LDS Socialism In 1939

Socialism became a buzzword in Mormon thought during the time of Ezra Taft Benson, who was very outspoken against socialist practices. But many Mormons are unaware that the idea of socialism was actually considered a good thing back in the 1930s.

In 1939 the church published the manual Priesthood and Church Welfare which discussed options for raising the people out of poverty. Not content with just discussing the needs for the church, the manual also went into discussions about the ideal government system for raising people out of poverty. Oddly, that system was socialism.

“… since all capitalistic systems are founded upon the institution of private property, inheritance and the profit motive, great inequalities of ownership and income inevitably result. …Among the more plausible suggestions offered to correct existing abuses without adversely affecting the productive system, is to continue the socialization of our service institutions through a system of progressive taxation based upon ability to pay…taking the bulk of their [captains of industry] profits to finance free education, free libraries, free public parks and recreation centers, unemployment insurance, old age benefits, sickness and accident insurance, and perhaps eventually free medical aid and hospital service. …The average family may not have much more money, if any, to spend under such a system than now. But…then the meager family income can be devoted entirely to the necessities of life, plus some of the comforts now enjoyed by the higher income classes. …To finance all of this, of course, will necessitate huge sums of money. …And it will also require a carefully worked out tax system so that every one will contribute according to his financial ability. Inheritance and estate taxes will become progressively higher, until the present system of permitting large fortunes to be passed on from generation to generation will become extinct. And incidentally, the so-called idle rich who have been living on the earnings of past generations will be no more.”
(LDS Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide for 1939)

This manual was produced by the First Presidency, so it’s not just some random Mormon dude. For those who think that social ideas are completely against the church, this forgotten manual forces us to think again.


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