The founding of Brigham Young University was a long process. Although the official date is considered 1875, it wasn’t a full university and accredited until after the turn of the century. It started out as an LDS high school before receiving the designation as a higher education academy. A few years in and a fire destroyed the original main building. Presidents of the school came and went as some wanted to improve their professional opportunities. Benjamin Cluff Jr. was the president possibly most responsible for BYU becoming the university it is today, splitting the high school from the college students and implementing updated college curriculum. During his time the LDS Church formally took over the institution and it became a full university in name and purpose. Later presidents of the university would build on these changes and continue expanding its place in higher education.
Not only was the process for BYU long, but it had early controversies. When university President Benjamin Cluff Jr. introduced athletics to the school, they were rejected by those who made final decisions and cancelled. Some who were concerned about making it a university instead of remain an academy, including Elder Anthon H. Lund, didn’t think it would be successful. A huge argument about allowing the teaching of evolution ended with, at least for a time, a rejection of the subject in the school. Concerns were expressed that land bought from Provo for the school would be used for other purposes. It wasn’t until the 1920s that any accreditation organizations recognized it as an acceptable university. From almost the start the academic and spiritual mission of the school seemed to be at odds, or seriously questioned.
At a founding day event on October 16, 1891, the presiding BYU President Karl G. Maeser said about the reason the school existed and its mission:
A glance over the conditions of mankind in this our day with its misery, discontent, and corruption, and disintegration of the social, religious, and philosophic fabrics, shows that this generation has been put into the balance and has been found wanting. A following, therefore, in the old grooves, would simply lead to the same results, and that is what the Lord has designed shall be avoided in Zion. President Brigham Young felt it in his heart that an educational system ought to be inaugurated in Zion in which, as he put it in his terse way of saying things, neither the alphabet nor the multiplication table should be taught without the Spirit of God.
More than ever the dual purpose of education and spiritual development at BYU has become challenged. Those who should be the stewards have largely become offenders. It would be preferable if the spiritual side of an LDS owned university overshadowed the academic, but that isn’t the case. Too much of the world has overtaken to the point that the spiritual is often ignored and even mocked. The secular false gospel of “woke” has displaced the saving truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unless changes are quickly made, BYU will become fully nothing more than just another secular educational institution hostile to its original religious purpose.
Although such secular takeover was in development over the years, it wasn’t until recently having succeeded. In the early 90s a handful of mostly humanities professors tried to introduce a less spiritual or more liberal political viewpoint. They were warned and then fired, or quit before much damage could be inflicted. Discontents tried to get BYU de-accredited, but nothing came of it other than a few words on “findings” by those who don’t believe in the Gospel. Now the attacks are more insidious and well orchestrated by far too many teachers and students who have no business teaching or attending the University. Example after example could be piled on what gross erosion is happening; including aggressive and unnecessary race hate elimination propaganda, coloring the Y with the multiple colors flag, not stopping before it started inclusion of in a freshman welcome “family friendly” drag event, accepting and acting on a race baiting liar’s accusations without evidence, and the list continues. A former Salt Lake Police officer named Eric Moutsos, who was fired for not wanting to participate in a “Pride” parade, walked through the halls of BYU faculty and found an abundance of “Pride” and BLM flags hanging on office doors and windows. Very few had religious signs with a picture of Jesus, Temples, the Apostles, or Proclamation on the Family hanging up to decorate office entrances. There are claims that some local LDS Leaders are actually suggesting not attending BYU because of the lack of faith now presented in classrooms. Assuming this is the case, and much can be demonstrated as evidence, then either the LDS Church needs a thorough cleansing of the University or completely get rid of the institutions.
Ideas for Bringing the Spirit of BYU Back
It might not be too late to save BYU from losing the original mission of educating Saints while helping them maintain a testimony of the Gospel. To start with, it would be nice to re-examine what made the more conservative Rick’s College so special and spiritually rewarding before getting swallowed up by the larger school system. One possibility is tightened rules for students who attend and creating less room for misbehavior. Become more strict rather than permissive, even if that means school uniforms. A lot of students and teachers might yell and scream when they are instituted, but the point would be made what is expected from those who attend. Fewer students might end up applying, but that isn’t a problem when more students are currently applying than getting accepted. Requirements for serving a mission became tightened. Attending an LDS Church sponsored school can do the same. Such can “weed out” the bad apples easier before they become a problem on campus.
