26 June 2013

Mormons and Face Cards


Playing face cards are not of themselves evil. They are simply thin pieces of plastic coated paper. However, from reading the quotes below we can discover that card playing was historically associated with smokers, idleness, cheaters, fraud, saloons, gossip, drinking, profaning God's name, addictive behaviors and yes, even murder. 


History tells us that card games brought an atmosphere of unholiness. According to the website Legends of America, "The first American gambling casino was opened in New Orleans around 1822 by a man named John Davis. The club, open twenty-four hours a day, provided gourmet food, liquor, roulette wheels, Faro tables, poker, and other games. Davis also made certain that painted ladies were never far away. Dozens of imitators soon followed making the gaming dens the primary attraction of New Orleans. The city's status as an international port and its thriving gambling industry created a new profession, called the card "sharper." Professional gamblers and cheats gathered in a waterfront area known as "the swamp," an area even the police were afraid to frequent, and any gambler lucky enough to win stood a good chance of losing his earnings to thieves outside of the gambling rooms and saloons....The first written reference in the United States came from Jonathan H. Greer in 1834 when he referred to the amusement as the "cheating game.”


TIME Magazine reported in June of 2011 that Poker was considered one of the Top 10 of "EVIL SPORTS" of all time: "But poker is no innocent bystander. The beloved activity of hucksters puffing smoke in casino backrooms, the sport — it is shown on ESPN, after all — makes a virtue out of duplicity and dissembling, values few would ever celebrate in regular society. And with its addictive online mega-industry, poker now commands an enormous slice of the world’s gambling revenues." (FOUND HERE)

Joseph F. Smith


1894 General Conference Joseph F. Smith
"...idle habit of playing cards"
1894 General Conference Joseph F. Smith
"It is no more card-playing than it is checker-playing, if checker-playing is indulged into the wasting of time. Perhaps the one is as pernicious as the other, although I have not noticed in my life the same tendency to evil in playing checkers for amusement as there is in playing cards. As I understand, it takes four or more to make a good party at card playing, and they get to cheating one another and practicing fraud in order to win. You can not do that in checkers. I know a little about checkers myself. I protest against every practice that has no better recommendation for it than the wasting of precious time. I pronounce it wrong. And I say to the Latter-day Saints that idleness is one of those things set down in the revelations of God."

1895 General Conference Joseph F. Smith
"I am not guilty of visiting saloons, or of playing cards, or of gambling, or of other crimes."

1896 General Conference Marriner W. Merrill
"Sometimes we see them going astray and mourn for them, but it is often the parents' fault in failing to instruct them while young. We should try to save our children from the ways of the world. These card parties that are becoming prevalent should not be encouraged. There is something fascinating about them and will result in evil sooner or later. From them gamblers come, as it is there where they first learn to play. Better get up reading classes, they do more good than playing cards and going to dances, especially these masquerades. They have never met my approval and the Lord does not approve of them. Far better that the young stay at home and read than go to such places."

1896 New York Times: 
CARD GAME ENDS IN STABBING.; Serious Termination of a Friendly Poker Contest.

1900 General Conference by Matthais F. Cowley
"They have sought counsel from men who to my personal knowledge have secured their livelihood from the Latter-day Saints and have spent their nights playing cards and talking against the Authorities of this Church. You can seek counsel from that class of men, but if you seek counsel from President Snow or from Apostle Merrill, who presides over the Cache Valley Stake, or from some of the brethren who preside over the Stakes in Idaho -- I say if you seek counsel from these men as to what would be for the best interests of the people in this inter mountain region, oh, you are going to the wrong kind of men!"

1900 Utah Coville Times:
"Quarreled over the rules of the play and one man had his eye gouged out while the other was cut to pieces." 

1903 General Conference by Joseph F. Smith
"How can a man or a woman as a teacher in the Sunday school or as one occupied in any other ecclesiastical duty, who is in the habit of playing cards, say to the children, " You must not do it, because it is a waste of time and it may result in your ruin? " Who can give such advice who is in the habit of doing it himself?"

David O. McKay 1897
1907 General Conference by David O. McKay
"Those boys who sat, one week ago, in the rear room of a saloon, playing cards for hours, drinking whisky or beer, profaning the name of God -- invited into their souls a malady that is more fatal than typhoid fever, or any other disease that can attack the body."

1911 New York Times: 
FIVE ACES LEAD TO MURDER.; Miner Kills Three Companions in Poker Game and Wounds a Fourth.

1911 New York Times: 
POKER BLAMED FOR TWO FAMILY UPSETS; Too Much of It Charged Against Wife in One Suit, Against Husband in Another.

1921 New York Times: 

1929 General Conference by Heber J. Grant
"...we expect them to quit playing cards; and that we expect them to do their duty as saints, and to preach the Gospel by living it."

1939 Gospel Doctrine by Joseph F. Smith
“While a simple game of cards in itself may be harmless, it is a fact that by immoderate repetition it ends in an infatuation for chance schemes, in habits of excess, in waste of precious time, in dulling and stupor of the mind, and in the complete destruction of religious feeling. … There is the grave danger that lurks in persistent card playing, which begets the spirit of gambling, of speculation and that awakens the dangerous desire to get something for nothing... It is not easy to imagine that leading men in the Church would find any pleasure that was either inspiring or helpful at the card table” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, p. 329).

John A. Widtsoe
1943 Evidences and Reconciliations by John A. Widtsoe
“It must be added that relaxation from the regular duties of the day is desirable and necessary for human well-being. Wholesome games of recreation are advocated by all right-minded people. Moreover, the … objections [to card playing] are not directed against the many and various card games on the market not employing the usual ‘playing cards.’ Most of these furnish innocent and wholesome recreation, and many are really instructive. It is true that they may be played to excess, but in fact it seldom happens. This is true even when such cards are used in games imitating those with ‘playing cards.’ It is true that such cards may be used for gambling purposes, but in fact it is almost never done. The pall of evil seems to rest upon the ‘playing cards’ handed down to us from antiquity” (Evidences and Reconciliations, Murray & Gee, 1943, pp. 218–19).

1969 General Conference  by Robert L. Simpson
"Let me tell you about a sister who became literally hypnotized by a deck of playing cards. Eventually, there were not enough hours in the week to fit everything in. Her keen spiritual sensitivity became dulled, and it was easy for the cunning one to help her decide to give up an important Relief Society calling and abandon her wonderful circle of former associates in favor of the nonessential, time-wasting pastime that had captured her fancy."

October 1974 General Conference by Spencer W. Kimball
"We hope faithful Latter-day Saints will not use the playing cards which are used for gambling, either with or without the gambling."


"Abstain from all appearance of evil." -1 Thessalonians

In summary, "The best counsel I ever received about staying away from the edge came when, as a young married man, President Harold B. Lee called me to be a member of a bishopric. He said, “From now on, you must not only avoid evil, but also the appearance of evil.” He did not interpret that counsel. That was left to my conscience." - James E. Faust 

Location: Mapleton, UT 84664, USA


BYU Carpet Cleaner

I carpet clean the Mission Training Center and love the gospel of Jesus Christ. These posts contain my experiences, thoughts and opinions on spiritual things.

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