There’s no Currents this week, but I wanted to share this list of questions that Mormon Church leaders — in the middle of the Mormon Reformation — asked Utah members. The information comes from historian David Bigley’s invaluable book, “Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West, 1847-1896.”
Bishops were instructed by the LDS church hierarchy to ask the following questions in every home. Apostle Jedediah Grant, the firebrand who was a fervent initiator of the Reformation, told bishops that any unsatisfactory answers from members must lead to “their names be written down and let the offence and place of residence be written against the name, that we may know who are living in sin, where they live and what their offenses are.”
The questions are as follows. Except for a few, and the fact that answers were not private, they’re not much different — except for the times differences– from questions members get today. From Bigler’s book:
Have you committed adultery?
Have you ever spoken evil of Authorities or anointed of the Lord?
Have you ever betrayed your brethren?
Have you ever stolen or taken anything that was not your own?
Have you ever took (sic) the name of God in vain?
Have you ever been drunk?
Have you ever taken any poles from the big field or fences or taken your brothers hay?
Have you ever picked up anything that did not belong to you and kept it without seeking to find the owner?
Have you made promises and not performed them?
Do you pay all your Tithing?
Do you labor Faithfully and diligently for your employer?
Do you preside over your Family as a servant of God or are they subject to you?
Do you teach your children the gospel?
Do you attend your Ward meetings?
Do you pray in your families night and morning?
Do you pray in Secret?
Do you wash your bodies once a week?
In a humorous sidenote, Brigham Young, Bigler recounts, had a problem with washing his body once a week. He did admit he had tried it, but “was well aware that this was not for everybody.”