More than students are problematic, but the teaching trends also need an overhaul. Much of the incorporated World’s education system of doing things and a few unique to BYU methods should become obsolete or suppressed. To ignore changing how things currently are will make the need for any LDS Church educational institutions unnecessary and detrimental. Perhaps the private LDS based and non-affiliated Southern Virginia University could be a template or replacement, assuming they are doing a better job.
Any open member of the “Alphabet cult” or those who support them have no business attending BYU or teaching the students. They should not be accepted on an LDS Church sponsored campus. The only reason any person who claims to be other oriented should attend BYU is when they are in the process of repenting. What was once stated for military service should be doubly so on campus, “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” The moment they speak up or out in public, such indicates they are breaking moral law. If they break the moral law, then they should be liable (as any straight person) to losing their privileged to attend. There are any number of Universities that would gladly take in those who will not adhere to the Lord’s commandments and teachings about gender and family relations. The slightest show of compassion is used by them to push for complete moral destruction and accusatory gnashing of teeth against those who do not comply with their agenda.
Defending or otherwise showing an acceptance of Socialism or Communism has been called many times by the LDS leadership false and anti-Christian systems of government. Getting rid of those who support these evils doesn’t mean not teaching about them as theories of men. It does, however, mean it should not be championed in any way. As should be noted, Prophets have spoken out against both of these in very direct ways. If an educator insists these are valid political positions to hold, they can once again go teach at another University. The economic systems can be allowed to be taught as theories in appropriate classes, but cannot be tolerated through activism. Capitalism and materialism have their own problems, but far less than these two destructive cousins. It is shocking that any students at BYU can come away indoctrinated that they are respectable, or worse ideal.
Pamphlets in the name of “the LDS is neutral” that are handed out and read on a regular basis needs to be stopped. Especially when it is never explained that the LDS Church and BYU are themselves neutral about the declaration of neutrality pamphlets that are distributed. They come off as having an air of authority that they never had, other that that given them by the professors. Probably the most notorious is the paper that argues the LDS Church and its teachings are neutral about the theory of Evolution. It is true that a few Apostles and leaders of the LDS Church did hold a belief in the theory, but they were a small handful. The majority of Apostles and every prophet has more or less spoken out against Evolution and its spiritually destructive path. That side of the issue is always ignored or left out of these pamphlets unless to downplay or denegrate those prophetic words. That isn’t to say the theory should be rejected as a subject to teach, as it is necessary for an understanding of modern perceptions of science. Nonetheless, all teachers regardless of departments need to treat it as just that; a theory. Repeating the truthful refrain, any educators not comfortable with treating Evolution as a tentative idea based on man’s philosophy should teach at a different university. The majority would gladly accept them as a faculty member.
This suggestion might seem strange to some, but there needs to be more Religious Department teachers that accept and teach the North American or “Heartland” theory of The Book of Mormon geography. At the least there is just as much evidence, both scriptural and other, as the South or Meso-American theories. The South and Meso-America theory hinges on those who support and defend the “Stone in the Hat” theory with absolute passion. This is not to say there is a need to ditch either the South and Meso-America or the “Stone in the Hat” theories completely, but there needs to be a balance with the traditional translation and North America concepts. Rejecting or bypassing more than one legitimate “Lands” idea, especially when they were accepted from the earliest of days, has the consequence of building on an unsure foundation without another shelter. BYU professors are notorious for “guarding their territory” against the North American theory, leaving young students spiritually vulnerable. At the least they need to open up a far less aggressive and more charitable dialogue on the subject in classes and their papers.
A large chunk of the “New Mormon History” that many professors have embraced must be dismissed. New hires should be selected who lean toward traditional understandings of LDS Church history. Despite good research that has come from it around the periphery, its philosophy of sophistry and replacing the spiritual LDS Church history with secular teaching and forms of research is troubling. The history is based on naturalism and not on the divine nature of the LDS Church and its founding. They have often woven anti-Mormon ideas in with orthodoxy to form a hybrid based on “fairness” or “lack of bias,” seeping even into official LDS Church religious materials. This has confused many unread members and turned off investigators. A re-invigoration and defense of orthodox and traditionalism in historical studies should be part of BYU education once again. The “swearing elders” need to be repudiated, regardless of any loss to the University’s reputation. More Truman G. Madsen and far less Leonard J. Arrington needs to be invoked.
