With apologies to President Kim B. Clark, president of Brigham Young University, Idaho, who wrote the letter that inspired this one.
Find the link to the story that Fox News did on President Clark's letter and the ensuing reaction here, or scroll to the bottom of this post to read the complete text of President Clark's letter.
Good Afternoon! I had the opportunity yesterday to put childcare and housework aside and get caught up on reading several back issues of the Ensign. It was inspiring to read the words of the prophets and the personal experiences of ordinary Latter-day Saints. I am grateful for all the people who make this publication possible.
While perusing the art and photographs in the magazine I noticed that all of the contemporary Latter-day Saint men depicted (and it was all) were following a set of narrowly defined grooming standards. The things that caught my eye were that all were clean-shaven (with the exception of a few mustaches) and all had short hair cut above the collar. Moreover, I understand that those same grooming standards are enforced on the campuses of Church schools such as BYU. Men must be beardless and clean-shaven; modesty, cleanliness, and a neat and tidy appearance are not sufficient.
You may wonder why a busy mother of young children with a demanding church calling would spend time on these small things. Here is the reason: This is one of those small things on which big things depend. The images we see in Church publications, along with the dress and grooming standards of Church-owned schools, send a powerful message about who we are as a people. A false impression has been created that the Church and, by extension, God approve of only a very narrow range of personal style choices in dress and grooming. More fully embracing diversity of culture, style, and appearance can bind us together as a people and deepen our understanding of the Savior's Gospel. Discipleship of our Lord Jesus Christ has always demanded our very hearts, minds, and souls. But the rigors of discipleship have never included conforming to norms of corporate culture in our dress and grooming. Broadening our understanding of what it means to be a good Latter-day Saint will bring the blessings of heaven to us as individuals and as a community of saints. I hope we will help each other to be inclusive in even these small, but important, things. I send my love and hope you will share this message with family and friends.
Here is the complete text of President Clark's message:
"Good Afternoon! I had the opportunity yesterday to get out of my office to visit the Constitution Day display in the McKay quad. It was inspiring to see the flags and read the words of the prophets about the U.S. constitution. I am grateful for all the people who made the display possible.
"You may wonder why the president of BYU-Idaho would spend time on these small things. Here is the reason: The dress and grooming standards are one of those small things on which big things depend. Obedience in the small things creates a spirit of obedience in all things. And obedience brings the blessings of heaven, to you individually and to the whole campus community. I hope you will help each other to be obedient in even these small, but important, things. I send my love and hope you will share this message with roommates and friends.”