October 1939, April 1942, & October 1942 First Presidency Statements

[Note: Because these three Statements were all issued relatively close together under a similar set of circumstances, they are treated together in this collection. The Introduction will include notes on the contextual background for all three documents collectively. However, in the Commentary & Impact and Extant Documents sections, each document will have its own set of entries.]

1939Statement image

The First Presidency: President Heber J. Grant, J Reuben Clark Jr. (First Counselor), David O McKay (Second Counselor)

        Joseph Stalin rose to the position of General Secretary of the Communist Party in the recently organized Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1924. Benito Mussolini came to power as the Prime Minister of Italy in 1925. Emperor Michinomiya Hirohito’s reign as the 124th Emperor of Japan began in 1926. Chiang Kai-shek governed as the Chairman of the National Government of the Republic of China from 1929-1930 and 1943-1948, with Lin Sen occupying that position from 1931-1942. Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933, the same year that Franklin Delano Roosevelt became the 32nd President of the United States. Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1940. These were some of the notable leaders in the conflict that eventually engulfed much of the world in the 1930s and 1940s.

        While military engagements around the world are nearly always ongoing and tend to ripple outward into other arenas, some milestone events may be worth mentioning as having a catalyzing effect leading up to the conflict often referred to as World War II. For example, armed engagements between European and African nations before, during, and after World War I had significant impacts leading into World War II. One significant event in this region was Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1935.1 Likewise, persistent clashes in the Pacific Theater, including, for example, Japanese incursions in Manchuria (1931) and Indochina (1940) fueled tensions in that region.2 Even the invasion of Pearl Harbor was part of a decades long conflict3 and a much more extensive military strategy involving multiple targets in the Pacific.4

        Europe was also embroiled in various aggressions. In September 1938, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Italy signed the Munich Pact, paving the way for Germany to take control of Czechoslovakia in March 1939.5 Working out a hurried non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, Germany then invaded Poland in September 1939.6 When Poland’s allies, Britain and France, declared war on Germany in retaliation, World War II was underway. Norway fell to German control in April 1940 and France capitulated in June 1940.7 In September 1940, Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Tripartite Pact, thus establishing the Axis Powers.8 The United States managed to stay out of the war directly until Japan carried out the stunning ambush on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (then a territory of the United States), on December 7, 1941. Within days, the United States had declared war on the Axis Powers.9 As the most technologically advanced war in the history of the world, the war machines of these various nations vexed humanity and led to deep consternation about the future.

        Prior to the outbreak of hostilities in Europe, President Heber J. Grant visited England, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Czechoslavakia in 1937. He toured missions, met with government leaders and reporters, and spoke to thousands of Latter-day Saints. He offered spiritual strength and testimony everywhere he went as he gained first-hand knowledge of the people and their circumstances.10 While the Church endeavored to carry on its work of salvation as much as possible as tensions increased, adjustments had to be made. For example, on August 24, 1939, “The First Presidency directed all missionaries in Germany to move to neutral countries. Later the missionaries were instructed to leave Europe and return to the United States. The last group arrived in New York Nov. 6, 1939.”11 Having developed a great love for the people of Japan when he was sent to open that country for the preaching of the Restored Gospel in 1901,12 President Heber J. Grant continued to watch carefully over the members of the Church in Japan throughout this period as well.13

        Knowing that an armed conflict of such magnitude would inevitably have a significant impact on members of the Church all over the world,14 President Heber J. Grant opened the October 1939 General Conference (following the business of the conference) by reading the 1939 Statement from the First Presidency. Following the entrance of the United States into the war in December 1941, the First Presidency followed up that initial message with two additional Statements in the April and October 1942 General Conferences of the Church that are included in this collection.15 The First Presidency for all three of these statements consisted of President Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark (1st Counselor), and David O. McKay (2nd Counselor), who served together in this capacity from October 1934 to May 1945.

