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by Elder Bruce R. McConkie
Recreation is an essential and vital part of the gospel of salvation -- a gospel which makes provision for every need of man, both temporal and spiritual. After a person has performed his assigned or appointed labors -- both in making a living and in service on the Lord's errand -- it is edifying, relaxing, and proper to enjoy the diversion of wholesome recreation. The Church itself, through its Mutual Improvement Associations and other organizations, provides and supervises extensive recreational, dancing, and athletic programs.
Wholesome recreation may include parties, banquets, dinners, games, athletic endeavors, and contests, dramas, dances, concerts, radio and television programs, picnics, outings, camping trips, hunting and fishing trips, and vacations in general. But just as there are imitations of all good things, so there are many unwholesome and improper attempts to provide recreation. Diversion sought through cocktail parties, beer halls, saloons, card playing, or vulgar entertainments of whatever sort should be avoided. Excessive participation in even wholesome recreation is also unwise.
Mormon Doctrine, p.62
Copyright by Bookcraft
by W. John Walsh
Church leaders have counseled that Latter-day Saints do not use playing cards.
President Spencer W. Kimball taught:
"We hope faithful Latter-day Saints will not use the playing cards which are used for gambling, either with or without the gambling." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.355)
President Joseph F. Smith taught:
"Card playing is a game of chance, and because it is a game of chance it has its tricks. It encourages tricks; its devotees measure their success at the table by their ability through devious and dark ways to win. It creates a spirit of cunning and devises hidden and secret means, and cheating at cards is almost synonymous with playing at cards. Again, cards have a bad reputation and they are the known companions of bad men. If no other reason existed for shunning the card table, its reputation alone should serve as a warning. It may be conceded that superb skill is often acquired in this game of chance, but this skill itself endangers the moral qualities of the possessor and leads him on to questionable practices. Such games as checkers and chess are games more of fixed rules whose application are open and freer from cunning devices. Such games do not intoxicate like cards and other games of chance." (Gospel Doctrine, p.331-332)
President Heber J. Grant taught:
"By the way, I hear that card playing is becoming very, very popular, and that the Church must be in favor of card-playing, because the Church authorities never say anything against it. From the time I was a child and read the Juvenile Instructor, published for the benefit of the people, I have read nothing except condemnation of card-playing and the wasting of your time in doing something that brings no good, bodily, intellectually, or in any way, and sometimes leads your children to become gamblers, because they become expert card-players. The Church as a Church requests its members not to play cards. I hope you understand me, and I want you to know that I am speaking for the Church when I ask the people to let cards alone." (Gospel Standards, p.42)
President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:
"Children should be encouraged in the home to read and be instructed in the value of good books and how to discriminate between the good and the bad in literature. It is far better for a home to be thus provided where the children can be entertained with a good, wholesome story than to more than waste their time playing cardsa habit that cannot too severely be condemnedor spending their time in poolhalls or upon the streets in company of evil associates ." (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, p.204)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:
"President Joseph F. Smith has stated the position of the Church with reference to card playing in these words: "Card playing is an excessive pleasure; it is intoxicating and, therefore, in the nature of a vice. It is generally the companion of the cigaret and the wine glass, and the latter lead to the poolroom and the gambling hall. . . . Few indulge frequently in card playing in whose lives it does not become a ruling passion. . . . A deck of cards in the hands of a faithful servant of God is a satire upon religion. . . . Those who thus indulge are not fit to administer in sacred ordinances. . . . The bishops are charged with the responsibility for the evil, and it is their duty to see that it is abolished. . . . No man who is addicted to card playing should be called to act as a ward teacher; such men cannot be consistent advocates of that which they do not themselves practice.
"The card table has been the scene of too many quarrels, the birthplace of too many hatreds, the occasion of too many murders to admit one word of justification for the lying, cheating spirit which it too often engenders in the hearts of its devotees. . . .
"Card playing is a game of chance, and because it is a game of chance it has its tricks. It encourages tricks; its devotees measure their success at the table by their ability through devious and dark ways to win. It creates a spirit of cunning and devises hidden and secret means, and cheating at cards is almost synonymous with playing at cards." (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., pp. 328-332.)
Members of the Church should not belong to bridge or other type of card clubs, and they should neither play cards nor have them in their homes. By cards is meant, of course, the spotted face cards used by gamblers. To the extent that church members play cards they are out of harmony with their inspired leaders. Innocent non-gambling games played with other types of cards, except for the waste of time in many instances, are not objectionable." (Mormon Doctrine, p.113)
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