University Conference

“Be Not Weary in Well-Doing”

of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

August 24, 2020

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I pray that you will light spiritual beacon fires that burn brightly in the lives of the students and that you will sound doctrinal trumpet calls that will echo in their hearts and minds throughout their lives.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share some remarks today and to express my deep and heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for who you are and what you do.

I have long admired the address Elder Spencer W. Kimball gave in 1967 to BYU’s faculty and staff titled “Education for Eternity.”1 Elder Kimball was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In this profound talk, Elder Kimball challenged BYU and its faculty and staff to lift their vision in many areas and challenged them to aspire to a prophecy of President John Taylor. President Taylor had issued this declaration:

You will see the day that Zion will be as far ahead of the outside world in everything pertaining to learning of every kind as we are today in regard to religious matters.2

Elder Kimball also quoted Brigham Young:

Every accomplishment, every polished grace, every useful attainment in mathematics, music, and in all science and art belong to the Saints.3

Since Elder Kimball’s 1967 address, membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has increased from approximately 2.6 million to 16.5 million members. Needless to say, the number of BYU students, with their many accomplishments, has also increased dramatically.

I do not intend to describe all the accomplishments and advancements that have occurred. It would be almost impossible. Let me share two conversations I have had over the summer with knowledgeable friends that illustrate the remarkable way BYU has grown in both size and accomplishment.

Our Responsibility to Help Build Faith

First, it was pointed out to me that BYU’s typical incoming class now numbers almost 6,000 students, which is approximately 1,000 more than the first-year classes at Harvard, Stanford, and Yale Universities combined. The average number of those admitted who enrolled at those three universities is 1,633 each. If you look at the equivalent number of the top 1,600-plus or 27 percent of first-year students at BYU, including high school GPAs, ACT and SAT scores, and other relevant accomplishments, BYU compares very favorably.

Second, a Silicon Valley executive described to me the explosion of high-tech, leading-edge firms in Utah County and Salt Lake County, sometimes referred to as Silicon Slopes. He indicated that the caliber and excellent academic preparation of students from BYU as well as from other universities in Utah, including the functional lives that so many of them live, is a major component of this success.

We are grateful for all that has been accomplished here at BYU in Provo as well as throughout the Church Educational System. We are particularly pleased with what has and is happening at BYU–Pathway to bring the blessings of Church education to many who have not had this opportunity.

When we look at the past, a great foundation has been laid. Many of the challenges of the past have been fulfilled. What are the specific challenges for our day that will help lay a foundation for the future?

I recognize that some of what is going on today is primarily about COVID-19. It is the elephant in the living room, and every single solution to the problems of the pandemic is accompanied by a significant downside. We have great confidence that you will find the best available choices to move the mission of BYU forward in this regard.

I want to focus on challenges that will outlast COVID-19 and will be in accordance with the theme of this conference: “Be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work.”4

I would suggest that maintaining a “laser-like focus”5 on our responsibility to help build faith in Jesus Christ and in His restored Church should drive our efforts. Young people are encouraged by their parents and leaders to attend BYU. Both the members and the Church support BYU with a primary consideration being their desire that BYU will build faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His Atonement.

The adversary has many effective strategies for destroying this effort to build faith. I will mention three:

First, the adversary constantly throws up obstacles to faith.

Second, he creates alluring alternative visions that are based on the wisdom of the world and that will be viewed favorably by many who are well educated.

Third, he attempts to confuse faithful and stalwart adherents as to what they should do and what they should say.

We recognize that there always have been and always will be challenges to faith.6 It is distressing when the Church and its leaders are unfairly criticized, especially by those who purport to be faithful adherents to its doctrine.

Most of the criticism I am describing is calculated to be as powerful, direct, and divisive as the proponent can achieve. Whether it is meant to destroy faith is always an open question.

When criticism is directed at the Church and/or at BYU, it is always difficult to know how or when to respond—or whether to respond at all. We live in a day in which people are dismissive, highly critical, or disparaging of prior leaders—whether in government or academia—and of religious leaders, including our own.

