35 years ago today - Jan 23, 1983

The Idaho Falls TIMES-NEWS republishes a DENVER POST series on the Mormons. Letters to the editor are divided between Mormons incensed at what they perceived as an anti-Mormon attack and evangelical Christians angry at the generous coverage of what they perceived as an anti-Christian cult.

55 years ago today - Jan 23, 1963

[David O. McKay] "Elder Benson said the statement seemed to be leveled against him and his son, Reed, and also Brother [W. Cleon] Skousen. I told Brother Benson that it was intended to apply to them. I said that the statement made by him (Elder Benson) in favor of the John Birch Society was made by him, one of the Twelve, who is an international character and received international publicity, and that that is one reason the Presidency had to make the announcement in the newspapers."

[Source: David O. McKay diary as referenced in Gregory A. Prince and Wm. Robert Write, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press (2005)]

65 years ago today - Jan 23, 1953

Ezra Taft Benson sent President Eisenhower a letter urging that all cabinet meetings thereafter "be opened with a word of prayer." Eisenhower did not act immediately, looking instead for a practice that would be acceptable to everyone. Then, on the second Friday morning cabinet meeting after Benson's letter, Eisenhower announced that, barring any objections, he would like to start with a moment of silence. "And that's the way it was . . . from that time on." (Benson made certain that his own departmental staff meetings always began with a vocal invocation — a "custom," he termed it.)

One of Benson's assistants later quipped: "At the first [Cabinet meeting] Ike had Ezra do the praying, but I am informed that after the first one he decided that he'd have silent prayer because Ezra took too darn much time to pray."

[Source: Gary James Bergera, '"Rising above Principle": Ezra Taft Benson as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, 1953-61, Part 1', Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Fall 2008, v 41)]

100 years ago today - Jan 23, 1918

Elder Hyrum Mack Smith, eldest son of President Joseph F. Smith, passes away unexpectedly. His death is one of the events setting the stage for President Smith's vision of the redemption of the dead in October of the same year.

120 years ago today - Sunday, Jan 23, 1898

[John Henry Smith]
Dr. Jas. E. Talmage gave a lecture with sterescoptican views in the Tabernacle tonight on Russia. Eight thousand people present at ten cents a peice. It was very interesting.

[Source: 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]

130 years ago today - Jan 23, 1888

President Wilford Woodruff and six apostles "met a number of the Legislative brethren" at Woodruff's office. It is decided which bills to pass and which of the governors appointments to approve and which to not approve.

130 years ago today - Jan 23, 1888

David Whitmer [who died two days later] ... He is not and never has been a believer in polygamy. He left the Mormon Church in 1838 on account of their departure from the faith as he believes. ... Smith, who was at that time [1829] living with his father on a farm near Manchester, was indisposed at first to exhibit his treasure [plates], but was finally persuaded to do so. The treasure consisted of a number of golden plates about eight inches long, seven inches wide, and of the thickness of ordinary sheet tin. They were bound together in the shape of a book by three gold rings. A large portion of the leaves were so securely bound together that it was impossible to separate them, but upon the loose leaves were engraved hieroglyphics which were unintelligible to any person who had seen them. With the tablets was an immense pair of spectacles set in a silver bow. Smith announced that he had been commanded to translate the characters upon the plates as soon as possible, and stated further that the work must be done in the presence of three witnesses. Smith, his wife, Cowdery, and Whitmer then proceeded to the house of Whitmer's father, where the work of translation was carried out, Smith reading the characters by means of the magic spectacles, Cowdery, Christian Whitmer, a brother of David, and Smith's wife acting as amanuenses. The work of translation occupied nearly eight months. Smith careles[s]ly tattled to the neighbors of the secrets which they were working out, and as a consequence the plates were taken from him by the angel of the Lord who in place of them gave him a Urim and Thummin of a different shape which he was to place in his hat and on covering his face with the hat he received straightway a direct revelation. ...

[Source: "An Old Mormon's Closing Hours," Chicago Tribune, 24 January 1888., as cited in Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents: David Whitmer Interview With Chicago Tribune]

165 years ago today - Jan 23, 1853

[Wilford Woodruff]
Elder O Hyde preached. Said we should acknowledge the hand of God in all things. Refered to Martin Luther the refermation &c & said the hand of God was in it & that He had inspired Columbus & many men to perform certain works & who knows but what he inspired Mohammad to cause the people to acknowledge one God & one prophet. Martin Luther with others created a great Change in his day from Popary to more freedom of conscience in religious & political matters & the way has been prepared in process of time so the kingdom of God has been esstablished & so with all the events of the present day steem power, Rail Roads Telegraph lines, & all the Revolutions of the present Nations. ...

