r LDS leaders during the 1870s were teaching the Saints that they could never reach their goal of establishing Zion in the Utah Territory if they kept “clinging to Babylon”. One leader hinted that God himself may yank us away from Babylon.
In 1877, Elder Erastus Snow said, “One thing is certain, that if God accomplishes with the Latter-day Saints what the prophets have foretold, and establishes his Zion… it will not be by our clinging to Babylon and to her foolish ways….”
Five years earlier Brigham Young made it clear we still cling to Babylon because we don’t realize how crucial it is that we establish Zion. He stated in 1872, “…until you and I do consent in our feelings and understand that it is a necessity that we establish Zion, we shall have Babylon mixed with us.”
Two years later, President Young lamented the presence of Babylon in the Utah Territory saying, “Have we separated ourselves from the nations? Yes. And what else have we done? Ask ourselves the question, Have we not brought Babylon with us? Are we not promoting Babylon here in our midst? Are we not fostering the spirit of Babylon that is now abroad on the face of the whole earth? ….The spirit of Babylon is too prevalent here. What is it? Confusion, discord, strife, animosity, vexation, pride, arrogance, self-will and the spirit of the world. Are these things in the midst of those called Latter-day Saints? Yes, and we feel this.”
In the October 1873 General Conference, Elder Wilford Woodruff made an interesting comment how the sisters in the Church needed to get over their attachment to “the fashions of Babylon” before the Saints could build Zion. He said, “Some of the daughters of Zion do not seem willing to forsake the fashions of Babylon. I to such would say hasten it, and let the woe that is threatened on this account come, that we may get through with it, then we can go on and build up the Zion of God on the earth.”
That “woe” Woodruff wanted us to get past is described in Isaiah chapter 3:
“Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes…. Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion…. In that day the Lord will take away… their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their… headbands… and the earrings, the rings, and nose jewels, the changeable suits of apparel….
“And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink… and instead of well set hair baldness… and burning instead of beauty.”
Elder Woodruff felt if this God-sent woe would come and remove our materialistic desires for all things Babylon, then we could go on to build Zion. But why wait for the woe to change our hearts?
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