I love what Matt Grow, our incredible managing director of the Church History division, cautioned about this approach:

Be careful about sources of information that just seek to tear people down. Look instead for sources of information that are based on the records left by the people themselves and that seek to be fair to them. It is really easy to play “gotcha” with the past, to pull a quotation or an incident out of context and make it look alarming.

As a historian, I try to follow the advice of a British novelist. He said: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” . . . That means when we visit the past, we don’t want to be an “ugly tourist.” We want to try to understand people within their own context and their own culture. We want to be patient with what we perceive as their faults. We want to be humble about the limits of our own knowledge. And we want to have a spirit of charity about the past.7

One area that can help us to build faith is being particularly sensitive in creating unity and being grateful for diversity. We are in a particularly heated period when deep and personal wrongs have been highlighted among our Black brothers and sisters. We each need to be at the forefront of righteously repenting and following the counsel of President Russell M. Nelson, who asked us “to build bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation.”8 The excellent message President Dallin H. Oaks delivered at the “Be One” celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the revelation on the priesthood on June 1, 2018, should be read and followed. He said, “As we look to the future, one of the most important effects of the revelation on the priesthood is its divine call to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children.”9

The joint release by President Nelson on behalf of the Church and the leadership of the NAACP calling on people “to demonstrate greater civility, racial and ethnic harmony and mutual respect”10 is also an excellent example of doing the right thing in the right way. President Nelson’s life is an example for each of us.

Determining How to Deal with Criticism

It has always been difficult for institutions and their leaders to know how to deal with criticism. It is interesting to view this issue from a more distant perspective. Good literature often challenges us but can also give us guidance as to how to respond.

I grew up in Logan, Utah, and graduated from Utah State University before my education at Stanford Law School. I majored in political science with minors in economics and English. My English minor was heavily tilted toward British literature.

I served a mission for the Church in Great Britain, and my first assigned area was Gloucester-Cheltenham in England. One of my favorite British writers was and is Anthony Trollope. His early writings emphasized the fictional cathedral town of Barchester, which he acknowledged could be Gloucester or Salisbury or any of the other quiet cathedral towns in the west of England. His story emphasized criticism of the local leaders of the Church of England. He highlighted the bishop of Barchester, the archdeacon, and the warden of the local hospital for criticism about the distant, historical, and current financial affairs of the hospital. The hospital would probably be called an assisted living center today. The English church was opposed by “reformers” and the news media, in this case the Jupiter, a London newspaper. The chief reformer, Dr. Bold—Trollope usually named his characters to describe characteristics—was described by Trollope as having a special mission for reforming. He lacked “diffidence” and “trust in the honest purposes of others.” He could not “be brought to believe that old customs need not necessarily be evil, and that changes may possibly be dangerous.” Trollope further stated that Bold “hurls his anathemas against time-honoured practices with the violence of a French Jacobin.”11 Does that sound somewhat familiar—whether from the left, the right, the secular, and, in some cases, even the religious?

The Barchester church leaders each responded in a different manner to the charges of Dr. Bold, the church critic, and the Jupiter newspaper. I will mention two responses. First, the archdeacon Dr. Theophilus Grantly vigorously headed the defense of the church, including hiring the renowned lawyer Sir Abraham Haphazard, who discovered technicalities to defend the case without ruling on the merits.

Second, the Reverend Septimus Harding, the warden of the hospital, was described as a kind, “open-handed, just-minded man” who felt “that there might be truth in what had been said.”12 Harding wanted to be moral and right with the Lord. Some have described him as having “persistent bouts of Christianity”13 and being a true Christian.

My purpose is not to review the novel but to show how Trollope characterized both the critics and the defenders. One of the reasons I like the character Trollope attributed to Septimus Harding is because I have a difficult time explaining to friends and even colleagues in different faiths why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints handles criticism the way it does. We are certainly among the least aggressive in defending ourselves against obviously untrue and/or unfair criticism. I offer as exhibit A our decision or lack of decision to react to The Book of Mormon musical. One leader of another faith pointed out to me that there is not another religion that would not have responded with a hailstorm of righteous indignation at the crude, vicious, and reprehensible portrayal of our faith and of our missionaries. Rather than organize a major protest or boycott, the Church bought ads in the playbill that simply said, “You’ve seen the play . . . now read the book,” and showed a picture of the Book of Mormon.

