Mr. Adee to Mr. Risley.

No. 176.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 161, of the 4th ultimo, inclosing a petition from Mr. C. N. Lund, who describes himself as president of the Scandinavian Mission of the Mormon Church, accompanied by an affidavit of J. J. Jensen and Joseph Larsen, in which they set forth several grievances and ask your intervention and protection on the ground that they are American citizens.

In reply I inclose for your information, as indicating the present attitude of this Government toward Mormon missionaries, a copy of the Department’s instruction No. 46, of June 25, 1895, to Mr. J. Lamb Doty, United States consul at Tahiti; also copy of a letter of June 24, 1895, from Messrs. Woodruff, Cannon, and Smith, “first presidency of the Mormon Church.” The letter in question sets forth the assurance on which the Department based its views that Mormon agents, as the church is now constituted, have the same right of governmental protection as any other law-observing sect of American citizens. If they preach immoral doctrines contrary to the law of the foreign country, intervention on their behalf can not be made; if their teachings and [Page 124] practices contravene the laws of the United States, the support of our public agencies can not be lent to their foreign propaganda.

Respectfully, etc.,

Alvey A. Adee,
Acting Secretary.

Mr. Uhl to Mr. Doty.

Sir: The Department has received your dispatch, No. 108, May 11, relative to the position of missionaries of the Mormon Church in Tahiti and the refusal of the local authorities to permit them to preach without special license.

In reply you are informed that as long as polygamy was one of the purposes of Mormon teaching, the agents of this Government abroad were instructed to refuse protection to Mormon missionaries. Such repressive action was invited in 1884 especially. (See “Foreign Relations,” 1884, pp. 10, 198, etc.) But polygamy is now no longer announced as the chief tenet of Mormonism, and the church has the same civil rights as are enjoyed by other religious bodies in this country. If the Mormon missionaries in Tahiti observe the civil law of marriage, as they profess to do, and preach and practice no doctrine violating law or morality, they should have the same impartial protection as other American citizens enjoy for the defense of their just and lawful rights.

The Department can not complain if, in accordance with local regulations, they are forbidden to preach without a license, but it can not acquiesce in the denial of a license for any trivial cause, or at the arbitrary discretion of the authorities. Assuming that they are law-abiding and moral teachers, they should have equal treatment with other propagandists.

You are instructed to follow the purpose of this instruction in dealing with this question.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

Edwin F. Uhl,
Assistant Secretary.