The source of these questions and answers can be found in the first installment of this series. It bears repeating for newcomers that the person(s) answering these questions is/are not identified, and that the answers given here are not necessarily current teaching. The chief value of these columns today is in seeing what issues were on the minds of ordinary Church members 60 years ago, and in noting what has changed since then, or what issues we consider modern concerns were being discussed that long ago.
Q. Will you please tell us what instruction the Church gives with respect to our use of copyrighted music or plays? – L.H.Y., Salt Lake City.
A. The use of copyrighted music or dramatic compositions in any of our church buildings without a license subjects the owners of the building to a fine for each performance. Copyrighted music or plays should not be used without first obtaining permission from the author or the owner of the copyright so as to avoid any infringement of the copyright law. If proper explanation is made that any contributions received at the performance are to be used for religious or charitable purposes exclusively, permission may be secured in most instances from the author or copyright owner for use of their plays without cost to the ward.
Q. Mention of ink is sometimes made in the old scriptures. Is it possible that the ancient people used ink in their writing? – L.R., Salt Lake City.
A. The people in ancient times did use a type of ink which they manufactured from a combination of soot, charcoal and gum mixed with water. This ink was very black. It could with little difficulty be washed from parchments, but if left the color persisted indefinitely. In consistency it was about the same as our printers ink of today. Josephus indicates that different colors were used. See Jeremiah 36:18; 2 Cor. 3:3; Second John chapter 12.
Q. How often does the Church take a census of its members? – A.L.B., Preston, Idaho.
A. Every five years a census of the Church is taken. In making the census, an effort is made to obtain names of all persons claiming to be members of the Church whether on record in that ward or branch or not. The ward record of members is checked and adjusted according to the census. If it is discovered after the census is taken and checked that names of some persons on the record are not residing in the ward, membership record cards are forwarded to the Presiding Bishop’s office. If there are members residing in the ward whose names are not on record as members, bishops of those wards request that records of such persons be sent to the ward from the Presiding Bishop’s office.
Q. Can persons from other states be married in the temples of Utah without having to have a serological test? – W.O., Ely, Nev.
A. The instructions issued by the First Presidency on this subject say that, “In order to avoid serological tests, some couples are civilly married in a state not requiring serological tests and then immediately apply for recommends to one of the temples in Utah for sealing. An unwillingness to submit to a test raises in itself a question which rather accentuates the need for the test. Therefore couples who have been married civilly since the Utah statute went into effect Feb. 28, 1941 are not admitted to the temple to be sealed without their first having passed their serological test. Bishops will not issue recommends to any such couple to be sealed in the temple until they have complied with the requirements of the law and present the necessary certificates.”
Q. What is the attitude of the Church with respect to raffling and games of chance? – A.L.B., Logan.
A. Several of the leaders of the Church have clearly expressed themselves as in opposition to games of chance and raffling. President Joseph F. Smith said, “Raffling is a chance and hence leads to gambling. For that reason if for no other it should not be encouraged among the young people of the Church.” President Brigham Young declared raffling to be a modified form of gambling and said that as latter-day Saints we cannot afford to sacrifice moral principles to financial gain. President Lorenzo Snow said, “I have often expressed my unqualified disapproval of raffling.” President Grant said, “I have always understood that our people were advised to raise their money for charitable and ward purposes without indulging in raffling where chances are sold. There is no objection to creating competition in various ways in ward entertainments but the selling of chances on any article is being discouraged.” It is recommended by the present general authorities that raffling be not used as a means of raising funds among our people.
Q. When persons commit crimes and are sent to prison because of them, are they excommunicated from the Church? – G.T., Ogden.
A. Every person overtaken in transgression is entitled to a hearing. When a person is confined to a prison or reformatory a letter should be written to him directing his attention to the trial and conviction and inquiring how he feels and whether he desires to retain his membership in the Church – that forgiveness is only possible upon sincere repentance. The person should be invited to declare himself fully and freely. If he evidences a spirit of repentance and desires to retain his membership in the Church, action by the bishop’s court should be deferred, but the person should be requested to report to the bishopric as soon as possible after being released from prison. The case may then be reviewed and final decision made. If the individual does not care about his membership and so expresses himself, waiving the right to appear before the bishop’s court, he may be handled in the usual manner for the events for which he was convicted in the civil court. Cases of murder and persistent sex crimes are in a different category, however, and usually excommunication follows immediately in such instances.
Q. Is God the Father really and actually our true Father in every sense of the word or only in the same sense that George Washington is the father of our country? – Mrs. R.K., Salt Lake City.
A. God is literally the father of our spirits. The epistle to the Hebrews chapter 12 verse 9 speaks of God as the father of our spirits. Paul in Acts 17:28-29 declares that we are the offspring of God. Jesus, when He sent Mary to tell the disciples of His resurrection, said, as it is recorded in John 20:17, ‘I ascend to my Father and to your Father.” The entire doctrine of the pre-existence as understood by the Latter-day Saints is based upon the proposition that we are the spirit offspring of God and that He is literally the Father of our spirits in the same sense in which our fathers here in mortality are the fathers of our flesh. Read Discourses of Brigham Young, pages 36-37.
Q. Did we have the choice before we came to earth as to whom we would have for our parents and at what time of the world’s history we would be sent to mortality? – G.E.W., Salt Lake City.
A. There is no revelation on this subject.
Q. Does the fact that we have been baptized for the remission of sins of which we have repented mean that we will not have to be punished for our sins? – E.W., Green River, Wyoming.
A. We suggest that you read Section 10 of the Doctrine and Covenants where we see that if we truly repent we will not have to suffer for sins. We must remember, however, what true repentance is, and that it includes complete abandonment of the practice whereby we have broken the law.
Q. Is it right for any person in the ward to try to promote any social schemes or business deals through our quorum or other meetings? – T.D.M., Ogden.
A. Religious meetings and classes are not the proper places for advocating private financial schemes. From time to time individuals or groups engaged in promoting some business or social welfare organization take improper advantage of the people by invoking quotations from standard Church works and from Church authorities and by arguing in Church gatherings in support of their propositions. Any business or social scheme which requires bolstering by argument based on Church doctrine or history is one of which the people may well be careful. Whenever any social order is to be established in the Church it will of course be made known through the First Presidency.
Q. We have had an argument. Is it all right to begin dancing at midnight Sunday if a holiday falls on Monday, providing we have otherwise observed the Sabbath day? – S.L.T., Brigham City.
A. Dances which begin at midnight Sunday when a holiday falls on Monday and continue until the early hours of the morning are not looked upon with approval by the Church. Church officers are urged to use their influence to see that this practice is discouraged among our people. Under no circumstances should such things be conducted under Church supervision or in Church buildings. This applies also to dances which extend beyond reasonable and legitimate hours for closing, even though they begin in the evening.