Maybe “persistent bouts of Christianity,” a heartfelt desire to be true Christians, and a determination to turn the other cheek are the only plausible answers to my friends who raise this question.

On a more serious note, a principal purpose for me today is to encourage you in your efforts to bless and guide the rising generation and to correct falsehoods and matters taken out of context in a loving and kind way. There will be some occasions when we need to speak publicly to protect faith. In your interactions with young people, it is usually better to correct privately. To those who feel marginalized, wrap your arms around them figuratively and help them feel loved and appreciated.

Having the Courage to Bear One Another’s Burdens

The Church and BYU are primarily concerned with building faith in Jesus Christ and with the well-being of members, particularly the rising generation. Accordingly, we need to respond appropriately when there is a risk of destroying faith. Usually, direct response or litigation is not needed. But sometimes it is required. Just because the Church or BYU administrators do not respond, never assume that the criticism is justified. As I have indicated, many criticisms are not worthy of a response. And in many cases, the Christian thing to do is to not respond and to turn the other cheek. Some critics have a record of opposition that is so dogmatic, persistent, and unfair that Elder Bruce R. McConkie once famously noted that the dogs keep barking and “the caravan moves on.”14

It gives me great comfort to know that the Lord can and will do His own work. As His servants, it is our great desire to assist Him in building up His Church.

One of my purposes in sharing the Trollope account is to make it clear that manifestations of these kinds of issues have been apparent for a very long period of time and against every faith.

Those who criticize the Church and its leaders often violate the principles that Matt Grow so eloquently expressed. Most criticism is based on words or actions that are taken out of context. The big picture is seldom painted. In recent years, the Church has done much to help people understand potentially difficult topics in the context of the big picture. These efforts include the multivolume Saints, the Joseph Smith Papers, and the Gospel Topics essays.

I will share some of the context on some issues in which our history is ignored or misrepresented by critics. Understanding moments when we have been marginalized and persecuted should give us courage to stand with the marginalized today, “to bear one another’s burdens,” “to mourn with those that mourn,” and to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”15 In addition, recognizing when we have fallen short should create more desire to do our best today.

Before reviewing some of the discrimination Church members have experienced, let me be clear that this discrimination is not comparable to the devastating personal impact and societal consequences of slavery.

With this in mind, in the early 1830s, as Latter-day Saints moved to Jackson County, Missouri, to establish Zion—a covenant community—opposition arose from other settlers based on numerous issues, including the Saints’ sympathetic views toward Native Americans and the Saints’ disapproval of slavery. The early Saints took seriously Book of Mormon prophecies that the gospel would be taken in the latter days to the descendants of the Lamanites, whom they understood to be Native Americans. These prophecies and the Saints’ attempts to preach to Native Americans raised suspicions among Missourians who were generally hostile to Indians. Even more concerning for other Missouri settlers was the issue of slavery. Already by the 1830s, significant cultural and economic differences were arising between Americans in the northern states, where slavery was largely outlawed, and the southern states, where slavery was expanding. Most Church members were from the northern states and did not own slaves. Most other Missouri early settlers were from the South, supported slavery, and worried that large numbers of non-slaveholding Saints would shift the control of local politics.

In July 1833, William W. Phelps published an editorial in the Church’s newspaper that heightened these fears. Titled “Free People of Color,” Phelps’s editorial cautioned freed Black Latter-day Saints to have proper paperwork if they migrated to Missouri due to state law. Local citizens misinterpreted the editorial as an invitation by Church leaders for freed slaves to settle in Missouri. The Saints were accused of inciting a slave rebellion, promoting interracial mixing, and giving free Blacks rights of citizenship upon their arrival. Despite attempts to calm the situation in a follow-up article, vigilantes demanded that the Saints leave Jackson County. When Church leaders refused, vigilantes destroyed the Church’s printing office and tarred and feathered two men. The Saints were violently driven from Jackson County later that year.16

As we know, the Saints were driven again from Nauvoo a decade later. Brigham Young—the prophet of God for whom this university is named—led the Saints during a tumultuous and difficult period over three decades. He was a practical and organizational genius who led the Saints’ great trek west and the gathering of tens of thousands to the American West. But more than that, he was a deeply spiritual leader who testified boldly of the life and mission of Jesus Christ, who cared deeply about the spiritual and physical welfare of Latter-day Saints, and who sent missionaries throughout the world.

