Friday, October 3, 2014

The Utah ‘Footloose’ of 1912 and more …

YOU could call this the ‘Footloose’ of 102 years ago.
“Apostle M’Kay opposes dance,” was a Feb. 1, 1912 headline in the Standard-Examiner.
Then Elder David O. McKay of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was speaking at a quarterly Utah Stake Conference in Provo and said he was opposed to the trend of public dance halls and the moral decline therein.
He said anyone with the 50 cents admission could enter such a dance hall and that they were filled with dancing of an “immoral nature.”
Elder McKay then singled out a dance hall in Ogden that had posted the sign, “No introductions necessary,” meaning any women entering this dance hall was expected to dance with any man who asked her to do so.
“These conditions will have to be remedied or the public dance will be fought by the Latter-day Saints,” he said.
In the same meeting, it was reported that in this Utah Stake, there were 121 temple marriages and 74 civil marriages performed in 1911. There were only four divorces by any members of that stake that year.
-Jump ahead 15 years and other vices were singled out by LDS Church leaders.
An Aug. 29, 1927 headline in the Standard was “Card playing breaks rule, Heber J. Grant tells throng.”
President Grant of the LDS Church spoke at an Ogden Stake Conference in the Ogden Tabernacle.
He said those who regularly play cards should sing the popular LDS hymn, “We thank thee, O God for a Prophet” differently than what the song book says.
“We thank three, O God for a Prophet, To guide us in these latter-days, providing he does not tell us to leave our cards alone and then we desire to follow our own ideas” is how President Grant said card playing church members should sing the song.
President Grant also advised unmarried young men and women not to put their arms around each other.
“He said in so doing they are running dangerously near the edge of the precipice and Satan has an opportunity to cast over them,” the article reported.
In addition, President Grant said only one-third of the Church was then obeying the Word of Wisdom. He also said there was a church member who thought drinking a little coffee was OK. Then a cigar was alright and then chewing tobacco didn’t seem to hurt him either. However, he said that member was also an apostle and lost that position.
President also said every effort is made to put the best man available in every church position, without personal favoritism of any kind.
“There is no trading and no political wire pulling in his church,” President Grant declared.
Since President Grant had not visited Ogden for some time, this two-hour stake conference was filled to overflowing, with many not be able to find a seat.

(-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on Oct. 3, 2014.)

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at:  

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