Friday, April 30, 2010

Immigration Debate among LDS

Excerpts of Mormons on opposite sides in immigration fight By Peggy Fletcher Stack, Salt Lake Tribune

Doctrinal duel:  Members mine teachings to buttress their positions even as leaders stay silent.

No matter how much the LDS Church would like to remain neutral on the issue of illegal immigration, Mormon activists on opposite sides draw on their faith's doctrines or practices to buoy their positions.

Russell Pearce, the Arizona senator who proposed that state's tough anti-immigration law, is LDS and hails from Mesa, a stronghold of Mormonism.

According to Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, the Arizona lawmaker builds his case on the Utah-based church's 12th Article of Faith, which says Mormons believe in "obeying, honoring and sustaining the law."

That also is a key belief for Sandstrom, a Mormon who has met with Pearce several times and hopes to introduce a similar bill in Utah.

"We are a country with the rule of law," said Sandstrom, who served an LDS mission in Venezuela. "That's the only way a country can prosper."

On the opposite side are Latter-day Saints who argue for a more complex and humane approach to immigration. They point to church teachings about taking care of one's family, being hospitable to the stranger and building the kingdom of God.

"I don't think the intent of the Article of Faith was to make us vigilantes and gatekeepers and create anti-immigrant rhetoric and climate," said Ignacio Garcia, a Brigham Young University history professor.

Those who come into this country illegally make hard choices, Garcia said. "It's a violation of the law, sure, but circumstances often force people to decide to break one law to obey the higher law."

The church takes a sort-of "don't ask, don't tell" approach to the immigration status of its own members. Some estimate that 50 percent to 75 percent of members in Utah's 100-plus Spanish-speaking congregations are undocumented. That includes many bishops, branch presidents, even stake presidents. The church sends missionaries among undocumented immigrants across the country, baptizing many of them without asking about their status. It also allows them to go to the temple and on missions.

"We're not agents of the immigration service, and we don't pretend to be," LDS apostle Jeffrey R. Holland told The Salt Lake Tribune last year, "and we also don't break the law."

In January 2008, Marlin Jensen, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, was assigned by LDS President Thomas S. Monson to urge Utah legislators to use "compassion" in their immigration legislation.

That didn't stop Utah's mostly LDS lawmakers from passing SB81, which took effect last July and tightened enforcement while limiting immigrants' access to some services.

Mormon conservatives seem to feel that not only is the United States being invaded by foreigners, but also their homes, their churches and their congregations, he said. "But the Latter-day Saint who sees the work of the church as becoming a global faith are not running around complaining about immigrants."

New "Mormon Values" college planned

Excerpts of Mormon-values college plan in works for Nevada, Mormon Times

Beginning Fall 2012, high school graduates and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be eligible to attend a new college in Logandale, Nev.

While it is unaffilitated with the Church Educational System, Desert Valley College officials say it will purport LDS values, providing an alternative to Brigham Young University and the already established, privately run Southern Virginia University, which also maintains standards of conduct and a strict honor code. The goal of the new school will be "to provide for an intensive learning experience in a stimulating setting where a commitment to excellence is expected and the full realization of human potential is pursued," according to executive director Rex Jensen...

LDS Perspectives on Environmental Stewardship

Scripture References:


_  JST Gen. 9:11 (God will judge us for wasting flesh)

_  Gen. 9:8-15 (God covenanted with every living creature)

_  1 Nephi 17:37-38 (God's children to possess the earth)

_  Jacob 2:12-13 (overconsumption causes inequality & pride)

_  Mosiah 27:30 ("He remembereth every creature" he created)

_  Alma 30:44 (earth and life thereon testify of God)

_  Hel. 3:5-11 (examples of non-sustainable practices)

  Mormon 8:41 (great pollutions on earth in last days)

  D&C 49:19-21 (warning against overconsumption)

  D&C 59:16-20 (use resources with judgment)

  D&C 88:17-19, 25 (destiny of earth)

  D&C 101:32–34 (commanded to learn of the earth)

  D&C 103:7-16 (cannot pollute the lands of inheritance)

  D&C 104:13-18 (stewardship over earthly blessings)

  D&C 136:27 (must preserve and be "wise" stewards)

_  Moses 3:5, 9 (all life on earth first created spiritually)

_  Moses 7:48-62 (Enoch's vision of weeping earth)


Selected Reading Material:


George Handley, "The Environmental Ethics of Mormon Belief." BYU Studies, 40:2 (Summer 2001): 187-211, available at 


Hugh Nibley, "Brigham Young on the Environment," Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints (1994), pp. 23-54, available at 


Alexander B. Morrison, "Our Deteriorating Environment," Ensign (Aug. 1971), available at


Notes and Commentary:


Section A:  Words of the Prophets and Others


1.             Everything found in natures possesses a spirit and was spiritual created before this life.


      Have prophets in this dispensation warned us about the dangers of overconsumption? 

      How should knowing that everything found in nature has a spirit, and was first spiritually created, affect the way we view and treat nature?


Reading Excerpts:


Joseph F. Smith – pre-existent rejoicing in the creation.  "Our spirits existed before they came to this world.  They were in the councils of heaven before the foundations of the earth were laid.  We were there.  We sang together with the heavenly hosts for joy when the foundations of the earth were laid, and when the plan for our existence upon this earth and redemption were mapped out.  We were there; we were interested, and we took a part in this great preparation."[2] 


Joseph Smith – rejection of ex nihilo creation.  "T]he word create came from the word baurau, which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship.  Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos – chaotic matter, which is element and in which dwells all the glory.  Element had an existence from the time He had.  The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed.  They had no beginning and can have no end."[3] 


Brigham Young – everything in nature has a spirit. "The spirit constitutes the life of everything we see.  Is there life in these rocks, and mountains?  There is.  Then there is a spirit peculiarly adapted to those rocks and mountains….  There is a spirit nicely adapted to the various productions of the vegetable kingdom."[4] 


Joseph Fielding Smith – everything in nature has a spirit.  "Latter-day Saints, at least, do not take the view that animals have no reason, and cannot think.  We have the divine knowledge that each possesses a spirit in the likeness of its body, and that each was created spiritually before it was naturally, or given a body on the earth.Naturally, then, there is some measure of intelligence in members of the animal kingdom."[5]


Joseph Fielding Smith – pre-existence of all life.  "The spirits of men, beasts, and all animal life, existed before the foundation of the earth was laid, and are living entities."[6] 


Brigham Young – the Earth is holy and we must treat it as sacred.  "[T]he earth under their feet will be holy; . . . the soil of the earth will bring forth in its strength, and the fruits thereof will be meat for man."[7]  He spoke of keeping the natural and manmade environment "pure" just as one maintains personal purity:  "Keep your valley pure, keep your towns as pure as you can, keep your hearts pure."[8]  Brigham Young emphasized the sacred nature of the earth itself:  "Speaking of the elements and the creation of God, in their nature they are as pure as the heavens."[9]  "The Lord blesses the land, the air and the water where the Saints are permitted to live."[10]  


Prof. George B. Handley (BYU) – significance of spiritual character of all life.  "The notion that physical matter and all living things have some living spiritual character grants a sacred identity to the nonhuman realm, and this would seem to give us pause to consider the ethics of our use of such inspirited material."[11]  "[T]the Mormon conception of our premortal life and its suggestion that we witnessed and may have participated in the very creation of the world under Christ's direction [gives] a unique opportunity to always remember our intimate relationship with creation."[12]


2.             Our Stewardship Responsibilities


      Have prophets in this dispensation warned us about the dangers of overconsumption? 