Brigham Young also said things about race that fall short of our standards today. Some of his beliefs and words reflected the culture of his time.17 During this period, Brigham also taught, with respect to race, “Of one blood has God made all flesh.” He then added, “We don’t care about the color.”18

In 1835, the Prophet Joseph Smith gave Brigham Young a special blessing “to open the gospel to every Lamanite nation.”19 Brigham took his charge seriously. All was not peaceful between Latter-day Saints and American Indians in the 1800s, and there were significant moments of tension and bloodshed. At the same time, Brigham sought for and advocated peace, even at great cost to the Saints at times. During one conflict in the 1860s, Brigham instructed Saints to take a defensive posture by leaving their homes and moving to safer areas rather than fight. Explorer John Wesley Powell was “astonished”20 by the Saints’ actions to preserve peace, and some Saints were also frustrated with this policy of peace. Brigham told them, “The evil passions that arise in our hearts would prompt us to do this [fight with the American Indians], but we must bring [our passions] into subjection to the law of Christ.”21

Furthermore, he told the Saints that they should

deal with [American Indians] so gently that we will win their hearts and affections to us more strongly than before; and the much good that has been done them, and the many kindnesses that have been shown them, will come up before them, and they will see that we are their friends.22

Brigham also expressed admiration for Native Americans. He said they had “as noble spirits among them as there are upon the earth.”23 He admired their honesty and their “innate sense of honor”24 and believed that “the spirit of the Lord”25 was working with them. Of one Native American chief, he said, “I do not believe a better man lives on earth. He will do good all the time and will not do an evil if he knows it.”26 In the words of one careful historian, a former faculty member of this university, “President Young, then, was a man who stood out among the men and women of his time by his good words and acts toward Native Americans.”27

“He Denieth None That Come unto Him”

Let me share with you my own experience with respect to race issues. As I indicated, I grew up in Logan, Utah, which at the time had very little racial diversity. My initial interaction with Blacks was through athletic competitions and Boys Nation.

In the summer of 1957, when I was almost seventeen years old, I was elected from Utah Boys State to be one of the two senators to attend Boys Nation in Washington, DC.28 Our accommodations were at the University of Maryland at College Park. At breakfast on the first morning, suddenly most of the young men from the South stood on their chairs and sang the song “Dixie.” I did not have a clue what was going on, but I could see that the one African American from the Northeast was visibly uncomfortable. This concerted action seemed very inappropriate, but I did not understand all the implications. One of the reasons I was surprised is because in my home, kindness and fairness for all Heavenly Father’s children were emphasized, particularly by my mother.

A highlight of Boys Nation for me was meeting then president Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Rose Garden of the White House. He was one of the most impressive men I have ever met. His deportment and bearing, his piercing blue eyes, and his commanding manner of address made an indelible impression on me. Senator Wallace F. Bennett of Utah hosted the two of us who were representing Utah. He was gracious and kind and devoted considerable time to us. He introduced us to then senators John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as then vice president Richard M. Nixon, all of whom would be future presidents. The topic of civil rights was significant at that time. It was at Boys Nation that I was first introduced to the religious-based effort led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to achieve equality.

My admiration for President Eisenhower grew when a few months later, on September 23, 1957, he ordered the National Guard to support integration and protect the nine African American students who were attempting to integrate into Little Rock Central High School. The president’s action was in support of the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, requiring integration of public schools.

Later, as I served in the British Mission, in 1962 our mission president, Marion D. Hanks, had us read and study the Book of Mormon. We were asked to first mark everything having to do with the Savior in red. In the second reading we marked doctrine in a different color; I chose green. President Hanks had been a General Authority for nine years before serving as our mission president. He would teach us the doctrine after we had marked the Book of Mormon. In reading 2 Nephi 5:21, describing a skin of blackness associated with being cut off from the Lord’s presence approximately 600 years before Christ’s birth, President Hanks was adamant that this phrase related solely to that people and during that period of time. Those people who were Lamanites were literal blood brothers and sisters to Nephi and his siblings. President Hanks had us immediately turn to 2 Nephi 26:33, which reads, in part:

And he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

That was our doctrine then and that is our doctrine now. President Hanks made it clear that if anyone had feelings of racial superiority, they needed to repent.

