John Lundberg 0

Keep the name of Brigham Young University. BYU

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A call to Alumni of Brigham Young University (BYU) and friends of the institution.

Recently a petition drive was started to change the name of BYU for what the drive's author states are three primary reasons associated with Brigham Young.


Fostering a culture of violence towards others, and

Polygamy and misogyny.

This petition is an effort to change the University's name, has gained over 3600 signatures, and sent to the Church. While improvement/progress through change is a crucial component of the gospel individually and as an institution, not everything new or different is good. In what we believe to be a misguided effort, Matt Crandall has put forth a warped representation of a historical figure we revere as a prophet, seer, and revelator. His petition is a classic example of a squeaky wheel screaming for grease on a different wheel. With little understanding of historical context, this petition besmirches a prophet of God and purports to supplant the namesake with someone else who, in Crandall's mind, is "less problematic." He suggests replacing one of God's chosen prophets with BH Roberts or Hugh B. Brown. He considers these two fine men worthy of replacing Brigham Young because he has not yet found their "problematic" histories, but we are confident given time, something negative will be found there as well.

The petition, its author, and signees neglect the beam in their own eyes and strain over the mote in another's eye.

Mathew Crandall has failed to perceive what we, the undersigned, see regarding Brigham young. Therefore, by signing this counter-petition, the signer stands in stark opposition to what Mathew Crandall puts forth.

In collaboration with noted historian Dr. Ronald E. Bartholomew

Former member of the Ancient Scripture Faculty at BYU, and currently teaching Church History and Christian History, to corroborate Brigham Young's history the man and get a more realistic perspective of who Brigham was.

Mathew Crandall begins his petition by stating that the LDS church should remove Brigham Young's name because it does not represent the values the Church hopes to promote. Crandall writes with an authoritarian sense of right and wrong that he should be the spokesman for the LDS church. However, unfortunately, he and the signers of his petition do not represent the truth about Brigham Young.

Brigham Young is, in fact, a miracle, and his life, to most faithful believing members of the LDS church along with informed non-members, is testament to that. The fact that Brigham survived and made it possible for the Church to survive when members individually and institutionally were suffering from what we would deem PTSD by today's standards is truly a "Miracle."

Only a man sustained and supported (not only by the people but) by God could have done what he did. We owe such a debt of gratitude to Brigham Young that it is beyond short-sighted if not outright ignorant to write otherwise. Crandall states that Brigham has done more damage than good via;


a culture of violence perpetrated by members during his administration, and

his misogynist policies and the problematic practice of polygamy.

Crandall writes in a manner that many apostates utilized in the early days of the Church. As a result, they come across as only having pure and sincere motives, all the while talking pejoratively about the prophet of God. Crandall is convinced of the correctness of his opinion, thereby making him more believable to the uninformed or woke crowd. However, upon closer historical research and honesty, his arguments fail at every point.

Throughout history, Crandall would undoubtedly find moral, ethical, and behavioral deficiencies in Abraham, Jacob, and other prophets.

Allow Dr. Bartholomew to address some of the characteristics of the man, Brigham Young, in direct rebuttal of Crandall's juvenile understanding of history and perspective.

Brigham Young was married on October 8, 1824 to Miriam Angeline Works. They first resided in a small unpainted house adjacent to a pail factory, which was Young's main place of employment at the time.

Shortly after the birth of their first daughter the family moved briefly to Oswego, New York on the shore of Lake Ontario, and in 1828 to Mendon, New York. Most of Young's siblings had already moved to Mendon, or did so shortly after he arrived there. It was in Mendon that he first became acquainted with Heber C. Kimball, an early member of the LDS Church. Young worked as a carpenter and joiner. By this point Young had effectively left the Reformed Methodist church and become a Christian seeker, unconvinced that he had found a church possessing the true authority of Jesus Christ. As early as 1830, Young was introduced to the Book of Mormon by way of a copy that his brother, Phineas Howe, had obtained from Samuel H. Smith. In 1831, five missionaries of the Latter Day Saint movement—Eleazer Miller, Elial Strong, Alpheus Gifford, Enos Curtis, and Daniel Bowen—came from the branch of the church in Columbia, Pennsylvania to preach in Mendon. A key element of the teachings of this group in Young's eyes was their practicing of spiritual gifts. Young was drawn to the new church after reading the Book of Mormon. He officially joined the Church of Christ (now The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) on April 14, 1832, and was baptized by Eleazer Miller.

