Thought you might like this excerpt of a talk given by W. Cleon Skousen in Granstville Utah on September 1, 1990, regarding the life of J. Reuben Clark--A Prophet to the Prophets:

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Then in 1933, right in the midst of his getting all of this thing straightened out for Mexico, here comes a letter from the First Presidency calling him to be a counselor to Heber J. Grant. You've got to know a little bit about the background of J. Reuben Clark at that time as far as the church was concerned, to appreciate what a shock this was.


He hadn't been where he could be active in the church for 20 to 25 years. He'd never been a Bishop, never been a Stake President. He paid his tithing, but there wasn't any church, very often, to go to. In Washington you could go to a little Sunday evening affair that Senator Smoot held, but J. Reuben didn't get along with Senator Smoot, so that was kind of an ordeal.

And anyway, he worked seven days a week. He was a workaholic. He afterwards said, "I broke the Sabbath for years! The Lord blessed me in spite of it, but certainly not because of it. You people obey the Sabbath day!" My close associate while I was in law school, in fact my mentor, was Ernest Wilkinson. He did the same thing because J. Reuben Clark did it, he worked all day Sunday. He'd take time out for church, but then he was right back at it. He said the same thing, "I broke the Sabbath day trying to become a great lawyer. I paid a price for it. You obey the Sabbath day." Isn't that kind of interesting?

So J. Reuben Clark -- and I must hurry now just to give you a little final closing scene here. J. Reuben Clark was very disturbed that he would be called to the First Presidency of the Church. He found himself telling Bishops and Stake Presidents how to run their Stakes and their Wards.

Finally he said -- and this is an apocryphal story, although it's hinted at in Michael Quinn's This is J. Reuben Clark: the Church Years, but I have this apocryphal story in this form, that I picked up from people who claimed they were close to the scene.

Why the Calling Came

J. Reuben Clark said to President Grant, "Don't you make these choices by inspiration?"

President Grant said, "Yes, we do."

J. Reuben Clark said, "I can understand why a lawyer of international prominence and so forth, like myself, may add to the prestige of the church. But I don't know what I an doing here. I am doing things that I never was trained to do. I'm instructing people. I feel very inadequate."

Well, according to the story that I was told, President Grant said, "That's not why you were chosen as a counselor."

"Well, why was I chosen?"

"You were chosen because the Constitution of the United States is in jeopardy. The church needs to be aroused, the country needs to be aroused, and we've got to start training our people to defend that Constitution before it's shredded and lost."

"Oh, really?!"

"You are the best Constitutionalist in the church."

All of the sudden you hear him quoting his 1923 speech in Conference. You see, we were a Democratic state, 62 percent Democrats. They began to call that Republican politics in Conference. Oh, he got the Dickens! By the time I got here to Utah, sometime later, J. Reuben Clark was one of the most unpopular people in this state.

"Politics" in Church

They didn't mind him talking on the gospel, but any time he'd start talking on the Constitution, "that terrible Republican instrument!" Isn't that something? All through California schools, I was told the Constitution was obsolete. Here's this man standing up, which everybody knows he's a Republican, defending the Constitution, and "that's politics in church."

President Grant would try to assure the people that we wanted the Saints to hear this. It was not popular. He never did become a popular speaker. Years later when I was here, he spoke at the University of Utah. Here is a member of the First Presidency, and he was a counselor to three Presidents over a period of 28 years. We've never had another human being in this church serve as a counselor to Presidents of the church longer than J. Reuben Clark.

So he was so well known, they decided to have him speak at the University of Utah. He stood up before that audience, and they booed him, a member of the First Presidency. Majority of the audience LDS. They booed him. He stood there, by this time he was pretty heavy-set, you know, and he smiled at them.

He said, "Well, I don't mind you calling me old-fashioned, because I am." Yeeaahh! "I don't even mind you calling me antediluvian (which is before the flood!)" Huurraay!! "But," he said, " I am a little sensitive about you calling me pre-historic!"

The students all laughed, and immediately they sat back to listen. I've got a copy of that speech, and it's just great. Of course the students had been trained not to believe those things anymore. But he sowed the seeds.

Our Constitution Has Been Shredded

Already the Lord was beginning to build his kingdom preparatory to survive the great destructive forces of Constitutional government. You see, we didn't realize how badly shredded the Constitution had become. We didn't realize the whole concept of separation of powers had been shredded. We had Congress delegating to the President the authority to make administrative law.

Most of our laws were not coming out of Congress as required by Article 1 Section 1 of the Constitution, they were coming out of bureau agencies at administrative law. I studied it in school, how it worked. The next thing you knew, if you didn't like what happened, where's you appeal? You didn't really have an appeal, because Congress approved it. They were delegating their legislative authority, and you were having laws that the Congress had never examined, scrutinized or debated. We were covered with them.

So that's how far we had gone. We had lost our money system based on gold and silver, that was gone. We had lost control of the Supreme Court, beginning with the Butler Case, 1936. The Congress could pass anything that they considered for the welfare of the American people. It was no longer general welfare, it was now private welfare: farmers, schools, etc.