After my mission experience and one final year at Utah State, I graduated and went to Stanford Law School in the fall of 1963. The civil rights activities leading up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were supported by all the law students, including the three of us who were Latter-day Saints. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a hero to me and my classmates. It was an exciting time for me personally.

Again at a personal level, I want to remind you of the overwhelming approval and gratitude across the entire Church when the revelation extending the priesthood to all worthy males and the blessings of the temple to all worthy Church members regardless of race was received and announced by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1978. National magazine writers were amazed at the celebratory mood.29 President Dallin H. Oaks described how he “wept for joy”30 when he learned of the revelation. He said it was of such magnitude that it is etched in his memory. I personally had a similar experience and a profound feeling of gratitude.

I was first called into a stake presidency in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1975 and served for fifteen years, the last five of which I was stake president. I then served five years as a regional representative and then as an Area Authority. I was called as a General Authority in 1996. In all that period covering forty-five years, I have never heard a racially derogatory comment from a single leader of the Church. What I have heard is love, kindness, and respect for peoples of all races and all cultures. That was true in the San Francisco Bay Area and it is true at Church headquarters. In San Francisco there were seven language units including five different languages. We also had four English-speaking units that were very diverse in their racial and cultural makeup. One of our themes was to have unity amidst diversity.

Looking back, one of the most impressive elements of the civil rights movement of the 1960s was how many leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and those surrounding him, including the recently deceased John Lewis, were motivated by their devotion to Christianity. They emphasized the Bible and wanted fairness and equality for all the children of God.

Stand as a Beacon of Belief and Unity

It is clear from numerous media reports and observed public comments that some people involved in today’s various movements are deeply opposed to religion and people of faith. This does not diminish the religious and secular reasons for equal treatment of all of God’s children that resonates with me to the depths of my soul. However, I am concerned when much of the discussion is an attack on faith and belief, often reframing and distorting our history. Some, intentionally or not, are trying to undermine our country’s founding history and the United States Constitution. Whether by intention or by myopia, both effects are regrettable.

Boyd Matheson in the Deseret News recently stated:

It has become an obsession for some . . . to look back on history and reframe, recast and reimagine what happened and why. With audacious certainty, [some] experts declare the motives and character of complex individuals who lived in less advanced societies.31

This approach is used not only in politics but also in matters of faith as well.

This concern about diminishing faith and religion was raised by one of my heroes, William Wilberforce. He will forever be remembered for being the principal force for the abolition of slavery in Great Britain in the early 1800s. He proposed bill after bill in Parliament and spent his life trying to stop “the most execrable and inhuman traffic that ever disgraced the Christian world.”32 After nearly fifty years of promoting measures that would one day lead to the emancipation of slaves, the goal was accomplished in Great Britain the week before he died on July 29, 1833.

According to his biographer, William Hague, Wilberforce’s great fear was “that religion and morality would go out of the window.”33 Accordingly, Wilberforce never supported “reform that was antithetical to religion.”34

We all support peaceful efforts to overcome racial and social injustice. This needs to be accomplished. My concern is that some are also trying to undermine the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights that have blessed this country and protected people of all faiths. We need to protect religious freedom.35 Far too many have turned from the worship of and accountability to God. This has its roots, at least in part, in the academic world.36 Daniel Schwammenthal, a prominent European Jewish leader, recently said:

America can’t remain the leader of the free world . . . if the country goes beyond acknowledging that racism and inequality persist and must be fought, and instead convinces itself that it’s inherently and irredeemably racist. . . .

Yes, the U.S. has not always lived up to its ideals. But to claim that the Founding’s “promissory note” was never anything but a scam to maintain a system of white oppression is ahistorical revisionism that will erode the country’s foundation.37

My challenge to you today is that individually and as a university, you will need to tack against the prevailing winds of disbelief and division. You will know best in your own fields and in your own spheres how to apply this counsel and stand as a beacon of belief and unity in a world that often devalues both.