      Have they advised us of our responsibilities to protect the Earth and not waste natural resources?

      Is one aspect of our earthly probation to determine whether we would be good stewards?

      Is overconsumption unpatriotic and unchristian?


Reading Excerpts:


Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.2, "Earth".  "Because God created the earth for these eternal purposes, Latter-day Saints view its natural resources and life forms as a sacred stewardship to be used in ways that will ensure their availability for all succeeding generations."


Joseph Smith – warning against greed and overconsumption.  "Brethren, we are gathering to this beautiful land to build up Zion....  But since I have been here I perceive the spirit of selfishness, covetousness exists in the hearts of the saints....  Here are those who are beginning to spread out, buying up all the land they are able to do;... thinking to lay foundations for themselves only, looking to their own individual families....  Now I want to tell you that Zion cannot be built up in any such way...."[13]


Brigham Young – warning against greed and hoarding of natural resources.  "Are you not dissatisfied, and is there not bitterness in your feelings, the moment you find a [c]anyon put in the possession of an individual, and power given unto him to control the timber, wood, rock, grass, and, in short, all its facilities?"[14]


Brigham Young – the Earth should be beautified.  "There is a great work for the Saints to do.  Progress, and improve upon, and make beautiful everything around you.  Cultivate the earth and cultivate your minds.  Build cities, adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labours you may do so with pleasure, and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations.  In the meantime, continually seek to adorn your minds with all the graces of the Spirit of Christ."[15]



Joseph F. Smith – warning against greed and overconsumption.  "The Latter-day Saints ought not to be governed by purely selfish motives in the use of their landed inheritances.  The number among us who have converted a single acre of our farms into forestry must be extremely small, and yet it is a duty which we owe to ourselves and to those who have the right to rely upon us to give this matter our earnest consideration.  The cultivation of timber lands will in time be remunerative; but we are so accustomed to look for immediate returns that we insist upon an early harvest for all that we do.  The policy of living for today is not only destructive of our material interests, but it begets a selfishness harmful to religion and discreditable to patriotism."[16] 


Ezra Taft Benson – warning against greed and overconsumption.  "[W]e are morally obligated to turn this land over to those who succeed us – not drained of its fertility, but improved in quality, in productivity, and in usefulness for future generations.  I am sure our Heavenly Father expects us to use these precious natural resources wisely, unselfishly, and effectively – both our soil and our water….[17]  The Church has urged its members to be efficient users of our resources and to avoid waste and pollution, and to clean up their own immediate environment, or that over which they have control."[18]


Gordon B. Hinckley – lament that we make the Earth ugly.  "This earth is His creation.  When we make it ugly, we offend him."[19] 


Orson Pratt – we are to be tested as stewards.  "This land, about which I have been speaking, is called in some places in the revelation of God to the Prophet Joseph, the land of our inheritance. . . .  If we shall be unwise in the disposition of this trust, then it will be very doubtful, whether we get an inheritance in this world or in the world to come."[20]


Alexander B. Morrison -- we are to be tested as stewards.  The Lord will hold us "accountable as a steward over earthly blessings,"[21] suggesting that we may face the following interrogatories at the judgment bar:  "What have you done with the earth which my Father and I gave you as a home?  Have you cherished and protected it?  Have you dressed it and kept it, as your father Adam was commanded to do?  Or have you laid waste to it, defiled its waters, destroyed its fertile lands, befouled its life-giving air?"  To those questions, I fear there are many, even among those who aspire to become a Zion people, who will hang their heads in shame.  The earth groans under the insults inflicted upon it.[22] 


Russell M. Nelson – we must protect the earth for future generations.  "As beneficiaries of the divine Creation, what shall we do?  We should care for the earth, be wise stewards over it, and preserve it for future generations."[23] 


Neal A. Maxwell – we have covenanted to take good care of the earth.  "The instructions to Adam and Eve about the garden earth … have not been rescinded.  They were, and we are, to dress it-not destroy it.  They were to take good care of it instead of abusing it.  Our increasing interdependence on this planet makes some forms of individual selfishness the equivalent of a runaway personal bulldozer.  If we have no concern for the generations to follow, the means are at hand to tear up the terrain much more than was ever possible anciently."[24] 


Ezra Taft Benson – showing irreverence for the earth is irreverence for God.  "Irreverence for God, of life, and for our fellowmen takes the form of things like littering, heedless strip-mining, pollution of water and air.  But these are, after all, outward expressions of the inner man."[25] 


Steven E. Snow – consequences of poor stewardship.  "Our generation, more than any other, has the ability to irretrievably change the land.  Financial rewards provide tremendous pressure to unleash our technology to reinvent our surroundings. There will be growth; change will come.  But failure to care for the land on which we live means turning our backs on a heritage laid down carefully and at such great cost by our forefathers – and will leave us immeasurably poorer."[26]


3.             Studying and Experiencing Nature


      What is the spiritual value of studying nature?

      What is the spiritual consequence of not experiencing nature?

      Is one aspect of our earthly probation to determine whether we would be good stewards?


Reading Excerpts:


We should study natural science.  Brigham Young: "Fields and mountains, trees and flowers, and all that fly, swim or move upon the ground are lessons for study in the great school of our heavenly Father, … [in what] is open before us in good books and in the great laboratory of nature.[27]  "Wisdom and virtue come from the animal and vegetable worlds which carries with it a spiritual as well as a material blessing.  Nature helps us to see and understand God.  To all His creations we owe an allegiance of service and profound admiration."[28]  Joseph F. Smith:  "Fields and mountains, trees and flowers, and all that fly, swim or move upon the ground are lessons for study in the great school of our Heavenly Father, … [in what] is open before us in good books and in the great laboratory of nature."[29]  Joseph F. Smith:  "We are a part of all life and should study carefully our relationship to it."[30] 


We have a duty to experience and appreciate nature's beauties.  Joseph F. Smith:  "As children of God, it is our duty to appreciate and worship Him in His creations.  If we would associate all that is truly good and beautiful in life with thoughts of Him, we would be able to trace His handiwork throughout all nature."[31]  Gordon B. Hinckley:  "Can any man who has walked beneath the stars at night, can anyone who has seen the touch of spring upon the land doubt the hand of divinity in creation?"[32]  M. Russell Ballard:  "Think of what would happen if all of us took time to look carefully at the wonders of nature that surround us and devoted ourselves to learning more about this world that God created for us…."[33]  "To truly reverence the Creator, we must appreciate his creations.  We need to plan to take time to observe the marvels of nature.  Today, we can easily become surrounded by brick buildings and asphalt surfaces that shelter us from real life around us.[34]  "[T]hose who feel no reverence for the creations and the divine attributes of God likely will have little appreciation for other sacred things.  Such a lack of veneration for God's creations may diminish until a person becomes totally insensitive to the feelings of others.[35]  Douglas L. Callister:  "It pleases our Father in Heaven when we, also, pause to note the beauty of our environment, which we will naturally do as we become more spiritually sensitive."[36] 


4.             Treatment of Animal Life


      How are we to treat animal life?

      What are the spiritual consequences of mistreating domestic animals and wildlife? 