        The brief 1939 Statement introduces themes that are expounded upon in the later documents. As with the two 1942 Statements, portions of the Statement appear to be directed to the world in general while other portions are addressed more specifically to members of the Church. The First Presidency condemned “all of war’s foul brood--avarice, greed, misery, want, disease, cruelty, hate, inhumanity, savagery, death.” They reminded all people that the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” was still binding upon all people. It need not be violated via war “if nations will but deal unselfishly and righteously one with another.” The First Presidency issued a call for all the unrighteous to repent. They also implored Church members to “love their brethren and sisters” and “banish hate from their lives” (Conference Report, Oct. 1939, p. 8). It concluded with a humble prayer that “the spirit now raging in men’s hearts...may be supplanted by the spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness…[that] this war without further bloodshed and suffering may be brought to an early close” (Conference Report, Oct. 1939, p. 9). Sadly, the course recommended by the Lord’s servants was not followed and this was not to be.

        In the April 1942 Statement, the First Presidency bore testimony to all the world of the reality of God and the truthfulness of the Restored Gospel. They declared to all people that God would “not hold the innocent instrumentalities of the war...responsible for the conflict.” “But,” they also warned, “there is an eternal law that rules war and those who engage in it.” “Those rulers in the world who in a frenzy of hate and lust for unrighteous power and dominion over their fellow men” would be held accountable to God (Conference Report, Apr. 1942, p. 95). But the bulk of this message was intended for members of the worldwide Church over which they presided. They counseled parents to take special care of the physical and spiritual well-being of their children. They admonished youth specifically to remain sexually pure. Church leaders were also given specific counsel about the calling of missionaries during wartime. Men serving in the military were instructed to adhere to the laws, commandments, and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all circumstances. Members of the Church in general were counseled to continue with the Welfare Plan of the Church (including gathering a year’s supply of food) and continue to find ways to proclaim the gospel, a divine mandate that the Church could never abandon. They were also warned about “false political isms” and directed to respond to the call of military service in the countries where they resided.Knowing that members of the Church would be found on all sides of the conflict, the First Presidency reminded them that, “The gospel of Christ is a gospel of love and peace, of patience and long suffering, of forbearance and forgiveness, of kindness and good deeds, of charity and brotherly love” and also that, “Hate can have no place in the souls of the righteous” (Conference Report, Apr. 1942, p. 90). The First Presidency also explained the Church’s continued stance on the separation of Church and State. They also acknowledged that while “God is at the helm,” unfortunately “in this war of the wicked, the righteous suffer also” (Ibid., p. 95). Again, this message concluded with a moving prayer that Heavenly Father would “Watch tenderly over thy children in all lands” (Ibid., p. 97).

        Just six months later, as more countries were impacted by the spread of war and casualties continued to climb, the First Presidency issued a third Statement at the semi-annual general conference of the Church. This statement is addressed specifically to “the Saints in every land” (Conference Report, Oct. 1942, p. 7) and a plea that the peace of Jesus Christ will be with them and that God will comfort all “who are victims of this worldwide holocaust” (Ibid.). After again bearing testimony that God lives and of other truths related to the Restored Gospel, the First Presidency gives some extensive instruction on the Word of Wisdom. Although required adherence to “God’s law of health” (Ibid., p. 8) took place over time,16 “every officer in every Church organization” was admonished “strictly to keep the Word of Wisdom from this moment forward” or “step aside for some one who is willing and able to do so” (Ibid., p. 9). They then offered nearly equal length treatment of the importance of chastity.17 In a rare invocation of their specific authority, they issued the following warning and exhortation: “By virtue of the authority in us vested as the First Presidency of the Church, we warn our people who are offending, of the degradation, the wickedness, the punishment that attend upon unchastity; we urge you to remember the blessings which flow from the living of the clean life; we call upon you to keep, day in and day out, the way of strictest chastity, through which only can God’s choice gifts come to you and His Spirit abide with you” (Ibid., pp. 11-12). They reinforced the importance of righteous parenting, declaring the now familiar refrain that “Motherhood is near to divinity” (Ibid., p. 12). They called for unity of faith and love among the members of the Church in the war, not just against warring nations that would end men’s lives, but against Satan who sought “to destroy liberty and freedom” (Ibid., p. 13). In doing so, they offered this powerful reassurance: “The principles of the gospel are all-embracing--they are everlasting unchangeable, ultimate truth. They will fit every situation, every problem, every contingency that may arise in the life of man. There are no local problems, no peculiar situations in ward or stake, that may not be solved under these principles...We must cling to the rigid simplicity of the principles Jesus taught, to the strict simplicity of the ordinances He has established” (Ibid., p. 14). They lauded Latter-day Saints in the military and encouraged them to live lives of righteousness and thus “win the victory for [their] salvation” (Ibid., p. 15), while simultaneously declaring that “the Church is and must be against war, for war is of Satan, and this Church is the Church of Christ, who taught peace and righteousness and brotherhood of man” (Ibid., p. 15). The Statement nears its conclusion with an outpouring of gratitude for the faithfulness, devotion, and service of the Latter-day Saints in a time of great exigency. The benedictory portion of the Statement pleads with a loving Heavenly Father to overlook and forgive the sins of His children and restore peace to the earth “that the cries of a wailing world may no longer afflict Thine ears, and that Thy people may again go forward in their work of spreading Thy gospel and bringing salvation to the honest in heart” (Ibid., p. 17).

