-- Aug 13, 1897
The High Council of the S[alt]. L[ake]. Stake met as per adjournment, at 10 A.M., the Presidency and all members of the Council present. Prayer was offered by Elder C[harles]. W. Penrose. Pres[ident]. A[ngus]. M. Cannon announced that if there was no objection, the decision would now be rendered. Elder C[harles]. W. Penrose then read the complaint, the finding of the Stake Presidency, and their decision, as follows:
Salt Lake City, Utah, July 30, 1897. To The Presidency and High Council
Of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion. Dear Brethren:–
We hereby prefer a charge against Brother Moses Thatcher of apostasy and un- Christian-like conduct, exhibited in public speeches, private conversations, in interviews through newspapers and in other ways, showing a departure from the spirit of the Gospel and the doctrine and discipline of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, such as to forfeit his right to fellowship and standing in the Church.
Brigham Young [Jr.],
Francis M. Lyman,
Heber J. Grant.
Apostasy, as has been argued here, varies in its extent. In a general way apostasy means revolt. It is so defined in the Dictionary. But the Prophet Joseph Smith says in this connection: "The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power". (Compendium, page 288). On this ground "apostasy" includes any revolt or departure from a rule or regulation, established by the Lord, whether in person or by his appointed servants.
We consider that Moses Thatcher exhibited an apostate spirit and was un-Christian- like in his conduct:
First. In his interview published in the Salt Lake Tribune, which he has admitted to be in the main correct, as to his views though not as to his exact language, he there virtually charges the authorities of the Church with bad faith, in declaring, first, that they would not interfere in politics, and next, that they intended to and would so interfere, and that this "practically annulled their former declaration". He also announced his readiness to champion "the cause imperilled" by the latest declaration of the Church authorities.
Second. In giving to the public private correspondence between him and President Lorenzo Snow, which related only to Church and Quorum matters.
Third. By using language as follows in his reply to President Lorenzo Snow, published in the [Salt Lake] Tribune and [Salt Lake] Herald of November 11th, 1895:
"Although the judges before whom I am to be arraigned have nearly
expressed an opinion as to the merits of my case; although my accusers are to sit in
judgment over me; although a verdict has already been delivered against me and
without a hearing.
In a conversation with President Lorenzo Snow, on the train between Salt
Lake and Brigham City last Saturday, Nov. 7th, I was given the impression that I
have absolutely nothing to hope for in any other than a public hearing such as I now
Fourth. In writing to President Lorenzo Snow, Nov[ember]. 11th, 1896, saying:
"I shall not trouble my brethren therefore to convene in a special meeting
named for Thursday at 2 o'clock P.M., in the Historian's Office". And this after the meeting had been called at his special request.
Fifth. By resorting to the quibble that he was "not invited" to the meeting one week alter, when he was notified that his case would be considered, and in stating, "since judgment in these matters has already been passed".
Sixth. In charging President Lorenzo Snow with publishing "matter in order to gratify the apparent curiosity of five young men", and describing his (Pres[ident]. Snow's explanations) as "a bitter and acrimonious communication".
Seventh. By endeavoring to make it appear that the authorities of the Church, in publishing the Declaration of Principles, had contradicted what they had previously announced in the Deseret News and an interview with the Salt Lake Times, as to the political liberty of the members of the Church. He used this language:
"As I have already stated, I understood the manifesto at the time it was
handed me for approval, just as I understand it now. While it ostensibly appeared not
to restrict the liberties of the people, yet there was no limitation to its application, and
in view of the fact that nearly every male member of the Church holds some office,
and, as there has, as yet, been no public decision announced as to the officers to be
controlled by it, there have arisen disputes and differences of opinions as to its intent.
This being true, and the danger being that it could be applied to restrict the liberties
of the people, I cannot sustain it. I thought then, as I think now, that such a course
would be a stultification. I had never dreamed that a condition would arise in my life
where I could not serve God fully and yet yield my complete allegiance to my country
and to my State. The spirit of the manifesto, as it appealed to me, was in violent
597 antagonism to all I had believed and publicly proclaimed for many years, and I could not, and, so far, have not been able to bring myself to a point where I believed I should yield my political judgment to any set of men, however praiseworthy their intentions.
