On September 28, 2016, LDS Answers released, “BYU Sociology Department encourages students in Karl Marx’s class struggle”, in regard to a free t-shirt giveaway sponsored by the BYU Sociology Department with the words “The class struggle is real” and a portrait of Karl Marx.
Rick Miller, chair of the Sociology Department at Brigham Young University, left the following comment on the article:
I am the chair of the sociology department at Brigham Young University, and I thought it might be appropriate for me to respond to this post. The t-shirt with a picture of Karl Marx and the caption “The Class Struggle is Real” was chosen as part of our social media promotion because the faculty felt that it was a good joke. It was a play on words, a pun, with class struggle referring to the struggle of students trying to get an A in classes at BYU. Our students got the joke, and our faculty got the joke.
Our decision to delete comments from our Facebook page was based on the fact that the posts were distracting from the intent of what we were trying to do. We weren’t making a statement about Karl Marx; we were trying to get students to start looking at our social media in order to create a better learning community among our students and faculty. This was supposed to be a little fun activity with our students, not a serious discussion about the merits of Karl Marx and whether or not his writings should be taught at BYU. It wasn’t the right time or place to have that discussion. Consequently, we deleted those comments.
I assure you that our curriculum, what we teach in the sociology department, is approved by our university administration and our Board of Trustees, which includes the First Presidency and other church leaders. We are teaching what the Brethren want us to teach. What better place than at BYU for students to be exposed to the “philosophies of men”, where it can be taught from a gospel perspective by inspired instructors who are faithful disciples of Christ?
Thank you, Rick, for your response and for your time.
You may be interested to learn why so many thousands of Latter-day Saints are having a problem with the BYU Sociology Department’s “t-shirt giveaway”. We believe the problem many are having with the “giveaway” is that it was a “joke”. The issue is the content. The “joke” isn’t funny, even more, some find it extremely offensive.
The t-shirt your department promoted featured the words, “The class struggle is real.” You may be unaware of the countless millions who have suffered because of Karl Marx’s “class struggle”. To Christians and patriots throughout the world, there is nothing funny in Marxist ideology. It is not a joke.
Are we oversensitive? Do we just need to lighten up? To those who understand the history of Socialism, a t-shirt with the phrase “The class struggle is real” is very comparable to a pro-Hitler t-shirt emblazoned with “Help Hitler go the rest of the way”. If your department was promoting pro-Hitler t-shirts of this flavor, it would be deeply offensive to those of us who are Jews, including the authors of this letter. To be honest, it would be very difficult to distinguish who was the more evil and wicked, Adolf Hitler or Karl Marx. Certainly, Karl Marx has had a far more damaging and destructive long term effect.
Sadly, this knowledge is not being passed to the rising generation. Note this poll.
Many Latter-day Saints are struggling to understand why the BYU Sociology Department would promote pro-Marx t-shirts and ideology.
Consider as another example, how funny would it be if a Kurdish teenager wore a t-shirt with the words, “Saddam Hussein had great arguments and promoted a liberating ideology!”?
Again the question, “Is it merely a good joke?”
As you know, AllRiot.com is the manufacturer of the t-shirt promoted by the BYU Sociology Department. What do the designers of the t-shirt at AllRiot.com have to say? What was the intent behind this “work of art”? What does an overview of their merchandise reveal?
A Facebook comment on the BYU Sociology post was left by someone who appears to have been a former BYU Sociology student. She urged students to “spread the love” and buy their own “Marx t-shirt” with a link to the original manufacturer, AllRiot.com. Should BYU be promoting AllRiot.com?
A brief overview of AllRiot.com reveals other t-shirts and merchandise of a similar bent for Marxists, Socialists or Left-wingers. Just a joke?
Big Brother Loves You CCTV T-shirt
AllRiot.com advertises their stock “of protest-ready urban graphic t-shirts” as “disarmingly funny political t-shirts, and progressive liberal, left wing, statement and activist t-shirts.” Do we all just need to lighten up? They are “funny”, right?
We sincerely hope you do not find the following t-shirts humorous. For example:
“FUNNY BIG BROTHER T-SHIRT: CYBER CHRIST
Oh, come all ye faithful and hear Word of the Overlord!
Big Brother, our Unseen Hand, who hath come down from the Ivory Towers above to give us his only begotten brainchild.