Reading Excerpts:


Joseph Fielding Smith – on wanton killing.  Joseph Smith's translation of Genesis reflects divinely imposed restrictions on shedding life:  "And surely, blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands."[37]  Joseph Fielding Smith expounded on the meaning of this scripture:  "The inference in this interpretation is that the use of the flesh of living creatures should be indulged in sparingly although there is no sin in the shedding of their blood when required for food.  There is no inference in the scriptures that it is the privilege of men to slay birds or beasts or to catch fish wantonly."[38] 


Brigham Young – on wanton killing.  Brigham Young expressed revulsion to needless killing.  William Clayton recorded that during the trek across the plains Young "called the captains of tens to his wagons and gave them a pretty severe lecture" because he had observed game shot and meat left to waste, warning that "God has given us a commandment that we should not waste meat, nor take life unless it is needful, but he can see a disposition in this camp to slaughter everything before them. . . ."[39] 


Joseph F. Smith – on wanton killing.  "Man in his wanton disregard of his sacred duty has been reckless of life.  He has destroyed it with an indifference to the evil results it would entail upon the earth....  The unnecessary destruction of life begets a spirit of destruction which grows within the soul..., [and] is a distinct spiritual loss to the human family.  Men cannot worship the Creator and look with careless indifference upon his creations."[40]  "[H]e who treats in a brutal manner a poor, dumb animal at that moment disqualifies himself for the companionship of the Holy Ghost; for the Lord will not sanction an unrighteous act, and it is an unrighteous thing to treat any creature cruelly."[41] 


Spencer W. Kimball – on wanton killing.  "We do not kill.  We are even careful about killing animals, unless we need them for food."[42]  "Now, I also would like to add some of my feelings concerning the unnecessary shedding of blood and destruction of life.  I think that every soul should be impressed by the sentiments that have been expressed here by the prophets.  And not less with reference to the killing of innocent birds is the wildlife of our country that live upon the vermin....  It is not only wicked to destroy them, it is a shame, in my opinion.  I think that this principle should extend not only to the bird life but to the life of all animals."[43] 


Hugh Nibley – on wanton killing.  "One morning just a week after we had moved into our house on Seventh North, as I was leaving for work, I found a group of shouting, arm-waving boys gathered around the big fir tree in the front yard. They had sticks and stones and in a state of high excitement were fiercely attacking the lowest branches of the tree, which hung to the ground. Why? I asked. There was a quail in the tree, they said in breathless zeal, a quail! Of course, said I, what is wrong with that? But don't you see, it is a live quail, a wild one! So they just had to kill it. They were on their way to the old B. Y. High School and were Boy Scouts. Does this story surprise you? What surprised me was when I later went to Chicago and saw squirrels running around the city parks in broad daylight; they would not last a day in Provo."[44]


Joseph Fielding Smith – on sport hunting.  "It is a grievous sin in the sight of God to kill merely for sport.  Such a thing shows a weakness of spiritual character of the individual….  Only for food, and then sparingly, should flesh be eaten, for all life is from God and is eternal."[45] 


George Q. Cannon – on sport hunting.  "The practice of hunting and killing game merely for sport should be frowned upon and not encouraged among us."[46]  "It is not the design of the Lord that men should prey upon animal creation and destroy them, beyond that which is necessary to sustain their lives."[47] 


Joseph F. Smith – on sport hunting.  "I never could see why a man should be imbued with a bloodthirsty desire to kill, and destroy animal life….  I do not believe any man should kill animals or birds unless he needs them for food, and then he should not kill innocent little birds that are not intended for food for man.  I think it is wicked for men to thirst in their souls to kill almost everything which possesses animal life."[48] 


Section B:  How has LDS doctrine contributed to the field of "eco-theology"? 


      What does Enoch's vision of the Earth tell us?  The metaphor of the weeping earth is powerful, but is there more to it? 

      Why is it significant that we understand that life on Earth was first spiritually created? 

      Does our dominion over the Earth give us license to despoil the Earth and its resources?

      Does Elijah's promise to turn our hearts to our children encompass our stewardship responsibility owed to future generations? 


Reading Excerpts:


Enoch's vision of the mourning earth.  The prophet Enoch's vision of the mourning earth constitutes a poignant and remarkable confirmation of the reality of the earth's spirit and capacity to experience pain.  Enoch ascended a mountain and "beheld the heavens open " and "all nations of the earth."[49]  After observing the Savior's mortal ministry and wickedness of humankind, "Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying:  Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children.  When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me?  When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?"[50]  "[W]hen Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept and cried unto the Lord, saying:  O Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth?"[51]  Anguished by the vision, Enoch repeatedly asked the Lord, "when shall the earth rest?"[52]  He learned that the earth would rest only after Zion was established and the Savior returned to the earth.[53]  


Book of Mormon account of non-sustainable practices.  The Book of Mormon includes a brief account of imprudent use of natural resources.  The people of Nephi migrated northward to the land "Desolate," so called because "of the greatness of the destruction of the people who had before inhabited the land" and had harvested all available timber.[54]  In contrast to their irresponsible predecessors, the people of Nephi became "expert in the working of cement" and "did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings."[55]  UCLA professor Jared Diamond suggests in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed that poor environmental stewardship accounts for the decline of many civilizations.  He attributes the decline of the early Mayan civilization to warfare, and failure to adequately manage available resources, specifically the effects of "deforestation and hillside erosion, which caused a decrease in the amount of useable farmland at a time when more rather than less farmland was needed…."[56] 


Animals will be resurrected.  Joseph Fielding Smith:  "The animals, the fishes of the sea, the fowls of the air, as well as man, are to be recreated, or renewed, through the resurrection, for they too are living souls.[57]"  "[A]nimals do have spirits and that through the redemption made by our Savior they will come forth in the resurrection to enjoy the blessing of immortal life."[58]  "When we reach the 'next world' we will find there, our friends the animals. . . .  [M]an would not be contented to live in a world where no animals, plants or vegetation were found.  They too live and pass through mortality according to the plan of the Great Designer, and not one mote shall be lost."[59]


The earth has filled the measure of its creation.  Brigham Young:  "[T]he earth is very good in and of itself, and has abided a celestial law, consequently we should not despise it, nor desire to leave it, but rather desire and strive to obey the same law that the earth abides, and abide it as honorably as does the earth."[60]  Unlike humankind, the earth itself has been perfectly obedient – it "abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law" (D&C 88:25). 


Christ's atonement automatically saves all nature, but not humankind.  Brigham Young:  "[A]lways keep in view that the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms – the earth and its fullness – will all, except the children of man, abide their creation – the law by which they were made, and will receive their exaltation."[61]  1909 First Presidency Message:  "[T]he whole animal creation will be perfected and perpetuated in the Hereafter, each class in its 'distinct order or sphere,' and will enjoy 'eternal felicity.'  That fact has been made plain in this dispensation."[62]  Bruce R. McConkie:  "[The Savior's] ransom includes a resurrection for man and for all forms of life."[63]  Tadd R. Callister:  "[T]he Atonement fully extends its redemptive powers to … all forms of life thereon to the extent necessary to save them from physical and, where necessary, spiritual death."[64] 


Rejection of ex nihilo creation.  Brigham Young advised that "to assert that the Lord made this earth out of nothing is preposterous and impossible."[65]  In 1876, Apostle Orson Pratt opined:  "We will go farther than geologists dare to go, and say that the materials of which the earth is composed are eternal, they will never have an end."[66]  Similarly, LDS scripture declares that "[t]he elements are eternal."[67] Science now confirms the eternal nature of matter of which we are made, and the literalness of God's pronouncement to Adam in Genesis:  "[F]or dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."[68]  Hannah Holmes in the Secret Life of Dust observed:  "All of these elements, of course originated in space and were bundled together into the planet during the birth of the solar system.  They're yours for as long as you live.  But as soon as you die, your borrowed elements start to slip back out of your body to recirculate."[69] 