When the manifesto was presented to me it appeared to my mind as a command on all to recognize the right of the Church authorities to control political concerns; it meant, as far as I was concerned, a recantation of the principles I had for years advocated—a receding from the ground I had occupied during the division movement, and, above all, it made me feel that I would be untrue to myself. I do not claim that I cannot be wrong; but with the light I have, the manifesto, (applied as its construction will allow, as it would be interpreted by men whose personal ambitions might control and subvert their sense of right) could be operated to the injury of the State". Eighth. While protesting against the mingling of religion and politics, he repeatedly thrust his differences with the Church into political speeches, as for instance in the Legislature at the close of the Senatorial contest, and at a reception given to him at Logan [Utah], Feb[ruary]. 12th, 1897, and also a reception to the Idaho Legislature at his house, Feb[ruary]. 21st, 1897.
"There is room in this new State for all societies and all organizations, but they must confine themselves within proper limits. The men who enacted the supreme law of this State, made a covenant with the citizens thereof and with this nation that certain things should be done and performed, and we must keep those covenants. He who desires peace and prosperity for Utah, will draw the line sharp between the rights of the citizens and the powers of the State and those of the Church. He who votes for the union of the two, or the overriding of the Church by the State, is no friend of Utah. He who invites the intervention of the Church in State matters is an enemy to Utah. If we think we can bring peace and continual prosperity to this new State by temporizing with this question, we will be mistaken.
"With the same honesty of purpose, but with a much more joyful heart, he had voted with his quorum to grant the Saints entire political freedom. He meant it then, he just as sincerely meant it now. He who thinks that because we are surrounded by the walls of Statehood that it is now safe to unsay that which has been said, to proclaim by word or act that there was any duplicity or double dealing in order to secure desired concessions, is mistaken. He had not laid aside his office in the Church to obtain political honors, but because he saw dire calamity confronting the people if this course were taken. His audience knew the position he had occupied for forty years on the question of liberty, and he could not now with one act expunge that record and stultify the avowed sentiments of a lifetime.
"He spoke of the struggles of the Mormon people in the early days, and dwelt on the relations between the Church and the State under a Republican form of government. He described the position he had taken on this subject, and reviewed some of the circumstances connected with the recent manifesto and his refusal to sigh it. He conceded that the Church had a right to discipline its members for the
infraction of Church rules, but it had no right to carry Church matters into political
Ninth. In his own published explanation of the remarks he made in the Legislature about a higher allegiance, as follows:
"No legislator can keep his oath of office inviolate, if he or she allows the
officials of an ecclesiastical organization to control his actions within the province of
The day must come in Utah when he who (being an officer in the State) holds
a higher allegiance (to the chiefs of any alien or church organization) than that which
(under his solemn oath) belongs to the State, must not be a lawmaker in the halls of
Tenth. In the same article he uses this language:
"Doubtless a great struggle is now inaugurated in Utah, a struggle for
freedom, for liberty, for the integrity of free government, for the principles
incorporated in American institutions. If the State is to be controlled by the dictation
of the Church its sovereignty is lost and its independence is a myth, an iridescent
dream. It is a cause of profound gratitude and thankfulness that so many noble and
true women and men, chosen as the representatives of a great and earnest people,
have stood unflinchingly in the face of intense and unscrupulous opposition, day after
day, for more than half a hundred ballots, as exponents and advocates of the
principles of Jefferson and Jackson.
It is only in this spirit that Utah will continue redeemed from a thralldom as
obnoxious as that of African slavery or Russian serfdom".
"The State demands of its citizens and law-makers duty well and faithfully
performed under oath. The Church demands of its members, the same individual,
another and different thing. The `higher allegiance' to which I referred would require
obedience to the Church. Here is a conflict. Who is responsible? Under our State
Constitution the Church is responsible. That being so, the proper solution of the
conflict and difficulty is simple. Let the Church vacate the forbidden ground and all
will be well.
I repeat, those holding such 'higher allegiance' should find no place in the
halls of the Legislature".
Eleventh. The same ideas were elaborated in his speech introducing Mr. Warren Foster, at Logan, Feb[ruary]. 17th.