[Source: Wilford Woodruff's Journal: 1833-1898 Typescript, Volumes 1-9, Edited by Scott G. Kenney, Signature Books 1993, http://amzn.to/newmormonstudies]

170 years ago today - Jan 23, 1848

At the Council House Orson Pratt "addressed them quite lengthy upon Asstronomy Philosophy, and various principles which he had studied . . . He intirely overthrows many of the systems of the modern Phylosiphers & Asstronomiers & modern reasoning in many respects to overthrow the gentile christian Argument "that God made the Heavens, sun, moon, & stars And the earth & all that in them are out of nothing in six days. He said that it was admitted by modern Phylosophers that stars had been discovered through telescopes so remote from the earth that it would take thrity thousand years for the light of it to reach this earth though it should travel at the rate of two hundred thousand miles per second. So it must have been in exhistance 24,000 before the earth was formed."

185 years ago today - Jan 23, 1833

On the second day of the "conference of High Priests" in Kirtland "Conference opened with prayer by the President [Joseph Smith] and after much speaking, praying and singing, all done in tongues, proceeded to washing hands, faces [and] feet in the name of the Lord, as commanded of God, each one washing his own, after which the President girded himself with a towel and again washed the feet of all the Elders, wiping them with the towel. His father presenting himself, the President asked of him a blessing before he would wash his feet, which he obtained by the laying on of his father's hands pronouncing upon his head that he should continue in his Priest[']s office until Christ come."

30 years ago today - Jan 22, 1988

The WASHINGTON POST reports that the filming of the CBS mini-series based on the book THE MORMON MURDERS of the Mark Hofmann murders/forgeries had been postponed due to script rewrites as a result of pressure from wealthy West Coast Mormons.

45 years ago today - Jan 22, 1973

Decided: Roe v. Wade

This landmark decision established that women have a basic right to have an abortion Through various cases, the Supreme Court developed the idea that the Constitution protects a person's to privacy, particularly when it comes to matters involving children and procreation.

[Source: Cline, Austin, History of American Religion: Timeline]

115 years ago today - Thursday, Jan 22, 1903

[Rudger Clawson]
The very pleasing information was conveyed to the brethren that the campaign of Brother Smoot was conducted absolutely without bribery or liquor. There was only one attempt at bribery, and that was in the case of one of the legislators who sent word to Elder Smoot that, if he would use his influence to have said party appointed chairman of the committees on railroads, he would in return vote for him. Brother Smoot immediately turned him down by sending word that, so far as his influence had any weight, he would oppose his appointment to said committee in any capacity and further that he did not want his vote.

[Source: Stan Larson (editor), A Ministry of Meetings: The Apostolic diaries of Rudger Clawson, Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, Salt Lake City, 1993, http://bit.ly/rudgerclawson]

120 years ago today - Jan 22, 1898

George Q. Cannon teaches: "There are different degrees of glory. Some attain to a more exalted glory. They must help those who are lower to rise up to their plane. Then there is another degree below them, and they must labor to lift those who are lower than they... progressing from one degree of glory to another, without end, because there is no end to eternity."

[Source: The Mormon Hierarchy - Extensions of Power by D. Michael Quinn, [New Mormon History database ( http://bit.ly/NMHdatabase )]]

140 years ago today - Jan 22, 1878 • Tuesday

[George Q. Cannon]
John C. Young said that in talking with his mother about Nauvoo she had said that the brethren had sometimes robbed a few hen roosts, smoke houses, taken a few horses and passed a little counterfeit money, and about three years ago his uncle Phinehas had told him that he had carried $15,000 of counterfeit money into Nauvoo. He asked him what had been done with it, and he replied that the brethren had bought outfits with it. In replying to them I said that I supposed I would be relieved from saying anything in defence of Presidents Joseph and Brigham Young as their son and nephew was present. If I was surprised, however, that he should sit still and acquiesce in their being called <murderers> and charged with other vile crimes. If his father and uncles were chicken and meat thieves, murderers and rogues counterfeiters and rogues generally, the people of Utah did not <know> it. They respected them because they supposed they were honorable, upright men; personally, I said, I did not want anything to do with such a gang as he described his kindred as being.

