The Church sends out full time missionaries to proclaim to the world the great blessing of having a living Prophet on the earth today. It is one of their most important selling points. The problem is when we look to see what fruits are available from having a Prophet, the basket turns out to be an illusion. It is simply a construct of the Church as a selling point to gain converts to cultism. Case in point involves the Great Depression. Ok, wait! I know what you are thinking. That was a long time ago and what does that have to do with false Prophets of Mormonism? To answer that question, we need to go back to circa 1800 BCE.
At that time, there was a young man named Joseph who was tending his father’s flock along with his brothers. His brothers sold him for 20 shekels of silver and gave his colored coat to Donny Osmond. Joseph wound up in Egypt. From there, he worked his way up the ladder with the help of some timely dreams. When Pharaoh had a dream about some cows, our man Joseph saw there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. As a result of this vision, the people of Egypt prepared themselves for the onslaught. He gave actual, real life assistance in the vein of Amos 3:7. His vision bore fruit that saved lives, including his own family.
Let’s move forward to October 29, 1927. Exactly, two years from today, Black Tuesday will occur. The stock market will crash and send the United States and the rest of the industrialized world spiraling downward into the Great Depression (1929-39). It would be the deepest and longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world up to that time. Untold suffering occurred as a result.
Where was the mighty Prophet at this time? Here was an opportunity to save untold suffering just as Joseph had done in Egypt. Here was a chance to use seeric vision to bless countless lives in a very real way. He could have had people prepare for the next two years by letting them know what was on the horizon. He could of showed the world that surely the Lord God does nothing, but he reveals his secret unto his servants the prophets. So where was he? He was sitting in his church administration along with the other 14 Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, without the foggiest clue what was on the horizon. He never foretold and had people prepare, because he did not know it was coming.
The Church at that time was essentially a Utah Church with the vast majority of members living along the Wasatch Front. When the Great Depression hit, Utah suffered like few other states.In 1932 unemployment in Utah reached 35.9 percent, and per capita income fell by 48.6 percent.Long lines of hungry men and women, their shoulders hunched against cold winds, edged along sidewalks to get a bowl of broth from private charity soup kitchens or city-operated shelters, often nicknamed, as in Park City, “Hoover Cafes”. Shoeshine “boys” abounded on city sidewalks, ranging in age from teenagers who should have been in school to men past retirement age. In the summer of 1933 the Deseret News reported hundreds of homeless families were camped out on vacant lots throughout the city. This was four years after the start of the depression.Where was the Church welfare program for these folks?
As was the case throughout the nation, people in Utah at first relied on voluntary charitable activities and local government to bring relief. Such efforts were wide-ranging. Chambers of Commerce throughout the state canvassed cities and towns block by block to identify people in need. The American Legion undertook a Job Canvas Program. Fraternal organizations held rabbit hunts and donated the thousands of rabbits killed to the needy. School teachers, private businesses, and hospitals held fund raising events. High schools donated the proceeds of basketball games to the poor. Movie theaters regularly donated their days’ receipts. Community Fast Days were held, and people contributed money they would otherwise have spent for meals.
In 1930 Salt Lake City set up a relief committee and other cities and towns followed suit. It established a free city employment bureau and undertook a number of work projects financed by city money and private contributions, including construction of the Art Barn and buildings at the Salt Lake City Zoo and in Memory Grove. A free school lunch program was established. Vegetable seeds were distributed free of charge and city land was made available for gardens. By March 1932 the City had spent more than $450,000, but only $302 remained, and there was little prospect of raising more money.
Finally Utah, like the rest of the nation, turned to the federal government for help. The problems of industrial capitalism had proven too heavy for individuals, private charities, or local governments to handle. Washington responded with a barrage of programs that came to be known as the New Deal. Because the depression hit Utah so hard, New Deal programs were extensive. Per capita federal spending in Utah during the 1930s was ninth among the states.
There was a wide range of New Deal programs. A school lunch program was established, and free classes in nutrition were offered. Adult education programs and summer recreation programs for children were set up. Thousands of miles of highways, roads, sidewalks, and sewer systems were constructed. More than 250 public buildings of all kinds were built under federal programs.
All this assistance was done by people who did not claim divine authority or claims of carrying a prophetic mantle. They had no idea this calamity would hit, yet moved with precision once it did, to assist suffering people. This leads to my next question. Where was the Church leadership when all this was going on? Why did government, which is traditionally slow, act faster than the so called True Church and its Prophets? Here is what the 15 men at top did do.
The first thing they did was complain about members receiving assistance from the federal Government and at the same time welcomed the assistance, since they did not know what to do. Case in point is this quote from Heber Grant.
“I believe that there is a growing disposition among the people to try to get something from the government of the United States with little hope of ever paying it back. I think this is all wrong.”
The leaders concerned themselves with a philosophy of dependence instead of assisting people like Joseph of old did. Here is a another example of this thinking.This is from the Church History Institute Manual.