Twelfth. No matter what were his intentions, the affect of his utterances and course on the public mind was that he was fighting the Church on a vital question,. namely, the political liberty of the members of the Church. That he was the champion of freedom as against the chains which the Church was forging to bind them. That the Church was endeavoring to dominate the State and interfere with its functions, and he was opposing that attempt. That the leaders of the Church had promised political liberty to the people in order to obtain Statehood, and then had changed their policy and promulgated a new rule, to dominate them and restrict their political liberties, and were, thus guilty of double dealing
599 and Punic faith.
This is shown by the letter introduced by Brother Thatcher from the Presbyterian preacher at St. George [Utah], the article by the Catholic Priest at Denver [Colorado], introduced by Brother Grant, the letter written by Brother E[dwin]. G. Woolley, at St. George, the rallying around Brother Thatcher of the enemies of the Church, the endorsement of the hostile press, and the cheers of the multitude who were antagonistic to the Church leaders.
Thirteenth. The letter written by Elder B. H. Roberts to Brother Thatcher shows that Brother Roberts perceived the effect which had been produced on the public mind by their united course, and in not listening to the appeal thus made and not endeavoring to correct that wrong, there was an un-Christian-like spirit exhibited by Brother Thatcher.
We recognize the fact that Brother Thatcher's bodily afflictions have been great, and that they have weakened him in mind to some extent, or rather that they tended to cloud his brain while in the time of his greatest trials. This should be considered when the degree of his wrong is determined.
But Brother Thatcher evidently fostered the idea that his brethren of the Twelve, or some of them at least, were his enemies, and that they desired his injury, to crowd and crush him, and this affected his mind so much, perhaps, as his bodily infirmities. In this he was wrong as he now appears to perceive.
He also evidently allowed the idea to be magnified in his mind that he was under great obligations to his party, and that these were such as to overshadow his previous obligations to the priesthood and the Church. Yet there was nothing in them to prevent Brother Thatcher from consulting with his brethren in reference to matters so important, as affecting the welfare of the whole people.
Now as to the Argus matter: Brother Thatcher has cleared himself of the suspicion that he was financially interested in that paper, or was responsible for its utterances and cartoons. But he might have repudiated those libels and shameful pictures in some way, and we think he ought to have done so. The fact that prominent men have refrained from replying to or noticing falsehoods in the public prints reflecting on themselves, does not apply to nor does it touch the case of Brother Thatcher's neglecting to repudiate things that reflected upon his brethren and exalted him, and created the impression that he favored them. We think he erred in not condemning those things in some public manner.
As to his plea that he sustained the Church authorities so strongly that he would have gone to the middle of Africa, if they had whispered to him that this was their wish, the fact that he would not conform to the simple rule which they submitted to him for his signature, weighs very heavily in contrast.
But in all Brother Thatcher's departures for the true spirit of a servant of the Lord, he was laboring under a misapprehension of the purpose of the Church authorities and of the meaning of the rule in the Declaration of Principles. This was what led him to place them in a false light before the public, and bring them into disrepute, and cause disaffection and division among the Latter Day Saints.
The spirit he has now manifested, and his expression of willingness to do all in his power to make right such wrongs as have been brought about, though unintentionally, by his
600 course and writings, commends itself to our consideration. We are glad that light has come to him and that he can see he was in error when he set up his individual judgment against that of all the leading authorities of the Church.
It was a monstrous notion that all those leading brethren were guilty of double dealing and Punic faith. It was one that should make any man pause and reflect and ask himself if he himself was not in the wrong and had misjudged his brethren.
We are thankful that this investigation has been conducted in kindness and patience and deliberation, and with a desire to bring forth the truth.
Brother Thatcher had the right to place his case, as he viewed it, before his brethren with as much detail as he desired. Having done so he has submitted it to this Council in a spirit of humility, which is very gratifying to us, and we believe pleasing to the Lord.
It was also very gratifying to hear Brother Thatcher acknowledge the Apostles as the mouthpieces of the Lord, clothed with Authority as Prophets, Seers and Revelators, and acknowledge that they were seeking his salvation while probing his ailment to the very bottom. Such acknowledgments are indicative that Brother Thatcher is ready to comply with our decision, which is as follows:
We therefore decide that the charges against Brother Moses Thatcher have been sustained, and that in order to retain his standing and fellowship in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints he publish a statement to the satisfaction and approval of the Presidency of this Stake of Zion, fully covering the following points, viz:
That in taking the position that the authorities of the Church, by issuing the Declaration of Principles, on April 6th, 1896, acted in violation of pledges previously given, and contrary to what they had published in the Deseret News and given to the Salt Lake Times, he was in error and in the dark.
