120 years ago today - Thursday, Jul 9, 1903

[Rudger Clawson]
Pres. [Joseph F.] Smith spoke at some length of the practice among our people of playing cards. If it could be said that there is nothing wicked in a game of cards, it could also be said that there is nothing good in it, and it was a practice that might easily lead to evil. What surprised him most was that some of our prominent brethren engage in this pastime and defend it in public talk. He referred to one of the Seven Presidents of Seventies [B. H. Roberts], who advocated it as a means of keeping his children at home. Brother Smith said that he was opposed to card playing, which to say the least is a great waste of time. He knew a bright young brother who believed in cards, and from time to time, while engaged in the festive game, indulged in the use of beer, and from beer went to wine, then to strong drink, and then to jail. His downfall could properly be attributed to the practice of playing cards. ... He wanted to know how the brethren felt in regard to this subject. Pres. Lund thought card playing in our homes a very dangerous thing. It often times led to gambling. There was less objection in his opinion to a game of checkers or chess. ...

Elder Clawson ... In speaking of checkers said that many years ago he became so infatuated with the game that he sometimes sat playing until two and three o'clock in the morning to the injury of his health. There were also other evils. Said that he had been informed that a member of the general board of the Y.M.M.I.A. had installed a billiard table in his home, thus affording young men who go there an opportunity to learn how to play, which might lead later to saloon playing and saloon drinking. With such examples at the head, it is difficult to correct these evils in the church. ...

Elder Cowley felt that card playing is not in harmony with the spirit of the gospel. He also pointed out some evils connected [with] the social clubs among the women of this city. He said that we have been warned in the scriptures to "beware of the leaven of the gentiles" [cf. Matthew 16:6] and would do well to heed the counsel.

Elder M. W. Merrill said ... He could count on his fingers half a dozen families who had been ruined by card playing. He was opposed to the practice.

Elder Teasdale was opposed to card playing. In early life he was somewhat given to chess playing, but it worked upon his nervous system to that extent that he thought it wise to desist.

... Elder Clawson moved that it be the sense of the council that we discourage the practice of card playing in our homes, among our kinfolk, and among the Latter-day Saints generally. Carried by unanimous vote. ...

In speaking of the moral status of the world, Elder Clawson spoke of a statement made by Prof. [John M.] Mills, just returned from attendance at the University of Chicago, to the effect that it was claimed, if not actually conceded, that 85% of the students of the institution of learning consort with fast women. He further stated that one of the professors in addressing about two hundred of the students surmised that they had all indulged in intercourse with women, but if not he would advise them do so at the earliest opportunity. The only further advice he had to offer in the matter was that they go to a first-class house and thus guard against loathsome diseases. A young man at the university, who is studying for the ministry, admitted to his fellow student that he had refrained from illicit intercourse with women for three weeks but could stand it no longer.

[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]

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