        The October 1939, April 1942, and October 1942 statements epitomize what the Prophet Joseph Smith taught when he declared near the close of his ministry: “This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted, by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the Kingdom are placed.”18 Through His messengers, a loving God provided temporal and spiritual guidance in a dire time of need. Despite the violence, terror, tumult, sorrow, and misery extant in the world at the time, Latter-day Saints who hearkened to the counsel of the Lord’s servants given to them during the greatest worldwide tribulation in modern times, could have the peace of Jesus Christ that “passeth all understanding.”19

  1. See “World War II, Africa,” Encyclopedia.com, https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/world-war-ii-africa , accessed August 2, 2021; also Crowder, Michael (1985), “The First World War and its consequences in Africa,” UNESCO https://en.unesco.org/courier/news-views-online/first-world-war-and-its-consequences-africa , accessed August 2, 2021.
  2. See Caryl-Sue, MacPhee, Melissa, and Modaferri, Meghan (2001), “World War II in the Pacific,” National Geographic, https://www.nationalgeographic.org/interactive/world-war-ii-pacific/ , accessed August 2, 2021.
  3. See “The Path to Pearl Harbor,” National World War II Museum, https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/path-pearl-harbor , accessed August 2, 2021.
  4. See “The Pacific Strategy, 1941-1944,” National World War II Museum, https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/pacific-strategy-1941-1944 , August 2, 2021.
  5. See “Nazis Take Czechoslavakia” (2019), History, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/nazis-take-czechoslovakia , June 29, 2021.
  6. See Klein, Christopher (2020), “How a Secret Hitler-Stalin Pact Set the Stage for WWII,” History, https://www.history.com/news/the-secret-hitler-stalin-nonagression-pact , accessed June 29, 2021. As President Roosevelt had warned Secretary Stalin, Hitler broke the pact with the Soviet Union in June 1941.
  7. See “World on Fire: World War II Major Events Timeline,” PBS, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/specialfeatures/world-war-ii-major-events-timeline/# , accessed June 29, 2021.
  8. See “The Tripartite Pact is signed by Germany, Italy and Japan” (2020), History https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-tripartite-pact-is-signed-by-germany-italy-and-japan , accessed June 29, 2021.
  9. See “The House Declarations of War Against the Axis Powers,” History, Art & Archives, United States House of Representatives https://history.house.gov/Historical-Highlights/1901-1950/The-House-declarations-of-war-against-the-Axis-Powers/ , accessed June 29, 2021.
  10. See Holzapfel, Richard N. and Bohn, Marc A. (2003), "A Long-Awaited Visit: President Heber J. Grant in Switzerland and Germany, 1937," BYU Studies Quarterly, vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 4-20, https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4088&context=byusq , accessed June 29, 2021.
  11. “Major Events, 1930-1939,” Church News, April 19, 1999, https://www.thechurchnews.com/archives/1999-04-17/major-events-1930-1939-123849 , accessed June 29, 2021.
  12. See Walker, Ronald W. (2004), “Strangers in a Strange Land: Heber J. Grant and the Opening of the Japan Mission,” BYU Studies, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 231-262, https://byustudies.byu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/43.1WalkerStrangers-44104e4d-98d9-4236-9f8f-e2a29b15a9ab.pdf , accessed August 2, 2021.
  13. See Britsch, R. Lanier, “The Blossoming of the Church in Japan,” Ensign, October 1992, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1992/10/the-blossoming-of-the-church-in-japan?lang=eng , accessed August 2, 2021.
  14. See Toone, Trent, “Events surrounding world wars had significant impact on LDS Church and general conference,” Deseret News, April 3, 2017, https://www.deseret.com/2017/4/3/20609680/events-surrounding-world-wars-had-significant-impact-on-lds-... , accessed June 29, 2021; Hansen, Lynn, “German Mormons recall living during World War II,” Deseret News, June 1, 2010, https://www.deseret.com/2010/6/1/20118531/german-mormons-recall-living-during-world-war-ii , accessed June 29, 2021; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2003), “The Saints during World War II,” Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, pp. 522-534, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/manual/church-history-in-the-fulness-of-times/chapter-forty?lang=eng , accessed June 29, 2021; Weaver, Sarah Jane, “World War II: preserving history of LDS in conflict,” Deseret News, June 2, 2000, https://www.thechurchnews.com/archives/2000-05-27/world-war-ii-preserving-history-of-lds-in-conflict-118922 , accessed June 29, 2021; and Hartley, William G., “A Great and Marvelous Work--Part Four: 1898-1951, The Church Grows in Strength,” Ensign, September 1999, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1999/09/the-church-grows-in-strength?lang=eng , accessed June 29, 2021.
  15. The First Presidency issued other statements during this time period that have not been included in this collection. For example, President David O. McKay read “A Statement by the First Presidency” at the opening of the October 1940 General Conference (see https://archive.org/details/conferencereport1940sa/page/n5/mode/2up , accessed August 2, 2021), excerpts of which have been included in the Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant manual , pp. 160, 162; see https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-heber-j-grant/chapter-17?lang=eng , accessed August 2, 2021). Another “Greeting of the First Presidency” with counsel related to the growing war conditions was published on p. 10 of the January 1942 Improvement Era, see https://catalog.churchofjesuschrist.org/assets/162fc54a-0d84-4b4e-b94f-fbc2b3d0ad0b/0/0 , accessed August 2, 2021.
  16. See Lyon, Joseph L. (1992), “Word of Wisdom,” Encyclopedia of Mormonism, https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Word_of_Wisdom , accessed June 30, 2021; and Peterson, Paul H. (1972), “An Historical Analysis of the Word of Wisdom,” Theses and Dissertations, https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/etd/5039/ , accessed June 30, 2021.
  17. Interestingly, the First Presidency’s usage of specific scripture passages to teach the importance of chastity seems to have had a long-lasting effect. For example, before 1942, the Scripture Citation Index (see https://scriptures.byu.edu/#::c ) reports only twelve usages of 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 19 by Church leaders in public addresses. From 1942-2021, these same verses have been cited 58 times. Perhaps this has not always been to teach the law of chastity per se, but the notion that our bodies are temples seems to have been strengthened by this Statement.
  18. "History, 1838–1856, volume D-1 [1 August 1842–1 July 1843] [addenda]," p. 3 [addenda], The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1838-1856-volume-d-1-1-august-1842-1-july-1843/284 , accessed June 30, 2021.
  19. Philippians 4:7