That he now sees there is no conflict between that declaration and their former utterances in reference to political affairs.
That he was mistaken in conveying the idea that the Church authorities desired and intended to unite Church and State, or to exercise undue influence in political affairs.
That wherein the public have been led to believe through his utterances that the leaders of the Church were forging chains to bind the members of the Church, an impression was created that he did not intend and does not wish to prevail.
That wherein he has placed the authorities of the Church in a false position, however unintentionally, he has done them an injustice and is ready to make such amends as lie in his power.
That he acknowledges the First Presidency and Council of the Apostles as God's servants, as Prophets, Seers, and revelators, and their authority as supreme in the Church.
That when one man is out of harmony with them in the enunciation of a rule for the guidance of the Church, he must submit to the rule or be regarded as not in full fellowship.
That no member of the Church has the right to oppose and bring into contempt any rule of the Church which has been formulated by proper authority, especially when it has been adopted by the Church as a body.
That he was in error in stating in his published letter to President Lorenzo Snow:
"During all these weary months, while friends and physicians believed that I
was on the verge of the grave, I was administered to only once by members of our
quorum, although day after day engagements made for that purpose were for reasons
unknown to me not kept".
In this connection he may state that one such engagement was not kept, but that this was not an intentional breach of promise.
That in speeches and published letters he has used expressions which had been better unsaid, and that he regrets their utterance.
That he knows of no higher allegiance or more solemn and binding obligations than those of a religious character, between a man and his God.
That in speaking of "chains", "oppression", "curtailment of liberty", "malice", "anger", "spite", and "revenge", he did not intend to reflect upon the authorities of the Church in any way, and is grieved that his language has been so construed.
That in failing to attend the meeting of the Twelve Apostles on November 12th, and again on November 19th, he made a grave mistake, which he now regrets, though he did not see it then in that light.
That he believes his brethren of the Apostles have been actuated by a desire for his salvation, and not his destruction, and that though their rebukes have been sharp, they were intended to bring him to a sense of his true position.
That wherein he has wronged any of his brethren by word, deed or improper understanding of their spirit and intent, he now asks their forgiveness.
That he has obtained light wherein he was in the dark, and can sustain in his faith and feelings the authorities of the church, its doctrines, rules and regulations, and desires the fellowship of the Church, and humbly asks forgiveness for all his faults. The findings and decision as read were unanimously sustained by vote of the Council. Adjourned till Wednesday, August 26th, at 7:30 P.M. Benediction by Councillor William Eddington.
Met; Pres[ident]. [Angus M.] Cannon decided as a testimony showed, Moses [Thatcher] was possessed of an apostate spirit, repentance demanded. Moses asked does this Council know of any other body to whom I could appeal. Pres[ident]. C[annon]. said Pres[ident]. [John] Taylor said he had right to call my case but no appeal could be sent to First Presidency from the Council. I was a little startled at Moses question knowing his belief in a higher tribunal or council than the Presidency. Pres[iden]t. C[annon]. gave him 30 days to write his acknowledgement. he asked for time. (1)
-- Wednesday, Aug 25, 1897
[Apostle John Henry Smith Diary] ... Prest. Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, Joseph F. Smith, Lorenzo Snow, Franklin D. Richards, and myself with Geo. F. Gibbs met in the Temple. On motion of Franklin D. Richards, seconded by Lorenzo Snow, it was unanimously agreed Silas Sanford Smith should be ordained a Patriarch. President Wilford Woodruff instructed Joseph F. Smith to ordain him. ... (2)
1 - Salt Lake Stake High Council, Minutes; Brigham Young Jr., Diary
2 - Jean Bickmore White (editor), Church, State, and Politics: The Diaries of John Henry Smith, Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, Salt Lake City, 1990, http://bit.ly/johnhenrysmith
LDS History Chronology: Lorenzo Snow
Mormon History Timeline: the life of Lorenzo Snow
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