FYS 100, section 50
10 November 2015
“How did the early Mormon leaders emphasize the importance of education to their society?”
Fred Smoot’s account of his Mormon upbringing in Utah reveals that the early Mormon leaders emphasized the importance of education through their teachings and through the establishment of schools. Their goals were to educate the Mormon faithful on both religious and nonreligious subjects because they believed that this type of education best prepared their followers to achieve success in their jobs and in the Mormon community. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Latter-day Saints, often spoke about the relationship between faith and intelligence. The Church of Latter-day Saints established and maintained schools throughout Utah. The early Mormon leaders emphasized religion through their message and the construction of schools.
Mormon leaders, such as Joseph Smith, taught that intelligence was a necessary component in salvation and in faith. Smoot quotes Joseph Smith’s various teachings on the connection between education and faith. In one teaching, Smith proclaims that an ignorant person cannot attain salvation, and in another teaching, Smith states that a man who acquires a great amount of knowledge on earth will have a significant advantage in the afterlife. Smoot also cites the fact that Utah, which has a large Mormon population, is one the best states educationally in the United States as evidence of the Mormon’s emphasis on a well-educated society. Smoot notes that a Mormon education created people who were knowledgeable on both religious and secular matters, which allowed the Mormon society to be able to function with the rest of citizenry of the United States; Mormons could succeed at both their jobs and their religious responsibilities. Smoot claims that early Mormon leaders emphasized education and its importance in Mormon society through their teachings.
The early Mormon leaders also emphasized the importance of education in their society through the construction of schools that taught Mormon theology as well as secular subjects. Smoot writes that the Church of Latter-day Saints established and funded multiple schools throughout Utah and other territories with Mormon populations. In Smoot’s opinion, the schools were a manifestation of Joseph’s Smith’s teachings on the importance of education. Smoot recounts his experiences at the Brigham Young Academy where he studied ordinary branches of learning in addition to theology. Smoot states that he and his classmates examined the Gospels of Christ and the Book of Mormon, which, in his opinion, contributed to an atmosphere of religious zeal at the school. Smoot believes that his education provided him with various advantages in his professional and religious jobs; therefore, he proclaims that his education has reaffirmed his Mormon beliefs. Smoot account of his Mormon upbringing suggests that the establishment of Mormon institutions ensured a well-educated and highly religious society that could flourish.
Smoot’s account of his Mormon upbringing demonstrates the methods the early Mormon leaders used to ensure that their society was well educated on both religious and secular matters. Through their teachings and the construction of schools, Mormon officials were able to maintain an educated faithful that helped preserve the Mormon community.
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Very good response that addresses the question for the most part, but leaves some of the context unexamined. I would suggest thinking more carefully about the nature of the source and how it fits into the example of utopia. In Republic, it is education, for the people of Kalipolis, that creates a just city. It might be an interesting comparison with Mormon’s who seek to create a just society through a shared set of beliefs. 4.5/5
Smoot, Reed. “Why I Am Mormon.” Forum (1886-1930), October, 1926.