BYU needs to lift everybody’s vision. This magnificent educational institution, in addition to excelling in everything pertaining to learning, as President John Taylor directed, must build faith in Jesus Christ and in His Church in a powerful way. I am optimistic that this can be accomplished. You can do this!

I challenge you to lift and bless the students who attend Brigham Young University. I desire to give you a charge similar to the one I gave new mission leaders this last June. Paraphrasing and repurposing a Winston Churchill quote, I pray that you will light spiritual beacon fires that burn brightly in the lives of the students and that you will sound doctrinal trumpet calls that will echo in their hearts and minds throughout their lives.38

If you do this for all the people who attend this great university, there will be a strong foundation of faith and service and righteousness that will bless the Church and bless the world.39 You will fulfill your scriptural theme: “Be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work.” In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

© by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. 


1. See Spencer W. Kimball, “Education for Eternity,” pre-school address to BYU faculty and staff, 12 September 1967.

2. John Taylor, JD 21:100 (13 April 1879); also in John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, sel. G. Homer Durham (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987), 275; quoted in Kimball, “Education for Eternity,” 12–13.

3. Brigham Young, JD 10:224 (April and May 1863); quoted in Kimball, “Education for Eternity,” 14.

4. D&C 64:33.

5. Quentin L. Cook, “Adjustments to Strengthen Youth,” Ensign, November 2019.

6. See 2 Nephi 2:11. Our doctrine is clear that in this life there is opposition in all things. In our day, critics are direct and divisive in every aspect of life. Most of the division is currently political, and that is not surprising. Some is in the academic world over competing theories, and that is not surprising. However, some is about religion and our faith.

7. Matt Grow, “How Do We Know If a Source About Church History Is Reliable?” sidebar in Quentin L. Cook, “Church History: A Source of Strength and Inspiration,” Ensign, July 2020; quoting L. P. Hartley, The Go-Between (1953), prologue.

8. Russell M. Nelson, “President Nelson’s Full Remarks from the LDS Church’s ‘Be One’ Celebration,” Latest, Church News, 1 June 2018, thechurchnews.com/latest/2018-06-01/president-nelsons-full-remarks-from-the-lds-churchs-be-one-celebration-10970; see also Nelson, quoted in Sarah Jane Weaver, “President Nelson to NAACP: ‘May We Strive to Lift Our Brothers and Sisters Everywhere,’” Church News, 21 July 2019, churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/president-nelson-to-naacp-may-we-strive-to-lift-our-­brothers-and-sisters-everywhere?lang=eng.

9. Dallin H. Oaks, “President Oaks’ Full Remarks from the LDS Church’s ‘Be One’ Celebration,” Leaders and Ministry, Church News, 1 June 2018, thechurchnews.com/leaders-and-­ministry/2018-06-01/president-oaks-full-remarks-from-the-lds-churchs-be-one-celebration-47280.

10. Russell M. Nelson, quoted in “First Presidency and NAACP Leaders Call for Greater Civility, Racial Harmony,” Church of Jesus Christ, Newsroom, 17 May 2018, newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/joint-statement-first-presidency-naacp-national-leadership.

11. Anthony Trollope, “The Barchester Reformer,” chapter 2 of The Warden (1855).

12. Trollope, “Hiram’s Hospital,” chapter 1 of The Warden.

13. IMDb’s page for quotes for The Barchester Chronicles (1982), BBC adaptation, imdb.com/title/tt0086667/quotes/?tab=qt&ref_=tt_trv_qu. Interestingly, Oxford and its purported position or non-position is part of the narrative. Some might see a similarity between Oxford, which in that day was still deeply engaged in training Church of England clergy, and BYU today, which plays a significant role in training young people to later be leaders at every level for the Church.

14. Bruce R. McConkie, “The Caravan Moves On,” Ensign, November 1984.

15. Mosiah 18:8–9.

16. See William W. Phelps, “Free People of Color,” The Evening and the Morning Star 2, no. 14 (July 1833): 109; see also The Standard of Truth, 1815–1846, vol. 1 of Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2018), 173–80; James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992), 93–100; Ronald W. Walker, “Presidential Address: Seeking the ‘Remnant’: The Native American During the Joseph Smith Period,” Journal of Mormon History 19, no. 1 (Spring 1993): 14–16.