Heed the commands of our Cyber Christ — our Shepherd, who protects his lambs for the slaughter, who was resurrected through false-flag terrorism, who will lead us to the Gates of Gitmo and into eternal detention!
Anti NSA surveillance t-shirt features a parody of the “Cruci-fiction of Cyber Christ” and how its loving sacrifice will bring us a world free of privacy and will brainwash away our sins.
Once YHVH, now CISPA and TTP. The more things change, the more they stay the same.” (Description by AllRiot.com)
Nothing could justify this kind of blasphemous jest. Comparing the Son of God to the NSA and then mocking His sacrifice is not funny. While some find it amusing, others consider it sacrilegious.
A simple overview of the site reveals language that reflects anything but that which is “. . . virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy . . .” (Articles of Faith 1:13)
AllRiot.com also has “. . . many amazing LGBT, gay & lesbian pride shirts available on [their] website.”
AllRiot.com is also pro-choice.
Again, is this who and what the BYU Sociology Department should be promoting?
When Nothing Goes Right Go Left T-shirt
The traditional political spectrum places Socialism and Communism on the left with Fascism on the right. Dr. W. Cleon Skousen produced a far more accurate scale with complete tyranny, totalitarianism and zero freedom for the common man on the left, with anarchy and complete lawlessness on the right.
AllRiot.com’s “When Nothing Goes Right Go Left T-shirt” asserts that the “right” has failed. Our only recourse is to turn left. Is this really a message the Sociology Department wishes to promote?
Karl Marx Told You So Political T-shirt
How did Marx “tell us so”? In addition to his work to destroy free enterprise and other principles of liberty, perhaps we should recall his demand for the abolition of the traditional family.
“Abolition [Aufhebung] of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists. . . . The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital.” (The Communist Manifesto, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch02.htm)
“Blessed is he who has no family.” (Marx to Engels (21 June 1854), in MEW, XXVIII, p. 371.)
Is this humorous? Is this a message that should be promoted? We would suggest that the man who stood against everything The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands for, should not be respected, admired or even just condoned.
Karl Marx’s “family”
The t-shirt featured in the BYU Sociology Department giveaway featured a portrait of Karl Marx as well as his words. For those who are not aware, Marx’s personal life and character is not funny and certainly nothing to be celebrated. Karl Marx was a failure as a father and husband. His wife and children languished in inhumane conditions as he apathetically indulged himself in pursuing “revolution”. His wife endured the cries of her starving children, filthy living conditions, little to no finances, a consistent stream of creditors and the constant fear of being thrown into the streets. Her husband on the other hand seemed to care very little for the plight of his family. Two of his children eventually committed suicide. (Learn more at the Inspira Wiki)
Do your students learn the true character of Marx? Do they learn the true nature of Marxist ideology? Of course, the BYU Sociology Department should teach Marxism, but promoting this ideology as a healthy, viable philosophy is troubling to some Latter-day Saints. The following are several resources on Marx and Communism. Would you and your department support teaching this perspective?
- First Presidency Message on Communism, 1936
- President David O. McKay, Statement on position of the Church on Communism, 1966
- Marx & Satan (Richard Wurmbrand)
- Free videos on Communism and Socialism
This recent t-shirt promotion has many Latter-day Saint parents worried that their children are not being taught the true history and perspective of the Presidents of the Church.
Endorsement of the First Presidency?
You claim that “. . . what we teach in the sociology department, is approved by our university administration and our Board of Trustees, which includes the First Presidency and other church leaders. We are teaching what the Brethren want us to teach.” This is a curious argument, as we’ve never seen President Thomas S. Monson wearing an AllRiot.com t-shirt. Additionally, we’ve never seen him make any pro-Marxist or pro-Socialist statements. While on the other hand, President Monson reviewed the manuscript for what is now considered an extreme right wing work, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. It is also curious that you feel everything at BYU is approved by the First Presidency. We are not aware of any explicit endorsement of the following statements by BYU faculty members.
We have some awful statements from all of the leaders of the Church. So how can Darius and I do what we do and hold current temple recommends and know everything that was said in the past and still support The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? And basically it’s because we don’t believe in the infallibility of prophets. . . .
I’ve had to just kind of pinch my nose as I read through the terrible things that have been said by past leaders of the Church. Understanding the damage that they’ve done and the damage that they continue to do. . . .