Gospel does not clash with science.  While LDS theology stresses the spiritual creation preceding the physical creation, it does not explain how the physical creation took place other than the fact that the creation and all natural processes are governed by eternal laws.  John Taylor:  "[E]verything on the earth, in the waters and in the atmosphere is governed by unchangeable eternal laws."[70]  Brigham Young:  "[T]he religious teachers of the people advance many ideas and notions for truth which are in opposition to and contradict facts demonstrated by science.  You take, for instance, our geologists … tell us that this earth has been in existence for thousands and millions of years….  In these respects we differ from the Christian world, for our religion will not clash with or contradict the facts of science in any particular."[71]  James E. Talmage:  "In the courts of my studies I have naturally been brought face to face with the alleged atheistic tendency of scientific thought and the conflict usually said to exist between Science and Religion….  I have been unable to see the point of conflict myself:  my belief in a loving God perfectly accords with my reverence for science."[72]  "I can see no reason why the evolution of animal bodies cannot be true – as indeed the facts of observation make it difficult to deny – and still the soul of man is of divine origin."[73]  Henry Eyring: "For me there has been no serious difficulty in reconciling the principles of true science with the principles of true religion, for both are concerned with the eternal verities of the universe."[74] 


All God's creations experience joy.  Joseph Fielding Smth:  ""The Lord gave life to every creature, both the birds in the heavens, beasts on the earth, and the fishes in the streams or seas.  They also were commanded to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.It was intended that all creatures should be happy in their several elements.  Moreover, were not all creatures commanded to be happy in their spheres?"[75]  Hugh Nibley: Central to LDS theology is the understanding that "while 'subduing the earth' we must be about multiplying these organisms of plants and animals God has designed shall dwell upon it, namely all forms of life, each to multiply in its sphere and element and have joy therein."[76]  The concept of other forms of life experiencing joy coincides with the fact that all of God's creation possess a spirit.  Orson Pratt:  "[W]e are compelled to believe that every vegetable, whether great or small, has a living intelligent spirit capable of feeling, knowing, and rejoicing in its sphere."[77]  Joseph Smith taught that we look forward to "the happiness of man, and of beasts, and of creeping things, and of the fowls of the air" that will exist in the next life.[78]  Joseph Fielding Smith:  "[The Lord gave life to every creature … [and] commended [them] to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.  It was intended that all creatures should be happy in their several elements."[79]  "We cannot restore life when it is taken, and all creatures have the right to enjoy life and happiness on the earth where the Lord has placed them."[80] 


Section C:  Are we adequately protecting the environment? 


      As children of our Heavenly Father, have we collectively done enough to protect the environment?

      Are we collectively living and consuming natural resources in a way that is sustainable for future generations?  Can we give little regard to the consequences of our consumptive practices and assume that God will provide a clean and healthy planet for future generations? 

      Are those places with the highest concentration of members of the Church exemplary of environmental stewardship? 


Reading Excerpts:


Depletion and extinction.  A 1996 feature in the Church News reported that the "rate of extinction" of plants and animals resulting largely from habitat destruction and pollution "in recent years is 50 to 100 times that of the past," admonishing that "[i]t is no small thing to be made the caretaker of the Lord's house and overseer of His creations.  We may not be doing well in that regard."[81]  David O. McKay:  "Here are the next candidates for early extinction in this country:  Trumpeter swan, whooping crane, roseate spoonbill, redbreasted sandpiper, bartramian, sandpiper, golden plover, dowitcher, willet, American egret, snowy egret, wood duck, sage grouse, prairie sharp-tailed grouse, pinnated grouse.  With these startling facts before us, is it not time that something be done by every organization in the world to discountenance extermination and favor protection of feathered beauties….  In all the teaching, the element of love for all of the creatures of the earth can be emphasized, and thus true religion imparted."[82] 


Lament regarding pollution.  Spencer W. Kimball:  "[W]hen I review the performance of this people in comparison with what is expected, I am appalled and frightened … I have the feeling that the good earth can hardly bear our presence upon it….  The Brethren constantly cry out against that which is intolerable in the sight of the Lord: against pollution of mind, body and our surroundings."[83]  "We recommend to all people that there be no undue pollution, that the land be taken care of and kept clean, productive and beautiful."[84] 


Consequence of environmental degradation.  "[I]f we choose to defile the earth, we must live with the stench, sickness, death, and ugliness of a ravaged environment, and will answer to the creator for desecrating his property.  The Lord does not interrupt free agency, and he suspends the consequences of poor exercise of agency only for the repentant. Again our options narrow down to either desecration or consecration.  If we choose consecration, the fullness of a renewed, paradisiacal earth will be ours, and we will inherit all the Father has.  If we choose desecration, we will remain under degraded conditions, and the Lord will weep over our loss."[85]


Our current level of consumption is unsustainable. Alexander B. Morrison:  "[O]ur current way of life is simply environmentally unsustainable. The immensely complex and still not fully understood systems that sustain life on earth are being destroyed by human activities."[86]


Natural calamities.  James Talmage:  "The Lord forbid that I should assume to pass judgment upon those who are immediately affected, upon those who have lost their lives through such catastrophes.  It is beyond the wisdom of men to correctly deduce results by applying general laws or causes to individual cases; and whenever the judgments of the Lord are permitted to fall upon the earth and upon its inhabitants, there are many of the innocent who suffer with the guilty.  Many go down who are not personally culpable and who are not directly responsible for that which has come."[87]  Gordon B. Hinckely:  "Now, I do not say, and I repeat emphatically that I do not say or infer, that what has happened is the punishment of the Lord.  Many good people, including some of our faithful Latter-day Saints, are among those who have suffered.  Having said this, I do not hesitate to say that this old world is no stranger to calamities and catastrophes."[88]


Section D:  How can we be better stewards of the environment? 


      As individuals and families, how can we better protect the environment?

      Collectively, what laws and policies can be implemented to better protect the environment and encourage sustainable consumption?


Reading Excerpts:


We should be consistent environmentalists.  Neal A. Maxwell:  "True disciples … would be consistent environmentalists – caring both about maintaining the spiritual health of a marriage and preserving a rain forest; caring about preserving the nutrient capacity of a family as well as providing a healthy supply of air and water….  Adam and Eve were to "dress the garden," not exploit it.  Like them, we are to keep the commandments, so that we can enjoy all the resources God has given us, resources described as "enough and to spare" (D&C 104:17), if we use and husband them wisely.[89]  


We should conserve natural resources.  First Presidency Message:  During the "energy crisis" of the 1970s, the First Presidency issued the following statement:  "We reaffirm our suggestion to the Church members a year ago to join car pools, observe prescribed speed limits, lower thermostats where feasible, and eliminate unnecessary consumption of electricity or fuel…."[90] 


We should preserve nature's delicate balance.  Joseph F. Smith:  "If we could understand all the purposes of God in His wonderful creations, we would avoid diligently the dangers of disturbing the balance in the distribution of life which God so wonderfully ordained."[91]  George Q. Cannon:  "An all-wise Creator has arranged many things which puny man does not fully understand.  In our attempts to improve on nature we frequently make hideous mistakes....  Nothing was created in vain.  Everything has its uses, if we but knew them; and efforts to destroy the equilibrium are generally disastrous...."[92] 


We should protect wilderness.  Alexander B. Morrison:  "Although there will inevitably be less and less wilderness as the world's population increases, we would do well to preserve as much of it as we can for two important reasons.  First, the wilderness as the greater producer of the plant and animal species needed to maintain essential biological diversity on the earth.  It serves also as the great natural reservoir of renewable resources of materials, pharmaceuticals, energy, and so on."[93] 


We must teach children to be kind to animals.  George Q. Cannon:  "Children who are trained to respect the rights of the lower animals will … respect human rights and become good citizens."[94] 


Section E: Have there been LDS environmental pioneers to whom we can look up? 