Eric D. Bateman reprinted the October 1939 statement in 1999 in his compilation of addresses by Church presidents titled The Prophets Have Spoken (2:1055-1059).

A Church News article dated 4 Nov 1999 described important statements the First Presidency published over the years. Its description of the October 1939 statement shows the far reaching dissemination it received:

Published in the Church Section of the Deseret News Oct. 14, 1939… Copies of the Church Section containing the message were later sent to influential leaders of the government of the United States.

Read More: https://www.thechurchnews.com/archives/1999-11-06/proclamations-declarations-clarify-reaffirm-lds-doctrine-121422

At least two excerpts from the Oct 1939 Statement appeared in the 2004 Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society manual Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant

  • “Chapter 15: Labor for the Happiness of Others”:
    We earnestly implore all members of the Church to love their brethren and sisters, and all peoples whoever and wherever they are; to banish hate from their lives, to fill their hearts with charity, patience, long-suffering, and forgiveness.
    Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-heber-j-grant/chapter-15?lang=eng
  • “Chapter 17: Being Loyal Citizens”:
    We … declare that God is grieved by war and that he will hold subject to the eternal punishments of his will those who wage it unrighteously. We affirm that all international controversies may be settled by [peaceful] means if nations will but deal unselfishly and righteously one with another. We appeal to the leaders of all nations and to the people themselves thus to mend and adjust their differences, lest the vials of God’s wrath be poured out upon the earth, for he has said he will visit his wrath upon the wicked without measure. Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-heber-j-grant/chapter-17?lang=eng

As part of a larger Church history exhibit titled Prophets of the Restoration, a display and timeline about President Heber J. Grant (dated December 30, 2015) listed this statement among the significant events of his life:

October 1939 - Prayed in general conference for those who had lost or would lose family members during the war.

