BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY CONSPIRACY
This newsletter will discuss Brigham Young University, the largest church sponsored university in the United States, with thirty thousand students. Of these thirty thousand students, 98.6 percent are Mormon who arrive on campus with an average high school grade point average of 3.74. More than 73 percent of the male students and 26.6 percent of the women students have served their full time missions either before they arrived on campus, or will do so at some time before graduation. Only .4 percent of the enrollment at BYU is black.1
Students who attend BYU must follow a strict honor code that includes a dress code, forbidding sex outside of marriage, clean shaven for men, multiple earrings not allowed, maintaining a clean and neat appearance, prohibiting use of alcoholic beverages and no visiting of dorm rooms of the opposite sex. Occasionally the media reports of prominent athletes at BYU who have been dismissed from the university for violating the honor code. Marriage is encouraged for students who have completed their missions and as a result many students live in impoverished conditions. Laake (author of Secret Ceremonies) was very upset when she became aware of the neglected living conditions that the BYU community had for the married students.2
One also finds the same improvised conditions in Utah’s predominately Mormon cities in low income housing areas. I recall one evening, visiting with a young family in a mobile home section of the city. The mother was trying to handle a baby and her other two young children while at the same time trying to carry on a conversation. The mobile home itself was in a bad state of repair, with doors hanging open and parts of the inside coverings torn away from the walls. (The father was out doing home teaching for the church but should have been home repairing his home.) This is but one example of the church spending millions of dollars of their members hard earned money to build temples, and to pay for radio and television commercials for promoting Mormonism, but is not helping to improve the lot of these needy families. Laake must have been thinking the same as she drove through these areas of the BYU community for young married students who are encouraged by church leadership to raise large families.
First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles Control Brigham Young University
The General Authorities are in complete control of BYU of which nine of the thirteen member controlling board are members of the First Presidency, his two counselors or the Quorum of Twelve. In addition, the head of the church’s parochial education system, a member of Presidency of the Seventy, is also a member of the BYU board. The remaining three seats are filled by women presidents of the women’s and young women’s auxiliaries “both appointed by the top General Authorities.” The thirteenth seat is filled by a secretary. The current president of BYU is member of the First quorum of Seventy.3
While the undergraduate student tuition of $1,470 and the graduate fee of $ 1,730 per semester is extremely low, even when compared with a public state university, the student pays a high price in loss of individual freedom in such
areas as religion, life style and academic freedom. If a student becomes indoctrinated into the Mormon faith (as most are), the lifetime cost of spending nearly twenty hours a week in activities and service to the church in addition to paying the ten percent annual tithing is tremendous payment for receiving (for many students) a lifetime career. An LDS BYU student must attend religious classes and conform to the regulations drawn up by the university administration and approved by the controlling board. In addition, to remain in the university, Mormon students (98.6 percent of the enrollment) must receive an annual recommendation from their bishops. Non-Mormon students must either receive a letter of recommendation from their own church minister or one from a local Mormon Church bishop. No other university in the United States assumes such control over its students.
Academic Freedom at BYU?
Assuring that BYU students will receive a religious (LDS) education, are 98 percent of the faculty who are Mormon. Some faculty members have attempted to obtain a measure of academic freedom, but have not been successful. D. Michael Quinn who attempted to attain academic freedom in his historical writings and research as a BYU professor, finally gave up his tenured position as a full professor of history and in his resignation letter, wrote: “...academic freedom merely survives at BYU without fundamental support by the institution, exists against tremendous pressure, and is nurtured only through the dedication of individual administrators and faculty members.”4
Academic freedom is a cherished right of university professors, since it permits them to accomplish honest and objective research and to teach without interference and censorship from university administrators or others. Academic freedom also allows a professor or a student to express his/her beliefs (political, economic, religious, etc.) without arbitrary interference. Without academic freedom, points of view on issues within the university could be forced upon them by administrators and other controlling authorities. Academic freedom is especially important in the social science fields such as sociology, history, political science and geography which often deal with controversial areas. This is not to say that academic freedom is not important in other areas such as medicine, business administration, physics, English, foreign languages and the Arts. A one-political party control of a university, for example, that would prevent professors from being members of opposing parties or cause to be prevented certain research that might be harmful to the political party in control would be intolerable in a university within a free and open society.
BYU does not have academic freedom as is generally proclaimed by the National Organizations of Professors (such as the American Association of University Professors) and restricts its students and professors from expressing or practicing anything that does not square with the teachings and doctrine of the church. To prevent professors or students on campus from being “contaminated,” non church approved films such as the Godfather have been banned from the campus as have such speakers as Senator Edward Kennedy, Betty Ford, Senator George McGovern, Ralph Nader and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.5
A student newspaper Seventh East Press was banned by the university when it published an interview by Dr. Sterling McMurrin, former U. S. Commissioner of Education in which he stated:
“I came to the conclusion at a very early age, earlier than I can remember, that you don’t get books from angels and translate them by miracles; it is just that simple. So I simply don’t believe the Book of Mormon to be authentic. I think that all of the hassling over the authenticity of the Book of Mormon is just a waste of time. Many things have been intentionally ignored and sometimes concealed or have been taken to have religious meanings or implications which, in my opinion, have no religious connections whatsoever. I believe that the Church has intentionally distorted its own history by dealing fast and loose with historical data and imposing theological and religious interpretations on the data that are entirely unwarranted.”6
Since the General Authorities still hold that the Book of Mormon is an authentic history, any attack on the book as being false is considered to be unfaithful. And there is irony in that BYU claims to be a university that teaches honesty and truth, while at the same time attempts to cover up all of the evidence that shows many of the Church’s doctrines and teachings to be false. As a result, conflicts between honesty and cover-up are constants in the church’s administration and leadership at the university not only among students and faculty but among relationships with outsiders.