These are only some suggestions to face the challenges that BYU has as an LDS Church sponsored private university. A painful purge and redirection must take place so BYU and affiliated schools can once again make sure the alphabet and the multiplication table are taught with the Spirit of God. Way too much of the LDS Church higher education system has become lost in modern political morality and spiritually destructive Worldly trends. Getting rid of intercollegiate sports, like in the earliest days, might even be a necessary step in taking back BYU’s unique mission by making it difficult for outside influences to apply pressures. To put it succinctly, BYU needs to become a “traditional” and “orthodox” LDS school once gain, or they really have no reason to exist. The priority needs to return to Spiritual nourishment first and education second, regardless of consequences from outsiders or critics. However, there is a reason LDS Church run schools of higher education should exist. By following the original mission they can strengthen the spirit and faith of those who attend. It used to be like that not too distantly in the past. With some modifications and returns to past practices and expectations it can become that again; even if it means the World’s disfranchisement and desertification.
I reckon it would be easier just to sell it.
Regarding evolution – it doesn’t make sense when you consider the size of the world.
Regarding Adam and Eve as sole progenitors, it doesn’t make sense when you consider the size of the world.
Regarding the pyramids, they don’t make sense when you consider the size of the stones.
Regarding the big bang, it doesn’t make sense when you consider the mass of the universe.
The truth, whatever it is, is stranger than fiction. So I’m more than willing to put my faith in something that yields real fruit in the lives of those who live it.
Alphabet identifiers are tragically infected with a worldview that they’ve convinced themselves, the courts, even the church that it’s inescapable.
That’s a truth I’d never have believed if you told me a few years ago.
I have had “good latter-day saints” tell me the priority for BYU is to prepare students to have the proper worldview to make them compelling candidates for corporate employment.
How interesting is it that we LDS have so distorted the message of the Book of Daniel and of the Babylonian captivity. Daniel and his Hebrew friends told the Babylonian rulers that God was first in their lives. And then they proved it by being willing to sacrifice their lives for what they believed.
It seems to me many LDS imagine a God who is happy with 10%, and if God wants more than he will help the member earn more. Yet the True God doesn’t need our 10%. The True God doesn’t NEED anything WE have to offer. The True God says: “I can offer you so much more than the World can provide, but You have to be willing to let go of the things of the World and give me your heart, mind and strength.”
If BYU Leaders and Teachers are not giving this lesson to the students, and expecting them to take it to heart, there is little hope BYU students are going out into the world prepared to stand against the World.
When I press “good latter-day saints” about this they respond by saying the wheat and the tares must grow together. Who knew the scriptures could be so distorted that weed growing would be praised as a good Christian activity?
Part of the problem is all of the Federal money flowing thru BYU. It all comes with strings and expectations. So many of the faculty want to be accepted by the academic community, but to do so, means you have to sacrifice Latter-day Saint principles and values. I believe Elder Holland spoke to this in his August 2021 faculty address — that the University needs to be wiling to forgo the honors and accolades of men/the world. BYU does need to decide what it wants to be. Right now, with the current leadership it’s not making good choices.
You had me nodding along until you got to Heartland theory. Wokeism is infecting the world and we have to root it out. It is literally Antichrist teaching.
Heartland vs Mesoamerican theory is so much inside baseball and is meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
Why equate the two?
BYU should be in the world and not of the world. Right now it appears increasing of the world. Something has got to change.
Jettboy, you mentioned that ideas have “seep[ed] even into official LDS Church religious materials.” Care to provide specific examples?
I would be thrilled if the Church simply divested itself of BYU and let whomever wanted to take over (probably folks like the original poster, as I doubt anyone else would be interested) define it however they wanted.
I think the time when a university could straddle the gulf between academic science and religious doctrine/dogma is either past, or very soon will be. I don’t see any benefit to BYU attempting that straddling act while burning through tithing funds and other Church resources that could be (better) spent on spreading the Gospel and helping those in need.