November, 12, 2012

An Enduring Solution

“This Church is always only one generation away from extinction.  All we would have to do to destroy this work is stop teaching our children for one generation.” [1]

Jeffrey R. Holland, President of BYU, 1981

In the mid-1800’s, states began mandating tax-supported education for all children. Consequently, community schools that had been developed by religious groups were appropriated by state governments and were eventually prohibited from teaching religion.

In 1887 the Edmunds-Tucker Act allowed the federal government to seize all but $50,000 of the Church’s assets. This act forced the poverty-stricken saints to pay taxes for the public schools, maintain their own academies where the gospel could still be taught, and build the Salt Lake and Manti Temples.

As the Church continued to grow, building more academies to educate the Saints’ children became financially unfeasible. Beginning in 1912 the Church began developing the seminaries and institute programs to supplement the students’ academic schooling. The academies that did not offer college courses were either sold or given to their respective states. The only academies still in operation today are in Mexico and the Pacific Islands.

About the development of the seminary and institute programs, Elder Boyd K. Packer said, “In the history of the Church there is no better illustration of the prophetic preparation of this people than the beginnings of the seminary and institute programs….They now become a godsend for the salvation of modern Israel in a most challenging hour.” [2]

[1] Joe J. Christensen, paraphrased in Jeffrey R. Holland, “That Our Children May Know … ,” address given at Campus Education Week devotional, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, August 25, 1981, 4, online at October 24, 2007), reprinted in Brigham Young University 1981 Fireside and Devotional Speeches (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1981), 155.
[2] Boyd K. Packer, “Teach the Scriptures,” address to CES religious educators, Salt Lake City, October 14, 1977, reprinted in Church Educational System, Charge to Religious Educators, 3rd ed. (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, 1994), 88.