Brigham Young is a frequently misunderstood and, as a result, misjudged character in our Church's history. We address three points mainly: polygamy or misogyny, his militant treatment of the mountain west during his presidency, and racism.

First, polygamy or misogyny. Anyone who has studied church history carefully knows that Brigham Young did not start the practice of plural marriage in the Church. Joseph Smith did. Faithful to his call as a prophet, he tried to continue what Joseph Smith started, even though he did not precisely know-how.

He also did not suspend the Relief Society. That was done by Joseph Smith when he found out his wife Emma was attempting to use the Relief Society against him and his prophetic policies. Emma joined with William Law and William Marks to oppose Joseph while he was alive and work against the Twelve after his death, supporting Sidney Rigdon's claims. (Ronald A. Walker, "Six Days in August: Brigham Young and the Succession Crisis of 1844," in A Firm Foundation, 176-178). In addition, Emma alienated some of her friends, and they similarly alienated her. (Linda King Newell, "Emma Smith Lore Reconsidered," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 17, no. 3, 1989, 87-100). It has also been well-documented that Emma used her position as president of the Relief Society in Nauvoo to publicly and privately work against her husband's plural marriage initiative (see Women of Covenant, 61-63).

However, we can credit Brigham Young for reinstating the Relief Society, which he did, calling Eliza R. Snow as its president.

While it is true that the mountain meadows massacre occurred during his presidency, histories generally concur that he had nothing to do with it and even tried to stop it. Nor did he have anything to do with the Circleville Massacre. Both of these events can find their genesis with members of the Church who had lived through attacks in Missouri and Illinois and were literally "gun-shy" of further problems. I would recommend to the reader the book published by Oxford, "Massacre at Mountain Meadows," written by church historians to settle the debates on those terrible catastrophes.

Furthermore, while he did inaugurate the ban on blacks holding the priesthood, prophet after prophet tried to change the policy but felt spiritually restrained from doing so (President David O.McKay, Harold B. Lee, and Joseph Fielding Smith). "Many concluded, therefore, that it was the will of God, not a policy subject to human change." Finally, elder Harold B. Lee, convinced that the ban was doctrinally fixed and wishing to reaffirm the traditional Church position, persuaded Presidents Brown and Tanner to send a letter to that effect on December 15, 1969, to bishops and stake presidents. After news of the in-house statement became widely known, the entire First Presidency and Twelve jointly signed the statement. They released it publicly on January 10, 1970, just a week before President McKay's death. The 1969 statement said only that the restriction was "for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man." (Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on the Priesthood, BYU Studies, 47:2). It was not until President Spencer W. Kimball made it a matter of prayer over months that the Lord gave the revelations known as Official Declaration #2.

The question remains: What part of "prophet, seer, and revelator" do you not understand? On today's cultural standards, judging men who lived more than 100 years before us is much like basing a decision on where to put the horse and buggy amidst today's improvements.

Instead, we might consider these facts about Brigham Young:

He was responsible for leading the saints from Missouri back to Illinois and then from Illinois to Utah.

Once they arrived, he was responsible for creating, through the combined efforts of thousands of saints, 350 towns, many of which still exist today. This was achieved against great odds—the interference of federal troops and government officers, a desert climate and rough terrain, "outside" businessmen, the fashions of "Babylon," the coming of the transcontinental railroad, and the discovery of precious metals in Utah. Instead of succumbing to these outside pressures, he led his people in one cooperative venture after another.

Then, directing his attention to the tens of thousands of new converts in Britain and Europe, he founded the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, which established the best system of regulated immigration in American history.

He was responsible for organizing the human resources to build four Utah temples (St. George, Manti, Salt Lake, and Logan) that still exist and bless the lives of saints today.

He was responsible for (not someone else) the establishment of Brigham Young University.

Need one go on? Naming this University after this prophet of God is an honor to the man whose white statue still adorns our nation's capital. However, to follow the short-sighted attempts of those desiring to divert our attention away from this prophet of God would seriously show our lack of vision, as well as our willingness to jump aboard the bandwagons of those short-sighted among us.

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