      Would Reed Smoot's policies as a U.S. Senator be supported by a majority of his constituents today?  If not, why not?  What has changed?

      What laws promote environmental stewardship and what laws discourage it?  How would you change our laws to better protect the earth? 


Reading Excerpts:


Joseph Smith.  During the Zion Camp march, several of the brethren discovered rattlesnakes while pitching tents, and resolved to kill them.  Joseph recorded his emphatic instructions on that occasion:  "Let them alone—don't hurt them!  How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it?  Men must become harmless, before the brute creation; and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety.  The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek.  I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an  animal of any kind during our journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger.[95]  In addition, Joseph Smith's City of Zion Plat is now considered by professional urban planners as one of the first models of a sustainable city.[96]


Brigham Young.  William Clayton recorded that during the trek across the plains Young "called the captains of tens to his wagons and gave them a pretty severe lecture" because he had observed game shot and meat left to waste, warning that "God has given us a commandment that we should not waste meat, nor take life unless it is needful, but he can see a disposition in this camp to slaughter everything before them. . . ."[97] 


Joseph F. Smith.  President Smith was alarmed over the damage to mountain watersheds by unrestricted logging and grazing.  In a special general priesthood meeting held on April 7, 1902, he put before the body of the priesthood a vote to withdraw all public lands above Utah towns in or to protect them from damage.[98]


Reed Smoot.  "[A]s a member and chair of the Senate Committee on Public Lands and Surveys (often called the public lands committee) he played a key role in the passage of a number of laws and policies to protect our public lands.  Smoot supported or sponsored measures that (1) strengthened the hand of the United States president and Forest Service director in protecting national forest lands; (2) established the National Park Service; (3) designated Zion and Bryce as national parks and Cedar Breaks as a national monument; and (4) required those who mined public lands or used river sites for the generation of electricity to pay royalties.  For the most part, Utahns supported his efforts….  He lined up with John Muir and other preservationists to oppose the Hetch-Hetchy Dam, which would flood the Hetch-Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park in order to generate electricity and provide water for San Francisco.  Smoot had two reasons for opposing the dam. The first was aesthetic, a value that he sincerely believed in.  In a speech before the Senate, Smoot defended Muir's philosophy of preservation.  But the conservative Smoot also was opposed to having governments operate utility projects. Despite opposition, Congress passed the Hetch-Hetchy Act.  Smoot began as early as 1912 to propose laws to establish the National Park Service. Until 1916, each of the country's national parks had its own management, but no government agency provided overall direction.  Although Smoot argued that the national parks needed some central administration, his bills failed….  Concerned about the destruction of mountain watersheds from overgrazing and damaging logging practices, Smoot and like-minded senators supported the efforts of the Forest Service to regulate grazing and logging.  In opposition, however, Weldon Heyburn and his supporters pushed through Congress a measure that prohibited the president from setting aside national forests in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, or Colorado without congressional approval.  Smoot, however, believed that the president should have the authority to protect the public lands from abuse.  He and his supporters insisted that the law allow the president to continue to designate national forests in Utah, California, Washington, and Nevada.  In an effort to publicize the need for conservation, President Theodore Roosevelt invited the nation's governors and conservation leaders to a conference in Washington, DC, in December 1908.  Recognizing Smoot's solid support for the Forest Service, Roosevelt invited him to chair the Committee on Forest Reservations at the conference.  In Smoot's keynote address to the committee he emphasized the need for the careful management of forest land and watersheds in order to protect land, cities, and businesses from damage….  In addition, he continued to work for the designation of new national parks and the expansion of others, for the management of national forests, and for the reclamation of arid lands.  He successfully secured legislation establishing Zion and Bryce National Parks and Cedar Breaks National Monument in southern Utah.  He also supported legislation for the enlargement of Mount McKinley (now Denali) National Park in Alaska and Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas and for the preservation of sites on the Mormon Trail in Nebraska.  He helped create the presidential forest reserve in the Kaibab National Forest near Grand Canyon.  And he promoted the exchange of privately owned properties within national forests."[99]


Sylvester Q. Cannon.  Sylvester Cannon graduated from MIT as an engineer and was the Salt Lake City engineer during the 1920s.  As city engineer and member of the Salt Lake City Planning Commission Cannon created the first comprehensive master plan for Salt Lake City, in part to better implement Joseph Smith's City of Zion Plat.  He implemented measures to manage the City's waste water, improve the water supply, protect the watershed by limiting grazing of sheep and cattle, and improve air quality.[100]  In the early 1920s he pressured businesses to install emissions control equipment to reduce air pollution.[101]


Wayne Owens.  Wayne Owens served as a member of the House of Representatives from Utah for Utah's 2nd congressional district from 1973 to 1975 and again from 1987 to 1993.  He served as a mission president of the LDS Canada Montreal Mission from 1975 to 1978, after which he returned to Salt Lake City to practice law.  As a member of Congress, he introduced a bill to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone National Park and arranged a hearing about the effects of nuclear testing on nearby residents.  The following quote has been attributed to Wayne Owens: "Our doctrine is enormously progressive as it relates to the environment, but our cultural interpretation has not followed suit. Our theology has not translated politically into a powerful environmental ethic. Some hope is found, however, that the Mormon public is increasingly sensitive to things environmental."


Paul A. Cox.  Brother Cox graduated in Botany and Philosophy from Brigham Young University.  As a Fulbright Fellow, he read for his M.Sc. in Ecology at the University of Wales.  He later received his A.M. and Ph.D. in Biology from Harvard.  Cox is currently Distinguished Professor at Brigham Young University, Hawaii, and has published over 150 scientific papers and 3 books.  In 1997, TIME magazine named Cox one of 11 "Heroes of Medicine" for his work in ethnobotanical drug discovery. In the same year, he was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for his efforts in preserving Samoan rain forests and later shared the Rachel Carson Award with Senator Tom Harkin.  Cox founded and is chairman of Seacology, an environmental organization headquartered in Berkeley, California, which has preserved 98,000 acres of rain forest and 1.7 million acres of coral reef on islands throughout the world.  He is also Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the National Park of American Samoa, a park which he was instrumental in establishing.  Cox has served on the boards of the AIDS Research Alliance, the Center for Plant Conservation, and Hawaii Reserves.[102] 


Arden Pope.  C. Arden Pope III is a professor of economics at BYU who has been widely recognized for his cross-disciplinary work in environmental epidemiology and public health, especially for his seminal studies of the effects of particulate air pollution on mortality and health.  His articles have helped establish the connection between air pollution and health problems, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.  These research findings have influenced environmental policy in the United States and Europe, contributing to the establishment of emission standards for particulates.  His work was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in Whitman v. American Trucking Associations Inc., 531 US 457 (2001).[103]


Section F:  What are the stumbling blocks for some active LDS to embracing environmental stewardship principles? 


      How does the temple help us appreciate the sanctity of God's natural creations?

      Why are some faithful members of the Church hostile to notions of protecting the environment? 