While BYU has managed to keep its accreditation by an outside agency in spite of its lack of academic freedom, it failed in 1992 to be approved for a local chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa “the nation’s most prestigious academic honors society... on the grounds that its mission as defined was incompatible with academic freedom.”7
Several BYU faculty members have run into trouble with the General Authorities and the BYU administration. There was a great deal of opposition to the university rule that faculty members must have an annual “checking-up” letter on file from their bishop saying that they were temple worthy which made all scholarly careers subject to the endorsement of non-academic, off-campus church officials.
David Knowlton and Cecilia Konchar Farr appealed the negative results of their tenure reviews, Knowlton among other things for publishing in Dialogue and Sunstone and Farr “for her feminism and support of abortion rights.” Another BYU Professor was fired in 1995 “over criticism of the violence in his award winning book of short stories, Altmanns’ Tongue. Still another faculty member’s tenure was saved (he had completed research that “suggested the church’s international activity level is considerably lower than convert baptisms suggest)” when he convinced one of the apostles of his sincere testimony.8 Another BYU professor was fired in 1996, “contrary to her department and college recommendation. The reason for terminating the English teacher was for expressing feminist views off campus. ... In support of this decision, a university spokesman notes that five percent of her student-evaluations complain that [her] courses in English literature do not offer ‘gospel insights’ and are not ‘spiritually uplifting,’ even though 95 percent of student evaluations rank her highly.”9
One official connected with the university was so upset with “what the brethren want and what we know is right” that he said: “It still bothers those of us who work here and must constantly juggle what the brethren want and what we ourselves know is right. You really have to wrestle with your conscience sometimes in cases like this, because if you don’t you’re going to be in deep trouble. There are no accolades for heroes here. You either keep you mouth shut and do what you’re told, or take a stand for honesty and find yourself immediately unemployed. Those, I’m afraid are the hard, cold facts of life when you decide to work up here.”10
“Academic Freedom” controlled by General Authorities
Academic freedom and freedom of speech are clearly not included in the goals of the General Authorities. The mission of the General Authorities is to perpetuate and enhance the Mormon Church and they have the financial resources to do this by having control of all income generated by the church. By offering several attractive career-building programs such as pre-medicine, law, education, pre-dentistry and pre-optometry, along with low tuition costs, they can attract promising students to their university. The students and faculty have the responsibility to support church leaders and to be faithful to church doctrine and teachings. For most Mormons, these are not difficult responsibilities, since they have been so immersed in church teachings all of their lives to be faithful to their church and to believe that the General Authorities are infallible. For others, who feel that freedom of individual thought, honesty and truthfulness, along with the basic American freedoms of speech and press are more important, they remain silent. The attitude often is: “I get a low cost education with a good paying career, and for this I can pretend that I believe in church doctrine even though I know it is false.” In other words, it is much easier to accept things as they are than it is to fight for freedom, truth and honesty.
Just as the United States Army has its military academy and the United States Air force has the Air force academy, the Mormon Church has BYU for training its future leaders. There are at least 100,000 leadership positions for Mormon priesthood holders to assume including bishops, stake presidents, mission, district and branch presidents, and the General Authorities. What better way could be found to provide for the thousands of leaders for the Mormon Church than to give them a low cost education which not only ensures further indoctrination into church teachings and beliefs, but also provides students with a lifetime comfortable income. And ten percent of this income will be funneled back into the church to pay for continued proselytizing and expansion of the church all controlled by a handful of men, the General Authorities. To these Church Authorities, it is a marvelous plan, but to the average American, who values basic freedoms and individual rights it can be disastrous. In reviewing literature on the Mormon Church, I have concluded that the General Authorities are bent on replacing the American free and pluralistic democratic society with a society controlled and governed not by freely elected officials, but by the male hierarchy of the Mormon Church who would control the appointment of all government officials, including the congressional members, governors, state legislators, local officials and even the President of the United States. It is believed that the ultimate plan of the Mormon Church and its authorities is to take all power to themselves, their president/prophet becoming the King of the world!
And the Mormon Church hierarchy’s indoctrination program which also prepares leaders for the American government is having outstanding success, for according to a BYU survey of its students, 98 percent believe in Joseph Smith as a prophet and 98 percent believe that the Mormon Church is divine, the [“Only True Church on the face of the whole earth.”] In addition, 88 percent would “place obedience to authority above your own personal preferences.” (These statistics have been furnished by Brigham Young University, and their authenticity has not been verified.)11 This BYU survey is troubling for non-Mormons who have read extensively concerning the doctrines and beliefs and the history of the LDS Church and are convinced that Joseph Smith was a false prophet, that the doctrines of the church are not of a divine nature, and who believe that “obedience to authority above your own personal preferences” is a most undesirable attribute for students in an American society.
1 Richard N. Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, The Power and The Promise, Mormon America, 221
2 Deborah Laake, Secret Ceremonies, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1993, 43-44 (Excerpts Totaling 3-4 pages Copyright © 1993 by Deborah Laake., Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.)
3 Richard N. Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, The Power and The Promise of Mormon America, 224
4 D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy, Extensions of Power, 882
5 Anson Shupe, Wealth and Power in American Zion, Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1992, 205 (With permission of the Author)
6 Ibid., 206 (Blake Ostler, “7EP interview: Sterling McMurrin,” Seventh East Press, 11 January 1983, p. 1)
7 Richard N. Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, The Power and the Promise of Mormon America, 234
8 Ibid., 234-235
9 D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy, Extensions of Power, 897
10 Anson Shupe, Wealth And Power In American Zion, 208
11 Richard N.Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, The Power and the Promise of Mormon America, 224-225
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