[Source: The Journal of George Q. Cannon, Church Historian's Press, https://churchhistorianspress.org/george-q-cannon]

170 years ago today - Jan 22, 1848

B. Y.[:] Its [the Nauvoo Temple] a poor temple, it wont be 20 years until it can't contain a congregation.'[I] dreamed before we left [Nauvoo] that Bro. Kimball & I went back & on to the roof, & [we were] stepping on it carefully lest [we would] fall thro.'[T]he wall presses in & the timbers [were] bend, & rot[t]ed. [W]e have been gone I says 20 years & its rooted [rotted] so that we have got to make all new timbers. B. Y.[: W]e never shall go back to possess that temple until [the] right shall take place'& I don't care what is done to preserve the temple.'We'll rent the Temple

[Source: Minutes, as quoted in Minutes of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1835-1951, Electronic Edition, 2015]

175 years ago today - Jan 22, 1843

Joseph Smith teaches that God destroyed Sodom for "rejecting the prophets," not for sexual impurity.

[Source: Timeline of Mormon Thinking About Homosexuality, http://rationalfaiths.com/timeline-of-mormon-thinking-about-homosexuality/]

175 years ago today - Jan 22, 1843

President Joseph Smith deliverd an interesting discourse at the Temple to a large congregation. Among other things he treated upon the kingdom of God & the baptism of John. He remarked some say the kingdom of God was not set up on earth untill the day of pentecost & that John did not preach the Baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. But I say in the name of the Lord that the kingdom of God was set upon earth from the days of Adam to the present time whenever there has been a righteous man on earth unto whom God revealed his word & gave power & authority to administer in his name:

And whare theire is a Priest of God, A minister who has power & Authority from God to administer in the ordinances of the Gospel & officiate in the Priesthood of God, theire is the kingdom of God & in consequence of rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ & the Prophets whom God hath sent, the judgments of God hath rested upon people, cities & nations in various ages of the world, which was the case with the cities of Sodom & gomoroah who were destroyed for rejecting the Prophets. ...

In these remarks I have no allusion to the kingdoms of the earth. We will keep the Laws of the Land. We do not speak against them....

The plea of many in this day is that we have no right to receive revelations. ... But say you what will become of the world or the various professors of religion who do not believe in revelation & the oracles of God as continued to his Church in all ages of the world when he has a people on earth? I Tell you in the name of Jesus Christ they will be damned & when you get into the eternal world you will find it to be so. They cannot escape the damnation of hell.

As touching the gospel & Baptism that John preached I would say that John came preaching the gospel for the remission of Sins. He had his authority from God & the oricles of God were with him & the kingdom of [God] for a season seemed to be with John alone. The Lord promised Zecheriah that he should have a son, which was a desendant of Aaron & the Lord promised that the priesthood should continue with Aaron & his seed throughout their generations.

... The people need not wait for the days of Pentecost to find the kingdom of God for John had it with him ...

The endowment was to prepare the desiples for their mission into the world. Whenever men can find out the will of God & find an Administrator legally authorized from God there is the kingdom of God. But whare these are not, the kingdom of God is not. All the ordinances Systems, & Administrations on the earth is of no use to the Children of men unless they are ordained & authorized of God for nothing will save a man but a leger Administrator for none others will be acknowledge either by God or Angels.

I know what I say. I understand my mishion & business. God Almighty is my shield & what Can man do if God is my friend? I shall not be sacrafised untill my time comes. Then I shall be offered freely. All flesh is as grass & a governor is no better than other men. When he dies he is but a bag of dung.

[He would later organize the Council of Fifty which was also titled the "Kingdom of God."]

[Source: Wilford Woodruff's Journal: 1833-1898 Typescript, Volumes 1-9, Edited by Scott G. Kenney, Signature Books 1993, http://amzn.to/newmormonstudies]

185 years ago today - Jan. 22-23, 1833

A conference is held with several high priests and elders. Joseph speaks in another tongue, as do other elders. The next day they assemble again and participate in the ordinance of the washing of feet. (See John 13:4-15.) Each elder washes his own feet and then Joseph washes their feet. Joseph receives a father's blessing from Joseph Smith, Sr. F. G. Williams then asks permission to wash Joseph's feet, and does so. They partake of the sacrament.

[Source: Conkling, Christopher J., Joseph Smith Chronology]

35 years ago today - Jan 21, 1983

A First Presidency letter: "We are now informed that there are members of the Church who also refuse to pay state income taxes." The letter provides for the denial of a temple recommend for any Mormon "who deliberately refuses to pay state or federal income taxes, or to comply with any final judgment rendered in income tax case." The letter also authorizes "Church court" action against those convicted of violating tax laws.

[Source: The Mormon Hierarchy - Extensions of Power by D. Michael Quinn, [New Mormon History database ( http://bit.ly/NMHdatabase )]]