17. See No Unhallowed Hand, 1846–1893, vol. 2 of Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2020), 70–71.

18. Brigham Young (see Acts 17:26), 26 March 1847, William McCary council meeting minutes, recorded by Thomas Bullock, Winter Quarters, General Church Minutes, 1839–1877, Church Historian’s Office, 2–3; quoted in No Unhallowed Hand, 71–72.

19. Joseph Smith, as reported by Brigham Young, 29 December 1847, council meeting of First Presidency and others, recorded by Thomas Bullock, Winter Quarters, General Church Minutes, 1839–1877, Church Historian’s Office, 19; quoted in Ronald W. Walker, “We Must Keep One Another,” Ensign, June 2001.

20. A. Milton Musser, “Correspondence,” Deseret Evening News, 21 September 1870, 2; quoted in Walker, “We Must Keep.”

21. Brigham Young, “Remarks,” Deseret News, 16 August 1866, 290; quoted in Walker, “We Must Keep.”

22. Young, “Remarks”; quoted in Walker, “We Must Keep.”

23. Brigham Young, JD 7:58 (27 June 1858); quoted in Walker, “We Must Keep.”

24. Brigham Young, quoted in “Brigham Young,” Deseret News, 21 May 1873, 243; quoted in Walker, “We Must Keep.”

25. Brigham Young, Journal History, 3 December 1854, Historical Department Journal History of the Church, 1830–2008, 11; also in “Discourse,” Deseret News, 8 February 1855, 2; quoted in Walker, “We Must Keep.”

26. Brigham Young, 20 August 1854, recorded by Thomas Bullock, Salt Lake City, Tabernacle, General Church Minutes, 1839–1877, Church Historian’s Office, 16; quoted in Walker, “We Must Keep.”

27. Walker, “We Must Keep.”

28. My companion senator was Wilbern Lee McDougal. He passed away on December 9, 2019, after a life of service to his family and the Church and a distinguished career.

29. See Kenneth L. Woodward with Jack Goodman, “Race Revelations,” Religion, Newsweek 91 (19 June 1978): 67.

30. Dallin H. Oaks, “President Oaks’ Full Remarks.”

31. Boyd Matheson, “Poking Holes in the Past Is Cowardly. Writing the Future Requires Courage,” Opinion, Deseret News, 23 July 2020.

32. Beilby Porteus, quoted in William Hague, William Wilberforce: The Life of the Great Anti-Slave Trade Campaigner (Orlando: Harcourt, 2007), 354–55.

33. William Hague, William Wilberforce, 446. William Hague served as secretary of state of the United Kingdom from 2010 to 2015.

34. Hague, William Wilberforce, 446.

35. The recent Supreme Court decisions protecting religious freedom were encouraging and reflect the goals and aspirations that the Church leadership has for BYU and for the entire Church Educational System. One paragraph from the decision reemphasizing and expanding the previous education Hosanna-Tabor opinion reads, in part, that the decision is “a recognition that educating young people in their faith, inculcating its teachings, and training them to live their faith are responsibilities that lie at the very core of a private religious school’s mission” (Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru 591 U.S. 3 [2020]; see Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission et al. 565 U.S. 15–21 [2012]).

36. See 2 Nephi 9:28.

37. Daniel Schwammenthal, “To America, from a Worried European Friend,” Wall Street Journal, 29 July 2020, A17. Daniel Schwammenthal is the director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute.

38. See Winston S. Churchill, “Joseph Chamberlain,” in Great Contemporaries (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1991), 35: “He lighted beacon-fires which are still burning; he sounded trumpet-calls whose echoes still call stubborn soldiers to the field”; quoted in funeral sermon for Marion D. Hanks, 13 August 2011. Churchill was describing Joseph Chamberlain, who was a British statesman and member of Parliament.

39. If BYU faculty and staff help build foundations of faith personally, then each individual BYU student can have a personal foundation of faith for the great work of his or her life in all the world.


See the complete list of abbreviations here

Quentin L. Cook

Quentin L. Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, delivered this university conference address on August 24, 2020.