In 1945, the LDS magazine Improvement Era stated: “When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. … To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God.” This wasn’t just a random article, it was the teaching message for ward teachers (akin to the ministering message or home-teaching message of the day). The whole church membership was to discuss and teach this message to each other for that month! This was as WW2 had wrapped up in Europe and months before the atomic bombs dropped in Japan to end the war in the Pacific. What was the church talking about? Staying in line and following the leaders.
When Our Leaders Speak, the Thinking Has Been Done
Ward Teachers’ Message June, 1945
“Sustaining the General Authorities of the Church”
No Latter-Day Saint is compelled to sustain the General Authorities of the Church. When given the opportunity to vote on the proposition in any of the several conferences held throughout the Church, he may indicate his willingness to sustain them by raising his right hand; he may manifest his opposition in like manner; or he may ignore the opportunity entirely. There is no element of coercion or force in this or any other Church procedure.
However, there is the principle of honor involved in the member’s choice. When a person raises his hand to sustain the Church leaders as “prophets, seers, and revelators,” it is the same as a promise and a covenant to abide by their counsel as the living oracles of God. Consequently, any subsequent act or word of mouth which is at variance with the will of the Lord as taught by the leaders of the Church places the sincerity of such person in serious doubt. One could scarcely have claim upon complete integrity, if he raises his hand to sustain the Authorities of the Church and then proceeds to act in opposition to their counsel.
Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes, whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the “prophets, seers, and revelators” of the Church is cultivating the spirit of apostasy. One cannot speak evil of the Lord’s anointed and retain the Holy Spirit in his heart.
It should be remembered that Lucifer has a very cunning way of convincing unsuspecting souls that the General Authorities of the Church are as likely to be wrong as they are to be right. This sort of game is Satan’s favorite pastime, and he has practiced on believing souls since Adam. He wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to “do their own thinking.” He specializes in suggesting that our leaders are in error while he plays the blinding rays of apostasy in their eyes of those whom he thus beguiles. What cunning! And to think that some of our members are deceived by this trickery.
The following words of the Prophet Joseph Smith should be memorized by every Latter-day Saint and repeated often enough to insure their never being forgotten:
I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 156-157)
When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan — it is God’s plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy. God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God.Ward Teachers’ Message for June 1945, “Sustaining the General Authorities of the Church“
Improvement Era, June 1945 (Vol. 48, No. 6., Page 354)
As shown in the image below, the Ward Teachers’ Message for June 1945, like every other month, is “Conducted under the supervision of the Presiding Bishopric” so this message theoretically goes very close to the top of the church. There is the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric at the top who all manage and lead the church together. This isn’t a rogue editor who has come up with an idea from left field. All the members were to discuss this lesson with their teaching families and as we’re taught from our youth, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).
When Our Leaders Speak, the Thinking Has Been Done
Some leaders and PR spokesmen and apologists have attempted to downplay this statement, saying that church members have “free agency” to choose for themselves; yet today, the encouragement for members to blindly follow and obey the council of their leaders continues. There are many other examples of this ideology and mindset and it is still a part of Mormon culture and the Mormon experience. There was some push-back external to the church at the time of the message, but since no official reframing occurred, this has become a permanent part of Mormon thinking today.
This phrase is likely familiar to most church members as they’ve heard it quoted by some teacher or some lesson at some point. If the exact phrase is not familiar, the concept surely is, it’s been echoed by other leaders since.
Lucifer’s Victory = Members “Do Their Own Thinking”
Speaking of victories for Satan, move over lazy learners. Not only does saying Mormon constitute a major victory for Satan, but also thinking for yourself is a great victory too! Apparently, Satan’s favorite pastime is to get members to “do their own thinking” if it can lead to them speaking against their church leaders. This makes the Mormon church feel like such a safe place! All are welcome, as long as you don’t think for yourself. Stay in line and do what you’re told. Pay your tithing and busy yourself serving in the church and temple, stay busy so you can’t do your own thinking! You don’t need to think, just let the leaders. It’s in fact, much easier (for them) if the members don’t have ideas or think about anything. Just fill the pews and fill the church storehouse and coffers. Empty your mind and fill the church!
This is so much fearmongering from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or TSCC. Especially when you start to have questions or doubts! Don’t be silly, stop doing your own thinking! Trust the leaders, give them a break, and whatever you do, don’t bail follow the devil – it’s him that wants you to think for yourself, and that’s dangerous! This is the plan of God! “To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God.”
How did the phrase affect how you thought about the church leaders or how you thought about yourself? Were you afraid to do your “own thinking” at times and defer to church leadership and culture to make your life decisions for you? Were you a product of the Mormon conveyer belt of life? Did you go to seminary, serve a mission (if you were a boy), go to a church school, get married young (in the temple of course), and begin having children almost as young? Did you follow the progression of steps as the church lay these expectations before you? Join wasmormon.org and tell your own story. Contribute your story to the growing collection of Mormon faith crisis and deconstruction.