Marion G. Romney said that “The United Order can never function under socialism or “the welfare state,” for the good and sufficient reason that the principles upon which socialism and the United Order are conceived and operated are inimical.” (Conference Report, April 1966, pp. 95-101). (See Socialism and the United Order Compared).
Welfare through the state is the world’s way. It was not the Lord’s intention that welfare should be given that way (See Welfare – The Lord’s Way). As he said through the prophet Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8) At the General Conference in October 1978, Elder David B. Haight talked about welfare through the state, when he said: “The government has succeeded in doing what the Church welfare program seeks to prevent. The Lord’s way is different from government programs.” (General Conference, Oct. 1978. The Stake President’s Role in Welfare Services. – See David B. Haight and Welfare – The World’s Way).
President Heber J. Grant said that we “Pursuant to positive divine command [should] care for the helpless, the unfortunate, and the needy.” He said that “it is essentially a neighbor to neighbor obligation. It is not a function of civil government.” ( A letter from the First Presidency to the US Treasury em>, Sept. 30, 1941. Quoted by Elder H. Verlan Andersen in The Great and Abominable Church of the Devil em>).
Marion G. Romney:
I pray that the Lord will somehow quicken our understanding of the differences between socialism and the United Order and give us a vivid awareness of the awful portent of those differences.
Ezra Taft Benson:
There are some among us who would confuse the united order with socialism. That is a serious misunderstanding. It is significant to me that the Prophet Joseph Smith, after attending lectures on socialism in his day, made this official entry in the Church history: “I said I did not believe the doctrine”
George Q. Cannon:
It is not the intention, in establishing the United Order, to destroy the productiveness of property it is not the intention to take property* from men who have it and give it to those who have none. There are two extremes to be avoided, one is the disposition of the rich to aggrandize themselves at the expense of the poor. That is what we are trying, in this United Order, to put a stop to, so that we may prevent the growth of class distinctions, the increase of wealth in a certain class, and that class has interests diverse from and frequently adverse to the rest of the community. That is one extreme. The other is this idea, to which I have referred, the anxiety of poor people to get possession of the accumulations of the rich, and to have them divided among them, and a general leveling** take place. There is no such idea connected with this order.
Harold B. Lee:
There are some things of which I am sure, and that is that contrary to the belief and mistaken ideas of some of our people, the United Order will not be a Socialistic or Communistic set-up it will be something distinctive and yet will be more capitalistic in its nature than either Socialism or Communism, in that private ownership and individual responsibility will be maintained. I am sure also that when it comes it will come from the leaders of this Church whom you sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators, and will not come from some man who does not occupy that position. It will not come as a political program, legislated by men not possessed of that authority.
In things that pertain to celestial glory there can be no forced operations. We must do according as the Spirit of the Lord operates upon our understandings and feelings. We cannot be crowded into matters, however great might be the blessing attending such procedure. We cannot be forced into living a celestial law we must do this ourselves, of our own free will. And whatever we do in regard to the principle of the United Order, we must do it because we desire to do it .. The United Order is not French Communism.
Heber J. Grant:
Among the Latter-day Saints they speak of their philosophy and their plans under it, as an ushering in of the United Order. Communism and all other similar “isms” bear no relationship whatever to the United Order. They are merely the clumsy counterfeits which Satan always devises of the gospel plan. Communism debases the individual and makes him the enslaved tool of the state to whom he must look for sustenance and religion the United Order exalts the individual, leaves him his property, “according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs,” (D&C 51:3) and provides a system by which he helps care for his less fortunate brethren the United Order leaves every man free to choose his own religion as his conscience directs. Communism destroys man’s God-given free agency the United Order glorifies it. Latter-day Saints cannot be true to their faith and lend aid, encouragement, or sympathy to any of these false philosophies. They will prove snares to their feet.
The United Order is not a communal system* it is not one under which all things are held in common.
Marion G. Romney:
The united order is nonpolitical. It is therefore totally unlike the various forms of socialism, which are political, both in theory and in practice. They are thus exposed to, and riddled by, the corruption which plagues and finally destroys all political governments which undertake to abridge man’s agency.
J. Reuben Clark Jr.:
We again warn our people in America of the constantly increasing threat against our inspired Constitution and our free institutions set up under it. The same political tenets and philosophies that have brought war and terror in other parts of the world are at work amongst us in America. The proponents thereof are seeking to undermine our own form of government and to set up instead one of the forms of dictatorships now flourishing in other lands. These revolutionists are using a technique that is as old as the human race,–a fervid but false solicitude for the unfortunate over whom they thus gain mastery, and then enslave them. They suit their approaches to the particular group they seek to deceive. Among the Latter-day Saints, they speak of their philosophy and their plans under it, as an ushering in of the United Order. Communism and all other similar isms bear no relationship whatever to the United Order. They are merely the clumsy counterfeits which Satan always devises of the gospel plan. Communism debases the individual and makes him the enslaved tool of the state to whom he must look for sustenance and religion the United Order exalts the individual, leaves him his property, “according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs,” (D&C 51:3) and provides a system by which he helps care for his less fortunate brethren .. Latter-day Saints cannot be true to their faith and lend aid, encouragement, or sympathy to any of these false philosophies. They will prove snares to their feet.
