“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.” ― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
The following letter appeared in The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania on Friday, February 14, 1918:
MORMONS AND THE WAR
“To the Editor of “The Mercury.”
Sir,-Are the citizens of the State of Utah, in the Union of American States, exempt from war service? If not, why are scores of able-bodied young citizens of Salt Lake City allowed to loaf about Australia proselytising women to Mormonism? -What a. “Tom Tiddler’s Ground” even Hobart must be for female recruits to this curse, since there has been for some time here five male Mormons – canvassing house to house (when the men are out). There used to be only two here before the war. “What sneaking meanness this taking advantage of our men at the front!
Will our authorities never move on this matter? Syd. Cummins and his ilk would be doing better service fighting this canker than the pubs. Is it true that 40 of our young women left, ostensibly for Sydney, lately, really for Salt Lake City? Why don’t the men of Hobart deal with these persons?- Yours, etc.
On the 15 February 1918 the following was published as page 3 news in the same Newspaper:
“The attention of the Attorney-General (Hon W. B. Propstring C M G ) was yesterday directed to letter which appeared in The Mercury’ of that day asserting that Mormons were making a house to house canvass – (in the absence of the men) proselytising women to Mormonism. Mr. Propstring said he would have inquiries made into the methods of the five men who are alleged to be instituting the canvas in order to ascertain the nature of their representations to the women. In the meantime he would like to obtain the names of young women, if any, who have been interviewed for the purpose of inducing them to go to Salt Lake City, as is suggested by the writer of the letter.”
On the same day the following letter appeared in The Mercury:
“To the Editor of ”The Mercury.”
Sir,- Allow me to answer. ”A Father.” “Are the citizens of Utah exempt from war service?” No, they are not, Utah was the second State in the American Union to furnish her quota of men tor the national army.
Before the law for conscription was passed, hundreds of her young men had volunteered their- service, and many of those had previously been acting as Missionaries, but had been released to join the colours. Utah is well represented in every branch of the United
States army and navy. They have over-subscribed’ to the Liberty bonds, as well as the Red Cross and Y.M.C.A. funds. The so-called “Mormons” are well represented in the Canadian Army, who have fought so well on the field in France for the past three years and a half.
Our missionaries in Australia all have Passports from their Government, and are registered, with the Government. They all have near relatives in the service of their country. When the time comes that their numbers is drawn, they will go into the service of their
Country. As regards the number of missionaries permanently established in your city. “A Father” says there are at present more than before the war.
But we beg to inform him that there are but three permanently established here at present, whereas before the war there were five or six. ‘
Our friend “A Father” says we take advantage of the absence of tho men at the war; but we call at all the doors as we scatter our gospel literature, without knowing from which the men folk are absent. We hold street meetings twice a week, in the hope that we might meet the greatest number of men. To the question he asks, “Is it, true that 40 of our young women left, ostensibly for Sydney. But really for Salt Lake City?”
No, and ’ A Father” never heard such a thing from a reliable source. One lady only has gone to Utah from Tasmania in the last two years, and she went to join her husband, who proceeded her. In conclusion, I wish to invite “A Father” and all who care to know what we teach to call on Sunday evening at our place of meeting. We teach from the Bible faith in God and the mission of His Son, Jesus Christ repentance from and baptism for the remission of sins. We take up no collection. After the service we will answer questions as regards our faith and practices. We cannot answer all the ridiculous stories set afloat. We advise all our converts to remain in their native land but by unchristian attitude towards them life is made miserable for many, so they leave –
A. D. MILLER.
(An Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.)
[For other letters we have no space. Ed. ‘M.’]
History is always enlightenig.