J. Reuben Clark was an educator at heart. He felt the schools were getting a bad deal, and they would be hurt in the process. He tried to defend the importance of maintaining the integrity of our schools. That was interesting. So many things were happening to our society, that from a Constitutional standpoint, we were very seriously at risk.

So this man from Florida that wrote this whole page of newspaper protest the other day, I just went down and checked off the items, "J. Reuben, did you say amen? Yes, he said amen. Amen. Amen. Amen." You know: going on to four trillion dollars worth of debt, 62 percent of all your income taxes going to pay interest to banks on that debt. We give ourselves a trillion dollar budget, and then we overspend even that much. You know that we are way off balance.

The Butler Case, 1936

I want to say just this little bit about the Butler case. In 1936, the Supreme Court handed down a decision, and while it held against the appellant, it set forth the proposition that Congress can appropriate money and legislate for private welfare. The general welfare clause went right out the window.

The original idea was, if you tax all the people, then you can't pass a law except for all the people. You can not pass a law that will favor this little group, and that little group. You can't do that, because these are general taxes. States can handle those problems, the federal government can not. That was all wiped out, 1936, in the Butler case.

Our budget in 1936, in spite of World War I, and already numerous, expensive programs for agriculture, etc. that had been coming up; our budget was 8 billion dollars. We had gone to 800 billion dollars by about 1980. Now you know where it is, trillions. There's no stop, they will not stop. You couldn't stop that train, no matter who you elected right now. So, there's a remedy. J. Reuben Clark knew what it was. I'm going to close now by sharing it with you.

J. Reuben Clark was a Great Man

But I just want to tell you how I learned to love that man, and have him stand up in the face of a very antagonistic, not altogether, but the majority of our people of our state did not like J. Reuben Clark. His biographies all admit that. He wasn't appreciated until they had a symposium after he was dead, and decided he was great man. Who do I read telling that he was a great man? Some of those who fought him the worst when he was trying to help us.

But in those 28 years, he served three Presidents, and part of the time he was all alone. Brother Grant had a stroke and lived another five years, couldn't hardly do anything. David O. McKay, the other counselor, he was very sickly and weak, until he became President of the church. Isn't that interesting? All of the sudden, his health improved tremendously, so he did pretty good, and he just went on and on for a long time.

J. Reuben Clark, of course, died in 1961, but by that time, President McKay had already given us the great announcement of hope. Beginning in 1950, he said, "God is now pouring out into the families of those that he has treasured up from the beginning, the youth that can take it in the days that lie ahead. You're getting some of the choicest spirits out of heaven." He announced that about 1950.

We Live in an Exciting New Era

By 1960, he said, "Now I can tell you the new era has begun for this great kingdom. We'll began to become an influence for good, much more impressive and much more productive than in the past." 1960. You see, we had worked thirty years to get ten thousand converts in Latin America. Thirty years to get ten thousand. We got the next ten thousand in two years. We got the next ten thousand in one year. Now we get ten thousand every few months.

This is a new era, and you're in it. All of the buildings that began. During the last ten years of David O. McKay's life, he felt so helpless. He asked me to do an errand for him one day, and I came in and found that he couldn't even stand up. He had a couple of strokes. Here were needles and oxygen tanks, and one thing and another. He could see, as I looked around his office, the amazement in my eyes.

He said, "Don't feel sorry for me, Brother Skousen. Nobody expects me to do anything. All I have to do is stay close to the Lord and make the decisions." Which he did, and we doubled the membership of the church in the next ten years, when he was an invalid. We doubled the number of temples, I tell you, we just went forward. So when these prophets become very elderly, indisposed, the work goes on, magnificently.

In his day, J. Reuben Clark did that. Now President Hinckley and President Monson carry it on. Oh, what great leaders they are. I love them. Great leaders.

So I come to my conclusion, and it's J. Reuben Clark's conclusion. He could see that the powers that existed were so well entrenched, so voluminous, had such a grip on the media, both the parties, the money, that that was going to have to run its course, like an express train going hell-bent to destruction.

Track Two

But the Lord isn't going to allow this government to be destroyed. Although administrations may destroy themselves, systems may destroy themselves, this country's going to survive. J. Reuben Clark knew how it would survive: build track two. Don't get in front of that train on track one, it will just run over you. You quietly build track two.

Sometimes people say, "Dr. Skousen, you spent your whole life studying these things that have gone wrong, with the attack on the Constitution and everything. Why are you so optimistic?"

I say to them, "I read the book, and in the end, we win." Now, it's on track two that we win. J. Reuben Clark never lost confidence in having a generation finally become alert, and finally doing its homework, and getting into a position where they would do what God and the Founding Fathers intended that we should have been doing all the time.

So, I bless his memory. I bless his integrity. I bless his tenacity. I'm so grateful for that man. He's been my inspiration, I've learned to love him. I knew him, but not well. I received counsel from him two or three times. One of my books became a national best seller, and he gave me a little bit of counsel about what God was doing, and what to expect, and I was very grateful for that.
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--
Steven Montgomery
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