J. Reuben Clark Jr.:
The United Order recognized and was built upon the principle of private ownership of property; all that a man had and lived upon under the United Order, was his own.
Marion G. Romney:
This procedure preserved in every man the right to private ownership and management of his property. At his own option he could alienate it or keep and operate it and pass it on to his heirs .. The United Order is operated upon the principle of private ownership and individual management.Thus in both implementation and ownership and management of property, the United Order preserves to men their God-given agency, while socialism deprives them of it.
J. Reuben Clark Jr.:
The Church never was, and under existing commandments never will be, a communal society, under the directions thus far given by the Lord. The United Order was not communal nor communistic. It was completely and intensely individualistic, with a consecration of unneeded surpluses for the support of the Church and the poor.
Ezra Taft Benson:
It has been erroneously concluded by some that the united order is both communal and communistic in theory and practice because the revelations speak of equality. Equality under the united order is not economic and social leveling as advocated by some today. Equality, as described by the Lord, is “equality according to a man’s family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs” (D&C 51:3). Is the united order a communal system? Emphatically not. It never has been and never will be. It is “intensely individualistic.” Does the united order eliminate private ownership of property? No. “The fundamental principle of this system is the private ownership of property”* (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Conference Report, October 1942, p. 57). I repeat and emphasize that the law of consecration is a law for an inheritance in the celestial kingdom. God, the Eternal Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and all holy beings abide by this law. It is an eternal law. It is a revelation by God to his Church in this dispensation. Though not in full operation today, it will be mandatory for all Saints to live the law in its fulness to receive a celestial inheritance. You young people today abide a portion of this higher law as you tithe, pay a generous fast offering, go on missions, and make other contributions of money, service, and time.
There were certain laws and revelations then given, in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, pertaining to the Lord’s earth, and the righteous that He has upon it. I will repeat a small clause which was given before the Church was one year old, in March 1831. It reads thus—wherefore “it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.” (D&C 49:20) .. Here was a hint of the more perfect law and order of things that God intended eventually to introduce among this people .. Remember, that as long as there is inequality in the things that belong to the Lord, the world lieth in sin. (D&C 49:20) It is not given to them that they should possess one above another. I intend to explain how this is to be brought about, and also show how one man can possess hundreds and thousands of dollars, in a certain sense of the word, and another man only one dollar, and yet both be equal but they possess the same, not as their own, but as stewards of the Lord it being the Lord’s property.
We read, in another revelation that God gave in the early rise of this Church, that unless we are equal in earthly things, (D&C 78:5-6) we cannot be made equal in heavenly things. Here is an equality preached. There must be an equality in earthly things, in order that we may be equal in heavenly things. (D&C 78:5-6) Now supposing the people were all to be made equal today, tomorrow they would, through circumstances, become unequal: but I will show you how this equality can be established upon an order that never can be shaken—that inequality, in regard to property, never more can be introduced among the Saints, that no circumstance which can transpire can make them unequal. If a fire should burn up a man’s barn, and his stacks of grain, and everything he has accumulated, I will prove to you that it does not render him unequal with his brethren on the principle the Lord has established and ordained so that when this order is once established among this people, they will become equal in earthly things, which will prepare them to be made equal in heavenly things.
Now supposing one man obtained double the quantity of another it is not his, but the stewardship is the Lord’s consequently the man is on a perfect equality with his brother still .. it belongs to the Lord, and if we are His, we shall inherit it with Him consequently in another sense of the word it is all ours. If each one in the Church, then, possesses the whole of it, as joint heirs with the Lord, is there not an equality? You may diminish the common property or joint fund just as much as you please. Suppose it was diminished to one half by mobs, &c., it does not make the Church unequal, not in the least for each one may be considered as the possessor of the whole he inherits all things he is a joint heir with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17) in the inheritance of the earth, and all the fulness thereof. Can you make any inequality here? If each man in the Church is a joint inheritor of all the property, and a part of it, it makes each one perfectly equal with the rest.
Now I defy you to bring about an equality upon any other principle. You may divide the properties of the Church today, yes, if it be possible, make a perfectly equal division of it, so that every man in the whole Church should have his share, and let him call it his own it would not be one day before there would be an inequality again introduced and one man would possess that which is above another it could not be otherwise the changes, difficulties, want of judgment in the management and control of property, and all these things combined together, would serve to render these divided shares unequal one man losing a large portion of his property through mismanagement another by fire, by mobocracy, or in some other way, so that neither would have one half, one quarter, or perhaps one hundredth part as much as some of his brethren with whom he was only a short time before perfectly equal.
No equality can be brought about by dividing property the Lord never intended such an order of things. It is not a division of property that is going to bring about a oneness among the Latter-day Saints in temporal things, but it is a union of property, that all the property may be united, and considered belonging to the Lord, and to every individual in the whole Church, as joint heirs with Him, (Rom. 8:17) or as His stewards.