some cases where the individuals entering into these relationships have been excommunicated from the Church, there would be individuals such as cultists and others.  The former action was therefore rescinded and it was decided to notify Sister Inez Robinson Preece that the case of Joseph E. Robinson and the three women referred to would have to be left in the hands of the Lord for decision by Him in the Hereafter.

Thurs., 15 Dec. 1966:

Note by CM

Polygamous Group and Involvement of Secretary Sylvia Johnstone

At 4:45 p.m., Elder Mark E. Petersen called me and asked me to come up to his office.

I (Clare) was told of the polygamous activities of Melvin H. Dunn, who is employed at the Tabernacle to tune the organ, and Sylvia Johnstone, one of the secretaries in Clare’s office.  Elder Petersen told Clare that after repeated denials, Melvin Dunn had admitted to him and to Bishops Robert L. Simpson and Victor L. Brown of the Presiding Bishopric who were in on the conference, that he was engaged to Sylvia Johnstone, had purchased the pearl ring that she is wearing, and had taken her out to dances, parties, and theatres.  He said that his wife is fully aware of this, and has given her consent to the engagement.  Brother Petersen said that there are several others associated with the group which is none other than the Church of the First Born, and that he is making a thorough investigation of each one.  He told Clare that she would have to let Sylvia go immediately, and that she was to notify her tomorrow.  Melvin Dunn is also being dismissed from Church employment.”

Thur., 7 Dec., 1967:

Cultists – Church Activity of Children of

Consideration was given to an inquiry that had been received from Bishop Dell C. Stout of the Hurricane North Ward, Zion Park Stake, in a letter addressed to Elder Spencer W. Kimball reporting that he had received conflicting advice regarding the matter of admitting children of excommunicated parents to enrollment in the Primary, MIA, or other organizations. He mentioned that the teachers in the Primary had refused to give any of the Primary material to any of the children awaiting definite word as to whether they can give the material to all of the children, including those whose parents are living in so-called polygamous relationships and belong to apostate cults. There was read to the Council comments by me given at the solemn assembly held in the Saint George Temple Sunday, December 5, 1954, reading as follows:

“The Authorities of the Church felt the necessity years ago of depriving these offspring of these Cultists of the blessings of the Priesthood, and, therefore, when they are eight years of age or when they are twelve, they are not entitled to the blessings of the Church, and you Bishops should not accept them. That instruction has been given out.

Now there is another question coming up and you are meeting it in this area. These little children are being enrolled in Primary and their mothers are taking part and some of your Mutuals are inviting these seemingly good women to come and speak to them and their children are invited to participate in the exercises. Well now, that shouldn’t be done, and some of your members in the wards say, ‘Well, you will let nonmembers come.’ Yes, we do because non-members are earnestly seeking the truth, but here you are dealing with an apostate group who deliberately charge the Authorities of the Church with having apostatized and that the Church is an apostate church. Now we suggest, and this is in keeping I am sure with the views of all the General Authorities, that not only do you deprive these boys of having the priesthood until they arrive at the years of accountability so that they may choose between the truth of the Church and the teachings of their parents. We do that, and some of them are on missions now. They have found the light and are serving, but until they do they are not treated as members of the Church, and the children should not be enrolled in our Primary departments. Now if we leave it just at that point, you bishops are going to meet some of our own members who will say that is uncharitable and we do not want the Church to carry that responsibility. So here is one condition which you may note: If the father and the mother come to you and acknowledge the parentage of that child in the presence of the Primary teacher or other witnesses, you may enroll that child, but let them own the offspring in honor and not teach the offspring to lie. Tell the father to come with the mother of the child and say, ‘I am the father of this child and she is the mother’, and you may enroll that child in the Primary, but not until that is done, even though he be an excommunicant. That is as far as the Church can go in dealing with these apostates. The law of the land should pick them up then for they are violating the law of the land, but seemingly some of our officials up north are not eager at least to arrest these violators. If they are so heroic in defending the truth, let them come and acknowledge their parentage.”

It was the sentiment of the Brethren that this should be the answer on problems of this kind and that a copy of this statement should be placed in the hands of each of the Twelve, so that they could have guidelines when cases of this kind arise. I gave my approval.