The way I see it, it’s kind of like when the Salt Lake Temple was constructed on the foundation of sandstone that simply was not adequate to hold up. And the instructions came down, “tear it down! It’s got to come down. Tear it down so that you can build it on something that will last.” And so all of that work had to be completely torn apart and the temple started again. (Listen to full interview)
“President Benson obviously was not an intellectual giant, so we have to forgive him. I am sure, out there in the afterlife, he is terribly embarrassed about many things he said and wrote . . .” (Read more at DefendingUtah.org)
Q: What’s your regard [thought on] to evolution with regard to man?
A: “I absolutely believe that this physical body evolved. I see lots and lots of evidence and to see it otherwise I would have to abandon the science of evolution to do so. Um, however, interestingly in light of this fossil question, the spirit doesn’t fossilize well, so I don’t know anything about the nature of things, you know, in the distant past. But I do believe that the human body is an evolved structure.
Q: What about the commandment to plants and animals to multiply in their own sphere? How can evolution fit or work with this? Can there still be still be species drift?
A: Uh, that’s a great question and I think, again, as was pointed out by Jeff, that the scriptures, when they conflict deep biology, or deep biology that we see, we can reinterpret them in different ways and so when it says that the plants command to do within their sphere we don’t know what that sphere means. Does it mean the earth? Does it mean the sphere of life? Uh, there are lots of different interpretations and since we see from the fossil record and from DNA that clearly species have changed and evolved I think we don’t have to take the interpretation that they’ve evolved in their sphere. (Steven L. Peck, “Why Evolution and LDS Thought are Fully Compatible: Overcoming our Suspicions of Science”, Science & Mormonism: Cosmos, Earth, & Man conference, November 9, 2013 Provo, Utah)
One might ask the question, “Is everything seen, taught and promoted by BYU approved by the President of the Church?” President Benson acknowledged that there were many issues he wished to see corrected.
There is certain music heard and art seen and clothes worn on this campus [BYU] that must pass away not because the styles change but because our standards will be improved. (President Ezra Taft Benson, Brigham Young University Devotional Address, December 10, 1974)
President Benson clarified that the Lord will at times allow “tares” among the “wheat” as a test to see whether we will follow the Lord or be deceived. Some of us feel that simply because a t-shirt is promoted by the BYU Sociology Department, it does not follow that the Lord necessarily wishes that message to be conveyed.
Sometimes, from behind the pulpit, in our classrooms, in our council meetings, and in our Church publications, we hear, read, or witness things that do not square with the truth. . . . Now, do not let this serve as an excuse for your own wrongdoing. The Lord is letting the wheat and the tares mature before He fully purges the Church. He is also testing you to see if you will be misled. The devil is trying to deceive the very elect. (Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 134 and An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 317)
The prophet Moroni saw our day and one wonders who he was speaking to when he issued this somber warning about Latter-day Saint teachers in our day:
O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? (Mormon 8:38)
Could it be that some of these teachers foreseen by Moroni are those who promote Marxism, Darwinism, Deweyism, Keynesianism, Freudianism and other anti-Christ philosophies? President Ezra Taft Benson warned parents that they must prepare their children to encounter these philosophies of men in their educational institutions.
As a watchman on the tower, I feel to warn you that one of the chief means of misleading our youth and destroying the family unit is our educational institutions. President Joseph F. Smith referred to false educational ideas as one of the three threatening dangers among our Church members. There is more than one reason why the Church is advising our youth to attend colleges close to their homes where institutes of religion are available. It gives the parents the opportunity to stay close to their children; and if they have become alert and informed as President McKay admonished us last year, these parents can help expose some of the deceptions of men like Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, John Dewey, Karl Marx, John Keynes, and others. Today there are much worse things that can happen to a child than not getting a full college education. In fact, some of the worst things have happened to our children while attending colleges led by administrators who wink at subversion and amorality. (Ezra Taft Benson, Strengthening the Family, Conference Report, October 1970, pp. 21-25, also quoted in The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 307.)
In closing, we hope you can understand our perspective, that Marxism is not a joke. We think it would help if you could clarify how your department teaches Marxism in light of the Gospel.
We welcome any comments if you feel that we are not understanding this issue correctly. Thank you for your time.