“In 1930, Presiding Bishop Sylvester Q. Cannon insisted bishoprics were responsible “to see to it that none of the active members of the Church suffers for the necessities of life. … The effort of the Church … is to help people to help themselves. The policy is to aid them to become independent, … rather than to have to depend upon the Church for assistance.” Members are starving and the leaders are concerned about having to spend to assist them to survive. These people were not doles! They had worked their entire life, supported the Church with tithing, raised children, and were now caught up in a situation beyond their control. If the Prophet had warned them in advance, they would not need government or civic assistance. Since, little help was on the way from the top guys in the Church,local leaders developed innovative solutions. Here is another quote from the manual.
“The Granite Stake in Salt Lake County put the unemployed to work on various stake projects, operated a sewing shop where donated clothing was renovated, and secured food for the needy through cooperative arrangements with nearby farmers. The Pioneer Stake, in an even less prosperous area, was especially hard hit by the depression. Under the leadership of its young stake president, Harold B. Lee, a storehouse was stocked with goods produced on stake projects or donated by Church members.” No vision from the Prophet, so locals get to work. It seems you really don’t need a Prophet after all. He didn’t use his prophetic knowledge to warn anyone in advance and when the tragedy hit, he had no solutions. Of course, this turns out well for Harold since he catches the eye of leadership as a result of his actions.Guess what this inspired leadership does in 1933 while everyone is working hard. They issue a statement. Here it is.
“Our able-bodied members must not, except as a last resort, be put under the embarrassment of accepting something for nothing. … Church officials administering relief must devise ways and means by which all able-bodied Church members who are in need, may make compensation for aid given them by rendering some sort of service.” In compensation for help received, individual wards were asked to be prepared to meet the needs of their own members and then to give assistance to other units requiring help. The Presidency concluded its message by encouraging the Saints to remember the “paramount necessity of living righteously, of avoiding extravagance, of cultivating habits of thrift, economy, and industry, of living strictly within their incomes, and of laying aside something, however small the amount may be, for the times of greater stress,”
What greater stress? This is it. It does not get bigger than this.This is the Great Depression! It has been going on for four years and these are the thoughts from the inner sanctum of the Church? In addition, local units cannot meet their own needs and you want them to help everyone else out. History showed this did not work. The feds saved the day.
In 1935 the Prophet and his apostolic boys could see they needed to do something. Guess what they did ? They called in the stake president Harold Lee and asked what he would do to solve the problem. He told them and they said,”That is exactly what we were thinking. We have been consulting with the Lord and we have had this plan in place for a while.” Here is what Harold said after meeting with the brethren,
“I was astounded to learn that for years there had been before them [Church leaders], as a result of their thinking and planning and as the result of the inspiration of Almighty God, the genius of the very plan that is being carried out and was in waiting and in preparation for a time when in their judgment the faith of the Latter-day Saints was such that they were willing to follow the counsel of the men who lead and preside in this Church.”
Let me get this straight. No warning voice to prepare and then it turns out the big boys in Salt Lake had a plan the whole time. Did you just want the members to suffer? The Federal Government acted quicker than this bunch. This must be the gang that can’t shoot straight. It would be funny except for the dire consequences involved. Here is what the stake president did next according to the official Church manual.
“At the conclusion of his meeting with the First Presidency, Harold B. Lee drove up to the head of nearby City Creek Canyon and walked into the trees where he could pray about the organization that might need to be set up. He later recounted, “My spiritual understanding was opened, and I was given a comprehension of the grandeur of the organization of the Church and the Kingdom of God, the likes of which I had never contemplated before.”
Here is a local member receiving revelation for the entire Church that affects the organization to this day. Isn’t that contrary to the whole plan and system of salvation? Why didn’t the Prophet pray about it? Wait, he said he already had. Why didn’t the Prophet just tell Harold what to do? This makes no sense, unless the Prophet really did not have a plan in the first place.Maybe the Prophet does not receive revelation and was as clueless as I would have been about how to solve this problem.
The Church did not establish Deseret Industries until 1938. Bishop’s Storehouse was also started in 1938.This is nine long years of suffering before these Church wide programs were instituted. All is well though, because it turns out it was fulfillment of prophecy.Elder Marion G. Romney said this about it.
“The welfare program was a direct revelation from the Lord to President Heber J. Grant. I heard President (J. Reuben) Clark tell that to a group of stake presidents at a meeting in Orem.”
Why is it prophesy never seems to have any real benefits and comes after the fact? There may be no revelation going on in the Church, but at least the P.R. guys are out in force putting a positive spin on the situation.
“There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit.. And in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
Why didn’t the Prophet Joseph Smith warn the people of Ireland about the coming potato famine in the 1840’s? What untold good he could have done if he was an actual Prophet. The list goes on and on.
Where their is no vision, the people perish!