Now, to go on to the subject that I wish to discuss tonight. I do so in response to a number of requests that have come to me concerning the position of the Church on a practice that is becoming more common among us, and particularly among our youth. That is the matter of gambling in various forms. The story is told that one Sunday Calvin Coolidge, onetime president of the United States and a man noted for few words, returned from church. His wife asked him what the preacher spoke about. He replied, “Sin.” “What did he say?” she asked. “He was against it,” was his reply. I think I could answer the question concerning gambling just that briefly. We are against it. Gambling is to be found almost everywhere and is growing. People play poker. They bet on horse races and dog races. They play roulette and work the slot machines. They gather to play in bars, saloons, and casinos, and, all too often, in their own homes. Many cannot leave it alone. It becomes addictive. In so many cases it leads to other destructive habits and practices. And so very many of those who become involved cannot afford the money it takes. In many cases it robs wives and children of financial security. The game of poker, as it is called, is becoming a college and even a high school craze. . . My dear young friends to whom I speak tonight, you mean so very much to us. You are so very important. As members of this Church and as holders of the priesthood, you have so great a responsibility. Please, please do not fritter away your time or your talents in an aimless pursuit. If you do so, it will lessen your capacity to do worthwhile things. I believe it will dull your sensitivity to your studies in school. It will disappoint your parents, and as the years pass and you look back, you will be disappointed with yourselves. The priesthood which you hold as young men carries with it the privilege of the ministering of angels. That companionship, I submit, is incompatible with indulgence in games of chance.
In press conferences which we attend, we are frequently asked: “Well, what is the condition of the Church?” We answer, “The Church is well and growing and is strong and healthy. Thank you.” As we approach the conference, we have 661 stakes. There were but 148 when I came to the headquarters of the Church in 1943. There were no stakes abroad, and we were to wait for many years before the Church began to cross the oceans and the great land masses. Already, since President Romney organized the Auckland, New Zealand, Stake in May 1958—there are 86 stakes overseas. We now have 112 missions, plus the 661 stake missions, and we now have approximately 18,000 missionaries, whereas in 1943 there was a very small group, relatively. We are happy with the growth, which is consistent and continues to be stable. And when we are asked why we are such a happy people, our answer is: “Because we have everything—life with all its opportunities, death without fear, eternal life with endless growth and development.” With 3.3 million members of many races and numerous lands in the north, the south, east, and west, we will soon close another year of development and growth. The people are attending their meetings and looking after their personal responsibilities. The temples are increasing in numbers, and the work at the temples indicates great spirituality. The educational program is pleasing, with the university and the colleges, the institutes and seminaries, and the ecclesiastical organizations of the Church all teaching. And knowledge is expanding and testimonies are deepening. . . Now, brothers and sisters, we have launched a cleanup campaign. . . We hope faithful Latter-day Saints will not use the playing cards which are used for gambling, either with or without the gambling. As for the gambling, in connection with horse racing or games or sports, we firmly discourage such things. . . Remember, God is in his heavens. He knew what he was doing when he organized the earth. He knows what he is doing now. Those of us who break his commandments will regret and suffer in remorse and pain. God will not be mocked. Man has his free agency, it is sure, but remember, GOD WILL NOT BE MOCKED.