Read more: https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/timeline/heber-j-grant?lang=eng

The reading of the October 1939 Statement can be listened to thanks to this audio recording found in the Church Church History Library:
[The reading of the Statement begins immediately.]

On the same day it was read in General Conference, the 1939 Statement was published in the Deseret News, Oct 6, 1939, p. 11:

The 1939 Statement was published in the October 1939 Conference Report on pp. 8-9, found in the Church History Library:

[Featured version] Another version of the 1939 Statement as published in the Conference Report on pp. 8-9 is found at Archive.org:

The 1939 Statement was published in the November 1939 issue of the Improvement Era, p. 672:

The 1939 Statement was reprinted on pp. 792-793 of the December 14, 1930, issue of the >Millennial Star

The 1939 Statement can also be found in Clark, James R. (1975) Messages of the First Presidency, 6:89.

The May 1942 issue of >The Instructor published some highlights from the 1942 Statement, including segments of the message to parents, the counsel to youth, the teachings regarding the separation of Church and state, the worldwide nature of the Church, and the need for cleanliness among soldiers

The General Conference of the Church for April, 1942, was unique in three respects: first, it comprised only the general authorities and representatives from the one hundred and forty-one stakes; second, there were no women present; and, third, one of the sessions was held in the Temple. This has never occurred before. Perhaps the feature that stood out in the sessions held was the address of the First Presidency, which was read by President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., which is highlighted here, and which closed in the simple and beautiful prayer.

Read More: https://catalog.churchofjesuschrist.org/assets/cf3a9b4b-68d1-4e23-90bf-7ebd1a951fc4/0/0 [pp. 254-255; pp. 14-15 of PDF]

In April 1968 Boyd K. Packer, then an assistant to the Council of the Twelve, gave a talk in general conference where he specifically cited the April 1942 Statement:

More was said anciently, but we turn to modern prophets, for they have spoken and touched on the deeper issues involved. A message of the First Presidency dated April 6, 1942, states: "the Church is and must be against war .... It cannot regard war as a righteous means of settling international disputes; these should and could be settled-the nations agreeing-by peaceful negotiations and adjustments. "But the Church membership are citizens or subjects of sovereignties over which the Church has no control. The Lord himself has told us to 'befriend that law which is the constitutional law of the land.” ...Surely no individual will be excused for any wanton act of brutality, wickedness, or destruction. Nevertheless, this statement confirms: "He will not hold the innocent instrumentalities of the war, our brethren in arms, responsible for the conflict. This is a major crisis in the world-life of man. God is at the helm."

Read More: https://archive.org/details/conferencereport1968a/page/n37/mode/2up

In an April 1974 General Conference talk, titled “Missionary Work: A Major Responsibility,” President Ezra Taft Benson directly cited the April 1942 Statement:

In a statement published to the world during the last world war, the First Presidency of the Church declared: “No act of ours or of the Church must ever interfere with this God-given mandate.”

Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1974/04/missionary-work-a-major-responsibility?lang=eng

Eric D. Bateman reprinted the April 1942 statement in his compilation of addresses by Presidents of the Church The Prophets Have Spoken (1999, 2:1108-1122).

In a 2002 General Conference talk, titled “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” Elder Russell M. Nelson used the April 1942 Statement to teach the responsibilities citizens have during times of war:

During the Second World War, when members of the Church were forced to fight on opposing sides, the First Presidency affirmed that “the state is responsible for the civil control of its citizens or subjects, for their political welfare, and for the carrying forward of political policies, domestic and foreign. … But the Church itself, as such, has no responsibility for these policies, [other] than urging its members fully to render … loyalty to their country.”

Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2002/11/blessed-are-the-peacemakers?lang=eng¶=title4#title4

At least three excerpts from the April 1942 Statement appear in the 2004 Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society manual >Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant

  • “Chapter 15: Labor for the Happiness of Others”:
    The gospel of Christ is a gospel of love and peace, of patience and long suffering, of forbearance and forgiveness, of kindness and good deeds, of charity and brotherly love. Greed, avarice, base ambition, thirst for power, and unrighteous dominion over our fellow men, can have no place in the hearts of Latter-day Saints nor of God-fearing men everywhere.
    Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-heber-j-grant/chapter-15?lang=eng
  • “Chapter 19: Earnest, Honest, Sincere Prayer”
    Live clean, keep the commandments of the Lord, pray to Him constantly to preserve you in truth and righteousness, live as you pray, and then whatever betides you the Lord will be with you and nothing will happen to you that will not be to the honor and glory of God and to your salvation and exaltation. There will come into your hearts from the living of the pure life you pray for, a joy that will pass your powers of expression or understanding. The Lord will be always near you; He will comfort you; you will feel His presence in the hour of your greatest tribulation; He will guard and protect you to the full extent that accords with His all-wise purpose. Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-heber-j-grant/chapter-19?lang=eng
  • “Chapter 23: The Progress and Destiny of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”:
    The Lord has established His Church in these latter-days that men might be called to repentance, to the salvation and exaltation of their souls. Time and time again He told the Prophet Joseph and those with him that “the field is white already to harvest.” Over and over again He commanded them to preach nothing but repentance to this generation… For this cause was the Church organized, the gospel again revealed in its fulness, the Priesthood of God again restored, with all its rights, powers, keys and functions. This is the mission of the Church. The divine commission given to the apostles of old has been repeated in this day, that the gospel shall be carried to all nations, unto the Jew and the Gentile; it shall be declared with rejoicing; it shall roll to the ends of the earth; and it must be preached by us to whom the kingdom has been given. No act of ours or of the Church must interfere with this God-given mandate. Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-heber-j-grant/chapter-23?lang=eng

The institute manual Church History in the Fulness of Times (Religion 341-343, 2003) discussed the April 1942 statement and its impact on the Church’s understanding of war:

In their annual Christmas message, issued less than a week after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the First Presidency stated that only through living the gospel of Jesus Christ would enduring peace come to the world. Echoing the counsel given by President Joseph F. Smith at the outbreak of World War I, the Presidency exhorted members in the armed forces to keep “all cruelty, hate, and murder” out of their hearts even during battle. These same principles were incorporated in the First Presidency’s official statement read at the April 1942 general conference. This declaration was a comprehensive and authoritative review of the Church’s attitude on war and was widely distributed in pamphlet form. The Saints were told that although “hate can have no place in the souls of the righteous,” the Saints “are part of the body politic” and must loyally obey those in authority over them.

Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/church-history-in-the-fulness-of-times/chapter-forty?lang=eng

Multiple entries in at least two chapters of the institute manual, Book of Mormon: Student Manual (Religion 121-122, 2009), cite the April 1942 statement to explain the Church’s position on war, especially with regards to soldiers who have to fight in the armed forces:
Read More:

The website “Latter-day Conservative” (2009) includes a reprint of the April 1942 Statement under the title “War – First Presidency” (it incorrectly lists this article under the authorship of J. Reuben Clark Jr. though it corrects this elsewhere as including the entire first presidency).

Read More: https://www.latterdayconservative.com/articles/war-first-presidency/

The institute manual Church History in the Fulness of Times (Religion 341-343, 2003) discussed the April 1942 statement and its impact on the Church’s understanding of war:

In their annual Christmas message, issued less than a week after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the First Presidency stated that only through living the gospel of Jesus Christ would enduring peace come to the world. Echoing the counsel given by President Joseph F. Smith at the outbreak of World War I, the Presidency exhorted members in the armed forces to keep “all cruelty, hate, and murder” out of their hearts even during battle. These same principles were incorporated in the First Presidency’s official statement read at the April 1942 general conference. This declaration was a comprehensive and authoritative review of the Church’s attitude on war and was widely distributed in pamphlet form. The Saints were told that although “hate can have no place in the souls of the righteous,” the Saints “are part of the body politic” and must loyally obey those in authority over them.

Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/church-history-in-the-fulness-of-times/chapter-forty?lang=eng

A May 26, 2017 LDS Living article titled “The Church's Statement on War During WWII: A Promise for Righteous Soldiers” evaluates the importance of this document and the effects of its promises on men who later became apostles:

Four months after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, President J. Reuben Clark Jr. read at the April 1942 general conference the First Presidency’s statement on war. This authoritative declaration was widely distributed as a pamphlet during World War II. Its inspired message gave direction and solace to thousands of Latter-day Saints and their family members who were serving in the military… Over the course of World War II, this promise was fulfilled in the lives of Elders David B. Haight, Neal A. Maxwell, Thomas S. Monson, Boyd K. Packer, and L. Tom Perry, all of whom served in that war and later in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Read More: https://www.ldsliving.com/The-Church-s-Statement-on-War-During-WWII-A-Promise-for-Righteous-Soldiers/s/84780

The military relations committee of the Church repeatedly republished this document from 1951-2001 in pamphlets designed for Latter-day Saint servicemen. These publications can be accessed through the Church History Library under the following call numbers:

The reading of the April 1942 Statement can be be listened to thanks to this audio recording found in the Church Church History:
[The reading of the statement begins at 1:22:36.]

The April 1942 Statement was published in the Conference Report for the April 1942 general conference on pp. 88-97, as found in the Church History Library:

[Featured version] Another version of the April 1942 Statement in the April 1942 Conference Report, pp. 88-97, is found at Archive.org:

The April 1942 Statement was published in the May 1942 issue of the Improvement Era on pp. 272-273, 343-346, 348-350;

The April 1942 Statement can also be found in Clark, James R. (1975), Messages of the First Presidency, 6:148–165.

In an April 1971 General Conference talk, titled “Voices of the Past, of the Present, of the Future,” President Spencer W. Kimball used the Oct 1942 Statement to teach the importance of personal worthiness:

The voice of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in unmistakable terms warns: “sexual sin—the illicit sexual relations of men and women—stands, in its enormity, next to murder. The Lord has drawn no essential distinctions between fornication, adultery, and harlotry or prostitution. Each has fallen under his solemn and awful condemnation… [Such cannot] escape the punishments and the judgments which the Lord has declared against this sin. The day of reckoning will come just as certainly as night follows day.” Then speaking of those who condone and justify evil whether from press or microphone or pulpit, they continue:
“They who would palliate this crime and say that such indulgence is but a sinless gratification of a normal desire, like appeasing hunger and thirst, speak filthiness with their lips. Their counsel leads to destruction; their wisdom comes from the father of lies.”

Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1971/04/voices-of-the-past-of-the-present-of-the-future?lang=eng

In an October 1993 General Conference talk, titled “For Time and All Eternity,” Elder Boyd K. Packer extensively quoted the October 1942 Statement, including the following:

In the October 1942 general conference, the First Presidency delivered a message to “the Saints in every land and clime,” in which they said, “By virtue of the authority in us vested as the First Presidency of the Church, we warn our people”...
...That message and warning from the First Presidency is needed more, not less, today than when it was given. And no voice from any organization of the Church on any level of administration equals that of the First Presidency.

Read More: hhttps://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1993/10/for-time-and-all-eternity?lang=eng

In an October 1994 General Conference address, titled “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” President Howard W. Hunter quoted the Oct 1942 Statement to teach about the importance of motherhood:

A man who holds the priesthood has reverence for motherhood. Mothers are given a sacred privilege to “bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of [the] Father continued, that he may be glorified”. The First Presidency has said: “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind”. The priesthood cannot work out its destiny, nor can God’s purposes be fulfilled, without our helpmates. Mothers perform a labor the priesthood cannot do. For this gift of life, the priesthood should have love unbounded for the mothers of their children. Honor your wife’s unique and divinely appointed role as a mother in Israel and her special capacity to bear and nurture children.

Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1994/10/being-a-righteous-husband-and-father?lang=eng

Eric D. Bateman reprinted the October 1942 statement in his compilation of addresses by Presidents of the Church The Prophets Have Spoken (1999, 2:1122-1140).

The Eternal Marriage: Student Manual (Religion 234-235, 2003) makes several references to the Oct 1942 Statement including on pages 67-68, 207, 213, 246, and 348.

Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/eternal-marriage-student-manual?lang=eng

At least one extensive excerpt from the Oct 1942 Statement appeared in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant “Chapter 22: Teaching Children in the Nurture and Admonition of the Gospel” under the heading “Parents are accountable to teach their children the principles of the gospel.”

Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-heber-j-grant/chapter-23?lang=eng

The October 1942 Statement ends with a commitment that the First Presidency would provide additional gospel literature for the Latter-day Saint servicemen. In an April 2013 General Conference talk, titled “Obedience to Law is Liberty,” Elder L. Tom Perry related his personal experiences with that promised literature, including Principles of the Gospel (1943), and the counsel from the First Presidency that it contained.

[T]his little brown book I hold in my hand [is] a book that was given to LDS servicemen who entered the armed forces during World War II. I personally viewed the book as a gift from President Heber J. Grant and his counselors, J. Reuben Clark Jr. and David O. McKay. In the front of the book, these three prophets of God wrote: “The incidents of the armed service do not permit our keeping in constant personal touch with you, either directly or by personal representation. Our next best course is to put in your hands such portions of modern revelation and of explanations of the principles of the Gospel as shall bring to you, wherever you may be, renewed hope and faith, as likewise comfort, consolation, and peace of spirit.”… In the little brown book, immediately after the letter from the First Presidency, there is a “Prefatory Note to Men in the Service,” titled “Obedience to Law Is Liberty.” The note draws a parallel between military law, which is “for the good of all who are in the service,” and divine law. It states, “In the universe, too, where God is in command, there is law—universal, eternal … law—with certain blessings and immutable penalties.” The final words of the note focus on obedience to God’s law: “If you wish to return to your loved ones with head erect, … if you would be a man and live abundantly—then observe God’s law. In so doing you can add to those priceless freedoms which you are struggling to preserve, another on which the others may well depend, freedom from sin; for truly ‘obedience to law is liberty.’”

Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2013/04/obedience-to-law-is-liberty?lang=eng

In an October 2016 General Conference talk, titled “No Greater Joy Than to Know That They Know,” Elder K. Brett Nattress made a reference to the October 1942 Statement:

I firmly believe that all sisters—I will call them “angels”—are mothers in Zion, whether or not they are married or bear children during this earthly experience. Years ago the First Presidency proclaimed: “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.” I am grateful for angels throughout the Church who boldly and lovingly proclaim eternal truth to Heavenly Father’s children.

Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2016/10/no-greater-joy-than-to-know-that-they-know?lang=eng

In a May 13, 2017 blog post titled “The First Presidency on the holy calling of motherhood,” on the blog Daily Mormon Thoughts, David Kenison quoted and discussed the importance of the October 1942 Statement:

This remarkable statement, coming in a sad and troubled time as a World War raged on, gives us an amazing vision and understanding of the sacred role of motherhood in the Lord's plan. These phrases indicate a little of that vision, that seems hardly to be understood in the world of our day… What an amazing, sacred, precious gift this is! What an eternal responsibility and duty! How fortunate we are, in contrast to the world at large, to see so many around us who grasp that concept and magnify the holy calling with faith and personal sacrifice. Surely, God will "bless and protect" those who demonstrate "the strength and courage, the faith and knowledge, the holy love and consecration to duty" of motherhood.

Read More: https://www.dailymormonthoughts.com/2017/05/the-first-presidency-on-holy-calling-of.html

The Joseph Smith Foundation included a transcript of the October 1942 Statement on their website:

Read More: https://josephsmithfoundation.org/first-presidency-message-of-october-1942/

The October 1942 Statement contained a charge for Bishops to write to all of the servicemen from their ward monthly. This counsel was repeated in 1950 during the Korean conflict. President Thomas S. Monson often recalled his experience following this counsel and the effect that it had on at least one man:

The reading of the October 1942 Statement can be be listened to thanks to this audio recording found in the Church Church History:
[The reading of the October 1942 Statement begins at 32:17.]

The October 1942 Statement was printed on pp. 7-17 in the October 1942 Conference Report, located in the Church History Library:

[Featured version] Another version of the October 1942 Statement as published in the October 1942 Conference Report, pp. 7017, can be found at Archive.org:

The October 1942 Statement was published in the November 1942 issue of the Improvement Era on pp. 686-687, 757-759, 761-762, 764-765, 767:

The October 1942 Statement can also be found in Clark, James R. (1975), Messages of the First Presidency, 6:169–183.