Reading Excerpts:


False Doctrine #1 – We don't need to worry about the earth because Christ is coming again and the earth will be cleansed at that time.  Alexander B. Morrison:  "A variation of the 'I-can-do-as-I-please' school of thought is the notion that it doesn't matter how badly we treat the earth because Jesus will return soon anyway and make everything right.  That, too, is a spurious and specious argument.…  First of all, the scriptures make it clear that no one knows the time of the Second Coming.  Why should we live in a sewer while awaiting Christ's return?  Second, does a child have the right to burn down the family home just because his parent possess the ability to rebuild it?"[104]


False Doctrine #2 – We don't need to worry about the earth because the Lord told us to have dominion over and subdue the earth .  Hugh Nibley:  "The contemporary reappraisal of man's relationship to his environment now confronts society at large with a question that has always been of major concern to the leaders of Israel; namely, What is man's dominion?  The key scriptural passage on the subject reads:  'And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue [kivshu] it: and have dominion over [r?du b] .  .  .  every living thing that moveth upon the earth' (Genesis 1:28).  The words kivshu and rcdu both have a basic root meaning of exerting pressure-that being, however, merely a point of departure for a whole spectrum of derivatives, so that scholars have translated the words according to individual taste and temperament to convey various ideas and types of dominion….  In all of the interpretations we are confronted by two opposing concepts of dominion that have always divided the human race.  From the beginning men have been asked to choose between them….  In commanding Adam to 'be fruitful, and multiply,' God also informed him that He had given the identical command to all His other creatures, and furthermore, that He was putting Adam in charge of things to see to it that His purposes were fulfilled.  Specifically, he was to 'replenish the earth, and subdue it, and to have dominion over' every living thing in the biosphere (Abraham 4:28)….  As Brigham Young explains it, while 'subduing the earth' we must be about 'multiplying those organisms of plants and animals God has designed shall dwell upon it,' namely 'all forms of life,' each to multiply in its sphere and element and have joy therein.   As usual, it is the Prophet Joseph who sets the record straight with an inspired translation:  'And it came to pass that after I, the Lord God, had driven them out, that Adam began to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow' (Moses 5:1; emphasis added).  Here, in the place of the "subdue" of the King James Version, we have explicitly the word till applied to the earth alone, while dominion is reserved for the animal kingdom.  And what is dominion?  After commanding every form of life to multiply for the express purpose of having joy, God gave the identical command to Adam, at the same time putting him in charge of the whole operation, making him lord over the whole earth and giving him dominion over everything on the face of the earth.  Lordship and dominion are the same….  Which brings us in the dictionary to "dominion, .  .  .  deriv[ative] of domini-um, property, ownership, f[rom] dominus, lord," specifically "the lord of the household," in his capacity of generous host, "pater familias and owner of the house [domus]."  The title of dominus designated the Roman emperor himself as the common benefactor of mankind inviting all the world to feast at his board.  In short, lordship and dominium are the same thing, the responsibility of the master for the comfort and well-being of his dependents and guests; he is the generous host, the kind pater familias to whom all look for support.  He is the lord who provides bread for all, but how?  By tilling the earth that he may "eat his bread by the sweat of his brow" (see Genesis 3:19)-he is not a predator, a manipulator, or an exploiter of other creatures but one who cooperates with nature as a diligent husbandman.  The ancients taught that Adam's dominion was nothing less than the priesthood, the power to act for God and in His place.  The idea is that God, while retaining His unshakable throne in the heavens, extended His glory to a new world below in the work of the Creation; "then as the culmination of that work he created man to be in charge" (limshol) of all the beings He had created with the understanding that "from this time forth man must work to improve the earth and preserve and take care of all that is in it, exactly as God had done before." [105]  Alexander B. Morrison:  "[H]umanity's dominion is a call to stewardship, not a license to pillage." [106]  Ensign Article:  "Words that come to mind from the story of the Creation in Genesis chapter 1 are dominion and subdue. Sometimes these words conjure up images of an ultimate rule over powerless subjects. But no gift or station granted to us by God comes without responsibilities and expectations. Proper dominion over nature requires us to use the earth's resources wisely."[107]


False Doctrine #3 – We don't need to worry about depleting the earth's resources because the Lord intended that we enjoy them as much as we can.  Joseph Smith:  "Everything that God gives us is lawful and right; and it is proper that we should enjoy His gifts and blessings whenever and wherever He is disposed to bestow; but is we should seize upon those same blessings and enjoyments without law, without revelation, without commandment, those blessings and enjoyments would prove cursings and vexations in the end, and we should have to lie down in sorrow and wailings of everlasting regret."[108]


False Doctrine #4 – The Lords told us to multiply and increased pollution and consumption of earth's resources are the expected consequences of population growth.  First Presidency Message (April 14, 1969):  "We seriously regret that there should exist a sentiment or feeling among any members of the Church to curtail the birth of their children. We have been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth that we may have joy and rejoicing in our posterity."  That letter added, "… we feel that men must be considerate of their wives who bear the greater responsibility not only of bearing children, but of caring for them through childhood. To this end the mother's health and strength should be conserved and the husband's consideration for his wife is his first duty. … It is our further feeling that married couples should seek inspiration and wisdom from the Lord that they may exercise discretion in solving their marital problems, and that they may be permitted to rear their children in accordance with the teachings of the gospel."  Latter-day Saints, or for that matter all thinking persons, should not be panicked into any movement that would curtail or penalize the right to bring God's spirit children into this world.  At the same time, there is a very special obligation to do everything possible to create an environment in the world that will be warm and hospitable for these new spirits. The problems of population are mostly the problems of our abuse of the land, the air, and the water. It may be that more of us should work more vigorously to preserve and replenish the earth that God has given us."[109]  Ensign Article:  "Any shortcomings of earth's resources needed to support mankind are not due to a lack of proper preparation of the earth.  Consider how the verse concludes: 'I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.' Thoughtful, righteous dominion is what God expects of us; any other kind of dominion is likely to cause shortages and suffering among mankind.  Humanity as a whole is doing a poor job of caring for the earth….  We can practice conservation of resources where possible. All of our actions can display respect for the creations of God."[110]


We ignore what we have already been instructed by the prophets about our stewardship obligations.  Spencer W. Kimball:  "Now, I also would like to add some of my feelings concerning the unnecessary shedding of blood and destruction of life.  I think that every soul should be impressed by the sentiments that have been expressed here by the prophets.  And not less with reference to the killing of innocent birds is the wildlife of our country that live upon the vermin....  It is not only wicked to destroy them, it is a shame, in my opinion.  I think that this principle should extend not only to the bird life but to the life of all animals."[111] Hugh Nibley:  "President Kimball's . . . talk against hunting was very exciting but it had almost no effect whatsoever.  They swept it under the rug.  We say a prophet is a prophet and then freely interpret how we want."[112] 


We acquire more land and earthly possessions than we need, resulting in overconsumption.  Brigham Young:  "There is only so much property in the world.  There are the elements that belong to this globe, and no more….  [A]ll our commercial transactions must be confined to this little earth and its wealth cannot be increased or diminished."[113]  He warned that over exploitation and greed would have eternal consequences:  "It is all good, the air, the water, the gold and silver; the wheat, the fine flour, and the cattle upon a thousand hills are all good….  But that moment that men seek to build up themselves … and seek to hoard up riches, … proves that their hearts are weaned from their God; and their riches will perish in their fingers, and they with them."[114]  "Not one particle of all that comprises this vast creation of God is our own.  Everything we have has been bestowed upon us for our action, to see what we would do with it—whether we would use it for eternal life and exaltation or for eternal death and degradation, until we cease operating in this existence."[115] 


We focus on the economic – rather than aesthetic and spiritual – value of natural resources.  Hugh Nibley:  ""We have taught our children by precept and example that every living thing exists to be converted into cash, and that whatever would not yield a return should be quickly exterminated to make way for creatures that do."[116]


Additional Reading Selections:




Gen. 1:11-12, 20-22, 26-29, 31; Gen. 3:17-19; Moses 4:23-25; Gen 8:21:22; JST Gen. 9:11; Gen. 9:8-15; Gen. 10:25; Exodus 19:5; Numbers 35:33; Job 12:7-10; Psalms 37:9-11; Psalm 104:24-25; Ecclesiastes 1:4; Isaiah 14:7-8; Isaiah 24:1,3; Isaiah 24:4; Isaiah 24:5-6; Isaiah 24:19–23; Isaiah 40:4-8; Isaiah 45:18; Isaiah 51:3;  Isaiah 54:10; Isaiah 55:12-13; Isaiah 65:17; Ezekiel 34:25-28; Hosea 2:18-23; Hosea 4:3; Jeremiah 3:2; Haggai 1:10; Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 5:5; 1 Cor. 10:24, 26; 2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 7:3; Rev. 15:2; Rev. 16:1-11; Rev. 21:1-7; Rev. 22:1-5; 1 Nephi 17:36; 1 Nephi 17:37-38; 1 Nephi 17:37-38; 1 Nephi 19:11-12; 2 Nephi 1:7; 2 Nephi 2:14-15; 2 Nephi 23:13; 2 Nephi 24:7-8; Jacob 2:12-13; Jacob 2:29; Jacob 3:3; Mosiah 27:30; Alma 30:44; Alma 37:31; Alma 45:15; Alma 45:16; Hel. 3:5-11; Hel. 13:22-23, 30; 3 Nephi 8:17-18; 3 Nephi 26:3; Mormon 8:31,36; Mormon 9:2; Ether 13:9; D&C 2:1-3; D&C 29:13-25; D&C 29:14-20; D&C 29:23; D&C 29:34; D&C 29:22-26; D&C 38:17; D&C 38:18-20; D&C 38:39; D&C 45:58-59; D&C 49:16-17; D&C 49:18-19; D&C 49:23-25; D&C 51:16-17; D&C 56:18-20; D&C 59:16-19; D&C 59:20; D&C 61:17; D&C 63:21; D&C 77:1; D&C 77:2-3; D&C 77:9; D&C 77:12; D&C 78:19; D&C 84:101; D&C 88:18-19; D&C 88:25; D&C 88:26; D&C 88:45; D&C 88:47; D&C 93:33-34; D&C 101:24; D&C 101:25; D&C 101:32–34; D&C 103:7-16; D&C 103:14; D&C 104:13-18; D&C 128:23; D&C 128:17-18; D&C 128:22-23; D&C 130:9; D&C 133:24; D&C 136:27; Moses 1:35; Moses 1:39; Moses 2:26, 28; Moses 3:5; Moses 3:9; Moses 5:56-57; Moses 6:63; Moses 7:8; Moses 7:48; Moses 7:54-62; Moses 7:64; Abr. 2:7; Abr. 3:22-24; Abr. 4:11-12; Abr. 5:20-21; JS 1:37-39; Art. of Faith 10. 


Commentary and Books


Stewardship and the Creation: LDS Perspectives on the Environment, eds. George B. Handley, Terry B. Ball and Steven L. Peck (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2006)


Mark J. Nielson, "The Wonder of the Creation," Ensign, March 2004, 60-65.


Richard D. Stratton, Kindness to Animals and Caring for the Earth: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Latter-day Saint Church Leaders (Portland, Ore.: Inkwater Press, 2004).


Gerald E. Jones, Animals and the Church (Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2003).


Aaron Kelson, The Holy Place: Why Caring for the Earth and Being Kind to Animals Matters (Buhl, MN: White Pine Publishing, 2000). 


New Genesis:  A Mormon Reader on Land and Community, eds. Terry Tempest Williams, William B. Smart (Gibbs M. Smith 1998).


Steven L. Peck, "Healing the Mormon Environmental Image," unpublished, available at 


Green Mormon Architect Blog, available at







[1] Craig D. Galli, a partner with the Salt Lake City, Utah office of Holland & Hart, specializes in environmental litigation.  Brother Galli is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law. 

[2] Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1977), 93. 

[3] Joseph Smith Jr., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B.H. Roberts, 2d ed, rev., 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971), 6:308-09 (quoting Joseph Smith sermon April 7, 1844). 

[4] Eugene E. Campbell, ed., The Essential Brigham Young (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1992), 82 (quoting sermon "When I Contemplate the Subject of Salvation" delivered February 12, 1854). 

[5] Joseph Fielding Smith "Man His Origin and Destiny" p. 194.

[6] Deseret News, Church Section, Feb. 15, 1941, 7; see also Conference Reports, at 113, Oct. 5, 1925; Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954): 1:75. 

[7] Young, in Journal of Discourses, 1:203, April 6, 1852.

[8] Young, in Journal of Discourses, 8:80, June 10, 1860.

[9] Young, in Journal of Discourses, 8:341, January 20, 1861.

[10] Young, in Journal of Discourses, 10:222, April 20, 1863.

[11] George B. Handley, "The Environmental Ethics of Mormon Belief," BYU Studies, 40, no. 2 (2001): 187-211.

[12] Handley, "The Environmental Ethics of Mormon Belief," 195.

[13] Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989), 37.

[14] Brigham Young in Journal of Discourses, 1:211, Oct. 9, 1852.

[15] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 8:83, June 12, 1860. 

[16] Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977), 350-51.

[17] Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, Inc. 1988), 645. 

[18] Ezra Taft Benson, This Nation Shall Endure (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1977), 79. 

[19] New Genesis: A Mormon Reader on Land and Community at frontispiece (1998). 

[20] Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses, 21:151, November 1, 1879.

[21] Alexander B. Morrison, Visions of Zion (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993), 77. 

[22] Morrison, Visions of Zion, 77. 

[23] Russell M. Nelson, "The Creation," Ensign (May 2000), 84.

[24] Neal A. Maxwell, That Ye May Believe (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1992), 75.

[25] Morrison, Visions of Zion, 83 (quoting Ezra Taft Benson, Vital Speeches, 42:240 (Feb. 1, 1976)).. 

[26]  Elder Steven E. Snow, First Quorum of the Seventy, "Skipping the Grand Canyon," New Genesis:  A Mormon Reader on Land and Community (ed. Terry Tempest Williams, William B. Smart, Gibbs M. Smith eds. 1998). 

[27] Young, in Journal of Discourses, 9:370, August 31, 1862.

[28] Joseph F. Smith, Juvenile Instructor, 53:182-83, April 1918.

[29] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 9:370, August 31, 1862.

[30] Joseph F. Smith, Juvenile Instructor, 53:182-83, April 1918.

[31] Joseph F. Smith, Juvenile Instructor, 39:627-28, October 15, 1904.

[32] Gordon B. Hinckley, "Be Not Faithless," Ensign (May 1978), 59.

[33] M. Russell Ballard, "God's Love for His Children," Ensign (May 1988), 57.

[34] Ballard, Ensign, 59.

[35] Ballard, Ensign, 58.

[36] Douglas L. Callister, "Seeking the Spirit of God" Ensign (Nov. 2000). 

[37] Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 9:11. 

[38] Improvement Era, at 568-69 (Aug. 1961). 

[39] William J. Clayton, William Clayton Journal, entry made on May 18, 1947, at 156-57.

[40] Joseph F. Smith, Juvenile Instructor 53:182-83, April 1918. 

[41] Joseph F. Smith, Juvenile Instructor 47:78-79, February 1912. 

[42] Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1982), 191.

[43] Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball 191 (quoting Spencer W. Kimball, "Fundamental Principles to Ponder and Live," Ensign (Oct. 1978), 43. 

