Sunday, December 23, 2018

Ghosts of Missionaries Past

In Dickensian fashion, the missionaries of the Restored Gospel to the British Isles noted the great calamities resulting from the rich oppressing the poor. Their work began in 1837. I will quote them using as my source Truth Will Prevail: The Rise of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the British Isles 1837-1987, Editors: Bloxham, V. Ben; Moss, James R.; Porter, Larry C. (LDS, University Press, Cambridge, England 1987) (TWP). I will attempt to transcribe the quotes as the missionaries wrote them leaving out the [sic]s and original sources:

Heber C. Kimball:
Wealth and luxury abounded, side by side with penury and want. I there met the rich attired in the most courtly dresses, and the next minute was saluted with the cries of the poor with scarce covering to screen them from the weather. Such a wide distinction I never saw before. TWP, 52.
Oh! When will distress and poverty and pain cease, and peace and plenty abound? When the Lord Jesus shall descend in the clouds of heaven - when the rod of the oppressor shall be broken. 'Hasten the time, O Lord!' was frequently the language of my heart, when I contemplated the scenes of wretchedness and woe, which I daily witnessed, and my prayer to Heavenly Father was, that if I had to witness a succession of such scenes of wretchedness and woe, that He would harden my heart, for those things were too much for me to bear. This is no exaggerated account: I have used no coloring here. They are facts which will meet the Elders of Israel when they shall go forth into that land [Britain], and then I can assure them that they will not be surprised at my feelings. TWP, 53.
I was askeding some of the brethren what made the people look so bad. They said becausee they ware famished for the wont [sic] of food. Say they to me thare are hundreds that are starving for the wont of food and other things. I thought thare was misery enough in Preston. It is nothing to compare with Manchester. I asked them if they thought the brethren went hungry. Yes many of them have [nothing] to eat. Times are so hard they can't quit work. Therefore they have to go hungry. There has been such a change here in two years as never known by the oldest men in this land. TWP, 54.
 Wilford Woodruff:
The poor are in as great a bondage as the children of Israel in Egypt. TWP, 53.
God ... will soon level all hills, exhalt all valies & redeem the earth from the curse of sin & prepare it for the abode of the Saints of the MOST HIGH ... [But] the rise, progess, decline & fall of the empires of the earth ... must still transpire before the winding up scene & the comeing of Christ. TWP, 54.  
George A. Smith, Staffordshire Potteries:
So many of the poor are begging that it would astonish the Americans. England is in distress and I pray to the Lord for the deliverance of the Saints from the coming ruin...
Of the more than 450 Saints in this District not more than one third of them have full Employment. Many of the Rest Not more than two or three Days per Week and Many have no work at all. Times are grouing harder Every Week. Some are turned out of Employ because they have been baptised by the Latter Day Saints. TWP, 54. 
Reuben Hedlock (first missionary in Ireland, 1840):
[Belfast] is a fine flourishing town, containing about 54,000 inhabitants. Here I met (as I passed through the streets) the rich enjoying their abundance and the poor in rags begging for a morsel fo food to sustain life. I had never before witnessed such scenes of suffering, and I say in my heart, has the Gospel of Jesus Christ lost its power among those who profess it, so that one part of the human family must drag out a miserable existence, and die in wretchedness and want while the other can live in pride and plenty all their days? TWP, 300. 
There has not been much done in Ireland, the people are so bound by poverty, and so dependent upon their landlords, that they dare not admit anyone to preach in their neighborhoods or to keep them overnight if the reader of the parish forbids them; if they disobeyed his orders, he would inform the bishops and overseers of the parish, and they, the landlords, and the people would forfeit their homes and employment, and this is the great reason why the gospel does not spread more in Ireland. TWP, 324.
George Q. Cannon (regarding Ireland):
In thousands of instances where the people would receive the truth, they have had the alternative of remaining as they are or in houseless poverty if they embrace the Gospel; for they would be turned out of doors and out of employment if they dared to exercise the free thought and openly receive the truth. TWP, 324. 
James E. Talmadge (regarding Welsh miners' strike, which was a General Strike in the whole UK in May of 1926):
What can religion do for us in the present state of national disturbance and distress? Deprivation of the ordinary comforts of live, the pangs of hunger and the chill of fireless homes are realities that test the sould of men and women.
Religion should teach us to stand for the right and at the same time to be mindful of the rights of others. There can be no industrial stability, no real progress in civilization, no rising from the earthly to the heavenly, when capitalism oppresses labour and labour wars with capital. Neither of these can say to the other, 'I have no need of thee." The Gospel of Jesus Christ comprises the teachings of the Savior, and these will save if men will only put them into practice in their lives. TWP, 352.
The stress and struggle incident to and resulting from the great strike brought both opportunity and responsibility to Relief Societies [Women's Organizations of the Restored Church]. In many branches treasuries were depleted in affording relief to those whose distress was greatest ... Our hearts were made glad by the response ... to the suggestion ... that those [Relief Societies] who had a surplus should help their sister organizations who had little or nothing. A beautiful spirit of self-sacrifice was shown .... Id.
You may draw your own conclusions.

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