Mormonism in the 20th century

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This is a timeline of major events in Mormonism in the 20th century.


Willis C. Hawley (left) and Smoot in April 1929, shortly before the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act passed the House.





  • January – Reed Smoot, an apostle, is elected by the state legislature to the 58th congress as a U.S. Senator. Controversy over his election arises immediately.
  • February – Despite allegations and controversy, Reed Smoot is allowed to be seated in the Senate.
  • March – Reed Smoot takes the senatorial oath and formally becomes a member of the senate.
  • Samoan edition of the Book of Mormon.


  • January – Reed Smoot submits carefully prepared rebuttals to allegations against him and his church.
  • March – The Reed Smoot Hearings begin, evaluating whether Reed Smoot should be allowed to be a senator.
  • April 6 – Joseph F. Smith issues the "Second Manifesto," which reinforces the 1890 Manifesto and prescribes excommunication for those who continued to practice plural marriage.


  • April – John W. Taylor resigns from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles due to disagreements with church policy regarding polygamy.
  • October 28 – Matthias F. Cowley follows John W. Taylor and resigns from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles due to disagreements with church policy regarding polygamy.


  • Turkish edition of Book of Mormon; first in an Asian language.


  • February 20 – After more than two years of hearings, the Smoot Hearings are resolved by a vote. The republican majority overturns objections to his seating. Reed Smoot serves another 26 years.
  • The church becomes debt-free.


  • The First Presidency issues an official statement regarding questions concerning the Creation of the earth and the theories of evolution and the origin of man.
  • Japanese translation of Book of Mormon, the first in an east Asian language.


Seagull Monument, Salt Lake City Temple Square. Assembly Hall in background.



Publicity for A Victim of the Mormons. The film ushered in a number of anti-Mormon films that were frequently sensationalist and inaccurate.
  • April–May: Mexican Revolution. The Battle of Ciudad Juárez brings war to the doorstep of the Mormon Colonies in Mexico in the Casas Grandes valley.
  • August: James E. Talmage denounces the Michigan relics as fakes.
  • September 16: The Salt Lake Tribune published an account of individuals who had secretly taken photographs of the interior of the Salt Lake Temple while it was undergoing renovation. The photographers had written to the First Presidency of the LDS Church in an attempt to blackmail the church: the church was offered the photographs for $100,000; if it refused, the photographers would publicly display the photographs. Church President Joseph F. Smith was outraged and refused to deal with the photographers.
  • October: A Victim of the Mormons (Danish: Mormonens Offer) a 1911 Danish silent film directed by August Blom is released. The film was controversial for demonizing the Mormon religion, and its box-office success is cited for initiating a decade of anti-Mormon propaganda films in America.
  • John W. Taylor is excommunicated for performing a plural marriage despite the Second Manifesto issued by church president Joseph F. Smith. With this excommunication, the practice of new polygamous marriages is believed to be finally abolished. Polygamists who were married prior to 1905, continue to remain in good standing with the LDS Church including, but not limited to, the church's president, Joseph F. Smith
  • Utah Hotel Company, predecessor of Temple Square Hospitality is founded.






  • November 27: Laie Hawaii Temple first outside continental United States, and thus also arguably first outside North America and first in Polynesia.


Arizona Temple


  • John Williamson, Sr. died.






  • The First Presidency issues another official statement regarding questions concerning the Creation of the earth and the theories of evolution and the origin of man.





Stage of the pageant on the Hill Cumorah







  • Genealogical Society of Utah began to microfilm records which contained genealogical data from around the world, and today this microfilm makes up much of the library's collection. Genealogical Society of Utah is now more commonly known as FamilySearch, and is currently working on digitizing many of its microfilm collections to be shared online.


  • Portuguese translation of Book of Mormon.


Richard R. Lyman, the most recent apostle of the LDS Church to have been excommunicated.


  • September 27: Theatrical release of Brigham Young, a Hollywood biopic, featuring Dean Jagger as Brigham Young, and Vincent Price as Joseph Smith. Though the film is commercially unsuccessful, it brings Mormon history to a wider international audience.


  • LDS Church apostle Richard R. Lyman was discovered to be cohabitating with a woman other than his legal wife, in a relationship which he defined as a polygamous marriage. Lyman was excommunicated on November 12, 1943 at age 73, on grounds of a violation of the law of chastity, which any practice of post-Second Manifesto polygamy constituted. He was later rebaptized and died in the church. He is the most recent apostle to be excommunicated.



  • May: Fawn Brodie is excommunicated.
  • May 22: Western Bad Bascomb released, about an outlaw who joins a Mormon wagon train.
  • Tongan edition of Book of Mormon.



  • George Albert Smith is said to have petitioned the Lord to lift the ban on blacks receiving the priesthood. He claims he is denied. The ban was not lifted until 1978.



This is the sign at the entrance to the Deseret Cattle and Citrus Ranch in Florida.




The schoolhouse where the Short Creek raid took place.


A view of the FLDS ranch in Eldorado, Texas
  • Breakaway FLDS formed.





Entrance to The Polynesian Cultural Center.







  • Chinese language edition of Book of Mormon, retranslated 2007.





  • Upon hearing news of Billy Johnson's work in Ghana and others in Africa, David O. McKay petitions the Lord to lift the ban on blacks receiving the priesthood. He says that it is denied. It is not until 1978 that the ban is lifted.
  • Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus established.


Millennial Star





  • December 26: After serving for little more than a year as president, Harold B. Lee dies. Spencer W. Kimball becomes president.
  • The Plan, a concept album by the Osmonds is released. Although it is not one of their more successful albums, it explicitly deals with Mormon theology, including the plan of salvation.