[44] Hugh Nibley, Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless: Classic Essays of Hugh W. Nibley (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1978), 85. 

[45] Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 210.

[46] George Q. Cannon, Juvenal Instructor 31;218-19, April 1896). 

[47] George Q. Cannon, Juvenal Instructor 28:712-13, November 15, 1893.  Cannon expanded the sacredness of life to trees:  "I consider the life of a tree so sacred that I am reluctant to destroy it, even when the tree is no longer useful where it is, and even when it is in the way of better improvement."  George Q. Cannon, Juvenal Instructor  34:266, May 1, 1899. 

[48] Joseph F. Smith, Juvenal Instructor 48: 308-09, May 1913. 

[49] Moses 7:3, 23.

[50] Moses 7:48.  Enoch vision is reminiscent of Paul's epistle to the Romans:  "For we know that the whole of creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."  Romans 8:22.

[51] Moses 7:49.

[52] Moses 7:54, 58.

[53] Moses 7:64. 

[54] Helaman 3:5-6. 

[55] Helaman 3:9. 

[56] Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (New York: Penguin Group, 2005), 176.

[57] Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:73-74.

[58] Joseph Fielding Smith, Improvement Era 40 (Jan. 1958): 16

[59] Joseph Fielding Smith, Utah Historical and Genealogical Magazine 17 (April 1926):153-54 (citing D&C 29:22-26).

[60] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses 26:303, June 3, 1855.. 

[61] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 8:191, September 30, 1860.

[62] First Presidency Message, Improvement Era 13 (Nov. 1909): 81 (citing D&C 77:3); see also Romans 8:21-22 ("Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God").

[63] Bruce R. McConkie, "Seven Deadly Heresies," Speeches of the Year (1981), 7-8.

[64] Tadd R. Callister, The Infinite Atonement (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), 87.

[65] Brigham Young in Journal of Discourses, 14:116, May 14, 1871. 

[66] Orson Pratt in Journal of Discourses, 18:293-94, Nov. 12, 1876.

[67] D&C 93:33 ("For man is spirit.  The elements are eternal, and spirit and elements inseparably connected, receive a fullness of joy"). 

[68] Genesis 3:19. 

[69] Hannah Holmes, The Secret Life of Dust (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wile & Sons), 193. 

[70] John Taylor, Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, compiled by G. Homer Durham (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, Inc., 1987), 70.

[71] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 14:116, May 14, 1871.

[72] James Harris, The Essential James E. Talmage (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 5.

[73] Harris, The Essential James E. Talmage, 5.

[74] Henry Eyring, Faith of a Science (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969), 1.

[75] Joseph Fielding Smith in Improvement Era, 568-569 (August 1961).

[76] Hugh Nibley, "Man's Dominion, or Subduing the Earth," in Brigham Young Challenges the Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1994), 6 (emphasis added).

[77] Orson Pratt, The Seer, Vol.1, No.3 (Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2000), 34 (emphasis added); Psalm 96: 12, 13 (""Let the field be joyful and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: for He cometh, for He cometh to judge the earth"). 

[78] D&C 77:2. 

[79] Joseph Fielding Smith, in Improvement Era, 568-69 (Aug. 1961). 

[80] Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation (Salt Lake City: The Council of the Twelve Apostles, 1946), 210 (emphasis added).

[81] Church News Feb. 17, 1996, p. 16.

[82] David O. McKay, Juvenile Instructor 48: 310-11, May 1913. 

[83] Spencer W. Kimball, "The False Gods We Worship," Ensign (Jun. 1996).

[84] Spencer W. Kimball, "Why Call Me Lord, Lord, and Do Not the Things Which I Say," Ensign (May 1975), 5. 

[85] Larry L. St. Clair & Clayton C. Newberry, "Consecration, Stewardship, and Accountability: Remedy for a Dying Planet," Dialogue, 28, no. 2 (Summer 1995): 95-96.

[86] Alexander B. Morrison, Visions of Zion (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993), 77-78.

[87] James Talmage, Conference Report, October 1923 (emphasis added). 

[88] Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, October 2006.  "[S]o universal will be the plagues of the last days that Joseph Smith warned:  '[I]t is a false idea that the Saints will escape all judgments….  [M]any of the righteous shall fall a prey to disease, to pestilence, etc., by reason of the weakness of the flesh, and yet be saved in the kingdom of God.'"  Rodney Turner, The Eternal Earth: A Scriptural and Prophetic Biography (Ogden, Utah: Granite Publishing, 2000), 245.

[89] Neal A. Maxwell, A Wonderful Flood of Light (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990), 103. 

[90] "Energy Crisis: First Presidency Encourages Conservation of Fuel; Reports From the Saints Around the World," Ensign (February 1974): 67

[91] Joseph F. Smith, in Juvenile Instructor, 50:372-73, June 1915. 

[92] George Q. Cannon, in Juvenile Instructor, 34: 492-93, August 15, 1899. 

[93] Morrison, Visions of Zion, 88. 

[94] George Q. Cannon, Juvenal Instructor 35 (Feb. 15, 1900), 124. 

[95] Smith, History of the Church, 2:71-72. 

[96] Craig D. Galli, "Stewardship, Sustainability and Cities," in Stewardship and the Creation: LDS Perspectives on the Environment (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2006); Craig D. Galli, "Building Zion: The Latter-day Saint Legacy of Urban Planning." BYU Studies 44, no. 1 (2005): 111-36. 

[97] William J. Clayton, William Clayton Journal, entry made on May 18, 1947, at 156-57.

[98] Thomas G. Alexander, "Stewardship and Enterprise: The LDS Church and the Wasatch Oasis Environment, 1847-1930," Stewardship and Creation (Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2006), 24.

[99] Thomas G. Alexander, "Reed Smoot & America's Natural Resources, 1903-33," Utah History to Go available at

[100] Thomas G. Alexander, "Sylvester Q. Cannon and the Revival of Environmental Consciousness in the Mormon Community, Environmental History, Vol. 3, No. 4 (Oct. 1998), pp. 488-507.

[101] Thomas G. Alexander, "Stewardship and Enterprise," 26. 

[102]; see Anne Billings, "You Can Make A Difference: Paul Cox – Preserving God's Creations," Liahona (Nov. 1998), 32 available at

[103] Michael D. Smart, "Clearing the Air," BYU Magazine (Spring 2007), available at

[104] Morrison, Visions of Zion, 88. 

[105] Hugh W. Nibley, "On Subduing the Earth," in Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless (Salt Lake City, Utah: Publishers Press, 1978), 87-89. 

[106] Morrison, Visions of Zion, 88. 

[107] Mark J. Nielson, "The Wonder of the Creation," Ensign, March 2004, 60-65.

[108] Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 256.

[109] Editorial, "Editorial: Population, Pollution, and You," Ensign, Jun 1971, 129. 

[110] Mark J. Nielson, "The Wonder of the Creation," Ensign, March 2004, 60-65. 

[111] Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball 191 (quoting Spencer W. Kimball, "Fundamental Principles to Ponder and Live," Ensign (Oct. 1978), 43. 

[112] Richard D. Straton, Kindness to Animals and Caring for the Earth (Portland, Oregon: Inkwater Press, 2004), 82. 

[113] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 13:304, November 13, 1870. 

[114] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 1:272-73, November 1, 1879.

[115] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 8:67, June 3, 1860. 

[116] Hugh W. Nibley, "On Subduing the Earth," in Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless (Salt Lake City, Utah: Publishers Press, 1978), pp. 85-6.



For additions and corrections, please contact the author, Craig D. Galli, at