Washington D.C. Temple as seen from the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway





  • June 1: Spencer W. Kimball receives confirmation and revelation after supplicating the Lord regarding blacks and the priesthood. Moved by the exceeding faith of the Genesis Group, and moved by the dedication and perseverance of the mulattos in Brazil in building the São Paulo Brazil Temple, he takes the matter before the Lord, as many previous presidents of the church have done.
  • June 9: Spencer W. Kimball, after receiving the revelation, and discussing the matter with the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Quorum of the Seventy, announces that the ban on blacks receiving the priesthood has been lifted, and all males may receive the priesthood according to their worthiness, regardless of race. Despite previous understanding that blacks were not to receive the priesthood until the millennium, the members of the church receive the announcement with jubilation and it gains worldwide press attention.
  • June 23: Joseph Freeman, Jr., 26, the first black man to gain the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, went in the Salt Lake Temple with his wife and 5 sons for sacred ordinances. Thomas S. Monson, a member of the church's Quorum of Twelve Apostles, conducted the marriage and sealing ordinances. This event shows that blacks not only are able to gain the priesthood, but are able to interracially marry in the temple with the church's blessing. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 24, 1978)
  • August 19: Delbert L. Stapley dies.
  • September 30: N. Eldon Tanner reads Official Declaration—2 in General Conference, and it is unanimously adopted as the word and will of the Lord. This is the declaration released publicly earlier in 1978, allowing blacks to receive the priesthood.
  • October 1: James E. Faust is ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
  • October 30: São Paulo Brazil Temple opened, the first in South America, Latin America and in Brazil.
  • Battlestar Galactica airs on American television. It is produced by church member Glen A. Larson, and he incorporated many themes from Mormon theology into the shows.
  • Gospel Principles, an official church text released.





  • July 23: Gordon B. Hinckley is called as third counselor in the First Presidency due to the physical weakness of Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, and Marion G. Romney. Hinckley is referred to in the press as the "acting president of the church" because Kimball, Tanner, and Romney are largely out of the public eye.
  • July 23: Neal A. Maxwell is ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to fill the vacancy left by Hinckley's call to the First Presidency.
  • New edition of Book of Mormon with cross-references to other LDS scriptures, footnotes and index; Russian & Polish editions published. Sections 137 & 138 added to the Doctrine and Covenants.


  • June 1: Ground broken for construction of the Triad Center on June 1, 1982 by Essam Khashoggi, chairman of Triad America.
  • November 27: N. Eldon Tanner dies. Consequently, Marion G. Romney is named as First Counselor, and Gordon B. Hinckley is named as Second Counselor.
  • The God Makers, an anti-Mormon work by Ed Decker is published and filmed. However, the work is so controversial that opponents of the church, including Jerald and Sandra Tanner and Bob Passantino, say that it grossly misrepresents Mormonism, dilutes his message, and offends Mormons without attracting them to evangelical Christianity.[6] The Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith publicly presented their concerns of the film which they described as "Mormon bashing" and "invidious and defamatory".[7][8] Rhonda M. Abrams, Regional Director, stated:

I sincerely hope that people of all faiths will similarly repudiate The God Makers as defamatory and untrue, and recognize it for what it truly represents – a challenge to the religious liberty of all.

—Rhonda M. Abrams[9]





  • October 9: Joseph B. Wirthlin is ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
  • Arabic edition of Book of Mormon.
  • Protests against BYU president in Jerusalem by Jewish groups, shouting slogans such as "Conversion is Murder!" and "Mormons, stop your mission now".



  • May 20: Marion G. Romney, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, dies.
  • October 1: Richard G. Scott is sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
  • Hebrew edition of Book of Mormon, later withdrawn.





  • Collapse of the USSR, end of Cold War and start of CIS. Missionaries prepared to enter region.
  • LDS Church membership surpasses eight million.[citation needed]









The Salt Lake City Tornado of 1999 rips through downtown

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Brian C. Hales, "'I Love to Hear Him Talk and Rehearse': The Life and Teachings of Lorin C. Woolley", Mormon History Association, 2003.[unreliable source?]
  2. ^ James E. Talmage Correspondence File, January 18, 1924, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City[non-primary source needed]
  3. ^ Church Update: Joseph W. B. Johnson – Ghana's Face of Light
  4. ^ The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints OFFICIAL DECLARATION—2
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 445. 
  6. ^ Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (1993). Problems in The God Makers II. Salt Lake City, UT: UTLM.
  7. ^, Anti-Defamation League, ADL Condemns "Mormon-Bashing" DVD
  8. ^, Rhonda M Abrams, statement on The Godmakers film.
  9. ^ Statement by Rhonda M. Abrams, May 25, 1984, Regional Director of Anti-Defamation League of the Bnai B’rith.
  10. ^ Mann, Laurie (November 22, 2008). "SFWA Nebula Awards". Archived from the original on December 20, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2009. 
  11. ^ "The Hugo Awards By Year". World Science Fiction Society. December 9, 2005. Archived from the original on July 31, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2009. 
  12. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: About the Hugo Awards". Locus Publications. Archived from the original on January 26, 2009. Retrieved January 13, 2009. 
  13. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: About the Nebula Awards". Locus Publications. Archived from the original on January 14, 2009. Retrieved January 13, 2009. 
  14. ^ "1986 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved July 15, 2009. 
  15. ^ Agreement with the LDS Church
  16. ^ "Library shooting incident -- the key events A chronology from 10:30 a.m. to just after 5". Deseret News. 16 April 1999. Retrieved 10 November 2010. 
  17. ^ Clayton Brough, Dan Brown, David James, Dan Pope, Steve Summy (2007-06-26). "Utah's Tornadoes & Waterspouts - 1847 to the present". National Weather Service. Retrieved 2007-08-04.